CAPTAIN

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CAPTAIN. This is one of those many words derived from the Latin of the middle ages, and now to be found in all the different idioms of Europe. Captain comes from the Latin capitaneus, from caput, head, and signified, first, a governor of a province, who. in the first half of the middle ages, was generally a military man. Thus the word captain soon came to be used chiefly to denote a high, or rather the highest, military officer. Opitz, an early German poet, calls God, Lord, Master, Captain; and, in English, Christ is called the Captain of our salvation. Like many other words, however, this has, in the course of time, lost much of its dignity, and, in military technology, now signifies the commander of a small bodya companyand, in maritime language, the master of a vessel. In the United States of America, the master of the smallest craft, and even the chief man on a raft, is styled captain. In the latter part of the middle ages, when armies were not yet so regularly divided and subdivided as at the present time, captains were the commanders of those small bodies of which the armies consisted. These were generally collected by their commander, who entered, with his company, into the service where most pay or most booty could be obtained. The practice of carrying on wars, by troops collected in this manner, prevailed to the greatest extent in Italy, where the continual quarrels of the numerous small states afforded ample employment to the unsettled and the dissolute. These companies play an important part in the history of the middle ages, particularly that of the two centuries preceding the reformation, and had a very important influence on the manners and morals of the south of Europe. They are further interesting to the student of history, because they are so unlike any thing at present existing. We refer the reader, for some further remarks on this subject, to an able article on Macchiavelli, in the Edinburgh Review, March, 1827.Cap4ai?ij in modern armies, is the commander of a company of foot, or a troop of horse. In the English army, he appoints the Ser jeants, corporals and lancecorporals of his companya right which belongs, in other armies, to the commander of ttje regiment. In the horse and footguards, the captains have the rank of lieutenantcolonels in the army. In the French army, besides the commanders of the companies of the line, commanders of certain detached bodies of guards, &c, are called captain, and have, sometimes, a very high rank in the army.Captainlieutenant is, in the English army, a lieutenant, who, with the rank of captain, commands a troop or company in the name of some other person. Thus, the colonel being usually captain of the first company of his regiment, that company is commanded by his deputy as captainlieutenant.Captain of a merchant ship ; he who has the direction of the ship, her crew, lading, &c. In small vessels, he is more ordinarily called master. In the Mediterranean, he is cslled'patroon.Postcaptain ; an English officer commanding any manofwar, from a ship of the line down to a shiprigged sloop. Formerly, a twentygun ship was the smallest that gave postrank; but, by a late regulation, the largest class of shipsloops has been added to the list of postships; and postcaptains, under three years' standing, are now appointed to them, unless they happen to be selected as flagcaptains to admirals' ships. After being three years posted, they are appointed to frigates, which they may continue to command till they are of 10 years' standing, when they are generally removed to 50 or 64 gunships, preparatory to their taking the command of ships of the line.Captaingeneral signifies, in England, the first military rank, power and authority in the realm; therefore the king is, by the constitution, captaingeneral, or generalissimo, of all the forces in the United Kingdoms. In 1799, the king delegated this rank, with the powers annexed to it, to the duke of York. In France, it is an ancient title, which conferred an almost unlimited power on the person who possessed it, in the district where he commanded. But it never corresponded to that of generalissi mo, except in the case of the duke of Savoy, in 1635, in the time of Louis XIII. The count de Tesse was French captaingeneral in Italy in 1702. The title is not in use at present, nor would it agree with the existing organization of the administration. In Spain, the rank of a captaingeneral corresponds with that of a marshal of France, who has the command of an army. This title was also given to the iiVyLH,*. VI U* Ul V " IIIVVa XXX K,XX\S K^ &JlA,XXX*~tXX UV1U nies in South America, which was divided into viceroyalties and captaingeneralships {capitaniasgenerales); thus Chili was a captaingeneralship. The captaingenerals were not placed under the viceroys, but accountable only to the king, through the council of the Indies. The captaingeneral of Venezuela, for instance, had no connexion with the viceroy of New Grenada. They decided, in the last instance, on all legislative, judicial and military affairs, and presided in the real audiencia. The time during which these governors remained in power was limited to a few years, probably in order to prevent them from becoming too powerful. The consequence was, that the colonies were oppressed the more to enrich the governors, for rich every one was when he left his office.