Life of a Sailor

Written by Frederick Chamier
Review by Jo Ann Butler

Join the military and see the world! That was certainly true for young Frederick Chamier when he signed up with the British Navy in 1809. As a junior officer, Chamier visited ports throughout the Atlantic and Mediterranean basins, swapped cannonades with the French fleet, witnessed the slave trade, reluctantly participated in punitive expeditions against American civilians, and swam the Hellespont with Lord Byron.

After the War of 1812, Chamier quickly accumulated a sizeable nest egg in the Mexican silver trade. He retired from life on the sea, and jotted down his experiences in a nine-part series for Metropolitan Magazine.

Chamier’s adventures, well-edited by Vincent McInerney, are now part of the Seafarers’ Voices series under the title Life of a Sailor. The articulate Chamier vividly describes life on ship and in port, and Mark Twain could have written parts of this wry and entertaining tale. Life of a Sailor is a valuable resource for anyone writing about the seafaring life, and readers who love the sea will thoroughly enjoy this book.