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\Studyworld\ Studyworld Studynotes \ Billy Budd:
Chapter 5 and 6

Chapter 5

The two mutinies at Spithead and Nore came about for reasons of poor conditions aboard the naval ships and the practice of impressment to fill the crews of those ships. While the British navy could supply their crews with better conditions, it simply could not cease impressment of sailors. The British navy had too many wars to fight, and all the ships needed thousands of men to operate its sails and cannons. The navy could do little to raise the morale of the impressed sailors, but there was one remarkable instance. Fresh from the revolt at Nore, a ship full of impressed sailors came to join the British fleet then stationed off the coast of Spain. The admiral of the British fleet at the time instructed Nelson to assume command of that ship so that they would be won over by his presence and heroic personality. Most ships during that time period of the two mutinies, however, were not so lucky to be graced with Nelson's presence. Conditions got so difficult at times and crew members so rebellious that it was not unheard of for the officers to issue their commands with swords drawn upon the backs of the men working the guns.

Chapter 6

As vicious as the conditions were on some of the other warships in the fleet, such was not the case for Billy Budd and the Bellipotent. The environment on board a ship usually reflected the tone of the captain, and Captain Vere was generally a calm man. He always thought about the welfare of his crew, but at the same time he never bent the rules for anybody. Captain Vere was one of the best sailors of his time even in a time of the greatest sailors. Although Edward Fairfax Vere got a jumpstart in his career in the navy through the connections of his aristocratic family, he proved himself in an important battle with Admiral Rodney and so became post captain. Strangely, however, if he were dressed as a civilian on board his ship, no one who didn't already know could guess that he was the ship's captain from the way he behaved towards his crew; most likely they would think that he was an important ambassador. Throughout the navy he was better known as "Starry Vere," a nickname that happened to stick. The story goes that on his triumphant return after aiding in Rodney's victory, his cousin congratulated him soon after reading from an Andrew Marvell poem, which contained the phrase "starry Vere." Although it didn't accurately describe Vere, the name was convenient because it helped to distinguish him from an older Vere, a distant relative and another captain in the navy.

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Historical Context
Main Characters
Points to Ponder
Did You Know
Plot Summary
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3 and 4
Chapter 5 and 6
Chapter 7 and 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10 and 11
Chapter 12 and 13
Chapter 14 and 15
Chapter 16 and 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19 and 20
Chapter 21
Chapter 22 and 23
Chapter 24 and 25
Chapter 26 and 27
Chapter 28, 29, and 30


 

 



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