March 29, 2012

When men were men

SAILING MAGAZINES have become a lot tamer than they used to be.  And their editors have become less flamboyant. I guess it's the need to avoid being sued or alienate your readers or advertisers. Whatever the reason, I can't think of a sailing magazine that stirs the blood like the old Rudder and its feisty editor, Thomas Fleming Day, used to do.

One hundred years ago, The Rudder, published in New York, was writing about pirates.  Apparently they were just as much in evidence then as they are today, but on his editorial page,  Round the Clubhouse Fire, Thomas Day was of the opinion that pirates of even older times were sailors worthy of at least some praiseworthy recognition.  He refers to "the fine old times, when jails were few and pirates plenty. Grand days those, when if you wanted anything and had the powder and ball you could go and get it . . . when people mixed Religion and Rum in equal quantities and swallowed the discourses of the pulpit and the contents of the bottle without feeling the worse for it.

"After a life of active, glorious rascality, all you had to do was to settle down in some seaside town and put a brass knocker on the door, and wear a frilled shirt, and all was forgiven, if not forgotten.

"What you did not do, and what you were not, was charitably chiseled on your gravestone, and your neighbors spoke of you as the respectable Captain Cutpurse who came from nobody knew what and went to nobody knew where."

Yes, indeed, those were the days when men were men — and editors were men, too.

Today's Thought
It's when pirates count their booty that they become mere thieves.
— Bolitho, Twelve Against the Gods

No matter how much you push the envelope, it will always remain stationery.

(Drop by every Monday, Wednesday, Friday for a new Mainly about Boats column.)


mgtdOcean said...

I never read Rudder and am glad I didn't if this Tom Day excerpt is a typical example of the material.
He is either a fool and has no historical knowledge or,,.well no, just a fool.

When men were men, aka, might makes right.

John Vigor said...

Calling Lars Porter:

Send me your e-mail address again. It keeps bouncing back.


John V.

Anonymous said...

I agree. Never understood why we glorify pirates these days, with the likes of Capt. Jack Sparrow and Talk Like a Pirate Day. Pillage, murder and rape. Aren't these things cute? Arrrggh.