In 1739 the bitter rivalry between England and Spain for the trade and treasure of the New World flamed afresh in war. A squadron of six British men-of-war under Commodore George Anson was sent out to double Cape Horn and vex the dons in their South American ports and on the routes of the Pacific where the lumbering galleons steered for Panama or Manila. With these fighting-vessels went a supply-ship called the Wager, an old East Indiaman which had been armed and filled with stores of every description. Clumsy, rotten, and overladen, the Wager was no better off for a crew, which consisted of sailors long exiled on other voyages and pining for home. The military guard was made up of worn-out old pensioners from
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LOST SHIPS AND LONELY SEAS
to a private of marines, who cannot read and knows nothing of past history beyond the reminiscences of his grandmother? But whatever supposition you make, the fact is unchanged; and I suppose their bones were already white, before the winds and the waves and the humor of Indian chiefs and . . . If the marines of the Wager gave three cheers and cried "God bless the king," it was because they liked to do things nobly for their own satisfaction. They were giving their lives, there was no help for that, and they made it a point of self-respect to give them handsomely.had decided whether they were to be unknown and useless martyrs or honored heroes. Indeed, I believe this is the lesson: if it is for fame that men do brave actions, they are only silly fellows after all.