Sunday, April 23, 2017

An Irish Pilot or Steering by Chance (1812)

"An Irish Pilot, or Steering by Chance". London, 1812. Royal Museums Greenwich.
The British Navy was made up of a number of nationalities, including Welsh, Irish, and Scottish, as well as seamen from Scandinavia and America. The diversity of the lower deck provided ample fodder for caricaturists, as in my previous post about Welshmen, and this engraving entitled "Makeing a Compass at Sea or the Use of a Scotch Louse".

This English engraving from 1812 features a captain with a spyglass says, "Now en't you a pretty fellow for a Pilot? to see Land and not know where we are!", to which the pilot replies, "Och my dear Jewel! only shew me the Old head of Kinsale, and I'll tell you where to an Inch!"
The sailor on the left wears black tie shoes and white stockings, with blue striped trousers, the lacing of which can be seen at his back. He wears a short-cut blue jacket on his torso, and the sleeves of his blue and white checked shirt bell out beyond the ends of his cuffs. His brown hair is short and curly.
The Irish pilot is not a member of the ship's crew, but dresses similarly. He wears black tie shoes and white stockings, and his blue trousers are long and wide. His white waistcoat is worn unbuttoned at the top and bottom and his black handkerchief is tied tightly around his neck, the ends streaming out in the breeze. His brown jacket is worn open. On his head he wears an orange tube cap with a white brim, and from under it peeps a mass of curly brown hair.

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