For Father’s Day – Sir Edward Pellew’s advice to his eldest son Pownall Bastard Pellew, on receiving his first command, the 10 gun ship-sloop Fly in 1804.
Avoid as certain destruction both of Soul and Body all excesses of whatever Nature they may be, in the Climate your are going to you must use great Caution to avoid all the Night dews–and when you are exposed by Night never permit your breast to be uncovered or your neck exposed without something tied round it–Never stop upon Deck unless covered by something to keep off the Dew. It is equally necessary to avoid the Sun in the Middle of the Day from wh. much danger is to be expected; it may at a moment produce Giddyness of head, sickness and fever–take great care never to over-heat your blood by drinking or exercise–never go out shooting on any account or riding in the Sun and be very particular never to check perspiration or sit in a draft of Wind so as to produce is–altho’ it is so pleasant to the feeling it is almost certain Death. At night always sleep in Calico–be you ever so hot–it is a great security against the diseases of that Country.
On your first arrival be extremely careful not to indulge in eating too much fruit–and do not go into the Water when the Sun is high. Take great care to keep your body regular and never pass a day without Evacuation–the moment you feel your Body-bound take directly a pill or two of those you carry of the size of a large pea. And should you ever feel unwell instantly take a strong Emetic or a good dose of Physic. If you are seized with a flux take directly a large dose of Rhubarb and apply directly to your Surgeon. Always wear a piece of White paper inside your hat.
If you should take prizes I need scarcely remind you to treat your Prisoners with kindness, but be very careful to keep safe and proper Guards over them–An Officer who suffers his Prisoners to retake his Ship can never recover the Stain on his Character. Mr. Wedderburn’s letter will shew you Who’s care you ought to put your Prize Concerns in–at the same time ask them to let the Admiral’s agent be joined with yours.
Be extremely Cautious and Correct in your Conduct. The first impression of your Character will be formed from it and the companions of your choice; always endeavor to keep in with the Captains and Admiral as much as possible, behaving with quiet Modesty–you will always learn something in their company and they will soon respect and esteem you.
Never become one of the Tavern parties on shore, they always end in drunkenness and Disipation. In your Command be as kind as you can without suffering imposition on your good Nature, be steady and vigilant. Never neglect any opportunity of writing to your Mother Who deserves your utmost love and attention for her unceasing goodness to you and all your family. I hope you will believe I shall be equally glad to hear of you. I am sure you will never dishonor yourself or your family or the Service of your King.
In your Expenses be as frugal as you can. You know the situation of your Father and how many calls he has for Money and should you get any of your own to send to England I recommend your sending it to Wedderburne … as the most secure…
Be attentive to your person and dress. Nothing recommends a young Man more to notice. If you meet Capt. O’Brien tell him I ordered you to ask his protection. Admiral Dacres will be as a Father to you, never fail to consult him and ask his advice on any occasion of difficulty. Take great care to examine all the papers you put your name to and be satisfied of the truth of them and avoid any accident on this point, never sign a paper when bro’t to you in a hurry–if it is one of account–but desire it to be left for your perusal. Get into a habit of signing your name well and [in] one uniform manner and at least once a Month look over your Ship’s Books and the diff’t Officer expenses–and do not pass by any extraordinary Expense without strictly investigating the circumstance, as it is your Duty to be as honest and careful for the King as for yourself.
Mr. Hemming has wrote a recipe for some pills for you to use occasionally when you are at all Costive. I have used them many years and found them safe and easy–do not fail to get a good quantity of them madeup at Cookwortheys at Plymouth, to take with you and always remember to have the recipe back again and keep it is this Book.
Never fail to keep the Ship’s reckoning yourself and observe both by Day and Night, it is a great Duty, for you have in your charge the Lives of hundreds. I hope you will never from idleness excuse yourself from this sacred Duty and never lay down to rest without sending for your Master and together with him mark the Ship’s place in the Chart–do not let any false Modesty or Shame prevent you from this or asking his aid in working your Lunars–it is madness to do so in the extreme and must ultimately end in the ruin of any Young Officer who practises it.
Parkinson, C.N., 1934, Edward Pellew, Viscount Exmouth, Admiral of the Red, Methuen & Co., Ltd., London.