Proposal for County Naval Free-Schools, to be built on Waste Lands. Giving such effectual instructions to Poor Boys, as may nurse them for the Sea Service. Jonas HANWAY.
Proposal for County Naval Free-Schools, to be built on Waste Lands. Giving such effectual instructions to Poor Boys, as may nurse them for the Sea Service.
Proposal for County Naval Free-Schools, to be built on Waste Lands. Giving such effectual instructions to Poor Boys, as may nurse them for the Sea Service.
Proposal for County Naval Free-Schools, to be built on Waste Lands. Giving such effectual instructions to Poor Boys, as may nurse them for the Sea Service.
Proposal for County Naval Free-Schools, to be built on Waste Lands. Giving such effectual instructions to Poor Boys, as may nurse them for the Sea Service.
Proposal for County Naval Free-Schools, to be built on Waste Lands. Giving such effectual instructions to Poor Boys, as may nurse them for the Sea Service.

Proposal for County Naval Free-Schools, to be built on Waste Lands…
Proposal for County Naval Free-Schools, to be built on Waste Lands. Giving such effectual instructions to Poor Boys, as may nurse them for the Sea Service.

London: The Marine Society, 1783.

Tall folio, with nine engraved plates, five of them double-page or folding, minor offsetting, small neat library stamps; later half leather on earlier glazed cloth boards, gilt stamp of Inner Temple Library to front board, bookplate of the same Library, above it the original presentation certificate from the Marine Society.

Schools and gardens for the service

First edition of a remarkable book: one of about 450 copies prepared for presentation by the Marine Society to influential figures, this copy having been presented to Francis Maseres (1731-1824) the lawyer and mathematician, member of the Royal Society, at one time attorney-general of the Province of Quebec. It later passed into the library of the Inner Temple, the inn of court to which Maseres belonged.

First edition of a remarkable book: one of about 450 copies prepared for presentation by the Marine Society to influential figures, this copy having been presented to Francis Maseres (1731-1824) the lawyer and mathematician, member of the Royal Society, at one time attorney-general of the Province of Quebec. It later passed into the library of the Inner Temple, the inn of court to which Maseres belonged.
Surely the most lavish charity prospectus produced in the eighteenth century, 'at the anniversary meeting of the Marine Society in 1783, Hanway, after the reading of the Proposal's dedication, was thanked "for his great zeal & attention for the public good", and instructed to finish "in the most compleat manner".
'The paper was of fine quality, the print was large, the margins wide, and the cost far beyond the Society's expectations. At the General Court's July meeting Hanway was requested to subscribe five guineas for one year as a penalty for his extravagance, and Hanway retorted that in future the Society ought to specify in advance the costs it was willing to accept … The total cost of printing, binding, and engraving the 1250 copies was approximately?800, a sum equal at that time to the Society's annuity income for an entire year' (Taylor, Jonas Hanway, founder of the Marine Society, pp. 172-3). In spite of resentment over the cost of the prospectus, however, 'the Society supported Hanway's venture, and in June 1783 about 450 copies of his Proposal were accordingly distributed among privy councillors, lord lieutenants of the counties, important members of parliament, great law officers, admiralty and naval boards, most of the admirals, and some of the more influential of the Society's own governors…'.More copies were ordered to be printed that month for distribution to all the Society's governors and to friends of the Society, but Hanway kept some books in reserve in case Parliament should have need of them' (Taylor p. 175). The scheme put forward by Hanway in the Proposal was eventually 'transmuted by the governors [of the Marine Society] the more modest initiative of establishing a training ship, a plan Hanway initially opposed. The ship was anchored at Greenwich, staffed and ready to receive a first contingent of boys shortly before Hanway died at his home, 23 Red Lion Square, in the early hours of 5 September 1786' (Oxford DNB).
The Marine Society and the whole program that it advocates were the work of the one remarkable man, Jonas Hanway, who founded the Society in 1756 and acted as its director for thirty years. Christopher Lloyd has written that 'Hanway must be credited with providing more men for the Navy than any other man in history… Moreover, for twenty-one years he served as a victualling commissioner of the Navy, in which post he supervised experiments in the seaman's diet, with particular attention to foods that might reduce the ravages of scurvy, that great killer of eighteenth-century seamen. In a succession of books and pamphlets he attacked impressment, suggested ways that seaman could be recruited and trained, promoted their welfare, and argued their inestimable value to the British Empire'.
Hanway's favourite project was the promotion of training schools for future seamen and in the Proposal he outlined his far-sighted plan on how these could be organised. He suggested that each school, designed to take about a hundred boys each, should be located on 100 to 150 acres of wasteland. There the students would learn to be husbandmen and manufacturers but would also be trained in the theory and practice of seamanship and taught reading and religion. 'The object was to create a kind of working class elite, equally at home on the ship's deck as at the loom or the plough' (Taylor p. 175). The book sets out in some detail how this would be achieved and its contents serve in part as a summary of the naval skills thought desirable to be taught to incoming youngsters in the period just after the Cook voyages.
'Hanway's aid to seamen and young Londoners was part of a larger story. Between the beginning of the Seven Years War (1756) and the end of the War of the American Revolution (1783) the charities of London underwent a remarkable transformation. The first war provoked apprehension that the British population was insufficient in size, vigour and training to protect British trade and empire from European competitors, while the second war deprived Britain of a great reservoir of potential seaman, soldiers, and otherwise productive lands. Both wars led to intensified concern for the British poor, considered as a national resource. Assisting the poor multiply and pursue useful employments was not only good for the soul, it was patriotic and prudent. Never had Charity been in better accord with her selfish sisters, the Nation and Property' (Taylor p. xii).

Adams & Waters, English maritime books, 1981.

Price (AUD): $2,400.00  other currencies     Ref: #4005804

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