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Title: Sketches From My Life - By The Late Admiral Hobart Pasha
Author: Hobart-Hampden, Augustus Charles, 1822-1886
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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SKETCHES

FROM

MY LIFE


BY THE LATE

ADMIRAL HOBART PASHA



_WITH A PORTRAIT_



THIRD EDITION


LONDON
LONGMANS, GREEN, AND CO.
1887

_All rights reserved_

PRINTED BY
SPOTTISWOODE AND CO., NEW-STREET SQUARE
LONDON



PREFACE.


These pages were the last ever written by the brave and true-hearted
sailor of whose life they are a simple record.

A few months before his death, some of his friends made the fortunate
suggestion that he should put on paper a detailed account of his
sporting adventures, and this idea gradually developed itself until the
work took the present form of an autobiography, written roughly, it is
true, and put together without much method, part of it being dictated at
the Riviera during the last days of the author's fatal illness. Such as
it is, however, we are convinced that the many devoted friends of
Hobart Pasha who now lament his death will be glad to recall in these
'Sketches' the adventures and sports which some of them shared with him,
and the genial disposition and manly qualities which endeared him to
them all.



CONTENTS


CHAPTER                      PAGE

I. A ROUGH START IN LIFE      1

II. PERILS BY SEA AND LAND      14

III. A TRAGICAL AFFAIR      27

IV. RIO DE JANEIRO      36

V. SLAVER HUNTING      43

VI. SLAVER HUNTING (_continued_)      53

VII. LOVE AND MURDER      62

VIII. THE QUEEN'S YACHT      71

IX. IN THE BALTIC      78

X. BLOCKADE-RUNNING      87

XI. EXCITING ADVENTURES      103

XII. A VISIT TO CHARLESTON      120

XIII. NEVER CAUGHT!      133

XIV. LAST DAYS ON THE 'D----N'      147

CHAPTER                           PAGE

XV. RICHMOND DURING THE SIEGE      159

XVI. THE LAND BLOCKADE      175

XVII. I ENTER THE TURKISH NAVY      186

XVIII. THE WAR WITH RUSSIA      201

XIX. THE TURKISH FLEET DURING THE WAR      217

XX. SPORT IN TURKEY      235

XXI. SPORT AND SOCIETY      253

EXTRACT FROM THE 'DAILY TELEGRAPH'      277

SKETCHES FROM MY LIFE.



CHAPTER I.

A ROUGH START IN LIFE.


To attempt to write and publish sketches of my somewhat eventful career
is an act that, I fear, entails the risk of making enemies of some with
whom I have come in contact. But I have arrived at that time of life
when, while respecting, as I do, public opinion, I have hardened
somewhat into indifference of censure. I will, however, endeavour to
write as far as lies in my power (while recording facts) 'in charity
with all men.' This can be done in most part by omitting the names of
ships in which and officers under whom I have served.

I was born, as the novelists say, of respectable parents, at
Walton-on-the-Wold, in Leicestershire, on April 1, 1822. I will pass
over my early youth, which was, as might be expected, from the time of
my birth until I was ten years of age, without any event that could
prove interesting to those who are kind enough to peruse these pages.

At the age of ten I was sent to a well-known school at Cheam, in Surrey,
the master of which, Dr. Mayo, has turned out some very distinguished
pupils, of whom I was not fated to be one; for, after a year or so of
futile attempt on my part to learn something, and give promise that I
might aspire to the woolsack or the premiership, I was pronounced
hopeless; and having declared myself anxious to emulate the deeds of
Nelson, and other celebrated sailors, it was decided that I should enter
the navy, and steps were taken to send me at once to sea.

A young cousin of mine who had been advanced to the rank of captain,
more through the influence of his high connections than from any merit
of his own, condescended to give me a nomination in a ship which he had
just commissioned, and thus I was launched like a young bear, 'having
all his sorrows to come,' into Her Majesty's navy as a naval cadet. I
shall never forget the pride with which I donned my first uniform,
little thinking what I should have to go through. My only consolation
while recounting facts that will make many parents shudder at the
thought of what their children (for they are little more when they join
the service) were liable to suffer, is, that things are now totally
altered, and that under the present régime every officer, whatever his
rank, is treated like a gentleman, or he, or his friends, can know 'the
reason why.'

I am writing of a period some fifteen or twenty years after Marryat had
astonished the world by his thrilling descriptions of a naval officer's
life and its accompanying troubles. At the time of which I write people
flattered themselves that the sufferings which 'Midshipman Easy' and
'The Naval Officer' underwent while serving the Crown were tales of the
past. I will show by what I am about very briefly to relate that such
was very far from being the case.

Everything being prepared, and good-bye being said to my friends, who
seemed rather glad to be rid of me, I was allowed to travel from London
on the box of a carriage which contained the great man who had given me
the nomination (captains of men-of-war were very great men in those
days), and after a long weary journey we arrived at the port where
H.M.S.---- was lying ready for sea. On the same night of our arrival the
sailing orders came from the Admiralty; we were to go to sea the next
day, our destination being South America.

Being a very insignificant individual, I was put into a waterman's boat
with my chest and bed, and was sent on board. On reporting myself, I was
told by the commanding officer not to bother him, but to go to my mess,
where I should be taken care of. On descending a ladder to the lower
deck, I looked about for the mess, or midshipmen's berth, as it was then
called. In one corner of this deck was a dirty little hole about ten
feet long and six feet wide, five feet high. It was lighted by two or
three dips, otherwise tallow candles, of the commonest
description--behold the mess!

In this were seated six or seven officers and gentlemen, some
twenty-five to thirty years of age, called mates, meaning what are now
called sub-lieutenants. They were drinking rum and water and eating
mouldy biscuits; all were in their shirtsleeves, and really, considering
the circumstances, seemed to be enjoying themselves exceedingly.

On my appearance it was evident that I was looked upon as an interloper,
for whom, small as I was, room must be found. I was received with a
chorus of exclamations, such as, 'What the deuce does the little fellow
want here?' 'Surely there are enough of us crammed into this beastly
little hole!' 'Oh, I suppose he is some protégé of the captain's,' &c.
&c.

At last one, more kindly disposed than the rest, addressed me: 'Sorry
there is no more room in here, youngster;' and calling a dirty-looking
fellow, also in his shirtsleeves, said, 'Steward, give this young
gentleman some tea and bread and butter, and get him a hammock to sleep
in.' So I had to be contented to sit on a chest outside the midshipmen's
berth, eat my tea and bread and butter, and turn into a hammock for the
first time in my life, which means 'turned out'--the usual procedure
being to tumble out several times before getting accustomed to this, to
me, novel bedstead. However, once accustomed to the thing, it is easy
enough, and many indeed have been the comfortable nights I have slept in
a hammock, such a sleep as many an occupant of a luxurious four-poster
might envy. At early dawn a noise all around me disturbed my slumbers:
this was caused by all hands--officers and men--being called up to
receive the captain, who was coming alongside to assume his command by
reading his official appointment.

I shall never forget his first words. He was a handsome young man, with
fine features, darkened, however, by a deep scowl. As he stepped over
the side he greeted us by saying to the first lieutenant in a loud
voice, 'Put all my boat's crew in irons for neglect of duty.' It seems
that one of them kept him waiting for a couple of minutes when he came
down to embark. After giving this order our captain honoured the
officers who received him with a haughty bow, read aloud his commission,
and retired to his cabin, having ordered the anchor to be weighed in two
hours.

Accordingly at eight o'clock we stood out to sea, the weather being fine
and wind favourable. At eleven all hands were called to attend the
punishment of the captain's boat's crew. I cannot describe the horror
with which I witnessed six fine sailor-like looking fellows torn by the
frightful cat, for having kept this officer waiting a few minutes on the
pier. Nor will I dwell on this illegal sickening proceeding, as I do not
write to create a sensation, and, thank goodness! such things cannot be
done now.

I had not much time for reflection, for my turn came next. I believe I
cried or got into somebody's way, or did something to vex the tyrant;
all I know is that I heard myself addressed as 'You young scoundrel,'
and ordered to go to the 'mast-head.' Go to the mast-head indeed! with
a freshening wind, under whose influence the ship was beginning to heel
over, and an increasing sea that made her jump about like an acrobat. I
had not got my sea legs, and this feat seemed an utter impossibility to
me. I looked with horror up aloft; then came over me the remembrance of
Marryat's story of the lad who refused to go to the mast-head, and who
was hoisted up by the signal halyards. While thinking of this, another
'Well, sir, why don't you obey orders?' started me into the lower
rigging, which I began with the greatest difficulty to climb, expecting
at every step to go headlong overboard.

A good-natured sailor, seeing the fix I was in, gave me a helping hand,
and up I crawled as far as the maintop. This, I must explain to my
non-nautical reader, is not the mast-head, but a comparatively
comfortable half-way resting-place, from whence one can look about
feeling somewhat secure.

On looking down to the deck my heart bled to see the poor sailor who had
helped me undergoing punishment for his kind act. I heard myself at the
same time ordered 'to go higher,' and a little higher I did go. Then I
stopped, frightened to death, and almost senseless; terror, however,
seemed to give me presence of mind to cling on, and there I remained
till some hours afterwards; then I was called down. On reaching the deck
I fainted, and knew no more till I awoke after some time in my hammock.

Now, I ask anyone, even a martinet at heart, whether such treatment of a
boy, not thirteen years of age, putting his life into the greatest
danger, taking this first step towards breaking his spirit, and in all
probability making him, as most likely had been done to the poor men I
had seen flogged that morning, into a hardened mutinous savage, was not
disgraceful?

Moreover, it was as close akin to murder as it could be, for I don't
know how it was I didn't fall overboard, and then nothing could have
saved my life. However, as I didn't fall, I was not drowned, and the
effect on me was curious enough. For all I had seen and suffered on that
the opening day of my sea-life made me think for the first time--and I
have never ceased thinking (half a century has passed since then)--how
to oppose tyranny in every shape. Indeed, I have always done so to such
an extent as to have been frequently called by my superiors 'a
troublesome character,' 'a sea lawyer,' &c.

Perhaps in this way I have been able to effect something, however
small, towards the entire change that has taken place in the treatment
of those holding subordinate positions in the navy--and that something
has had its use, for the tyrant's hand is by force stayed now, 'for once
and for all.'

With this little I am satisfied.

Now let us briefly look into the question, 'Why are men tyrants when
they have it in _their power to be so_?'

Unfortunately, as a rule, it appears to come natural to them! What
caused the Indian Mutiny? Let Indian officers and those employed in the
Indian civil service answer that question.

However, I have only to do with naval officers. My experience tells me
that a man clothed with brief but supreme authority, such as the command
of a man-of-war, in those days when for months and months he was away
from all control of his superiors and out of reach of public censure, is
more frequently apt to listen to the promptings of the devil, which more
or less attack every man, especially when he is alone.

Away from the softening influence of society and the wholesome fear of
restraint, for a time at least the voice of his better angel is
silenced. Perhaps also the necessarily solitary position of a commander
of a man-of-war, his long, lonely hours, the utter change from the
jovial life he led previous to being afloat, to say nothing of his liver
getting occasionally out of order, may all tend to make him irritable
and despotic.

I have seen a captain order his steward to be flogged, almost to death,
because his pea-soup was not hot. I have seen an officer from twenty to
twenty-five years of age made to stand between two guns with a sentry
over him for hours, because he had neglected to see and salute the
tyrant who had come on deck in the dark. And as a proof, though it seems
scarcely credible, of what such men can do when unchecked by fear of
consequences, I will cite the following:--

On one occasion the captain of whom I have been writing invited a friend
to breakfast with him, and there being, I suppose, a slight monotony in
the conversation, he asked his guest whether he would like, by way of
diversion, to see a man flogged. The amusement was accepted, and a man
_was_ flogged.

It was about the time I write of that the tyranny practised on board Her
Majesty's ships was slowly but surely dawning upon the public, and a
general outcry against injustice began.

This was shown in a very significant manner by the following fact:--

A post-captain of high rank and powerful connections dared, in
contradiction to naval law, to flog a midshipman. This young officer's
father, happening to be a somewhat influential man, made a stir about
the affair. The honourable captain was tried by court-martial and
severely reprimanded.

However, I will cut short these perhaps uninteresting details, merely
stating that for three years I suffered most shameful treatment. My last
interview with my amiable cousin is worth relating. The ship was paid
off, and the captain, on going to the hotel at Portsmouth, sent for me
and offered me a seat on his carriage to London. Full of disgust and
horror at the very sight of him, I replied that I would rather 'crawl
home on my hands and knees than go in his carriage,' and so ended our
acquaintance, for I never saw him again.

It may be asked how, like many others, I tided over all the ill-usage
and the many trials endured during three years. The fact is, I had
become during that period of ill-treatment so utterly hardened to it
that I seemed to feel quite indifferent and didn't care a rap. But
wasn't I glad to be free!

I had learnt many a lesson of use to me in after life, the most
important of all being to sympathise with other people's miseries, and
to make allowance for the faults and shortcomings of humanity.

On the other hand, experience is a severe taskmaster, and it taught me
to be somewhat insubordinate in my notions. I fear I must confess that
this spirit of insubordination has never left me.

On my arrival at home my relations failed to see in me an ill-used lad
(I was only sixteen), and seemed inclined to disbelieve my yarns; but
this did not alter the facts, nor can I ever forget what I went through
during that 'reign of terror,' as it might well be called.

People may wonder how was it in the days of Benbow and his successors no
complaints were made. To this I answer, first, that the men of those
days, knowing the utter hopelessness of complaining, preferred to 'grin
and bear;' secondly, that neither officers nor men were supposed to
possess such a thing as feeling, when they had once put their foot on
board a man-of-war. Then there were the almost interminable sea voyages
under sail, during which unspeakable tyrannies could be practised,
unheard of beyond the ship, and unpunished. It must be remembered that
there were no telegraphs, no newspaper correspondents, no questioning
public, so that the evil side of human nature (so often shown in the
very young in their cruelty to animals) had its swing, fearless of
retribution.

Let us leave this painful subject, with the consoling thought that we
shall never see the like again.



CHAPTER II.

PERILS BY SEA AND LAND.


After enjoying a few weeks at home, I was appointed to the Naval Brigade
on service in Spain, acting with the English army, who were there by way
of assisting Queen Christina against Don Carlos.

The army was a curious collection of regular troops and volunteer
soldiers, the latter what would be called 'Bashi-Bazouks.' The naval
part of the expedition consisted of 1,200 Royal Marines, and a brigade
of sailors under the orders of Lord John Hay. The army (barring the
regulars, who were few in numbers) was composed of about 15,000 of the
greatest rabble I ever saw, commanded by Sir De Lacy Evans.

For fear any objection or misapprehension be applied to the word
'rabble,' I must at once state that these volunteers, though in
appearance so motley and undisciplined, fought splendidly, and in that
respect did all honour to their country and the cause they were
fighting for.

Very soon after we had disembarked I received what is usually called my
'baptism of fire,' that is to say, I witnessed 'the first shot fired in
anger.' The Carlists were pressing hard on the Queen's forces, who were
returning towards the sea; it was of the greatest importance to hold
certain heights that defended San Sebastian and the important port of
Passagis.

The gallant marines (as usual to the front) were protecting the hill on
which Lord John was standing; the fire was hot and furious. I candidly
admit I was in mortal fear, and when a shell dropped right in the middle
of us, and was, I thought, going to burst (as it did), I fell down on my
face. Lord John, who was close to me, and looking as cool as a cucumber,
gave me a severe kick, saying, 'Get up, you cowardly young rascal; are
you not ashamed of yourself?'

I did get up and _was_ ashamed of myself. From that moment to this I
have never been hard upon those who flinched at the first fire they were
under. My pride helped me out of the difficulty, and I flinched no more.
For an hour or so the battle raged furiously.

By degrees all fear left me; I felt only excitement and anger, and when
we (a lot I had to do with it!) drove the enemy back in the utmost
confusion, wasn't I proud!

When all was over Lord John called me, and after apologising in the most
courteous manner for the kick, he gave me his hand (poor fellow! he had
already lost one arm while fighting for his country), and said: 'Don't
be discouraged, youngster; you are by no means the first who has shown
alarm on being for the first time under fire.' So I was happy.

It is not my intention to give in detail the events that I witnessed
during that disastrous civil war in Spain; suffice it that after much
hard fighting the Carlists were driven back into their mountains so much
discouraged that they eventually renounced a hopeless cause; and at all
events for a long period order was restored in Spain.

After serving under Lord John Hay for six or seven months, I was
appointed to another ship, which was ordered to my old station, South
America.

The captain of my new ship was in every sense a gentleman, and although
a strict disciplinarian, was just and kind-hearted. From the captain
downwards every officer was the same in thought and deed, so we were all
as happy as sand-boys. It was then that I began to realise a fact of
which before I had only a notion--namely, that discipline can be
maintained without undue severity, to say nothing of cruelty, and that
service in the navy could be made a pleasure as well as a duty to one's
country.

After visiting Rio de Janeiro, we were sent to the River Plate; there we
remained nearly a year, during which time several adventures which I
will relate occurred, both concerning my duties and my amusements.

I must tell my readers that from earliest boyhood I had a passionate
love for shooting; and, through the kindness of my commanding officer
while at Monte Video, I was allowed constantly to indulge in sport.

On one occasion my captain, who was a keen sportsman, took me with him
out shooting. We had a famous day's sport, filled our game bags with
partridges, ducks, and snipe, and were returning home on horseback when
a solitary horseman, a nasty-looking fellow, armed to the teeth, rode up
to us. As I knew a little Spanish we began to talk about shooting, &c.
&c.; then he asked me to shoot a bird for him (the reason why he did
this will be seen immediately). I didn't like the cut of his jib, so
rather snubbed him. However, he continued to ride on with us, to within
half a mile of where our boat was waiting to take us on board. I must
explain our relative positions as we rode along. The captain was on my
left, I next to him, and the man was on my right, riding very near to
me. All of a sudden he exclaimed in Spanish, 'Now is the time or never,'
threw his right leg over the pommel of his saddle, slipped on to the
ground, drew his knife, dashed at me, and after snatching my gun from my
hand, stuck his knife (as he thought) into me. Then he rushed towards
the captain, pulling the trigger of my gun, and pointing straight at the
latter's head; the gun was not loaded, having only the old percussion
caps on. (Now I saw why he wanted me to fire, so that he might know
whether my gun was loaded; but the old caps evidently deceived him.)

All this was the work of a very few seconds. Now what was my chief
doing? Seeing a row going on, he was dismounting; in fact, was half-way
off his horse, only one foot in the stirrup, when the man made the rush
at him. Finding me stuck to my saddle (for the ruffian's knife had gone
through my coat and pinned me), and the fellow snapping my gun, which
was pointed at him, he as coolly as possible put his gun over his
horse's shoulder and shot the would-be murderer dead on the spot. Then
turning to me he said quite calmly, 'I call you to witness that that
man intended to murder me.' How differently all would have ended had my
gun been loaded! The villain would have shot my chief, taken both guns,
and galloped off, leaving me ignominiously stuck to my saddle.

The audacity of this one man attacking us two armed sportsmen showed the
immense confidence these prairie people feel in themselves, especially
in their superior horsemanship. However, the fellow caught a Tartar on
this occasion.

As for me, the knife had gone, as I said, through my loose shooting
jacket just below the waist, through the upper part of my trousers, and
so into the saddle, without even touching my skin. I have kept the knife
in memory of my lucky escape.

While laying at Monte Video there was on each side of us a French
man-of-war, the officers of which were very amiably inclined, and many
were the dinners and parties exchanged between us.

In those days the interchange of our respective languages was very
limited on both sides, so much so, that our frantic efforts to
understand each other were a constant source of amusement. A French
midshipman and myself, however, considered ourselves equal to the
occasion, and professed linguists; so on the principle that in the 'land
of the blind the one-eyed man is king,' we were the swells of the
festivities.

I remember on one occasion, when the birthday of Louis Philippe was to
be celebrated, my French midshipman friend came on board officially and
said, 'Sir, the first of the month is the feast of the King; you must
fire the gun.' 'All right,' said we. Accordingly, we loaded our guns in
the morning, preparatory to saluting at noon. It was raining heavily all
the forenoon, so we had not removed what is called the tompions (to my
unprofessional reader I may say that the tompion is a very large piece
of wood made to fit into the muzzle, for the purpose of preventing wet
from penetrating). To this tompion is, or used to be, attached a large
piece of wadding, what for I never rightly understood.

Now it seems that those whose duty it was to attend to it had neglected
to take these things out of the guns.

On the first gun being fired from the French ship we began our salute.
The French ships were close alongside of us, one on either side. The
gunner who fires stands with the hand-glass to mark the time between
each discharge. On this occasion he began his orders thus: 'Fire, port;'
then suddenly recollecting that the tompions were not removed he added,
'Tompions are in, sir.' No one moved. The gunner could not leave his
work of marking time. Again he gave the order, 'Fire, starboard,'
repeating, 'Tompions are in, sir,' and so on till half the broadside had
been fired before the tompions had been taken out. It is difficult to
describe the consternation on board the French vessels, whose decks were
crowded with strangers (French merchants, &c.), invited from the shore
to do honour to their King's fête. These horrid tompions and their
adjuncts went flying on to their decks, from which every one scampered
in confusion. It was lucky our guns did not burst.

This was a most awkward dilemma for all of us. I was sent on board to
apologise. The French captain, with the courtesy of his nation, took the
mishap most good-humouredly, begging me to return the tompions to my
captain, as they had no occasion for them. So no bad feeling was
created, though shortly after this contretemps an affair of so serious a
nature took place, that a certain coldness crept in between ourselves
and our ci-devant friends.

It seems that there had been of late several desertions from the French
vessels lying at Monte Video, great inducements of very high wages being
offered by the revolutionary party in Buenos Ayres for men to serve
them. The French commander therefore determined to search all vessels
leaving Monte Video for other ports in the River Plate--a somewhat
arbitrary proceeding, and one certain to lead to misunderstanding sooner
or later.

On the occasion I refer to, a vessel which, though not under the English
flag, had in some way or other obtained English protection, was leaving
the port; so we sent an officer and a party of armed men to prevent her
being interfered with. I was of the party, which was commanded by our
second lieutenant. Our doing this gave great offence to the French
commander, who shortly after we had gone on board also sent a party of
armed men, with positive orders to search the vessel at all risks. On
our part we were ordered not to allow the vessel to be searched or
interfered with. The French officer, a fine young fellow, came on board
with his men and repeated his orders to Lieutenant C----. The vessel, I
may mention, was a schooner of perhaps a couple of hundred tons, about
130 feet long. We had taken possession of the after-part of the deck,
the French crew established themselves on the fore-part.

Never was there a more awkward position. The men on both sides loaded
and cocked their muskets. The English and French officers stood close to
one another. The former said, 'Sir, you have no business here, this
vessel is under English protection. I give you five minutes to leave or
take the consequences.' The other replied, 'Sir, I am ordered to search
the vessel, and search her I will.' They both seemed to, and I am sure
did, mean business; for myself, I got close to my lieutenant and cocked
a pistol, intending to shoot the French officer at the least show of
fighting. Nevertheless, I thought it a shockingly cruel and inhuman
thing to begin a cold-blooded fight under such circumstances.

However, to obey orders is the duty of every man. Lieutenant C----
looked at his watch; two minutes to spare. The marines were ordered to
prepare, and I thought at the end of the two minutes the deck of the
little vessel would have been steeped in blood. Just then, in the
distance, there appeared a boat pulling towards us at full speed; it
seems that wiser counsels had prevailed between the captains of the two
ships: the French were told to withdraw and leave the vessel in our
hands.

I was much amused at the cordial way in which the two lieutenants shook
hands on receiving this order. There would indeed have been a fearful
story to tell had it not arrived in time; for I never saw determination
written so strongly on men's countenances as on those of both parties,
so nearly engaged in what must have proved a most bloody fight.

After this incident cordial relations were never re-established between
ourselves and our French friends; fortunately, shortly afterwards we
sailed for Buenos Ayres.

Buenos Ayres, that paradise of pretty women, good cheer, and all that is
nice to the sailor who is always ready for a lark! We at once went in
for enjoying ourselves to our heart's content; we began, every one of
us, by falling deeply in love before we had been there forty-eight
hours--I say every one, because such is a fact.

My respectable captain, who had been for many years living as a
confirmed bachelor with his only relative, an old spinster sister, with
whom he chummed, and I fancy had hardly been known to speak to another
woman, was suddenly perceived walking about the street with a large
bouquet in his hand, his hair well oiled, his coat (generally so loose
and comfortable-looking) buttoned tight to show off his figure; and then
he took to sporting beautiful kid gloves, and even to dancing. He could
not be persuaded to go on board at any cost, while he had never left his
ship before, except for an occasional day's shooting. In short, he had
fallen hopelessly in love with a buxom Spanish lady with lustrous eyes
as black as her hair, the widow of a murdered governor of the town.

Our first and second lieutenants followed suit; both were furiously in
love; and, as I said, every one, even a married man, one of my
messmates, fell down and worshipped the lovely (and lovely they were,
and no mistake) Spanish girls of Buenos Ayres, whose type of beauty is
that which only the blue blood of Spain can boast of. Now, reader, don't
be shocked, I fell in love myself, and my love affair proved of a more
serious nature, at least in its results, than that of the others,
because, while the daughter (she was sixteen, and I seventeen) responded
to my affection, her mother, a handsome woman of forty, chose to fall in
love with me herself.

This was rather a disagreeable predicament, for I didn't, of course,
return the mother's affection a bit, while I was certainly dreadfully
spoony on the daughter.

To make a long story short, the girl and I, like two fools as we were,
decided to run away together, and run away we did. I should have been
married if the mother hadn't run after us. She didn't object to our
being married, but, in the meantime, she remained with us, and she
managed to make the country home we had escaped to, with the intention
of settling down there, so unbearable, that, luckily for me as regards
my future, I contrived to get away, and went as fast as I could on board
my ship for refuge, never landing again during our stay at Buenos Ayres.

Fortunately, shortly afterwards we were ordered away, and so ended my
first love affair.

I shall never forget the melancholy, woebegone faces of my captain and
brother officers on our re-assembling on board. It was really most
ludicrous. However, a sea voyage which included several sharp gales of
wind soon erased all sad memories; things gradually 'brightened,' and
ere many weeks had passed all on board H.M.S.---- resumed their usual
appearance.



CHAPTER III.

A TRAGICAL AFFAIR.


Whilst I was at Buenos Ayres I had the good luck to visit the
independent province of Paraguay, which my readers must have heard
spoken of, sometimes with admiration, sometimes with sneers, as the
hot-bed of Jesuitism. Those who sneer say that the Jesuit fathers who
left Spain under Martin Garcia formed this colony in the River Plate
entirely in accordance with the principles their egotism and love of
power dictated. It may be so; it is possible that the Jesuits were wrong
in the conclusions they came to as regards the governing or guiding of
human nature; all I can say is, that the perfect order reigning
throughout the colony they had formed, the respect for the clergy, the
cheerful obedience to laws, the industry and peaceful happiness one saw
at every step, made an impression on me I have never forgotten; and when
I compare it with the discord, the crime, and the hatred of all
authority which is now prevailing, alas! in most civilised countries, I
look back to what I saw in Paraguay with a sigh of regret that such
things are of the past. It was beautiful to see the respect paid to the
Church (the acknowledged ruler of the place), the cleanliness and
comfort of the farms and villages, the good-will and order that
prevailed amongst the natives. It was most interesting to visit the
schools, where only so much learning was introduced as was considered
necessary for the minds of the industrious population, without rendering
them troublesome to the colony or to themselves. Though the inhabitants
were mostly of the fiery and ungovernable Spanish race, who had mixed
with the wild aborigines, it is remarkable that they remained quiet and
submissive.

To prevent pernicious influences reaching this 'happy valley,' the
strictest regulations were maintained as regards strangers visiting the
colony.

The River Plate, which, coming down from the Andes through hundreds of
miles of rich country, flows through Paraguay, was unavailable to
commerce owing to this law of exclusiveness, which prevented even the
water which washed the shores being utilised. However, about the time I
speak of the English government had determined, in the general
interests of trade, to oppose this monopoly, and to open a way of
communication up the river by force if necessary. The Paraguayans
refused to accept the propositions made by the English, and prepared to
fight for their so-called rights. They threw a formidable barrier across
the stream, and made a most gallant resistance. It was on this occasion
that Captain (now Admiral) H---- performed the courageous action which
covered him with renown for the rest of his life. The enemy had, amongst
other defences, placed a heavy iron chain across the river. This chain
it was absolutely necessary to remove, and the gallant officer I refer
to, who commanded the attack squadron, set a splendid example to us all
by dashing forward and cutting with a cold chisel the links of this
chain. The whole time he was thus at work he was exposed to a tremendous
fire, having two men killed and two wounded out of the six he took with
him. This deed, now almost forgotten by the public, can never be effaced
from the memory of those who saw it done. That the fight was a severe
one is evident from the fact that the vessel I belonged to had 107 shots
in her hull, and thirty-five out of seventy men killed and wounded.

It was after we had thus forced ourselves into intercourse with the
Paraguayans that I saw an instance of want of tact which struck me as
most remarkable. Fighting being over, diplomacy stepped in, and a man of
somewhat high rank in that service was sent to make friendly overtures
to the authorities. Can it be believed (I do not say it as a sneer
against diplomacy, for this blunder was really _unique_), this big man
had scarcely finished the pipe of peace which he smoked with the
authorities, when he proposed to introduce vaccination and tracts among
the people? Badly as the poor fellows felt the licking they had
received, and much as they feared another should they give trouble to
the invaders, they so resented our representative's meddling that he
found it better to beat a hasty retreat, and to send a wiser man in his
stead. But their fate was sealed, and from the moment the stranger put
his foot into this interesting country dates its entire change. The
system that the Jesuits established was quickly done away with. Paraguay
is now a part of the Argentine Republic, it is generally at war with
some of its neighbours, and its inhabitants are poor, disorderly, and
wretched.

As I shall have, while telling the story of my life, to relate more
serious events, I will, after recounting one more yarn, not weary my
readers with the little uninteresting details of my youthful adventures,
but pass over the next three years or so, at which time, after having
returned to England, I was appointed to another ship going to South
America, for the purpose of putting down the slave trade in the Brazils.
The adventure to which I have referred was one that made a deep
impression on my mind, as being of a most tragic nature.

While at Rio de Janeiro we were in the habit of visiting among the
people, attending dances, &c. I always remarked that the pretty young
Brazilian girls liked dancing with the fresh young English sailors
better than with their mud-coloured companions of the male sex, the
inhabitants of the country.

At the time I write of the English were not liked by the Brazilians,
partly on account of the raid we were then making on the slave trade,
partly through the usual jealousy always felt by the ignorant towards
the enlightened. So with the men we were seldom or ever on good terms,
but with the girls somehow sailors always contrive to be friends.

It was at one of the dances I have spoken of that the scene I am about
to describe took place.

Among the pretty girls who attended the ball was one prettier perhaps
than any of her companions; indeed, she was called the belle of Rio
Janeiro. I will not attempt to portray her, but I must own she was far
too bewitching for the peace of heart of her many admirers, and
unhappily she was an unmitigated flirt in every sense of the word.

Now there was a young Brazilian nobleman who had, as he thought, been
making very successful progress towards winning this girl's heart--if
she had a heart. All was progressing smoothly enough till these hapless
English sailors arrived.

Then, perhaps with the object of making her lover jealous (a very common
though dangerous game), Mademoiselle pretended (for I presume it was
pretence) to be immensely smitten with one of them--a handsome young
midshipman whom we will call A.

At the ball where the incident I refer to occurred, she danced once with
him, twice with him, and was about to start with him a third time, when,
to the astonishment of the lookers-on, of whom I formed part, the young
Brazilian rushed into the middle of the room where the couple were
standing, walked close up to them and spat in A.'s face.

Before the aggressor could look round him, he found himself sprawling on
the floor, knocked by the angry Briton into what is commonly called 'a
cocked hat.' Not a word was spoken. A. wiped his face, led his partner
to a seat and came straight to me, putting his arm in mine and leading
me into the verandah. The Brazilian picked himself up and came also
into the verandah; in less time than I can write it a hostile meeting
was settled, pistols were procured, and we (I say we, because I had
undertaken to act as A.'s friend, and the Brazilian had also engaged a
friend) sauntered into the garden as if for a stroll.

It was a most lovely moonlight night, such a night as can only be seen
in the tropics.

I should mention that the chief actors in the coming conflict had
neither of them seen twenty years, and we their seconds were
considerably under that age. The aggressor, whose jealous fury had
driven him almost to madness when he committed an outrageous affront on
a stranger, was a tall, handsome, dark-complexioned young fellow. A. was
also very good-looking, with a baby complexion, blue eyes and light
curly hair, a very type of the Saxon race.

They both looked determined and calm. After proceeding a short distance
we found a convenient spot in a lovely glade. It was almost as clear as
day, so bright was the moonlight. The distance was measured (fourteen
paces), the pistols carefully loaded. Before handing them to the
principals we made an effort at arrangement, an effort too
contemptuously received to be insisted upon, and we saw that any
attempt at reconciliation would be of no avail without the exchange of
shots; so, handing to each his weapon, we retired a short distance to
give the signal for firing, which was to be done by my dropping a
pocket-handkerchief. It was an anxious moment even for us, who were only
lookers-on. I gave the words, one, two, three, and dropped the
handkerchief.

The pistols went off simultaneously. To my horror I saw the young
Brazilian spin round and drop to the ground, his face downwards; we
rushed up to him and found that the bullet from A.'s pistol had gone
through his brain. He was stone dead.

Then the solemnity of the whole affair dawned on us, but there was no
time for thought. Something must be done at once, for revenge quick and
fearful was sure to follow such a deed like lightning.

We determined to hurry A. off to his ship, and I begged the young
Brazilian to go into the house and break the sad news. The poor fellow,
though fearfully cut up, behaved like a gentleman, walking slowly away
so as to give us time to escape. As we passed the scene of gaiety the
sounds of music and dancing were going on, just as when we left it. How
little the jovial throng dreamt of the tragedy that had just been
enacted within a few yards of them; of the young life cut down on its
threshold!

