Billy Budd Chapters 2 & 3
Billy is well received on the military vessel, but it is not as it was on the merchant ship. He looks younger than he is and does not fall into the jealousy of the other sailors: he is like the country mouse in the city. When asked, he says that he does not know his place of birth or parents, but he was found in a silk-lined basket in Bristol. An officer remarks that he was a good find. Billy is illiterate and knows the world only as a giant ocean with a series of ports and beaches. He is not without vice, but he is not vindictive. As the author interjects, he is little more than "[an] upright barbarian" Chapter 2, pg. 438. Billy, although he seems to be without blemish, stutters when he gets upset. He is imperfect in an imperfect world.
The ship is on its way to the Mediterranean. It is 1797, and during this year there have been mutinies which make the British empire nervous. Some of this was ignited by the fervor of the French Revolution. British naval historians often ignore the Nore mutiny and the Great mutiny. The first was violently put down and the second, although negotiated at the beginning, met the same end. Naval victories after these mutinies overshadow their significance.