obey orders, if you break owners

A nautical proverb; for the meaning see quot. 1924.

1782 W. GORDON Letter 30 Nov. in Proceedings of Massachusetts Hist. Society (1930) LXIII. 476 You will be safe, though you break orders that would break your owners.

1823 J. F. COOPER Pilot vii. The old rule runs, ‘Obey orders, if you break owners.’

1924 R. CLEMENTS Gipsy of Horn iii. What could be sounder than ‘Obey orders, if you break owners’—meaning, do as you’re told, even if you know it’s wrong.

1976 J. R. L. ANDERSON Death on North Sea iv. I was brought up on the old sea maxim, ‘Obey orders if you break owners.’

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