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Title: Frank Mildmay - Or, The Naval Officer
Author: Marryat, Frederick, 1792-1848
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Frank Mildmay - Or, The Naval Officer" ***

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FRANK MILDMAY

Or, The Naval Officer

by

CAPTAIN MARRYAT

LONDON

MDCCCXCV



Contents


CHAPTER I
CHAPTER II
CHAPTER III
CHAPTER IV
CHAPTER V
CHAPTER VI
CHAPTER VII
CHAPTER VIII
CHAPTER IX
CHAPTER X
CHAPTER XI
CHAPTER XII
CHAPTER XIII
CHAPTER XIV
CHAPTER XV
CHAPTER XVI
CHAPTER XVII
CHAPTER XVIII
CHAPTER XIX
CHAPTER XX
CHAPTER XXI
CHAPTER XXII
CHAPTER XXIII
CHAPTER XXIV
CHAPTER XXV
CHAPTER XXVI
CHAPTER XXVII
CHAPTER XXVIII
CHAPTER XXIX



Prefatory Note


We do not intend to review our own work; if we did it justice we
might be accused of partiality, and we are not such fools as to abuse
it. We leave that to our literary friends who may have so little taste
as not to appreciate its merits. Not that there would be anything
novel in reviewing our own performances--that we have discovered since
we have assumed the office of editor; but still it is always done _sub
rosa_, whereas in our position we could not deny our situation as
editor and author. Of _Peter Simple_, therefore, we say nothing, but
we take this opportunity of saying a few words to the public.... _The
Naval Officer_ was our first attempt, and its having been our first
attempt must be offered in extenuation of its many imperfections; it
was written hastily, and before it was complete we were appointed to
a ship. We cared much about our ship and little about our book. The
first was diligently taken care of by ourselves, the second was left
in the hands of others to get on how it could. Like most bantlings put
out to nurse, it did not get on very well. As we happen to be in a
communicative vein, it may be as well to remark that, being written in
the autobiographical style, it was asserted by friends, and believed
in general, that it was a history of the author's life. Now, without
pretending to have been better than we should have been in our earlier
days, we do most solemnly assure the public that had we run the career
of vice of the hero of the _Naval Officer_, at all events we should
have had sufficient sense of shame not to have avowed it. Except the
hero and heroine, and those parts of the work which supply the
slight plot of it as a novel, the work in itself is materially true,
especially in the narrative of sea adventure, most of which did (to
the best of our recollection) occur to the author. We say to the best
of our recollection, as it behoves us to be careful. We have not
forgotten the snare in which Chamier found himself by asserting in his
preface that his narrative was fact. In _The Naval Officer_ much good
material was thrown away; but we intend to write it over again some
day of these days, and _The Naval Officer_, when corrected, will be
so improved that he may be permitted to stand on the same shelf with
_Pride and Prejudice_ and _Sense and Sensibility_.[A]

[Footnote A: The improvement was never made.--ED.]

"The confounded licking we received for our first attempts in the
critical notices is probably well known to the reader--at all events
we have not forgotten it. Now, with some, this severe castigation of
their first offence would have had the effect of their never offending
again; but we felt that our punishment was rather too severe; it
produced indignation instead of contrition, and we determined to write
again in spite of all the critics in the universe; and in the due
course of nine months we produced _The King's Own_. In _The Naval
Officer_ we had sowed all our wild oats; we had _paid off_ those who
had ill-treated us, and we had no further personality to indulge in.
_The King's Own_, therefore, was wholly fictitious in characters, in
plot, and in events, as have been its successors. _The King's Own_ was
followed by _Newton Forster, Newton Forster_ by _Peter Simple_. These
are _all_ our productions. Reader, we have told our tale."

This significant document was published by Captain Marryat in the
_Metropolitan Magazine_ 1833, of which he was at that time the editor,
on the first appearance of _Peter Simple_, in order, among other
things, to disclaim the authorship of a work entitled the _Port
Admiral_, which contained "an infamous libel upon one of our most
distinguished officers deceased, and upon the service in general." It
repudiates, without explaining away, certain unpleasant impressions
that even the careful reader of to-day cannot entirely avoid. Marryat
made Frank Mildmay a scamp, I am afraid, in order to prove that
he himself had not stood for the portrait; but he clearly did not
recognise the full enormities of his hero, to which he was partially
blinded by a certain share thereof. The adventures were admittedly his
own, they were easily recognised, and he had no right to complain
of being confounded with the insolent young devil to whom they were
attributed. It would, however, be at once ungracious and unprofitable
to attempt any analysis of the points of difference and resemblance;
any reader will detect the author's failings by his work; other
coincidences may be noticed here.

It has been said, in the general introduction, that Marryat's cruises
in the _Imperieuse_ are almost literally described in _Frank Mildmay_.
We have also independent accounts of certain personal adventures there
related.

The episode, chap, iv., of being bitten by a skate--supposed to be
dead--which is used again in _Peter Simple_, came from Marryat's own
experience; and he declared that he ran away from school on account
of the very indignity--that of being compelled to wear his elder
brother's old clothes--which Frank Mildmay pleads as an excuse for
sharing at least the sentiments of Cain. Marryat, again, was trampled
upon and left for dead when boarding an enemy (see chap, v.); he
saved the midshipman who had bullied him, from drowning, though his
reflections on the occasion are more edifying than those recounted in
chap. v. "From that moment," he says, "I have loved the fellow as I
never loved friend before. All my hate is forgotten. I have saved
his life." The defence of the castle of Rosas, chap, vii., is taken
straight from his private log-book; while Marshall's Naval Biography
contains an account of his volunteering during a gale to cut away the
main-yard of the _Aeolus_, which scarcely pales before the vigorous
passage in chap. xiv.:--

    "On the 30th of September, 1811, in lat. 40° 50' N., long. 65° W.
    (off the coast of New England), a gale of wind commenced at S.E.,
    and soon blew with tremendous fury; the _Aeolus_ was laid on her
    beam ends, her top-masts and mizen-masts were literally blown
    away, and she continued in this extremely perilous situation for
    at least half-an-hour. Directions were given to cut away the
    main-yard, in order to save the main-mast and right the ship, but
    so great was the danger attending such an operation considered,
    that not a man could be induced to attempt it until Mr Marryat led
    the way. His courageous conduct on this occasion excited general
    admiration, and was highly approved of by Lord James Townsend, one
    of whose company he also saved by jumping overboard at sea."

The edition of 1873 contained a brief memoir of the author, by
"Florence Marryat," frequently reprinted.

_Frank Mildmay_, originally called _The Naval Officer; or, Scenes and
Adventures in the Life of Frank Mildmay_, is here printed from the
first edition published in 1829 by Henry Colborn, with the following
motto on the title-page:--

  My muse by no means deals in fiction;
  She gathers a repertory of facts,
  Of course with some reserve and slight restriction,
  But mostly traits of human things and acts.
  Love, war, a tempest--surely there's variety;
  Also a seasoning slight of lubrication;
  A bird's-eye view, too, of that wild society;
  A slight glance thrown on men of every station

  _Don Juan_.

R.B.J.



Chapter I

    These are the errors, and these are the fruits of misspending our
    prime youth at the schools and universities, as we do, either
    in learning mere words, or such things chiefly as were better
    unlearned.--MILTON.


My father was a gentleman, and a man of considerable property. In my
infancy and childhood I was weak and sickly, but the favourite of my
parents beyond all my brothers and sisters, because they saw that my
mind was far superior to my sickly frame, and feared they should never
raise me to manhood; contrary, however, to their expectations, I
surmounted all these untoward appearances, and attracted much notice
from my liveliness, quickness of repartee, and impudence: qualities
which have been of much use to me through life.

I can remember that I was both a coward and a boaster; but I have
frequently remarked that the quality which we call cowardice in
a child, is no more than implying a greater sense of danger, and
consequently a superior intellect. We are all naturally cowards:
education and observation teach us to discriminate between real and
apparent danger; pride teaches the concealment of fear, and habit
renders us indifferent to that from which we have often escaped with
impunity. It is related of the Great Frederick that he misbehaved the
first time he went into action; and it is certain that a novice in
such a situation can no more command all his resources than a boy when
first bound apprentice to a shoemaker can make a pair of shoes. We
must learn our trade, whether it be to stand steady before the enemy,
or to stitch a boot; practice alone can make a Hoby or a Wellington.

I pass on to my school-days, when the most lasting impressions are
made. The foundation of my moral and religious instruction had been
laid with care by my excellent parents; but, alas! from the time I
quitted the paternal roof not one stone was added to the building, and
even the traces of what existed were nearly obliterated by the deluge
of vice which threatened soon to overwhelm me. Sometimes, indeed, I
feebly, but ineffectually endeavoured to stem the torrent; at others,
I suffered myself to be borne along with all its fatal rapidity. I was
frank, generous, quick, and mischievous; and I must admit that a large
portion of what sailors call "devil" was openly displayed, and a much
larger portion latently deposited in my brain and bosom. My ruling
passion, even in this early stage of life, was pride. Lucifer himself,
if he ever was seven years old, had not more. If I have gained a fair
name in the service, if I have led instead of followed, it must be
ascribed to this my ruling passion. The world has often given me
credit for better feelings, as the source of action, but I am not
writing to conceal, and the truth must be told.

I was sent to school to learn Latin and Greek, which there are various
ways of teaching. Some tutors attempt the _suaviter in modo_, my
schoolmaster preferred the _fortiter in re_; and, as the boatswain
said, by the "instigation" of a large knotted stick, he drove
knowledge into our skulls as a caulker drives oakum into the seams of
a ship. Under such tuition, we made astonishing progress; and whatever
my less desirable acquirements may have been, my father had no cause
to complain of my deficiency in classic lore. Superior in capacity to
most of my schoolfellows, I seldom took the pains to learn my lesson
previous to going up with my class: "the master's blessing," as we
called it, did occasionally descend on my devoted head, but that was
a bagatelle; I was too proud not to keep pace with my equals, and too
idle to do more.

Had my schoolmaster being a single man, my stay under his care might
have been prolonged to my advantage; but unfortunately, both for
him and for me, he had a helpmate, and her peculiarly unfortunate
disposition was the means of corrupting those morals over which it was
her duty to have watched with the most assiduous care. _Her_ ruling
passions were suspicion and avarice, written in legible characters
in her piercing eyes and sharp-pointed nose. She never supposed
us capable of telling the truth, so we very naturally never gave
ourselves the trouble to cultivate a useless virtue, and seldom
resorted to it unless it answered our purpose better than a lie. This
propensity of Mrs Higginbottom converted our candour and honesty into
deceit and fraud. Never believed, we cared little about the accuracy
of our assertions; half-starved, through her meanness and parsimony,
we were little scrupulous as to the ways and means, provided we could
satisfy our hunger; and thus we soon became as great adepts in the
elegant accomplishments of lying and thieving, under her tuition, as
we did in Greek and Latin under that of her husband.

A large orchard, fields, garden, and poultry-yard, attached to
the establishment, were under the care and superintendence of the
mistress, who usually selected one of the boys as her prime minister
and confidential adviser. This boy, for whose education his parents
were paying some sixty or eighty pounds per annum, was permitted to
pass his time in gathering up the windfalls; in watching the hens,
and bringing in their eggs, when their cackling throats had announced
their safe accouchement; looking after the broods of young ducks and
chickens, _et hoc genus omne_; in short, doing the duty of what is
usually termed the odd man in the farmyard. How far the parents would
have been satisfied with this arrangement, I leave my readers to
guess; but to us who preferred the manual to mental exertion,
exercise to restraint, and any description of cultivation to that of
cultivating the mind, it suited extremely well; and accordingly no
place in the gift of government was ever the object of such solicitude
and intrigue, as was to us schoolboys the situation of collector and
trustee of the eggs and apples.

I had the good fortune to be early selected for this important post,
and the misfortune to lose it soon after, owing to the cunning and
envy of my schoolfellows and the suspicion of my employers. On my
first coming into office, I had formed the most sincere resolutions of
honesty and vigilance; but what are good resolutions, when discouraged
on the one hand by the revilings of suspicion, and assailed on the
other by the cravings of appetite? My morning's collection was exacted
from me to the very last nut, and the greedy eyes of my mistress
seemed to inquire for more. Suspected when innocent, I became guilty
out of revenge; was detected and dismissed. A successor was appointed,
to whom I surrendered all my offices of trust, and having perfect
leisure, I made it my sole business to supplant him.

It was an axiom in mathematics with me at that time, though not found
in Euclid, that wherever I could enter my head, my whole body might
follow. As a practical illustration of this proposition, I applied my
head to the arched hole of the hen-house door, and by scraping away
a little dirt, contrived to gain admittance, and very speedily
transferred all the eggs to my own chest. When the new purveyor
arrived, he found nothing but "a beggarly account of empty boxes;" and
his perambulations in the orchard and garden, for the same reason
were equally _fruitless_. The pilferings of the orchard and garden I
confiscated as droits; but when I had collected a sufficient number of
eggs to furnish a nest, I gave information of my pretended discovery
to my mistress, who, thinking she had not changed for the better,
dismissed my successor, and received me into favour again. I was,
like many greater men, immediately reinstated in office when it was
discovered that they could not do without me. I once more became
chancellor of the hen-roost and ranger of the orchard, with greater
power than I had possessed before my disgrace. Had my mistress looked
half as much in my face as she did into my hatful of eggs, she would
have read my guilt; for at that unsophisticated age I could blush, a
habit long since discarded in the course of my professional duties.

In order to preserve my credit and my situation, I no longer contented
myself with windfalls, but assisted nature in her labours, and greatly
lightened the burthen of many a loaded fruit-tree; by these means, I
not only gratified the avarice of my mistress at her own expense, but
also laid by a store for my own use. On my restoration to office, I
had an ample fund in my exchequer to answer all present demands; and
by a provident and industrious anticipation, was enabled to lull the
suspicions of my employers, and to bid defiance to the opposition. It
will readily be supposed that a lad of my acuteness did not omit any
technical management for the purpose of disguise; the fruits which I
presented were generally soiled with dirt at the ends of the stalks,
in such a manner as to give them all the appearance of "_felo de se_,"
i.e. fell of itself. Thus, in the course of a few months, did I become
an adept of vice, from the mismanagement of those into whose hands I
was intrusted to be strengthened in religion and virtue.

Fortunately for me, as far as my education was concerned, I did not
long continue to hold this honourable and lucrative employment. One of
those unhappy beings called an usher peeped into my chest, and by way
of acquiring popularity with the mistress and scholars, forthwith
denounced me to the higher powers. The proofs of my peculation were
too glaring, and the amount too serious to be passed over; I was
tried, convicted, condemned, sentenced, flogged, and dismissed in the
course of half-an-hour; and such was the degree of turpitude attached
to me on this occasion, that I was rendered for ever incapable of
serving in that or any other employment connected with the garden or
farm; I was placed at the bottom of the list, and declared to be the
worst boy in the school.

This in many points of view was too true; but there was one boy who
bade fair to rival me on the score of delinquency; this was Tom
Crauford, who from that day became my most intimate friend. Tom was
a fine spirited fellow, up to everything; loved mischief, though not
vicious; and was ready to support me in everything through thick and
thin; and truly I found him sufficient employment. I threw off all
disguise, laughed at any suggestion of reform, which I considered
as not only useless, but certain of subjecting me to ridicule and
contempt among my associates. I therefore adopted the motto of some
great man "to be rather than seem to be." I led in every danger;
declared war against all drivellers and half-measures; stole
everything that was eatable from garden, orchard, or hen-house,
knowing full well that whether I did so or not, I should be equally
suspected. Thenceforward all fruit missed, all arrows shot into pigs,
all stones thrown into windows, and all mud spattered over clean linen
hung out to dry, were traced to Tom and myself; and with the usual
alacrity of an arbitrary police, the space between apprehension and
punishment was very short--we were constantly brought before the
master, and as regularly dismissed with "his blessing," till we became
hardened to blows and to shame.

Thus, by the covetousness of this woman, who was the grey mare, and
the folly of the master, who, in anything but Greek and Latin, was an
ass, my good principles were nearly eradicated from my bosom, and in
their place were sown seeds which very shortly produced an abundant
harvest.

There was a boy at our school lately imported from the East Indies.
We nick-named him Johnny Pagoda. He was remarkable for nothing but
ignorance, impudence, great personal strength, and, as we thought,
determined resolution. He was about nineteen years of age. One day he
incurred the displeasure of the master, who, enraged at his want of
comprehension and attention, struck him over the head with a knotted
cane. This appeal, although made to the least sensitive part of his
frame, roused the indolent Asiatic from his usual torpid state. The
weapon, in the twinkling of an eye, was snatched out of the hand, and
suspended over the head of the astonished pedagogue, who, seeing the
tables so suddenly turned against him, made the signal for assistance.
I clapped my hands, shouted "Bravo! lay on, Johnny--go it--you have
done it now--you may as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb;" but
the ushers began to muster round, the boy hung aloof, and Pagoda,
uncertain which side the neutrals would take, laid down his arms, and
surrendered at discretion.

Had the East-Indian followed up his act by the application of a little
discipline at the fountain-head, it is more than probable that a
popular commotion, not unlike that of Mas' Aniello would have ensued;
but the time was not come: the Indian showed a white feather, was
laughed at, flogged, and sent home to his friends, who had intended
him for the bar; but foreseeing that he might, in the course of
events, chance to cut a figure on the wrong side of it, sent him to
sea, where his valour, if he had any, would find more profitable
employment.

This unsuccessful attempt of the young Oriental, was the primary cause
of all my fame and celebrity in after-life. I had always hated
school; and this, of all others, seemed to me the most hateful. The
emancipation of Johnny Pagoda convinced me that my deliverance might
be effected in a similar manner. The train was laid, and a spark set
it on fire. This spark was supplied by the folly and vanity of a fat
French dancing-master. These Frenchmen are ever at the bottom of
mischief. Mrs Higginbottom, the master's wife, had denounced me to
Monsieur Aristide Maugrebleu as a _mauvais sujet_; and as he was a
creature of hers, he frequently annoyed me to gratify his patroness.
This fellow was at that time about forty-five years of age, and had
much more experience than agility, having greatly increased his bulk
by the roast beef and ale of England. While he taught us the rigadoons
of his own country, his vanity induced him to attempt feats much above
the cumbrous weight of his frame. I entered the lists with him, beat
him at his own trade, and he beat me with his fiddle-stick, which
broke in two over my head; then, making one more glorious effort to
show that he would not be outdone, snapped the tendon Achilles, and
down he fell, _hors de combat_ as a dancing-master. He was taken away
in his gig to be cured, and I was taken into the school-room to be
flogged.

This I thought so unjust that I ran away. Tom Crauford helped me to
scale the wall; and when he supposed I had got far enough to be out of
danger from pursuit, went and gave information, to avoid the suspicion
of having aided and abetted. After running a mile, to use a sea
phrase, I hove to, and began to compose, in my mind, an oration which
I intended to pronounce before my father, by way of apology for
my sudden and unexpected appearance; but I was interrupted by the
detested usher and half a dozen of the senior boys, among whom was
Tom Crauford. Coming behind me as I sat on a stile, they cut short my
meditations by a tap on the shoulder, collared and marched me to the
right about in double quick time. Tom Crauford was one of those
who held me, and outdid himself in zealous invective at my base
ingratitude in absconding from the best of masters, and the most
affectionate, tender, and motherly of all school-dames.

The usher swallowed all this, and I soon made him swallow a great deal
more. We passed near the side of a pond, the shoals and depths of
which were well known to me. I looked at Tom out of the corner of my
eye, and motioned him to let me go; and, like a mackerel out of a
fisherman's hand, I darted into the water, got up to my middle, and
then very coolly, for it was November, turned round to gaze at my
escort, who stood at bay, and looked very much like fools. The usher,
like a low bred cur, when he could no longer bully, began to fawn;
he entreated and he implored me to think on "my papa and mamma; how
miserable they would be, if they could but see me; what an increase of
punishment I was bringing on myself by such obstinacy." He held out
by turns coaxes and threats; in short, everything but an amnesty, to
which I considered myself entitled, having been driven to rebellion by
the most cruel persecution.

