The Articles of War governed the life of every officer, sailor, and marine in the Royal Navy, and indeed the United States Navy, during the Age of Sail. They are nothing if not a clarion call to duty and subordination to legal authority.
They are clear, uncompromising, and severe. But they kept the Royal Navy at sea during times when Britain seemed sure to be swamped by its enemies on the Continent and made Lord St. Vincent’s 1801 statement before the House of Lords, “I do not say, my Lords, that the French will not come. I say only they will not come by sea,” an observation of fact not a boast.