We got on board all right, but such a terrible row was made about the
affair that the ship to which A. belonged had to go to sea the next day,
and did not appear again at Rio de Janeiro.

I, though not belonging to that vessel, was not allowed to land for many
months.



CHAPTER IV.

RIO DE JANEIRO.


One word about Rio de Janeiro. Rio, as it is generally called, is
perhaps one of the most lovely spots in the world. The beautiful natural
bay and harbour are unequalled throughout the whole universe. Still,
like the Bosphorus, the finest effect is made by Rio de Janeiro when
looked at from the water. In the days of which I write yellow fever was
unknown; now that fearful disease kills its thousands, aye, tens of
thousands, yearly. The climate, though hot at times, is very good; in
the summer the mornings are hot to a frying heat, but the sea breeze
comes in regularly as clockwork, and when it blows everything is cool
and nice. Life is indeed a lazy existence; there is no outdoor amusement
of any kind to be had in the neighbourhood. As to shooting, there are
only a few snipe to be found here and there, and while looking for these
you must beware of snakes and other venomous reptiles, which abound
both in the country and in town. I remember a terrible fright a large
picnic party, at which I assisted, was thrown into while lunching in the
garden of a villa, almost in the town of Rio, by a lady jumping up from
her seat with a deadly whip-snake hanging on her dress. I once myself
sat on an adder who put his fangs through the woollen stuff of my
inexpressibles and could not escape. The same thing happened with the
lady's dress; in that case also we caught the snake, as it could not
disentangle its fangs.

In the country near Rio there are great snakes called the anaconda, a
sort of boa-constrictor on a large scale. Once, while walking in the
woods with some friends, we found a little Indian boy dead on the
ground, one of these big snakes lying within a foot or so of him, also
dead; the snake had a poisoned arrow in his brain, which evidently had
been shot at him by the poor little boy, whose blow-pipe was lying by
his side. The snake must have struck the boy before it died, as we found
a wound on the boy's neck. This reptile measured twenty-two feet in
length.

By the way, a well-known author, Mrs. B----, tells a marvellous story
about these snakes. She says that they always go in pairs, have great
affection for each other, and are prepared on all occasions to resent
affronts offered to either of them. She narrates that a peasant once
killed a big anaconda, and that the other, or chum snake, followed the
man several miles to the house where he had taken the dead one, got in
by the window, and crushed the destroyer of his friend to death. I
expect that some salt is necessary to swallow this tale, but such is the
statement Mrs. B---- makes.

The most lovely birds and butterflies are found near Rio, and the finest
collections in the world are made there. The white people are Portuguese
by origin--not a nice lot to my fancy, though the ladies are as usual
always nice, especially when young; they get old very soon through
eating sweets and not taking exercise. There is very little poverty
except among the free blacks, who are lazy and idle and somewhat
vicious. I always have believed that the black man is an inferior
animal--in fact, that the dark races are meant to be drawers of water
and hewers of wood. I do not deny that they have souls to be saved, but
I believe that their rôle in this world is to attend on the white man.
The black is, and for years has been, educated on perfect equality with
the white man, and has had every chance of improving himself--with what
result? You could almost count on your fingers the names of those who
have distinguished themselves in the battle of life.

Sometimes, while cruising off the coast of Rio de Janeiro looking out
for slave vessels, we passed a very monotonous life. The long and
fearfully hot mornings before the sea breeze sets in, the still longer
and choking nights with the thermometer at 108°, were trying in the
extreme to those accustomed to the fresh air of northern climates; but
sailors have always something of the 'Mark Tapley' about them and are
generally jolly under all circumstances, and so it was with me. One day,
while longing for something to do, I discovered that the crew had been
ordered to paint the ship outside; as a pastime I put on old clothes and
joined the painting party. Planks were hung round the ship by ropes
being tied to each end of the plank; on these the men stood to do their
work. We had not been employed there very long when there was a cry from
the deck that the ship was surrounded by sharks. It seems that the
butcher had killed a sheep, whose entrails, having been thrown
overboard, attracted these fearful brutes round the ship in great
numbers. As may be imagined, this report created a real panic among the
painters, for I believe we all feared a shark more than an enemy armed
to the teeth. I at once made a hurried movement to get off my plank. As
I did so the rope at one end slipped off, and so threw the piece of
wood, to which I had to hang as on a rope, up and down the vessel's
side, bringing my feet to within a very few inches of the water. On
looking downwards I saw a great shark in the water, almost within
snapping distance of my legs. I can swear that my hair stood on end with
fear; though I held on like grim death, I felt myself going, yes, going,
little by little right into the beast's jaws. At that moment, only just
in time, a rope was thrown over my head from the deck above me, and I
was pulled from my fearfully perilous position, more dead than alive.
Now for revenge on the brutes who would have eaten me if they could! It
was a dead calm, the sharks were still swimming round the ship waiting
for their prey. We got a lot of hooks with chains attached to them, on
which we put baits of raw meat. I may as well mention a fact not
generally known, viz., that a shark must turn on his back before opening
his capacious mouth sufficiently to feed himself; when he turns he means
business, and woe to him who is within reach of the man-eater's jaws. On
this occasion what we offered them was merely a piece of meat, and most
ravenously did they rush, turn on their backs, and swallow it, only to
find that they were securely hooked, and could not bite through the
chains that were fast to the hooks--in fact, that it was all up with
them. Orders had been given by the commanding officer that the sharks
were not to be pulled on board, partly from the dangerous action of
their tails and jaws even when half dead, partly on account of the
confusion they make while floundering about the decks; so we hauled them
close to the top of the water, fired a bullet into their brains and cut
them loose. We killed thirty that morning in this way, some of them
eight to ten feet long.

The most horrid thing I know is to see, as I have done on more than one
occasion, a man taken by a shark. You hear a fearful scream as the poor
wretch is dragged down, and nothing remains to tell the dreadful tale
excepting that the water is deeply tinged with blood on the spot where
the unfortunate man disappeared. These ravenous man-eaters scent blood
from an enormous distance, and their prominent upper fin, which is
generally out of the water as they go along at a tremendous pace, may be
seen at a great distance, and they can swim at the rate of a mile a
minute. A shark somewhat reminds me of the torpedo of the present day,
and in my humble opinion is much more dangerous.

Once we caught a large shark. On opening him we found in his inside a
watch and chain quite perfect. Could it have been that some poor wretch
had been swallowed and digested, and the watch only remained as being
indigestible?

It is strange to see the contempt with which the black man treats a
shark, the more especially when he has to do with him in shallow water.
A negro takes a large knife and diving under the shark cuts its bowels
open. If the water is deep the shark can go lower down than the man and
so save himself, and if the nigger don't take care he will eat him; thus
the black man never goes into deep water if he can help it, for he is
always expecting a shark.



CHAPTER V.

SLAVER HUNTING.


Shortly after the duel at Rio I went to England, but to be again
immediately appointed to a vessel on the Brazilian station.

It was at the time when philanthropists of Europe were crying aloud for
the abolition of the African slave trade, never taking for a moment into
consideration the fact that the state of the savage African black
population was infinitely bettered by their being conveyed out of the
misery and barbarism of their own country, introduced to civilization,
given opportunities of embracing religion, and taught that to kill and
eat each other was not to be considered as the principal pastime among
human beings.

At the period I allude to (from 1841 to 1845) the slave trade was
carried out on a large scale between the coast of Africa and South
America; and a most lucrative trade it was, if the poor devils of
negroes could be safely conveyed alive from one coast to the other. I
say if, because the risk of capture was so great that the poor wretches,
men, women, and children, were packed like herrings in the holds of the
fast little sailing vessels employed, and to such a fearful extent was
this packing carried on that, even if the vessels were not captured,
more than half the number of blacks embarked died from suffocation or
disease before arriving at their destination, yet that half was
sufficient to pay handsomely those engaged in the trade.

On this point I propose giving examples and proofs hereafter, merely
remarking, _en passant_, that had the negroes been brought over in
vessels that were not liable to be chased and captured, the owners of
such vessels would naturally, considering the great value of their
cargo, have taken precautions against overcrowding and disease. Now, let
us inquire as to the origin of these poor wretched Africans becoming
slaves, and of their being sold to the white man. It was, briefly
speaking, in this wise. On a war taking place between two tribes in
Africa, a thing of daily occurrence, naturally many prisoners were made
on both sides. Of these prisoners those who were not tender enough to be
made into ragoût were taken down to the sea-coast and sold to the
slave-dealers, who had wooden barracks established ready for their
reception.

Into these barracks, men, women, and children, most of whom were kept in
irons to prevent escape, were bundled like cattle, there to await
embarkation on board the vessels that would convey them across the sea.

Now, as the coast was closely watched on the African side, to prevent
the embarkation of slaves, as it was on the Brazilian side, to prevent
their being landed, the poor wretches were frequently waiting for weeks
on the seashore undergoing every species of torment.

At last the vessel to carry off a portion of them arrived, when they
were rushed on board and thrown into the hold regardless of sex, like
bags of sand, and the slaver started on her voyage for the Brazils.
Perhaps while on her way she was chased by an English cruiser, in which
case, so it has often been known to happen, a part of the living cargo
would be thrown overboard, trusting that the horror of leaving human
beings to be drowned would compel the officers of the English cruiser to
slacken their speed while picking the poor wretches up, and thus give
the slaver a better chance of escape. (This I have seen done myself,
fortunately unavailingly.)

I will now ask the reader to bring his thoughts back to the coast of
Brazil, where a good look-out was being kept for such vessels as I have
mentioned as leaving the African coast with live cargo on board bound
for the Brazilian waters. Rio de Janeiro, the capital of Brazil, was the
headquarters of the principal slave-owners. It was there that all
arrangements were made regarding the traffic in slaves, the despatch of
the vessels in which they were to be conveyed, the points on which they
were to land, &c., and it was at Rio that the slave-vessels made their
rendezvous before and after their voyages. It was there also that the
spies on whose information we acted were to be found, and double-faced
scoundrels they were, often giving information which caused the capture
of a small vessel with few slaves on board, while the larger vessel,
with twice the number, was landing her cargo unmolested.

As for myself, I was at the time of life when enterprise was necessary
for my existence, and so keenly did I join in the slave-hunting mania
that I found it dangerous to land in the town of Rio for fear of
assassination.

My captain, seeing how enthusiastic I was in the cause, which promised
prize-money if not renown, encouraged me by placing me in a position
that, as a humble midshipman, I was scarcely entitled to, gave me his
confidence, and thus made me still more zealous to do something, if only
to show my gratitude.

Having picked up all the information possible as regarded the movements
of the slave vessels, we started on a cruise, our minds set particularly
on the capture of a celebrated craft called the 'Lightning,' a vessel
renowned for her great success as a slave ship, whose captain declared
(this made our mission still more exciting) that he would show fight,
especially if attacked by English men-of-war boats when away from the
protection of their ships.

I must mention that it was the custom of the cruisers on the coast of
Brazil to send their boats on detached service, they (the boats) going
in one direction while the vessels they belonged to went in another,
only communicating every two or three days. Proud indeed for me was the
moment when, arriving near to the spot on the coast where the
'Lightning' was daily expected with her live cargo, I left my ship in
command of three boats, viz., a ten-oared cutter and two four-oared
whale boats. I had with me in all nineteen men, well armed and prepared,
as I imagined, for every emergency. The night we left our ship we
anchored late under the shelter of a small island, and all hands being
tired from a long row in a hot sun, I let my men go to sleep during the
short tropical darkness. As soon as the day was breaking all hands were
alert, and we saw with delight a beautiful rakish-looking brig, crammed
with slaves, close to the island behind which we had taken shelter,
steering for a creek on the mainland a short distance from us. I ought
to mention that the island in question was within four miles of this
creek. We immediately prepared for action, and while serving out to each
man his store of cartridges, I found to my horror that the percussion
tubes and caps for the boat's gun, the muskets and pistols, had been
left on board the ship. What was to be done? no use swearing at anybody.
However, we pulled boldly out from under the shelter of the island,
thinking to intimidate the slaver into heaving to. In this we were
grievously mistaken.

The vessel with her men standing ready at their guns seemed to put on a
defiant air as she sailed majestically past us, and although we managed
with lucifer matches to fire the boat's gun once or twice, she treated
us with sublime contempt and went on her way into the creek, at the rate
of six or seven miles an hour. Though difficult to attack the vessel in
the day time without firearms, I determined if possible not to lose
altogether this splendid brig. I waited therefore till after sunset,
and then pulled silently into the creek with muffled oars. There was our
friend securely lashed to the rocks. We dashed on board with drawn
cutlasses, anticipating an obstinate resistance. We got possession of
the deck in no time, but on looking round for someone to fight with, saw
nothing but a small black boy who, having been roused up from a sort of
dog-kennel in which he had been sleeping, first looked astonished and
then burst out laughing, pointing as he did so to the shore. Yes, the
shore to which the slaver brig was lashed was the spot where seven
hundred slaves (or nearly that number, for we found three or four
half-dead negroes in the hold) and the crew had all gone, and left us
lamenting our bad luck. However, I took possession of the vessel as she
lay, and though threatened day and night by the natives, who kept up a
constant fire from the neighbouring heights and seemed preparing to
board us, maintained our hold upon the craft until the happy arrival of
my ship, which, with a few rounds of grape, soon cleared the
neighbourhood of our assailants. I may mention that, in the event of our
having been boarded, we had prepared a warm reception for our enemies in
the shape of buckets of boiling oil mixed with lime, which would have
been poured on their devoted heads while in the act of climbing up the
side. As they kept, however, at a respectful distance, our remedy was
not tried. The vessel, a splendid brig of 400 tons, was then pulled off
her rocky bed, and I was sent in charge of her to Rio de Janeiro. And
now comes the strangest part of my adventures on this occasion.

On the early morning after I had parted company with my commanding
officer, before the dawn, I ran accidentally right into a schooner
loaded with slaves, also coming from Africa, bound to the same place as
had been the brig, my prize.

Without the slightest hesitation, before the shock and surprise caused
by the collision had given time for reflection or resistance, I took
possession of this vessel, put the crew in irons, and hoisted English
colours. There were 460 Africans on board, and what a sight it was!

The schooner had been eighty-five days at sea. They were short of water
and provisions; three distinct diseases--namely, small-pox, ophthalmia,
and diarrhœa in its worst form--had broken out while coming across among
the poor doomed wretches.

On opening the hold we saw a mass of arms, legs, and bodies all crushed
together. Many of the bodies to whom these limbs belonged were dead or
dying. In fact, when we had made some sort of clearance among them we
found in that fearful hold eleven dead bodies lying among the living
freight. Water! water! was the cry. Many of them as soon as free jumped
into the sea, partly from the delirious state they were in, partly
because they had been told that, if taken by the English, they would be
tortured and eaten. The latter I fancy they were accustomed to, but the
former they had a wholesome dread of.

Can Mrs. Beecher Stowe beat this? It is, I can assure my readers, a very
mild description of what I saw on board the first cargo of slaves I made
the acquaintance of, and by which I was so deeply impressed, that I have
ever since been sceptical of the benefits conferred upon the African
race by our blockade--at all events, of the means employed to abolish
slavery.

The strangest thing amid this 'confusion of horrors' was that children
were constantly being born. In fact, just after I got on board, an
unfortunate creature was delivered of a child close to where I was
standing, and jumped into the sea, baby and all, immediately afterwards.
She was saved with much difficulty; the more so, as she seemed to
particularly object to being rescued from what nearly proved a watery
grave.

After this unusual stroke of good luck, sending a prize crew on board
my new capture, and allowing the slaver's crew to escape in the
schooner's boat, as I considered these lawless ruffians an impediment to
my movements, I proceeded on my voyage, and arrived safely in Rio
harbour with my two prizes.

There I handed my live cargo over to the English authorities, who had a
special large and roomy vessel lying in the harbour for the reception of
the now free niggers.

It would be as well perhaps to state what became of the freed blacks.
First of all they were cleaned, clothed (after a fashion), and fed; then
they were sent to an English colony, such for example as Demerara, where
they had to serve seven years as apprentices (something, I must admit,
very like slavery), after which they were free for ever and all. I fear
they generally used their freedom in a way that made them a public
nuisance wherever they were. However, they were free, and that satisfied
the philanthropists.



CHAPTER VI.

SLAVER HUNTING (_continued_).


Now to return to my 'experiences.' As proud as the young sportsman when
he has killed his first stag, I returned, keen as mustard, to my ship,
which I found still cruising near to where I had left her. Some secret
information that I had received while at Rio led me to ask my captain to
again send me away with a force similar to that which I had under me
before (with percussion caps this time), and allow me to station myself
some fifty miles further down the coast. My request was granted, and
away I went. This time, instead of taking shelter under an island, I
ensconced my little force behind a point of land which enabled me by
mounting on the rocks to sweep the horizon with a spy-glass, so that I
could discover any vessel approaching the land while she was yet at a
considerable distance.

There happened to be a large coffee plantation in my immediate
neighbourhood, and I remarked that the inhabitants favoured us with the
darkest of scowls whenever we met them. This made me believe (and I
wasn't far out) that the slave-vessel I was looking out for was bringing
recruits to the already numerous slaves employed on the said plantation.
Two or three mornings after my arrival, I discovered a sail on the very
far horizon; a vessel evidently bound to the immediate neighbourhood I
had chosen as my look-out place. The winds were baffling and light, as
usual in the morning in these latitudes, where, however, there is always
a sea-breeze in the afternoon. So, being in no hurry, I sauntered about
the shore with my double-barrelled gun in my hand, occasionally taking a
look seaward. Suddenly I saw within a hundred yards of me a man leading
two enormous dogs in a leash. The dogs were of a breed well known among
slave-owners, as they were trained to run down runaway slaves. I believe
the land of their origin is Cuba, as they are called Cuba bloodhounds.

Suspecting nothing I continued my lounge, turning my back on the man and
his dogs. A few minutes afterwards I was startled by a rushing sound
behind me. On turning quickly round I saw to my horror two huge dogs
galloping straight at me. Quick as lightning I stood on the defensive,
and when they with open mouths and bloodshot eyes were within five
yards, I pulled the trigger. The gun missed fire with the first barrel.
The second barrel luckily went off, scattering the brains of the nearest
dog, the whole charge having entered his mouth, and gone through the
palate into his brain. This occurrence seemed to check the advance of
the second brute, who, while hesitating for a moment before coming at
me, received a ball in his side from one of my sailors, who fortunately
had observed what was going on and had come to my rescue. Without
waiting an instant to see what had become of the man who had played me
this murderous trick, I called my men together, launched the boats, and
put out to sea.

By this time the sea-breeze had set in, and I could see the vessel I had
been watching, though still a considerable distance from the shore, was
trimming her sails to the sea-breeze, and steering straight in for the
very spot where I had been concealed. Signal after signal was made to
her by her friends on the shore, in the shape of lighted fires (not much
avail in the daytime) and the hoisting of flags, &c., but she seemed
utterly to disregard the action of her friends. Satisfied, I imagine,
that she had all but finished her voyage, seeing no cruiser and
unsuspicious of boats, on she came.[1]

We got almost alongside of her before the people on board seemed to see
us. When she did, evidently taken by surprise, she put her helm down,
and throwing all her sails aback, snapped some of her lighter spars,
thus throwing everything into confusion--confusion made worse by the
fact that, with the view of immediate landing, two hundred or three
hundred of the niggers had been freed from their confinement and were
crowded on the deck. Taking advantage of this state of things we made
our capture without a shot being fired.

In fact everything was done, as sailors say, 'before you could look
round you,' the man at the helm replaced by one of my men, the crew
bundled down into the slave-hold to give them a taste of its horrors,
and the sails trimmed for seaward instead of towards the land. The
captain, who seemed a decent fellow, cried like a child. He said: 'If I
had seen you five minutes before you would never have taken me. Now I am
ruined.' I consoled him as well as I could and treated him well, as he
really seemed half a gentleman, if not entirely one. I found about six
hundred slaves, men and women and children, on board this vessel, who as
they had made a very rapid and prosperous voyage, were in a somewhat
better state than those on board the last capture. Still goodness knows
their state was disgusting enough. Ophthalmia had got a terrible hold of
the poor wretches. In many of the cases the patient was stone blind. I
caught this painful disease myself, and for several days couldn't see a
yard.

Shortly after, having despatched our prize into Rio in charge of a
brother midshipman, we were joined by another man-of-war cruiser, which
had been sent to assist us in our work. As the officer in command of
this vessel was of senior rank to my commander, he naturally took upon
himself to organise another boat expedition, placing one of his own
officers in command. With this expedition I was allowed to go, taking
with me my old boats and their crews, with orders to place myself under
the direction of Lieutenant A.C., the officer chosen by the senior in
command.

So we started with five boats provisioned and otherwise prepared for a
cruise of twenty days. The lieutenant in charge did not think it wise to
land, as a bad feeling towards us was known to exist among the
inhabitants, who were all more or less slave-dealers, or interested in
the success of the slave-vessels, so we had to live in our boats. Rather
hard lines, sleeping on the boat's thwarts, &c. Still we had that 'balm
of Gilead,' hope, to keep us alive, and our good spirits. Many a longing
eye did I cast to the shore, where, in spite of the bloodhounds, I
should like to have stretched my cramped limbs. Ten or twelve days
passed in dodging about, doing nothing but keeping a good look-out, and
we almost began to despair, when one fine morning we saw a large brig,
evidently a slaver, running in towards the shore with a fresh breeze.
Our boats were painted like fishing boats, and our men disguised as
fishermen, as usual; so, apparently occupied with our pretended
business, we gradually approached the slave-vessel. My orders were
strictly to follow the movements or action of my superior. Then I
witnessed a gallant act, such as I have not seen surpassed during forty
years of active service that I have gone through since that time.
Lieutenant A.C., who was in the leading boat, a large twelve-oared
cutter, edged pretty near to the advancing vessel, and when quite close
under her bows one man seemed to me to spring like a chamois on board. I
saw the boat from which the man jumped make an ineffectual attempt to
get alongside the vessel, that was going at the rate of six miles an
hour, and then drop astern. I heard a pistol shot, and suddenly the
vessel was thrown up in the wind with all her sails aback, thus entirely
stopping her way (sailors will understand this). Not knowing precisely
what had happened, we pulled like maniacs alongside of the slaver. To do
this was, now that the vessel's way was stopped, comparatively easy. We
dashed on board, and after a slight resistance on the part of the
slaver's crew, in which two or three more men, myself among the number,
were wounded, we took possession of the brig. There we found our
lieutenant standing calmly at the helm, which was a long wooden tiller.
He it was who had jumped on board alone, shot the man at the helm, put
the said helm down with his leg, while in his hand he held his other
pistol, with which he threatened to shoot any one who dared to touch
him.

I fancy that his cool pluck had caused a panic among the undisciplined
crew, a panic that our rapid approach tended much to increase. What
astonished me was that nobody on board thought of shooting him before he
got to the helm, in which case we never could have got on board the
vessel, considering the speed she was going through the water. What he
did was a glorious piece of pluck, that in these days would have been
rewarded with the Victoria Cross as the least recompense they could have
given to so gallant an officer. Poor fellow! all the reward he got,
beyond the intense admiration of those who saw him, was a bad attack of
small-pox from the diseased _animals_ (there is no other name for
negroes in the state they were in) on board the slave-vessel, which
somewhat injured the face of one of the handsomest men I ever saw. He is
now an admiral, has done many gallant acts since then, but none could
beat what he did on that memorable morning.

I have said that I was among those who were wounded on this occasion.
What my friend A.C. did so far outshone anything that I had
accomplished, that it is hardly worth while speaking of my share in the
fray. However, as I am writing sketches from my life, I will not omit to
describe the way in which I was wounded. We were, as I have said, making
a rush to assist our gallant leader, who was alone on board the slaver.
The reader will have seen that our business was boarding and fighting
our enemy hand to hand. As I was making a jump on board I saw the white
of the eye of a great black man turned on me; he brandished a huge axe,
which I had a sort of presentiment was intended for me. I sprang as it
were straight at my destiny, for as I grasped the gunnel down came the
axe, and I received the full edge of the beastly thing across the back
of my hand. I fell into the water, but was picked up by my sailors, and
managed to get on board again. Had it not been for a clever young
assistant surgeon, who bound up the wound in a most scientific manner, I
should probably have quite lost the use of my hand; the mark remains
across my knuckles to this day.



CHAPTER VII.

LOVE AND MURDER.


I was once sent from Rio to Demerara, an English colony on the coast of
Brazil, with a cargo of blacks that we had freed. Then it was that I had
a good opportunity of studying the character of these people certainly
in their primitive state, and if ever men and women resembled wild
animals it was my swarthy charges. When I arrived at Demerara I handed
them over to their new masters, to whom they were apprenticed for seven
years, and from all I can understand they were, during their
apprenticeship, treated pretty much as slaves in every respect.

During the time I visited Demerara (and I fancy it is very slightly
changed now) it was one of the vilest holes in creation. It is built on
a low sandy point of land at the entrance of a great river, and is
almost the hottest place on the earth. Mosquitos in thousands of
millions; nothing for the natives to do but to cultivate sugar-canes
and to perspire. There were two crack regiments quartered at Demerara,
who, having to withstand the dreadful monotony of doing nothing, took I
fear to living rather too well; the consequence was that many a fine
fellow had been carried off by yellow fever. For my part, I took a
rather high flight in the way of pastime by falling (as I imagined)
desperately in love with the governor's daughter. The governor, I must
tell my readers, was a very great swell, a general, a K.C.B., &c., and
his daughter was a mighty pretty girl, much run after by the garrison;
so it was thought great impertinence on my part, as a humble
sub-lieutenant, to presume to make love to the reigning, if not the
only, beauty in the place.

However, audacity carried me on, and I soon became No. 1 in the young
lady's estimation. I used to ride with her, spent the evenings in the
balcony of Government House with her, sent her flowers every morning,
and so on, till at last people began to talk, and steps were taken by
her numerous admirers to stop my wild career. This was done in a
somewhat startling way (premeditated, as I found out afterwards). One
evening I was playing at whist, one of my opponents being a momentarily
discarded lover of my young lady; I thought he was looking very
distrait; however, things went off quietly enough for some time, till on
some trifling question arising concerning the rules of the game, the
young man suddenly and quite gratuitously insulted me most grossly,
ending his insolent conduct by throwing his cards in my face. This was
more than I could put up with, so I called him out, and the next morning
put a ball into his ankle, which prevented him dancing for a long time
to come. He, being the best dancer in the colony, was rather severely
punished; it seems that he had undertaken to bell the cat, hardly
expecting such unpleasant results.

On returning home after the hostile meeting I found a much more
formidable adversary in the shape of the governor himself, who was
stamping furiously up and down the verandah of my apartment. He received
me with, 'What the d--- l do you mean, young sir, by making love to my
daughter? you are a mere boy.' (I was twenty and did not relish his
remark.) 'What means have you got?'

After the old gentleman's steam had gone down a little I replied,
'Really, general, I hardly know how to answer you. Your daughter and I
are very good friends, the place is most detestably dull, there is
nothing to do, and if we amuse ourselves with a little love-making,
surely there can be no great harm.' This rejoinder of mine made things
worse; I thought the old boy would have had a fit. At last he said, 'The
mail steamer leaves for England to-morrow; you shall go home by her, I
order you to do so!' I replied that I should please myself, and that I
was not under his orders. The general went away uttering threats. After
he was gone I thought seriously over the matter. I calculated that my
income of 120_l._ a year would scarcely suffice to keep a wife, and I
decided to renounce my dream of love. I went to pay a farewell visit to
my young lady, but found that she was locked up, so away I went and soon
forgot all about it. Shortly afterwards I heard that the governor's
daughter married the man whose leg I had lamed for his impertinence to
me.

My last adventure while employed in the suppression of the slave trade
is perhaps worth describing.

By international law it was ruled that a vessel on her way to Africa, if
fitted out in a certain manner, whereby it was evident that she was
employed in the nefarious traffic of slavery, was liable to capture and
condemnation by the mixed tribunals, or in other words became the lawful
prize of her captors.

While cruising off Pernambuco we boarded a Portuguese vessel bound to
Africa, so evidently fitted out for the purpose of slave trade that my
captain took possession of her, and sent me to convey her to the Cape
of Good Hope for adjudication. It was the usual thing to send the
captain of a vessel so captured as a prisoner on board his ship, so that
he might be interrogated at the trial. In this case the master and three
of his crew were sent. The prize crew consisted of myself and six men.
Now the captain was an exceedingly gentlemanlike man, a good sailor, and
a first-rate navigator.

At first I treated him as a prisoner, but by degrees he insinuated
himself into my good graces to such an extent that after a while I
invited him to mess with me, in fact, made a friend of him, little
thinking of the serpent I was nourishing.

For several days all went well. I was as unsuspicious as a child of foul
play. We lived together and worked our daily navigation together, played
at cards together, in fact were quite chums. The three men who were
supposed to be prisoners were allowed considerable liberty, and as they
had, as I found out afterwards, a private stock of grog stowed away
somewhere, which they occasionally produced and gave to my men, they
managed to be pretty free to do as they wished. For all that, I ordered
that the three prisoners should be confined below during the night.

As the weather was very hot I always slept in a little place on deck
called a bunk, a thing more like a dog-kennel than aught else I can
compare it to, excepting that the hole for entrance and exit was
somewhat larger than that generally used for the canine species.

I always slept with a pistol (revolvers were unknown in those days)
under my pillow. Luckily for me that I did so, as the result will show.

I had remarked (this I thought of afterwards) that the prisoner captain
and some of his men had been whispering together a good deal lately; but
not being in the slightest degree suspicious I thought nothing of it.

One evening I retired to my sleeping place as usual, after having passed
a pleasant chatty evening with my prisoner. I was settling myself to
sleep, in fact I think I was asleep as far as it would be called so, for
I had from habit the custom of sleeping with one eye open, when I saw or
_felt_ the flash of a knife over my head. The entrance to my couch was
very limited, so that my would-be murderer had some difficulty in
striking the fatal blow. Instinct at once showed me my danger.

To draw my pistol from under my pillow was the work of a second; to fire
it into the body of the man who was trying to stab me, that of another.
A groan and a heavy fall on the deck told me what had happened, and
springing out of my sleeping berth I found my ci-devant friend the
captain lying on his face, dead as a door nail. In the meantime I heard
a row in the fore-part of the ship. On going forward I saw one of the
prisoners in the act of falling overboard, and another extended full
length on the deck, while my stalwart quarter-master was flourishing a
handspike with which he had knocked one of his assailants overboard and
floored the other. Now it will be asked what was the man at the wheel
doing? Hereby hangs a tale. He swore that he heard or saw nothing.
Considering this sufficient evidence of his guilt, I put him in irons.
Shortly afterwards he confessed the whole story. It seems that a
conspiracy had been planned among the prisoners to retake the ship--that
the man at the wheel had been bribed to let free two of the prisoners,
under promise of a large reward if the result had been the retaking of
the ship.

The only provision he made was that he was to take no murderous action
against his countrymen. The man at the helm and the quarter-master being
the only men on deck, and I being gone to roost, all seemed easy enough,
but Providence willed it otherwise.

I buried the captain in the sea without further ceremony; the man who
fell overboard I suppose was drowned (I did not try to pick him up); the
man knocked down was put in irons, and all went smoothly for the rest of
the voyage; but when I arrived at the Cape of Good Hope without the
captain, the lawyers who defended the ship wanted to make out that I had
murdered him, and I was very nearly sent to prison on the charge of
murder.

In the above pages I have endeavoured to give some notion of what used
to go on in old times when there were no steam launches, and when, I may
be forgiven for saying it, sailors were in every sense of the word
sailors.

I could recount many more adventures somewhat similar to those I have
described, but I do not wish to bore my readers or appear egotistical in
their eyes. The only comparison I would make in regard to our doings in
those days is with the work done by the blockading squadron during the
civil war in America; for if ever men required plucky endurance and
self-denial it was the poor fellows who had to keep, or endeavour to
keep, blockade-runners if not slavers from communicating with the stormy
shores of Florida and South Carolina. They are too modest now to tell us
what they went through. Perhaps forty years hence they will do as I am
doing, and recount some of their adventures, which I am convinced would
quite put into the shade anything I or my boat's crew ever did.

I do not wish to be mistaken in my remarks about the black race. I will
not venture to give an opinion as to what Providence meant to be done
with those interesting creatures. I only assert, and this I do from my
own personal experience, that a black man is a happier and wiser man in
America than he is in his own wretched country, North and South.



CHAPTER VIII.

THE QUEEN'S YACHT.


I returned from the Cape to England. On arriving there I was appointed
to the Queen's yacht, as a reward for what their lordships at the
Admiralty were good enough to designate my active and zealous services
while employed in suppression of the slave trade.

To be appointed to Her Majesty's yacht was in those days considered a
very great distinction. Even now the Queen invariably chooses officers
who have seen what is called 'service.' Such an appointment, apart from
the honour of being so near Her Majesty, always tends to rapid
promotion.

The Queen at the time I write of was very fond of cruising in her yacht,
paying visits to foreign potentates, &c. Her Majesty had been then five
years married, with a young family springing up around her, and her
beloved husband the Prince Consort always with her, participating in
all her pleasures; so we, the officers of the Royal yacht, had a rare
time of it, were made a lot of wherever we went, and thought ourselves
very great men indeed. Amongst other trips, we conveyed the Royal family
up the Rhine, where Her Majesty visited the King of Prussia at
Stolzenfels.

Afterwards we went to the Château d'Eu, where Her Majesty was received
by King Louis Philippe and the Reine Amélie.

I shall never forget the condescending kindness of Her Majesty and
Prince Albert to all on board the Royal yacht. As to the Prince Consort,
he treated the officers more in the light of companions than
subordinates, always ready to join us in a cigar and its accompanying
friendly conversation.