Argument having failed, and there being no volunteers to come in
and fetch me out of the water, the poor usher, much against his
inclination, was compelled to undertake it. With shoes and stockings
off, and trousers tucked up, he ventured one foot into the water, then
the other; a cold shiver reached his teeth, and made them chatter;
but, at length, with cautious tread he advanced towards me. Being once
in the water, a step or two farther was no object to me, particularly
as I knew I could but be well flogged after all, and I was quite
sure of that, at all events, so I determined to have my revenge and
amusement. Stepping back, he followed, and suddenly fell over head and
ears into a hole, as he made a reach at me. I was already out of
my depth, and could swim like a duck, and as soon as he came up, I
perched my knees on his shoulders and my hands on his head, and sent
him souse under a second time, keeping him there until he had drunk
more water than any horse that ever came to the pond. I then allowed
him to wallow out the best way he could; and as it was very cold, I
listened to the entreaties of Tom and the boys who stood by, cracking
their sides with laughter at the poor usher's helpless misery.

Having had my frolic, I came out, and voluntarily surrendered myself
to my enemies, from whom I received the same mercy, in proportion,
that a Russian does from a Turk. Dripping wet, cold, and covered with
mud, I was first shown to the boys as an aggregate of all that was bad
in nature; a lecture was read to them on the enormity of my offence,
and solemn denunciations of my future destiny closed the discourse.
The shivering fit produced by the cold bath was relieved by as sound
a flogging as could be inflicted, while two ushers held me; but no
effort of theirs could elicit one groan or sob from me, my teeth were
clenched in firm determination of revenge: with this passion my bosom
glowed, and my brain was on fire. The punishment, though dreadfully
severe, had one good effect--it restored my almost suspended
animation; and I strongly recommend the same remedy being applied to
all young ladies and gentlemen who, from disappointed love or other
such trifling causes, throw themselves into the water. Had the
miserable usher been treated after this prescription, he might have
escaped a cold and rheumatic fever which had nearly consigned him to
a country churchyard, in all probability to reappear at the
dissecting-room of St Bartholomew's Hospital.

About this time Johnny Pagoda, who had been two years at sea, came
to the school to visit his brother and schoolfellows. I pumped this
fellow to tell me all he knew: he never tried to deceive me, or to
make a convert. He had seen enough of a midshipman's life, to know
that a cockpit was not paradise; but he gave me clear and ready
answers to all my questions. I discovered that there was no
schoolmaster in the ship, and that the midshipmen were allowed a
pint of wine a day. A man-of-war, and the gallows, they say,
refuse nothing; and as I had some strong presentiment from recent
occurrences, that if I did not volunteer for the one, I should, in all
probability, be pressed for the other, I chose the lesser evil of the
two; and having made up my mind to enter the glorious profession, I
shortly after communicated my intention to my parents.

From the moment I had come to this determination, I cared not what
crime I committed, in hopes of being expelled from the school. I wrote
scurrilous letters, headed a mutiny, entered into a league with the
other boys to sink, burn and destroy, and do all the mischief we
could. Tom Crauford had the master's child to dry nurse: he was only
two years old: Tom let him fall, not intentionally, but the poor child
was a cripple in consequence of it for life. This was an accident
which under any other circumstances we should have deplored, but to us
it was almost a joke.

The cruel treatment I had received from these people, had so
demoralized me, that those passions,--which under more skilful or
kinder treatment, had either not been known, or would have lain
dormant, were roused into full and malignant activity: I went to
school a good-hearted boy, I left it a savage. The accident with the
child occurred two days before the commencement of the vacation, and
we were all dismissed on the following day in consequence. On my
return home I stated verbally to my father and mother, as I had done
before by letter, that I was resolved to go to sea. My mother wept, my
father expostulated. I gazed with apathy on the one, and listened
with cold indifference to the reasoning and arguments of the other;
a choice of schools was offered to me, where I might be a parlour
boarder, and I was to finish at the University, if I would but give up
my fatal infatuation. Nothing, however, would do; the die was cast,
and for the sea I was to prepare.

What fool was it who said that the happiest times of our lives is
passed at school? There may, indeed, be exceptions, but the remark
cannot be generalized. Stormy as has been my life, the most miserable
part of it (with very little exception) was passed at school; and my
mind never received so much injury from any scenes of vice and excess
in after-life, as it did from the shameful treatment and bad example
I met with there. If my bosom burned with fiend-like passions, whose
fault was it? How had the sacred pledge, given by the master, been
redeemed? Was I not sacrificed to the most sordid avarice, in the
first instance, and almost flayed alive in the second, to gratify
revenge? Of the filthy manner in which our food was prepared, I can
only say that the bare recollection of it excites nausea; and to this
hour, bread and milk, suet pudding, and shoulders of mutton, are
objects of my deep-rooted aversion. The conduct of the ushers, who
were either tyrannical extortioners, or partakers in our crimes--the
constant loss of our clothes by the dishonesty or carelessness of the
servants--the purloining our silver spoons, sheets, and towels, when
we went away, upon the plea of "custom"--the charges in the account
for windows which I had never broken, and books which I had never
received--the shameful difference between the annual cost promised by
the master, and the sum actually charged, ought to have opened the
eyes of my father.

I am aware how excellent many of these institutions are, and that
there are few so bad as the one I was sent to. The history of my life
will prove of what vital importance it is to ascertain the character
of the master and mistress as to other points besides teaching Greek
and Latin, before a child is intrusted to their care. I ought to
have observed, that during my stay at this school, I had made some
proficiency in mathematics and algebra.

My father had procured for me a berth on board a fine frigate at
Plymouth, and the interval between my nomination and joining was spent
by my parents in giving advice to me, and directions to the several
tradesmen respecting my equipment. The large chest, the sword, the
cocked-hat, the half-boots, were all ordered in succession; and the
arrival of each article either of use or ornament was anticipated by
me with a degree of impatience which can only be compared to that of
a ship's company arrived off Dennose from a three years' station in
India, and who hope to be at anchor at Spithead before sunset. The
circumstance of my going to sea affected my father in no other way
than it interfered with his domestic comforts by the immoderate grief
of my poor mother. In any other point of view my choice of profession
was a source of no regret to him. I had an elder brother, who was
intended to have the family estates, and who was then at Oxford,
receiving an education suitable to his rank in life, and also learning
how to spend his money like a gentleman. Younger brothers are, in such
cases, just as well out of the way, particularly one of my turbulent
disposition: a man-of-war, therefore, like _another piece of timber_,
has its uses. My father paid all the bills with great philosophy, and
made me a liberal allowance for my age.

The hour of departure drew near; my chest had been sent off by the
Plymouth waggon, and a hackney-coach drew up to the door, to convey
me to the White Horse Cellar. The letting down of the rattling steps
completely overthrew the small remains of fortitude which my dearest
mother had reserved for our separation, and she threw her arms around
my neck in a frenzy of grief. I beheld her emotions with a countenance
as unmoved as the figure-head of a ship; while she covered my stoic
face with kisses, and washed it with her tears. I almost wondered what
it all meant, and wished the scene was over.

My father helped me out of this dilemma; taking me firmly by the arm,
he led me out of the room: my mother sank upon the sofa, and hid her
face in her pocket-handkerchief. I walked as slowly to the coach as
common decency would permit. My father looked at me, as if he would
inquire of my very inward soul whether I really did possess human
feelings? I felt the meaning of this, even in my then tender years;
and such was my sense of propriety, that I mustered up a tear for each
eye, which, I hope, answered the intended purpose. We say at sea,
"When you have no decency, sham a little;" and I verily believe I
should have beheld my poor mother in her coffin with less regret than
I could have foregone the gay and lovely scenes which I anticipated.

How amply has this want of feeling towards a tender parent been
recalled to my mind, and severely punished, in the events of my
vagrant life!



Chapter II

    Injuries may be atoned for and forgiven; but insults admit of no
    compensation. They degrade the mind in its own esteem, and force
    it to recover its level by revenge.--JUNIUS.


There are certain events in our lives poetically and beautifully
described by Moore, as "green spots in memory's waste." Such are the
emotions arising from the attainment, after a long pursuit, of any
darling object of love or ambition; and although possession and
subsequent events may have proved to us that we had overrated our
enjoyment, and experience have shown us "that all is vanity," still,
recollection dwells with pleasure upon the beating heart, when the
present only was enjoyed, and the picture painted by youthful and
sanguine anticipation in glowing and delightful colours. Youth only
can feel this; age has been often deceived--too often has the fruit
turned to ashes in the mouth. The old look forward with a distrust and
doubt, and backward with sorrow and regret.

One of the red-letter days of my life, was that on which I first
mounted the uniform of a midshipman. My pride and ecstacy were beyond
description. I had discarded the school and school-boy dress, and,
with them, my almost stagnant existence. Like the chrysalis changed
into a butterfly, I fluttered about as if to try my powers; and felt
myself a gay and beautiful creature, free to range over the wide
domains of nature, clear of the trammels of parents or schoolmasters;
and my heart bounded within me at the thoughts of being left to enjoy
at my own discretion, the very acmé of all the pleasure that human
existence could afford; and I observe that in this, as in most other
cases, I met with that disappointment which usually attends us. True
it is, that in the days of my youth, I did enjoy myself. I was happy
for a time, if happiness it could be called; but dearly have I
paid for it. I contracted a debt, which I have been liquidating by
instalments ever since; nor am I yet emancipated. Even the small
portion of felicity that fell to my lot on this memorable morning was
brief in duration, and speedily followed by chagrin.

But to return to my uniform. I had arrayed myself in it; my dirk was
belted round my waist; a cocked-hat, of an enormous size, stuck on my
head; and, being perfectly satisfied with my own appearance, at the
last survey which I had made in the glass, I first rang for the
chambermaid, under pretence of telling her to make my room tidy, but,
in reality, that she might admire and compliment me, which she very
wisely did; and I was fool enough to give her half a crown and a kiss,
for I felt myself quite a man. The waiter, to whom the chambermaid had
in all probability communicated the circumstance, presented himself,
and having made a low bow, offered the same compliments, and received
the same reward, save the kiss. Boots would, in all probability, have
come in for his share, had he been in the way, for I was fool enough
to receive all their fine speeches as if they were my due, and to pay
for them at the same time in ready money. I was a gudgeon and they
were sharks; and more sharks would soon have been about me, for I
heard them, as they left the room, call "boots" and "ostler," of
course to assist in lightening my purse.

But I was too impatient to wait on my captain and see my ship--so I
bounced down the stairs, and in the twinkling of an eye, was on my
way to Stonehouse, where my vanity received another tribute, by a raw
recruit of marine raising his hand to his head, as he passed by me. I
took it as it was meant, raised my hat off my head, and shuffled
by with much self-importance. One consideration, I own, mortified
me--this was that the _natives_ did not appear to admire me half so
much as I admired myself. It never occurred to me then, that middies
were as plentiful at Plymouth Dock, as black boys at Port Royal,
though, perhaps, not of so much value to their masters. I will not
shock the delicacy of my fair readers by repeating all the vulgar
alliterations with which my noviciate was greeted, as I passed in
review before the ladies of North Corner, who met me in Fore Street.
Unsophisticated as I then was, in many points, and certainly in this,
I thought them extremely ill-bred. Fortunately for me, the prayers of
a certain description of people never prevail, otherwise I should have
been immediately consigned to a place, from which, I fear, all the
masses of France and Italy would not have extricated me.

I escaped from these syrens without being bound to the mast, like
Ulysses; but, like him, I had nearly fallen a victim to a modern
Polyphemus; for though he had not one eye in the middle of his
forehead, after the manner of his prototype, yet the rays from both
his eyes meeting together at the tip of his long nose, gave him very
much that appearance. Ignorance, sheer ignorance, in this, as in many
other cases, was the cause of my disaster. A party of officers, in
full uniform, were coming from a court-martial. "Oh ho!" said I, "here
come some of us." I seized my dirk in my left hand, as I saw they held
their swords, and I stuck my right hand into my bosom as some of them
had done. I tried to imitate their erect and officer-like bearing;
I put my cocked-hat on fore and aft, with the gold rosette dangling
between my two eyes, so that in looking at it, which I could not help
doing, I must have squinted. And I held my nose high in the air, like
a pig in a hurricane, fancying myself as much an object of admiration
to them as I was to myself. We passed on opposite tacks, and our
respective velocities had separated us to the distance of twenty or
thirty yards, when one of them called out to me in a voice evidently
cracked in His Majesty's service--"Hollo, young gentleman, come back
here."

I concluded I was going to be complimented on the cut of my coat, to
be asked the address of my tailor, and to hear the rakish sit of my
hat admired. I now began to think I should hear a contention between
the lords of the ocean, as to who should have me as a sample middy on
their quarter-decks; and I was even framing an excuse to my father's
friend for not joining his ship. Judge then of my surprise and
mortification, when I was thus accosted in an angry and menacing tone
by the oldest of the officers--

"Pray, sir, what ship do you belong to?"

"Sir," said I, proud to be thus interrogated, "I belong to His
Majesty's ship, the _Le----_" (having a French name, I clapped on both
the French and English articles, as being more impressive).

"Oh, you do, do you?" said the veteran with an air of conscious
superiority; "then you will be so good as to turn round, go down to
Mutton Cove, take a boat, and have your person conveyed with all
possible speed on board of His Majesty's ship the _Lee_" (imitating
me); "and tell the first lieutenant it is my order that you be not
allowed any more leave while the ship is in port; and I shall tell
your captain he must teach his officers better manners than to pass
the port-admiral without touching their hats."

While this harangue was going on, I stood in a circle, of which I was
the centre, and the admiral and the captains formed the circumference;
what little air there was their bodies intercepted, so that I was not
only in a stew, but stupefied into the bargain.

"There, sir, you hear me--you may go."

"Yes, I do hear you," thinks I; "but how the devil am I to get away
from you?" for the cruel captains, like school-boys round a rat-trap,
stood so close that I could not start. Fortunately, this my blockade,
which they no doubt intended for their amusement, saved me for that
time. I recollected myself, and said, with affected simplicity of
manner, that I had that morning put on my uniform for the first time;
that I had never seen my captain, and never was on board a ship in all
my life. At this explanation, the countenance of the admiral relaxed
into something that was meant for a smile, and the captains all burst
into a loud laugh.

"Well, young man," said the admiral--who was really a good-tempered
fellow, though an odd one--"well, young man, since you have never been
at sea, it is some excuse for not knowing good manners; there is no
necessity now for delivering my message to the first lieutenant, but
you may go on board your ship."

Having seen me well-roasted, the captains opened right and left, and
let me pass. As I left them I heard one say, "Just caught--marks of
the dogs' teeth in his heels, I warrant you." I did not stop to make
any reply, but sneaked away, mortified and crest-fallen, and certainly
obeyed this the first order which I had ever received in the service,
with more exactness than I ever did any subsequent one.

During the remainder of my walk, I touched my hat to every one I met.
I conferred the honour of a salute on midshipmen, master's mates,
sergeants of marines, and two corporals. Nor was I aware of my over
complaisance, until a young woman, dressed like a lady, who knew more
of the navy than I did, asked me if I had come down to stand for the
borough? Without knowing what she meant, I replied, "No."

"I thought you might," said she, "seeing you are so d----d civil to
everybody."

Had it not been for this friendly hint, I really believe I should have
touched my hat to a drummer.

Having gone through this ordeal, I reached the inn at Plymouth, where
I found my captain, and presented my father's letter. He surveyed me
from top to toe, and desired the pleasure of my company to dinner at
six o'clock. "In the mean time," he said, "as it is now only eleven,
you may go aboard, and show yourself to Mr Handstone, the first
lieutenant, who will cause your name to be entered on the books, and
allow you to come back here to dine." I bowed and retired. And on my
way to Mutton Cove was saluted by the females, with the appellation
of Royal Reefer (midshipman), and a Biscuit Nibbler; but all this I
neither understood nor cared for. I arrived safely at Mutton Cove,
where two women, seeing my inquiring eye and span-new dress, asked
what ship they should take "my honour" to, I told them the ship I
wished to go on board of.

"She _lays_ under the _Obelisk_," said the elder woman, who appeared
to be about forty years of age; "and we will take your honour off for
a shilling."

I agreed to this, both for the novelty of the thing, as well as on
account of my natural gallantry and love of female society. The elder
woman was mistress of her profession, handling her scull (oar) with
great dexterity; but Sally, the younger one, who was her daughter, was
still in her noviciate. She was pretty, cleanly dressed, had on white
stockings, and sported a neat foot and ankle.

"Take care, Sally," said the mother; "keep stroke, or you will catch a
crab."

"Never fear, mother," said the confident Sally; and at the same
moment, as if the very caution against the accident was the cause of
it, the blade of her scull did not dip into the water. The oar meeting
no resistance, its loom, or handle, came back upon the bosom of the
unfortunate Sally, tipped her backwards--up went her heels in the air,
and down fell her head into the bottom of the boat. As she was pulling
the stroke oar, her feet almost came in contact with the rosette of my
cocked hat.

"There now, Sally," said the wary mother; "I told you how it would
be--I knew you would catch a crab!"

Sally quickly recovered herself, blushed a little, and resumed her
occupation.

"That's what we calls catching a crab in our country," said the woman.
I replied that I thought it was a very pretty amusement; and I asked
Sally to try and catch another; but she declined; and, by this time,
we had reached the side of the ship.

Having paid my naiads, I took hold of the man-rope, as I was
instructed by them, and mounted the side. Reaching the gangway, I was
accosted by a midshipman in a round jacket and trousers, a shirt none
of the cleanest, and a black silk handkerchief tied loosely round his
neck.

"Who did you want, sir?" said he.

"I wish to speak with Mr Handstone, the first lieutenant," said I. He
informed me that the first lieutenant was then gone down to frank the
letters, and, when he came on deck, he would acquaint him with my
being there.

After this dialogue, I was left on the larboard side of the
quarter-deck to my own meditations. The ship was at this time
refitting, and was what is usually called in the hands of the
dockyard, and a sweet mess she was in. The quarter-deck carronades
were run fore and aft; the slides unbolted from the side, the decks
were covered with pitch fresh poured into the seams, and the caulkers
were sitting on their boxes, ready to renew their noisy labours as
soon as the dinner-hour had expired. The middies, meanwhile, on the
starboard side of the quarter-deck, were taking my altitude, and
speculating as to whether I was to be a messmate of theirs, and what
sort of a chap I might chance to be--both these points were solved
very speedily.

The first lieutenant came on deck; the midshipman of the watch
presented me, and I presented my name and the captain's message.

"It is all right, sir," said Mr Handstone. "Here, Mr Flyblock, do you
take this young gentleman into your mess; you may show him below as
soon as you please, and tell him where to hang his hammock up."

I followed my new friend down the ladder, under the half deck, where
sat a woman, selling bread and butter and red herrings to the sailors;
she had also cherries and clotted cream, and a cask of strong beer,
which seemed to be in great demand. We passed her, and descended
another ladder, which brought us to the 'tween-decks, and into the
steerage, in the forepart of which, on the larboard side, abreast of
the mainmast, was my future residence--a small hole, which they called
a berth; it was ten feet long by six, and about five feet four inches
high; a small aperture, about nine inches square, admitted a very
scanty portion of that which we most needed, namely, fresh air and
daylight. A deal table occupied a very considerable extent of this
small apartment, and on it stood a brass candle-stick, with a dip
candle, and a wick like a fullblown carnation. The table-cloth was
spread, and the stains of port wine and gravy too visibly indicated,
like the midshipman's dirty shirt, the near approach of Sunday. The
black servant was preparing for dinner, and I was shown the seat I was
to occupy. "Good Heaven!" thought I, as I squeezed myself between
the ship's side and the mess-table; "and is this to be my future
residence?--better go back to school; there, at least, there is fresh
air and clean linen."

