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William Falconer's Dictionary of the MarineReference Works
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ABACK to ADMIRAL of the fleet
To fall ABOARD
ADMIRAL of the fleet



ALL bands high to ANCHOR

To drag the ANCHORS to To fish the ANCHOR

To sheer the ship to her ANCHOR to Top-ARMOUR




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ADMIRAL (amiral, Fr.) an officer of the first rank and command in the fleet, and who is distinguished by a flag displayed at his main-top-mast-head. Also an officer who superintends the naval forces of a nation, and who is authorised to determine in all maritime causes.

The origin and denomination of this important office, which seems to have been established in most countries that border on the sea, have given rise to a great varicty of opinions. Some have borrowed them from the Greek, others from the Arabic, while a third sort, with greater probability, derive both the title and dignity from the Saracens (In regno Saracenorum quatuor praetores statuit, qui admiralli vocabintur. SIGEBERT.)

But since no certain conclusions have been deduced from these elaborate researches, and as it rather appears the province of this work to give the reader an idea of the office and duty of an admiral at sea, than to furnish an historical or chronological detail of the rank and power with which admirals have been invested in different nations, we shall contentedly resign this talk to the ingenious lexicographers, who have so repeatedly entertained us with such critical investigations.

The ADMIRAL, or commander in chief of a squadron, being frequently invested with a great charge, on which the fate of a kingdom may depend, ought certainly to be possessed of abilities equal to so important a station and so extensive a command. His squadron is unavoidably exposed to a varicty of perplexing situations in a precarious element. A train of dangerous incidents necessarily arise from those situations. The health, order, and discipline of his people are not less the objects of his consideration, than the condition and qualities of his ships. A sudden change of climate, a rank and infectious air, a scarcity, or unwholesomness of provisions may be as pernicious to the former, as tempestuous weather or dangerous navigation to the latter. A lee-shore, an injudicious engagement with an enemy greatly superior, may be equally fatal to both. He ought to have sufficient experience to anticipate all the probable events that may happen to his squadron during an expedition or cruise, and, by consequence, to provide against them. His Skill should be able to counteract the various disasters which his squadron may suffer from different causes. His vigilance and presence of mind are necessary to seize every favorable opportunity that his situation may offer to prosecute his principal design; to extricate himself from any difficulty or distress; to check unfortunate events in the beginning, and retard the progress of any great calamity. He should be endued with resolution and fortitude to animate his officers by the force of example, and promote a sense of emulation in those who are under his command, as well to improve any advantage, as to frustrate or defeat the efforts of his ill fortune.

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© Derived from Thomas Cadell's new corrected edition, London: 1780, page 2, 2004
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