Apropos of smoking, I cannot refrain from mentioning a little incident
that happened on board the 'Victoria and Albert,' that I, for one, shall
never forget. Her Gracious Majesty never approved of smoking, and it was
only through the kind consideration of the Prince Consort that we were
allowed to indulge in an occasional cigar in the cow-house. The
cow-house was a little place fitted up for two pretty small Alderney
cows, kept specially for supplying milk and butter for the Royal table.

Her Majesty was very fond of these animals and had the habit of
visiting them every day, and the young Princes used to be held up to
look in at the window, out of which there was room for the favoured cows
to stretch their heads. One evening we were smoking as usual when I
espied a pot of blue paint on the deck of the cow-house, with, as bad
luck would have it, a brush in the pot. I cannot say what induced me,
but I deliberately took the brush and painted the tips of the noses and
the horns of both animals a pretty light blue. Having done this I
thought no more of the matter. The next morning Her Majesty--well, I
think I had better say no more about it. I, the culprit, was denounced
and had to keep out of the way for a day or two. Then it was that the
good-natured Prince proved himself a friend, and got me out of my
scrape.

I passed two of the happiest years of my life in the Queen's yacht,
after which I was promoted to the rank of lieutenant, and appointed to a
ship in the Mediterranean, where I passed for several years the usual
humdrum life of a naval officer during times of profound peace.

However, while serving as a lieutenant in the Mediterranean, I had the
advantage of taking part in one of the most interesting political events
of the century, namely, the flight of Pius IX. from Rome. The ship I
was in was stationed at Civita Vecchia, the sea-port of Rome, partly in
order to protect British interests--that is, the persons and properties
of British subjects--partly with the object of taking that half-hearted
part in religious politics which has always been such a humiliating rôle
for England.

We had an accredited agent, a nondescript sort of person, representing
England at the court of Pope Pius IX. This gentleman's duty was to watch
and report, but not to act. It was through him that England's idea of
the policy to be pursued by the Pope was conveyed. We did not, and we
did, want to interfere. The question of the balance of power of Italy as
an independent nation was too important to neglect; it was impossible to
separate altogether religion and politics. However, at the time I write
of things were rushing to a crisis.

The Pope, who a short time previously had been considered the great
supporter of liberty, was now looked upon as its enemy. Garibaldi was,
in a mad sort of way, fighting in its cause--at least, he professed to
do so. He had marched with a band of howling volunteers to the gates of
Rome, and established himself there as its conqueror, virtually making
the Pope a prisoner in the Vatican. In the meantime France interfered
in the Pope's cause, and sent General Oudinot with a small army to
dislodge Garibaldi. England's doubtful diplomatic relations made it
necessary to choose every sort of means of communicating with the Pope,
and I had the honour on more than one occasion of being the messenger
chosen to communicate, not only with His Holiness, but between Garibaldi
and the French commander. On the first occasion I was sent to Rome with
despatches from Lord Palmerston to be delivered (so said my orders) into
the Pope's own hands.

On my arrival at Rome I went straight to the Quirinal and asked to see
Cardinal Antonelli. When I informed him of my instructions, he said at
once, 'You may give your despatches to me; you cannot expect to see His
Holiness.' 'No, sir; to the Pope I will give my despatches, or take them
back again,' and from this decision no persuasions or threats would move
me. Finding me obstinate the Cardinal at last took me with him into a
room where the Pope was sitting. His Holiness seemed in a great state of
anxiety, but was most kind and condescending. He gave me his hand to
kiss, and congratulated me on having been so firm in obeying orders in
relation to my despatches. I afterwards found that these despatches
influenced very much the important step taken by Pio Nono a few days
afterwards.

Subsequently I several times conveyed communications between General
Garibaldi and General Oudinot. The former had most pluckily taken
possession of an important position inside the walls of Rome, and it was
a hard piece of work to dislodge him.

I used to gallop in between General Oudinot's camp and Garibaldi's
headquarters, having on my arm a red scarf for a sign that I was not a
belligerent. My scarf was not much use, however, as I was generally
fired at all the time that I was passing the space between the French
camp and Garibaldi's headquarters in Rome.

I was amused by the audacity with which Garibaldi resisted the French
army. I fancy he wanted to delay matters so that the Pope should be
induced to take the ill-advised step of leaving Rome, and in this the
republican general succeeded. What went on in Rome, the way in which the
Pope escaped, &c., I am not able to relate. All I know is that one fine
morning a simple carriage arrived from Rome at Civita Vecchia, bringing
a portly individual enveloped in the large cloak of an English coachman,
and another man in ordinary apparel. They strolled down to the place of
embarkation, and went quietly on board, not (as was expected) the
English man-of-war, but a French vessel-of-war which was lying with her
steam up.

This vessel then left the harbour, almost unnoticed, and it was not for
hours afterwards that we heard that His Holiness Pius IX. was the
humble-looking person who had embarked before our eyes, and thus got
away safely to Gaëta.



CHAPTER IX.

IN THE BALTIC.


In 1854 the war (commonly called the Crimean war) broke out, and I was
appointed first lieutenant of H.M.S.---- for service in the Baltic.

I shall never forget the excitement among us all when, after so many
years of inactivity, we were called upon to defend the honour of our
country. Unfortunately for old England the Baltic fleet was put under
the command of Sir C. N----, 'fighting old Charley' as he was called,
though it was not long before we discovered that there was not much
fight left in him. It might well be said by those generously inclined
towards him, in the words of the old song, that the

'Bullets and the gout
Had so knocked his hull about,
That he'd never more be fit for sea.'

A finer fleet never sailed or steamed from Spithead than that destined
for the Baltic in 1854. The signal from its commander, 'Lads, war is
declared! Sharpen your cutlasses and the day's your own,' sent a thrill
of joy through every breast. After following the melting ice up the
Baltic Sea to within almost reach of the guns of Cronstadt, we waited
till the ice had disappeared, and then went in as we thought for the
attack.

The ship to which I belonged being a steamer, and drawing much less
water than the line-of-battle ships, led the way. A grander sight could
not be conceived than that of twenty splendid line-of-battle ships,
formed in two lines, steaming straight up to the frowning batteries of
Cronstadt. On our approaching the batteries a shot was fired, and fell
alongside the ship I was in, which, as I said, was leading for the
purpose of sounding, when, to our astonishment and disgust, the signal
was made from the flag-ship to the fleet 'Stop!' and immediately
afterwards to 'anchor.'

It is not for me to say the reason 'why.' All that I can vouch for is
that, in the general opinion of competent judges, had we gone on we
could have taken or destroyed Cronstadt, instead of which--what was
done? They sent to England for special boats to be made ready for the
next summer, when the attack would be made on Cronstadt.

We remained a few days at anchor off that place, when some half of the
fleet were detached to the Aland Islands, where an insignificant fort
called Bomarsund was to be attacked--not by the English and French
fleets, who were fit to do any mortal thing, but by an army fetched from
France. When the army came, the poor little fort attacked by the fleet
on the seaside, and on the shore by the soldiers, after firing a few
shots surrendered. During the attack I was appointed acting commander of
H.M.S.----, and was mentioned honourably in despatches.

Many promotions were made for the taking of Bomarsund, but I fancy I had
as usual given my opinion too freely, as I was left out in the cold. I
shall never forget old Charley's answer to me when I applied for my
promotion, it was so worthy of him. He said, 'Don't ye come crying to
me, Sir; you are a lord's son: I'll have nothing to do wi' ye.'

Immediately after the capture of Bomarsund, the admiral detached a small
squadron under Captain S---- to reconnoitre the Russian port of Abo. Of
that squadron the vessel of which I was commander formed one. We left
with sealed orders, which were not to be opened until we arrived at, or
near to, our destination.

On sighting the enemy's port we perceived that every preparation was
being made to give us a warm reception. A council of war was held on
board the senior officer's ship, at which council the sealed orders were
opened, when to our disgust it was found within that we were ordered
'not to fight, merely to reconnoitre.'

Sickening humiliation! There were the Russian gunboats inside the bar of
the harbour of Abo, firing at us with all their might. The forts on the
heights, such as they were, very insignificant temporary batteries of
field-pieces, had commenced to get the range of the ships; but as we
were not to fight, we took a sulky shot or two at the enemy and retired.

To this day I cannot understand the policy that actuated this weak,
vacillating conduct on the part of our chief. But some idea may be given
of his fighting notions by the following occurrence, of which I was a
witness.

One morning despatches arrived from England. A signal was made from the
flag-ship for commanding officers to repair on board that vessel. On our
arrival there, we were asked to sit down to breakfast. Our chief, who
was opening his letters, suddenly threw a despatch over the table to
S----, the admiral of the fleet, saying, 'What would ye do, mun, if ye
received a letter like this?' S----, after reading the letter said, 'If
I received a letter like that, I'd attack Revel or Sveaborg if I lost
half my fleet.' Our chief's answer I shall never forget. It was: 'I
haven't got nerve to do it, and I'm d----d well sure C---- hasn't.'
There are many living besides myself who can vouch for the accuracy of
this statement.

I shall say no more of the doings of the English fleet in the Baltic
during that year. Suffice it, that if ever open mutiny was
displayed--not by the crews of the ships, but by many of the captains,
men who attained the highest rank in their profession--it was during the
cruise in the Baltic in 1854: and no wonder.

Many gallant deeds were performed by single ships, but the fleet did
absolutely nothing, except help to capture Bomarsund. I returned to
England disgusted and disheartened. The next year the commander-in-chief
was changed; I was appointed to his ship, and we went again to the
Baltic, taking with us all the necessary appurtenances for bombarding
forts and attacking the enemy's coast.

As soon as the melting of the ice permitted we arrived off Cronstadt,
and found that the Russians had not been asleep during our absence for
the winter months; for they had defended the approaches to that place
to such an extent, that an attack was considered (and on this occasion
there was no difference of opinion) most unadvisable. So we fell back on
Sveaborg, which place was bombarded by the combined fleets, I venture to
think most successfully, and I believe, had we had a force to land, we
could have taken possession of that large and important fortress.

Our losses during the operation were small on board the squadron of
mortar-boats which I had the good luck to command--some fifty-eight men
_hors de combat_.

In this service I received my promotion to the rank of commander, and
returned to England.

Peace was made between Russia and England, previous to which, however, I
was appointed to a vessel in the Mediterranean which formed part of the
fleet off Sebastopol. Unfortunately, I arrived too late to see much
active service there.

While serving as a commander in the Mediterranean, I was principally
under the command of Sir Wm. M----, a man whose reputation as being the
smartest officer in the navy, I must venture to say, I think was greatly
exaggerated, though he was doubtless what is called a 'smart officer.'

His idea was to rule with a rod of iron, and never to encourage anyone
by praising zealous and active service. He used to say, 'I am here to
find fault with, not to praise, officers under my command.' So many a
fine fellow's zeal was damped by knowing that no encouragement would
follow in the way of appreciation from his chief, however much he might
have merited it.

I cannot refrain from recounting a very amusing incident that occurred
in connection with my command of H.M.S. _F---- _. I may mention that,
differing as I did most materially with the system of discipline
followed by the commander-in-chief, I was no favourite of his.

One day, however, I was somewhat surprised at being ordered to prepare
for the official inspection of my ship, and by no less a person than Sir
W. M----himself. I must mention that one of the crotchets of the chief
was that vessels such as mine--namely, a gunboat of the first
class--could be floated off the shore, in case of their stranding, by
water-casks being lashed round them. So orders were given that all
vessels of that class were to lumber their decks with water-casks. I did
so, according to orders; but, not having the least confidence in the
manner in which the commander-in-chief proposed to employ them, I
utilised them, as will be seen presently, for an entirely different
purpose.

The day of my ship's inspection was evidently not one of my lucky days.
To begin with, a horrid little monkey belonging to the crew--amusing
himself running about in the hammock-nettings near to the gangway over
which the great man had to pass--seeing something he thought unusual,
made a rush as the commander-in-chief was stepping on board, stooped
down, and deliberately took the cocked hat off his head, dropped it into
the sea, then started up the rigging chattering with delight at the
mischief he had done. The cocked hat was at once recovered, wiped dry,
and placed in its proper place. The admiral, always stern as a matter of
principle, looked, after this incident, sterner than usual, hardly
recognised me except by a formal bow, then proceeded to muster the
officers and crew. This over, he commenced to walk round the deck. I
remarked with pleasure his countenance change when he saw how neatly his
pet water-casks were painted and lashed to the inner gunnel of the ship.
He said quite graciously, 'I am glad to see, Captain Hobart, that you
pay such attention to my orders.' I began to think I was mistaken in my
idea of the man; but, alas! for my exuberance of spirits and
satisfaction. While the admiral was closely examining one of his pet
casks, his face came almost in contact with the opening of the barrel,
when, to his and my horror, a pretty little spaniel put out his head and
licked the great man on the nose.

I shall never forget the admiral's countenance; he turned blue with
anger, drew himself up, ordered his boat to be manned, and walked over
the side not saying a word to anyone.

The facts which led to this untoward occurrence were that, seeing the
necessity of having my decks crowded with what I considered useless
lumber, in the form of water-casks, I had utilised them by making them
into dog-kennels. The admiral hated dogs, hated sport of all kind, and,
after what occurred, I fancy hated me. Well, I didn't love him; I never
saw him again.

The very next day I was ordered to the coast of Syria: just what I
wanted, i.e., to be out of the commander-in-chief's way, and to have
some good shooting.



CHAPTER X.

BLOCKADE-RUNNING.


On receiving my rank as post-captain, I found myself shelved, as it
were, for four years, while waiting my turn for a command. This was
according to the rules of the navy, so there was no getting out of it.
What was I to do? I consulted several of my friends who were in a
similar position, who, like myself, did not wish to remain idle so long,
so we looked about us for some enterprise, as something to do.

The upshot of it was that we thought of trying if we could not conceive
some plan for breaking through the much-talked-of blockade of the
Southern States of America, then in revolt against the government of
Washington. Four of us young post-captains took this decision, and as it
would have been, perhaps, considered _infra dig._ for real naval
officers to engage in such an enterprise, we lent our minds, if not our
bodies, to certain _alter egos_, whom we inspired, if we did not
personally control, as to their line of conduct. My man I will call
Roberts, whose adventures I now give, and in whose name I shall write.
There are people who insist that I was Captain Roberts; all that such
people have to do is to prove I was that 'miscreant,' whoever he may
have been. The following is his narrative:--

During the late civil war in America the executive government undertook
the blockade of more than 3,000 miles of coast, and though nothing could
exceed the energy and activity of the naval officers so employed, the
results were very unsatisfactory, inasmuch as it was not till absolute
possession was taken of the forts at the entrance of the great harbours,
such as Charleston, Mobile, and Wilmington, that blockade-running was
stopped.

I trust that our American friends will not be too severe in their
censures on those engaged in blockade-running; for, I say it with the
greatest respect for and admiration of enterprise, had they been
lookers-on instead of principals in the sad drama that was enacted, they
would have been the very men to take the lead. It must be borne in mind
that the excitement of fighting did not exist. One was always either
running away or being deliberately pitched into by the broadsides of the
American cruisers, the slightest resistance to which would have
constituted piracy; whereas capture without resistance merely entailed
confiscation of cargo and vessel.

The vessel I had charge of--which I had brought out from England, was
one of the finest double-screw steamers that had ever been built by
D----n; of 400 tons burden, 250 horse-power, 180 feet long, and 22 feet
beam--and was, so far as sea-going qualities, speed, &c., went, as handy
a little craft as ever floated. Our crew consisted of a captain, three
officers, three engineers, and twenty-eight men, including firemen, that
is, ten seamen and eighteen firemen. They were all Englishmen, and as
they received very high wages, we managed to have picked men. In fact,
the men-of-war on the West India station found it a difficult matter to
prevent their crews from deserting, so great was the temptation offered
by the blockade-runners.

I will begin by explaining how we prepared the vessel for the work. This
was done by reducing her spars to a light pair of lower masts, without
any yards across them; the only break in their sharp outline being a
small crow's-nest on the foremast, to be used as a look-out place. The
hull, which showed about eight feet above water, was painted a dull grey
colour to render her as nearly as possible invisible in the night. The
boats were lowered square with the gunnels. Coal was taken on board of a
smokeless nature (anthracite). The funnel, being what is called
'telescope,' lowered close down to the deck. In order that no noise
might be made, steam was blown off under water. In fact, every ruse was
resorted to to enable the vessel to evade the vigilance of the American
cruisers, who were scattered about in great numbers all the way between
Bermuda and Wilmington--the port at the time I write of most frequented
by blockade-runners. While speaking of the precautions used I may
mention that among the fowls taken on board as provisions, no cocks were
allowed, for fear of their proclaiming the whereabouts of the
blockade-runner. This may seem ridiculous, but it was very necessary.

The distance from Bermuda to Wilmington (the port we were bound to) is
720 miles. We started in the evening. For the first twenty-four hours we
saw nothing to alarm us, but at daylight the second day there was a
large American cruiser not half a mile from us, right ahead, who, before
we could turn round, steamed straight at us, and commenced firing
rapidly, but very much at random, the shot and shell all passing over or
wide of us.

Fortunately, according to orders to have full steam on at daybreak, we
were quite prepared for a run; and still more fortunately a heavy squall
of wind and rain that came on helped us vastly, as we were dead to
windward of the enemy; and having no top-weights we soon dropped him
astern. He most foolishly kept yawing, to fire his bow-chasers, losing
ground every time he did so. By eight o'clock we were out of
range--unhit; and by noon out of sight of anything but smoke.

Luckily, the chase had not taken us much off our course, as the
consumption of coal during a run of this sort, with boilers all but
bursting from high pressure of steam, was a most serious
consideration--there being no coal in the Confederate ports, where wood
was only used, which would not suit our furnaces.

We were now evidently in very dangerous waters, steamers being reported
from our mast-head every hour, and we had to keep moving about in all
directions to avoid them; sometimes stopping to let one pass ahead of
us, at another time turning completely round, and running back on our
course. Luckily, we were never seen or chased. Night came on, and I had
hoped that we should have made rapid progress till daybreak unmolested.
All was quiet until about one o'clock in the morning, when suddenly, to
our dismay, we found a steamer close alongside of us. How she had got
there without our knowledge is a mystery to me even now. However, there
she was, and we had hardly seen her before a stentorian voice howled
out, 'Heave-to in that steamer, or I'll sink you.' It seemed as if all
was over, but I determined to try a ruse before giving the little craft
up. So I answered, 'Ay, ay, sir, we are stopped.' The cruiser was about
eighty yards from us. We heard orders given to man and arm the
quarter-boats, we saw the boats lowered into the water, we saw them
coming, we heard the crews laughing and cheering at the prospect of
their prize. The bowmen had just touched the sides of our vessel with
their boat-hooks when I whispered down the tube into the engine-room,
'Full speed ahead!' and away we shot into the darkness.

I don't know what happened; whether the captain of the man-of-war
thought that his boats had taken possession, and thus did not try to
stop us, or whether he stopped to pick up his boats in the rather nasty
sea that was running, some one who reads this may know. All I can say
is, that not a shot was fired, and that in less than a minute the pitch
darkness hid the cruiser from our view. This was a great piece of luck.

All the next day we passed in dodging about, avoiding the cruisers as
best we could, but always approaching our post.

During the day we got good observations with which our soundings agreed;
and at sunset our position was sixty miles due east of the entrance to
Wilmington river, off which place were cruising a strong squadron of
blockading ships. The American blockading squadron, which had undertaken
the almost impossible task of stopping all traffic along 3,000 miles of
coast, consisted of nearly a hundred vessels of different sorts and
sizes--_bonâ-fide_ men-of-war, captured blockade-runners, unemployed
steam-packets, with many other vessels pressed into government service.
Speed and sufficient strength to carry a long gun were the only
requisites, the Confederate men-of-war being few and far between. These
vessels were generally well commanded and officered, but badly manned.
The inshore squadron off Wilmington consisted of about thirty vessels,
and lay in the form of a crescent facing the entrance to Cape Clear
river, the centre being just out of range of the heavy guns mounted on
Fort Fisher, the horns, as it were, gradually approaching the shore on
each side; the whole line or curve covered about ten miles.

The blockade-runners had been in the habit of trying to get between the
vessel at either extremity; and the coast being quite flat and
dangerous, without any landmark, excepting here and there a tree
somewhat taller than others, the cruisers generally kept at a sufficient
distance to allow of this being done. The runner would then crawl close
along the shore, and when as near as could be judged opposite the
entrance of the river, would show a light on the vessel's inshore side,
which was answered by a very indistinct light being shown on the beach,
close to the water's edge, and another at the background. These two
lights being got into a line was a proof that the opening was arrived
at; the vessels then steered straight in and anchored under the
Confederate batteries at Fort Fisher. More vessels were lost crawling
along this dangerous beach than were taken by the cruisers. I have seen
three burning at one time, for the moment a vessel struck she was set
fire to, to prevent the blockaders getting her off when daylight came.

This system of evading the cruisers, however, having been discovered, it
was put a stop to by a very ingenious method, by which several vessels
were captured and an end put to that little game. Of course I can only
conjecture the way in which it was done, but it seemed to me to be
thus: At the extreme end of the line of blockaders lay one of them with
a kedge anchor, down so close to the shore that she left but a very
little space for the blockade-runner to pass between her and the beach.
The captain of the runner, however, trusting to his vessel's speed and
invisibility, dashed through this space, and having got by the cruiser
thought himself safe. Poor fellow! he was safe for a moment, but in such
a trap that his only chance of getting out of it was by running on shore
or giving up. For no sooner had he passed than up went a rocket from the
cruiser who had seen the runner rush by, and who now moved a little
further in towards the shore, so as to stop her egress by the way she
went in; and the other vessels closing round by a pre-arranged plan, the
capture or destruction of the blockade-runner was a certainty.

Some of the captains most pluckily ran their vessels on shore, and
frequently succeeded in setting fire to them; but the boats of the
cruisers were sometimes too sharp in their movements to admit of this
being done, and the treatment of those who tried to destroy their
vessels was, I am sorry to say, very barbarous and unnecessary.
Moreover, men who endeavoured to escape by jumping overboard after the
vessel was on shore were often fired at by grape and shell, in what
seemed to me a very unjustifiable manner. Great allowance, however, must
be made for the men-of-war's men, who after many hard nights of dreary
watching constantly under weigh, saw their well-earned prize escaping by
being run on shore and set fire to, just as they imagined they had got
possession. On several occasions they have been content to tow the empty
shell of an iron vessel off the shore, her valuable cargo having been
destroyed by fire.

But I have left my little craft lying as was stated about sixty miles
from the entrance of the river. I had determined to try a new method of
getting through the blockading squadron, seeing that the usual plan, as
described above, was no longer feasible or, at least, advisable. I have
mentioned that our position was well defined by observations and
soundings, so we determined to run straight through the blockaders, and
to take our chance. When it was quite dark we started steaming at full
speed. It was extremely thick on the horizon, but clear overhead, with
just enough wind and sea to prevent the little noise the engines and
screws made being heard. Every light was out--even the men's pipes; the
masts were lowered on to the deck; and if ever a vessel was invisible
the _D----n_ was that night.

We passed several outlying cruisers, some unpleasantly near, but still
we passed them. All seemed going favourably, when suddenly I saw through
my glasses the long low line of a steamer right ahead, lying as it were
across our bows so close that it would have been impossible to pass to
the right or left of her without being seen. A prompt order given to the
engine-room (where the chief engineer stood to the engines) to reverse
one engine, was as promptly obeyed, and the little craft spun round like
a _teetotum_. If I had not seen it, I could never have believed it
possible that a vessel would have turned so rapidly, and (although,
perhaps, it is irrelevant to my subject) I cannot refrain from bearing
testimony to the wonderful powers of turning that are given to a vessel
by the application of Symond's turnscrews, as he loves to call them. On
this occasion £50,000 of property was saved to its owners. I do not
believe the cruiser saw us at all, and so very important to us was the
fact that we had turned in so short a space, that I scarcely think we
lost five yards of our position. Having turned we stopped to
reconnoitre, and could still see the faint outline of the cruiser
crawling (propelled, probably, only by the wind) slowly into the
darkness, leaving the way open to us, of which we at once took
advantage. It was now about one o'clock in the morning; our lead, and
an observation of a friendly star, told us that we were rapidly nearing
the shore. But it was so fearfully dark, that it seemed almost hopeless
ever to find our way to the entrance of the river, and no one felt
comfortable. Still we steamed slowly on and shortly made out a small
glimmer of a light right ahead. We eased steam a little, and cautiously
approached.

As we got nearer, we could make out the outline of a vessel lying at
anchor, head to wind, and conjectured that this must be the senior
officer's vessel, which we were told generally lay about two miles and a
half from the river's mouth, and which was obliged to show some sort of
light to the cruisers that were constantly under weigh right and left of
her. The plan of finding out this light, and using it as a guide to the
river's entrance, being shortly after this time discovered, the vessel
that carried it was moved into a different position every night, whereby
several blockade-runners came to grief.

Feeling pretty confident now of our position, we went on again at full
speed, and made out clearly the line of blockaders lying to the right
and left of the ship which showed the light; all excepting her being
apparently under weigh. Seeing an opening between the vessel at anchor
and the one on her left, we made a dash, and, thanks to our disguise and
great speed, got through without being seen, and made the most of our
way towards the land. As a strong current runs close inshore which is
constantly changing its course, and there were no lights or landmarks to
guide us, it was a matter of great difficulty to find the very narrow
entrance to the river.

We were now nearly out of danger from cruisers, who seldom ventured very
close inshore in the vicinity of the batteries; and our pilot, who had
been throughout the voyage in bodily fear of an American prison, began
to wake up, and, after looking well round, told us that he could make
out, over the long line of surf, a heap of sand called 'the mound,'
which was a mark for going into the river.

This good news emboldened us to show a small light from the inshore side
of the vessel; it was promptly answered by two lights being placed a
short distance apart on the beach, in such a position that, when the two
were brought into line, or, as the sailors call it, into one, the vessel
would be in the channel which led into the river. This being done
without interruption from the cruisers, we steamed in and anchored
safely under the batteries of Fort Fisher.

Being now perfectly safe, lights were at once lit, supper and grog
served out _ad libitum_, everybody congratulated everybody, and a
feeling of comfort and jollity, such as can only be experienced after
three nights' and three days' intense anxiety, possessed us all. On the
morning breaking we counted twenty-five cruisers lying as near as they
dared venture off the river's mouth, and a very pleasant sight it was,
situated as we were. There was evidently a move among them of an unusual
kind; for the smaller vessels were steaming in towards the shore on the
north side, and the ships' launches, with guns in their bows, were
pulling about from vessel to vessel. The cause of it as day advanced was
but too apparent.

Just out of range of Fort Fisher's heavy artillery, on the north side of
the river's entrance, a splendid paddle-wheel blockade-runner was lying
on the beach, having been run on shore during the night to avoid
capture.

Her crew had evidently escaped to the shore, and a smouldering smoke
showed that she had been set fire to, and that a little wind was all
that was necessary to make the flames break out. The blockading ships do
not appear to have been aware of the damage they had done till daylight
discovered the vessel, that they probably thought had either got into
the river or escaped to sea, lying on the beach. However, they were not
slow in making preparations for capturing her, if possible.

Meanwhile, two of the crew of the blockade-runner managed to get on
board of her, and setting her on fire in a dozen different places,
everything in the vessel was soon destroyed, and her red-hot sides made
boarding an impossibility.

So the gunboats retired out of range, and the artillery with the
Whitworth guns returned to Fort Fisher. The shell of this vessel lay for
months on the beach and was by no means a bad mark for the
blockade-runners to steer by.

Having witnessed this little bit of excitement and received on board the
crew of the stranded vessel, we took a pilot on board and steamed up the
Cape Clear river to Wilmington.

It will be difficult to erase from my memory the excitement of the
evening we made our little craft fast alongside the quay at Wilmington;
the congratulations we received, the champagne cocktail we imbibed, the
eagerness with which we gave and received news, the many questions we
asked, such as, 'How long shall we be unloading?' 'Was our cargo of
cotton ready?' 'How many bales could we carry?' 'How other
blockade-runners had fared?' &c.; and the visits from thirsty and
hungry Southerners of all ranks and denominations, many of whom had not
tasted alcohol in any form for months, to whom whatever they liked to
eat or drink was freely given, accompanied by congratulations on all
sides. All these things, combined with the delightful feeling of
security from capture, and the glorious prospect of a good night's rest
in a four-poster, wound one up into an inexpressible state of jollity.
If some of us had a little headache in the morning, surely it was small
blame to us. Our host's cocktails, made of champagne bitters and pounded
ice, soon put all things to rights; and after breakfast we lounged down
to the quays on the river-side, which were piled mountains high with
cotton-bales and tobacco tierces, and mixed in the lively and busy scene
of discharging, selling, and shipping cargoes.



CHAPTER XI.

EXCITING ADVENTURES.


I may now, I trust, without appearing egotistical, digress slightly from
the narrative to give an account of how I managed with my own private
venture, which I had personally to attend to; for it is scarcely
necessary to mention that in blockade-running everyone must look after
himself. If he does not his labour will have been in vain.

Before leaving England I had met a Southern lady, who, on my inquiring
as to what was most needed by her compatriots in the beleaguered States,
replied curtly: 'Corsages, sir, I reckon.' So I determined to buy a lot
of the articles she referred to, and on arriving at Glasgow (the port
from which we originally started) I visited an emporium that seemed to
contain everything in the world; and I astonished a young fellow behind
the counter by asking for a thousand pairs of stays. Such an unusual
request sent him off like a rocket to higher authority, with whom I
made a bargain for the article required at one shilling and a penny per
pair, to be delivered the next day. At the same time I bought five
hundred boxes of Cockle's pills, and a quantity of toothbrushes. Well,
here I was in Wilmington, with all these valuables on my hands; the
corsages were all right, but the horrid little Cockles were bursting
their cerements and tumbling about my cabin in all directions. I was
anxious, with the usual gallantry of my cloth, to supply the wants of
the ladies first. The only specimens of the sex that I could see moving
about were coloured women, who were so little encumbered with dress that
I began to think I was mistaken in the article recommended by my lady
friend as being the most required out here. After waiting some time, and
no one coming to bid for my ware, I was meditating putting up on the
ship's side a large board with the name of the article of ladies' dress
written on it--a pillbox for a crest, and toothbrushes as
supporters--when an individual came on board and inquired whether I
wished 'to trade.' I greedily seized upon him, took him into my retreat,
and made him swallow three glasses of brandy in succession, after which
we commenced business.

I will not trouble my reader with the way in which we traded; regarding
the corsages, suffice it to say that he bought them all at what seemed
to me the enormous price of twelve shillings each, giving me a profit of
nearly eleven hundred per cent.

On my asking where the fair wearers of the article he had bought could
be seen, he told me that all the ladies had gone into the interior. I
hope they found my importations useful; they certainly were not
ornamental.

Elated as I was by my success, I did not forget the Cockles, and gently
insinuated to my now somewhat excited friend that we might do a little
more trading. To my disgust he told me that he had never heard of such a
thing as Cockle's pills. I strongly urged him to try half-a-dozen,
assuring him that if he once experienced their invigorating effects he
would never cease to recommend them. But the ignorant fellow didn't seem
to see it; for, finishing his brandy and buttoning up his pockets, he
walked on shore. I never thought of naming toothbrushes, for what could
a man who had never heard of Cockles know of the luxury of toothbrushes?
So I sat quietly down, and began to sum up my profits on the _corsages_.

I was deeply engaged in this occupation when I felt a heavy hand on my
shoulder. Turning round I saw my friend the trader, who, after having
smothered my boot in tobacco-juice, said, 'I say, captain, have you got
any coffin-screws on trade?' His question rather staggered me, but he
explained that they had no possible way of making this necessary article
in the Southern States, and that they positively could not keep the
bodies quiet in their coffins without them, especially when being sent
any distance for interment. As I had no acquaintance, I am happy to say,
with the sort of thing he wanted, it was agreed upon between us that I
should send to England for a quantity, he, on his part, promising an
enormous profit on their being delivered.

I cannot help remarking on the very great inconvenience and distress
that were entailed on the South through the want of almost every
description of manufacture. The Southern States, having always been the
producing portion of the Union, had trusted to the North, and to Europe
for its manufactures. Thus, when they were shut out by land and by sea
from the outer world, their raw material was of but little service to
them. This fact tended, more than is generally believed, to weaken the
Southern people in the glorious struggle they made for what they called
and believed to be their rights,--a struggle, the horrors of which are
only half understood by those who were not eye-witnesses of it. Whether
the cause was good, whether armed secession was justifiable or not, is a
matter regarding which opinions differ. But it is undeniable that all
fought and endured in a manner worthy of a good and a just cause, and
many were thoroughly and conscientiously convinced it was so. Such men
as Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and others would never have joined any cause
against their convictions; but it won't do for a blockade-runner to
attempt to moralise. So to return to my story.

My readers will be desirous of knowing what was the result of my
speculation in Cockles and toothbrushes. Regarding the former, I am
sorry to say that all my endeavours to induce my Southern friends to try
their efficacious powers were of no avail, so I determined to take them
with me to Nassau (if I could get there), thinking that I might find a
market at a place where everyone was bilious from over eating and
drinking, on the strength of the fortunes they were making by
blockade-running; and there I found an enterprising druggist who gave me
two chests of lucifer matches in exchange for my Cockles, which matches
I ultimately sold in the Confederacy at a very fair profit. My
toothbrushes being not in the slightest degree appreciated at
Wilmington, I sent them to Richmond, where they were sold at about seven
times their cost.

So ended my speculation. The vessel's cargo consisted of blankets,
shoes, Manchester goods of all sorts, and some mysterious cases marked
'hardware,' about which no one asked any questions, but which the
military authorities took possession of. This cargo was landed, and
preparations made for taking on board THE paying article in this trade,
namely, cotton.

I never bought it in any quantity, but I know that the price in the
Southern States averaged from twopence to threepence a pound, the price
in Liverpool at that time being about half-a-crown.