I would have written that moment to my dear, broken-hearted mother, to
tell her how gladly her prodigal son would fly back to her arms; but
I was prevented doing this, first by pride, and secondly by want
of writing materials. Taking my place, therefore, at the table, I
mustered up all my philosophy; and, to amuse myself, called to mind
the reflections of Gil Blas, when he found himself in the den of the
robbers, "Behold, then, the worthy nephew of my uncle, Gil Perez,
caught like a rat in a trap."

Most of my new associates were absent on duty; the 'tween-decks was
crammed with casks and cases, and chests, and bags, and hammocks; the
noise of the caulkers was resumed over my head and all around me;
the stench of bilge-water, combining with the smoke of tobacco, the
effluvia of gin and beer, the frying of beef-steaks and onions, and
red herrings--the pressure of a dark atmosphere and a heavy shower
of rain, all conspired to oppress my spirits, and render me the
most miserable dog that ever lived. I had almost resigned myself to
despair, when I recollected the captain's invitation, and mentioned
it to Flyblock. "That's well thought of," said he; "Murphy also dines
with him; you can both go together, and I dare say he will be very
glad of your company."

A captain seldom waits for a midshipman, and we took good care he
should not wait for us. The dinner was in all respects one "on
service." The captain said a great deal, the lieutenants very little,
and the midshipmen nothing at all; but the performance of the knife
and fork, and wine-glass (as far as it could be got at), were exactly
in the inverse ratio. The company consisted of my own captain, and two
others, our first lieutenant, Murphy, and myself.

As soon as the cloth was removed, the captain filled me out a glass of
wine, desired I would drink it, and then go and see how the wind was.
I took this my first admonitory hint in its literal sense and meaning;
but having a very imperfect idea of the points of the compass, I own I
felt a little puzzled how I should obtain the necessary information.
Fortunately for me, there was a weathercock on the old church-steeple;
it had four letters, which I certainly did know were meant to
represent the cardinal points. One of these seemed so exactly to
correspond with the dial above it, that I made up my mind the wind
must be West, and instantly returned to give my captain the desired
information, not a little proud with my success in having obtained it
so soon. But what was my surprise to find that I was not thanked for
my trouble; the company even smiled and winked at each other; the
first lieutenant nodded his head and said, "Rather green yet." The
captain, however, settled the point according to the manners and
customs, in such cases, used at sea. "Here, youngster," said he, "here
is another glass for you; drink that, and then Murphy will show you
what I mean." Murphy was my chaperon; he swallowed his wine--rather _à
gorge déployée_; put down his glass very energetically, and, bowing,
left the room.

When we had got fairly into the hall, we had the following
duet:--"What the h---- brought you back again, you d----d young
greenhorn? Could not you take a hint, and be off, as the captain
intended? So I must lose my wine for such a d----d young whelp as you.
I'll pay you off for this, my tight fellow, before we have been many
weeks together."

I listened to this elegant harangue, with some impatience, and much
more indignation. "I came back," said I, "to tell the captain how the
wind was."

"You be d----d," replied Murphy: "do you think the captain did not
know how the wind was? and if he had wanted to know, don't you think
he would have sent a sailor like me, instead of such a d----d lubberly
whelp as you?"

"As to what the captain meant," said I, "I do not know. I did as I was
bid--but what do you mean by calling me a whelp? I am no more a whelp
than yourself!"

"Oh, you are not, a'n't you?" said Murphy, seizing me by one of my
ears, which he pulled so unmercifully that he altered the shape of it
very considerably, making it something like the leeboard of a Dutch
schuyt.

This was not to be borne; though, as I was but thirteen, he seventeen,
and a very stout fellow, I should rather not have sought an action
with him. But he had begun it: my honour was at stake, and I only
wonder I had not drawn my dirk, and laid him dead at my feet.
Fortunately for him, the rage I was in, made me forget I had it by my
side: though I remembered my uniform, the disgrace brought upon it,
and the admiration of the chambermaid, as well as the salute of the
sentinel, all which formed a combustible in my brain. I went off like
a flash, and darted my fist (the weapon I had been most accustomed to
wield) into the left eye of my adversary, with a force and precision
which Crib would have applauded. Murphy staggered back with the blow,
and for a moment I flattered myself he had had enough of it.

But no--alas, this was a day of disappointments! he had only retreated
to take a spring; he then came on me like the lifeguards at Waterloo,
and his charge was irresistible. I was upset, pummelled, thumped,
kicked, and should probably have been the subject of a coroner's
inquest had not the waiter and chambermaid run in to my rescue. The
tongue of the latter was particularly active in my favour: unluckily
for me, she had no other weapon near her, or it would have gone hard
with Murphy. "Shame!" said she, "for such a great lubberly creature to
beat such a poor, little, innocent, defenceless fellow as that. What
would his mamma say to see him treated so?"

"D----n his mamma, and you too," said Pat, "look at my eye."

"D----n your eye," said the waiter: "it's a pity he had not served the
other one the same way; no more than you deserve for striking a child;
the boy is game, and that's more than you are; he is worth as many of
you, as will stand between this and the iron chair at Barbican."

"I'd like to see him duck'd in it," said the maid.

While this was going on, I had resumed my defensive attitude. I
had never once complained, and had gained the good-will of all the
bystanders, among whom now appeared my captain and his friends. The
blood was streaming from my mouth, and I bore the marks of discipline
from the superior prowess of my enemy, who was a noted pugilist for
his age, and would not have received the hit from me, if he had
supposed my presumption would have led me to attack him. The captain
demanded an explanation. Murphy told the story in his own way, and
gave anything but the true version. I could have beaten him at that,
but truth answered my purpose better than falsehood on this occasion;
so, as soon as he had done, I gave my round unvarnished tale, and,
although defeated in the field, I plainly saw that I had the advantage
of him in the cabinet. Murphy was dismissed in disgrace, and ordered
to rusticate on board till his eye was bright.

"I should have confined you to the ship myself," said the captain,
"but the boy has done it for me; you cannot appear on shore with that
black eye."

As soon as he was gone, I was admonished to be more careful in future.
"You are," said the captain, "like a young bear; all your sorrows are
before you; if you give a blow for every hard name you receive, your
fate in the service may be foreseen: if weak you will be pounded to a
mummy--if strong, you will be hated. A quarrelsome disposition will
make you enemies in every rank you may attain; you will be watched
with a jealous eye, well knowing, as we all do, that the same spirit
of insolence and overbearing which you show in the cockpit, will
follow you to the quarter-deck, and rise with you in the service. This
advice is for your own good; not that I interfere in these things, as
everybody and everything finds its level in a man-of-war; I only wish
you to draw a line between resistance against oppression, which I
admire and respect, and a litigious, uncompromising disposition, which
I despise. Now wash your face and go on board. Try by all means to
conciliate the rest of your messmates, for first impressions are
everything, and rely on it, Murphy's report will not be in your
favour."

This advice was very good, but had the disadvantage of coming too late
for that occasion by at least half an hour. The fracas was owing to
the captain's mismanagement, and the manners and customs of the navy
at the beginning of the nineteenth century. The conversation at the
tables of the higher ranks of the service in those days, unless ladies
were present, was generally such as a boy could not listen to without
injury to his better feelings. I was therefore "hinted off;" but with
due respect to my captain, who is still living, I should have been
sent on board of my ship and cautioned against the bad habits of the
natives of North Corner and Barbican; and if I could not be admitted
to the mysterious conversation of a captain's table, I should have
been told in a clear and decided manner to depart, without the
needless puzzle of an innuendo, which I did not and could not
understand.

I returned on board about eight o'clock, where Murphy had gone before
me, and prepared a reception far from agreeable. Instead of being
welcomed to my berth, I was received with coldness, and I returned to
the quarter-deck, where I walked till I was weary, and then leaned
against a gun. From this temporary alleviation, I was roused by a
voice of thunder, "Lean off that gun." I started up, touched my hat,
and continued my solitary walk, looking now and then at the second
lieutenant, who had thus gruffly addressed me. I felt a dejection of
spirits, a sense of destitution and misery, which I cannot describe. I
had done no wrong, yet I was suffering as if I had committed a crime.
I had been aggrieved, and had vindicated myself as well as I could. I
thought I was among devils, and not men; my thoughts turned homeward.
I remembered my poor mother in her agony of grief, on the sofa; and my
unfeeling heart then found that it needed the soothings of affection.
I could have wept, but I knew not where to go; for I could not be seen
to cry on board of ship. My pride began to be humbled. I felt the
misery of dependence, although not wanting pecuniary resources; and
would have given up all my prospects to have been once more seated
quietly at home.

The first lieutenant came on board soon after, and I heard him
relating my adventure to the second lieutenant. The tide now evidently
turned in my favour. I was invited down to the gun-room, and having
given satisfactory answers to all the questions put to me, Flyblock
was sent for, and I was once more placed under his protection. The
patronage of the first lieutenant, I flattered myself would have
ensured me at least common civility for a short time.

I had now more leisure to contemplate my new residence and new
associates, who, having returned from the duty of the dock-yard, were
all assembled in the berth, seated round the table on the lockers,
which paid "the double debt" of seats and receptacles; but in order to
obtain a sitting, it was requisite either to climb over the backs of
the company, or submit to "high pressure" from the last comer. Such
close contact, even with our best friends, is never desirable; but in
warm weather, in a close, confined air, with a manifest scarcity of
clean linen, it became particularly inconvenient. The population here
very far exceeded the limits usually allotted to human beings in any
situation of life, except in a slave ship. The midshipmen, of whom
there were eight full-grown, and four youngsters, were without either
jackets or waistcoats; some of them had their shirt-sleeves rolled up,
either to prevent the reception or to conceal the absorption of dirt
in the region of the wristbands. The repast on the table consisted of
a can or large black-jack of small beer, and a japan bread-basket full
of sea-biscuit. To compensate for this simple fare, and at the same
time to cool the close atmosphere of the berth, the table was covered
with a large green cloth with a yellow border, and many yellow spots
withal, where the colour had been discharged by slops of vinegar, hot
tea, &c, &c.; a sack of potatoes stood in one corner, and the shelves
all round, and close over our heads, were stuffed with plates,
glasses, quadrants, knives and forks, loaves of sugar, dirty stockings
and shirts, and still fouler table-cloths, small tooth-combs, and
ditto large, clothes brushes and shoe brushes, cocked-hats, dirks,
German flutes, mahogany writing-desks, a plate of salt butter, and
some two or three pairs of naval half-boots. A single candle served to
make darkness visible, and the stench had nearly overpowered me.

The reception I met with tended in no way to relieve these horrible
impressions. A black man, with no other dress than a dirty check shirt
and trousers, not smelling of amber, stood within the door, ready to
obey all and any one of the commands with which he was loaded. The
smell of the towel he held in his hand, to wipe the plates and glasses
with, completed my discomfiture; and I fell sick upon the seat nearest
at me. Recovering from this, without the aid of any "ministering
angel," I contracted the pupils of my eyes, and ventured to look
around me. The first who met my gaze, was my recent foe; he bore the
marks of contention by having his eye bound up with brown paper and a
dirty silk pocket-handkerchief; the other was quickly turned on me;
and, with a savage and brutal countenance, he swore and denounced the
severest vengeance on me for what I had done. In this, he was joined
by another ill-looking fellow, with large whiskers.

I shall not repeat the elegant philippics with which I was greeted.
Suffice it to say that I found all the big ones against me, and the
little ones neuter; the caterer supposing I had received suitable
admonition for my future guidance, and that I was completely bound
over to keep the peace--turned all the youngsters out of the berth.
"As for you, Mr Fistycuff," said he, addressing himself to me, "you
may walk off with the rest of the gang, so make yourself scarce, like
the Highlander's breeches."

The boys all obeyed the command in silence, and I was not sorry to
follow them. As I went out he added, "So, Mr Rumbusticus, you can obey
orders, I see, and it is well for you; for I had a biscuit ready to
shy at your head." This affront, after all I had suffered, I was
forced to pocket; but I could not understand what the admiral could
mean, when he said that people went to sea "to learn manners."

I soon made acquaintance with the younger set of my messmates, and we
retreated to the forecastle as the only part of the ship suitable to
the nature of the conversation we intended to hold. After one hour's
deliberation, and notwithstanding it was the first night I had ever
been on board a ship, I was unanimously elected leader of this little
band. I became the William Tell of the party, as having been the first
to resist the tyranny of the oldsters, and especially of the tyrant
Murphy. I was let into all the secrets of the mess in which the
youngsters were placed by the captain to be instructed and kept in
order. Alas! what instruction did we get but blasphemy? What order
were we kept in, except that of paying our mess, and being forbidden
to partake of those articles which our money had purchased? My blood
boiled when they related all they had suffered, and I vowed I would
sooner die than submit to such treatment.

The hour of bed-time arrived. I was instructed how to get into my
hammock, and laughed at for tumbling out on the opposite side. I was
forced to submit to this pride of conscious superiority of these
urchins who could only boast of a few months' more practical
experience than myself, and who, therefore, called me a greenhorn. But
all this was done in good nature; and after a few hearty laughs from
my companions, I gained the centre of my suspended bed, and was very
soon in a sound sleep. This was only allowed to last till about four
o'clock in the morning, when down came the head of my hammock, and I
fell to the deck, with my feet still hanging in the air, like poor
Sally, when she caught the crab. Stunned and stupefied by the fall,
bewildered by the violent concussion and the novelty of all around me,
I continued in a state of somnambulism, and it was some minutes before
I could recollect myself.

The marine sentinel at the gun-room door seeing what had happened, and
also espying the person to whom I was indebted for this favour, very
kindly came to my assistance. He knotted my lanyard, and restored my
hammock to its place; but he could not persuade me to confide myself
again to such treacherous bedposts, for I thought the rope had broken;
and so strongly did the fear of another tumble possess my mind, that
I took a blanket, and lay down on a chest at some little distance,
keeping a sleepless eye directed to the scene of my late disaster.

This was fortunate; for not many minutes had elapsed, when Murphy, who
had been relieved from the middle watch, came below, and seeing my
hammock again hanging up, and supposing me in it, took out his knife
and cut it down. "So then," said I to myself, "it was you who invaded
my slumbers, and nearly dashed my brains out, and have now made the
second attempt." I vowed to Heaven that I would have revenge; and
I acquitted myself of that vow. Like the North American savage,
crouching lest he should see me, I waited patiently till he had got
into his hammock, and was in a sound sleep. I then gently pushed a
shot-case under the head of his hammock, and placed the corner of it
so as to receive his head; for had it split his skull I should not
have cared, so exasperated was I, and so bent on revenge. Subtle
and silent, I then cut his lanyard: he fell, and his head coming in
contact with the edge of the shot-case, he gave a deep groan, and
there he lay. I instantly retreated to my chest and blanket, where I
pretended to snore, while the sentinel, who, fortunately for me, had
seen Murphy cut me down the first time, came with his lanthorn, and
seeing him apparently dead, removed the shot-case out of the way,
and then ran to the sergeant of marines, desiring him to bring the
surgeon's assistant.

While the sergeant was gone, he whispered softly to me, "Lie still;
I saw the whole of it, and if you are found out, it may go hard with
you."

Murphy, it appeared, had few friends in the ship; all rejoiced at
his accident. I laid very quietly in my blanket while the surgeon's
assistant dressed the wound; and, after a considerable time, succeeded
in restoring the patient to his senses: he was, however, confined a
fortnight to his bed. I was either not suspected, or, if I was, it was
known that I was not the aggressor. The secret was well kept. I gave
the marine a guinea, and took him into my service as _valet de place_.

And now, reader, in justice to myself, allow me to make a few remarks.
They may serve as a palliative, to a certain degree, for that
unprincipled career which the following pages will expose. The
passions of pride and revenge, implanted in our fallen natures, and
which, if not eradicated in the course of my education, ought, at
least, to have lain dormant as long as possible, were, through the
injudicious conduct of those to whom I had been entrusted, called into
action and full activity at a very early age. The moral seeds sown by
my parents, which might have germinated and produced fruit, were
not watered or attended to; weeds had usurped their place, and were
occupying the ground which should have supported them; and at this
period, when the most assiduous cultivation was necessary to procure
a return, into what a situation was I thrown? In a ship crowded with
three hundred men, each of them, or nearly so, cohabiting with an
unfortunate female, in the lowest state of degradation; where oaths
and blasphemy interlarded every sentence; where religion was wholly
neglected, and the only honour paid to the Almighty was a clean shirt
on a Sunday; where implicit obedience to the will of an officer, was
considered of more importance than the observance of the Decalogue;
and the Commandments of God were in a manner abrogated by the Articles
of War--for the first might be broken with impunity, and even with
applause, while the most severe punishment awaited any infraction of
the latter.

So much for the ship in the aggregate; let us now survey the
midshipmen's berth. Here we found the same language and the same
manners, with scarcely one shade more of refinement. Their only
pursuits when on shore were intoxication and worse debauchery, to be
gloried in and boasted of when they returned on board. My captain
said that everything found its level in a man-of-war. True; but in
a midshipman's berth it was the level of a savage, where corporal
strength was the _sine qua non_, and decided whether you were to act
the part of a tyrant or a slave. The discipline of public schools, bad
and demoralizing as it is, was light, compared to the tyranny of a
midshipman's berth in 1802.

A mistaken notion has long prevailed, that boys derive advantages from
suffering under the tyranny of their oppressors at schools; and we
constantly hear the praises of public schools and midshipmen's berths
on this very account--namely, "that boys are taught to find their
level." I do not mean to deny but that the higher orders improve by
collision with their inferiors, and that a young aristocrat is often
brought to his senses by receiving a sound thrashing from the son of a
tradesman. But he that is brought up a slave, will be a tyrant when he
has the power; the worst of our passions are nourished to inflict the
same evil on others which we boast of having suffered ourselves. The
courage and daring spirit of a noble-minded boy is rather broken down
by ill-usage, which he has not the power to resist, or, surmounting
all this, he proudly imbibes a dogged spirit of sullen resistance and
implacable revenge, which become the bane of his future life.

The latter was my fate; and let not my readers be surprised or
shocked, if, in the course of these adventures, I should display some
of the fruits of that fatal seed, so early and so profusely sown in my
bosom. If, on my first coming into the ship, I shrank back with horror
at the sound of blasphemy and obscenity--if I shut my eyes to
the promiscuous intercourse of the sexes, it was not so long. By
insensible degrees, I became familiarised with vice, and callous
to its approach. In a few months I had become nearly as corrupt as
others. I might indeed have resisted longer; but though the fortress
of virtue could have held out against open violence, it could not
withstand the undermining of ridicule. My young companions, who, as I
have observed, had only preceded me six months in the service, were
already grown old in depravity; they laughed at my squeamishness,
called me "milksop" and "boarding-school miss," and soon made me as
bad as themselves. We had not quite attained the age of perpetration,
but we were fully prepared to meet it when it came.

I had not been two days on board, when the youngsters proposed a walk
into the main top. I mounted the rigging with perfect confidence, for
I was always a good climber; but I had not proceeded far, when I was
overtaken by the captain of the top and another man, who, without any
ceremony or preface, seized me by each arm, and very deliberately
lashed me fast in the rigging. They laughed at my remonstrance. I
asked what they meant, and the captain of the top said very civilly
taking off his hat at the same time, "that it was the way all gemmen
were sarved when they first went aloft; and I must pay my footing as a
bit of a parkazite." I looked down to the quarter-deck for assistance,
but every one there was laughing at me; and even the very little
rogues of midshipmen who had enticed me up were enjoying the joke.
Seeing this was the case, I only asked what was to pay. The captain of
the top said a seven shilling bit would be thought handsome. This I
promised to give, and was released on my own recognizances. When I
reached the quarter-deck I paid the money.

Having experienced nothing but cruelty and oppression since I had
been on board, I sorely repented of coming to sea; my only solace was
seeing Murphy, as he lay in his hammock, with his head bound up. This
was a balm to me. "I bide my time," said I; "I will yet be revenged on
all of you;" and so I was. I let none escape: I had them all in their
turns, and glutted my thirst for revenge.

