clipping privateer; keep him on short allowance

< Previous | Next >

Aporteli

Member
Georgian
I only wish I had the command of a clipping privateer to be-gin with and could carry off the Chancellor and keep him on short allowance until he gave judgment in our cause. He’d find himself growing thin, if he didn’t look sharp!’
 
  • Aporteli

    Member
    Georgian
    It is from Bleak House by Charles Dickens

    Ah! Perhaps Richard was going to be a sailor. <Deletion> ‘So I apprehend it’s pretty clear,’ said Richard to me, ‘that I shall have to work my own way. Never mind! Plenty of people have had to do that before now, and have done it. I only wish I had the command of a clipping privateer to be-gin with and could carry off the Chancellor and keep him on short allowance until he gave judgment in our cause. <Deletion>

    <Quotation shortened. Nat>
     
    Last edited by a moderator:

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    A privateer is a kind of ship, and "clipping" is "fast". He would like to abduct the Chancellor and keep him in a state of hunger.

    I think "short allowance" must be the same as "short rations".
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    A privateer is a kind of ship
    Strictly speaking, it isn't a type of ship—any ship can be a privateer just as any ship can be a pirate ship or belong to a navy. A ship becomes a privateer because its captain (or sometimes its owner, or sometimes, it seems, the ship itself) has a "letter or marque" issued by one country permitting it to lawfully attack the ships of another, specified, country. A privateer is essentially a private warship, or a licensed pirate, depending on how favourably you view its activities.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    Thanks, Uncle Jack. To save explaining, I just linked to the dictionary. I wonder whether the "pirate ship" definition still held in Dickens' time?
     

    Egmont

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Thanks, Uncle Jack. To save explaining, I just linked to the dictionary. I wonder whether the "pirate ship" definition still held in Dickens' time?
    Bleak House is set sometime in the late 1820s up to about 1830, depending on which scholar you believe - during Dickens's youth, at least 20 years before he wrote it. Privateers in the sense that Uncle Jack describes them (correctly, by the way) existed at least through the time of the American Civil War in the early 1860s. So, no time conflict there.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top