Capt. Arthur David LINKLATER

Captain Arthur David LINKLATER 1879 - 1955

Breach of Disipline in Melbourne, 27th July 1898

There was at least one ‘incident’ reported by Captain Scott, Master of the British Princess, but which went unremarked by Arthur, involving a breach of discipline;

Barque "British Princess" Leith 15th March 1900.

I beg to state that my apprentice and latterly able seaman Mr A. D. Linklater committed a breach of discipline in Melbourne on the 27th July 1898 for which he was logged and fined in court in Melbourne. In view of that I felt I could only give him G for conduct on the discharge.* Both before and since the above date he has been a good apprentice and seaman, sober and attentive at all times and it is my desire that he may succeed in life. I will be gratified to learn that the Board of Trade will allow him to come up for a second mates certificate when he is ready.


* To be beyond reproach all Discharge Certificates had to record "Very Good" for both Conduct and Ability. With the exception of this one blot on his nautical escutcheon, all Arthur's other discharge Certificates were VG for both. The whole of his CONTINUOUS DISCHARGE can be seen here.

Apart from carefully preserving the shameful evidence, much repaired with sticky paper on the back, Arthur makes no mention of any of this, and indeed, on 27th July 1898, according to the Journal the British Princess was heading in a generally southerly direction some 450 miles off the coast of Brazil!

There was a story that years later, Arthur's wife took exception to some of the racier entries in his Journals involving opium dens, brothels and the like and removed the offending passages. If this is so I can find no evidence of it in the way of torn out pages. Whether whole notebooks, say from the years immediately following Arthur's apprenticeship, were consigned to the flames is possible but also remains pure speculation.

One imprisonable offence was mentioned by Arthur, but only some thirty years later in a letter written to his son during WW II thanking him, in part, for the gift of ‘Two Years Before the Mast’ by R. H. Dana which he explained he was lending to Captain Gracie.

I am sending it today to Captain Grace who I know will greatly enjoy it, as he and I went to sea about the same time, and we were frequently together in different parts of the world in our respective ships.

As a matter of fact he and some others at one time collected among themselves to try and bail me out of the calaboose in which I had been lodged in Port Costa up the Sacremento River where I had been rounded up by a couple of ridiculous mounted vigilantes who did not think it was in order that I should be hieing myself from a ten mile square apricot plantation armed with two pillow-cases of particularly well selected apricots. Gracie however was not successful in his efforts, and after spending the night among a crowd of badmashes, and hoboys, and then sweeping the streets next day till noon the matter was closed, and as I had done my punishment I was allowed to retain my ill gotten gains and felt very satisfied with the result of the expedition.

Journal Entries for 26th to 30th July 1898

According to the ship's master, Captain R. Scott, Arthur was guilty of a “breach of discipline in Melbourne” on 27th July 1898 for which he was apparently “logged and fined in court.” But according to Arthur's Journal ...

  Tuesday, 26th Painting “half round”. Had another burst up with second mate. Subject: whether he or I had the most common sense. I have just come from the wheel, and in the whole two hours, I don't think she has gone ahead three inches. The trades are now finished and it is a dead calm. We “turned to” half an hour earlier this morning. This ship is fast turning into a work-house. It is getting harder every day. Tonight the mate stoped us playing the banjo before six.  
  Wednesday, 27th A lot of whales knocking about today. One of the A.B.'s in our watch has got his foot poisoned and is now in dry dock. So we got another hand instead of him, and last night he was taken away again because we would not sing out on the ropes, which makes six wheels in one watch and eight in the other. The men are in a great excitement about it, and no wonder.  
  Thursday, 28th Getting ready for bad weather. Lashing everything. Had a long yarn with the Old Man on the poop this afternoon. He was very decent, which quite surprised me. He said we got 27 new plates in and 17 new ribs put in after the collision. The docking expenses were over £1,400. Tomy is out of his time today. I wish I was! This passage is getting stale. Perhaps it is with looking forward to all the bad weather we have yet to get. Potatoes ran out today. So that is a pleasant look out, no more “spuds”. The 3rd mate has been chucked out of the mate's watch into ours, which makes another officer to boss us about.  
  Friday, 29th Chipping bulwarks and deadeyes. Had a nice little pow-wow with Joss Pym for breaking a chipping hammer.  
  Saturday, 30th
Lat 31° 43’ S
Long 24° 41’ W
We haven't seen the sun for the last three or four days. Worked till 5 p.m. Great excitement forid. Sighted a vessel on the horizon, and another came up and past us, but is not gaining on us so much now, as there is now a good breeze.  

Thus, according to Arthur's Journal, at the time he was found guilty of “a breach of discipline in Melbourne” he was three days' sail away from 31° 43’ S and 24° 41’ W i.e. in the middle of the South Atlantic, roughly mid-way between Buenos Aires and Cape Town.

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