I had been three weeks on board, when the ship was reported ready for
sea. I had acquired the favour of the first lieutenant by a constant
attention to the little duties he gave me to perform. I had been put
into a watch, and stationed in the fore-top, and quartered at the
foremast guns on the main deck. I was told by the youngsters that the
first lieutenant was a harsh officer, and implacable when once he
took a dislike; his manners, however, even when under the greatest
excitement, were always those of a perfect gentleman, and I continued
living on good terms with him. But with the second lieutenant I was
not so fortunate. He had ordered me to take the jolly-boat and bring
off a woman whom he kept; I remonstrated and refused, and from that
moment we never were friends.

Murphy had also recovered from his fall, and returned to his duty;
his malice towards me increased, and I had no peace or comfort in his
presence. One day he threw a biscuit at my head, calling me at the
same time a name which reflected on the legitimacy of my birth, in
language the most coarse and vulgar. In a moment all the admonitions
which I had received, and all my sufferings for impetuosity of temper,
were forgotten; the blood boiled in my veins, and trickled from my
wounded forehead. Dizzy, and almost sightless with rage, I seized a
brass candlestick, the bottom of which (to keep it steady at sea) was
loaded with lead, and threw it at him with all my might; had it taken
effect as I intended, that offence would have been his last. It missed
his head, and struck the black servant on the shoulder; the poor man
went howling to the surgeon, in whose care he remained for many days.

Murphy started up to take instant vengeance, but was held by the other
seniors of the mess, who unanimously declared that such an offence as
mine should be punished in a more solemn manner. A mock trial (without
adverting to the provocation I had received) found me guilty of
insubordination "to the oldsters," and setting a bad example to the
youngsters. I was sentenced to be _cobbed_ with a worsted stocking,
filled with wet sand. I was held down on my face on the mess-table
by four stout midshipmen; the surgeon's assistant held my wrist, to
ascertain if my pulse indicated exhaustion; while Murphy, at his own
particular request, became the executioner. Had it been any other but
him, I should have given vent to my agonizing pain by screams, but
like a sullen Ebo, I was resolved to endure even to death, rather than
gratify him by any expression of pain. After a most severe punishment,
a cold sweat and faintness alarmed the surgeon's assistant. I was then
released, but ordered to mess on my chest for a fortnight by myself.
As soon as I was able to stand, and had recovered my breath, I
declared in the most solemn manner, that a repetition of the offence
should produce the action for which I had suffered, and I would then
appeal to the captain for justice; "and," said I, turning to Murphy,
"it was I who cut down your hammock, and had very nearly knocked out
your brains. I did it in return for your cowardly attack on me; and
I will do it again, if I surfer martyrdom for it; for every act of
tyranny you commit I will have revenge. Try me now, and see if I am
not as good as my word." He grinned, and turned pale, but dared do no
more, for he was a coward.

I was ordered to quit the berth, which I did, and as I went out,
one of the mates observed, that I was "a proper malignant devil, by
G----."

This violent scene produced a sort of cessation from hostilities.
Murphy knew that he might expect a decanter at his head or a knife in
his side, if I was provoked; and that peace which I could not gain
from his compassion, I obtained from his fears. The affair made a
noise in the ship. With the officers in the gun-room I lost ground,
because it was misrepresented. With the men I gained favour, because
they hated Murphy. They saw the truth, and admired me for my
determined resistance.

Sent to Coventry by the officers, I sought the society of the men. I
learned rapidly the practical part of my duty, and profited by the
uncouth criticism of these rough warriors on the defective seamanship
of their superiors. A sort of compact was made between us: they
promised that whenever they deserted, it should not be from my boat
when on duty, and I promised to let them go and drink at public-houses
as long as I could spare them. In spite, however, of this mutual
understanding, two of them violated their faith the night before we
went to sea, and left the boat of which I had charge; and as I had
disobeyed orders in letting them go to a public-house, I was, on my
return to the ship, dismissed from the quarter-deck, and ordered to do
my duty in the fore-top.



Chapter III

  The might of England flush'd
    To anticipate the same;
  And her van the fleeter rush'd
    O'er the deadly space between.
  "Hearts of oak!" our captains cried; when each gun
    From its adamantine lips
    Spread a death-shade round the ships,
    Like the hurricane eclipse
      Of the sun.

  CAMPBELL.


Considering my youth and inexperience, and the trifling neglect
of which I was accused, there are few, even of the most rigid
disciplinarians, who will not admit that I was both unjustly and
unkindly treated by the first lieutenant, who certainly, with all my
respect for him, had lent himself to my enemies. The second lieutenant
and Mr Murphy did not even conceal their feelings on the occasion, but
exulted over my disgrace.

The ship was suddenly ordered to Portsmouth, where the captain, who
had been on leave, was expected to join us, which he did soon after
our arrival, when the first lieutenant made his reports of good and
bad conduct during his absence. I had been about ten days doing duty
in the fore-top, and it was the intention of Mr Handstone, to which
the captain seemed not disinclined, to have given me a flogging at
the gun, as a gratuity for losing the men. This part of the sentence,
however, was not executed. I continued a member of the midshipmen's
mess, but was not allowed to enter the berth: my meals were sent to
me, and I took them _solus_ on my chest. The youngsters spoke to me,
but only by stealth, being afraid of the oldsters, who had sent me to
the most rigid Coventry.

My situation in the fore-top was nearly nominal. I went aloft when the
hands were called, or in my watch, and amused myself with a book until
we went below, unless there was any little duty for me to do, which
did not appear above my strength. The men doated on me as a martyr in
their cause, and delighted in giving me every instruction in the art
of knotting and splicing, rigging, reefing, furling, &c, &c.; and I
honestly own that the happiest hours I had passed in that ship were
during my seclusion among these honest tars.

Whether my enemies discovered this or not, I cannot say; but shortly
after our arrival I was sent for by the captain into his own cabin,
where I received a lecture on my misconduct, both as to my supposed
irritable and quarrelsome disposition, and also for losing the men out
of the boat. "In other respects," he added, "your punishment would
have been much more severe but for your general good conduct; and I
have no doubt, from this little well-timed severity, that you will in
future conduct yourself with more propriety. I therefore release you
from the disgraceful situation in which you are placed, and allow you
to return to your duty on the quarter-deck."

The tears which no brutality or ill-treatment could wring from me, now
flowed in abundance, and it was some minutes before I could recover
myself sufficiently to thank him for his kindness, and to explain the
cause of my disgrace. I told him, that since I had joined the ship I
had been treated like a dog; that he alone had been ignorant of it,
and that he alone had behaved to me with humanity. I then related all
my sufferings, from the moment of that fatal glass of wine up to
the time I was speaking. I did not conceal the act of cutting down
Murphy's hammock, nor of throwing the candlestick at his head. I
assured him I never gave any provocation; that I never struck without
being first stricken. I said, moreover, that I would never receive a
blow or be called an improper name without resenting it, as far as
I was able. It was my nature, and if killed, I could not help it.
"Several men have run away," said I, "since I came into the ship and
before, and the officers under whose charge they were only received a
reprimand, while I, who have just come to sea, have been treated with
the greatest and most degrading severity."

The captain listened to my defence with attention, and I thought
seemed very much struck with it. I afterwards learnt that Mr Handstone
had received a reprimand for his harsh treatment of me; he observed,
that I should one day turn out a shining character, or go to the
devil.

It appeared pretty evident to me, that however I might have roused
the pride and resentment of the senior members of the mess by my
resistance to arbitrary power, that I had gained some powerful
friends, among whom was the captain. Many of the officers admired that
dogged, "don't care" spirit of resistance which I so perseveringly
displayed, and were forced to admit that I had right on my side. I
soon perceived the change of mind by the frequency of invitations to
the cabin and gun-room tables. The youngsters were proud to receive me
again openly as their associate; but the oldsters regarded me with
a jealousy and suspicion like that of an unpopular government to a
favourite radical leader.

I soon arranged with the boys of my own age a plan of resistance, or
rather of self-defence, which proved of great importance in our future
warfare. One or two of them had nerve enough to follow it up: the
others made fair promises, but fell off in the hour of trial. My code
consisted of only two maxims: the first was always to throw a bottle,
decanter, candlestick, knife, or fork, at the head of any person who
should strike one of us, if the assailant should appear too strong to
encounter in fair fight. The second was, never to allow ourselves to
be unjustly defrauded of our rights; to have an equal share of what we
paid equally for; and to gain by artifice that which was withheld by
force.

I explained to them that by the first plan we should ensure civility,
at least; for as tyrants are generally cowards, they would be afraid
to provoke that anger which in some unlucky moment might be fatal to
them, or maim them for life. By the second, I promised to procure them
an equal share in the good things of this life, the greater part of
which the oldsters engrossed to themselves: in this latter we were
much more unanimous than the former, as it incurred less personal
risk. I was the projector of all the schemes for forage, and was
generally successful.

At length we sailed to join the fleet off Cadiz, under the command of
Lord Nelson. I shall not pretend to describe the passage down Channel
and across the Bay of Biscay. I was sea-sick as a lady in a Dover
packet, until inured to the motion of the ship by the merciless calls
to my duties aloft, or to relieve the deck in my watch.

We reached our station, and joined the immortal Nelson but a few hours
before that battle in which he lost his life and saved his country.
The history of that important day has been so often and so
circumstantially related, that I cannot add much more to the stock
on hand. I am only astonished, seeing the confusion and _invariable
variableness_ of a sea-light, how so much could be known. One
observation occurred to me then, and I have thought of it ever since
with redoubled conviction; this was, that the admiral, after the
battle began, was no admiral at all: he could neither see nor be seen;
he could take no advantage of the enemy's weak points or defend his
own; his ship, the _Victory_, one of our finest three-deckers, was, in
a manner, tied up alongside a French eighty-gun ship.

These observations I have read in some naval work, and in my mind
they receive ample confirmation. I could not help feeling an agony of
anxiety (young as I was) for my country's glory, when I saw the noble
leaders of our two lines exposed to the united fire of so many ships.
I thought Nelson was too much exposed, and think so now. Experience
has confirmed what youthful fancy suggested; the enemy's centre should
have been _macadamized_ by our seven three-deckers, some of which, by
being placed in the rear, had little share in the action; and but for
the intimidation which their presence afforded, might as well have
been at Spithead. I mean no reflection on the officers who had charge
of them: accidental concurrence of light wind and station in the line,
threw them at such a distance from the enemy as kept them in the back
ground the greater part of the day.

Others, again, were in enviable situations, but did not, as far as I
could learn from the officers, do quite so much as they might have
done. This defect on our part being met by equal disadvantages,
arising from nearly similar causes, on that of the enemy, a clear
victory remained to us. The aggregate of the British navy is brave and
good; and we must admit that in this day "when England expected
every man to do his duty," there were but few who disappointed their
country's hopes.

When the immortal signal was communicated, I shall never, no, never,
forget the electric effect it produced through the fleet. I can
compare it to nothing so justly as to a match laid to a long train of
gunpowder; and as Englishmen are the same, the same feeling, the same
enthusiasm, was displayed in every ship; tears ran down the cheeks of
many a noble fellow when the affecting sentence was made known.
It recalled every past enjoyment, and filled the mind with fond
anticipations which, with many, were never, alas! to be realised. They
went down to their guns without confusion; and a cool, deliberate
courage from that moment seemed to rest on the countenance of every
man I saw.

My captain, though not in the line, was no niggard in the matter of
shot, and though he had no real business to come within range until
called by signal, still he thought it his duty to be as near to our
ships engaged as possible, in order to afford them assistance when
required. I was stationed at the foremost guns on the main deck, and
the ship cleared for action; and though on a comparatively small
scale, I cannot imagine a more solemn, grand, or impressive sight,
than a ship prepared as ours was on that occasion. Her noble tier of
guns, in a line gently curving out towards the centre; the tackle laid
across the deck; the shot and wads prepared in ample store (round,
grape, and canister); the powder-boys, each with his box full, seated
on it, with perfect apparent indifference as to the approaching
conflict. The captains of guns, with their priming boxes buckled round
their waists; the locks fixed upon the guns; the lanyards laid around
them; the officers, with their swords drawn, standing by their
respective divisions.

The quarter-deck was commanded by the captain in person, assisted by
the first lieutenant, the lieutenant of marines, a party of small-arm
men, with the mate and midshipmen, and a portion of seamen to attend
the braces and fight the quarter-deck guns. The boatswain was on the
forecastle; the gunner in the magazine, to send up a supply of powder
to the guns; the carpenter watched and reported, from time to time,
the depth of water in the well; he also walked round the wings or
vacant spaces between the ship's side and the cables, and other
stores. He was attended by his mates, who were provided with
shot-plugs, oakum, and tallow, to stop any shot-holes which might be
made.

The surgeon was in the cockpit with his assistants. The knives, saws,
tourniquets, sponges, basins, wine and water, were all displayed and
ready for the first unlucky patient that might be presented. This was
more awful to me than anything I had seen. "How soon," thought I, "may
I be stretched, mangled and bleeding, on this table, and have occasion
for all the skill and all the instruments I now see before me!" I
turned away, and endeavoured to forget it all.

As soon as the fleet bore up to engage the enemy, we did the same,
keeping as near as we could to the admiral, whose signals we were
ordered to repeat. I was particularly astonished with the skilful
manner in which this was done. It was wonderful to see how
instantaneously the same flags were displayed at our mast-heads as had
been hoisted by the admiral; and the more wonderful this appeared to
me, since his flags were rolled up in round balls, which were not
broken loose until they had reached the mast-head, so that the signal
officers of a repeater had to make out the number of the flag during
its passage aloft in disguise. This was done by the power of good
telescopes, and from habit, and sometimes by anticipation of the
signal that would be next made.

The reader may perhaps not be aware that among civilised nations, in
naval warfare, ships of the line never fire at frigates, unless they
provoke hostility by interposing between belligerent ships, or firing
into them, as was the case in the Nile, when Sir James Saumarez, in
the _Orion_, was under the necessity of sinking the _Artemise_, which
he did with one broadside, as a reward for her temerity. Under this
_pax in bellum_ sort of compact we might have come off scot-free, had
we not partaken very liberally of the shot intended for larger ships,
which did serious damage among our people.

The two British lines running down parallel to each other, and nearly
perpendicular to the crescent line of the combined fleets, was the
grandest sight that was ever witnessed. As soon as our van was within
gun-shot of the enemy, they opened their fire on the _Royal Sovereign_
and the _Victory_; but when the first-named of these noble ships
rounded to, under the stern of the _Santa Anna_, and the _Victory_ had
very soon after laid herself on board the _Redoubtable_, the clouds
of smoke enveloped both fleets, and little was to be seen except the
falling of masts, and here and there, as the smoke blew away, a ship
totally dismasted.

One of these proved to be English, and our captain, seeing her between
two of the enemy, bore up to take her in tow: at the same time, one
of our ships of the line opened a heavy fire on one of the French
line-of-battle ships, unluckily situated in a right line between us,
so that the shot which missed the enemy sometimes came on board of us.
I was looking out of the bow port at the moment that a shot struck our
ship on the stern between wind and water. It was the first time I had
ever seen the effect of a heavy shot; it made a great splash, and to
me as I then thought, a very unusual noise, throwing a great deal of
water in my face. I very naturally started back, as I believe many a
brave fellow has done. Two of the seamen quartered at my guns laughed
at me. I felt ashamed, and resolved to show no more such weakness.

This shot was very soon succeeded by some others not quite so
harmless: one came into the bow port, and killed the two men who had
witnessed my trepidation. My pride having been hurt that these men
should have seen me flinch, I will own that I was secretly pleased
when I saw them removed beyond the reach of human interrogation. It
would be difficult to describe my feelings on this occasion. Not six
weeks before, I was the robber of hen-roosts and gardens--the hero of
a horse-pond, ducking an usher--now suddenly, and almost without any
previous warning or reflection, placed in the midst of carnage, and an
actor of one of those grand events by which the fate of the civilised
world was to be decided.

A quickened circulation of blood, a fear of immediate death, and a
still greater fear of shame, forced me to an involuntary and frequent
change of position; and it required some time, and the best powers of
intellect, to reason myself into that frame of mind in which I could
feel as safe and as unconcerned as if we had been in harbour. To this
state I at last did attain, and soon felt ashamed of the perturbation
under which I had laboured before the firing began. I prayed, it is
true: but my prayer was not that of faith, of trust, or of hope--I
prayed only for safety from imminent personal danger; and my orisons
consisted of one or two short, pious ejaculations, without a thought
of repentance for the past or amendment for the future.

But when we had once got fairly into action, I felt no more of
this, and beheld a poor creature cut in two by a shot with the same
indifference that at any other time I should have seen a butcher kill
an ox. Whether my heart was bad or not, I cannot say; but I certainly
felt my curiosity was gratified more than my feelings were shocked
when a raking shot killed seven and wounded three more. I was sorry
for the men, and, for the world, would not have injured them; but
I had a philosophic turn of mind; I liked to judge of causes and
effects; and I was secretly pleased at seeing the effect of a raking
shot.

Towards four P.M. the firing began to abate, the smoke cleared away,
and the calm sea became ruffled with an increasing breeze. The two
hostile fleets were quiet spectators of each other's disasters. We
retained possession of nineteen or twenty sail of the line. Some of
the enemy's ships were seen running away into Cadiz; while four others
passed to windward of our fleet, and made their escape. A boat going
from our ship to one near us, I jumped into her, and learned the death
of Lord Nelson, which I communicated to the captain, who, after paying
a tribute to the memory of that great man, looked at me with much
complacency. I was the only youngster that had been particularly
active, and he immediately despatched me with a message to a ship at
a short distance. The first lieutenant asked if he should not send an
officer of more experience. "No," said the captain, "he shall go; the
boy knows very well what he is about!" and away I went, not a little
proud of the confidence placed in me.

Further details of this eventful day are to be found recorded in our
national histories; it will, therefore, be needless to repeat them
here. When I met my messmates at supper in the berth, I was sorry to
see Murphy among them. I had flattered myself that some fortunate shot
would have for ever divested me of any further care on his account;
but his time was not come.

"The devil has had a fine haul to-day!" said an old master's mate, as
he took up his glass of grog.

"Pity you, and some others I could name, had not been in the net!"
thinks I to myself.

"I hope plenty of the lieutenants are bowled out!" said another; "we
shall stand some chance then of a little promotion!"

When the hands were turned up to muster, the number of killed amounted
to nine, and wounded to thirteen. When this was made known, there
seemed to be a general smile of congratulation at the number fallen,
rather than of their regret for their loss. The vanity of the officers
seemed tickled at the disproportionate slaughter in a frigate of our
size, as compared to what they had heard the ships of the line had
suffered.

I attended the surgeon in the steerage, to which place the wounded
were removed, and saw all the amputations performed, without
flinching; while men who had behaved well in the action fainted at
the sight. I am afraid I almost took a pleasure in observing the
operations of the surgeon, without once reflecting on the pain
suffered by the patient. Habit had now begun to corrupt my mind. I was
not cruel by nature; I loved the deep investigation of hidden things;
and this day's action gave me a very clear insight into the anatomy
of the human frame, which I had seen cut in two by shot, lacerated by
splinters, carved out with knives, and separated with saws.

Soon after the action, we were ordered to Spithead, with duplicate
despatches. One morning I heard a midshipman say, "he would do his old
father out of a new kit." I inquired what that meant, was first called
a greenhorn for not knowing, and then had it explained to me. "Don't
you know," said my instructor, "that after every action there is more
canvas, rope, and paint, expended in the warrant-officer's accounts
than were destroyed by the enemy?"

I assented to this on the credit of the informer, without knowing
whether it was true or false, and he proceeded. "How are we to have
white hammock-clothes, sky-sail masts, and all other finery, besides a
coat of paint for the ship's sides every six weeks, if we don't expend
all these things in action, and pretend they were lost overboard, or
destroyed? The list of defects are given in to the admiral, he signs
the demand, and the old commissioner must come down with the stores,
whether he will or not. I was once in a sloop of war, when a large
forty-four-gun frigate ran on board of us, carried away her jib-boom,
and left her large fine-weather jib hanging on our foreyard. It was
made of beautiful Russia duck, and to be sure, didn't we make a gang
of white hammock-cloths, fore and aft, besides white trousers for the
men? Well now, you must know, that as we make _Uncle George_ suffer
for the stores, so I mean to make dad suffer for my traps. I mean to
lose my chest overboard with all my 'kit,' and return home to him and
the old woman just fit for the fashion."

