[from Memoirs of Bishop Hildesley]
From the Rev. PHILIP MOORE.
My Lord, Douglas, Sept 12 1761
I never, till this day, discovered the cause of such difficulty in coming at. a ships vane 1 : not the height of the mast ; not the hazard ofclimbing ; but another caprice, which your lordship would little suspect, in a common sailor : viz. Superstition. They have a notion., that to part with a vane would be disasterous, and attended. with unfortuneate consequences ; and would. sooner give up a sai1, or an anchor, than part.with this their whiddling aeolian index of the winds ! A hungry lion, a tiger, or a bear, has more sense of fear than common English sailors .; and yet, their panick is inexpressible, when their messmates, the rats, quit the ship ! Storms and tempests. tornadoes, thunder and lightning, are easy and familiar to them. They will storm and enter a breach, with forty pieces of cannon. pointed against them, dauntless and intrepid ; and yet they are very slaves to the most senseless supersthions. Witness their horse-shoe nailed to the mainmast ; not a single ship hardly in Europe, Asia, Africa, or America, without one : They would sooner plunge into the deep, once for all, ,than set foot on-board a vessel that wanted this talisman against witchcraft ; a superstition, perhaps, as unaccountable as the other, if we have not recourse to the poetick ficton of Neptunes producing a horse from the earth, by a stroke of his sceptre:
Fudit equum magno tellus percussa tridenti.2
And yet, all tl.is could not prevent a Guinea-man from being shipwrecked here last Sunday evening, on St. Marys rock, in our bay n1. This misfortune, however, is now laid to the charge of "our unreasonable discipline, and rigorous observance of the Lords Day, in not permitting these concientious people to set our porters to work ; to set open our warehouses, and let them take in their cargoes on that day !" And for this indulgence even friend Gr is a most strenuous advocate ; alleging necessity, in opposition to the command of GOD ; which, I told him, they would better first get abolished by Act of Parliament, and then they might do what they would : but whilst that good old law subsisted, they must be content to do here, as in England, and other Christian countries ;trust to the Providence of GOD, and wait till Monday.
These Guinea-traders imagine they may take the same liberties here, as on the coast of Africa; and that once they leave England, they are no longer amenable to the laws of God or Man.
Quod libet id licet bis, et quod licet id fatis audent:
Quodq; audent faciunt ; faciunt quodcunque molestum
I remain, your lordships most dutiful and observant servant,
1 For the purpose of placing on the top of Mount Aeolus, or " the Bowsprit Tower, already mentioned.
2. VIRG. Georg. I. 12.
n1 [Probably the Wolfe of Liverpool (owners George Cambell and Stephen Hayes), master William Campbell bound for West Africa]