7.05.2009

samuel pepys: "it is a great tyranny"

From the Diary of Samuel Pepys, 1 July 1666.
...and so back to the Tower several times, about the business of the pressed men [i.e. impressment, conscription], and late at it till twelve at night, shipping of them. But, Lord! how some poor women did cry; and in my life I never did see such natural expression of passion as I did here in some women’s bewailing themselves, and running to every parcel of men that were brought, one after another, to look for their husbands, and wept over every vessel that went off, thinking they might be there, and looking after the ship as far as ever they could by moone-light, that it grieved me to the heart to hear them. Besides, to see poor patient labouring men and housekeepers, leaving poor wives and families, taking up on a sudden by strangers, was very hard, and that without press-money, but forced against all law to be gone. It is a great tyranny.

There may be some contradictions or hypocrisy in Pepys' observation of this "tyranny", discussed in annotations here.

Nevertheless, impressment was a barbaric practice. No less barbaric is the modern practice of the draft, or stop-loss, or otherwise forcing human beings to be soldiers - including not allowing them to break their contracts.

Cross-reference: involuntary military service is a form of slavery.

6 comments:

redsock said...

From Wiki link:
"In the 18th century, desertion rates on naval ships averaged 25% with little difference between volunteers and pressed men ..."

Interesting.

Cornelia said...

Yep, the draft is extremely abusive because it's a sort of duress. Most definitely.

Cornelia said...

Probably the job was so awful and some figured out beforehand and others came to the conclusion only later.

Cornelia said...

You know when a company has extremely high change of workers, publishing ads so often, then it might well be that the job isn't that much fun either...

Cornelia said...

I also read that there was torment and tyranny and duress on those ships, so it was not just about some people forgetting their medicine against sea-sickness ashore or having trouble to keep away from complainers who wouldn't take meds!!

Cornelia said...

It's abusive anyway to try to force somebody to do something they don't want to do. Like those idiots who wanted to bully me over looking for a job in the afternoon again....I won't have it and I'm glad to live nowadays in a situation in which my rights are not trampled underfoot and I would abuse, oppression, patriarchy and bondage were done away with in general or at least that more be done and achieved in stopping them...