"And do you really mean to deceive your father and mother in that
way?" replied I, with much apparent innocence.

"Do I? to be sure I do, you flat. How am I to keep up my stock, if I
don't make the proper use of an action like this that we have been
in?"

I took the hint: it never once occurred to me, that if I had fairly
and candidly stated to my parents that my stock of clothes were
insufficient for my appearance as a gentleman on the quarter-deck,
that they would cheerfully have increased it to any reasonable extent.
But I had been taught artifice and cunning; I could tell the truth
where I thought it served my purpose, as well as a lie; but here I
thought deception was a proof at once of spirit and of merit; and I
resolved to practise it, if only to raise myself a trifling degree
in the estimation of my unworthy associates. I had become partial to
deception from habit, and preferred exercising my own ingenuity
in outwitting my father, to obtaining what I needed by more
straightforward and honourable measures.

The ship needed some repairs, and by the indulgence of the captain,
who was pleased with my conduct, I, who required so much instruction
in the nature and cause of her defects, was allowed to be absent while
they were made good. By this oversight, I lost all that improvement
which I should have gained by close attention to the unrigging or
shipping of the ship; the manner of returning her stores; taking out
her masts and ballast, and seeing her taken into dock; the shape of
her bottom, and the good or bad qualities which might be supposed to
accelerate or retard her movements. All this was sacrificed to the
impatience of seeing my parents; to the vainglory of boasting of the
action in which I had been present; and, perhaps, of being encouraged
to tell lies of things which I never saw, and to talk of feats which I
never performed. I loved effect; and I timed the moment of my return
to my father's house (through a correspondence with my sister) to be
just as a large party had sat down to a sumptuous dinner. I had only
been absent three months, it is true; but it was my first cruise,
and then "I had seen so much, and been in such very interesting
situations."



Chapter IV

    'Twill be time to go home. What shall I say I have done? It must
    be a very plausive invention that carries it. I find my tongue is
    too foolhardy.--SHAKESPEARE.


Reaching the well known mansion of my father, I knocked softly at the
front door, was admitted, and, without saying a word to the servant,
rushed to the head of the dining-room table, and threw my arms round
my mother's neck, who only screamed, "Good heavens, my child!" and
fell into hysterics. My father, who was in the very midst of helping
his soup, jumped up to embrace me and assist my mother. The company
all rose, like a covey of partridges: one lady spoiled a new pink
satin gown by a tip of the elbow from her next neighbour, just as a
spoonful of soup had reached "the rosy portals of her mouth;" the
little spaniel, Carlo, set up a loud and incessant bark; and in one
minute the whole comely arrangement of the feast was converted into
anarchy and confusion.

Order was, however, soon restored: my mother recovered her
composure--my father shook me by the hand--the company all agreed that
I was a very fine, interesting boy--the ladies resumed their seats,
and I had the satisfaction to observe that my sudden appearance had
not deprived them of their appetites. I soon convinced them that
in this particular, at least, I also was in high training. My
midshipman's life had neither disqualified nor disgusted me with the
luxuries of the table; nor did I manifest the slightest backwardness
or diffidence when invited by the gentlemen to take wine. I answered
every question with such fluency of speech, and such compound interest
of words, as sometimes caused the propounder to regret that he had put
me to the trouble of speaking.

I gave a very florid description of the fight; praised some admirals
and captains for their bravery, sneered at others, and accused a few
of right down misconduct. Now and then, by way of carrying conviction
into my auditors' very souls, I rammed home my charges with an oath,
at which my father looked grave, my mother held up her finger, the
gentlemen laughed, and the ladies all said with a smile, "Sweet
boy!--what animation!--what sense!--what discernment!" Thinks I to
myself, "You are as complete a set of gulls as ever picked up a bit of
biscuit!"

Next morning, while my recent arrival was still warm, I broke the
subject of my chest to my father and mother at breakfast; indeed, my
father, very fortunately for me, began by inquiring how my stock of
clothes held out.

"Bad enough," said I, as I demolished the third egg, for I still had a
good appetite at breakfast.

"Bad enough!" repeated my father, "why you were extremely well fitted
with everything."

"Very true, sir," said I; "but then you don't know what a man-of-war
is in clearing for action; everything not too hot or too heavy is
chucked overboard with as little ceremony as I swallow this muffin.
'Whose hat-box is this?' 'Mr Spratt's, sir.' 'D----n Mr Spratt, I'll
teach him to keep his hat-box safe another time; over with it'--and
away it went over the lee gangway. Spratt's father was a hatter in
Bond Street, so we all laughed."

"And pray, Frank," said my mother, "did your box go in the same way?"

"It kept company, I assure you. I watched them go astern, with tears
in my eyes, thinking how angry you would be."

"Well, but the chest, Frank, what became of the chest? You said that
the Vandals had some respect for heavy objects, and yours, I am sure,
to my cost, had very considerable specific gravity."

"That's very true, sir; but you have no notion how much it was
lightened the first day the ship got to sea. I was lying on it as sick
as a whale--the first lieutenant and mate of the lower deck came down
to see if the men's berths were clean; I, and my Noah's ark, lay slap
in the way--'Who have we here?' said Mr Handstone. 'Only Mr Mildmay,
and his chest, sir,' said the sergeant of marines, into whose
territory I acknowledged I had made very considerable incroachments.
'Only!' repeated the lieutenant, 'I thought it had been one of the
big stones for the new bridge, and the owner of it a drunken Irish
hodman.' I was too sick to care much about what they said."

"You forget your breakfast," said my sister.

"I'll thank you for another muffin, and another cup of coffee," said
I.

"Poor fellow!" said my mother, "what he must have suffered!"

"Oh! I have not told you half yet, my dear mother; I only wonder I am
alive."

"Alive, indeed!" said my Aunt Julia; "here, my dear, here is a small
trifle to help you to replenish the stock you have lost in the service
of your country. Noble little fellow! what should we do without
sailors?"

I pocketed the little donation--it was a ten-pounder; finished my
breakfast, by adding a slice of ham and half a French roll to the
articles already shipped, and then continued my story. "The first
thing Mr Handstone said, was, that my chest was too big; and the next
thing he said, was, 'tell the carpenter I want him. Here, Mr Adze,
take this chest; reduce it one foot in length, and one in height.'
'Ay, ay, sir,' said Adze; 'come, young gentleman, move off, and give
me your key.' Sick as I was, I knew remonstrance or prayer were alike
useless, so I crawled off and presented my key to the carpenter, who
very deliberately unlocked, and as expeditiously unloaded all my
treasure. The midshipmen all gathered round. The jars of preserves and
the cakes of gingerbread which you, my dearest mother, had so nicely
packed up for me, were seized with greediness, and devoured before my
face. One of them thrust his filthy paw into a pot of black currant
jelly, which you gave me for a sore throat, and held a handful of it
to my mouth, knowing at the same time that I was ready to be sea-sick
in his hand."

"I shall never bear the sight of jelly again," said my sister.

"The nasty brutes!" said my aunt.

"Well," I resumed, "all my nice things went; and, sick as I was, I
wished them gone; but when they laughed and spoke disrespectfully of
you, my dear mother, I was ready to fly up and tear their eyes out."

"Never mind, my dear boy," said my mother, "we will make all right
again."

"So I suppose we must," said my father; "but no more jelly and
ginger-bread, if you please, my dear. Proceed with your story, Frank."

"Well, sir, in half-an-hour my chest was ready for me again; but while
they were about it, they might have taken off another foot, for I
found ample space to stow what the plunderers had left. The preserve
jars, being all empty, were given of course to the marines; and some
other heavy articles being handed away, I was no longer puzzled how
to stow them. After this, you know, sir, we had the action, and then
chest and bedding and all went to the ----."

"Do they throw all the chests and bedding overboard on these
occasions?" said my father, with a cool and steady gaze in my face,
which I had some trouble in facing back again.

"Yes; always everything that is in the way, and my chest was in the
way, and away it went. You know, sir, I could not knock down the first
lieutenant: they would have hanged me at the yard-arm."

"Thank Heaven, you did not, my love," said my mother; "what _has_
happened can be repaired, but _that_ could never have been got over.
And your books, what is become of them?"

"All went in the lump. They are somewhere near the entrance of the Gut
of Gibraltar--all lost except my Bible: I saved that, as I happened to
be reading it in my berth the night before the action!"

"Excellent boy!" exclaimed my mother and aunt both together; "I am
sure he speaks the truth."

"I hope he does," said my father, drily; "though it must be owned that
these sea-fights, however glorious for Old England, are very expensive
amusements to the parents of young midshipmen, unless the boys happen
to be knocked on the head."

Whether my father began to smell a rat, or whether he was afraid of
putting more questions, for fear of hearing more fibs, I know not, but
I was not sorry when the narrative was concluded, and I dismissed with
flying colours.

To my shame be it spoken, the Bible that assisted me so much in my
mother's opinion, had never but once been opened since I had left
home, and that was to examine if there were any bank-notes between the
leaves, having heard of such things being done, merely to try whether
young gentlemen did "search the Scriptures."

My demands were all made good. I believe with the greater celerity, as
I began to grow very tiresome; my _sea_ manners were not congenial to
the drawing-room. My mother, aunt, and sister, were very different
from the females I had been in the habit of seeing on board the
frigate. My oaths and treatment of the servants, male and female, all
conspired to reconcile the family to my departure. They therefore
heard with pleasure that my leave was expired; and, having obtained
all I wanted, I did not care one pin how soon I got clear of them;
so when the coach came to the door, I jumped in, drove to the Golden
Cross, and the next morning rejoined my ship.

I was received with cheerfulness and cordiality by most of my
shipmates, except Murphy and some of his cronies; nor did one feeling
of regret or compunction enter my mind for the lies and hypocrisy with
which I had deceived and cheated my parents. The reader will probably
be aware that except the circumstance of reducing the size of my
chest, and the seizure and confiscation of my jars and gingerbread,
there was scarcely a vestige of truth in my story. That I had lost
most of my things was most true; but they were lost by my own
carelessness, and not by being thrown overboard. After losing the key
of my chest, which happened the day I joined, a rapid decrease of my
stock convinced the first lieutenant that a much smaller package might
be made of the remainder, and this was the sole cause of my chest
being converted into a razée.

My fresh stock of clothes I brought down in a trunk, which I found
very handy, and contrived to keep in better order than I had formerly
done. The money given me to procure more bedding, I pocketed: indeed
I began to grow cunning. I perceived that the best-dressed midshipmen
had always the most pleasant duties to perform. I was sent to bring
off parties of ladies who came to visit the ship, and to dine with the
captain and officers. I had a tolerably good address, and was reckoned
a very handsome boy; and though stout of my age, the ladies admitted
me to great freedom under pretence of my being still a dear little
darling of a middy, and so perfectly innocent in my mind and manners.
The fact is, I was kept in much better order on board my ship than I
was in my father's house--so much for the habit of discipline; but
this was all outside show. My father was a man of talent, and knew the
world, but he knew nothing of the navy; and when I had got him out of
his depth, I served him as I did the usher: that is, I soused him and
his company head over heels in the horse-pond of their own ignorance.
Such is the power of local knowledge and cunning over abstruse science
and experience.

So much assurance had I acquired by my recent success in town, that
my self-confidence was increased to an incredible degree. My apparent
candour, impudence, and readiness gave a currency to the coinings of
my brain which far surpassed the dull matter-of-fact of my unwary
contemporaries.

Of my boyish days, I have now almost said enough. The adventures of
a midshipman, during the first three years of his probationary life,
might, if fully detailed, disgust more than amuse, and corrupt more
than they would improve; I therefore pass on to the age of sixteen,
when my person assumed an outline of which I had great reason to be
proud, since I often heard it the subject of encomium among the fair
sex, and their award was confirmed even by my companions.

My mind kept pace with my person in every acquirement save those of
morality and religion. In these, alas! I became daily more and more
deficient, and for a time lost sight of them altogether. The manly,
athletic frame, and noble countenance, with which I was blessed,
served to render me only more like a painted sepulchre--all was foul
within. Like a beautiful snake, whose poison is concealed under the
gold and azure of its scales, my inward man was made up of pride,
revenge, deceit, and selfishness, and my best talents were generally
applied to the worst purposes.

In the knowledge of my profession I made rapid progress, because I
delighted in it, and because my mind, active and elastic as my body,
required and fed on scientific research. I soon became an expert
navigator and a good practical seaman, and all this I acquired by
my own application. We had no schoolmaster; and while the other
youngsters learned how to work a common day's work from the
instruction of the older midshipmen, I, who was no favourite with the
latter, was rejected from their coteries. I determined, therefore, to
supply the deficiency myself, and this I was enabled to do by the help
of a good education. I had been well grounded in mathematics, and was
far advanced in Euclid and algebra, previous to leaving school: thus I
had a vast superiority over my companions.

The great difficulty was to renew my application to study, after many
months of idleness. This, however, I accomplished, and after having
been one year at sea, kept a good reckoning and sent in my day's work
to the captain. The want of instruction which I first felt in the
study of navigation, proved in the end of great service to me: I was
forced to study more intensely, and to comprehend the principles
on which I founded my theory, so that I was prepared to prove by
mathematical demonstration, what others could only assert who worked
by "inspection."

The pride of surpassing my seniors, and the hope of exposing their
ignorance, stimulated me to inquiry, and roused me to application. The
books which I had reported lost to my father, were handed out from the
bottom of my chest, and read with avidity: many others I borrowed from
the officers, whom I must do the justice to say, not only lent them
with cheerfulness, but offered me the use of their cabin to study in.

Thus I acquired a taste for reading. I renewed my acquaintance with
the classic authors. Horace and Virgil, licentious but alluring, drove
me back to the study of Latin, and fixed in my mind a knowledge of the
dead languages, at the expense of my morals. Whether the exchange were
profitable or not, is left to wiser heads than mine to decide; my
business is with facts only.

Thus, while the ungenerous malice of the elder midshipmen thought to
have injured me by leaving me in ignorance, they did me the greatest
possible service, by throwing me on my own resources. I continued on
pretty nearly the same terms with my shipmates to the last. With some
of the mess-room officers I was still in disgrace, and was always
disliked by the oldsters in my own mess; with the younger midshipmen
and the foremast men I was a favourite. I was too proud to be a
tyrant, and the same feeling prevented my submitting to tyranny. As I
increased in strength and stature, I showed more determined resistance
to arbitrary power: an occasional turn-up with boys of my own size
(for the best friends will quarrel), and the supernumerary midshipmen
sent on board for a passage, generally ended in establishing my
dominion or insuring for me a peaceable neutrality.

I became a scientific pugilist, and now and then took a brush with an
oldster; and although overpowered, yet I displayed so much prowess,
that my enemies became cautious how they renewed a struggle which they
perceived became daily more arduous; till at last, like the lion's
whelp, my play ceased to be a joke, and I was left to enjoy that
tranquillity, which few found it safe or convenient to disturb. By
degrees the balance of power was fairly established, and even Murphy
was awed into civil silence.

In addition to my well known increase in personal strength, I acquired
a still greater superiority over my companions by the advantage of
education; and this I took great care to make them feel on every
occasion. I was appealed to in all cases of literary disputation, and
was, by general consent, the umpire of the steerage. I was termed
"good company,"--not always to the advantage of the possessor of such
a talent; for it often tends, as it did with me, to lead into very bad
company. I had a fine voice, and played on one or two instruments.
This frequently procured me invitations to the gun-room, and excuses
from duty, together with more wine or grog than was of service to me,
and conversation that I had better not have heard.

We were ordered on a cruise to the coast of France; and as the junior
port-admiral had a spite against our captain, he swore by ---- that
go we should, ready or not ready. Our signal was made to weigh, while
lighters of provisions, and the powder-boy with our powder, were lying
alongside--the quarter-deck guns all adrift, and not even mounted. Gun
after gun from the _Royal William_ was repeated by the _Gladiator_,
the flag-ship of the harbour-admiral, and with our signal to part
company.

The captain, not knowing how the story might travel up by telegraph to
London, and conscious, perhaps, that he had left a little too much
to the first lieutenant, "tore the ship away by the hair of the
head"--unmoored, bundled everything in upon deck out of the
lighters--turned all the women out of the ship, except five or six of
the most abandoned--and, with a strong northerly wind, ran down
to Yarmouth Roads, and through the Needles to sea, in a state of
confusion and disaster which I hope never to see again.

The rear-admiral, Sir Hurricane Humbug, stood on the platform looking
at us (I was afterwards told), and was heard to exclaim, "D----n his
eyes" (meaning our captain), "there he goes at last! I was afraid that
that fellow would have grounded on his beef bones before we should
have got him out!"

"The more haste the less speed," is oftener true in naval affairs than
in any other situation of life. With us it had nearly proved fatal to
the ship. Had we met with an enemy, we must either have disgraced the
flag by running away, or been taken.

No sooner clear of the Needles than night came on, and with it a heavy
gale of wind at north-north-west. The officers and men were at work
till four in the morning, securing the boats, booms, and anchors,
clearing the decks of provisions, and setting up the lower rigging,
which by the labour of the ship, had begun to stretch to an alarming
degree; by great exertion this was accomplished, and the guns secured
before the gale had increased to a hurricane.

About nine the next morning, a poor marine, a recruit from Portsmouth,
unfortunately fell overboard; and though many brave fellows instantly
jumped into one of the quarter-boats, and begged to be lowered down to
save him, the captain, who was a cool calculator, thought the chance
of losing seven men was greater than that of saving one, so the poor
fellow was left to his fate. The ship, it is true, was hove to; but
she drifted to leeward much faster than the unfortunate man could
swim, though he was one of the best swimmers I ever beheld.

It was heart-breaking to see the manly but ineffectual exertions made
by this gallant youth to regain the ship; but all his powers only
served to prolong his misery. We saw him nearly a mile to windward,
at one moment riding on the top of the mountainous wave, at the next,
sinking into the deep valley between, till at last we saw him no more!
His sad fate was long deplored in the ship. I thought at the time that
the captain was cruel in not sending a boat for him; but I am now
convinced, from experience, that he submitted only to hard necessity,
and chose the lesser evil of the two.

The fate of this young man was a serious warning to me. I had
become, from habit, so extremely active, and fond of displaying my
newly-acquired gymnastics, called by the sailors "sky-larking" that my
speedy exit was often prognosticated by the old quarter-masters, and
even by the officers. It was clearly understood that I was either to
be drowned or was to break my neck; for the latter I took my chance
pretty fairly, going up and down the rigging like a monkey. Few of the
topmen could equal me in speed, still fewer surpass me in feats of
daring activity. I could run along the topsail yards out to the
yard-arm, go from one mast to the other by the stays, or down on deck
in the twinkling of an eye by the topsail halyards; and, as I knew
myself to be an expert swimmer, I cared little about the chance of
being drowned; but when I witnessed the fate of the poor marine, who I
saw could swim as well, if not better than myself, I became much more
cautious. I perceived that there might be situations in which swimming
could be of no use; and however beloved I might have been by the
sailors, it was evident that, even if they had the inclination, they
might not always have the power to relieve me: from this time, I
became much more guarded in my movements aloft.

A circumstance occurred shortly after we got to sea which afforded
me infinite satisfaction. Murphy, whose disposition led him to bully
every one whom he thought he could master, fixed a quarrel on a very
quiet, gentlemanly young man, a supernumerary midshipman, who had
come on board for a passage to his own ship, then down in the Bay of
Biscay. The young man, resenting this improper behaviour, challenged
Murphy to fight, and the challenge was accepted; but as the
supernumerary was engaged to dine with the captain, he proposed that
the meeting should not take place till after dinner, not wishing to
exhibit a black eye at the captain's table. This was considered by
Murphy as an evasion; and he added further insult by saying that he
supposed his antagonist wanted Dutch courage, and that if he did not
get wine enough in the cabin, he would not fight at all.

