Volume 1: 1771 Edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica!


Baptism, in matters of religion, a sacrament, by which a person is initiated into the Christian church. See RELIGION.

Baptism, in the sea-language, a ceremony in long voyages on board merchant-ships, practised both on persons and vessels who pass the tropic or line for the first time. The baptizing the vessel is simple, and consists only in washing them throughout with sea-water, that of the passengers is more mysterious. The oldest of the crew, that has past the tropic or line, comes with his face blacked, a grotesque cap on his head, and some sea-book in his hand, followed by the rest of the sea-men dressed like himself, each having some kitchen-utensil in his hand, with drums beating. He places himself on a seat on the deck, at the foot of the main mast. At the tribunal of this mock magistrate, each passenger not yet initiated, swears he will take care the same ceremony be observed, whenever he is in the like circumstances: Then by giving a little money by way of gratification, he is discharged with a little sprinkling of water, otherwise he is heartily drenched with streams of water poured upon him; and the ship-boys are inclosed in a cage, and ducked at discretion.

The seamen, on the baptizing a ship, pretend to a right of cutting off the beak-head, unless redeemed by the captain.

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