This book fills a gap about just how boy seamen were trained at the end of the nineteenth century. From first to last it is very credible, and also very readable. It was not very easy to transcribe, because the boys we meet come from a variety of country places, and hence have a variety of dialects. In particular one of the boys has a strong Irish brogue, and another has an equally strong west Hampshire accent. It is this boy, ‘Ugly’, that comes to a very sad and noble end.
Our hero, Tom, is trained for a little over a year in “Saint Vincent”, after which he moves on to various postings in the Fleet. There is an interesting period during which he is serving in a vessel that is taking part in the British efforts to capture and punish slave-traders on the African east coast.
It all rings true to me, because your reviewer has been in the Royal Navy himself, and knows the way the Navy works.
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