The high-spirited youth made no reply to this insolence; but, having
dressed himself, went up to dinner; that over, and after the muster at
quarters, he called Mr Murphy into the steerage, and gave him as sound
a drubbing as he ever received in his life. The fight, or set-to,
lasted only a quarter of an hour, and the young supernumerary
displayed so much science, and such a thorough use of his fists, as to
defy the brutal force of his opponent, who could not touch him, and
who was glad to retreat to his berth, followed by the groans and
hisses of all the midshipmen, in which I most cordially joined.

After so clear a proof of the advantages of the science of
self-defence, I determined to acquire it; and, with the young stranger
for my tutor, I soon became a proficient in the art of boxing, and
able to cope with Murphy and his supporters.

There was a part of my duty which, I am free to confess, I hated: this
was keeping watch at night. I loved sleep, and, after ten o'clock, I
could not keep my eyes open. Neither the buckets of water which were
so liberally poured over me by the midshipmen, under the facetious
appellation of "blowing the grampus," nor any expostulation or
punishments inflicted on me by the first lieutenant could rouse my
_dormant_ energies after the first half of the watch was expired. I
was one of the most determined votaries of Somnus; and for his sake,
endured every sort of persecution. The first lieutenant took me into
his watch, and tried every means, both of mildness and coercion, to
break me of this evil habit. I was sure, however, to escape from him,
and to conceal myself in some hole or corner, where I slept out the
remainder of the watch; and the next morning, I was, as regularly,
mast-headed, to do penance during the greater part of the day for
my deeds of darkness. I believe that of the first two years of my
servitude, one-half of my waking hours, at least, were passed aloft.

I took care, however, to provide myself with books, and, on the whole,
was perhaps better employed than I should have been in my berth below.
Handstone, though a martinet, was a gentleman; and as he felt a great
interest in the young officers in the ship, so he took much pains in
the instruction and improvement of them. He frequently expostulated
with me on the great impropriety of my conduct; my answer invariably
was, that I was as sensible of it as he could be, but that I could
not help it; that I deserved all the punishment I met with, and threw
myself entirely on his mercy. He used frequently to call me over to
the weather side of the deck, when he would converse with me on any
topic which he thought might interest or amuse me. Finding I was
tolerably well read in history, he asked my opinion, and gave me his
own with great good sense and judgment; but such was the irresistible
weight of my eyelids, that I used, when he was in the midst of a long
dissertation, to slip down the gangway-ladder and leave him to finish
his discourses to the wind.

Now, when this occurred, I was more severely punished than on any
other occasion; for, to the neglect of duty, I added contempt both of
his rank and the instruction he was offering to me. His wrath was also
considerably increased when he only discovered my departure by the
tittering of the other midshipmen and the quarter-master at the conn.

One evening, I completed my disgrace with him, though a great deal
might be said in my own favour. He had sent me to the fore-topmast
head, at seven o'clock in the morning, and very unfeelingly, or
forgetfully, kept me there the whole day. When he went off deck to his
dinner, I came down into the top, made a bed for myself in one of the
top-gallant studding sails, and, desiring the man who had the look-out
to call me before the lieutenant was likely to come on deck, I very
quietly began to prepare a sacrifice to my favourite deity, Somnus;
but as the look-out man did not see the lieutenant come up, I was
caught napping just at dusk, when the lieutenant came on deck, and
did me the honour to remember where he had left me. Looking at the
fore-topmast head, he called me down.

Like Milton's devils, who were "found sleeping by one they dread,"
up I sprung, and regained my perch by the topsail-tie, supposing,
or rather hoping, that he would not see me before the mast, in the
obscurity of the evening; but he was too lynx-eyed, and had not
presence of mind enough _not_ to see what he should not have seen. He
called to the three men in the top, and inquired where I was? They
replied at the mast-head. "What!" exclaimed Handstone, with an oath;
"did I not see him this moment, go up by the topsail-tie?"

"No, sir," said the men; "he is now asleep at the mast-head."

"Come down here, you lying rascals, every one of you," said the
lieutenant, "and I'll teach you to speak the truth!"

I, who had by this time quietly resumed my station, was ordered down
along with them; and we all four stood on the quarter-deck, while the
following interrogations were put to us:--

"Now, sir," said the first lieutenant to the captain of the top, "how
dare you tell me that that young gentleman was at the mast-head, when
I myself saw him 'shinning' up by the topsail-tie?"

I was sorry for the men, who, to save me, had got themselves into
jeopardy; and I was just going to declare the truth, and take the
whole odium upon myself, when, to my utter astonishment, the man
boldly answered, "He _was_ at the mast-head, sir, upon my honour."

"Your honour!" cried the lieutenant, with contempt; then, turning to
the other men, he put the same question to them both in succession,
and received the same positive answers; so that I really began to
think I had been at the mast-head all the time, and had been dreaming
I was in the top. At last, turning to me, he said, "Now, sir, I ask
you, on your honour, as an officer and a gentleman, where were you
when I first hailed?"

"At the mast-head, sir," said I.

"Be it so," he replied; "as you are an officer and a gentleman, I am
bound to believe you." Then turning on his heels, he walked away in a
greater rage than I ever remember to have seen him.

I plainly perceived that I was not believed, and that I had lost his
good opinion. Yet, to consider the case fairly and impartially, how
could I have acted otherwise? I had been much too long confined to the
mast-head--as long as a man might take to go from London to Bath in a
stagecoach; I had lost all my meals; and these poor fellows, to save
me from further punishment, had voluntarily exposed themselves to
a flogging at the gangway by telling a barefaced falsehood in my
defence. Had I not supported them, they would certainly have been
flogged, and I should have lost myself with every person aboard; I
therefore came to that paradoxical conclusion on the spot, namely,
that, as a man of honour and a gentleman, I was bound to tell a lie in
order to save these poor men from a cruel punishment.

I am sensible that this is a case to lay before the bench of bishops;
and though I never pretended to the constancy of a martyr, had the
consequences been on myself alone, I should have had no hesitation in
speaking the truth. The lieutenant was to blame, first, by too great
a severity; and, secondly, by too rigid an inquiry into a subject not
worth the trouble. Still my conscience smote me that I had done wrong;
and when the rage of the lieutenant had abated, so as to insure the
impunity of the men, I took the earliest opportunity of explaining to
him the motives for my conduct, and the painful situation in which I
stood. He received my excuses coldly, and we never were friends again.

Our captain, who was a dashing sort of a fellow, contrived to brush
up the enemy's quarters, on the coast of France. On one of our boat
expeditions, I contrived to slip away with the rest; we landed, and
surprised a battery, which we blew up, and spiked the guns. The French
soldiers ran for their lives, and we plundered the huts of some poor
fishermen. I went in with the rest, in hopes of finding plunder, and
for my deserts caught a Tartar. A large skait lay with its mouth open,
into which I thrust my fore-finger, to drag him away; the animal was
not dead, and closing his jaws, divided my finger to the bone--this
was the only blood spilt on the occasion.

Though guilty myself, I was sorry to see the love of plunder prevail
so extensively among us. The sailors took away articles utterly
useless to them, and, after carrying them a certain distance, threw
them down for others equally useless. I have since often reflected how
justly I was punished for my fault, and how needlessly we inflicted
the horrors of war on those inoffensive and unhappy creatures.

Our next attempt was of a more serious nature, and productive of still
greater calamity to the unoffending and industrious, the usual victims
of war, while the instigators are reposing in safety on their down
beds.



Chapter V

  My life is spanned already;

         *       *       *       *       *

  Go with me, like good angels, to my end.

  "Henry VIII."

  Danger, like an ague, subtly taints
  Even then when we sit idly in the sun.

  "Troilus and Cressida."


I had never been able to regain the confidence and esteem of the first
lieutenant since the unfortunate affair of the mast-head. He was
certainly an excellent and a correct officer, too much so to overlook
what he considered a breach of honour. I, therefore, easily reconciled
myself to a separation, which occurred very soon after. We chased a
ship into the Bay of Arcasson, when, as was customary, she sought
safety under a battery; and the captain, according to our custom,
resolved to cut her out.

For this purpose, the boats were manned and armed, and every
preparation made for the attack on the following morning. The command
of the expedition was given to the first lieutenant, who accepted of
it with cheerfulness, and retired to his bed in high spirits, with the
anticipation of the honour and profit which the dawn of day would heap
upon him. He was proverbially brave and cool in action, so that the
seamen followed him with confidence as to certain victory. Whether any
ill-omened dreams had disturbed his rest, or whether any reflections
on the difficult and dangerous nature of the service had alarmed him,
I could not tell; but in the morning we all observed a remarkable
change in his deportment. His ardour was gone; he walked the deck with
a slow and measured pace, apparently in deep thought; and, contrary
to his usual manner, was silent and melancholy, abstracted, and
inattentive to the duties of the ship.

The boats prepared for the service were manned; the officers had taken
their seats in them; the oars were tossed up; the eyes of the young
warriors beamed with animation, and we waited for Mr Handstone, who
still walked the deck, absorbed in his own reflections. He was at
length recalled to a sense of his situation by the captain, who, in a
tone of voice more than usually loud, asked him if he intended to take
the command of the expedition? He replied, "most certainly;" and with
a firm and animated step, crossed the quarter-deck, and went into his
boat.

I, following, seated myself by his side; he looked at me with a
foreboding indifference; had he been in his usual mood, he would have
sent me to some other boat. We had a long pull before we reached the
object of our intended attack, which we found moored close in shore,
and well prepared for us. A broadside of grape-shot was the first
salute we received. It produced the same effect on our men as the spur
to a fiery steed. We pulled alongside, and began to scramble up in the
best manner we could. Handstone in an instant regained all his wonted
animation, cheered his men, and with his drawn sword in his hand,
mounted the ship's side, while our men at the same time poured in
volleys of musketry, and then followed their intrepid leader.

In our boat, the first alongside, eleven men, out of twenty-four, lay
killed or disabled. Disregarding these, the lieutenant sprang up. I
followed close to him; he leaped from the bulwark in upon her deck,
and, before I could lift my cutlass in his defence, fell back upon me,
knocked me down in his fall, and expired in a moment. He had thirteen
musket-balls in his chest and stomach.

I had no time to disengage myself before I was trampled on, and nearly
suffocated by the pressure of my shipmates, who, burning to gain
the prize, or to avenge our fall, rushed on with the most undaunted
bravery. I was supposed to be dead, and treated accordingly, my poor
body being only used as a stop for the gangway, where the ladder
was unshipped. There I lay fainting with the pressure, and nearly
suffocated with the blood of my brave leader, on whose breast my face
rested, with my hands crossed over the back of my head, to save my
skull, if possible, from the heels of my friends, and the swords of
my enemies; and while reason held her seat, I could not help thinking
that I was just as well where I was, and that a change of position
might not be for the better.

About eight minutes decided the affair, though it certainly did seem
to me, in my then unpleasant situation, much longer. Before it was
over I had fainted, and before I regained my senses the vessel was
under weigh, and out of gunshot from the batteries.

The first moments of respite from carnage were employed in examining
the bodies of the killed and wounded. I was numbered among the former,
and stretched out between the guns by the side of the first lieutenant
and the other dead bodies. A fresh breeze blowing through the ports
revived me a little, but, faint and sick, I had neither the power nor
inclination to move; my brain was confused; I had no recollection of
what had happened, and continued to lie in a sort of stupor, until the
prize came alongside of the frigate, and I was roused by the cheers of
congratulation and victory from those who had remained on board.

A boat instantly brought the surgeon and his assistants to inspect the
dead and assist the living. Murphy came along with them. He had not
been of the boarding party; and seeing my supposed lifeless corpse, he
gave it a slight kick, saying, at the same time, "Here is a young cock
that has done crowing! Well, for a wonder, this chap has cheated the
gallows."

The sound of the fellow's detested voice was enough to recall me from
the grave, if my orders had been signed: I faintly exclaimed, "You are
a liar!" which, even with all the melancholy scene around us, produced
a burst of laughter at his expense. I was removed to the ship, put
to bed, and bled, and was soon able to narrate the particulars of my
adventure; but I continued a long while dangerously ill.

The soliloquy of Murphy over my supposed dead body, and my laconic
reply, were the cause of much merriment in the ship: the midshipmen
annoyed him by asserting that he had saved my life, as nothing but his
hated voice could have awoke me from my sleep of death.

The fate of the first lieutenant was justly deplored by all of us;
though I cannot deny my Christian-like acquiescence in the will
of Providence in this, as well as on a former occasion, when the
witnesses of my weakness had been removed for ever out of my way. As
I saw it was impossible to regain his good opinion, I thought it
was quite as well that we should part company. That he had a strong
presentiment of his death was proved; and though I had often heard
these instances asserted, I never before had it so clearly brought
home to my senses.

The prize was called _L'Aimable Julie_, laden with coffee, cotton, and
indigo; mounted fourteen guns; had, at the commencement of the action,
forty-seven men, of whom eight were killed, and sixteen wounded. The
period of our return into port, according to our orders, happened to
coincide with this piece of good fortune, and we came up to Spithead,
where our captain met with a hearty welcome from the admiral.

Having delivered his "butcher's bill," i.e. the list of killed and
wounded, together with an account of our defects, they were sent up to
the Admiralty; and, by return of post, we were ordered to fit foreign:
and although no one on board, not even the captain, was supposed to
know our destination, the girls on the Point assured us it was the
Mediterranean; and this turned out to be the fact.

A few days only were spent in hurried preparation, during which I
continued to write to my father and mother. In return I received all I
required, which was a remittance in cash. This I duly acknowledged
by a few lines as the ship was unmooring. We sailed, and soon after
arrived without accident at Gibraltar, where we found general orders
for any ship that might arrive from England to proceed and join
the admiral at Malta. In a few hours our provisions and water were
complete; but we were not in so much haste to arrive at Malta as we
were to quit Gibraltar--hugging the Spanish coast, in hopes of picking
up something to insure us as hearty a welcome at Valette as we found
on our last return to Portsmouth.

Early on the second morning of our departure we made Cape de Gaete. As
the day dawned we discovered four sail in the wind's eye, and close in
shore. The wind was light, and all sail was made in chase. We gained
very little on them for many hours, and towards evening it fell calm.
The boats were then ordered to pursue them, and we set off, diverging
a little from each other's course, or, as the French would say,
_déployée_, to give a better chance of falling in with them. I was in
the gig with the master, and, that being the best running boat, we
soon came up with one of the feluccas. We fired musketry at her: but
having a light breeze, she would not bring-to. We then took good aim
at the helmsman, and hit him. The man only shifted the helm from his
right hand to his left, and kept on his course. We still kept firing
at this intrepid fellow, and I felt it was like wilful murder, since
he made no resistance, but steadily endeavoured to escape.

At length we got close under the stern, and hooked on with our
boat-hook. This the Spaniards unhooked, and we dropped astern, having
laid our oars in; but the breeze dying entirely away, we again pulled
up alongside, and took possession. The poor man was still at the helm,
bleeding profusely. We offered him every assistance, and asked why he
did not surrender sooner. He replied that he was an old Castilian.
Whether he meant that an earlier surrender would have disgraced him,
or that he contemplated, from his former experience, a chance of
escape to the last moment, I cannot tell. Certain it is that no
one ever behaved better; and I felt that I would have given all
I possessed to have healed the wounds of this patient, meek, and
undaunted old man, who uttered no complaint, but submitted to his fate
with a magnanimity which would have done credit to Socrates himself.
He had received four musket-balls in his body, and, of course,
survived his capture but a very few hours.

We found to our surprise that this vessel, with the three others, one
of which was taken by another of our boats, were from Lima. They were
single-masted, about thirty tons burthen, twelve men each, and were
laden with copper, hides, wax, and cochineal, and had been out five
months. They were bound to Valentia, from which they were only one
day's sail when we intercepted them. Such is the fortune of war! This
gallant man, after a voyage of incredible labour and difficulty, would
in a few hours have embraced his family, and gladdened their hearts
with the produce of honest industry and successful enterprise; when,
in a moment, all their hopes were blasted by our legal murder and
robbery; and our prize-money came to our pockets with the tears, if
not the curses, of the widow and the orphan!

From some information which the captain obtained in the prize, he was
induced to stand over towards the Balearic Islands. We made Ivica, and
stood past it; then ran for Palma Bay in the island of Majorca; here
we found nothing, to our great disappointment, and continued our
course round the island.

An event occurred here, so singular as scarcely to be credible; but
the fact is well attested, as there were others who witnessed it
beside myself. The water was smooth, and the day remarkably fine; we
were distant from the shore more than a mile and a quarter, when the
captain, wishing to try the range of the main-deck guns, which were
long eighteen-pounders, ordered the gunner to elevate one of them and
fire it towards the land. The gunner asked whether he should point the
gun at any object. A man was seen walking on the white sandy beach,
and as there did not appear to be the slightest chance of hitting him,
for he only looked like a speck, the captain desired the gunner to
fire at him; he did so, and the man fell. A herd of bullocks at this
moment was seen coming out of the woods, and the boats were sent with
a party to shoot some of them for the ship's company.

When we landed we found that the ball had cut the poor man in two; and
what made the circumstance more particularly interesting was, that he
was evidently a man of consequence. He was well dressed, had on black
breeches and silk stockings; he was reading Ovid's Metamorphoses, and
still grasped the book, which I took out of his hand.

We have often heard of the miraculous powers ascribed to a chance
shot, but never could we have supposed that this devilish ball could
have gone so far, or done so much mischief. We buried the remains of
the unfortunate gentleman in the sand; and having selected two or
three bullocks out of the herd, shot them, skinned and divided them
into quarters, loaded our boat, and returned on board. I had taken
the book out of the hand of the deceased, and from his neck a small
miniature of a beautiful female. The brooch in his shirt I also
brought away; and when I gave an account to the captain of what had
happened, I offered him these articles. He returned them all to me,
desired me to keep them until I could see any of the friends of the
deceased, and appeared so much distressed at the accident, that we
never mentioned it afterwards; and in the course of the time we
were together, it was nearly forgotten. The articles remained in my
possession unnoticed for many years.

Two days after, we fell in with a vessel of suspicious appearance; and
it being calm, the boats were sent in chase. They found her, on their
approach, to be a xebeque under French colours; but these they very
soon hauled down, and showed no others. As we came within hail they
told us to keep off, and that if we attempted to board they should
fire into us. This was not a threat likely to deter a British officer,
and particularly such fire-eaters as ours. So to it we went, and a
desperate struggle ensued, the numbers being nearly equal on both
sides; but they had the advantage of their own deck and bulwarks. We
got on board, however, and in a few minutes gained possession, with
a loss, on our side, of sixteen; and on that of our opponent's of
twenty-six, killed and wounded.

But great was our sorrow and disappointment when we discovered that
we had shed the blood of our friends, while we had lost our own. The
vessel, it appeared, was a Gibraltar privateer; they took us for
French, our boats being fitted with thoels and grummets for the oars,
in the French fashion; and we supposed them to be French from their
colours and the language in which they hailed us. In this affair we
had three officers killed or wounded, and some of our best men. The
privateer was manned by a mixed crew of all nations, but chiefly
Greeks; and although ostensibly with a commission signed by the
Governor of Gibraltar, were no doubt little scrupulous as to the
colours of any vessel they might encounter, provided she was not too
strong for them.

After this unfortunate mistake we proceeded to Malta: the captain
expecting a severe rebuke from his admiral, for his rashness in
sending away his boats to attack a vessel without knowing her force.
Fortunately for him, the admiral was not there; and before we met him,
the number of prizes we had taken were found sufficient in his eyes to
cover our multitude of sins, so the affair blew over.

While we lay in Malta Harbour, my friend Murphy fell overboard one
night, just after all the boats were hoisted in; he could not swim,
and would have been drowned if I had not jumped overboard and held him
up until a boat was lowered down to our assistance. The officers and
ship's company gave me more credit for this action than I really
deserved. To have saved any person under such circumstances, they
said, was a noble deed; but to risk my life for a man who had always,
from my first coming into the ship, been my bitterest enemy, was more
than they could have expected, and was undoubtedly the noblest revenge
that I could have taken. But they were deceived--they knew me not:
it was my vanity, and the desire of oppressing my enemy under an
intolerable weight of obligation, that induced me to rush to his
rescue; moreover, as I stood on the gangway witnessing his struggles
for life, I felt that I was about to lose all the revenge I had so
long laid up in store; in short, I could not spare him, and only saved
him, as a cat does a mouse, to torment him.