We were anxious to try the luck of our run-out before the moon got
powerful, so the cargo was shipped as quickly as possible. In the first
place, the hold was stored by expert stevedores, the cotton-bales being
so closely packed that a mouse could hardly find room to hide itself
among them. The hatches were put on, and a tier of bales put fore and
aft in every available spot on the deck, leaving openings for the
approaches to the cabins, engine-room, and the men's forecastle; then
another somewhat thinner tier on the top of that, after which a few
bales for the captain and officers, those uncontrollable rascals whom
the poor agents could not manage, and the cargo was complete. Loaded in
this way, the vessel with only her foremast up, with her bow-funnel, and
grey-painted sides, looked more like a huge bale of cotton with a stick
placed upright at one end of it, than anything else I can think of. One
bale for----, and still one more for---- (I never tell tales out of
school), and all was ready.

We left the quay at Wilmington cheered by the hurrahs of our brother
blockade-runners, who were taking in and discharging their cargoes, and
steamed a short distance down the river, when we were boarded to be
_searched_ and _smoked_. This latter extraordinary proceeding, called
for perhaps by the existing state of affairs, took me altogether aback.
That a smoking apparatus should be applied to a cargo of cotton seemed
almost astounding. But so it was ordered, the object being to search for
runaways, and, strange to say, its efficacy was apparent, when, after an
hour or more's application of the process (which was by no means a
gentle one), an unfortunate wretch, crushed almost to death by the
closeness of his hiding-place, poked with a long stick till his ribs
must have been like touchwood, and smoked the colour of a backwood
Indian, was dragged by the heels into the daylight, ignominiously put
into irons, and hurled into the guard-boat. This discovery nearly caused
the detention of the vessel on suspicion of our being the accomplices of
the runaway; but after some deliberation, we were allowed to go on.

Having steamed down the river a distance of about twenty miles, we
anchored at two o'clock in the afternoon near its mouth. We were hidden
by Fort Fisher from the blockading squadron lying off the bar, there to
remain till some time after nightfall. After anchoring we went on shore
to take a peep at the enemy from the batteries. Its commandant, a fine,
dashing young Confederate officer, who was a firm friend to
blockade-runners, accompanied us round the fort. We counted twenty-five
vessels under weigh; some of them occasionally ventured within range;
but no sooner had one of them done so, than a shot was thrown so
unpleasantly near that she at once moved out again.

We were much struck with the weakness of Fort Fisher, which, with a
garrison of twelve hundred men, and only half finished, could have been
easily taken at any time since the war began by a resolute body of five
thousand men making a night attack. It is true that at the time of its
capture it was somewhat stronger than at the time I visited it, but even
then its garrison was comparatively small, and its defences unfinished.
I fancy the bold front so long shown by its occupiers had much to do
with the fact that such an attack was not attempted till just before the
close of the war. The time chosen for our starting was eleven o'clock,
at which hour the tide was at its highest on the bar at the entrance of
the river. Fortunately the moon set about ten, and as it was very
cloudy, we had every reason to expect a pitch-dark night. There were two
or three causes that made one rather more nervous on this occasion than
when leaving Bermuda.

In the first place, five minutes after we had crossed the bar, we should
be in the thick of the blockaders, who always closed nearer in on the
very dark nights. Secondly, our cargo of cotton was of more importance
than the goods we had carried in; and thirdly, it _was the thing to do_
to make the double trip in and out safely. There were also all manner of
reports of the new plans that had been arranged by a zealous commodore
lately sent from New York to catch us all. However, it was of no use
canvassing these questions, so at a quarter to eleven we weighed anchor
and steamed down to the entrance of the river.

Very faint lights, which could not be seen far at sea, were set on the
beach in the same position as I have before described, having been thus
placed for a vessel coming in; and bringing these astern in an exact
line, that is the two into one, we knew that we were in the passage for
going over the bar. The order was then given, 'Full speed ahead,' and we
shot at a great speed out to sea.

Our troubles began almost immediately; for the cruisers had placed a
rowing barge, which could not be seen by the forts, close to the
entrance, to signalise the direction which any vessel that came out
might take. This was done by rockets being thrown up by a designed plan
from the barge. We had hardly cleared the bar when we saw this boat very
near our bows, nicely placed to be run clean over, and as we were going
about fourteen knots, her chance of escape would have been small had we
been inclined to finish her. Changing the helm, which I did myself, a
couple of spokes just took us clear. We passed so close that I could
have dropped a biscuit into the boat with ease. I heard the crash of
broken oars against our sides; not a word was spoken.

I strongly suspect every man in that boat held his breath till the great
white avalanche of cotton, rushing by so unpleasantly near, had passed
quite clear of her.

However, they seemed very soon to have recovered themselves, for a
minute had scarcely passed before up went a rocket, which I thought a
very ungrateful proceeding on their part. But they only did their duty,
and perhaps they did not know how nearly they had escaped being made
food for fishes. On the rocket being thrown up, a gun was fired
uncommonly close to us, but as we did not hear any shot, it may have
been only a signal to the cruisers to keep a sharp look-out.

We steered a mile or two near the coast, always edging a little to the
eastward, and then shaped our course straight out to sea. Several guns
were fired in the pitch-darkness very near us. (I am not quite sure
whether some of the blockaders did not occasionally pepper each other.)
After an hour's fast steaming, we felt moderately safe, and by the
morning had a good offing.

Daylight broke with thick, hazy weather, nothing being in sight. We went
on all right till half-past eight o'clock, when the weather cleared up,
and there was a large paddle-wheel cruiser (that we must have passed
very near to in the thick weather) about six miles astern of us. The
moment she saw us she gave chase. After running for a quarter of an hour
it was evident that with our heavy cargo on board, the cruiser had the
legs of us, and as there was a long day before us for the chase, things
looked badly. We moved some cotton aft to immerse our screws well; but
still the cruiser was steadily decreasing her distance from us, when an
incident of a very curious nature favoured us for a time.

It is mentioned in the book of sailing directions, that the course of
the Gulf Stream (in the vicinity of which we knew we were) is in calm
weather and smooth water plainly marked out by a ripple on its inner and
outer edges. We clearly saw, about a mile ahead of us, a remarkable
ripple, which we rightly, as it turned out, conjectured was that
referred to in the book. As soon as we had crossed it, we steered the
usual course of the current of the Gulf Stream, that here ran from two
to three miles an hour. Seeing us alter our course, the cruiser did the
same; but she had _not_ crossed the ripple on the edge of the stream,
and the course she was now steering tended to keep her for some time
from doing so. The result soon made it evident that the observations in
the book were correct; for until she too crossed the ripple into the
stream, we dropped her rapidly astern, whereby we increased our distance
to at least seven miles.

It was now noon, from which time the enemy again began to close with
us, and at five o'clock was not more than three miles distant. At six
o'clock she opened a harmless fire with the Parrot gun in her bow, the
shot falling far short of us. The sun set at a quarter to seven, by
which time she had got so near that she managed to send two or three
shots over us, and was steadily coming up.

Luckily, as night came on, the weather became very cloudy, and we were
on the dark side of the moon, now setting in the West, which
occasionally breaking through the clouds astern of the cruiser, showed
us all her movements, while we must have been very difficult to make
out, though certainly not more than a mile off. All this time she kept
firing away, thinking, I suppose, that she would frighten us into
stopping. If we had gone straight on, we should doubtless have been
caught; so we altered our course two points to the eastward. After
steaming a short distance we stopped quite still, blowing off steam
under water, not a spark or the slightest smoke showing from the funnel;
and we had the indescribable satisfaction of seeing our enemy steam past
us, still firing ahead at some imaginary vessel.

This had been a most exciting chase and a very narrow escape; night only
saved us from a New York prison. All this hard running had made an
awful hole in our coal-bunkers, and as it was necessary to keep a stock
for a run off the blockaded Bahama Islands, we were obliged to reduce
our expenditure to as small a quantity as possible. However we were well
out to sea, and after having passed the line of cruisers between
Wilmington and Bermuda, we had not much to fear till we approached the
British possessions of Nassau and the adjacent islands, where two or
three very fast American vessels were cruising, although five hundred
miles from American waters. I am ignorant, I confess, of the laws of
blockade, or indeed if a law there be that allows its enforcement, and
penalties to be enacted, five hundred miles away from the ports
blockaded. But it did seem strange that the men-of-war of a nation at
peace with England should be allowed to cruise off her ports, to stop
and examine trading vessels of all descriptions, to capture and send to
New York, for adjudication, vessels on the mere suspicion of their being
intended blockade-runners; and to chase and fire into real
blockade-runners so near to the shore that on one occasion the shot and
shell fell into a fishing village, and that within sight of an English
man-of-war lying at anchor in the harbour at Nassau. Surely it is time
that some well-understood laws should be made, and rules laid down, or
such doings will sooner or later recoil on their authors.

Having so little coal on board, we determined on making for the nearest
point of the Bahama Islands, and luckily reached a queer little island
called Green Turtle Quay, on the extreme north of the group, where was a
small English colony, without being seen by the cruisers. We had not
been there long, however, before one of them came sweeping round the
shore, and stopped unpleasantly near to us; even though we were inside
the rock she hovered about outside, not a mile from us.

We were a tempting bait, but a considerable risk to snap, and I suppose
the American captain could not quite make up his mind to capture a
vessel (albeit a blockade-runner piled full of cotton) lying in an
English port, insignificant though that port might be. We had got a
large white English ensign hoisted on a pole, thereby showing the
nationality of the rock, should the cruiser be inclined to question it.
After many longing looks, she steamed slowly away, much to our
satisfaction. Coals were sent to us from Nassau the next day, which
having been taken on board, we weighed anchor, keeping close to the
reefs and islands all the way. We steamed towards that port, and arrived
safely, having made the in-and-out voyage, including the time in
unloading and loading at Wilmington, in sixteen days.

To attempt to describe at length the state of things at this usually
tranquil and unfrequented little spot is beyond my powers. I will only
mention some of its most striking features. Nassau differed much from
Wilmington, inasmuch as at the latter place there was a considerable
amount of poverty and distress, and men's minds were weighted with many
troubles and anxieties; whereas, at Nassau, everything at the time I
speak of was _couleur de rose_. Every one seemed prosperous and happy.
You met with calculating, far-seeing men who were steadily employed in
feathering their nests, let the war in America end as it might; others
who, in the height of their enthusiasm for the Southern cause, put their
last farthing into Confederate securities, anticipating enormous
profits; some men, careless and thoughtless, living for the hour, were
spending their dollars as fast as they made them, forgetting that they
would 'never see the like again.' There were rollicking captains and
officers of blockade-runners, and drunken swaggering crews; sharpers
looking out for victims; Yankee spies; and insolent worthless _free
niggers_--all these combined made a most heterogeneous, though
interesting, crowd.

The inhabitants of Nassau, who, until the period of blockade-running,
had, with some exceptions, subsisted on a precarious and somewhat
questionable livelihood gained by wrecking, had their heads as much
turned as the rest of the world. Living was exorbitantly dear, as can be
well imagined, when the captain of a blockade-runner could realise in a
month a sum as large as the Governor's salary. The expense of living was
so great that the officers of the West India regiment quartered here had
to apply for special allowance, and I believe their application was
successful. The hotel, a large building, hitherto a most ruinous
speculation, began to realise enormous profits. In fact, the almighty
dollar was spent as freely as the humble cent had been before this
golden era in the annals of Nassau.

As we had to stay here till the time for the dark nights came round
again, we took it easy, and thoroughly enjoyed all the novelty of the
scene. Most liberal entertainment was provided free by our owner's
agent, and altogether we found Nassau very jolly: so much so, that we
felt almost sorry when 'time' was called, and we had to prepare for
another run. In fact, it was pleasanter in blockade-running to look
backwards than forwards, especially if one had been so far in good luck.



CHAPTER XII.

A VISIT TO CHARLESTON.


All being ready, we steamed out of Nassau harbour, and were soon again
in perilous waters. We had a distant chase now and then--a mere child's
play to us after our experience--and on the third evening of our voyage
we were pretty well placed for making a run through the blockading
squadron as soon as it was dark. As the moon rose at twelve o'clock, it
was very important that we should get into port before she threw a light
upon the subject.

Unfortunately, we were obliged to alter our course or stop so often to
avoid cruisers that we ran our time too close; for, as we were getting
near to the line of blockade, a splendid three-quarter-size moon rose,
making everything as clear as day. Trying to pass through the line of
vessels ahead with such a bright light shining would have been madness;
in fact, it was dangerous to be moving about at all in such clear
weather, so we steamed towards the land on the extreme left of the line
of cruisers, and having made it out, went quite close inshore and
anchored.

By lying as close as we dare to the beach, we must have had the
appearance of forming part of the low sand-hills, which were about the
height and colour of the vessel; the wood on their tops forming a
background which hid the small amount of funnel and mast that showed
above the decks. We must have been nearly invisible, for we had scarcely
been an hour at anchor when a gun-boat came steaming along the shore
very near to the beach; and while we were breathlessly watching her,
hoping that she would go past, she dropped anchor alongside of us, a
little outside where we were lying--so close that we not only heard
every order that was given on board, but could almost make out the
purport of the ordinary conversation of the people on her decks. A
pistol shot would have easily reached us. Our position was most
unpleasant, to say the least of it. We could not stay where we were, as
it only wanted two hours to daybreak. If we had attempted to weigh
anchor, we must have been heard doing so. However, we had sufficient
steam at command to make a run for it. So, after waiting a little to
allow the cruiser's fires to get low, we knocked the pin out of the
shackle of the chain on deck, and easing the cable down into the water,
went ahead with one engine and astern with the other, to turn our vessel
round head to seaward.

Imagine our consternation when, as she turned, she struck the shore
before coming half round (she had been lying with her head inshore, so
now it was pointed along the beach, luckily in the right direction, i.e.
lying from the cruiser). There was nothing left to us but to put on full
speed, and if possible force her from the obstruction, which after two
or three hard bumps we succeeded in doing.

After steaming quite close to the beach for a little way, we stopped to
watch the gun-boat, which, after resting for an hour or so, weighed
anchor and steamed along the beach in the opposite direction to the way
we had been steering, and was soon out of sight. So we steamed a short
distance inshore and anchored again. It would have been certain capture
to have gone out to sea just before daybreak, so we made the little
craft as invisible as possible, and remained all the next day, trusting
to our luck not to be seen. And our luck favoured us; for, although we
saw several cruisers at a distance, none noticed us, which seems almost
miraculous.

Thus passed Christmas Day, 1863, and an anxious day it was to all of
us. We might have landed our cargo where we were lying, but it would
have been landed in a dismal swamp, and we should have been obliged to
go into Wilmington for our cargo of cotton.

When night closed in we weighed anchor and steamed to the entrance of
the river, which, from our position being so well defined, we had no
difficulty in making out. We received a broadside from a savage little
gun-boat quite close inshore, her shot passing over us, and that was
all. We got comfortably to the anchorage about half-past eleven o'clock,
and so ended our second journey in.

I determined this time to have a look at Charleston, which was then
undergoing a lengthened and destructive siege. So, after giving over my
craft into the hands of the owner's representatives, who would unload
and put her cargo of cotton on board, I took my place in the train and,
after passing thirty-six of the most miserable hours in my life
travelling the distance of one hundred and forty miles, I arrived at the
capital of South Carolina, or rather near to that city--for the train,
disgusted I suppose with itself, ran quietly off the line about two
miles from the station into a meadow. The passengers seemed perfectly
contented, and shouldering their baggage walked off into the town. I
mechanically followed with my portmanteau, and in due course arrived at
the only hotel, where I was informed I might have half a room.

Acting on a hint I received from a black waiter that food was being
devoured in the coffee-room, and that if I did not look out for myself I
should have to do without that essential article for the rest of the
day, I hurried into the _salle-à-manger_, where two long tables were
furnished with all the luxuries then to be obtained in Charleston, which
luxuries consisted of lumps of meat supposed to be beef, boiled Indian
corn, and I think there were the remains of a feathered biped or two, to
partake of which I was evidently too late. All these washed down with
water, or coffee without sugar, were not very tempting; but human nature
must be supported, so to it I set, and having swallowed a sufficient
quantity of animal food, I went off to my room to take a pull at a
bottle of brandy which I had sagaciously stored in my carpet-bag. But,
alas! for the morals of the beleaguered city. I found, on arriving
there, a nigger extended at full length in happy oblivion on the floor,
with the few clothes I had with me forming his pillow, and the brandy
bottle rolling about alongside of him, empty.

I first of all hammered his head against the floor, but the floor had
the worst of it; then I kicked his shins (the only vulnerable part of a
nigger), but it was of no use; so pouring the contents of a water jug
over him, in the hope that I might thus cause awful dreams to disturb
his slumbers, I left him, voting myself a muff for leaving the key in my
box.

Having letters of introduction to some of General Beauregard's staff, I
made my way to headquarters, where I met with the greatest courtesy and
kindness. An orderly was sent with me to show me the top of the tower, a
position that commanded a famous view of the besieging army, the
blockading squadron, and all the defences of the place. A battery had
just been placed by the enemy (consisting of five Parrot guns of heavy
calibre) five miles from the town, and that day had opened fire for the
first time. At that enormous range the shell occasionally burst over or
fell into the city, doing, however, little damage. The elevation of the
guns must have been unusually great. I am told that every one of them
burst after a week's, or thereabouts, firing. Poor Fort Sumter was
nearly silenced after many months' hammering, but its brave defenders
remained in it to the last, and it was not till a few days before
Charleston was abandoned that they gave it up. At the time I speak of
the whole of the western beach was in the hands of the enemy, Battery
Wagner having succumbed after one of the most gallant defences on
record. While it remained in the hands of the Southerners it assisted
Fort Sumter, inasmuch as from its position it kept the enemy at a
distance, but after its capture, or rather destruction, the latter fort
was exposed to a tremendous fire from ships and batteries, and its solid
front was terribly crumbled.

Surrounded, however, with water as it was, it would have been most
difficult to take by assault; and from what I could learn, certain
destruction would have met any body of men who had attempted it
latterly. There it stood, sulkily firing a shot or shell now and then,
more out of defiance than anything else. The blockading, or rather
bombarding, squadron was lying pretty near to it on the western side of
the entrance to the harbour; but on the east side, formidable batteries
belonging to the Southerners kept them at a respectable distance.
Blockade-running into Charleston was quite at an end at the time I am
writing about. Not that I think the cruisers could have kept vessels
from getting in, but for the reason that the harbour was a perfect
network of torpedoes and infernal machines (the passage through which
was only known to a few persons), placed by the Southerners to prevent
the Northern fleet from approaching the city.

Having had a good look at the positions of the attacking and defending
parties, I went down from the tower and paid a visit to a battery where
two Blakely guns of heavy calibre, that had lately been run through the
blockade in the well-known 'Sumter' (now the 'Gibraltar'), were mounted.
These guns threw a shot of 720 lbs. weight, and were certainly
masterpieces of design and execution. Unhappily, proper instructions for
loading had not accompanied them from England, and on the occasion of
the first round being fired from one of them, the gun not being properly
loaded, cracked at the breech, and was rendered useless; the other,
however, did good service, throwing shot with accuracy at great
distances. I saw much that was interesting here, but more able pens than
mine have already described fully the details of that long siege, where
on one hand all modern appliances of war that ingenuity could conceive
or money purchase were put into the hands of brave and determined
soldiers; on the other hand were bad arms, bad powder, bad provisions,
bad everything; desperate courage and unheard-of self-denial being all
the Southerners had to depend upon.

These poor Southerners never began to open their eyes to the
hopelessness of their cause till Sherman's almost unopposed march showed
the weakness of the whole country. Even strangers like myself were so
carried away with the enthusiasm of the moment, that we shut our eyes to
what should have been clearly manifest to us. We could not believe that
men who were fighting and enduring as these men were could ever be
beaten. Some of their leaders must have foreseen that the catastrophe
was coming months before it occurred; but, if they did so, they were
afraid to make their opinion public.

On returning to the hotel, I found it full of people of all classes
indulging in tobacco (the only solace left them) in every form. It is
all very well to say that smoking is a vile habit; so it may be, when
indulged in by luxurious fellows who eat and drink their full every day,
and are rarely without a cigar or pipe in their mouths; it may, perhaps,
be justly said that such men abuse the use of the glorious narcotic
supplied by Providence for men's consolation under difficulties. But
when a man has hard mental and bodily work, and barely enough food to
support nature, water being his only drink, then give him tobacco, and
he will thoroughly appreciate it. Besides, it will do him real good. I
think that at any time its use in moderation is harmless and often
beneficial, but under the circumstances I speak of it is a luxury
without price.

During the evening I met at the hotel a Confederate naval officer who
was going to attempt that night to carry havoc among the blockading
squadron by means of a cigar-shaped vessel of a very curious
description.

This vessel was a screw steamer of sixty feet in length, with eight feet
beam. She lay, before being prepared for the important service on which
she was going, with about two feet of her hull showing above the water,
at each end of which, on the shoulder as it were of the cigar, was a
small hatch or opening, just large enough to allow a man to pop through
it: from her bows projected a long iron outrigger, at the end of which
there was fixed a torpedo that would explode on coming into contact with
a vessel's side.

When the crew were on board, and had gone down into the vessel through
one of the hatches above mentioned, the said hatches were firmly closed,
and by arrangements that were made from the inside the vessel was sunk
about six inches below the water, leaving merely a small portion of the
funnel showing. Steam and smoke being got rid of below water, the vessel
was invisible, torpedo and all being immersed.

The officer having thus described his vessel, wished me good-night, and
started on his perilous enterprise. I met him again next evening quietly
smoking his pipe. I eagerly asked him what he had done, when he told me
with the greatest _sang-froid_ that he had gone on board his vessel with
a crew of seven men; that everything for a time had gone like clockwork;
they were all snug below with hatches closed, the vessel was sunk to the
required depth, and was steadily steaming down the harbour, apparently
perfectly water-tight, when suddenly the sea broke through the foremost
hatch and she went to the bottom immediately. He said he did not know
how he escaped. He imagined that after the vessel had filled he had
managed to escape through the aperture by which the water got in; all
the rest of the poor fellows were drowned. Not that my friend seemed to
think anything of that, for human life was very little thought of in
those times. This vessel was afterwards got up, when the bodies of her
crew were still in her hold. I imagined that the vessel contained
sufficient air to enable her to remain under water two or three hours,
or maybe some method was practised by which air could be introduced by
the funnel; at all events, had she been successful on that night, she
would undoubtedly have caused a good deal of damage and loss to the
blockading squadron, who were constantly harassed by all sorts of
infernal machines, torpedoes, fire-vessels, &c., which were sent out
against them by ingenious Southerners, whose fertile imaginations were
constantly conceiving some new invention.

On the next occasion that same enterprising officer was employed on a
similar enterprise, his efforts were crowned with complete success.

He started one dark night, in a submerged vessel of the same kind as
that above described, and exploded the torpedo against the bows of one
of the blockading squadron, doing so much damage that the vessel had to
be run on shore to prevent her sinking.

I must, before finishing my account of what I saw and did in Charleston,
mention a circumstance that showed how little the laws of _meum_ and
_tuum_ are respected during war times. The morning before I left, I had
a fancy for having my coat brushed and my shoes polished. So having
deposited these articles on a chair at the door of my room, I went to
bed again to have another snooze, hoping to find them cleaned when I
awoke. After an hour or so I got up to dress, and rang the bell several
times without getting any answer. So I opened the door and looked out
into the passage. To my surprise I saw an individual sitting on the
chair on which I had put my clothes, trying on one of my boots. He had
succeeded in getting it half on when it had stuck, and at the time I
discovered him he seemed to be in a fix, inasmuch as he could neither
get the boot off nor on. He was struggling violently with my poor boot,
as if it were his personal enemy, and swearing like a trooper. Not
wishing to increase his ire, I blandly insinuated that the boots were
mine, on which he turned his wrath towards me, making most unpleasant
remarks, which he wound up by saying that in these times anything that a
man could pick up lying about was his lawful property, and that he was
astonished at my impudence in asking for the boots. However, as the
darned things would not fit him 'no how,' he guessed I was welcome to
them; and giving a vicious tug to the boot to get it off, he succeeded
in doing so, and I, picking it up with its fellow, made good my retreat.
But where was my coat? I could not get an echo of an answer, where? So I
went downstairs and told my piteous tale to the landlord, who laughed at
my troubles, and told me he could not give me the slightest hopes of
ever seeing it again; but he offered to lend me a garment in which to
travel to Wilmington, which offer I gladly accepted.



CHAPTER XIII.

NEVER CAUGHT!


On my return to Wilmington I found that my vessel was ready for sea, so
I took charge of her, and we went down the river.

We had to undergo the same ordeal as before in the way of being smoked
and searched. This time there were no runaways discovered, but there was
one on board for all that, who made his appearance, almost squashed to
death, after we had been twenty-four hours at sea. We then anchored
under Fort Fisher, where we waited until it was dark, after which, when
the tide was high enough on the bar, we made a move and were soon
rushing out to sea at full speed. There was a considerable swell
running, which we always considered a point in our favour. By the way,
writing of swells puts me in mind of a certain 'swell' I had on board as
passenger on this occasion, who, while in Wilmington, had been talking
very big about 'hunting,' which probably he supposed I knew nothing
about. He used to give us long narratives of his own exploits in the
hunting-field, and expatiated on the excitement of flying over ditches
and hedges, while apparently he looked upon blockade-running and its
petty risks with sublime contempt. Soon after we crossed the bar on our
way out a gentle breeze and swell began to lift the vessel up and down,
and this motion he described as 'very like hunting.'

Just after he had ventured this remark, a Yankee gun-boat favoured us
with a broadside and made a dash to cut us off. This part of the fun,
however, my friend did not seem to think at all 'like hunting,' and
after having strongly urged me to return to the anchorage under the
protecting guns of the fort, he disappeared below, and never talked, to
me at least, about hunting again.

But to return to my story, there was, as I said before, a considerable
swell running outside, which was fortunate for us, as we ran almost into
a gunboat lying watching unusually close to the bar. It would have been
useless to turn round and endeavour to escape by going back, as, if we
had done so, we should inevitably have been driven on to the beach, and
either captured or destroyed. In such a predicament there was nothing
for it but to make a dash past and take the gun-boat's fire and its
consequences. I knew we had the legs of her, and therefore felt more at
ease in thus running the gauntlet than I otherwise should have done, so
on we went at full speed. She fired her broadside at about fifty yards
distance, but the shot all passed over us, except one that went through
our funnel. The marines on board of her kept up a heavy fire of musketry
as long as we were visible, but only slightly wounded one of our men.
Rockets were then thrown up as signals to her consorts, two of which
came down on us, but luckily made a bad guess at our position, and
closed with us on our quarter instead of our bow. They also opened fire,
but did us no injury. At the moment there was no vessel in sight ahead;
and as we were going at a splendid pace, we soon reduced our dangerous
companions to three or four shadowy forms struggling astern without a
hope of catching us. The signalising and firing had, however, brought
several other blockaders down to dispute our passage, and we found
ourselves at one moment with a cruiser on each side within a pistol shot
of us; our position being that of the meat in a sandwich. So near were
the cruisers, that they seemed afraid to fire from the danger of hitting
each other, and, thanks to our superior speed, we shot ahead and left
them without their having fired a shot.

Considering the heavy swell that was running, there was the merest
chance of their hitting us; in fact, to take a blockade-runner in the
night, when there was a heavy swell or wind, if she did not choose to
give in, was next to impossible. To run her down required the cruiser to
have much superior speed, and was a dangerous game to play, for vessels
have been known to go down themselves while acting that part.

Then, again, it must be borne in mind that the blockade-runner had
always full speed at command, her steam being at all times well up and
every one on board on the look-out; whereas the man-of-war must be
steaming with some degree of economy and ease, and her look-out men had
not the excitement to keep them always on the _qui vive_ that we had.

I consider that the only chances the blockading squadron had of
capturing a blockade-runner were in the following instances; viz., in a
fair chase in daylight, when superior speed would tell, or chasing her
on shore, or driving her in so near the beach that her crew were driven
to set fire to her and make their escape; in which case a prize might be
made, though perhaps of no great value; or frightening a vessel by guns
and rockets during the night into giving up. Some of the
blockade-runners showed great pluck, and stood a lot of pitching into.
About sixty-six vessels left England and New York to run the blockade
during the four years' war, of which more than forty were destroyed by
their own crews or captured; but most of them made several runs before
they came to grief, and in so doing paid well for their owners.

I once left Bermuda, shortly before the end of the war, in company with
four others, and was the only fortunate vessel of the lot. Of the other
four, three were run on shore and destroyed by their own crews, and one
was fairly run down at sea and captured.

I saw an extraordinarily plucky thing done on one occasion, which I
cannot refrain from narrating. We had made a successful run through the
blockade, and were lying under Fort Fisher, when as daylight broke we
heard a heavy firing, and as it got lighter we saw a blockade-runner
surrounded by the cruisers. Her case seemed hopeless, but on she came
for the entrance, hunted like a rabbit by no end of vessels. The guns of
the fort were at once manned, ready to protect her as soon as her
pursuers should come within range. Every effort was made to cut her off
from the entrance of the river, and how it was she was not sunk I cannot
tell. As she came on we could see N----, her commander, a well-known
successful blockade-runner, standing on her paddle-box with his hat off,
as if paying proper respect to the men-of-war. And now the fort opened
fire at the chasing cruisers, from whom the blockade-runner was
crawling, being by this time well inshore. One vessel was evidently
struck, as she dropped out of range very suddenly. On came the 'Old
J----,' one of the fastest boats in the trade, and anchored all right;
two or three shots in her hull, but no hurt. Didn't we cheer her! the
reason of her being in the position in which we saw her at daylight was
that she had run the time rather short, and daylight broke before she
could get into the river; so that, instead of being there, she was in
the very centre of the blockading fleet. Many men would have given in,
but old N---- was made of different stuff.

We got well clear of the cruisers before daybreak, and keeping far out
to sea, were unmolested during the run to Nassau, where we arrived
safely with our second cargo of cotton, having this time been eighteen
days making the round trip.

Having made two round trips, we could afford to take it easy for a
short time, and as the dark nights would not come on for three weeks, we
gave the little craft a thorough refit, hauling her up on a patent slip
that an adventurous American had laid down especially for
blockade-runners, and for the use of which we had to pay a price which
would have astonished some of our large ship-owners. I may mention that
blockade-runners always lived well; may be acting on the principle that
'good people are scarce'; so we kept a famous table and drank the best
of wine. An English man-of-war was lying in the harbour, whose officers
frequently condescended to visit us, and whose mouths watered at what
they saw and heard of the profits and pleasures of blockade-running.
Indeed, putting on one side the sordid motives which I dare say to a
certain extent actuated us, there was a thrilling and glorious
excitement about the work, which would have well suited some of these
gay young fellows.

Time again came round too soon, and we had to start on another trip, and
to tear ourselves away from all sorts of amusements, some of us from
domestic ties: for there were instances of anxious wives who, having
followed their husbands to the West Indies, vastly enjoyed all the
novelty of the scene. These ladies had their pet ships, in whose
captains they had confidence, and in which they sent private ventures
into the Confederacy; and in this way some of them made a nice little
addition to their pin-money. I don't know that any of them speculated in
Cockle's pills or corsages, but I heard of one lady who sent in a large
quantity of yellow soap, and made an enormous profit out of her venture.

Having completed the necessary alterations and repairs, and made all
snug for a fresh run, we started again from the port of Nassau. We had
scarcely steamed along the coast forty miles from the mouth of the
harbour, when we discovered a steamer bearing down on us, and we soon
made her out to be a well-known, very fast Yankee cruiser, of whom we
were all terribly afraid. As we were still in British waters, skirting
the shore of the Bahamas, I determined not to change my course, but kept
steadily on, always within a mile of the shore. On the man-of-war firing
a shot across our bows as a signal for us to heave to, I hoisted the
English colours and anchored. An American officer came on board, who,
seeing unmistakable proofs of the occupation we were engaged in, seemed
very much inclined to make a prize of us; but on my informing him that I
claimed exemption from capture on the ground of the vessel being in
British waters, he, after due consideration, sulkily wished me good
morning and went back to his ship. She continued to watch us till the
middle of the night, when I imagine something else attracted her
attention, and she steamed away. We, taking advantage of her temporary
absence, weighed our anchor and were soon far out at sea.

At the end of three days we had run into a position about sixty miles
from Wilmington without any incident happening worth mentioning. On our
nearing the blockading squadron at nightfall we heard a great deal of
firing going on inshore, which we conjectured (rightly as it afterwards
appeared) was caused by the American ships, who were chasing and
severely handling a blockade-runner. An idea at once struck me, which I
quickly put into execution. We steamed in as fast as we could, and soon
made out a vessel ahead that was hurrying in to help her consorts to
capture or destroy the contraband. We kept close astern of her, and in
this position followed the cruiser several miles. She made signals
continually by flashing different coloured lights rapidly from the
paddle-boxes, the meaning of which I tried my best to make out, so that
I might be able to avail myself of the knowledge of the blockade signals
at some future time; but I could not manage to make head or tail of
them.

Suddenly the firing ceased, and our pioneer turned out to sea again. As
we were by this time very near inshore, we stopped the engines and
remained quite still, but unluckily could not make out our exact
position.

The blockading cruisers were evidently very close in, so we did not like
moving about; besides, the pilot was confident that we were close enough
to the entrance of the river to enable us to run in when day broke,
without being in any danger from the enemy.

Thus for the remainder of the night we lay quite close to the beach.
Unfortunately, however, about an hour before daylight we struck the
shore, and all our efforts to free the vessel were of no avail.

As the day dawned we found that we were about a mile from Fort Fisher,
and that two of the American vessels nearest the shore were about a mile
from us when we first made them out, and were steaming to seaward,
having probably been lying pretty near to the river's mouth during the
darkness of the night. They were not slow to make us out in our unhappy
position. I ordered the boats to be lowered, and gave every one on board
the option of leaving the vessel, as it seemed evident that we were
doomed to be a bone of contention between the fort and the blockaders.
All hands, however, stuck to the ship, and we set to work to lighten her
as much as possible. Steam being got up to the highest pressure, the
engines worked famously, but she would not move, and I feared the sand
would get into the bilges. And now a confounded vessel deliberately
tried the range with her Parrot gun, and the shot splashed alongside of
us. Her fire, however, was promptly replied to by Fort Fisher. The shot
from the fort's heavy artillery passed right over and close to the
cruiser, and made her move further out, and thus spoiled the accuracy of
the range of our devoted little craft, which the man-of-war had so
correctly obtained. We made a frantic effort to get off our sandy bed,
and on all hands running from one extremity of the vessel to the other,
to our delight she slipped off into deep water.

