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The Press-gang Afloat And Ashore

by John Robert Hutchinson

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The practice of pressing men—that is to say of taking by intimidation or force those who will not volunteer—would seem to have been world-wide in its adoption.

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The classes hardest hit by this lamentable want of discrimination were the classes engaged in trade. "Mr. Coventry," wrote Pepys some four years after the Restoration, "showed how the medium of the men the King hath one year with another employed in his navy since his coming, hath not been above 3000 men, or at most 4000; and now having occasion for 30,000, the remaining 26,000 must be found out of the Trade of the Nation." Naturally. Where a nation of shopkeepers was concerned it could hardly have been otherwise.



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