Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Best Recruiting Ad Ever!

“WANTED: Stout, able-bodied men who can run a mile without stopping with a sackful of Spanish dollars on their backs.”

This was the notice that Lord Thomas Cochrane posted in the fall of 1806, to recruit sailors for the 38-gun, 1,046 ton frigate Imperieuse under his command.

Lord Cochrane, nicknamed ‘The Sea Wolf’ by his French counterparts, was one of England’s most renowned captains during the early 1800s. His daring -- and some would say reckless -- exploits at sea catapulted him to notoriety, and are said to have inspired the nautical fiction of Marryat, Forester, and O’Brian.

Cochrane went on to become a staunch supporter of reform as a Radical in the House of Parliament, stirring up great controversy with every cause he backed. He also later commanded ships in the navies of Chile, Brazil, and Greece during their respective wars of independence.

Capture of the El-Gamo, by Clarkson Stansfield: Depicting one of Cochrane’s most famous accomplishments, the capture of the Spanish Xebeque frigate El-Gamo in 1801 off the coast of Barcelona, by the much smaller brig HMS Speedy

The fascinating story of Cochrane’s career is told in the slim volume: Lord Cochrane, Seaman, Radical, Liberator by Christopher Lloyd. Revered by his men, celebrated in song by the public, and cursed for his impolitic intransigence by the old guard, Cochrane was a splendid and turbulent figure of the Romantic Age.

Portrait of Thomas Cochrane, 
by Peter Stroehling
If you enjoy tales of adventure, Cochrane’s larger-than-life escapades will engage and intrigue you.

As for the recruiting notice, posted at the dockyards -- it demonstrates the flair and attitude Cochrane brought to his command.

Who could resist this concise invocation of danger, deeds, and riches?

Cochrane filled every slot he had, and the Imperieuse sailed off to glory...