But our troubles were not yet over. To get into the river's mouth it was
necessary to make a _détour_, to do which we had to steer out towards
the blockading fleet for a quarter of a mile before we could turn to go
into the river. While we were performing this somewhat ticklish
manœuvre, Fort Fisher most kindly opened a heavy fire from all its guns,
and thus drew the attention of the blockaders from us. In twenty
minutes from the time we got off we were safely at anchor under the
Confederate batteries. The vessel that had been so hard chased and fired
at during the night was lying safely at the anchorage, not very much
damaged.

This was by far the most anxious time we had gone through. We had to
thank the commandant and garrison of Fort Fisher for our escape. Having
paid our gallant rescuers a visit, we took a pilot on board and steamed
up to Wilmington. Cape Clear river at this time was full of all sorts of
torpedoes and obstructions, put down to prevent any gun-boats from
approaching the town of Wilmington, should the forts at its entrance be
taken possession of by the enemy. And as the whereabouts of these
obstructions were only known to certain pilots, we had to be careful to
have the right man on board. We got up in safety, and finding that our
cargo of cotton was ready, made haste to unload and prepare for sea
again as quickly as possible.

There was nothing interesting in Wilmington, which is a large straggling
town built on sand-hills. At the time I write of the respectable
inhabitants were nearly all away from their homes, and the town was full
of adventurers of all descriptions; some who came to sell cotton, others
to buy at enormous prices European goods brought in by
blockade-runners. These goods they took with them into the interior,
and, adding a heavy percentage to the price, people who were forced to
buy them paid most ruinous prices for the commonest necessaries of life.

On this occasion we spent a very short time at Wilmington, and having
taken our cargo of cotton, we went down the river to the old waiting
place under the friendly batteries of Fort Fisher. We had scarcely
anchored when a heavy fog came on; as the tide for going over the bar
did not suit till three o'clock in the morning, which I considered an
awkward time, inasmuch as we should only have two hours of darkness left
in which to get our offing from the land, I determined to go out in the
fog and take my chance of the thick weather lasting. I calculated that
if we had met with any cruisers, they would not have been expecting us,
and so would have been under low steam.

I was told by every one that I was mad to venture out, and all sorts of
prognostications were made that I should come to grief, in spite of
which omens of disaster, however, I went over the bar at four o'clock in
the afternoon in a fog, through which I could hardly see from one end of
the ship to the other, and took my chance. As we went on the fog seemed
to get if possible still thicker, and through the night it was
impossible for us to see anything or anything to see us.

In the morning we had an offing of at least a hundred and twenty miles,
and nothing was in sight. We made a most prosperous voyage, and arrived
at Nassau safely in seventy-two hours, thus completing our third round
trip.



CHAPTER XIV.

LAST DAYS ON THE 'D----N.'


As no vessel had succeeded since the blockade was established in getting
into Savannah (a large and flourishing town in Georgia, situated a few
miles up a navigable river of the same name), where there was a famous
market for all sorts of goods, and where plenty of the finest sea-island
cotton was stored ready for embarkation, and as the southern port pilots
were of opinion that all that was required to ensure success was an
effort to obtain it, I undertook to try if we could manage to get the
'D----n' in.

The principal difficulty we had to contend with was that the Northerners
had possession of a large fortification called Pulaski, which, being
situated at the entrance of the river, commanded the passage up to the
town.

To pass this place in the night seemed easy work enough, as it would be
hard for the sentry to make a vessel out disguised as we were; but to
avoid the shoals and sand-banks at the river's mouth, in a pitch-dark
night, seemed to me, after carefully studying the chart, to be a most
difficult matter. This, however, was the pilot's business; all we
captains had to do was to avoid dangers from the guns of ships and
forts; or, if we could not avoid them, to stand being fired at.

The pilot we had engaged was full of confidence; so much so, that he
refused to have any payment for his services until he had taken us in
and out safely. I may as well mention that there were few if any
blockading vessels off Savannah river, the Northerners having perfect
confidence, I presume, in Fort Pulaski and the shoals which surrounded
the entrance of the river being sufficient to prevent any attempt at
blockade-running succeeding. The lights in the ship off Port Royal, a
small harbour in the hands of the Northern Government, a few miles from
the entrance to Savannah, were as bright as in the time of peace, and
served as a capital guide to the river's mouth. After two days' run from
Nassau we arrived without accident to within twenty miles of the low
land through which the Savannah river runs, and at dark steered for the
light-vessel lying off Port Royal. Having made it out, in fact steaming
close up to it, we shaped our course for Fort Pulaski, using the light
as a point of departure, the distance by the chart being twelve miles.
We soon saw its outlines looming through the darkness ahead, and
formidable though it looked, it caused me no anxiety, compared with the
danger we seemed to be in from the shoalwater and breakers being all
around us. However, the pilot who had charge of such matters seemed
comfortable enough.

So we went cautiously along, and in ten minutes would have been past
danger, at all events from the batteries on the fort, when one of the
severest storms I ever remember of wind and rain, accompanied by thunder
and lightning, came on, and enveloped us in a most impenetrable
darkness. Knowing that we were surrounded by most dangerous shoals, and
being then in only fifteen feet water, I felt our position to be a very
perilous one. The pilot had by this time pretty well lost his head; in
fact, it would have puzzled anyone to say where we were. So we turned
round and steered out to sea again, by the same way we had come in; and
when we were as near as we could guess twenty miles from land, we let go
our anchor in fifteen fathoms water.

Then came on a heavy gale of wind accompanied by a thick fog, which
lasted three days and nights. I never in my life passed such an
unpleasant time, rolling our gunnels under, knowing that we were
drifting, our anchor having dragged, but in what direction it was
difficult to judge; unable to cook, through the sea we had shipped
having put our galley-fire out; and, worse than all, burning quantities
of coal, as we had to keep steam always well up, ready for anything that
might happen.

One day it cleared up for half an hour about noon, and we managed to get
meridian observations, which showed us that we had drifted thirty miles
of latitude, but we still remained in ignorance of our longitude. On the
fourth day the gale moderated, the weather cleared up, and we
ascertained our position correctly by observations.

When it was dark we steered for the light-vessel off Port Royal,
meaning, as before, to make her our point of departure for the entrance
of the river. But we went on and on, and we could not see the glimmer of
a light or even anything of a vessel (we found out afterwards that the
light-ship had been blown from her moorings in the gale). This was a
nice mess. The pilot told us that to attempt to run for the entrance
without having the bearings of the light to guide us would have been
perfect madness. We had barely enough coals to take us back to Nassau,
and if we had remained dodging about, waiting for the light-vessel to be
replaced, we should have been worse off for fuel, of which we had so
little that if we had been chased on our way back we should certainly
have been captured.

So we started for Nassau, keeping well in shore on the Georgia and
Florida coast. Along this coast there were many small creeks and rivers
where blockade-running in small crafts, and even boats, was constantly
carried on, and where the Northerners had stationed several brigs and
schooners of war, who did the best they could to stop the traffic. Many
an open boat has run over from the northernmost island of the Bahamas
group, a distance of fifty miles, and returned with one or two bales of
cotton, by which her crew were well remunerated.

We had little to fear from sailing men-of-war, as the weather was calm
and fine, so we steamed a few miles from the shore, all day passing
several of them, just out of range of their guns. One vessel tried the
effect of a long shot, but we could afford to laugh at her.

The last night we spent at sea was rather nervous work. We had reduced
our coals to about three-quarters of a ton, and had to cross the Gulf
Stream at the narrow part between the Florida coast and the Bahamas, a
distance of twenty-eight miles, where the force of the current is four
knots an hour. Our coals were soon finished. We cut up the available
spars, oars, &c., burnt a hemp cable (that by the way made a capital
blaze), and just managed to fetch across to the extreme western end of
the group of islands belonging to Great Britain, where we anchored.

We couldn't have steamed three miles further. On the wild spot where we
anchored there was fortunately a small heap of anthracite coal, that
probably had been part of the cargo of some wreck, of which we took as
much as would carry us to Nassau, and arrived there safely. Thus the
attempt to get into Savannah was a failure. It was tried once afterwards
by a steamer which managed to get well past the fort, but which stuck on
a sand-bank shortly after doing so, and was captured in the morning.

It is not my intention to inflict on my readers any more anecdotes of my
own doings in the 'D----n;' suffice it to say that I had the good luck
to make six round trips in her, in and out of Wilmington, and that I
gave her over to the chief officer and went home to England with my
spoils. On arriving at Southampton, the first thing I saw in the 'Times'
was a paragraph headed, 'The Capture of the "D----n."' Poor little
craft! I learned afterwards how she was taken, which I will relate, and
which will show that she died game.

The officer to whom I gave over charge was as fine a specimen of a
seaman as well can be imagined, plucky, cool, and determined, and by the
way he was a bit of a medico, as well as a sailor; for by his beneficial
treatment of his patients we had very few complaints of sickness on
board. As our small dispensary was close to my cabin, I used to hear the
conversation that took place between C---- and his patients. I will
repeat one.

_C._ 'Well, my man, what's the matter with you?'

_Patient._ 'Please, sir, I've got pains all over me.'

_C._ 'Oh, all over you, are they; that's bad.'

Then, during the pause, it was evident something was being mixed up, and
I could hear C---- say: 'Here, take this, and come again in the
evening.' (Exit patient.) Then C. said to himself: 'I don't think he'll
come again; he has got two drops of the croton. Skulking rascal, pains
all over him, eh!' I never heard the voice of that patient again; in
fact, after a short time we had no cases of sickness on board. C----
explained to me that the only medicine he served out, as he called it,
was _croton oil_; and that none of the crew came twice for treatment.

Never having run through the blockade as the commander of a vessel
(though he was with me all the time and had as much to do with our luck
as I had), he was naturally very anxious to get safely through. There
can be no doubt that the vessel had lost much of her speed, for she had
been very hardly pushed on several occasions. This told sadly against
her, as the result will show. On the third afternoon after leaving
Nassau she was in a good position for attempting the run when night came
on. She was moving stealthily about waiting for the evening, when
suddenly, on the weather, which had been hitherto thick and hazy,
clearing up, she saw a cruiser unpleasantly near to her, which bore down
under steam and sail, and it soon became probable that the poor little
'D----n's' twin screws would not save her this time, well and often as
they had done so before.

The cruiser, a large full-rigged corvette, was coming up hand over hand,
carrying a strong breeze, and the days of the 'D----n' seemed numbered,
when C---- tried a ruse worthy of any of the heroes of naval history.

The wind, as I said, was very fresh, with a good deal of sea running.
On came the cruiser till the 'D----n' was almost under her bows, and
shortened sail in fine style. The moment the men were in the rigging,
going aloft to furl the sails, C---- put his plan into execution. He
turned his craft head to wind, and steamed deliberately past the
corvette at not fifty yards' distance. She, with great way on, went
nearly a quarter of a mile before she could turn.

I have it from good authority that the order was not given to the
marines on the man-of-war's poop to fire at the plucky little craft who
had so fairly out-manœuvred the cruiser, for out-manœuvred she was to
all intents and purposes. The two or three guns that had been cast loose
during the chase had been partially secured, and left so while the men
had gone aloft to furl the sails, so that not a shot was fired as she
went past. Shortly after she had done so, however, the cruiser opened
fire with her bow guns, but with the sea that was running it could do no
harm, being without any top weights. The 'D----n' easily dropped the
corvette with her heavy spars astern, and was soon far ahead; so much so
that when night came on the cruiser was shut out of sight in the
darkness.

After this the 'D----n' deserved to escape, but it was otherwise fated.
The next morning when day broke she was within three miles of one of the
new fast vessels, which had come out on her trial trip, flying light,
alas! She had an opportunity of trying her speed advantageously to
herself. She snapped up the poor 'D----n' in no time, and took her into
the nearest port. I may mention that the 'D----n' and her captain were
well known and much sought after by the American cruisers. The first
remark that the officer made on coming aboard her was: 'Well, Captain
Roberts, so we have caught you at last!' and he seemed much disappointed
when he was told that the captain they so particularly wanted went home
in the last mail. The corvette which had chased and been cheated by the
'D----n' the day before was lying in the port into which she was taken.
Her captain, when he saw the prize, said: 'I must go on board and shake
hands with the gallant fellow who commands that vessel!' and he did so,
warmly complimenting C---- on the courage he had shown, thus proving
that he could appreciate pluck, and that American naval men did not look
down on blockade-running as a grievous sin, hard work as it gave them in
trying to put a stop to it. They were sometimes a little severe on men
who, after having been fairly caught in a chase at sea, wantonly
destroyed their compasses, chronometers, &c., rather than let them fall
into the hands of the cruiser's officers. I must say that I was always
prepared, had I been caught, to have made the best of things, to have
given the officers who came to take possession all that they had fairly
gained by luck having declared on their side, and to have had a farewell
glass of champagne with the new tenant at the late owner's expense. The
treatment received by persons captured engaged in running the blockade
differed very materially. If a _bonâ fide_ American man-of-war of the
old school made the capture, they were always treated with kindness by
their captors. But there were among the officers of vessels picked up
hurriedly and employed by the Government a very rough lot, who rejoiced
in making their prisoners as uncomfortable as possible. They seemed to
have only one good quality, and this was that there were among them many
good freemasons, and frequently a prisoner found the advantage of having
been initiated into the brotherhood.

The 'D----n's' crew fell into very good hands, and till they arrived at
New York were comfortable enough; but the short time they spent in
prison there, while the vessel was undergoing the mockery of a trial in
the Admiralty Court, was far from pleasant. However, it did not last
very long--not more than ten days; and as soon as they were free most of
them went back to Nassau or Bermuda ready for more work. C---- came to
England and told me all his troubles. Poor fellow! I am afraid his
services were not half appreciated as they ought to have been, for
success, in blockade-running as in everything else, is a virtue, whereas
bad luck, even though accompanied with the pluck of a hero, is always
more or less a crime not to be forgiven.



CHAPTER XV.

RICHMOND DURING THE SIEGE.


After the excitement of the last six or eight months I could not long
rest in England, satisfied with the newspaper accounts of the goings on
in the blockade-running world. So I got the command of a new and very
fast paddle-wheel vessel, and went out again. The American Government
had determined to do everything in its power to stop blockade-running,
and had lately increased the force of blockaders on the southern coast
by some very fast vessels built at New York. Being aware of this, some
of the first shipbuilders in England and Scotland were put, by persons
engaged in blockade-running, on their mettle, to try and build steamers
to beat them, and latterly it became almost a question of speed,
especially in the daylight adventures, between blockaders and
blockade-runners.

Some of the vessels on this side of the water were constructed
regardless of any good quality but speed, consequently their scantling
was light, and their seagoing qualities very inferior. Many of them came
to grief; two or three swamped at sea; others, after being out a few
days, struggled back into Queenstown, the lamest of lame ducks; while
some got out as far as Nassau quite unfit for any further work.

My vessel was one of the four built by R---- and G---- of Glasgow, and
was just strong enough to stand the heavy cross sea in the Gulf Stream.
She was wonderfully fast, and, taking her all in all, was a success. On
one occasion I had a fair race in the open day with one of the best of
the new vessels that the American Government had sent out to beat
creation wherever she could meet it, and I fairly ran away from her.

On arriving at Wilmington in my new vessel I started to have a look at
Richmond, which city was then besieged on its southern and eastern sides
by General Grant, who, however, was held in check by Lee at Petersburg,
a small town situated in an important position about eighteen miles from
the capital. To get to Richmond was not easily accomplished without
making a long _détour_ into the interior (for which we had no time), for
the outposts of the contending armies disputed possession of the last
forty miles of the railroad between Wilmington and Petersburg, the
latter town being on the line to Richmond. As telegraphic communication
was stopped, it was a difficult matter to ascertain, day by day, whether
a train could pass safely.

We had in our party the young General Custos Lee, a nephew of the
Confederate commander-in-chief, on his way to his uncle's headquarters,
who kindly offered his assistance in getting us through. When we arrived
at a station some forty miles from Richmond we found, as we feared would
be the case, our further progress by rail impracticable, but we got hold
of a couple of waggons drawn by mules, into which we managed to stow
ourselves and baggage the latter, by the way, being of considerable
importance, as it contained several cases of drinkables, not to be
obtained for love or money where we were going to. We travelled through
all sorts of by-lanes, bumped almost to pieces for four miles, steering
in the direction of the headquarters of the cavalry outposts, which were
commanded by a celebrated raiding officer, also a nephew of the
commander-in-chief. At last we found ourselves in a beautiful green
valley surrounded by thick woods, where the general and his staff were
quartered. He had with him two or three thousand cavalry, who, in spite
of their bad clothing and somewhat hungry appearance, were as
fine-looking a body of men as one would wish to see.

The general and his staff gave us a hearty welcome. Poor fellows, it was
all they had to offer! We on our part produced sundry cases of sardines,
Bologna sausages, and other tempting condiments wherewith to make a
feast.

The drink we mixed in two horse buckets cleaned up for the occasion; a
dozen or so of claret, a couple of bottles of brandy, and half a dozen
of soda water, the whole cooled with two or three lumps of ice (of which
article, as if in mockery, the Southerners had heaps). All these good
things were duly appreciated, not only by our new friends, who for
months past had tasted nothing but coarse rye-bread and pork washed down
with water, but also by well-shaken travellers like ourselves. Lying on
the grass in that lovely spot, it seemed as if the war and all its
horrors were for the moment forgotten. There were several Englishmen
among the officers composing the staff, who had (they said) come out
here to see active service, which they unquestionably had found to their
hearts' content. They seemed the sort of men who would do credit to
their country. I often wonder what has become of them; in one of them I
was particularly interested. He said his name was Cavendish, but it may
have been a _nom de guerre_.

While we were in the camp a picket came in, whose officer reported
having had a skirmish with the enemy, in which the Northerners had been
whipped. The way the cavalry outposts engaged with each other was
curious enough. The ground they met on did not admit of cavalry charges
being made, as thick underwood covered the country for miles round. So,
when they were inclined for a brush, they dismounted, tied their horses
to trees, and skirmished in very open lines, every man picking out his
special enemy. When they had had enough of it, they picked up their
killed and wounded, and, mounting their horses, rode away.

After passing four or five hours with our cavalry friends we bade them
good-bye, and started (still accompanied by our valuable companion, the
young general) on our way to the headquarters of the army, where we were
to pass the night. It was well for us that we travelled in such good
company, for having to pass all along the outskirts of the Southern
army, we were constantly stopped and interrogated by patrols and
pickets. Besides which we were sometimes disagreeably near to the
outposts of the 'boys in blue,' as Grant's men were called. Having
arrived very late in the evening at our destination, we bivouacked under
the trees close to the headquarters of the general commanding, who was
away at the front, and not expected back till the next evening. The
rattle of musketry and the boom of heavy guns all through the night
reminded us of our vicinity to the theatre of war, and somewhat
disturbed our rest. But if we were a little nervous, we took care not to
show it. In the morning we started in our waggons, and, after travelling
a few miles across the country, came to the railway that connected the
camp with Richmond. A train shortly afterwards picked us up and landed
us at the capital of Virginia, where we took up our quarters at a
comfortable-looking hotel. There was more to drink and eat here than at
Charleston, consequently people had cheerful countenances. Liquor was,
however, dear, brandy being sold at twenty-five shillings per bottle, it
having to be run through the blockade. Here we found that the people had
that wonderful blind confidence in the Southern cause which had mainly
supported them through all difficulties.

At this moment, though a line of earthworks hurriedly thrown up in a few
hours at Petersburg was nearly all that kept Grant's well-organised army
from entering the capital; though the necessaries of war, and even of
life, were growing alarmingly short; though the soldiers were badly fed,
and only half-clothed or protected from the inclemency of the weather
(one blanket being all that was allowed to three men), still every one
seemed satisfied that the South would somehow or other gain the day, and
become an independent nation.

While in Richmond I had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of the
talented correspondent of the 'Times,' who, although in a position to
look on calmly at passing events, was so carried away by his admiration
of the wonderful pluck shown by the Southerners, and by the general
enthusiasm of the people among whom he lived, that he allowed himself to
be buoyed up with the hope that something would eventually turn up in
their favour, and in his letters never seemed to despair. Had he done
otherwise he would have stood alone, so he swam with the tide; whereas
all of us, especially those who were mere lookers-on, should have seen
the end coming months before we were obliged to open our eyes to the
fact that it was come. Through his acquaintance with the big-wigs, we
managed to get a few of them to accept an invitation to a feed, as we
could offer luxuries such as could not be found in Richmond.

Some of the first men in the Confederacy honoured us with their
company, and made themselves uncommonly agreeable, seeming quite a jolly
set of fellows. I fear that they have nearly all come to grief since
then, except Mr. Benjamin, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, who before
his death, which occurred several years after the time that I write,
made himself a name in England worthy of his high talents and education.

I had the honour, while in Richmond, of being invited to a tea party by
Mrs. Davis, the President's wife, which I thought very interesting. The
ladies were all dressed in deep mourning; some (the greater part) for
the sad reason that they had lost near and dear relatives in the
wretched war; the others, I suppose, were in mourning for their
country's misfortunes. Mrs. Davis moved about the room saying something
civil to every one, while the President, though a stern-looking man who
never smiled, tried to make himself agreeable to his guests, and gave
one the idea of a thorough gentleman. I saw there military officers who
had lately come from the front, surrounded by groups of people anxious
for news; delegates from distant seceding States; messengers from Hood's
army, about which many were beginning to be anxious; sympathising
foreigners, government officials, and many others. The whole of the
conversation naturally related to the prospects of the cause, and no one
would have guessed from what he heard in President Davis's house that
the end was so near.

I was anxious before my return to see something of the army that had so
long defended Richmond. So I only remained a few days at the capital,
after which I left it and its, alas! too confiding inhabitants, and made
my way as best I could to the headquarters of the commander-in-chief.
There I presented my letters of introduction to General Lee.

It would perhaps be impertinence on my part to attempt to eulogise the
character of this excellent man and good soldier, who, most thoroughly
believing in the justice of the Southern cause, had sacrificed
everything he possessed in its behalf, and had thrown all his energy and
talent into the scale in its favour. Many who knew him well have done
and will continue to do justice to his patriotism and self-denial. I had
a very long conversation with him, which I wish I could repeat without
being guilty of a breach of confidence, as evidence of the sensible
notions he had formed of the state of affairs in the South. He was the
only man I met during my travels who took a somewhat gloomy view of the
military prospects of the country--of which, as a soldier, there could
be no better judge.

After spending twenty-four hours in the camp, we went to the railway
station to see if we could get places for Wilmington. We found that the
line was in the hands of the Southerners, and that although the 'boys in
blue' had a vulgar habit of firing into the carriages as they passed,
the trains were running each night. But a train running and a
non-combatant passenger getting a place in a carriage were widely
different things, every available seat being taken up by sick and
wounded soldiers. I made a frantic effort to get into the train somehow,
and after a severe struggle succeeded in scrambling into a sort of
horse-box and sat me down on a long deal box, which seemed rather a
comfortable place to sleep on. It was pitch dark when I got into the
train, and we were obliged to keep in the dark until we had run the
gauntlet of the Northern pickets, who favoured us with a volley or two
at a long range from the hills overlooking the railway. When we were
clear of them I lighted a match, and to my horror found that I was
comfortably lounging on a coffin. I wished I had not thrown a light on
the subject, but by degrees, becoming accustomed I suppose to my
position, I sank into a comfortable sleep and was really quite sorry
when, on arriving at some station just before daylight, people came to
remove my peculiar though far from uncomfortable couch. I felt its loss
the more, for in its place they put a poor fellow wounded nearly to
death, whose moans and cries were, beyond anything, distressing. We were
a long time getting to Wilmington, as it was necessary to stop and
repair most of the bridges on the line before the train could venture
over them, an operation at which all passengers sound in wind and limb
had to assist.

On arriving there we found all the world in a state of great excitement,
on account of there having been a terrible fire among the cotton lying
on the quays ready for embarkation, supposed to have been the work of an
incendiary.

The recollections of my last proceedings in the blockade-running are far
from pleasant, and I shall pass them over as briefly as possible.

When we had only the American Government cruisers to fear, we enjoyed
the excitement in the same way as a man enjoys fox-hunting (only, by the
way, we were the fox instead of the huntsmen), but when dire disease, in
the worst form that Yellow Jack could take, stalked in amongst us, and
reduced our numbers almost hourly, things became too serious to be
pleasant.

However, before the fever showed itself we made one successful round
trip in the new vessel (in and out) in capital form, having some
exciting chases and little adventures, all very similar to what I have
described before, the vessel doing credit to her designers on all
occasions. We landed one thousand one hundred and forty bales of cotton
at Bermuda, and it was after we had started from Wilmington on our
second trip that the horrid yellow fever broke out among us. I believe
that every precaution was taken by the Government of the island to
prevent the disease from spreading, but increased by the drunkenness,
dissipation, and dirty habits of the crews of the blockade-runners, and
the wretchedly bad drainage of the town of St. George, it had lately
broken out with great violence, and had spread like wildfire, both on
the shore and among the shipping. It must have been brought on board our
ship by some of the men, who had been spending much time on shore; we
had not been twenty-four hours at sea before the fever had got deadly
hold on our crew.

We went to Halifax, where we landed our sick and inhaled some purer air;
but it was of no avail. The fever was in the vessel and we could not
shake it off. The poor fellows as soon as we were out at sea again began
to drop off. I never can forget an incident of that voyage, which, as
it could only have happened during blockade-running times, I will
mention, melancholy though it was. Two men died in the middle watch one
night, when we were in very dangerous waters. Their bodies were wrapped
in rough shrouds, ready to be committed to the deep when daylight broke,
as we dared not show a light whereby to read the Funeral Service. I
never waited so anxiously or thought the dawn so long in coming. I was
waiting with my Prayer-book in my hands straining my eyes to make out
the service; the men with their hats off, standing by the bodies, ready
to ease them down into the sea. Our minds I fear wandered towards the
danger that existed (almost to a certainty) of a cruiser making us out
by the same light that enabled us to perform our sad office. However, as
soon as there was light enough, the service was read without any
indecent hurry, and fortunately nothing was in sight to disturb us for
several hours afterwards.

It was miserable work. That morning about seven o'clock a man came up
from the engine-room, and while trying to say something to me fell down
in a fit, and was dead in half an hour. There was quite a panic among us
all, and as if to make things worse to the superstitious sailors,
whenever we stopped several horrid sharks immediately showed themselves
swimming round the vessel. The men lost all heart, and would I think
have been thankful to have been captured, as a means of escape from what
they believed to be a doomed vessel. Taking into consideration that if
we got into Wilmington we should, with this dreadful disease on board,
have been put into almost interminable quarantine (for the inhabitants
of Wilmington having been decimated before by yellow fever, which was
introduced by blockade-runners, had instituted the most severe sanitary
laws), I determined to go back to Halifax.

On arriving there I was taken very ill with yellow fever, and on my
recovery made up my mind to give up blockade-running for ever and all.
The game indeed was fast drawing to a close. Its decline was caused in
the first by the impolitic behaviour of the people at Wilmington, who,
professedly acting under orders from the Confederate Government at
Richmond, pressed the blockade-runners into their service to carry out
cotton on Government account, in such an arbitrary manner that the
profit to their owners, who had been put to an enormous expense and risk
in sending vessels in, was so much reduced that the ventures hardly
paid. And when at last Fort Fisher was taken, and thus all
blockade-running entirely put an end to, the enterprise had lost much of
its charm; for, unromantic as it may seem, much of that charm consisted
in money-making.

However, I will mention one or two instances to show what the love of
enterprise will lead men to do, and with these I will close my
narration.

On the first night of the attack on Fort Fisher, which it may be
remembered was a failure entirely through bad management, though its
little garrison fought like lions, a blockade-runner unaware of what was
going on, finding that the blockading squadron was very near inshore and
hearing a great deal of firing, kept creeping nearer to the fort, till
she was near enough to make out what they were doing. Judging rightly
that they would never suspect that any attempt would be made to run the
blockade at such a time, she joined a detachment of gun-boats and went
deliberately in as one of them. When they, being repulsed, had steamed
away, our friend remained at anchor under the fort, much to the
astonishment of the garrison. It would have been rather awkward if the
fort had been taken, but in such times no one looks very far ahead.

Another vessel went out from Wilmington the same night, and was
unmolested. But fortune does not always favour the brave. Fort Fisher
was at last taken _unbeknownst_, as the sailors say, to the
blockade-runners at Nassau or Bermuda, at which places the blindest
confidence was still felt in everything connected with the fortunes of
the South, and where to whisper an opinion that any mishap might happen
to Wilmington was positively dangerous. The crafty Northerners placed
the lights for going over the bar as usual. The blockade-runners came
cautiously on, and congratulating themselves at seeing no cruisers ran
gaily into the port. The usual feasting and rejoicings were about to
commence when a boat full of armed men came alongside, and astonished
them by telling them that they were in the lion's mouth. This happened
to four or five vessels before the news had reached the islands. It was
hard lines, no doubt, but quite fair play. It was the blockaders' turn
to laugh now.



CHAPTER XVI.

THE LAND BLOCKADE.


I have now come to the end of my blockade-running yarns. I have
endeavoured to avoid giving offence to anyone: to the American officers
and men who manned the cruisers I can, as a nautical man, truly and
honestly give the credit of having most zealously performed their hard
and wearisome duty. It was not their fault that I did not visit New York
at the Government's expense; but the old story that 'blockades, to be
legal, must be efficient,' is a tale for bygone days. So long as
batteries at the entrance of the port blockaded keep ships at a
respectable distance, the blockade will be broken.

A practical suggestion that my experience during the time I was a
witness of the war in America would lead me to make is, that, both for
the purposes of war and of blockade, speed is the most important object
to attain. Towards the end of that contest, blockade-running became
much more difficult, in fact, was very nearly put a stop to, not by the
ports becoming more effectually closed to traffic, but by the sea being
literally covered with very fast vessels, who picked up many
blockade-runners at sea during the daytime, especially when they had
their heavy cargoes of cotton on board. The Americans are also perfectly
alive to the fact that, for purposes of war, speed is all important. An
American officer of rank once remarked to me: 'Give me a fifteen-knot
wooden vessel armed with four heavy guns of long range, and I'll laugh
at your lumbering iron-clads.' Perhaps he had prize-money in view when
he said so; or, what is still more important, he may have felt how
easily such vessels as those he proposed would sweep the seas of foreign
privateers. In these views I can but think he was right and far-seeing.
Time will show.

It may have struck my readers as strange that, in a country with so
large an inland boundary, the necessaries of life and munitions of war
could not have been introduced into the Southern States by their
extensive frontiers: but it is only a just tribute to the wonderful
energy shown by the Northern Americans during the civil war, to state
that the blockade by land was as rigid as that enforced by their fleets;
and almost as much risk was run by persons who broke the land blockade
as by those who evaded the vigilance of the cruisers at sea. The courses
of the large inland rivers were protected by gun-boats, and on account
of the rapids and other impediments, such as snags, with which they were
filled, the fords or passes for boats were few and far between, and thus
easily guarded; besides which, it was always a difficult matter to avoid
the pickets belonging to either party, who were very apt to suspect a
man they found creeping about without any ostensible object, and anyone
suspected of being a spy in those days had a short shrift and a long
rope applied before he knew where he was. More from a spirit of
enterprise than from any other reason, I determined to see what the land
blockade was like, and while at Richmond, happening to meet another
adventurous individual also so inclined, we commenced our plan of
campaign.

First of all (by the way, I ought to mention that we were both nautical
parties) we engaged a pilot, thereby meaning a man who had a canoe or
two stowed away in different parts of the woods, and who was well
acquainted with the passes on the river. Our amiable friend, the
correspondent of the 'Times.' showed so much confidence in our success
that he entrusted to our care a packet of despatches, which were
intended, if we got through successfully, to delight the eyes of the
readers of the 'Thunderer' some weeks afterwards.

We had to buy a horse and buggy, as naturally enough no one would let
them out on hire for such an enterprise; besides, those were not days
when men let out anything on hire that they could not keep in sight.
However, we sent a man on before us, in company with the pilot, to a
station some miles from the frontier, whose business it was to bring the
trap back when we had done with it. We stowed in our haversacks a pair
of dry stockings, a good stock of tobacco, and a couple of bottles of
brandy, against the road; we also had passes to produce in the event of
questions being asked by the patrols on the Southern side of the
frontier.

All being ready, we started, leaving Richmond at four o'clock in the
morning. We travelled on a long, dreary, dusty road all day, stopping
about noon for two hours at a free nigger's hut, where we got some yams
and milk, and about sunset arrived at the station above mentioned, at
which we were to dismiss our conveyance; and right glad we were to get
rid of it, for we were bumped to death by its dreadful oscillations.

At this station our pilot was waiting for us. There were also
bivouacking here a picket of cavalry, who told us they had seen some of
the enemy's patrols that morning, scouring about on the opposite bank of
the river just where we proposed to land. Somehow or other, people
always seem to take a pleasure in telling you disagreeable things at a
time when you rather want encouragement than fear instilled into you. We
had some supper, consisting of eggs and bacon; and at nine o'clock, it
being then pitch dark, the pilot informed us it was time to start. I
must say I should have been more comfortable if I had been on the bridge
of my little craft, just starting over the bar at Wilmington, with the
probability of a broadside from a gun-boat saluting us in a very short
time, than where I was. But it would never do to think of going back, so
we crawled into the wood.