Murphy acknowledged his obligations, and said the terrors of death
were upon him; but in a few days forgot all I had done for him,
consummated his own disgrace, and raised my character on the ruins of
his own. On some frivolous occasion he threw a basin of dirty water
in my face as I passed through the steerage; this was too good an
opportunity to gratify my darling passion. I had long watched for
an occasion to quarrel with him; but as he had been ill during our
passage from Gibraltar to Malta, I could not justify any act of
aggression. He had now recovered, and was in the plentitude of his
strength, and I astonished him by striking the first blow.

A set-to followed; I brought up all my scientific powers in aid of my
strength and the memory of former injuries. I must do him the justice
to say he never showed more game--but he had everything to contend
for; if I was beaten I was only where I was before, but with him the
case would have been different. A fallen tyrant has no friends. Stung
to madness by the successful hits I planted in his face, he lost his
temper, while I was cool; he fought wildly, I stopped all his blows,
and paid them with interest. He stood forty-three rounds, and then
gave in with his eyes bunged up, and his face so swollen and so
covered with blood, as not to be known by his friends if he had had
any.

I had hardly a mark; most of our midshipmen were absent in prizes; but
the two seniors of our berth, an old master's mate past promotion, and
the surgeon's assistant, who had held my wrist when I was cobbed,
were present as the supporters of Murphy during the combat. I always
determined whenever I gained a battle to follow it up. The shouts of
victory resounded in the berth--the youngsters joined with me in songs
of triumph, and gave great offence to the trio. The young Esculapius,
a white-faced, stupid, pock-marked, unhealthy-looking man, was fool
enough to say, that although I had beaten Murphy, I was not to suppose
myself master of the berth. I replied to this only by throwing a
biscuit at his head, as a shot of defiance; and, darting on him before
he could get his legs from under the table, I thrust my fingers into
his neckcloth, which I twisted so tightly, that I held him till he
was nearly choked, giving his head at the same time two or three good
thumps against the ship's side.

Finding that he grew black in the face, I let him go, and asked if
he required any further satisfaction, to which he replied in the
negative, and from that day he was always dutiful and obedient to me.
The old superannuated mate, a sturdy merchant seaman, seemed greatly
dismayed at the successive defeats of his allies, and I believe would
have gladly concluded a separate peace. He had never offered to come
to the assistance of the doctor, although appealed to in the most
pitiable gestures.

This I observed with secret pleasure, and would the more willingly
have given him a brush, as I saw he was disinclined to make the
attempt. I was, however, determined to be at the head of the mess. At
twelve o'clock that night I was relieved from the first watch, and
coming down, I found the old mate in a state of beastly intoxication.
Thus he went to his hammock, and fell asleep. While he lay "dormant,"
I took a piece of lunar caustic, which I wetted, and drew stripes
and figures all over his weather-beaten face, increasing his natural
ugliness to a frightful degree, and made him look very like a New
Zealand warrior. The next morning, when he was making his toilet, my
party were all ready prepared for the _éclaircissement_. He opened
his little dirty chest, and having strapped an old razor, and made a
lather in a wooden soap-box, which bore evident marks of the antique,
he placed a triangular piece of a looking-glass against the reclining
lid of the chest, and began the operation of shaving. His start back
with horror, when he beheld his face, I shall never forget: it outdid
the young Roscius, when he saw the ghost of Hamlet. Having wetted his
fore-finger with his tongue, the old mate tried to remove the stain of
the caustic, but the "d----dpot" still remained, and we, like so many
young imps, surrounded him, roaring with laughter.

I boldly told him that he bore my marks as well as Murphy and the
doctor; and I added, with a degree of cruel mockery which might have
been spared, that I thought it right to put all my servants in black
to-day. I asked whether he was contented with the arrangement, or
whether he chose to appeal against my decree; he signified that he had
no more to say.

Thus, in twenty-four hours, I had subdued the great allies who had so
long oppressed me. I immediately effected a revolution; dismissed the
doctor from the office of caterer--took the charge on myself, and
administered the most impartial justice. I made the oldsters pay their
mess which they had not correctly done before; I caused an equal
distribution of all luxuries from which the juniors had till then been
debarred; and I flatter myself I restored, in some degree, the golden
age in the cockpit. There were no more battles, for there was no hope
of victory on their part, nor anything to contend for on mine. I
never took any advantage of my strength, further than to protect the
youngsters. I proved by this that I was not quarrelsome, but had only
struggled for my own emancipation--that gained, I was satisfied. My
conduct was explained to the captain and the officers; and being fully
and fairly discussed, did me great service. I was looked upon with
respect, and treated with marks of confidence, not usual towards a
person so young.

We left Malta, expecting to find our commander-in-chief off Toulon;
but it seldom happens that the captain of a frigate is in any hurry to
join his admiral, unless charged with despatches of importance. This
not being our case, we somehow or other tumbled down the Mediterranean
before a strong Levanter, and then had to work back again along the
coast of Spain and France. It is an ill wind, they say, that blows
nobody good; and we found it so with us; for off Toulon, in company
with the fleet, if we did take prizes they became of little value,
because there were so many to share them. Our captain, who was a man
of the most consummate _ruse de guerre_ I ever saw or heard of, had
two reasons for sending his prizes to Gibraltar. The first was, that
we should, in all probability, be sent down there to receive our men,
and have the advantage of the cruise back; the second, that he was
well aware of the corrupt practices of the admiralty-court at Malta.

All the vessels, therefore, which we had hitherto captured, were sent
to Gibraltar for adjudication, and we now added to their number. We
had the good fortune to take a large ship laden with barilla, and a
brig with tobacco and wine. The charge of the last I was honoured
with: and no prime minister ever held a situation of such heavy
responsibility with such corrupt supporters. So much was the crew of
the frigate reduced by former captures and the unlucky affair with the
Maltese privateer, that I was only allowed three men. I was, however,
so delighted with my first command, that, I verily believe, if they
had only given me a dog and a pig I should have been satisfied.

The frigate's boat put us on board. It blew fresh from the eastward,
and I instantly put the helm up, and shaped my course for the old
rock. The breeze soon freshened into a gale; we ran slap before it,
but soon found it necessary to take in the top-gallant sails. This we
at last accomplished, one at a time. We then thought a reef or two in
the topsails would be acceptable; but that was impossible. We tried
a Spanish reef, that is, let the yards come down on the cap: and
she flew before the gale, which had now increased to a very serious
degree. Our cargo of wine and tobacco was, unfortunately, stowed by a
Spanish and not a British owner. The difference was very material to
me. An Englishman, knowing the vice of his countrymen, would have
placed the wine underneath, and the tobacco above. Unfortunately
it was, in this instance, the reverse, and my men very soon helped
themselves to as much as rendered them nearly useless to me, being
more than half seas over.

We got on pretty well, however, till about two o'clock in the morning,
when the man at the helm, unable to wake the other two seamen to fetch
him a drop, thought he might trust the brig to steer herself for a
minute, while he quenched his thirst at the wine-cask: the vessel
instantly broached to, that is, came with her broadside to the wind
and sea, and away went the mainmast by the board. Fortunately, the
foremast stood. The man who had just quitted the helm had not time to
get drunk, and the other two were so much frightened that they got
sober.

We cleared the wreck as well as we could, got her before the wind
again, and continued on our course. But a British sailor, the most
daring of all men, is likewise the most regardless of warning or of
consequences. The loss of the mainmast, instead of showing my men the
madness of their indulgence in drink, turned the scale the opposite
way. If they could get drunk with two masts, how much more could they
do so with one, when they had only half as much sail to look after?
With such a rule of three, there was no reasoning; and they got drunk,
and continued drunk during the whole passage.

Good luck often attends us when we don't deserve it:

  "The sweet little cherub that sits up aloft,"

as Dibdin says, had an eye upon us. I knew we could not easily get out
of the Gut of Gibraltar without knowing it; and accordingly, on the
third day after leaving the frigate, we made the rock early in the
morning, and, by two o'clock, rounded Europa Point. I had ordered the
men to bend the cable, and, like many other young officers, fancied it
was done because they said it was, and because I had ordered it.
It never once occurred to me to go and see if my orders had been
executed; indeed, to say the truth, I had quite as much as I could
turn my hand to: I was at the helm from twelve o'clock at night till
six in the morning, looking out for the land; and when I ordered one
of the men to relieve me, I directed him how to steer, and fell into
a profound sleep, which lasted till ten o'clock; after which I was
forced to exert the whole of my ingenuity in order to fetch into the
Bay, and prevent being blown through the Gut; so that the bending of
the cable escaped my memory until the moment I required the use of the
anchor.

As I passed under the stern of one of the ships of war in the Bay,
with my prize colours flying, the officer on deck hailed me, and said
I "had better shorten sail." I thought so too, but how was this to be
done? My whole ship's company were too drunk to do it, and though I
begged for some assistance from his Majesty's ship, it blew so fresh,
and we passed so quick, that they could not hear me, or were not
inclined. Necessity has no law. I saw among the other ships in the bay
a great lump of a transport, and I thought she was much better able to
bear the concussion I intended for her than any other vessel; because
I had heard then, and have been made sure of it since, that her owners
(like all other owners) were cheating the government out of thousands
of pounds a year. She was lying exactly in the part of the Bay
assigned for the prizes; and as I saw no other possible mode of
"bringing the ship to anchor," I steered for "the lobster smack," and
ran slap on board of her, to the great astonishment of the master,
mate, and crew.

The usual expletives, a volley of oaths and curses on our lubberly
heads, followed the shock. This I expected, and was as fully prepared
for as I was for the fall of my foremast, which, taking the foreyard
of the transport, fell over the starboard quarter and greatly relieved
me on the subject of shortening sail. Thus, my pretty brig was first
reduced to a sloop and then to a hulk; fortunately, her bottom was
sound. I was soon cut clear of the transport, and called out in a
manly voice, "Let go the anchor."

This order was obeyed with promptitude: away it went sure enough; but
the devil a cable was there bent to it, and my men being all stupidly
drunk, I let my vessel drift athwart-hawse of a frigate; the
commanding officer of which, seeing I had no other cable bent, very
kindly sent a few hands on board to assist me; and by five o'clock I
was safely moored in the Bay of Gibraltar, and walked my quarter-deck
as high in my own estimation as Columbus, when he made the American
islands.

But short, short was my power! My frigate arrived the next morning.
The captain sent for me, and I gave him an account of my voyage and my
disasters; he very kindly consoled me for my misfortune; and so far
from being angry with me for losing my masts, said it was wonderful,
under all circumstances, how I had succeeded in saving the vessel. We
lay only a fortnight at Gibraltar, when news arrived that the French
had entered Spain, and very shortly after orders came from England to
suspend all hostilities against the Spaniards. This we thought a bore,
as it almost annihilated any chance of prize-money; at the same time
that it increased our labours and stimulated our activity in a most
surprising manner, and opened scenes to us far more interesting than
if the war with Spain had continued.

We were ordered up to join the admiral off Toulon, but desired to look
into the Spanish port of Carthagena on our way, and to report the
state of the Spanish squadron in that arsenal. We were received with
great politeness by the governor and the officers of the Spanish fleet
lying there. These people we found were men of talent and education;
their ships were mostly dismantled, and they had not the means of
equipping them.



Chapter VI

  _Par_. You give me most egregious indignity.
  _Laf_. Ay, with all my heart; and thou art worthy of it.

  "_All's Well that Ends Well_."


Naturally anxious to behold a country from which we had hitherto been
excluded for so many years, we all applied for leave to go on shore,
and obtained it. Even the seamen were allowed the same indulgence, and
went in parties of twenty and thirty at a time. We were followed and
gaped at by the people; but shunned at the same time as "hereticos."
The inns of the town, like all the rest of them in Spain, have not
improved since the days of the immortal Santillana--they were all more
or less filled with the lowest of the rabble, and a set of bravos,
whose calling was robbery, and who cared little if murder were its
accompaniment. The cookery was execrable. Garlic and oil were its
principal ingredients. The olla podrida, and its constant attendant,
the tomato sauce, were intolerable, but the wine was very well for
a midshipman. Whenever we had a repast in any of these houses, the
bravos endeavoured to pick a quarrel with us; and these fellows being
always armed with stilettos, we found it necessary to be equally well
prepared; and whenever we seated ourselves at a table, we never failed
to display the butts of our pistols, which kept them in decent order,
for they are as cowardly as they are thievish. Our seamen, not being
so cautious or so well provided with arms, were frequently robbed and
assassinated by these rascals.

I was, on one occasion, near falling a victim to them. Walking in the
evening with the second master, and having a pretty little Spanish
girl under my arm, for, to my shame be it spoken, I had already formed
an acquaintance with the frail sisterhood, four of these villains
accosted us. We soon perceived, by their manner of holding their
cloaks, that they had their stilettos ready. I desired my companion to
draw his dirk, to keep close to me, and not to let them get between us
and the wall. Seeing that we were prepared, they wished us "_buenos
noches_" (good night); and, endeavouring to put us off our guard by
entering into conversation, asked us to give them a cigar, which my
companion would have done, had I not cautioned him not to quit his
dirk with his right hand, for this was all they wanted.

In this defensive posture we continued until we had nearly reached the
plaza or great square, where many people were walking and enjoying
themselves by moonlight, the usual custom of the country. "Now," said
I to my friend, "let us make a start from these fellows. When I run,
do you follow me, and don't stop till we are in the middle of the
square."

The manoeuvre was successful; we out-ran the thieves, who were not
aware of our plan, and were encumbered with their heavy cloaks.
Finding we had escaped, they turned upon the girl, and robbed her of
her miserable earnings. This we saw, but could not prevent; such was
the police of Spain then, nor has it improved since.

This was the last time I ventured on shore at night, except to go once
with a party of our officers to the house of the Spanish admiral, who
had a very pretty niece, and was _liberale_ enough not to frown on
us poor heretics. She was indeed a pretty creature: her lovely black
eyes, long eyelashes, and raven hair, betrayed a symptom of Moorish
blood, at the same time that her ancient family-name and high
good-breeding gave her the envied appellation of _Vieja Christiana_.

This fair creature was pleased to bestow a furtive glance of
approbation on my youthful form and handsome dress. My vanity was
tickled. I spoke French to her: she understood it imperfectly, and
pretended to know still less of it, from the hatred borne by all the
Spaniards at that time to the French nation.

We improved our time, however, which was but short; and, before
we parted, perfectly understood each other. I thought I could be
contented to give up everything, and reside with her in the wilds of
Spain.

The time of our departure came, and I was torn away from my Rosaritta,
not without the suspicions of my captain and shipmates that I had
been a too highly favoured youth. This was not true. I loved the dear
angel, but never had wronged her; and I went to sea in a mood which I
sometimes thought might end in an act of desperation: but salt water
is an admirable specific against love, at least against such love as
that was.

We joined the admiral off Toulon, and were ordered by him to cruise
between Perpignan and Marseilles. We parted from the fleet on the
following day, and kept the coast in a continued state of alarm. Not
a vessel dared to show her nose out of port: we had her if she did.
Batteries we laughed at, and either silenced them with our long
eighteen-pounders, or landed and blew them up.

In one of these little skirmishes I had very nearly been taken, and
should, in that case, have missed all the honour, and glory, and
hairbreadth escapes which will be found related in the following
pages. I should either have been sabred in mere retaliation, or
marched off to Verdun for the remaining six years of the war.

We had landed to storm and blow up a battery, for which purpose we
carried with us a bag of powder, and a train of canvas. Everything
went on prosperously. We came to a canal which it was necessary to
cross, and the best swimmers were selected to convey the powder
over without wetting it. I was one of them. I took off my shoes and
stockings to save them; and, after we had taken the battery, I was so
intent on looking for the telegraphic signal-box, that I had quite
forgotten the intended explosion, until I heard a cry of "Run, run!"
from those outside who had lighted the train.

I was at that moment on the wall of the fort, nearly thirty feet high,
but sloping. I jumped one part, and scrambled the other, and ran away
as fast as I could, amidst a shower of stones, which fell around me
like an eruption of Vesuvius. Luckily I was not hit, but I had cut my
foot in the leap, and was in much pain. I had two fields of stubble
to pass, and my shoes and stockings were on the other side of the
canal--the sharp straw entered the wound, and almost drove me mad, and
I was tempted to sit down and resign myself to my fate.

However, I persevered, and had nearly reached the boats which were
putting off, not aware of my absence, when a noise like distant
thunder reached my ears. This I soon found was cavalry from Cotte,
which had come to defend the battery. I mustered all my strength, and
plunged into the sea to swim off to the boats, and so little time had
I to spare, that some of the enemy's chasseurs, on their black horses,
swam in after me, and fired their pistols at my head. The boats were
at this time nearly a quarter of a mile from the shore; the officers
in them fortunately perceived the cavalry, and saw me at the same
time: a boat laid on her oars, which with great difficulty I reached,
and was taken in; but so exhausted with pain and loss of blood, that I
was carried on board almost dead; my foot was cut to the bone, and I
continued a month under the surgeon's care.

I had nearly recovered from this accident, when we captured a ship,
with which Murphy was sent as prize-master; and the same evening a
schooner, which we cut out from her anchorage. The command of this
latter vessel was given to me--it was late in the evening, and the
hurry was so great that the keg of spirits intended for myself and
crew was not put on board. This was going from one extreme to the
other; in my last ship we had too much liquor, and in this too little.
Naturally thirsty, our desire for drink needed not the stimulus of
salt fish and calavances, for such was our cargo and such was our
food, and deeply did we deplore the loss of our spirits.

On the third day after leaving the frigate, on our way to Gibraltar, I
fell in with a ship on the coast of Spain, and knew it to be the one
Murphy commanded, by a remarkable white patch in the main-topsail. I
made all sail in chase, in hopes of obtaining some spirits from him,
knowing that he had more than he could consume, even if he and his
people got drunk every day. When I came near him, he made all the sail
he could. At dusk I was near enough almost to hail him, but he stood
on; and I, having a couple of small three-pounders on board, with
some powder, fired one of them as a signal. This I repeated again and
again; but he would not bring to; and when it was dark, I lost sight
of him, and saw him no more until we met at Gibraltar.

Next morning I fell in with three Spanish fishing-boats. They took me
for a French privateer, pulled up their lines, and made sail. I came
up with them, and, firing a gun, they hove to and surrendered. I
ordered them alongside; and, finding they had each a keg of wine on
board, I condemned that part of their cargo as contraband; but I
honestly offered payment for what I had taken. This they declined,
finding I was "_Ingles_," too happy to think they were not in the
hands of the French. I then gave each of them a pound of tobacco,
which not only satisfied them, but confirmed them in the
newly-received opinion among their countrymen, that England was
the bravest as well as the most generous of nations. They offered
everything their boat contained; but I declined all most nobly,
because I had obtained all I wanted; and we parted with mutual good
will, they shouting, "Viva Ingleterre!" and we drinking them a good
passage in their own wine.

Many days elapsed before we reached Gibraltar: the winds were light,
and the weather fine; but as we had discovered that the fishing-boats
had wine, we took care to supply our cellar without any trouble from
the excise; and, from our equitable mode of barter, I had no reason to
think that his Majesty King George lost any of his deserved popularity
by our conduct. When we reached Gibraltar, I had still a couple of
good kegs wherewith to regale my messmates; though I was sorry to find
the frigate and the rest of her prizes had got in before us. Murphy,
indeed, did not arrive till the day after me.

I was on the quarter-deck when he came in; and, to my astonishment, he
reported that he had been chased by a French privateer, and had beat
her off after a four hours' action--that his rigging had suffered a
good deal, but that he had not a man hurt. I let him run on till
the evening. Many believed him; but some doubted. At dinner, in the
gun-room, his arrogance knew no bounds; and, when half drunk, my three
men were magnified into a well-manned brig, as full of men and guns as
she could stuff!

