Incite -- (v) 1: give an incentive; 2: provoke or stir up; "incite a riot"; 3: urge on; cause to act
Sunday, May 09, 2004

History Repeating
Written by: Beck

Always does, doesn't it? Inasmuch as I won't have anything else new for you wonderful people today (it being May 9th and all), I'm making this a rather long one. Rather than edit the following book excerpt for brevity, I've cited the entire passage, and simply used bold text to denote the important bits for those more inclined to skim.

The year: 1807. The author: Richard Woodman. The book: The Sea Warriors. The pages: 183-185. (Great read, incidentally (ditto for pages 1-182 and 186-355). Sort of an Indiana Jones adventure stories kinda thing, only at sea, and it's actual history.)
In 1807 [Warwick] Lake was in command of the brig-sloop Recruit, lying in the Cornish port of Falmouth. His officers pressed a seaman out of a privateer, a Cornish blacksmith, named Robert Jeffrey. The Recruit then sailed for the West Indies and there, in November, her crew were put on short allowance of water. At the time Jeffrey was alleged to have stolen some rum from the gunners' cabin, and a few days later was observed to draw off two quarts of spruce beer [ed: spruce beer?] from a cask. These were undeniably punishable offences, but Lake decided to exceed even his draconian powers under Admiralty regulations, and put Jeffrey ashore on the uninhabited island of Sombrero with neither food nor water. The man was barefoot, and had only the clothes upon his back. Landing him, Lieutenant Richard Mould took pity on Jeffery to the extent of begging a pair of shoes from one of the seamen in the boat's crew; he also generously donated his own and his accompanying midshipman's handkerchiefs, for making signals. As a final indignity, Jeffrey's absence from the Recruit was explained in the brig's books by the letter 'R': officially, Jeffrey had deserted, or 'run'.

Word leaked out, however, and the scuttlebutt in due course reached the ears of the Commander-in-Chief at the Leeward Islands. When Sir Alexander Cochrane (an uncle of Lord Cochrane) learned of this outrage, he sent Lake back to rescue his wretched victim. On 11 February 1808 Recruit anchored off Sombrero and lowered a boat. The landing-party could find no trace of Jeffery, alive or dead. Lake was made post [i.e. promoted] in September 1808 despite this scandal, but the news spread beyond the Caribbean and brought the Admiralty into disrepute.

The popular and radical press, then clamoring for reform in British institutions, made much of this unlawful deprivation of liberty. The tyrannical behavior of Captain The Honourable Warwick Lake became a cause celebre, and word of it spread across the Atlantic to the United States to exacerbate the anti-British feeling already running high over the right to search. Lake personified the very worst of British naval arrogance, not to mention that of the British aristocracy and its view of the established order of things. At this point rumors reached London that Robert Jeffrey was living in Marblehead, south of Salem in Massachusetts, having resumed his life as a blacksmith. The British Government sent for him, first to Halifax, Nova Scotia, and then by way of the 10-gun schooner Thistle to Portsmouth. Here the world learned his story.

On Sombrero Jeffrey had subsisted for eight days on limpets and rainwater caught in the fissures of his rocky prison. He saw several vessels in the distance but could not attract their attention, and grew daily weaker. But on the ninth day the schooner Adams of Marblehead appeared off the island and her master, John Dennis, took Jeffrey aboard, and back to his home port, where he had settled.

Upon the conclusion of Jeffrey's examination at the Admiralty on 22 September 1810 he was given all his back-pay, and the infamous 'R' was removed from his name. With an additional and substantial sum of money subscribed by embarrassed friends of The Honourable >Warwick Lake, Jeffrey returned to his Cornish home at Polperro. Nemesis had caught up with Lake himself some months earlier. As soon as news that Jeffrey was alive had reached London, a court martial was assembled aboard Gladiator in Portsmouth. On 5 and 6 February 1810 it heard the evidence, largely from Lake's own officers; Lake pleaded that he thought Sombrero was inhabited, though it emerged that he had been informed by both his lieutenants and his sailing master that it was not; indeed, this contemptible and worthless officer had had to ask the master the name of the island on which he was proposing to maroon Jeffrey. The court found the charge against Lake proved, and he was dismissed from the King's service.
From our lofty perches in the year 2004, we tend to assume that it's only since WWII (give or take) that the Western world has become an enlightened place that finds things like cruelty to prisoners abhorrent (Geneva convention, etc., etc). We're also inclined to believe that it's only in this modern era of instant communication that liberal reformers have sought continuously to upset the natural order of things. The only real difference is that things happen a little more quickly these days. It wont take 3 years to bring to justice the American soldiers who tortured their prisoners (though god knows it'll feel like 3 years). But the outrage felt by the world is the same.