Our land pilot informed us that the bank of the river, from whence we
should find a clear passage across, was about two miles distant. I never
remember seeing or feeling anything to be compared with the darkness of
that pine wood, but our guide seemed to have the eyes of a basilisk. We
formed Indian file, our guide leading, and crept along as best we could.
At last, after stealthily progressing for half an hour, a glimmer of
starlight through the trees showed us that we were getting to the
borders of the wood.

A few minutes afterwards we were desired to lie down. Feeling helpless
as babes, we passively obeyed, and watched our guide as he moved about
like a spectre in the long grass on the banks of the Potomac, looking
for his canoe. At last he returned and whispered that the boat was all
right, and we all crept like serpents to where it was concealed. Nothing
could be heard but the wind blowing through the trees, and the
discordant noises of frogs and other denizens of the swamp. So dark was
the night that we could hardly see fifty yards across the river. I
suppose this was all in our favour; but how our guide knew the marks by
which to steer was a puzzle to me, and as I never meant to profit by
this experience I asked no questions.

Not a word was spoken as we (myself and my friend) launched the canoe
silently into the water and seated ourselves, or rather obeyed orders
and lay down, the pilot sitting in the stern, with his face towards the
bows of the boat, having a light paddle in his hand, which he worked
wonderfully well and silently. The distance across the river was about
three miles.

We shot ahead at a rapid pace for about five minutes, when suddenly,
bump went the canoe against something. To lie flat down was to our guide
the work of a second, and the canoe was at once transformed into a
floating log.

Well it was so, for it seems we had struck a small boat that was
fastened astern of the gun-boat guarding the river. That the noise of
the collision had been heard on board was evident, for a sentry hailed,
'Boat ahoy!' and fired his musket, and one of those detestable bright
lights which the American men-of-war have a nasty habit of showing
flashed over the water, making everything visible for a hundred yards
round. The current of the river, however, was very strong, and I fancy
we had drifted out of the radius covered by the light, as we were
fortunately not discovered; or perhaps the diligent watchman on board
the man-of-war thought some huge crocodile or other monster had come in
contact with their boat. Be that as it may, we were safe, and twenty
minutes more paddling brought us to land on the opposite bank of the
river; but unfortunately our little adventure had thrown us out of our
line, or as we sailors should have called it, out of our course. We
hauled the canoe out of the water, and hid her in the long grass. All we
could see around us was a dismal swamp, with the dark wood in the
background. Our guide honestly told us that having been thrown out of
his 'reckoning' in regard to our position, to move from where we were
before daybreak would be madness, so we took a pull at the brandy
bottle, lighted our pipes and waited patiently, having moved well in
under cover of the long grass, so as to be out of sight of any vessel
lying in the river near to us.

When the day dawned, our pilot after having reconnoitred told us that we
were very well placed for starting for Washington; but that it would be
impossible, on account of the patrols that were constantly watching the
river's banks, for us to move during the daytime, so we were doomed to
remain all day in the damp grass. Luckily we had put in our pockets at
last night's supper some black bread and an onion or two; so we made the
best of things, and so did the sandflies. How they did pitch into us,
especially into me! I suppose the good living I had been accustomed to
on board the blockade-runner, or my natural disposition to good
condition, made me taste sweet. Several times during that fearful day I
was tempted to rush out from my hiding-place, and defying patrols,
gun-boat's crew, and all authorities, make my escape from that place of
torture.

Anyone who has experienced the necessity of remaining quiet under such
an infliction as an attack of millions of sandflies on a hot sunny day
will appreciate my feelings. About one o'clock we got as a diversion
from our tormentors a great fright. A boat's crew of a gun-boat lying
about a mile distant from our retreat landed, and out of sheer idleness
set fire to the grass about a hundred yards from where we were lying
concealed.

We heard the crackling of the grass and thought of leaving our
concealment at the risk of discovery; but our guide wisely remarked that
the wind was the wrong way to bring the fire towards our hiding-place,
so we felt safe. The feeling of security was more pleasant, because we
distinctly heard the men belonging to the gun-boat conversing with
others, who clearly were patrols on the river's bank.

The evening at last closed in, and as soon as it was quite dark we moved
on, and after struggling through a thick wood for half an hour, got on
the high road to Washington. We travelled by night, meeting occasional
patrols, whom we dodged by either lying down or getting behind trees
till they had passed.

We concealed ourselves carefully during the day, and on the third
morning before daylight we were within half a mile of the city. As we
got near the bridge close outside Washington, we tried our best to look
like the rest of the people who were going on their ordinary business;
and though somewhat severely scrutinised by the guard we managed to pass
muster, and got safely into Washington, footsore, hungry, and regularly
done up.

We went to a small inn that had been recommended to us when we were in
Richmond, where probably they had some Southern proclivities. No
questions were asked as to where we came from, though, I take it, the
people of the house had a shrewd guess. We found ourselves among friends
and perfectly safe from meddling inquiries.

Thus the land blockade was run. I do not think much experience was
gained by this particularly unpleasant exploit, which after all there
was no very great difficulty in performing, and I certainly prefer my
own element.

After a short stay we made our way easily to New York, not feeling any
anxiety from the fact of our being staunch Southerners in our opinions,
inasmuch as there were numbers of sympathising friends wherever we went,
more perhaps than the authorities were aware of. I stayed a few days in
New York to recruit my strength after the fatigue of the journey, and
saw all the sights and enjoyed all the pleasures of the most delightful
city in the world, except perhaps Paris and London. I shall not attempt
to give my readers any description of New York. This has already been
done by abler pens than mine.

While in New York I was greatly struck with the calm confidence of the
bulk of the Northerners in the ultimate success of their arms against
the South. If I gained nothing else by running the land blockade, I at
least got an insight into the enormous resources possessed by the North,
and a knowledge of the unflinching determination with which the Federals
were prepared to carry on the struggle to the end. I must confess that I
left New York with my confidence that the Confederates would achieve
their independence very much shaken.

Not being desirous of going through the risk and inconvenience of
running the land blockade again, I returned to Nassau by steamer from
New York.



CHAPTER XVII.

I ENTER THE TURKISH NAVY.


After superintending, as it were, the adventures just detailed, I found
that there was still a year to pass before my time for service as a
post-captain came on; so I determined on making a Continental tour to
fill up the space. After wandering about in different countries, I more
by accident than design visited Constantinople.

While there, I called upon that great statesman Fuad Pasha, the Grand
Vizier of the Ottoman Empire, to whom I presented my letters of
introduction. He received me most cordially, and, during our
conversation, mentioned that for some years Turkey had had to deal with
a serious insurrection in the island of Crete, which it was found
difficult to suppress, owing to the assistance from without which the
revolutionary party received from Greece; also on account of the
somewhat doubtful laws existing as to blockade-running. For, although
Turkish men-of-war were continually on the look-out, vessels mostly
under the Greek flag, carrying warlike stores, provisions, &c., evaded
the watch of the cruisers on one pretext or another, and so managed to
keep a lively communication with the insurrectionary subjects of the
Sultan in Crete. Only one vessel had been captured _in flagrante
delicto_ after a sharp fight, and had been condemned as a lawful prize.

The Turkish authorities were told that, according to international law,
a blockade-running vessel could not be followed more than ten miles from
the coast, though having been seen breaking the blockade, and that as
soon as a blockade-runner was within four miles of any island not
belonging to Turkey, she could not be touched, &c. &c.; in fact, laws
were _fabricated_ to defend the blockade-running, which fed the
revolution to such an extent that, while it continued, it was hopeless
to attempt to put down the revolt.

I accidentally hinted to His Highness, Fuad Pasha, that I thought the
blockade-running could be put a stop to without infringing any law,
especially where laws were so elastic. He seemed much struck with my
remark, and asked me to call on him again in a few days. Now I had
merely mentioned casually what I thought. I had no idea of anything
serious resulting from our interview. I was indeed surprised on my
return to His Highness by his saying: 'I have consulted His Majesty the
Sultan, who desires me to tell you that if you would wish to take
service with the Ottoman Government, arrangements can be made whereby
you can do so, only you must take the risk and responsibility of
offending your own people.'

I had to consider a little before replying. I bore in mind that there
were some two hundred and fifty post-captains in the English navy
clamouring for employment, and that there were at the moment I speak of
only about forty employed. I remembered that for twenty-four years an
English officer of the same rank as myself had held the post now offered
to me, namely, that of Naval Adviser to the Turkish Government, that the
post was just vacant through the retirement of Sir Adolphus Slade (who
had served honourably for twenty years, and had retired from old age). I
calculated in those days of profound peace there was more probability of
active service in the Eastern world than elsewhere. So I answered:
'Well, your Highness, I am ready if the terms offered me are
satisfactory.'

I may say they proved most satisfactory; so, to make a long story
short, I accepted and was booked as a Turkish employé for five years,
always retaining my rank and position as an English naval officer, and
my nationality as a British subject.

I found afterwards, as regards my position as an English naval officer,
I had somewhat reckoned without my host. It seems that this post was
considered by the English Admiralty as one of their choice gifts, and
many were the applicants for it on Sir A. Slade's retirement, so much so
that their lordships made great capital of this appointment, and were
furious at my action in the matter. They said I had 'cut out' a good old
servant to whom they had intended to give it. They suggested my coming
home at once, &c. &c. I didn't see it in the same light as their
lordships, and I signified my determination to remain where I was; for
which, as will be seen, they paid me off in course of time. Luckily, I
could afford by the arrangement I had made with the Turkish Government
to be in the Admiralty's bad books, and even the frowns of the English
Ambassador did not affect me a bit. I believe they called me
'adventurer,' 'artful dodger,' &c., but it must be remembered that I was
in every way as much entitled to this position as the Admiralty 'pet,'
whoever he may have been.

From the day of signing my contract (which has been constantly renewed)
to the time I write, some sixteen years, I never have had cause to
regret the step I took.

Shortly after my installation as vice-admiral in the Turkish navy, it
was decided that I should be sent to Crete to put a stop to the
blockade-running. 'Set a thief to catch a thief,' as one of my, what may
be called, unfriendly critics has written about me, and the remark was
_ben trovato_ at all events, for I certainly did know something about
blockade-running.

I accordingly hoisted my flag in a fine fifty-gun wooden frigate, and
arrived at Suda Bay, the principal port of Crete, where six or seven
Turkish men-of-war were stationed, of which I took command. Here I heard
all the naval officers had to say about the blockade, the impunity with
which it was carried on, &c. I found, as I before mentioned, that the
Turkish naval officers' hands were tied by all sorts of imaginary
difficulties. They had most zealously done their duty while trying to
stop the blockade-running. They had shown great pluck and endurance, but
they always feared to break the law and so get the ever-bullied Turkish
Government into trouble. Here I also heard of the triumphant manner in
which the blockade-runners left the ports of Greece. How the Mayors of
Syra, Poros, and other Greek towns, conducted, with flags flying, bands
playing, and the hurrahs of the entire population, the hitherto
triumphant blockade-running captains and crews to their ships, on the
way to feed the flame of revolt against a nation with whom the Greeks
professed to be on most friendly terms.

I heard all this, and was moreover told that if the blockade-running was
stopped, the insurgents in Crete would at once lay down their arms for
want of food and warlike stores.

I determined to stop it at all risks.

Picking out of my squadron a couple of fast despatch boats and a quick
steaming corvette to accompany my flag-ship, I started on a cruise, and
once out of sight of the harbour of Suda, steamed straight for Syra. Now
this port had been the principal delinquent in fitting out and sending
blockade-runners to Crete; so I thought that by going as it were to the
starting-point, I should be somewhat nearer to my quarry than by waiting
for them in Crete. Circumstances favoured me in the most marvellous
manner. As morning broke the day after I left Suda, I was about eight
miles from Syra harbour, steaming slowly, when I saw what made my heart
leap into my mouth, viz., a regular blockade-runner exactly of the type
used in the American war, going at full speed for Syra harbour.

He was _outside_ my little squadron, and must pass within a mile or so
ahead to get to his port.

A somewhat similar position I have so often seen, in fact, taken part
in, of a craft running for dear life into Charleston or Wilmington,
across the bows of blockading ships just at daylight. I saw that he was
firing up all he knew, and was going at a tremendous speed. I signalled
to my despatch boats to chase, and when my flag-ship was within about a
mile and a half I fired a blank gun to make him show his colours. To
this he replied by firing his long Armstrong gun with such effect that
the shot cut away the stanchion of the bridge on which I was standing.
Now, gallant fellow as he was, in doing this he was wrong; he should
have shown his colours and run (if he knew he wasn't honest) for the
shelter of a neutral flag, but not fired at a man-of-war, who in her
duty as forming part of the police of the seas fires a blank gun asking
for colours from a suspicious vessel. He undoubtedly committed an act of
piracy and gave me a splendid hold on him.

My despatch boats chased the blockade-runner close to Syra harbour, both
parties keeping up a warm running fight. When I recalled them, I found
that this vessel was named the 'Enossis.' Her captain was a most
courageous Greek, who thought of nothing but carrying his cargo and
fighting to the last for his ship, evidently ignoring all laws, nor did
he even think that on this occasion someone was acting against him who
knew something of the rules of blockade, and who could have told him
that an armed blockade-runner is a pirate, that is to say, if she uses
her arms against a man-of-war.

I was so satisfied with what had occurred that I sent off one of my
despatch boats to the Governor of Crete, telling him that he need not
fear the blockade-runners any more, as they (the two others were lying
in Syra harbour) had put themselves in so false a position that at all
events for several weeks I could detain them at Syra. I knew that one
week would suffice to stop the revolt in Crete, as without the
blockade-runners the insurrectionists had positively nothing to eat.

(I may as well at once observe that I was perfectly justified in saying
this, for within three days, no blockade-runner arriving at the island,
the insurgents laid down their arms and _begged for bread_. And so ended
the Cretan revolt.)

Having recalled the vessels I had sent to chase the 'Enossis' into Syra
harbour, I steamed in the roads off that port, and anchored with three
vessels.

I then sent to the authorities on shore at Syra, and demanded their
assistance in arresting a vessel that had taken shelter in their port,
which, as I stated in my despatch, had committed an act of piracy on the
high seas, by firing at my flagship when the latter called upon her to
show her colours by firing a blank gun. At the same time I informed the
authorities of Syra that, as the companions of the 'Enossis' were in the
harbour, I should allow none of them to go to sea until the question of
that vessel's illegal action was cleared up. By doing this I took the
wind out of the sails of the authorities of Syra. They of course were
furious, and at once despatched a vessel to Athens for orders. At the
same time they made a semblance of meeting my demand by stating that the
'Enossis' should be tried by international law. They also requested me
to make my protest and to leave Syra, as the populace were in a state of
excitement beyond their power of control. In this request all the
Foreign Consuls joined.

I positively declined to leave; had I consented I am convinced the
'Enossis' and her companions would have left for Crete as soon as I was
out of sight. In the meantime I sent a despatch boat to Smyrna with
telegrams for Constantinople asking for assistance, stating my
position. I remained off Syra with two ships, one being a despatch boat,
watching the movements of the three blockade-runners, to whom I notified
that I would sink them if they attempted to leave the port.

I often wonder they didn't make a rush for it on the first night of my
arrival, when I was almost alone. The Greeks never want pluck. If they
had done so, one vessel out of the three would certainly have escaped,
taken food to the insurgents, and capsized all my calculations.

It merely corroborated my view of blockade-running peoples, namely, that
they go for gain (some perhaps for love of enterprise); don't fight
unless very hard pressed, and not always then if they are wise; that is
what it should be. It is outrageous that adventurous persons not engaged
in war should become belligerents, as well as carriers of arms and
provisions to an enemy.

The first night I passed off Syra was one of great anxiety, as I had
promised the Governor of Crete that no blockade-runner should go to the
island.

In the morning a small steamer arrived from Athens with a Turkish
official on board. He came to me pale as a sheet, and told me that as he
left the Piræus a Greek frigate was on the point of leaving for Syra,
whose captain, officers, and crew had sworn to bring back Hobart Pasha
dead or alive. Half an hour afterwards I got under weigh, and as I
steamed about in the offing I saw the Greek frigate coming round the
point.

It was a moment of intense excitement. The tops of the houses at Syra
were covered with people. It looked like the old story of the
'Chesapeake' and 'Shannon,' where the people turned out to see the fine
sport, and the band played, 'Yankee doodle dandy, oh!'

However, I steamed towards my supposed enemy, went almost alongside of
him, expecting momentarily to receive his broadside, when to my
astonishment and I must say satisfaction he steamed into the anchorage,
and let go three anchors. This didn't look like fighting. I found
afterwards that the Greek frigate had _no powder_ on board. It was a
shame to put her captain in so false a position, as everyone knows what
gallant stuff the Greeks are made of, and swagger is a mistake where
real pluck exists.

I felt for him very much, as he seemed so sorry for himself.

A few days after this I was reinforced by six or seven Turkish
ironclads, and in fact commanded the position in spite of all
remonstrances on the part of foreigners and other declared enemies of
Turkish rule.

We went through the laughable farce of a trial of the 'Enossis' on board
a vessel lying in port (I dare not land), which of course ended in
nothing.

The Governor-General of Crete sent all the insurgents in Turkish ships
to me to deal with, and this was the most difficult thing I had to do.
Poor beggars, they were fine though misguided men. After giving them a
good feed, for they were terribly hungry, I distributed them among the
neighbouring Greek islands, and so finished the affair.

There are those who say that my acts off Syra were illegal, especially
as to stopping the 'Enossis's' companions from leaving the port. All I
can say is, the Greeks _en masse_, from the Government downwards, had
paid so little regard to international law during three years, as
regards their action in encouraging revolution in the territory of a
friendly country, that a little stretch of the law on my part was quite
justifiable.

While on the subject of Crete, which is always supposed to be in a
chronic state of revolt, I would say a few words.

I maintain that the Cretan people, of whom I know a good deal, _do not
want an alliance_ with Greece, and if the always over-excited ambitious
Greek committees would only keep quiet and give up agitation, the
Cretans would be the happiest community in the Mediterranean.

While I commanded for more than a year a large squadron of Turkish
ironclads stationed in Crete, I had many opportunities of judging as to
the sentiments of the Cretans.

I never saw a more orderly, well-disposed people if let alone by
agitators.

On my return to Constantinople the reception I received from several of
the European Powers was most gratifying.

I received high honours in the shape of decorations, for having as they
said by my conduct prevented a European war. My own country alone stood
aloof from me. The Admiralty went so far as to tell me that if I did not
immediately return to England, my name would be erased from the list of
naval officers. An officer of high rank, a member of the Board of
Admiralty, wrote to me a semi-official letter, in which he said, 'Unless
you leave the Turkish service, you will be scratched off the list.'
Feeling exceedingly hurt at such treatment, at a moment when I expected
encouragement for having maintained the honour of my country while
acting as a naval officer should have done, I wrote to him, 'You may
scratch and be d----d.' This letter was, I think, very unfairly quoted
against me some time afterwards in the House of Commons. However, my
name was erased from the list of naval officers, and was not replaced
there for several years. I was well and kindly received by His Majesty
the Sultan, promoted to the rank of full admiral, and settled down to my
work as a Turkish naval officer, head of the staff of the Imperial Navy.

It becomes a most delicate task to continue sketches of my life during
the latter time that I have been in Turkey, because such anecdotes
strike nearer home, that is to say, become more what may be called
personal as regards my public and private doings. However, I will
endeavour, somewhat briefly perhaps, to do so in a way that may be
interesting to my readers, and offensive to no one.

It is not difficult to serve such masters as the Turks; they are always
kind and considerate to strangers in their service, and if one avoids
offending them in certain matters on which they are supposed to have
prejudices, and if one while giving advice avoids offensive censure, it
is easy to get on. While serving in Turkey my principal business has
been relating to naval matters, regarding which I have had to propose
certain progressive changes such as are being constantly introduced into
foreign navies, more especially the English. These changes proposed by
me have generally been accepted, and I can but think that many
beneficial alterations have been introduced into the Turkish Navy
tending to improve that service.

His Majesty the Sultan has named me one of his special A.D.C.'s, and in
that capacity I have had at times and still have important duties.

His Majesty always treats me with the greatest kindness and
consideration, and I have a sincere respect and affection for him, both
as a sovereign, and, if I may presume to say so, as a friend.



CHAPTER XVIII.

THE WAR WITH RUSSIA.


In 1877 the war with Russia broke out, and through the absence of any
powerful naval enemy, little in the way of hard fighting was done; still
some very important service was performed by the Turkish fleet, much
more so than is generally known.

In the first place we had to hold the Black Sea, with its extensive
sea-board. We defended Sulina and Batoum against Russian attack by land,
and by torpedo on the sea. We had to watch the little swift packet-boats
equipped as men-of-war, which constantly made a rush from Sebastopol and
Odessa (as they did, by the way, in the Crimean War, when twenty to
thirty English and French ships were watching them), and when they could
get a chance burnt some unfortunate little coasting craft, sending the
crews of such vessels adrift in small boats to make the best of their
way to the nearest land. In addition to the above-named services, the
Turkish fleet was called upon constantly to transport large bodies of
troops from port to port.

On one memorable occasion the Turkish men-of-war and transports conveyed
the whole of Suleiman Pasha's army, consisting of forty thousand men,
from the coast of Albania to Salonica, a distance of some eight hundred
miles, within the short space of twelve days, a feat, I venture to say,
unheard of in the naval annals of this century. Sulina was held safely
by the Turkish fleet until the end of the war.

Batoum could not have been held by Dervish Pasha and his army had not
the Turkish fleet been there to help him. In short, that fleet kept the
command of the Black Sea during the whole of that disastrous war,
cruising at times in the most fearful weather I have ever experienced,
for twelve months in a sea almost without ports of refuge; and it is a
remarkable fact that the Turks never lost a ship, constantly attacked
though they were, as I shall show hereafter, by the plucky Russian
torpedo boats, who frequently made rushes at them from Muscovite ports,
and only saved from destruction through the precautions taken against
these diabolical machines, which come and go like flashes of lightning.
It is true that _in the Danube_ two small Turkish vessels of war were
destroyed by torpedoes, but it must be borne in mind the Danube was
under _military_ law, and that the look-out kept on board these vessels
was not by any means what it should have been.

But I must repeat, as so many contrary reports have been spread, that no
Turkish ironclad was injured by torpedoes in the Black Sea.

I will explain hereafter how many attacks were made with no result
whatever. Some few days before the war broke out I was sent to examine
the Danube from a professional point of view, and it was soon made clear
to me that much could be done, in the way of defending that great
estuary, had nautical experience and the splendid material of which the
Turkish sailor is made of been properly utilised. But alas! I found
that, contrary to the views of His Majesty the Sultan, a line of action
was followed showing that pig-headed obstinacy and the grossest
ignorance prevailed in the councils of those who had supreme command in
that river. I found that my advice and that of competent Turkish
officers, in comparatively subordinate positions like myself, was
entirely ignored, and that few, if any, proper steps were taken to
prevent the enemy's progress into Roumania, and later on, to his
passing the Danube almost unopposed.

On the day that war was declared I was at Rustchuk, the headquarters of
the Turkish army. On that occasion I made a final effort, by making
propositions which events have proved would have arrested the advance of
the enemy.

I was simply told to mind my own business, and ordered to immediately
rejoin my ships, which were at the moment lying at the Sulina mouth of
the Danube.

It was all very well to tell me to do this; but to do so was apparently
not so easy of execution, for the reason that the Russians had no sooner
declared war than they took possession of the Lower Danube, by planting
fortifications on the hills commanding the river in the neighbourhood of
Galatz and Ibraila, at the same time laying down torpedoes across the
river in great quantities (as regards the latter, it was so reported,
though in my opinion it was no easy matter so quickly to place
torpedoes). I informed the military commanders of this; their answer
was, 'Go, and rejoin your ships _viâ_ Varna, if you will only get out of
this; we don't want your advice.' By this time, however, my professional
pride was wounded, and I determined to do something to show my contempt
for them all.

The only thing left for me to do for the moment was a little
blockade-running, so I resolved to bring my ship back past the Russian
barrier in the Lower Danube at all risks, instead of tamely returning by
land. So great was the jealousy against me that I almost think the
Turkish authorities commanding in the Danube would have been pleased if
I had failed, and so come to grief. I had with me a very fast
paddle-steamer called the 'Rethymo'; her captain and crew were what the
Turks always are--brave as lions and obedient as lambs.

I took on board a river pilot, whom I gave to understand that if he got
me on shore I would blow his brains out. Before starting I sent for my
officers and crew and told them of the perhaps unnecessary dangers we
should run in passing the Russian barrier, and gave to all the option of
leaving or going on. They decided to a man to go on. I arranged my time
so as to pass Ibraila and Galatz during the night. We arrived to within
thirty miles of the former place at about five o'clock in the evening,
when I was met by a Turkish official who was leaving Ibraila on the war
having broken out. He was fearfully excited, and begged of me on his
knees not to go to what he called certain destruction. He told me that
he had seen the Russians laying down torpedoes that same day, that the
batteries were numerous, and that they were aware of my coming, &c., all
of which I took with a considerably large grain of salt, and left him
lamenting my mad folly, as he called it.

Now I must be candid. I did not _feel_ the danger. I calculated that to
put down torpedoes in a current such as was in the Danube would be a
matter of time, and probably they would not succeed after all. I had a
plan in my head for passing the batteries, so as to render them
harmless. So in reality I was about to attempt no very impossible feat.
Three hours after dusk we sighted the lights of Ibraila. The current was
running quite five knots an hour; that, added to our speed of fifteen,
made us to be going over the ground at about twenty knots. It was pitch
dark, and I think it would have puzzled the cleverest gunner to have hit
us, though they might have done so by chance. I determined not to give
them that chance, by going so close under the bank that the guns could
hardly be sufficiently depressed to hit us.

As we approached the batteries to my horror a flash of red flame came
out of the funnel (that fatal danger in blockade-running), on which
several rockets were thrown up from the shore, and a fire was opened at
where the flame had been seen. Meanwhile we had shot far away from the
place, and closed right under the batteries. I heard the people talking;
every now and then they fired shot and musketry, but I hardly heard the
_whiz_ of the projectiles. My principal anxiety was that we might get on
one of the many banks so common in the Danube, and I had perhaps a
_little_ fear of torpedoes, especially when we passed the mouths of the
little estuaries that run into the Danube; once we just touched the
ground, but thank goodness we quickly got free, and though fired at by
guns and rifles, went on unhurt. It took us exactly an hour and forty
minutes to pass dangerous waters, and the early summer morning was
breaking as we cleared all danger. I could not resist turning round and
firing a random shot at the banks studded with Russian tents, _now that
I was able to breathe freely again_.

I must say that my pilot, whom I at first suspected of being a traitor
in Russian pay, behaved splendidly.

He told me he had never passed such a night of fear and anxiety: what
with my cocked pistol at his head and the constant fear of putting the
vessel on a bank, he certainly had had a bad time. However, I rewarded
him well. On arrival at Toultcha, a small town near the mouth of the
Danube, still held by the Turks, I found telegrams from headquarters at
Rustchuk (the place I had left), inquiring if Hobart Pasha had passed
Ibraila and Galatz, and ordering that if he had done so he was
immediately to leave the Danube.

I cannot express my annoyance, as even at that moment I could have
brought a couple of small iron-clads that were lying at Sulina into the
river and played 'old Harry' with the Russian army, then advancing into
Roumania, _viâ_ Galatz. The bridge near Galatz could certainly have been
destroyed. It was hard on the gallant Turks, hard on the Sultan and his
government, and hard on me, to see such magnificent chances thrown away.
From that moment I trembled for the result of the war. I felt that,
although the Turks had a splendid army, and a fleet even for a
first-class European Power to be proud of, the obstinacy and stupidity
of the commanders of the Danube were sure to cause disaster.

Unhappily my prognostications came true. In war the first blow is half
the battle, and it was sad to see such glorious troops out-manœuvred at
the very outset. His Majesty the Sultan in his wisdom has justly
punished by banishment and disgrace these men who, instead of covering
the Turkish nation with glory through the deeds of its army, were the
cause of the defeat of the finest troops in the world. That the
Russians might and would have been beaten, had the means in the hands of
those commanding the Turkish army being properly utilised, is as clear
as day. However, it is not my business to comment on such matters.

I now return to my own element, and will endeavour to describe some of
the occurrences of the war in the Black Sea. The Russians had three
lines of action in those waters. First, to capture Sulina, and to
destroy the squadron lying at anchor in its roadstead; second, to
capture Batoum and its much-envied harbour; third, the somewhat
undignified action of sending out fast vessels, mostly mail-boats, armed
with a couple of guns, their object being to destroy the Turkish
coasting trade. These vessels were most difficult to catch, as they
always watched their opportunity to slip out of their strongholds when
the Turkish ships were employed carrying troops, or otherwise engaged.
There was, I venture to think, some illegality in this conduct of the
Russian mail-boats.

These vessels were not regular men-of-war, and they did not take their
prizes into port for adjudication, as is usual in war, always burning
what they could catch and capture. However, during war I suppose all
must be considered as fair play. While on the subject, I will recount
one or two exploits performed by these enterprising mail-boats. When
lying off Sulina, one of the ironclad corvettes under my command arrived
from Constantinople, where her captain reported having chased a
well-known Russian mail-steamer called the 'Vesta'; that they had
exchanged a few shots, that he had not followed her because his deck was
loaded with guns for the Sulina batteries. I thought no more about it
till about a fortnight afterwards I saw in the 'Times' a paragraph
headed, 'Turkish ironclad driven off and nearly destroyed by the Russian
mail-boat cruiser "Vesta."' This paragraph, which was founded on the
official report of the captain of the 'Vesta,' was most sensational. It
gave a graphic description of how the 'Vesta' had engaged at close
quarters a Turkish ironclad, killing her crew; how officers in European
uniform had been seen directing the working of the ironclad's guns, &c.;
how her sides were crimson with the torrents of blood pouring from her
decks, and how she would have been surely captured had the 'Vesta' been
provided with sufficient ammunition to enable her to continue the bloody
fight. It added that the gallant Russian commander was received with the
greatest enthusiasm on his arriving at Sebastopol, and immediately
promoted to high rank and covered with decorations.

I could hardly believe my eyes when I read this utter nonsense. I know
the Russians; they are brave and loyal fellows, and few indeed are there
among them who have done (to say the least of it) so foolish an act as
to make so unfounded a report.

However, the commander, whose name I will not mention, did not long wear
his laurels. I suppose he trusted to the Turks saying nothing about it;
but the truth was at last made public. A court-martial was assembled to
try the case, and I believe he was dismissed from the service and
deprived of his decorations. At all events I know for certain that he
was disgraced by his superiors, and held up to ridicule by his brother
officers. Serve him right! Swagger is always an error, and I don't think
naval officers are generally given to it.

The next exploit of these cruisers I shall refer to was one that came
under my own eyes, and was exceedingly interesting.

I was anchored with my flag-ship, a fine thirteen knot ironclad, and a
couple of other vessels, at a port some few miles to the north of Varna,
taking in coals, when the look-out man reported that he saw on the
horizon a column of smoke. I knew that this was not a Russian cruiser,
because these vessels always burnt smokeless coal. I guessed, however,
what it was, namely, that one of the Russian cruisers was burning an
unfortunate coasting vessel. On looking more closely from the mast-head
of the flag-ship, I saw the masts and two funnels of a steamer very near
to the burning ship. The cruiser was somewhat in shore of the place
where I was lying. He seems to have made my squadron out about the same
time I had seen him, and at once made tracks, as the Americans say, to
get out to sea. In doing so he had to near us considerably, so much so
that before steam was ready in the flag-ship I could pretty well discern
what the enemy was. Some persons may be surprised to hear that the
marauding vessel was no less a craft than the magnificent yacht of the
Emperor of All the Russias, called the 'Livadia,' which had condescended
to the somewhat undignified work of capturing small Turkish coasting
craft. Who can fancy the 'Victoria and Albert' being sent to sea, during
a war between England and France, to capture and destroy small coasting
craft on the French shores! However, there was the fact; it was the
'Livadia,' and no mistake. And now commenced one of the most interesting
chases I have ever seen. On our starting the yacht was about four miles
ahead of us, steering a course that would take her straight to
Sebastopol. She had got through all the necessary dangerous manœuvres of
crossing our bows, from her having been inshore of us, before we moved.

The weather was lovely, not a ripple on the water, dead calm.

We commenced the chase at 4.30 p.m. Unfortunately our decks were loaded
with coal; however, we made a clean thirteen knots. At first it seemed
as if we were coming up with the chase, so much so that I felt inclined
to fire the long bow gun at her. But I always think and I say from
blockade-running experience that firing more or less injures a vessel's
speed; so I refrained from doing so. As night closed in a beautiful moon
rose and made everything as clear as day. The equality of our speed was
most remarkable, inasmuch as the distance between us did not vary a
hundred yards in an hour. All night we were watching, measuring
distances with nautical instruments, &c., hoping at moments that we were
nearer, despairing at others that she was gaining from us. We threw
overboard fifty or sixty tons of coal, to no avail; we could not get
within shot of the 'Livadia,' to capture which I would have given all I
possessed. As day broke we saw the crew of the 'Livadia' busily employed
throwing overboard coal and water. Sebastopol was in sight, and she was
running for dear life to that haven of safety. Lightening her had
certainly a good effect, for it was sadly evident to me that on doing so
she drew ahead a little, but very little. Now I hoped she would burst
her boiler or break down ever so little; but so it was not fated, and
the Emperor's yacht escaped by the skin of her teeth into Sebastopol,
under the protection of batteries that opened a tremendous fire on my
ship on my approaching, forgetful of their existence. I was obliged to
clear out of that pretty sharply or we should have been sunk.

An ironclad corvette that accompanied me, though some miles astern at
the finish, ran so close in that she had her rudder shot away, and we
had the unpleasant task of towing her out under a fire more like a
hailstorm of shot and shell than anything I can compare it to. I am told
the 'Livadia' would have shown fight. I have no doubt she would;
Russians always fight well: but I think the result would not have been
doubtful, and the Emperor's crockery and glass, to say nothing of the
magnificent gettings-up in the cabins, would have lost much of their
lustre during an engagement. So the glory of taking the Emperor's yacht
into the Bosphorus was not to be mine. I cannot express my
disappointment at losing such a chance. The only consolation I have is
that I really believe the brave Russians would have blown her up, rather
than allow such a disgrace to fall on their flag.

