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captured by the French. The master knocked down the Frenchman at the helm, took away his pistols, kept the others at bay, and subdued the whole; and, with the boy, aided by a relief crew from a British man-of-war, safely brought his vessel into an English port.
In the Admiralty Court, Sir William Scott awarded the master and boy £1,000 : £850 for master, and £150 for boy; to the twelve seamen from the man-of-war £500 in all.
In The Joseph Harvey, the facts found induced Sir W. Scott to pronounce it an “unpardonable effrontery,” to claim for them any salvage merit. The principle, however, was there recognized as a sound general rule of maritime jurisprudence, that a service, which should exceed the usual line or limit of positive duty, may be elevated into a service of merit; as that pilotage or towage service
become exalted to the grade and rank of a salvage service, and entitled to extra compensation, as such.
And the same principle is equally applicable, and may rightfully be extended, to agents, passengers, and other persons.
Thus, the actual master, rightfully in command of an endangered ship, may, at a time of extreme peril, be sick or indisposed; and so unable to perform his proper part; or he may, from excessive alarm and agitation, become physically incompetent to discharge his own duty well; or he may, from inexperience or want of the requisite nerve and resolution, prove to be physically unequal to the trying exigency in which he finds himself and his command suddenly involved : under these circumstances, or any of them, if a passenger
of known experience, personal courage, nautical skill, or other desirable qualifications, should assume the command and control of affairs, at others' request or of his own volition, and thereby ultimately through his subsequent suggestions, gallantry, personal efforts, or practical ingenuity, contribute to the saving or rescuing of an imperilled vessel, such passenger ought to be deemed a salvor, and as such become legally entitled to salvage remuneration. In the case supposed, the merit would be so marked, that no admiralty court would, in obedience to any mere technical rule, appear to be justified in withholding compensation. To refuse to reward merit so conspicuous, would be incongruous with the primary principles of admiralty law, ignoring the reason and disregarding the policy and spirit which ought to characterize and pervade its proper
administration in courts of admiralty. Bond v. Brig Cora, 2 Wash. C. C. 80; S. C. 2 Pet. Adm. 361. In this case, both the district and circuit judge recognized judicially, as early as 1806, the merit and claim to salvage service of a Spanish passenger, on board an American vessel, and decreed accordingly.
When, therefore, a mere passenger has voluntarily rendered meritorious service, and effectively contributed to the salving of a ship, endangered or derelict, his service should be adequately rewarded by a remuneration commensurate with its proper value. For when he shall have stepped out of his sphere and gone beyond the appropriate line of his duty, and has voluntarily rendered valuable service, which resulted in success, then he becomes legally as well as morally, well entitled to remuneration from those benefited by the service.
If passengers contribute to the rescue of a vessel by
recapture, their merit as salvors is duly recognized, and should be suitably rewarded. Even female passengers may render meritorious salvage service. Such was the fact in the case of Clayton et al. v. The Ship Harmony, 1 Pet. Adm. 70. Mrs. Ann Collett and Miss Esther Collett were passengers in the Harmony, an American ship, which was captured by a French corvette, and put in charge of a prize crew of three French officers, with seven other men, and ordered to Rochelle. Two days after the capture, the Americans, seven in number only, including the two ladies, rose and overpowered the French crew, retook the Harmony, and brought her into port. The two lady passengers assisted throughout the enterprise ; one of them, during the last scene of the enterprise, actually taking the helm : and both evincing throughout a firmness of mind, in the critical situation, which was deemed as honorable to them, as was their humanity in attending to the wounded, after the contest was over.
Such service was indeed meritorious ; its merit could not fail to be duly appreciated, and it was handsomely recognized by the court: and had these passengers joined in the libel for salvage, a full share of $3,603.41, would have been judicially decreed to them.
The principle was declared however, by this authority, that even female passengers may be legal salvors; thus further qualifying the old doctrine, that passengers cannot become salvors, though aiding and assisting in salvage service; that being mere matter of duty of a passenger. Also, vide 1 Hagg. 194; The Jane and Matilda.
But the case of Hamilton E. Towle v. The Steamer Great Eastern, 11 L. T. (N. S.) 516, is more recent; and
moreover it is one of singular interest, both for the peculiar merit of the libellant, and the amount of the salvage compensation decreed to him as salvor. In a gale, the steamer's rudder-shaft was broken, and her paddle-wheels disabled. The steamer was herself thrown into the trough of the sea; labored badly ; became almost hopelessly unmanageable; and was temporarily utterly helpless. At this juncture, the libellant disclosed a plan of relief, which he had himself conceived ; and was permitted, by the master, to cause it, under his superintendence, to be put in execution. By this scheme, which was the application of a newlydevised steering apparatus, extemporized for the occasion, the steamer was relieved from peril, and safely brought into port. For this service, whether it be called advice, suggestion, invention, ingenuity, information, or science illustrated on the ocean by practical mechanics, Mr. Towle sued as salvor, was adjudged to be salvor, and rewarded as such. For this meritorious service the court decreed to the libellant, as salvage, the liberal sum of $15,000.
The service rendered was extraordinary, proffered at a time of extreme peril, when the ordinary maritime manoeuvres and nautical expedients of seamen present had proved unavailing; the naval engineer and navigators were baffled; but the civil and practical engineer was successful. And therefore upon principle, precedent, and policy, the law commended Mr. Towle's claim to the court's favor.
Thus it has been seen that passengers can justly become salvors; and the old dogma to the contrary, once so restrictive and exclusive, is constantly being relaxed by modern legislation or recent judicial de
PILOTS AS SALVORS.
cisions. This rule, like that declaring freight to be the mother of wages, is gradually being extended and becoming more flexible; and like that, it must ultimately yield to the advance of sound jurisprudence and modern civilization, as do other ancient doctrines or technical fictions, which formerly discredited the admiralty law and its administration. In England they are legislated; in the United States, they are adjudicated, out of the maritime law and continued legal existence.
Pilots also may become salvors, in cases of distress ; or under peculiar and extraordinary circumstances. Generally, however, their services are strictly professional, and within the line of their ordinary duty. While this is the case, they must as a class be content with the usual pilotage compensation, prescribed by the Pilot Commissioners or the Legislature. But there are occasions when pilotage, like towage service, may be justly exalted into a salvage service. If pilots, in a time of peril or distress, perform unusual maritime service, out of the sphere of their profession and beyond their line of duty, which shall have contributed to the ultimate salving of property imperilled, then it is but right, in admiralty, that they should be classed legally among salvors and rewarded as such. When so remunerated, it is immaterial whether such compensation be denominated extra pilotage or salvage. The more rational way of dealing with it, however, would seem to be, to designate it as salvage reward, or salvage in lieu of or in addition to pilotage. Whatever may have been the old rule or former practice, the modern doctrine that a pilot, stepping outside of his profession, and performing voluntarily a service beyond the line of his