Capt. Arthur David LINKLATER

Captain Arthur David LINKLATER 1879 - 1955

His Life Afloat and Ashore: Conclusions (ii)

Made weak by time and fate

Because Dum seems not to have kept a record of the good times, the times when I sailed through life without a care in first class jobs and with plenty of money and lots of nice things but did, on several occasions, put pen to paper to rail against Dhunjibhoy and from which I have quoted extensively, the incorrect impression may have been created that Dum was something of a whinger. His ‘ruin’, if that is not an overly-dramatic, Dickensian expression, was real and palpable. It needs moreover to be seen in context, given that the current [2008] government inflation target is 2%. There are squeals of pain that it is currently [again 2008] approaching 5%. When Dum started work after his apprenticeship in 1900 inflation was roughly 10% a year till the outbreak of WW I. During the Great War it rose steadily from 11% to about 20% per year in 1918, by which time he was working for Dhunjibhoy. When he sought more favourable terms in the negotiations for his contract in 1919 he was driven to seek better terms not by cupidity but necessity. Apart from everything else, by that time he had a family to support and had the sense to keep a weather eye on his pension - not that it did him any good!

From 1919 to 1923 he worked for Dhunjibhoy. Dum was then his own master until re-employed by Dhunjibhoy in 1929 at £400 a year. Meanwhile inflation over those years was a total of nearly 220%, an average of just under 20% per year. Over the remaining eight years that Dum worked for Dhunjibhoy inflation averaged about 16% a year. Latterly he was getting £500 a year but the extra £100 was in lieu of income from a business in London which Dhunjibhoy had conned him into selling, so the ‘extra’ £100 was not a pay rise but compensation for loss of other earnings. In other words, his income essentially remained static whereas over those last eight years alone, to stay relatively as well off his pay should have more than doubled to around £1140. After Dhunjibhoy died inflation went mad. This was not cause and effect! Over the span of WWII inflation was just over 160%, an average of nearly 23% a year. Thereafter things got even worse with inflation rising year on year from 27% per year in 1946 to over 43% per year! in 1955 when Dum died. It is hardly surprising that this massive erosion of wealth combined with being cheated by Dhunjibhoy drove Dum nearly to despair. What is staggering to me is that anyone can possibly have been expected to live off the Old Age Pension of 10/- a week in 1945. Ten shillings a week, for Captain A. D. Linklater, Master Mariner was less than half the pay he got as 4th Mate aboard the Rewa in his first job after finishing his apprenticeship in 1901!

I have some of his books. I have two of his sailing books; Norie's ‘Nautical Tables’ (1907) and ‘Hydrographic Surveying’ by Wharton and Field (1909) both uniformly bound in half calf and probably on Dum's orders as the Norie's has some notes on the end papers in his hand writing which have been somewhat cropped in the rebinding. He had evidently read and inwardly digested the fearsomely tedious ‘Hydrographic Surveying’ as there are pencilled annotations in his hand throughout. Among other books of his that I have, all of them to do with the sea, are;

  • R.H.DANA Two Years Before The Mast
  • A.J.VILLIERS Falmouth For Orders [1943]
  • Frank WORSLEY First Voyage [1938]
  • William H. COOMBS The Nation's Key Men [1925]1
  • Basil LUBBOCK The China Clippers [1919]2
  • Basil LUBBOCK The Colonial Clippers [1921]3
  • Captain A.T. MAHAN The Life of Nelson [1899]4
  1. Signed by the author who was an old sailing chum from the days when they both worked for the Calcutta Port Commissioners.
  2. With Dum's undated signature on the front end paper. [e.p.]
  3. With Dum's signature and "Bombay 1921" on the front e.p.
  4. With Dum's signature dated 1918 on the front e.p.

The first three were given to him by his son. Whether his reading strayed beyond the sea into, say, the realms of detective fiction I do not know. Certainly his letters only refer to him actually reading books about the sea. Dick gave him a copy of Jane Eyre;

It was very kind of you to send me Jane Eyre, and apart from that it was a very nice thought that you would send this as I had missed some of the broadcast. I have not read the book, but will do no doubt one day.

Whether that day ever came he does not relate, but I suspect not.

Another book of Dum's is ‘A Manual of Family Medicine for India’ by W.J.Moore (London, Calcutta and Bombay 1883 4th ed.) It falls open - in fact the binding is cracked - at page 319 whose two paragraphs have the following headlines in bold capitals; "PRIVATE PARTS, FEMALE, DISCHARGE FROM THE." and "PRIVATE PARTS, MALE, DISCHARGE FROM THE." This book has "Long Sand Station. July 8th 1883" inscribed on the fly-leaf so clearly acquired second hand as Dum was only 4 years old at the time of the inscription. There are some astounding remedies given. Here is a whole battery - and I use the term advisedly - of useful tips to try for snake bite for which antidote has yet been discovered. After helpfully suggesting gentle remedies such as suction, cutting the affected part out, cauterising with a live coal or stick, a red-hot iron wire, or a drop of nitric or carbolic acid ...passed into the wounded part the ne plus ultra is suggested; If nothing of the kind can be done...a pinch of gunpowder may be placed in the wound and flashed. So you've been bitten by a poisonous snake, tried the red hot poker to no purpose, splashed on a dollop of nitric acid [which of course you have in the picnic hamper] but no joy there either so what better remedy than a minor explosion? Palliatives for gunpowder burns don't merit an entry.

Before acquiring this useful tome, while still working for B.I.S.N.Co., Dum noted down some remedies in his Small Commonplace Book. These presumably indicate the types of distempers which assailed him from time to time. They start with a recipe to make chocolate before getting down to the business of curing ...colds, ...disordered stomach, ...cold in throat or chest, ...stuffed nose, ...indigestion, ...colic, ...toothache, ...cleansing the kidneys, [remove and soak overnight in strong carbolic - only joking!] and finally, to go out with a flourish Purify the Blood and Regenerate System. 3 lemons in a pint of boiling water and 2 packets of Epson Salts. Take a wine glass every morning before breakfast. Must give it a try some time.

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