Since the war a Russian naval officer told me that he had under his
command at Sebastopol, on the day of my chasing the 'Livadia' into that
port, seven torpedo boats, with which he volunteered to go out and
attack us. His request was not allowed. We discussed at some length the
probable result. These are my views and arguments. I said to him, 'When
I saw your boats coming out I should have steamed away. Now the speed of
my frigate is thirteen knots. You would probably have had a speed of
nineteen to twenty at most. Thus your rate of approaching me would have
been six knots, no great speed with which to approach a vessel armed
with Nordenfelt guns, and six other guns also, _en barbette_, firing
grape, shell, &c. I am convinced we should have destroyed all the
torpedo boats.' 'Well, then,' said the Russian officer, 'I should have
followed and attacked you during the night.' 'There again,' I said, 'I
think you would have failed, because before dark you could not have got
near enough to me, on account of the opposition you would have met with
from my fire, to remark the course I steered after sunset, which course
I should have frequently changed during the darkness. A ship cannot be
seen in the dark if she shows no light at more than five hundred yards'
distance, and a moving ship would have been most difficult to hit;
besides which, if I had stopped and put down my defences, what could you
have done?' This discussion ended in the Russian officer admitting that
he did not think he could have done much.



CHAPTER XIX.

THE TURKISH FLEET DURING THE WAR.


To return to the doings of the Turkish fleet in the Black Sea during the
war, Sulina was a point from the beginning always aimed at by the
Russians. In fact, according to my humble ideas, Russia went to war to
get possession of Bessarabia, the key of the Danube, and Batoum, the key
to Asia Minor, and in a great measure to our Indian possessions. I think
the sentimental story of massacres in Bulgaria was merely a blind
whereby to catch the sympathetic support of Europe, and more especially
the English philanthropists. I think this, because when the most awful
cruelties were committed by the Bulgarians on the Turks _after_ the war,
we heard no outcry about massacres. However, I must not introduce
politics into Sketches from a sailor's life; such would be out of place.
Constant attacks were made by land and by sea on Sulina, which was held
and defended by Turkish ships and their crews, who manned the small
batteries they had planted at the mouth of the river. To the Russians,
to destroy the Turkish squadron lying off that port was of great
importance, as Sulina is entirely surrounded by water and great
impassable marshes, which extend far inland, through which marshes the
Danube runs, and thus can always be defended by ships.

The Turkish squadron generally consisted of five or six ironclads, and
as the Russians had not ships wherewith to attack these ironclads,
torpedo attacks (of which so much was and is expected) was their only
chance.

My idea of defending these vessels when at anchor was by a cordon of
guard-boats, with ropes made fast between them, so as to catch any
attacking torpedo boat, either by fouling her screw as she advanced, or
by stopping entirely her progress. Moreover, a torpedo boat thus stopped
would, by catching the rope, draw the guard-boat on either side of her,
or right on top of her. I must admit that while torpedoes at that time
were supposed to be in their infancy, the defence prepared against their
attack was also very much in its infancy, so these preparations were of
the most primitive description.

The squadron, as I said, consisted of five vessels, which had been in
the habit of standing out to sea every night, to avoid torpedo attacks.
On the occasion I am writing about, they had returned to the anchorage
on account of bad weather. A Russian steamer with five torpedo boats in
tow started (as we afterwards learnt) from Odessa to hunt for the
Turkish squadron, which, it was known to them through their spies, was
in the habit of cruising off Serpent's Island, about eight miles from
Odessa. The Muscovites were unable to find their enemy, and I don't
wonder at it, for they were not in their usual cruising ground; even had
they been there, to find them would have been difficult, as the Turkish
ships always cruised in open order, burnt smokeless coal, and showed no
lights. On being disappointed in finding what she wanted at sea, the
Russian vessel steamed towards the anchorage off Sulina. As the weather
was bad, her commander decided not to attack, and I fancy had to cast
off his torpedo boats.

One of these boats, if not more (I have never been able to ascertain
precisely what happened to the five torpedo boats that left Odessa),
made a dash at the Turkish squadron; the weather not permitting him to
use his Whitehead, he decided to try what his pole torpedo would do. As
he approached the head-most vessel, he found (as he explained afterwards
to me) that _something_ stopped his way, and he saw at the same time
several black objects approaching him. Nothing daunted, he struggled to
get close to the bows of the ironclad; when he got as near as he could
manage he fired his torpedo, without, however, doing any harm to his
enemy. Scarcely had he done this when he found himself in the water and
his boat gone from under him: the real facts being that the black
objects he had seen were the guard-boats, which were closing on him, the
ropes that connected them together having fouled his screw, and caused
the disaster; his boat was capsized and went to the bottom. Four or five
of her crew were drowned, as he would have been, had he not been fished
out of the water by the Turkish guard-boats, and made prisoner.

The name of this daring naval officer was Putskin. His cool courage was
very amusing. When interrogated, while still in a half-drowned
condition, he exclaimed in excellent English, 'Why the devil didn't I
blow that ship up?' He was asked if he had any idea what stopped him,
and it was suggested to him that something must have fouled his screw.
He answered, 'I don't know what stopped me, but why the devil didn't I
blow the ship up?' I told him that I had a sort of notion he might be
hanged for using such a fearful weapon. He said, 'No brave man would
hang me; but why,' &c.

He seemed to have only one idea, and that was he was a fool for having
failed. He was too good a man to let go, so we kept him till nearly the
end of the war.

Wherever he may be now he is a fine fellow, whose bravery I for one
shan't forget in a hurry.

A short time after the above-named occurrence the Russians attempted an
attack upon Sulina by land and water, with what object I have never been
able to understand; as, if they had succeeded, they could not have held
it so long as our ships were anchored in the offing. Perhaps their
intention was, by driving us out of the river, to utilise its position
for torpedo attacks.

I have explained that Sulina was surrounded by sea and vast marshes.
Along the seashore there was a narrow causeway of sand, on which ten men
could march abreast. The only other approaches were by sea and by the
river, the latter, at about ten miles distance, being in the hands of
the Russians. As a defence we had placed on the beach, at about a
gun-shot's distance, several torpedoes, buried in the sand, and
connected by electric wires with the batteries of Sulina. A simultaneous
movement was made by three or four Russian gun-boats descending the
river, and two regiments of troops accompanied by artillery were sent
along the causeway. Suspecting something in regard to torpedoes, they
drove before them as a sort of advance guard about two hundred and fifty
horses without riders, it being the duty of the poor animals to take the
shock of the explosion should torpedoes be placed on the beach. And so
they did, for, on the horses passing the spot where the torpedoes were
placed, an explosion took place through which several horses were
killed. The rest turned right back, and the causeway being very narrow,
dashed amongst the advancing troops, causing the greatest confusion, so
much so that the whole party had to retreat and we saw them no more.

It is true that one of the small ironclads had about got the range of
the advancing enemy along the sea-beach, so making their position rather
precarious, but I believe that the real cause of the failure was the
action of the horses.

In the meantime, the light draft Russian gun-boats came down the river,
and began to fire shell and shot at a long range at the small town and
fortifications of Sulina. This was answered by the temporary batteries
alone, the ships being out of range. Desultory fighting went on for
about twenty-four hours, when the Russians, finding the hopelessness of
the enterprise, especially now that the troops had retired, gave it up
as a bad job and steamed up the Danube again. This was the only serious
attack made upon Sulina, which Russia could never have taken and held
till she had destroyed the Turkish fleet. After this I went to Batoum,
which place Dervish Pasha was gallantly holding against Russia. He was
sadly in want of naval help, as the Russians had advanced by the
sea-shore to within six miles of that much-coveted port. On arriving
there I took the command of eight Turkish ships of war, besides
transports that were constantly coming and going between Constantinople
and Batoum with provisions, ammunition, &c., for the army and navy.
Here, again, if the Russians could have disposed of the Turkish fleet
they would have easily taken Batoum. By commanding the sea, even with a
couple of vessels, they would have prevented supplies being sent. It
must be remembered there was no way of supporting the soldiers and
sailors except by sea. My first object was to drive the Russians, by the
fire of the ships, more inland. This was easy enough, as of course the
enemy had no guns with them to compare in range with those on board the
ironclads. Some time after my arrival, however, they brought down two
fifteen centimètre Krupp guns from Ardahan, guns that had a considerably
longer range than our twelve-ton Armstrongs. They gave us some trouble;
however, the position of the attacking camp was changed so as to be out
of range of our guns, a move in every way satisfactory to the Turkish
military commander. This action of our fleet gave great annoyance to the
enemy, and it was determined if possible to make our lying at Batoum a
dangerous if not impossible matter. This was to be done by the so-called
almighty torpedo. I received notice from our secret agent at Sebastopol
that a serious expedition was being organised, that the Turkish ships at
Batoum were to be destroyed or _frightened away_ at any cost.
_Frightened away, indeed!_ To the uninitiated a torpedo is a thing to
frighten any one away. We had heard of magnificent results of torpedo
trials in peace, how ships (I fancy only hulks) had been blown up,
columns of water half a mile high being sent into the air, &c. Nothing,
it was said, could save you. Whatever my ideas, however nervous I may
have felt, I knew that those I was commanding had no fear--they don't
know what it means, the more especially of a not understood possible
casualty, and though more enlightened as to torpedoes and their accepted
effects, I wasn't to show my people a bad example. When lying in bed in
the middle of the night, having read the warning letter before retiring,
I thought:--'Suppose one of these nasty things goes off and blows the
flagship up at this moment. How pleasant! What cowardly things these
are; no fair fight, up you go, unshriven. I have heard that a man who is
hanged is likely to go to heaven; I wonder if the same chance would be
given to him blown up by a torpedo?' These sort of feelings came over
me. However, said I, 'Let us see if we can prevent their being
realised;' so I went to work to try to do so. As a sportsman I
calculated that to fire at a dark object in the night, especially when
that object had a background of high hills such as we had at Batoum, was
most difficult, so the first order I gave was no lights, not even a
cigarette light; utter darkness under severe penalties. Next,
considering that Batoum is a very small port, with an entrance difficult
to find even in broad daylight, almost impossible in the night without
the lighthouse as a guide, I ordered that the lighthouse should not be
lighted. Then I arranged with the shore authorities that no lights
should be seen in the town; this was more difficult, as there were many
Russian friendlies in Batoum.

However, the application of somewhat severe discipline made Batoum like
a city of the dead after dark.

In addition to these precautions I put a barrier of booms ahead of the
ships lying in the port, placed guard-boats to watch it at the entrance
of the harbour, and having done all this, I bided my time. For some
nights, rather sleepless to me, though to my disgust I heard my officers
snoring all round me, nothing happened (though, as I heard afterwards, a
good deal had been going on outside the harbour), when, at about three
o'clock in the morning of the third or fourth night after I had received
the warning, I heard a row going on in the direction of the guard-boats
and an explosion near to one of the outlying ships. I had hardly time to
think, when something struck the chain of my flagship and seemed to spin
past, like a fish in the water. Then dead silence. I immediately sent
orders to the two fast cruisers, which were lying with steam up, to go
to sea and reconnoitre.

Suddenly I heard people on shore calling out (I forgot to mention that
ships in Batoum harbour are always lashed to the shore). I sent my
officer to reconnoitre, who found a gaping crowd standing round what
they thought was a large fish lashing his tail, but what in reality was
an unexploded torpedo with the screw still in motion. On things being
calm I went myself to see what had happened generally during the attack,
and found that a torpedo had struck the bows of one of the ironclads on
the belt, at the waterline at an angle, had exploded, and scarcely left
a mark; that a second torpedo had, after passing through the planks on
the defensive barrier I had placed, _diverged from its course_, and gone
quietly on shore as far as the left of the squadron; that a third, as I
said, had struck the chain of the flagship and not gone off, but had run
on to the beach. The parts of another torpedo were afterwards picked up,
it evidently having exploded somewhere down below. So we could account
for four torpedoes having been fired at us without effect; probably
there were more. Those that were on the beach were in a very perfect
state, and as soon as we had rendered them harmless, we made prisoners
of war of them. Now I have been since informed of what went on outside
Batoum. It seems that for three nights two fast Russian steamers,
carrying torpedo boats, had been looking for Batoum, and as one of my
informants said, 'We could not find it for love or money.' A couple of
hours before daylight they had steamed off, so as to be out of sight
before break of day. At last they had bribed a man to light a fire in
the hills behind the town, and so on the fourth night they got
somewhere near it, but they could not make out the ships on account of
the _dark land behind_ them. The time for steaming off having nearly
come, they determined to have a shot at us, so fired five torpedoes into
what they thought the centre of the Turkish fleet, with what result we
have seen. The person who told me was one of them, and said it was
sickening work looking for Batoum. It is true the nights were fearfully
dark, so that the shape of the land could not be made out. He said that
without the traitor's light they could not have found us. I am not
saying by this that one should always trust to darkness; there are many
other ways _now_ of taking the sting out of torpedo attacks. It is
needless to say that the steamers I sent out returned, having seen
nothing. While the fleet was at Batoum, two or three more torpedo
attacks were made on a smaller scale without effect; but I have bored my
readers enough about torpedoes--all I know is that I can sleep now when
in their vicinity. While in the Black Sea I several times went with two
or three ships that could be spared from other duties and reconnoitred
Sebastopol and Odessa, but being fully convinced of the helplessness of
few or even of _many_ ships against the heavy batteries of the present
day, I did no more than look about me, occasionally exchanging shots
with the enemy. As to burning defenceless towns and villages, I have
always been thoroughly adverse to such things, so I never undertook it.
Some people think war should be made as horrible as possible; in this I
do not agree. I could easily have burnt the Emperor's palace at Yalta,
but did not think it expedient to do so.

I have already spoken in general terms of the great services rendered by
the ironclads in moving the troops about, but I feel that, in justice to
the gallant crews of the squadron I had the honour to command during the
war, I ought not to bring this portion of my narrative to a close
without mentioning more particularly a piece of work of that nature
executed under my immediate direction.

The capture of Soukhoum-Kaleh had been followed up by the despatch of an
expedition of some 4,000 men of all arms to a place some thirty miles
down the coast, called Tchamchira. The military commander at Soukhoum
had some idea, I believe, that this force would be able to make its way
inland, and thus encourage risings amongst the tribes against the
detested Muscovite rule. The country, however, was too unfavourable for
the advance of invading troops, being swampy ground with thick bush
where it was not an impenetrable forest. The Russians also got wind of
the intended movement, and to make a long story short, had managed to
collect a large opposing force. The expedition was landed, but that is
all. Before much could be done to secure the position as a base--whilst
the men in fact were making entrenchments--the Russians, who under cover
of the forest that extended right down to the beach on either side had
been stealthily making their preparations, attacked them on all sides,
and but for the covering fire of the ironclads, fortunately still at
anchor there, would undoubtedly have driven them into the sea.

The result of this action enabled the force to establish itself in the
village, and hold possession of the small belt of cleared ground around
it, the extreme limit of which was still within the range of the guns of
the ironclads.

The position of this force, however, daily grew worse. The Russians had
captured the fords, by which their retreat to Soukhoum was cut off. They
were completely surrounded, and only owed their preservation to the
continual presence of an ironclad. Under these circumstances it was
thought advisable to withdraw the men, and Dervish Pasha entrusted me
with the task. To give an idea of the precarious position of this force,
I may mention that, as I approached the place in my flagship, we heard
the sound of smart cannonading, and I found the guard-ship engaged with
a battery of field-pieces. The Russians had recently received a large
accession of force, and several field-guns of large calibre; and so, not
content with troubling the camp daily with an enfilading fire, had
thought to try conclusions with the heavy guns afloat. On our appearance
the action ceased, the Russians withdrawing their battery into the safe
shelter of the forest. The Russian fire had been well directed, and had
the guns been heavier calibre, considerable damage would have been
inflicted. As it was, the upper works and rigging were cut about a great
deal, and two men killed and four wounded on board the ironclad. After a
conference with the general in command, I proceeded to Soukhoum to make
arrangements for transport. I had hardly arrived there when a message
from Tchamchira arrived, urgently demanding assistance, as the Russians
were advancing in great force. I hurried back with all the vessels I
could collect to Tchamchira, three ironclad corvettes and two wooden
paddle-wheel transports. Fortunately the Russian attack had not
commenced, and the arrival of my squadron probably led to its
postponement until too late. To remove 4,000 men, bag and baggage, with
several batteries of field-pieces and a large amount of ammunition, was
no easy task with the small amount of transport at my command. I made,
however, what I considered to be the best disposition possible under the
circumstances.

The corvettes and the paddle transports were moored in as close to the
shore as possible, my intention being to cram them with men and stores
first, leaving my flagship free to the last to manœuvre off the Russian
camp and shell it, should the slightest opposition be offered to the
embarkation. The work commenced at daylight, and was actively carried on
throughout the day and following night, the last batch of men coming off
at dawn. The men were taken away from under the very teeth, as it were,
of the Russians. The ships in shore were well within rifle range, and
the boats passing to and fro were exposed the whole time to a fire from
hidden foes. The enemy had been evidently overawed by my preparations,
and doubtless thought it would be better for them to allow the invading
force to retire unopposed. To avoid the chance of grounding, in case I
should have to use the frigate fire to cover the embarkation, a
volunteer crew had proceeded off the Russian camp during the night, and
laid down a line of buoys, to show the limit of distance to which the
shore might be approached with safety. These buoys, glistening in the
sunlight, doubtless suggested to the Russians that something dreadful
was in store for them if they attempted to fire a gun, and so they
contented themselves with watching from the trees, amongst the branches
of which we saw a number of them perched like so many birds of prey. The
whole credit of the embarkation is due to the efficient manner in which
the naval officers under my command carried out the instructions given
them, and the great docility of the Turkish soldiers. Soon after sunset
the general and staff left the shore, and their example was followed by
every military officer of any rank; so that the whole work devolved upon
those I had placed in command of the beach and the boats.

The men marched down quietly by themselves and everything went on like
clockwork. I must confess that I passed a most anxious night, as I knew
not but what at any moment the enemy might make a rush into the
entrenchments the Turks were abandoning, in order to claim a victory. My
own ship was getting lumbered up, and I knew that before long it would
be impossible to work more than one or two of the guns in case of need.
That the Russians, however, could not know this, was my comfort; but I
must own that it was a great relief to me when the last detachment left
the shore. The poor fellows had been holding the outposts all night.
They came in at the double, and little time was lost over their
embarkation.

We steamed off at once to Soukhoum, and there disembarked the
expedition. Shortly after this I was called upon to prepare for a
veritable exodus. The evacuation of Soukhoum had been decided upon, but
His Imperial Majesty felt that the poor people, who had been expecting a
permanent deliverance from the Russian yoke, could not be abandoned to
those whose vengeance they had excited. Intimation was therefore given
that all those desirous of leaving the country should be carried to
Turkish territory, and provided with lands to form new settlements. The
whole population pretty well made up its mind to leave, and came
marching into Soukhoum with their flocks and herds, and household goods
and chattels. Suffice it to say that, with the vessels under my command,
I shipped off and landed at Batoum, Trebizonde, Sinope, and other ports
on the Turkish coast something like 50,000 people, counting men, women,
and children, within the space of a fortnight.



CHAPTER XX.

SPORT IN TURKEY.


I will now endeavour to give my readers some idea of life at
Constantinople. If the resident is a sportsman he can find plenty of
amusement, game of all descriptions being plentiful. I may say that the
shooting begins about September 1, when great flights of quails pass the
environs of Constantinople, from the threatening winter of Russia to the
warmer climate of Egypt, and afford capital amusement. But really to
enjoy the sport it is necessary to go somewhat far, within ten miles of
Constantinople. The fields during the quail season are filled with
so-called sportsmen to such an extent that one has every chance of being
mistaken for a quail, and potted accordingly. I have counted at St.
Stephano, a place about nine miles from Stamboul, celebrated for
_treaties_ and quails, both in due season, more than five hundred
sportsmen accompanied by howling curs of every description. Such a
sight is worth looking at, but for sport, well--it is better to leave
gun and dogs at home.

I once ventured out among the motley crowd of quail-shooters; there
happened to be a flight of quails, so the fire kept up very much
resembled a field-day on Southsea Common. I was hit all over with (thank
goodness!) very small shot, and made a rapid retreat to save my skin
from perforation.

However, going some distance along the coast, away from the enemy, one
may at times get capital sport during the months of September and
October; for example, a single gun may bag a hundred and fifty to two
hundred quails in a day.

After the quail comes the partridge shooting, which is very good,
especially in the islands of the Turkish archipelago, where there are
great numbers of red-legged partridges affording famous sport.

To properly enjoy the shooting in Turkey a yacht is necessary, as the
best of it is to be found in the islands and near to the sea-coast, in
places quite inaccessible to roads.

For example, the islands of Mitros, Lemnos, and Mytelene abound in
partridges, and the shooting there is really capital.

Either by bringing a yacht from England, or by hiring one at
Constantinople, the real sportsman may have great amusement while
shooting, with Constantinople as headquarters. He will find in Asia
Minor deer of all descriptions, wild boars and wolves. Then he will have
capital sport with geese, ducks, woodcocks and partridges, and snipe.

Occasionally he must rough it somewhat while sleeping in villages some
little distance from the sea-coast for a night or two, instead of
retiring on board his floating home, and on this head I would give a
word of advice to the sportsman. Always take up your quarters in a
Turkish village, if possible, in preference to a Greek village. At the
former you will find the traditional hospitality of the Oriental, even
among the very poor people, practised in every sense of the word; whilst
in the latter you will be _exploité_ (there is no English word that
signifies as well what I mean) to the last degree, even to the pilfering
of your cartridges.

I have seen on arriving at a Turkish village every one vie with the
other, and doing their very utmost to make the sportsman and his party
comfortable. I have seen 'harems,' such as they are, cleaned out and
prepared as a sleeping apartment, all the inmates huddling together in
some little corner. I have remarked one old woman arrive with a couple
of eggs, another with what was perhaps her pet fowl, to be sacrificed at
the altar of hospitality--in fact, only one idea seemed to animate them,
namely, hospitality, and it is touching to see how they shrink from the
proffered reward made by the sportsman on leaving these kind though poor
and long-suffering people.

There are different kinds of deer to be found in Asia Minor, which
strangely enough imitate the habits of the inhabitants, Greek, Turk, and
Armenian, by not herding together.

First, there is the large red deer which generally inhabit the high
mountains and are difficult to get, except when the winter snow drives
them down into the lower grounds. I have been fortunate enough to kill
several of these splendid animals during my sojourn in Turkey. I will
give my readers an account of how I shot two of them. One day during the
winter, when the mountains were covered with snow, I received news that
three deer of the largest description were in a ravine at the foot of a
mountain some six hours' distance from Ismidt. I immediately started off
in pursuit. I must mention that all persons of high rank in Turkey have,
or had at the time I write of, by their shooting firman, the right to
call upon the villagers in the neighbourhood in which they are shooting
to assist in driving or searching for game. In my case it was not
necessary to take advantage of such an offer; every one was on the alert
for my arrival. The people told me that that very morning they had seen
the noble beasts I was after, grazing outside the wood. So, gathering
the villagers, boys carrying horns, men (much against my will) carrying
guns, accompanied by every available dog, from the grand shepherd's dog
to the yapping cur of the village, off we started.

The ravine was thickly wooded, and extended far up the mountain, where
it ended in a bare spot without trees. To this place I went alone,
leaving the crowd behind me with directions not to move till I was in my
place, which instruction they most strictly followed. After half an
hour's walk I arrived at the place I have named. I had hardly time to
regain my breath when I heard a row below me as if Bedlam had been let
loose. I loaded my gun with buckshot in one barrel and ball in the
other, and remained as quiet as a mouse. As the noise of the beaters and
dogs approached me, I heard a crash in the bushes within about forty
yards of me, and presently a magnificent stag as big as a cow came
slowly out of the cover, looking behind him, evidently not expecting an
enemy in front. As soon as he was well clear of the bushes, I fired at
him with buckshot and killed him dead. I hardly had time to think, when,
with a tremendous rush, two other large deer broke out of the wood
straight at me at full gallop. I fired a bullet at the foremost one,
which turned back into the woods apparently wounded, and so it proved,
for it ran among the beaters, evidently having lost its head, and was
soon despatched among dogs, men and guns. He was a stag also, and as I
claimed to have shot him, I may say that I had the luck to shoot a brace
of splendid stags right and left. There is not a sportsman in Europe who
would not have been delighted at such a chance of red deer like these;
such as are not seen anywhere except in Asia Minor. The largest one had
nineteen points to his antlers, weighed when cleaned a hundred and
fifteen okes, equal to three hundred and twenty pounds English measure,
and certainly was the largest stag I have ever met with, either in
Scotland or in Austria. During the sixteen years that I have passed in
the East I have only succeeded in killing four of these splendid
animals. This I attribute very much to the want of proper deerhounds,
which unfortunately I have not been able to procure.

The crowd of beaters make so much noise that the deer slip away at the
sides of the thick covers unseen, whereas dogs would drive them more in
a straight line towards the shooters if they are properly posted. In
addition to this, it is always a great advantage when the hounds give
tongue, and so warn the sportsman of the whereabouts of the game. These
hounds, called 'colpoys,' can be procured in Roumania and Hungary. There
is another description of deer found near the sea-coast in some parts of
Asia Minor, which I will describe. It is in fact the pure wild fallow
deer that stocks the parks of Europe, and if I am rightly informed is
only to be found wild in Asia Minor, and even there it is rare.

I understand that in India or in Africa, where there are hundreds of
different sorts of deer, the real fallow is not to be found. While
shooting at a place called Camaris, near to Gallipoli, two years since,
I discovered several herds of these deer, beautiful creatures, wild as
hawks, and accordingly laid myself out to shoot some of them if
possible. I tried driving, stalking, and every manœuvre to circumvent
them, without success. At last one day I started with my beaters to a
place where there were many tracks of fallow deer. I was posted at a
sort of small mountain pen, having on one side of me a young friend of
mine, and at the other a native (these fellows won't go out unless they
are allowed to carry their guns).

Shortly after the beaters had begun to halloo, a fallow hind glided by
between me and my young friend, like a ghost. Not a sound in the wood
gave notice of its approach. It was even quieter in its movements than a
hare would have been. I put up my gun to fire, but seeing my friend's
head right in the way and in a line with its muzzle, I waited a second,
but the deer was gone. I had scarcely got over my disappointment when I
heard the branches breaking in the wood very near to me, and suddenly a
deer sprang right over my head, taking a flying leap, like a hunter
would do over a fence.

This unusual action on the part of the deer called for unusual action on
my part. As he had taken a flying leap over my head, I took a flying
shot at him a second before he landed on the other side of me. The
result was that he rolled over like a rabbit, shot _from underneath_
through the heart. This deer proved to be a very fine specimen of the
fallow, every point showing him to be of that species, except his
antlers, which were quite straight. This I cannot account for; the
natives, who had remarked this deer on several occasions feeding with
the herd of fallow deer, called it the 'Cassic Boa,' which means
'straight-horned.' Some time after this I had some good sport with the
fallow deer. Having got more accustomed to their habits, I found that it
was of no use trying to approach them, their scent being too keen, their
eyesight too sharp; the only way to get them is by very careful, in fact
I may say scientific, driving.

Good boar shooting may be had by going some little distance from
Constantinople. It usually is done either by beaters or with boarhounds;
but I have had very good sport at boar while hunting for woodcocks and
pheasants, in what may be called covert shooting--not exactly English
covert shooting, in which almost every tree is known by the keepers, but
in coverts of great extent, in which there are almost impassable
thickets, made still more impassable by a well-known bramble called the
'wait a bit,' a thing that hooks on to your eyelids as you pass.

There it is that in these coverts spaniels, half-English, half
country-bred dogs, do frequently the work of beaters, and it is a
strange fact that while piggy starts at once from his lair at the
approach of the boarhounds, he will not budge an inch for the little
yapping spaniel, whom he treats with contempt.

I have known many instances when, on hearing a jolly row in the covert,
I have crawled in on my hands and knees, and found a boar being bayed by
my spaniels--in fact, I have killed more pigs in this way than in any
other. The danger is that you may have your dogs killed by the boar;
this has happened to me on one or two occasions, more especially with
young dogs.

I had once a cunning old spaniel dog (poor 'Dick,' well known to most
sportsmen out here), who has frequently come out of the wood with his
mouth full of pig's hair, he evidently having torn the hair off the
animal while laying in his lair. (Dick was never hurt by a pig.) I have
often surrounded, with my brother sportsmen and myself, large bushes in
which the piggies were securely hidden, driven them out, and shot them
as one would do hares or rabbits.

I have heard a good deal of the danger of pig shooting, on account of
the savage propensities of the animal; but I have found that, with very
rare exceptions, the Anatolian wild boar always runs. It is true that
they (she or he, the females are the most savage) have a nasty knack of
giving a sort of jerk with their heads, when fighting or even passing an
enemy, and that jerk means to a man the ripping up of his leg from his
heel to his thigh, to a dog the tearing open of his entrails.

On one occasion I was out cock shooting, when some shepherds' dogs in a
valley adjoining that in which I was walking started a large wild boar,
a beast they call a '_solitaire_,' from the fact that he is always seen
after a certain time of life alone. The animal made for a ridge dividing
the valleys; on getting there he passed along the sky-line, about eighty
yards from where I was. I changed my cartridges and fired a ball at the
pig, who rushed away, apparently unshot; on going to the spot, however,
where he had passed when I fired, I found some drops of blood. This
blood I traced for about half a mile, till I came to a large clump of
bushes into which my spaniels dashed, evidently close to their game. I
heard a tremendous row in the bushes, had hardly time to prepare when
the great beast with his eyes all bloodshot and foaming at the mouth
rushed straight at me. I was on a narrow path, from which there was no
escape, as the boar was tearing up it, followed by the dogs. I fired a
ball straight in his face, at the distance of about two yards, in spite
of which he rushed straight on, knocked me clean over, and while passing
me made the usual dangerously effective jerk I have alluded to above, by
which he cut my _boot from the ankle to the thigh_, drew a little blood
just above and inside of the knee; after which the boar rushed headlong
for about thirty yards and dropped dead. I found that my bullet had
smashed through his forehead straight between the eyes and gone into his
brain.

He was an enormous brute, weighing when cleaned twenty-one stone;
carrying the finest tusks I have seen anywhere as belonging to a wild
boar. I only had one man with me; we were what may be called eight miles
from anywhere. Still I was determined not to leave my prize; so I sent
my man for a country waggon, and sitting down on my now harmless beast,
smoked cigarettes and waited quietly till the vehicle came.

Now, _apropos_ to wild boar attacking people, I am convinced that this
animal had no intention of attacking me.

He was, though badly wounded by the first shot, running from the dogs,
and I got in his way. _Voilà tout_! On only one other occasion I nearly
came to grief while boar shooting. On my arriving at a Turkish village
one night, I was told that there was an enormous boar in the
neighbourhood, who for a long time had been the terror of the country,
inasmuch as he, accompanied by a large party of the pig tribe, had
rooted up the crops all round the village, destroyed gardens, and
tradition even said had killed children and eaten them (this latter
story I don't take in). However, the poor people prayed me with tears in
their eyes to rid them of their enemy, which I promised to do if
possible. So the next morning off we started in the following order:
first, myself and friends, accompanied by the elders of the village
armed with old-fashioned guns; then the young men with knives and big
sticks, the women and children bringing up the rear as lookers-on. I and
my two friends were escorted into the centre of a large wood, in which
very original _seats in trees_ had been knocked up for us. The object of
these seats was for our personal safety, but I as a sportsman saw at
once that to be up a tree was not only advantageous in that respect, but
also that we should be much more invisible, hidden among the branches of
a tree, than by being stationed on the ground. So we mounted our trees,
and the beaters went into the woods some half a mile from us. I never
heard such a row as they made when they began the drive; they beat
drums, fired guns, rang bells, and it was evident to me that no wild
beast would hold to his lair under such a torrent of abuse. I found the
words they were using were curses on the wild boar. I saw two or three
fallow deer glide past me, with their usual ghostlike silence, and
shortly afterwards the woods very near me seemed to shake with
something coming. Suddenly some fifteen to twenty wild boar appeared
among the bushes, coming straight towards me. The first of these was an
enormous brute, evidently _the_ boar we wanted.

I heard shots on either side of me from my friends, but I kept my eye on
the big boar. To my astonishment he came right under the tree where I
was sitting, and stopped to listen.

He cocked his head on one side, looked all round him, but forgot to look
up the tree he was quite close to, in which was his enemy.

Taking advantage of this I fired a ball and an S.S.G. cartridge into
him, before he could make up his mind which way to go; he gave a
tremendous grunt and rolled over. I had not time to be overjoyed at my
luck before I found myself rolling on the ground alongside of my victim,
who, not being dead, was by no means a pleasant companion. The fact is
that the seat on which I had been perched, having been very carelessly
put up, had given way, and down I came from a height of about twelve
feet. The branches of the tree had broken my fall, but my gun had fallen
out of my hand and I had sprained my ankle, so that I was in rather an
awkward position. The boar was shot through the spine, and could not
get along, though he made frantic efforts to get at me.

It was of no use my calling out for help; everybody was calling out,
everybody was excited, firing at the lots of pigs that were running
about in all directions. At the moment when I began to think affairs
somewhat serious (I tried to get up and walk, but could not do so on
account of my ankle), as the boar was crawling towards me, looking very
mischievous, two great shepherd's dogs arrived on the scene, and went
straight in for my enemy. Poor beast! He made a gallant fight; he could
hardly move, but he could use his head, and he tore one of the dogs open
in a frightful way; then two or three men came up, but they were afraid
to go near to the boar. I made them hand me my gun that was lying on the
ground near me, with which I soon put a stop to the battle. Then all the
people began to muster round their dead enemy, and it was laughable to
see and hear how they abused and kicked the body of the pig. How to get
the carcass away was the next question. We sent for two waggons and four
or five Christians (as the Turks won't touch pig), one to carry me, the
others the boar; so, after being placed in the waggons, we made with
piggy a triumphant return to the village. Luckily the village was on the
sea-shore, and my yacht was lying close to the land, so I got on board
comfortably; but it was several days before I could walk.

