§ 184. We now come to the sixth class, namely, seamen, who are peculiarly under the guardianship of the law, and are often called the wards of admiralty. By a law of the United States,1 it is provided, that "no sum exceeding one dollar shall be recovered from any seaman or mariner (in the merchant service) by any person, for any debt contracted during the time such seaman or mariner shall actually belong to any ship or vessel, until the voyage for which such seaman or mariner engaged shall be ended." It has been held, however, that, inasmuch as the effect of the statute is to avoid, or at least to suspend a contract, which otherwise might be enforced at law forthwith, the defendant must be held to a strict compliance with the statute provision creating his exemption, and must produce the shipping paper, which he is required, by the first section, to sign, and which is, therefore, the proper evidence of his contract.2
§ 185. The contract of a seaman for his wages is construed by the courts very liberally in his favor, in consideration of the general recklessness and thoughtlessness as well as ignorance which characterize this class of persons. Wherever, therefore, in the shipping articles any stipulation is inserted derogating from the general rights and privileges of seamen, it will be held void in equity and admiralty, unless the nature and operation of the clause have been fully explained to the seaman, and unless an additional and fully adequate compensation be allowed to him on consideration of such stipulation.3 So, also, discharge, is never construed as a condition precedent, but as an indication of time and place of payment.1
1 1 Laws of U. S. (Story's ed.) ch. 56, § 4, p. 104.
2 Reynard v. Brecknell, 4 Pick. 302.
3 Mr. Justice Story, in Brown v. Lull, 2 Sumner, 449, thus lays down the rule, and its reasons: "It is well known, that the shipping articles, in their common form, are in perfect coincidence with the general principles of the maritime law as to seamen's wages. It is equally well known, that courts of admiralty are in the habit of watching with scrupulous jealousy every deviation from these principles in the articles, as injurious to the rights of seamen, and founded in an unconscionable inequality of benefits between the parties. Seamen are a class of persons remarkable for their rashness, thoughtlessness, and improvidence. They are generally necessitous, ignothe usual clause that no seaman shall be entitled to his wages, or any part thereof, until the arrival of the ship at the port of rant of the nature and extent of their own rights and privileges, and, for the most part, incapable of duly appreciating their value. They combine, in a singular manner, the apparent anomalies of gallantry, extravagance, profusion in expenditure, indifference to the future, credulity, which is easily won, and confidence, which is readily surprised. Hence it is, that bargains between them and ship-owners, the latter being persons of great intelligence and shrewdness in business, are deemed open to much observation and scrutiny; for they involve great inequality of knowledge, of forecast, of power, and of condition. Courts of admiralty, on this account, are accustomed to consider seamen as peculiarly entitled to their protection; so that they have been, by a somewhat bold figure, often said to be favorites of courts of admiralty. In a just sense they are so, so far as the maintenance of their rights, and the protection of their interests against the effects of the superior skill and shrewdness of masters and owners of ships are concerned. Courts of admiralty are not, by their constitution and jurisdiction, confined to the mere dry and positive rules of the common law. But they act upon the enlarged and liberal jurisprudence of courts of equity; and, in short, so far as their powers extend, they act as courts of equity. Whenever, therefore, any stipulation is found in the shipping articles, which derogates from the general rights and privileges of seamen, courts of admiralty hold it void, as founded upon imposition or an undue advantage taken of their necessities, and ignorance, and improvidence, unless two things concur; first, that the nature and operation of the clause is fully and fairly explained to the seamen; and secondly, that an additional compensation is allowed, entirely adequate to the new restrictions and risks imposed upon them thereby. This doctrine was fully expounded by Lord Stowell, in his admirable judgment in the case of the Juliana (2 Dods. 504); and it was much considered by this court in the case of Harden v. Gordon (2 Mason, 541, 556, 557); and it has received the high sanction of Mr. Chancellor Kent, in his Commentaries (vol. iii. lect. 46, p. 198). I know not, indeed, that this doctrine has ever been broken in upon in courts of admiralty, or in courts of equity. The latter courts are accustomed to apply it to classes of cases far more extensive in their reach and operation; to cases of young heirs selling their expectancies; to cases of reversioners and remainder-men dealing with their estates; and to cases of wards dealing with their guardians; and above all, to cases of seamen dealing with their prize-money and other interests. If courts of law have felt themselves bound down to a more limited exercise of jurisdiction, as it seems from the cases of Appleby v. Dods (8 East, 300) and Jesse v. Roy (1 Cromp. Mees. & Rose. 316, 320, 339), that they are, it is not, that they are insensible of the justice and importance of these considerations, but because they are restrained from applying them by the more strict rules of the jurisprudence of the common law, which they are called upon to administer." See also The Betsy and Rhoda, in the District Court of Maine, 3 N. Y. Leg. Obs. 215.
§ 186. The contract made by a seaman for his wages is of a peculiar character, and seems to demand some brief consideration in this place. And in the first place, let us consider when he is entitled to wages, and secondly, when he forfeits or loses his wages. The first rule is, that freight is the mother of wages, and if the ship have earned its freight, the seaman has earned his wages,2 though this rule does not apply to the master of the ship.3 If a ship complete her outward voyage, and earn freight, but perish on the homeward voyage, the seaman will be entitled to wages for the outward voyage, unless the two be, by agreement, consolidated into one.4 Wherever a voyage is divided by various ports of delivery, a proportional claim for wages attaches at each of such ports, and all attempts to evade that title by renunciations, obtained from the mariners without any consideration, by collateral bonds or contracts inserted in the body of the shipping articles, are void.5 So, also, the sickness of the seaman during the voyage, or his inability to perform his work, in consequence of any injury received in the service of the vessel, will not destroy his right to receive wages.6 So, also, if a master, in violation of his contract, discharge a seaman from the service of the ship during the voyage, he will still be entitled to full wages to the end of the voyage, deducting any wages which he may, during such time, have earned in another vessel.7 So, also, if the master