Eighteenth century naval life is a subject I’ve only recently developed an interest in. However, I assure you I’m making up for lost time by devouring a host of naval biographies! Just a quick look today at an appetising account of the food aboard one of His Majesty’s ships. This extract comes from a letter of Bernard Coleridge, an eleven year old cabin-boy who was writing to his parents:
“Indeed we live on beef which has been ten or eleven years in corn and biscuit which makes your throat cold in eating it thanks to the maggots which are very cold when you eat them, like calves-foot jelly or blomonge...We drink water of the colour of the bark of a pear-tree with plenty of little maggots and weavils [sic] in it and wine which is exactly like bullock’s blood and sawdust mixed together...Indeed, I do not like this life very much...I hope I shall learn not to swear, and by God’s assistance I hope I shall not.”
Sadly, three years after composing this (wonderfully reassuring) letter Bernard died after falling from the rigging of his ship.