I believe that that pig was _nasty_, and would have given me the jerk if
he could have done so. Five other boar were killed on that occasion, one
of my friends killing two; but I had the honour of killing _the_ boar of
the period in that part of the world. While referring to that
neighbourhood, I would mention that it was within five miles of the
place I have been writing about that poor Captain Selby, of H.M.S.
'Rapid,' was killed, some two years since. There are people who think
that he was attacked and murdered by robbers. Such is not the case; his
death was a most unfortunate occurrence brought on by a
misunderstanding.

It is true that the man who shot poor Selby was an ignorant savage, but
there was no premeditation. It was a word and a blow. The latter, though
inexcusable to the last degree, was given by a ruffian whose class are
in the habit of shooting and stabbing one another (let alone strangers,
whom they detest) at the slightest provocation. They are not natives of
Turkey, but come of strange tribes who live far away and are hired to
guard the sheep in the winter months, returning to their homes in the
summer. I went myself to the spot where the sad occurrence took place
shortly afterwards, and found the people very penitent and very
frightened. Let us hope that the punishment awarded to the principal
actors in the sad affair will be a salutary warning for the future.

As brigandage may be considered as in some way connected with sporting,
inasmuch as many refrain from going out shooting when they fear being
robbed and murdered, I will say a few words about brigandage in
Anatolia.

I have been for seventeen years an ardent lover of sport in Turkey, and
have generally shot in Asia Minor. I have slept in villages that were
supposed to be inhabited by brigands. I have been almost alone among an
armed crowd of beaters, all of whom had the reputation of being robbers,
but I have never been robbed or threatened with robbery. Perhaps there
exists a sort of sympathy between brigands and sportsmen, for I cannot
call to mind any instance of a sportsman being robbed. It is true that
sometimes a fat financier, or rich _rentier_, who may have called
himself a sportsman, has been carried off and ransom demanded for him,
but a real sportsman never.

It is true that in some of the villages where dwell the peoples of a
nation I am not supposed to love, you are liable to and probably will
be _exploité_ to a considerable extent in the way of pilfering
cartridges, &c., but it is their nature to. So, brother sportsmen, when
you come out here take your abode in Turkish villages.



CHAPTER XXI.

SPORT AND SOCIETY.


I have mentioned, in what I have written above relating to sport, the
name of a somewhat celebrated spaniel of mine, whose name was 'Dick.'

The commencement of this bow-wow's career was as strange as the many
adventures he afterwards went through. When he was quite a young dog, he
once worked with me all day in ice and snow, and at last fell down
lifeless. A heavy snowstorm was raging, and as poor Dick seemed quite
dead, we made him a grave in the snow and covered him up with leaves and
bushes. We accomplished this with difficulty, on account of the blinding
snow and the streams that were much swollen by torrents from the
mountains. Dick's burial-place was about eight miles from where the
vessel was lying. We all got on board that night. I was deeply grieved
at the loss of the dog, who had already shown great promise as a
first-class sporting dog, a most difficult thing to procure in this
country. What was our astonishment the next morning at daylight to see
Dick on the beach, making piteous howls to draw attention to his
whereabouts. He was warmly welcomed, as may be supposed; he did not seem
a bit the worse for his brief sojourn in the grave, and went out
shooting again the same day as happy as ever. This enthusiastic little
spaniel was always doing strange things; he followed every fox and every
badger into their holes, and we have had, time after time, to dig him
out covered with blood and fearfully mauled, after having passed perhaps
twenty-four hours in the earth.

Mr. Dick generally hunted alone, occasionally coming near to see that I
was all right. Now this sounds bad for Dick's qualities as a sporting
dog, but such a dog is necessary in a thickly-wooded region such as I
shot in, when one wants to know what is in the country.

Dick, when he found anything, barked loudly; and this drew attention to
the fact that there was game in that quarter. Sometimes, of course, he
drove the game away; at others he drove it towards me. At all events he
went to places where I never could have gone. On one occasion I heard a
great noise among some long reeds near a lake were I was duck
shooting--Dick barking, some other animal making a strange noise. This
went on so long that at last I went to see what was the matter. After
much trouble I got into the reeds and approached the noise, which was
momentarily getting worse. On coming close I found an animal about
Dick's size standing on its hind legs and fighting with its fore paws,
Dick covered with blood, fighting hard and watching an opportunity to
close with his enemy. On my approach the animal dropped on to fore paws
and endeavoured to escape, on which Dick jumped on to him, thus making
it very difficult for me to use my gun. However, at last, by watching my
opportunity, I fired a shot which disposed of the fighting powers of the
beast, which turned out to be a very large badger. I never could
understand what he was doing so far away from his place of refuge. Was
he after ducks, or what? The animal was at least a quarter of a mile
away from dry land, being in the middle of a marsh, overgrown with
reeds. Another of Mr. Dick's adventures ended more unfortunately for
him, as I fear he never got over its effects. I again, as on the last
occasion, heard him evidently furiously engaged with something in a
thick wood. After crawling on my hands and knees for some time, I found
Dick and two other of my spaniels in furious combat with an enormous
wild cat, who when I came up was holding her own against the dogs. The
beast got her back against a tree, and was fighting all three dogs,
keeping them at a respectful distance. My man seized a piece of wood,
more like a little tree than a stick, and made a blow at the cat, which
blow unfortunately came down with great force on Dick's head. The poor
dog lay senseless for some time, and then crawled away, seeming to say,
'I'll have nothing more to do with you.' He never recovered that blow,
and became quite a different dog, dying some months afterwards.

The feathered game shooting is very good in the neighbourhood of
Constantinople. Pheasants, though rare, may be obtained five or six in a
day. I have killed fifteen to my own gun, and with a party of three we
bagged sixty-six in three days.

Snipe shooting is also very good. An idea of the bags that may be made
will be seen when I say that at Besika Bay, close to the Dardanelles, I
killed in three days three hundred and three snipe, an average of one
hundred and one a day. When there is snow lying on the hills there are
plenty of cock; myself and two friends having killed in three days two
hundred and ninety-eight long bills.

My best bag in cock has been sixty-three in one day's shooting alone. I
have lately taken to punting after ducks, and have been very successful.
One gets twenty to thirty a day, and occasionally a swan. I once killed
four of the latter with one shot from my punt gun (one of Holland &
Holland's). Hares are not very numerous; to get three or four in a day
is counted good luck; but one generally picks up one or two during a
day's shooting. Thus the sum of what you have in this country is red
deer, fallow deer, roe deer, pigs, wolves, and bears (as to the latter,
rare), hares, pheasants, cocks, snipe, quails, and ducks; so that a man
who lays himself out for sport and has a yacht can have plenty of
amusement between September and March.

The coast of Karamania, taking in all the coast from some distance below
Smyrna, passing Rhodes and so on to the Gulf of Ayas, affords all the
way along capital sport to yachting men. For example, in the large gulfs
of Boudroum and Marmorice, capital anchorage will be found, and a
country almost virgin as far as sport is concerned.

Some years since, while commanding an English ship-of-war, I had the
good fortune to be sent on a roving commission against pirates that were
supposed to infest that coast. Somehow I always _imagined_ that pirates
were more or less sportsmen, so I hunted for them in places that looked
gamey, and thus made the acquaintance of many almost unknown, or at all
events unfrequented, harbours and creeks, in which I had famous sport.
On the coast of Karamania the ibex is to be found in considerable
quantities; the red-legged partridge and the francolin are also very
abundant, and give capital sport.

There are also at the head of the gulf I have alluded to large marshes
for duck and snipe. The most celebrated, because the best known place in
the part I am alluding to, is the Gulf of Ayas, into which runs the
well-known (to all naval sportsmen) river called the Jihoon. A yacht
must anchor at some distance off the entrance of this river, but the
anchorage is quite safe in all weathers. Getting over the bar of the
river is a matter at times of considerable difficulty, but once inside
the bar you are in the paradise of shooting. A small steam launch is
necessary to stem the strong current, and to tow another boat up with
tents, provisions, &c. It is true that in my time we had no steam
launches, and I shall not forget the hard work we had to take two boats
sufficiently far up the river to get well into the shooting grounds, and
even after two days' struggling we did not arrive so far as I should
have wished (we, in fact, only got four miles up the stream). Still we
had some rare sport, the more especially with pigs and francolin. The
morning after we had pitched our tents some wandering Arabs came to us
and offered to beat the woods, which they declared to be full of wild
boar. They told us that the habit of these animals was, on being driven,
to take to the river and swim to the other side; so we placed our guns
along the banks and told the boat to guard the river from pigs swimming
across, and try to stop them as best they could. The guns available for
the shore work consisted of myself and two friends and my coxswain, who
was armed with a ship's rifle. The Arabs went into the bush on
horseback; the beat had hardly begun when a lot of pigs were started,
all making for the river; three of these were knocked over. As they
approached several others dashed into the river, and a most amusing hunt
was made after them by the sailors. Not being armed with rifles, their
weapons of offence against piggy were revolvers, ropes, and the
stretchers of the boats.

There was, as may be supposed, great excitement among the men when the
pigs took to the water; they at once went at them, firing revolvers,
pulling after them as they swam, using language not allowed in these
refined days in the navy; and, before we got to the scene of action
they had lassoed as it were two fine pigs, and tied them to trees on the
river-side, and when we arrived were firing their revolvers at them
apparently with very little effect; however, we soon gave the animals
the _coup de grâce_. Thus we killed five pigs in our first drive. We
took the liver, alias fry, out of the pigs to eat (it is most
excellent), cut off the heads of the tuskers, and hung the remaining
parts on a tree to wait our return, changing our camp further up the
river the same night. The next morning early I took a stroll into the
woods by myself; while looking about me I saw what I thought was a large
animal sleeping in the bushes. I began accordingly to stalk him. I got
within eighty yards, put my gun up to shoot, but as I could not pitch on
a vital part to aim at, only seeing a mass of what was evidently an
animal rolled up, I went nearer and nearer; in fact, little by little, I
got within ten yards of the quarry; then I fired a ball into what I now
saw was a huge pig. No move! What did it mean? I could not have killed
it sleeping. However, I took courage and went close and put my hand on
the beast; what should it be but an immense boar lying dead in his lair.
He must have died months before I found him, as the skin fell to pieces
on being touched, the hair into powder; his head was a splendid one,
but I could only save the jawbones, in which were a grand pair of tusks.
The moral of this was that pigs, like everything else, die--sometimes
quietly in their beds, be that retreat only a lair in the forest; but it
is a rare occurrence to find relics of wild animals in so perfect a
state. I fancy their friends and relations generally eat them. The bed
or lair he was lying in was a most snug spot, and he would have been
quite invisible had not some of the brushwood been burnt away, Arab
fashion, a short time before I found him.

I must warn any sportsman intending to shoot in the Jihoon river that
the wandering Arabs who are to be found there, though not brigands of a
high order, are petty thieves to the last degree. We were always obliged
to keep a watch in our tents, leaving a man behind in charge when we
went on shooting excursions. On one occasion we found on our return that
our watchman had captured an old woman whom he caught in the act of
creeping under the tent and stealing a spoon. I had myself a curious
adventure. An Arab told me that he knew where a boar was lying in the
long grass, and that he would take me to the spot if I would accompany
him. We started off together, and on getting well into the wood we went
on our hands and knees, crawling under the trees and brushwood, towards
the spot where the boar was supposed to be. We had to keep quite close
together. I carried round my neck a very pretty silver whistle, which I
prized exceedingly. Suddenly, when we were in a very thick part of the
bush, the Arab seized hold of my whistle and held it tight. I
immediately grasped the hand that held the whistle; this I did with my
right hand holding his left. He, with his right hand, tried to draw a
knife. I, with my left, tried to get my gun to bear on him, but there
was so little room to spare on account of the thick bush that both our
operations were difficult of performance. As soon as I saw him trying to
draw a knife, I dropped the hand with the whistle, and seized that with
which he tried to draw the knife. Thus the play went on for two or three
minutes; neither of us spoke, all our energies were directed on our
different games. At last, by turning round a little, I succeeded in
giving him a tremendous kick, which rolled him over on his back; then my
gun was free, and I held it to his head, upon which he took an attitude
of supplication on his knees, and prayed for quarter. I made him give me
his knife, go on all-fours again, and creep before me out of the wood.
This was a most audacious attempt at petty robbery. I should like to
have peppered him a little, but he was so penitent, I decided to let
him go. I don't think he meant to stab me; I think he merely wanted to
cut the string that held the whistle. These men were not generally
murderers. On this trip we killed twelve pigs, a hundred and seven
francolin, one lynx, and lots of cock and ducks. Coming back to the ship
I, and those with me in my boat, very nearly came to utter grief. There
was a good deal of sea on the bar of the river. The cutter that was with
me got over all safe, but my whale-boat being loaded heavily with pigs,
&c., refused to rise with the waves, and not doing so, the consequences
were that she filled and capsized. We had all to jump and make for the
shore, a distance of nearly a mile, being in the greatest danger while
doing so of getting into the current of the river. Any one who had done
this must have been washed away and drowned; however, thank goodness,
all hands were saved. The whale-boat was afterwards picked up, having
been washed out to sea, but we lost all tents, spare guns, &c.; the pigs
remained in the boat, as they were stowed under the thwarts, and hadn't
room to float out; so, friends, take warning of the bar of the Jihoon
river.

It was about this time that I received a report from some American
missionaries to the effect that one of their comrades had been robbed
and murdered by some Arabs who inhabited the mountains near
Alexandretta, people whose evil deeds had for some time past brought
them into notoriety. Although I was under orders to join the
commander-in-chief, I took it upon myself to remain and assist the
Americans in hunting down if possible the murderers of their comrade.

I confess I was made more zealous in the cause from hearing that there
were 'lots of big game on the hills.' I invited two or three of these
American missionaries to join my mess, and off we went to look for the
murderers. As this is a chapter on shooting, I will as briefly as
possible state what we did in the official way. In the first place we
anchored at the head of the Gulf of Ayas, near a large town where
resided the chief authority of the neighbourhood in which the murder had
been committed. I landed with the missionaries, several of my officers,
and some marines to act as an escort, and paid an official visit to this
gentleman, who was called the caimakam, or chief magistrate. This great
man told us that we should certainly with his assistance find the people
we were after. He suggested that we should accompany him with a small
body of our men, to which he could add some of his zeptiehs: that thus
accompanied he would go to a place on the hill where we should find
what we wanted. He said that a little 'backsheesh' was necessary. This
latter we found, and the next day we started.

We ascended amongst the most magnificent wooded hills I ever saw. 'Such
places for game!' thought I, till at last we halted at a clump of
splendid oak trees. Under one of these a grand luncheon was spread, of
which we were all invited to partake. During the luncheon a man rushed
up to our host and whispered in his ear something which seemed to give
him great satisfaction, for he at once smilingly said, 'Captain, I have
found the men you are after;' and sure enough we saw approaching two
ruffianly looking fellows, tied together, and being dragged along by men
on horseback. I hope they were the right men. I will presume that they
were, but they had been very quick in catching them. After my missionary
friend who spoke their language had interrogated the prisoners, he
requested that they might be kept apart, which was done, and they were
given in charge of separate sentinels, to whose horses they were tied.
We then returned to our lunch, our pipes, and our coffee. Suddenly we
heard a pistol shot, a rush, and a scream from the neighbourhood of the
prisoners. It seems that one of them had drawn the pistol from his
guardian's belt, shot him dead, jumped on to the horse, and galloped
off. Everybody, marines and all, tried to follow. Such a row never was
heard; but the man knew the country, and we saw him no more. I was
rather glad, for he must have been a plucky fellow.

The other prisoner was doubly secured and taken down to the village. He
was afterwards hanged, so justice was satisfied and my work finished. I
got a letter of thanks from the President of the United States, of which
I was and am still very proud, and meant to have used had
blockade-running brought me to grief.

This business being satisfactorily concluded, I asked my friend the
caimakam if there was any big game to be had. His answer was, 'Chok au
Va,' which meant there was plenty: and he undertook to beat the
neighbouring woods that very day with his men. We were told that there
were plenty of roe deer, foxes, jackals, &c., so we loaded our guns with
S.S.G. cartridges (which means, I may tell it to the uninitiated,
buck-shot). We were stationed on the outskirts of a splendid oak wood
that looked like holding any mortal thing in the way of game. Soon as
the beaters set to work cocks began to fly about in all directions, but
we had an instinct that something more important would turn up, so took
no notice of feathered game. I was watching close, trying to look
through almost impenetrable brushwood, when I heard a rustling sort of
noise near me, and suddenly I caught sight of something which almost
made my hair stand on end--a great tiger leopard, creeping, stealthily
as a cat, out of the wood, within twenty yards of where I was standing.
Fortunately he did not look my way. What was I to do? My gun, as I said,
was loaded with buck-shot; a miss or a wound would have been sure to
bring the brute on top of me. However, I did not hesitate more than a
couple of seconds; I pointed my gun at his heart just behind the
shoulder, and pulled the trigger. The whole charge went straight where I
pointed it, and the tiger rolled over on his back. I put a ball into my
gun and approached him very gingerly. When I got close to him I found he
hadn't a kick in him. His claws were crunched up as if grasping
something, his grand eyes were growing dim, and though, to make all
sure, I fired a ball into his head, it was not necessary, as I found
nine buckshot in the heart. He was a splendid beast, eleven feet from
tip of tail to end of nose. It was said that he had killed a shepherd
some days before, so he deserved his fate.

Before returning to the ship that evening, we arranged that the Arabs
should turn out the next day to drive the covers on the beach near the
ship, which were supposed to hold deer and pigs. I must mention that
these Arabs are very different to the wandering tribes we had lately
been amongst; they are warlike, unscrupulous, and dishonest. We made an
arrangement with them that _all_ game killed should belong to us, the
beaters being paid in gunpowder, which they prized very much. The Arabs
thought we should only find pig, and as Mussulmen won't touch it, the
bargain was considered satisfactory to both parties.

It so happened that at the first drive a very fine deer, of a species I
had never seen before, broke cover. I had the luck to shoot him, and as
the ship was lying very near, we hailed her for a boat in which to send
off our game. I saw a good deal of whispering among the Arabs, who,
after some discussion, informed us through one of the missionaries, who
kindly acted as interpreter, that the deer must belong to them, as they
only promised to give the pigs, and they openly declared we should not
take it on board. I wasn't going to stand this, for many reasons. In the
first place it was necessary to show these people that we were their
masters; secondly, by our agreement the deer was ours. When the boat (a
cutter with ten men unarmed) had come on shore, I gave orders for the
men to return and bring their arms and ten marines, also armed. The
Arabs, of whom there were about one hundred armed to the teeth, seemed
firm in their decision; so was I. When I pointed to my armed men, who
were by this time landing, they pointed with the same significant
gestures to their armed men. At this critical moment, my first
lieutenant, seeing that something was wrong, fired a shell right over
our heads to intimidate the Arabs, and the result showed that it had
that effect. The deer was lying on the beach. I ordered the marines to
form a cordon round him, and the sailors to bring up the boat stretchers
on which to lay the animal. When all was ready I gave the command to
carry it away and put it in the boat. The Arabs cocked their muskets and
made a move forward; the marines turned and faced them. I thought we
were in for a fight; however, the bearers carried off their charge and
placed it in the boat, when to my astonishment the Arab chief put down
his musket and came and made his salaam to me, asking if he might be
allowed to visit the ship. I, of course, was delighted. We took him and
several of his friends on board, and the visit ended in their all
getting roaring drunk, being hoisted over the ship's side and landed on
the beach. So passed off what might have been a serious affair. I might
have become involved in a long explanation to show that I was right in
protecting my game by armed force, but under all the circumstances I
feel that I was fully justified in doing so.

I should like before finishing these sketches to say something about the
society of Constantinople. As one cannot always be out shooting, it is
very important to our happiness to have something to fall back upon in
the social way. I was told once by a very great friend of mine, who saw
that I was inclined to fret, 'to take everything as a joke.' If one's
liver is in good order it is very easy to do so, but sometimes the
contrary is the case, and it makes one at times quite savage to see the
airs that are temporarily put on by those that form the so-called upper
or diplomatic society of Pera. Here are really amiable people so utterly
spoilt by the exalted idea of their own dignity that they become
absolute bores, especially to any one accustomed to good society. If you
go to a soirée you see grouped together, for fear of contamination with
the outsiders (without which a successful party cannot be formed), the
members of the so-called 'sacred circle,' talking to each other in
dignified (or undignified, as the case may be judged) whispers. While
all are cheerful and gay, you scarcely see a smile on the countenances
of these tremendous swells.

If you go in the street you will meet a creature dressed in most
gorgeous apparel, armed to the teeth with firearms that probably won't
go off, knives and daggers covered with precious stones, walking
solemnly along. If you look carefully among the crowd in his wake you
will discover some one, or ones, walking with an indignant swagger at
being hustled by the vulgar crowd. The man in gold, armed to the teeth,
is what is called a _cavass_, and these swells behind are the
representatives, male or female, of some foreign potentate, taking a
walk. It would be quite _infra dig._ to go without one of these useless
appendages. Again, if an individual not belonging to the 'sacred circle'
meets a foreign representative who condescends to speak to him, and
while he is doing so another member of an embassy 'heaves in sight,' the
first swell will immediately sheer off, looking ashamed at having so far
forgotten himself as to be seen speaking to any one outside 'his
circle.' You may occasionally be invited to the houses of these exalted
personages, but there is always an implied condescension in their
attitude which tends to negative the effect of their good intentions.
And all this is a great pity, because these people must be tired of
each other, and would find quite as much intelligence outside as inside
their circle. Besides, there are charming people among them who would
ornament any society, but their ill-acted airs of 'brief authority'
quite spoil them, and make them, as I said, bores to themselves and to
those who would be their friends.

I will, in proof of what I say, relate a short anecdote as to what
occurred in the house of a friend of mine.

This friend gave a very large fancy dress ball, at which two or three
hundred people were present. The ball was in every way a success, but as
the giver did not belong to the 'sacred circle,' the members of that
body only condescended to go for a short time. I have no doubt (for
there are lots of jolly people among them) that they would have liked to
have stopped much longer, but it was not thought 'dignified.' So, after
a short time, most of the 'sacred circle' sneaked away. One of them who
had two charming daughters, devoted to dancing, not having noticed the
departure of the great people till that moment, came hurriedly to my
friend and said, 'Goodnight, I _must go_, every one is gone.' 'Every
one?' said my friend, 'why, look at the rooms, there are at least two
hundred people dancing and amusing themselves.' 'Yes, I see,' said the
diplomat (he was rather a small one), 'but I mean the ambassadors and
their parties, are gone, so I _must_ go; but for once, to please you,
I'll leave my daughters.' I believe my friend answered, 'You may go to
the d----l.' This is a fact, and shows the unfortunate system that ruins
to a great extent the sociability of society in Pera.

Now it is true that all these people are called barons, counts,
viscounts, &c., but my friend belongs to a right good family, and would
have been more than the equal of many of them had they met in Paris,
London, St. Petersburg, Berlin, or Vienna. The title of baron, &c.,
seems to me to be always given to a diplomat _ex-officio_. However,
barons or no barons, the rule of exclusiveness laid down by the 'sacred
circle' at Constantinople is to be deplored as it injures society sadly.
Few large parties are given now except those got up by the great people.
When an outsider sends out invitations for a ball, or any other kind of
_réunion_, the negotiations that go on between the swells as to whether
they should patronise it or not are comical in the extreme. Should ever
so slight an omission in the form of these invitations, or a mere
accident in the delivery thereof, appear to them to touch their dignity,
they will probably all absent themselves in a body, even were it
question of the marriage or the funeral of one of their oldest and most
respectable acquaintances. Not being one of them, and not caring very
much for artificial society, I look on with great amusement. Some one
gave great offence on a late occasion, while describing society in Pera,
by suggesting that if there were a European court here things would be
very different; so they might. People would then find their level, as
they do in other capitals.

I feel very sorry for the members of the 'sacred circle.' Not only do
they lose much now, but it will be awkward for them when they go back
from whence they came. A short time ago I asked a very high and mighty
personage if she did not fear the change that must come when she left
Constantinople. She answered with great frankness: 'I feel that most of
what you say is correct, but before I came here I was very small fry;
now I know I am a swell, and mean to enjoy myself.' She was like those
reckless ones who cried: 'Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die.' I
have seen a stand made by one or two of these mighty ones, an attempt to
break down the system of pompous exclusiveness, but that attempt
unfortunately failed.

I must say that the foreign colonies in Pera are much to blame, for
they worship with all their minds and all their strength their different
chiefs and chieftainesses, and human nature being weak, &c. &c.

Apart from the 'sacred circle' there is a nice little society where
people go in for enjoying themselves, and succeed in doing so very
comfortably; but even there, with some few exceptions, there is that
secret longing for one or two of the swells--even a junior secretary of
an embassy is looked upon as a desideratum.

The Greeks keep very much to themselves; so do the Armenians. The Turks
are exceedingly fond of going into society, but their domestic
arrangements tend to prevent their entertaining.

His Majesty the Sultan frequently invites European ladies to his dinner
parties, and those who have had that honour must have thoroughly enjoyed
the delicious music and the pleasant entertainments after dinner at the
Palace of Yildiz. I don't see why His Imperial Majesty's example is not
followed by some of his subjects; perhaps we may yet come to that
by-and-by.

In what I have said about society in Pera I have not meant to be
personal or offensive in any way. My object has been to show up a rotten
system whereby everybody suffers. I have some remote hope that things
may change for the better, especially as one of the chief promoters of
the system has now left Constantinople.

If I bring these pages to a somewhat abrupt conclusion, it is because I
have had the bad luck to get a chill out shooting, and have been
somewhat seriously ill. However, I have hope that there is 'life in the
old dog yet,' and that I may before long have some other adventures of a
similar description to add to these 'unvarnished sketches' of my life.



_EXTRACT FROM THE 'DAILY TELEGRAPH,'

June 21, 1886._


'There will be some slight and melancholy satisfaction to his sorrowing
family, and his many friends, in the knowledge of the fact that Hobart
Pasha, a short time before his death, had prepared for publication a
memoir of his stirring life and adventures. The only fault, if fault
there be, in this record, may lie in the circumstance that its readers
may think it too brief. At all events, we shall be told what Hobart had
been about ever since the year 1836. It is certain that he never was
idle. Even before he had passed his examination for lieutenant, he had
distinguished himself while serving in the squadron told off to suppress
the slave trade in Brazilian waters: and in those days our naval
operations against the Portuguese traders in "blackbirds" involved
considerable peril to life and limb.

'Eighteen years, however, elapsed before Captain Augustus Hobart was
able to shot his guns in view of the broadside of a European foe. He had
previously enjoyed two years' half-holiday at home; that is to say, he
had been appointed, as a reward for his services in South America, to a
lieutenancy on board the Royal yacht, the Victoria and Albert, then
commanded by the late Adolphus Fitz-Clarence. But in the historically
momentous year 1854 there was serious business to be done by
Lieutenant--now Commander--Hobart. A diplomatic squabble between France
and Russia about the Holy Places in Palestine developed into an angry
quarrel between the Emperor Nicholas, France, and England. We went to
war with Russia. A magnificent squadron of British first-rates was
despatched to the Black Sea with the avowed object of destroying the
Russian Fleet, which had characteristically annihilated the Turkish
Fleet in the harbour of Sinope. We did not do much in the Black Sea
beyond running the Tiger on shore, where her crew were captured by the
Muscovites. We bombarded Odessa perfunctorily, and precisely in that
portion of the city where our shot and shell could do the least harm. We
did not destroy the Russian Fleet, for the sufficing reason that the
Russian Commander-in-Chief sank all his three-deckers full fathom five
in the harbour of Sebastopol.

'In the Baltic, however, there was a little more fighting to show for
the many millions sterling wrung from the British taxpayer. To the
coasts of Finland was sent a splendid Armada, commanded by one of the
bravest seamen that ever adorned the glorious muster-roll of the Royal
Navy of England, Admiral Sir Charles Napier. Under his orders was
Captain Augustus Hobart, in command of Her Majesty's ship Driver. "Lads,
sharpen your cutlasses!" thus began the memorable manifesto addressed by
the hero of St. Jean d'Acre to the gallant tars. The Baltic fleet was to
do wonders. The lads, with their cutlasses very well sharpened, went
aboard the Russian war-ships before Cronstadt, stormed the seven forts
which guard the entrance to that harbour, and sailed up the Neva even to
St. Petersburg itself. It is true that ere the war was over a spy
informed Lord Augustus Loftus, then Her Majesty's Ambassador at Berlin,
that a certain channel or waterway existed unguarded by any fort at all,
by which a British flotilla with muffled oars could have got quietly
into the Neva without taking the trouble to destroy the Russian fleet or
to blow the seven forts of Cronstadt into the air. The revelations of
the spy went for nothing; and, after the cutlasses of the lads in
blue-jackets had been sharpened to a razor-like degree of keenness,
those blades, for some occult reason, were not allowed to cut deep
enough; the only cutting--and running into the bargain--being done by
the Russian fleet, which, safely ensconced in the harbour of Cronstadt,
defied us from behind the walls of fortresses which we did not care to
bombard. Still, the Baltic fleet was not wholly idle. There was some
fighting and some advantage gained over the Russians at Helsingfors, at
Arbo, and notably at Bomarsund. In all these engagements Commander
Hobart distinguished himself--so brilliantly, indeed, as to be named
with high approval in official despatches.

'Soldiers in peace, Bacon has remarked, are like chimneys in summer.
Hobart seemed resolved that the aphorism quoted by Francis of Verulam
should not be verified in the case of sailors. The fire of the Earl of
Buckinghamshire's son was always alight, and he became, during the great
Civil War in America the boldest of blockade-runners. When the
Confederacy collapsed Hobart, by this time a Post-Captain, received
overtures of employment from the Turkish Government, and in 1868 he was
appointed, as Admiral Slade had been before him, to a high command in
the Ottoman Navy. It was a curious illustration of the various turns of
fate here below to find in 1869 the Sultan, the Commander of the
Faithful, sending the Giaour Hobart Pasha, the erst Secesh
blockade-runner, to the island of Crete to put down blockade-running on
the part of the intensely patriotic but occasionally troublesome Greeks.
Hobart was entrusted with unlimited powers, and he accomplished his
mission with so much vigour and with so much skill as to insure the good
graces of the Porte, and he soon rose to be Inspector-General of the
Imperial Ottoman Navy. Although his name was necessarily erased from the
list of the Royal Navy when he definitely threw in his lot with the
Sultan on the breaking out of the Turko-Russian war, all English
admirers of pluck and daring were glad to learn at a comparatively
recent period that the Honourable Augustus Charles Hobart Hampden had
been reinstated by Royal command in his rank in the British Navy.

'It was the good fortune of the distinguished maritime commander just
deceased, to win golden opinions from all sorts of peoples, and his name
and prowess will be as cordially remembered in his native land, and in
the Southern States of America, as on the shores of the Bosphorus and
the Golden Horn.

'A thorough Englishman at heart, he was none the less a fervent
philo-Turk in politics and convictions, and latterly devoted his talents
and his life to the defence of the integrity of the Ottoman Empire. As
ready with his pen as with his sword, he was a clear, trenchant,
vigorous writer, and could talk on paper as fluently and as cogently
about ironclads and torpedoes as about the wrongs of the natives of
Lazistan, the necessity of upholding the integrity of the Turkish
Empire, and of circumventing the dark and crooked wiles of Russian
diplomacy. Altogether Augustus Charles Hobart was a remarkable
man--bluff, bold, dashing, and somewhat dogged. There was in his
composition something of the mediæval "condottiere," and a good deal
more of that Dugald Dalgetty whom Scott drew. Gustavus Adolphus would
have made much of Hobart; the great Czarina, Catherine II., would have
appointed him Commander-in-Chief of her fleet, and covered him with
honours, even as she did her Scotch Admiral Gleig, and that other yet
more famous sea-dog, king of corsairs, Paul Jones. It would be unjust to
sneer at Hobart as a mercenary. His was no more a hired sword than were
the blades of Schomberg and Berwick, of Maurice de Saxe and Eugene of
Savoy. When there was fighting to be done Hobart liked to be in it--that
is all. Of the fearless, dashing, adventurous Englishman, ready to go
anywhere and do anything, Hobart was a brilliantly representative type.
Originally endowed with a most vigorous physique, his constitution
became sapped at last by long years of hardship and fatigue incident to
the vicissitudes of a daring, adventurous career. He left Constantinople
on leave of absence some months ago to recruit his shattered health, and
spent several weeks at the Riviera. But it would seem that he
experienced little relief from the delicious climate of the South of
France, and it was on his homeward journey to Constantinople that this
brave and upright British worthy breathed his last. The immediate cause
of his death was, it is stated, an affection of the heart, a term
covering a vast extent of unexplored ground. It would be nearer the
truth to say that the frame of Augustus Charles Hobart was literally
worn out by travel and exposure and hard work of every kind which had
been his lot, with but brief intervals of repose, ever since the day, in
the year 1836, when as a boy of thirteen he joined the Navy as a
midshipman.'

       *       *       *       *       *

It will be gratifying to Englishmen to know that their distinguished
countryman received at his burial all the honours due to his high
station and noble qualities. Such a concourse of people of all ranks and
nations had never been seen at any public ceremony on the Bosphorus as
that which, on July 24, accompanied the remains of Hobart Pasha to their
last resting place in the English cemetery at Scutari, not far from the
spot where a tall granite obelisk records the brave deeds and glorious
death of those heroes who perished in the Crimean War.

[Footnote 1: It must be understood that both men and boats were
disguised so as to resemble the ordinary fishing coasters about those
parts.]



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SPOTTISWOODE AND CO., NEW-STREET SQUARE

LONDON





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