Letters to the Editor: Seamen

The Sydney Herald Monday 15 August 1836 p.3

Criminal Correspondence.


To the Editors of the Sydney Herald.

GENTLEMEN,—I beg to call your attention to a
circumstance that occurred on board the William
the Fourth steamer, on Monday evening last
which calls for some legislative enactment to pre-
vent a recurrence of such mutinous and outrageous
The passengers and cargo were all ready at the
appointed hour of sailing, but it just then came
out, that the engine-driver and his firemen refused
to get the steam up, alleging that a bucket made
for getting out their ashes was too heavy. In or-
der to pacify this matter, the Captain engaged
another man purposely to carry the bucket—but
when this was done, they, the parties above refer-
red to, said point blank they would not go at all,
and consequently left the vessel, of course the pas-
sengers, some of whom had given up their houses
and lodgings, had to proceed on shore in quest of
other accommodation. On Tuesday morning the
owner was sent for, when in order to prevent
inconvenience and further delay of the vessel, it
was deemed prudent to submit to this engine
driver and his men, with no further notice than
the discharge of one of them, under the stipulation  
that he should be paid after the departure of the
boat ; the engine-driver and his other men insisted
to see him paid his wages before the engine should
move ; this latter concession was resisted until
the boat had been detained above an hour, when
the ceremony of witnessing the payment of his
wages had to take place, and the boat proceeded
on her voyage.
The conduct of these parties amounted to mu-
tiny, and could the passengers have suffered the
inconvenience of seeking redress at law for the
detention, there is no doubt but they would
have had a suitable term of imprisonment.
There is no set of men on whom greater re-
sponsibilities of life and property rest, than the
above class, and I believe, that generally, with a
few exceptions, there are no greater drunkards
to be found.

Yours, &c.,


Sydney, August, 16, 1836.

A few days later came this response ............

The Sydney Herald Monday 22 August 1836 p.2

To the Editors of the Sydney Herald.

Gentlemen,—A letter signed " Observer," having
appeared in a recent number, in which it is at-
tempted to cast odium and contempt upon a respect-
able and scientific class of artisans, to which I my-
self have the honour to belong, I deem it incumbent
on some of us to resent the unprovoked insults and
calumnies contained in the veritable epistle above
referred to ; and, in the absence of more able advo-
cacy, I venture to stand forth in defence of the fra-
ternity so grossly and wantonly libelled by this
contemptible scribbler. This quill driver insolently
designates the Engineer of the "William the Fourth"
steamer, "the Engine driver ;" and characterises
his conduct in refusing to proceed to sea with a heavy
lumbering wooden box or bucket, instead of the
light cast-iron one customarily in use, as " mutinous
and outrageous," claiming some " legislative enact-
ment" for the prevention of such alarming (!) events.


This extract from a lengthy reply [the rest of which suffers from a crease in the original] is signed AN ENGINEER

and finishes with an editors note:
[We insert this letter but do not agree with the remarks]

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