Firstly, since going into Year 10 my workload has been ratcheted up quite substantially and so a lot of my free time has been spent obsessively scouring various websites looking for past papers and trying them out. (Nerd.)
Anyway, I'm back and today's topic is... The patronage system!
As I mentioned in my last post about a million years ago, over the summer I was working on a project on whether or not Nelson would have succeeded without the patronage system. I must say that I was quite surprised by what I found out. Before doing the project, I knew a bit about patronage and also its less honest side - falsifying sea time, lying about ages, most of the mids on a ship being friends or relatives of the captain and so on. So that wasn't what surprised me. What did surprise me was how much this went on and how terribly difficult it was to succeed without decent patrons.
I did know about this. I knew that those without patrons had to work extra hard to gain promotion and often had to endure watching less able but better supported contemporaries climbing the ladder before them. What I didn't realise was that this happened to almost all officers who were not lucky enough to have someone to speak for them. Even those who did could find themselves in a similar situation if their patron died or dropped them for whatever reason. Even those vouched for by Nelson himself found themselves suffering prolonged and sometimes permanent unemployment after he died. It is a terrible shame that such things went on and I can't help wonder how things might have turned out if all the talented but unsupported young officers had been given the chances that they deserved.