So what's my point? Well, for one thing, keep in mind that it's 5 in the morning, and I haven't been to sleep yet. I was picking passages at random in a book I'd already read, and stumbled across a story which bears a striking similitude to today's cause celebre of choice. Essentially, I wanted to provide something of a reminder that such outrages will always occur, as it is not so much a function of the times, the places, the people, the circumstances, and on and on ad nauseum; rather, it is a function of human nature. So what I would like now is for everyone to please shut the ever living fuck up and get on with their lives. There was bad stuff. Bad stuff came to light. The people doing the bad stuff will be severely punished--they'll probably spend the rest of their lives in a military prison. The people in charge have apologized for the bad stuff, all the way up to designated buck-stopper Secretary of Defense Donald "Bad Stuff" Rumsfeld. Time to move on. The lesson to be learned here is that there is no lesson which will be learned. It hasn't been learned in the 200 years since Captain Lake marooned a drunken blacksmith, and it won't be learned in the next 200 years. The only difference will be the number of people blogging it.

Contact The Author:

John Beck

Feedback Welcomed

Greatest Hits

The Complete United Nations Posts
Immoderate Moderates
Marketing Myopia
In defense of the Republic
UKIP in America
Playing Connect the Dots
A Point So Often Missed: The Presence of an Administered Rate
Reagan Remembrance
Dr. Wolfowitz, or How I Supported the Right War Waged in the Wrong Way for the Wrong Reasons
Divine Right of Kings and UN Mandates
A Fantastic Idea, If I Do Say So Myself
Why We Were Right to Liberate Iraq
The Crisis of Conservatism

Blogs Worth Bookmarking

Steal The Blinds
Poor Dudley's Almanac
Protein Wisdom
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler
New Sisyphus
Jim Treacher
Ace of Spades
Captain's Quarters
Rambling's Journal
Neolibertarian Blog
LLP Group Blog
The Llama Butchers
The Castle Argghhh
The Politburo Diktat
The Dissident Frogman
In Search of Utopia
Aaron's cc:
You Know You Wanna
Classical Values
Clowning Glory
Vice Squad
Hit & Run
Link Mecca
The Corner
Power Line
Michelle Malkin
Mises Institute
marchand chronicles
Enlighten - New Jersey

More Top Reads

SlagleRock's Slaughterhouse
This Blog is Full of Crap
Who Tends the Fires
The Bleat
Outside the Beltway
Small Dead Animals
Kim du Toit
Tman in Tennessee
Hog On Ice
Pardon My English
Mr. Minority
Speed Of Thought
La Shawn Barber
Right Wing News
USS Clueless
Belmont Club
Shades of Gray
Seldom Sober
Roger L. Simon
Tacoma Blaze
A Small Victory
Murdoc Online
Iraq Elections Diatribe
Winds of Change
Enlighten - New Jersey
Random Fate
Riding Sun
The Daily File
Matt "The Man" Margolis
Bastard Sword
Roller Coaster of Hate

News Links

Blogger News Network
National Review Online
Tech Central Station
The Drudge Report
Reason Online
Mises Institute
The Weekly Standard
Front Page Magazine
Town Hall

Affiliations, Accolades, & Acknowledgements

The Neolibertarian Network


Image Hosted by
"More tallent than a million monkeys with typewriters."
--Glenn Reynolds

Image Hosted by

Image Hosted by

Image Hosted by

Life, Liberty, Property Community

Reciprocal Blogrolling

Accidental Verbosity
Conservative Eyes
The Moderate Voice
Perpetual Three-Dot Column
Sudan Watch
Mystery Achievement
Le Sabot Post-Moderne
Comment Me No Comments
New Spew

Links That Amuse the Writers

Huffington's Toast
The IFOC News
Dave Barry's Blog
Drum Machine
Something Awful
Cox & Forkum
Exploding Dog


March 2004
April 2004
May 2004
June 2004
July 2004
August 2004
September 2004
October 2004
November 2004
December 2004
January 2005
February 2005
March 2005
April 2005
May 2005
June 2005
July 2005
August 2005
September 2005
October 2005
November 2005
December 2005
January 2006
February 2006
March 2006
April 2006
May 2006
June 2006
August 2006
March 2007
May 2007
June 2007
August 2007
September 2007
October 2007
January 2008
February 2008
March 2008
April 2008
May 2008
September 2008
November 2008
December 2008
March 2009
April 2009
June 2009
July 2009
August 2009
September 2009
October 2009
November 2009

The Elephant Graveyard

We Are Full of Shit
The Sicilian
The Diplomad
Insults Unpunished
Fear & Loathing in Iraq
Right Wingin-It
Serenity's Journal
Son of Nixon
Rachel Lucas


Site Design by Maystar
Ask not for whom the blog tolls...
This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?
Weblog Commenting and Trackback by

Listed on Blogwise
Blogarama - The Blog Directory


Image Hosted by

Email Questions and Comments

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
eXTReMe Tracker