Sick of all this nonsense, I then simply related the story as it had
occurred, and sent for the quarter-master, who was with me, and who
confirmed all my statement. From that moment he was a mark of contempt
in the ship. Every lie was a Murphy, and every Murphy a liar. He dared
not resent this scorn of ours; and found himself so uncomfortable,
that he offered no objection to the removal proposed by the captain;
his character followed him, and he never obtained promotion. It is a
satisfaction to me to reflect that I not only had my full revenge on
this man, but that I had been the instrument of turning him out of an
honourable profession which he would have disgraced.

This was no time for frigates to be idle; and if I chose to give the
name of mine and my captain, the naval history of the country would
prove that ours, of all other ships, was one of the most distinguished
in the cause of Spanish freedom. The south of Spain became the theatre
of the most cruel and desolating war. Our station was off Barcelona,
and thence to Perpignan, the frontier of France, on the borders of
Spain. Our duty (for which the enterprising disposition of our captain
was admirably calculated) was to support the guerilla chiefs; to cut
off the enemy's convoys of provisions, either by sea or along the
road which lay by the sea-shore; or to dislodge the enemy from any
stronghold he might be in possession of.

I was absent from the ship on such services three and four weeks at a
time, being attached to a division of small-arm men under the command
of the third lieutenant. We suffered very much from privations of all
kinds. We never took with us more than one week's provision, and were
frequently three weeks without receiving any supply. In the article of
dress, our "catalogue of negatives," as a celebrated author says, "was
very copious;" we had no shoes nor stockings--no linen, and not all of
us had hats--a pocket-handkerchief was the common substitute for this
article; we clambered over rocks, and wandered through the flinty or
muddy ravines in company with our new allies, the hardy mountaineers.

These men respected our valour, but did not like our religion or our
manners. They cheerfully divided their rations with us, but were
always inexorable in their cruelty to the French prisoners; and no
persuasion of ours could induce them to spare the lives of one of
these unhappy people, whose cries and entreaties to the English to
intercede for, or save them, were always unavailing. They were either
stabbed before our faces, or dragged to the top of a hill commanding a
view of some fortress occupied by the French, and, in sight of their
countrymen, their throats were cut from ear to ear.

Should the Christian reader condemn this horrid barbarity, as he
certainly will, he must remember that those people were men whose
every feeling had been outraged. Rape, conflagration, murder, and
famine had everywhere followed the step of the cruel invaders; and
however we might lament their fate, and endeavour to avert it, we
could not but admit that the retaliation was not without justice.

In this irregular warfare, we sometimes revelled in luxuries, and at
others were nearly starved. One day, in particular, when fainting with
hunger, we met a fat, rosy-looking capuchin: we begged him to show us
where we might procure some food, either by purchase or in any other
way; but he neither knew where to procure any, nor had he any money:
his order, he said, forbade him to use it. As he turned away from us,
in some precipitation, we thought we heard something rattle; and as
necessity has no law, we took the liberty of searching the padre,
on whose person we found forty dollars, of which we relieved him,
assuring him that our consciences were perfectly clear, since his
order forbade him to carry money; and that as he lived among good
Christians, they would not allow him to want. He cursed us; but we
laughed at him, because he had produced his own misfortune by his
falsehood and hypocrisy.

This was the manner in which the Spanish priests generally behaved to
us; and in this way we generally repaid them when we could. We kept
the plunder--converted it into food--joined our party soon after,
and supposed the affair was over; but the friar had followed us at
a distance, and we perceived him coming up the hill where we were
stationed. To avoid discovery we exchanged clothes, in such a manner
as to render us no longer cognizable. The friar made his complaint to
the guerilla chief, whose eyes flashed fire at the indignant treatment
his priest had received; and it is probable that bloodshed would have
ensued had he been able to point out the culprits.

I kept my countenance though I had changed my dress, and as he looked
at me with something beyond suspicion, I stared him full in the face,
with the whole united powers of my matchless impudence, and, in a loud
and menacing tone of voice, asked him in French if he took me for a
brigand.

This question, as well as the manner in which it was put, silenced,
if it did not satisfy, the priest. He seemed to listen with apparent
conviction to the suggestion of some of our people, that he had been
robbed by another party, and he set out in pursuit of them. I was
quite tired of his importunities, and glad to see him depart. As he
turned away, he gave me a very scrutinizing look, which I returned
with another, full of well dissembled rage and scorn. My curling hair
had been well flattened down with a piece of soap, which I had in my
pocket, and I had much more the appearance of a Methodist parson than
a pickpocket.

Some time previous to this, the frigate to which I belonged had been
ordered on other services; and as I had no opportunity of joining her,
I was placed, _pro tempore_, on board of another.

But as this chapter has already spun out its length, I shall refer my
reader to the next for further particulars.



Chapter VII

    The shout
  Of battle now began, and rushing sound
  Of onset ...
  'Twixt host and host but narrow space was left.

  _Milton_.


From the deservedly high character borne by the captain of the frigate
which I was ordered to join, he was employed by Lord Collingwood
on the most confidential services; and we were sent to assist the
Spaniards in their defence of the important fortress of Rosas, in
Catalonia. It has already been observed that the French general, St
Cyr, had entered that country, and, having taken Figueras and Gerona,
was looking with a wistful eye on the castle of Trinity, on the
south-east side, the capture of which would be a certain prelude to
the fall of Rosas.

My captain determined to defend it, although it had just been
abandoned by another British naval officer, as untenable. I
volunteered, though a supernumerary, to be one of the party, and was
sent: nor can I but acknowledge that the officer who had abandoned the
place had shown more than a sound discretion. Every part of the
castle was in ruins. Heaps of crumbling stones and rubbish,
broken gun-carriages, and split guns, presented to my mind a very
unfavourable field of battle. The only advantage we appeared to have
over the assailants was that the breach which they had effected in the
walls was steep in its ascent, and the loose stones either fell down
upon them, or gave way under their feet, while we plied them with
every kind of missile: this was our only defence, and all we had to
prevent the enemy marching into the works, if works they could be
called.

There was another and very serious disadvantage attending our
locality. The castle was situated very near the summit of a steep
hill, the upper part of which was in possession of the enemy, who
were, by this means, nearly on a level with the top of the castle,
and, on that eminence, three hundred Swiss sharpshooters had effected
a lodgment, and thrown up works within fifty yards of us, keeping up
a constant fire at the castle. If a head was seen above the walls,
twenty rifle-bullets whizzed at it in a moment, and the same
unremitted attention was paid to our boats as they landed.

On another hill, much to the northward, and consequently, further
inland, the French had erected a battery of six 24-pounders. This
agreeable neighbour was only three hundred yards from us; and,
allowing short intervals for the guns to cool, this battery kept up
a constant fire upon us from daylight till dark. I never could have
supposed, in my boyish days, that the time would arrive when I should
envy a cock upon Shrove Tuesday; yet such was my case when in this
infernal castle. It was certainly not giving us fair play; we had no
chance against such a force; but my captain was a knight-errant,
and as I had volunteered, I had no right to complain. Such was the
precision of the enemy's fire, that we could tell the stone that would
be hit by the next shot, merely from seeing where the last had struck,
and our men were frequently wounded by the splinters of granite with
which the walls were built, and others picked off like partridges, by
the Swiss corps on the hill close to us.

Our force in the castle consisted of a hundred and thirty English
seamen and marines, one company of Spanish, and another of Swiss
troops in Spanish pay. Never were troops worse paid and fed, or better
fired at. We all pigged in together; dirty straw and fleas for our
beds; our food on the same scale of luxury; from the captain downwards
there was no distinction. Fighting is sometimes a very agreeable
pastime, but excess "palls on the sense:" and here we had enough of
it, without what I always thought an indispensable accompaniment,
namely, a good bellyful; nor did I conceive how a man could perform
his duty without it; but here I was forced, with many others, to make
the experiment, and when the boats could not land, which was often the
case, we piped to dinner _pro formâ_, as our captain liked regularity,
and drank cold water to fill our stomachs.

I have often heard my poor old uncle say that no man knows what he can
do till he tries; and the enemy gave us plenty of opportunities of
displaying our ingenuity, industry, watchfulness, and abstinence. When
poor Penelope wove her web, the poet says--

  "The night unravelled what the day began."

With us it was precisely the reverse: the day destroyed all the
labours of the night. The hours of darkness were employed by us in
filling sand-bags, and laying them in the breach, clearing away
rubbish, and preparing to receive the enemy's fire, which was sure to
recommence at daylight. These avocations, together with a constant and
most vigilant watch against surprise, took up so much of our time that
little was left for repose, and our meals required still less.

There was some originality in one of our modes of defence, and which,
not being _secundum artem_, might have provoked the smile of an
engineer. The captain contrived to make a shoot of smooth deal boards,
which he received from the ship: these he placed in a slanting
direction in the breach, and caused them to be well greased with
cook's slush; so that the enemies who wished to come into our
hold, must have jumped down upon them, and would in an instant be
precipitated into the ditch below, a very considerable depth, where
they might either have remained till the doctor came to them, or, if
they were able, begin their labours _de novo_. This was a very good
bug-trap; for, at that time, I thought just as little of killing a
Frenchman as I did of destroying the filthy little nightly depredator
just mentioned.

Besides this slippery trick, which we played them with great success,
we served them another. We happened to have on board the frigate a
large quantity of fishhooks; these we planted, not only on the greasy
boards, but in every part where the intruders were likely to place
their hands or feet. The breach itself was mined, and loaded with
shells and hand-grenades; masked guns, charged up to the muzzle with
musket-balls, enfiladed the spot in every direction. Such were our
defences; and, considering that we had been three weeks in the castle,
opposed to such mighty odds, it is surprising that we only lost twenty
men. The crisis was now approaching.

One morning, very early, I happened to have the look-out. The streak
of fog which during the night hangs between the hills in that country,
and presses down into the valleys, had just begun to rise, and the
stars to grow more dim above our heads, when I was looking over the
castle-wall towards the breach. The captain came out and asked me
what I was looking at. I told him I hardly knew; but there did appear
something unusual in the valley, immediately below the breach. He
listened a moment, looked attentively with his night-glass, and
exclaimed, in his firm voice, but in an undertoned manner "To
arms!--they are coming!"

In three minutes every man was at his post; and though all were quick,
there was no time to spare, for by this time the black column of the
enemy was distinctly visible curling along the valley like a great
centipede; and, with the daring enterprise so common among the troops
of Napoleon, had begun in silence to mount the breach. It was an awful
and eventful moment; but the coolness and determination of the little
garrison was equal to the occasion.

The word was given to take good aim, and a volley from the masked guns
and musketry was poured into the thick of them. They paused--deep
groans ascended! They retreated a few paces in confusion, then
rallied, and again advanced to the attack; and now the fire on both
sides was kept up without intermission. The great guns from the hill
fort, and the Swiss sharpshooters, still nearer, poured copious
volleys upon us, and with loud shouts cheered on their comrades to the
assault. As they approached and covered our mine, the train was fired,
and up they went in the air, and down they fell buried in the ruins.
Groans, screams, confusion, French yells, British hurras rent the
sky! The hills resounded with the shouts of victory! We sent them
hand-grenades in abundance, and broke their shins in glorious style. I
must say that the French behaved nobly, though many a tall grenadier
and pioneer fell by the symbol in front of his warlike cap. I cried
with rage and excitement; and we all fought like bull-dogs, for we
knew there was no quarter to be given.

Ten minutes had elapsed since the firing began, and in that time many
a brave fellow had bit the dust. The head of their attacking column
had been destroyed by the explosion of our mine. Still they had
re-formed, and were again half-way up the breach when the day began to
dawn; and we saw a chosen body of one thousand men, led on by their
colonel, and advancing over the dead which had just fallen.

The gallant leader appeared to be as cool and composed as if he were
at breakfast; with his drawn sword he pointed to the breach, and
we heard him exclaim, "_Suivez moi!_" I felt jealous of this brave
fellow--jealous of his being a Frenchman; and I threw a lighted
hand-grenade between his feet--he picked it up, and threw it from him
to a considerable distance.

"Cool chap enough that," said the captain, who stood close to me;
"I'll give him another;" which he did, but this the officer kicked
away with equal _sang froid_ and dignity. "Nothing will cure that
fellow," resumed the captain, "but an ounce of lead on an empty
stomach--it's a pity, too, to kill so fine a fellow--but there is no
help for it."

So saying, he took a musket out of my hand, which I had just
loaded--aimed, fired--the colonel staggered, clapped his hand to his
breast, and fell back into the arms of some of his men, who threw down
their muskets, and took him on their shoulders, either unconscious or
perfectly regardless of the death-work which was going on around them.
The firing redoubled from our musketry on this little group, every
man of whom was either killed or wounded. The colonel, again left to
himself, tottered a few paces further, till he reached a small bush,
not ten yards from the spot where he received his mortal wound. Here
he fell; his sword, which he still grasped in his right hand, rested
on the boughs, and pointed upwards to the sky, as if directing the
road to the spirit of its gallant master.

With the life of the colonel ended the hopes of the French for that
day. The officers, we could perceive, did their duty--cheered,
encouraged, and drove on their men, but all in vain! We saw them pass
their swords through the bodies of the fugitives; but the men did not
even mind that--they would only be killed in their own way--they had
had fighting enough for one breakfast. The first impulse, the fiery
onset, had been checked by the fall of their brave leader, and _sauve
qui peut_, whether coming from the officers or drummers, no matter
which, terminated the affair, and we were left a little time to
breathe, and to count the number of our dead.

The moment the French perceived from their batteries that the attempt
had failed, and that the leader of the enterprise was dead, they
poured in an angry fire upon us. I stuck my hat on the bayonet of
my musket, and just showed it above the wall. A dozen bullets were
through it in a minute: very fortunately my head was not in it.

The fire of the batteries having ceased, which it generally did at
stated periods, we had an opportunity of examining the point of
attack. Scaling-ladders, and dead bodies lay in profusion. All the
wounded had been removed, but what magnificent "food for powder" were
the bodies which lay before us!--all, it would seem, picked men; not
one less than six feet, and some more: they were clad in their
grey _capots_, to render their appearance more _sombre_, and less
discernible in the twilight of the morning: and as the weather was
cold during the nights, I secretly determined to have one of those
great coats as a _chère amie_ to keep me warm in night-watches. I also
resolved to have the colonel's sword to present to my captain; and as
soon as it was dark I walked down the breach, brought up one of the
scaling-ladders, which I deposited in the castle; and having done so
much for the king, I set out to do something for myself.

It was pitch dark. I stumbled on: the wind blew a hurricane, and the
dust and mortar almost blinded me; but I knew my way pretty well. Yet
there was something very jackall-like, in wandering about among dead
bodies in the night-time, and I really felt a horror at my situation.
There was a dreadful stillness between the blasts, which the pitch
darkness made peculiarly awful to an unfortified mind. It is for this
reason that I would ever discourage night-attacks, unless you can rely
on your men. They generally fail: because the man of common bravery,
who would acquit himself fairly in broad daylight, will hang back
during the night. Fear and Darkness have always been firm allies; and
are inseparably playing into each other's hands. Darkness conceals
Fear, and therefore Fear loves Darkness, because it saves the coward
from shame; and when the fear of shame is the only stimulus to fight,
daylight is essentially necessary.

I crept cautiously along, feeling for the dead bodies. The first I
laid my hand on, made my blood curdle. It was the lacerated thigh of a
grenadier, whose flesh had been torn off by a hand-grenade. "Friend,"
said I, "if I may judge from the nature of your wound, your great coat
is not worth having." The next subject I handled, had been better
killed. A musket-ball through his head had settled all his tradesmen's
bills; and I hesitated not in becoming residuary legatee, as I was
sure the assets would more than discharge the undertaker's bill; but
the body was cold and stiff, and did not readily yield its garment.

I, however, succeeded in obtaining my object; in which I arrayed
myself, and went on in search of the colonel's sword; but here I had
been anticipated by a Frenchman. The colonel, indeed, lay there, stiff
enough, but his sword was gone. I was preparing to return, when I
encountered, not a dead, but a living enemy.

"_Qui vive_?" said a low voice.

"_Anglois, bête_!" answered I, in a low tone: and added, "_mais les
corsairs ne se battent pas_"

"_Cest vrai_" said he; and growling, "_bon soir_" he was soon out of
sight. I scrambled back to the castle, gave the countersign to the
sentinel, and showed my new great coat with a vast deal of glee and
satisfaction; some of my comrades went on the same sort of expedition,
and were rewarded with more or less success.

In a few days the dead bodies on the breach were nearly denuded by
nightly visitors; but that of the colonel lay respected and untouched.
The heat of the day had blackened it, and it was now deprived of all
its manly beauty, and nothing remained but a loathsome corpse.
The rules of war, as well as of humanity, demanded the honourable
interment of the remains of this hero; and our captain, who was the
very flower of chivalry, desired me to stick a white handkerchief on
a pike, as a flag of truce, and bury the bodies, if the enemy would
permit us I went out accordingly, with a spade and a pick-axe; but the
_tirailleurs_ on the hill began with their rifles, and wounded one of
my men. I looked at the captain, as much as to say, "Am I to proceed?"
He motioned with his hand to go on, and I then began digging a hole by
the side of a dead body, and the enemy, seeing my intention, desisted
from firing. I had buried several, when the captain came out and
joined me, with a view of reconnoitring the position of the enemy.
He was seen from the fort, and recognized; and his intention pretty
accurately guessed at.

We were near the body of the colonel, which we were going to inter;
when the captain, observing a diamond ring on the finger of the
corpse, said to one of the sailors, "You may just as well take that
off: it can be of no use to him now." The man tried to get it off, but
the rigidity of the muscle after death prevented his moving it. "He
won't feel your knife, poor fellow," said the captain; "and a finger
more or less is no great matter to him now: off with it."

The sailor began to saw the finger-joint with his knife, when down
came a twenty-four pound shot, and with such a good direction that it
took the shoe off the man's foot, and the shovel out of the hand of
another man. "In with him, and cover him up!" said the captain.

We did so; when another shot not quite so well directed as the first,
threw the dirt in our faces, and ploughed the ground at our feet.
The captain then ordered his men to run into the castle, which they
instantly obeyed; while he himself walked leisurely along through
a shower of musket-balls from those cursed Swiss dogs, whom I most
fervently wished at the devil, because, as an aide-de-camp, I felt
bound in honour as well as duty to walk by the side of my captain,
fully expecting every moment that a rifle-ball would have hit me where
I should have been ashamed to show the scar. I thought this funeral
pace, after the funeral was over, confounded nonsense; but my
fire-eating captain never had run away from a Frenchman, and did not
intend to begin then.

I was behind him, making these reflections, and as the shot began
to fly very thick, I stepped up alongside of him, and, by degrees,
brought him between me and the fire. "Sir," said I, "as I am only
a midshipman, I don't care so much about honour as you do; and,
therefore, if it makes no difference to you, I'll take the liberty of
getting under your lee." He laughed, and said, "I did not know you
were here, for I meant you should have gone with the others: but,
since you are out of your station, Mr Mildmay, I will make that use of
you which you so ingeniously proposed to make of me. My life may be of
some importance here; but yours very little, and another midshipman
can be had from the ship only for asking: so just drop astern, if you
please, and do duty as a breastwork for me!"

"Certainly, sir," said I, "by all means;" and I took my station
accordingly.

"Now," said the captain, "if you are '_doubled up_,' I will take you
on my shoulders!"

I expressed myself exceedingly obliged, not only for the honour he
had conferred on me, but also for that which he intended; but hoped I
should have no occasion to trouble him.

Whether the enemy took pity on my youth and _innocence_, or whether
they purposely missed us, I cannot say: I only know I was very happy
when I found myself inside the castle with a whole skin, and should
very readily have reconciled myself to any measure which would have
restored me even to the comforts and conveniences of a man-of-war's
cockpit. All human enjoyment is comparative, and nothing ever
convinced me of it so much and so forcibly as what took place at this
memorable siege.

Fortune, and the well known cowardice of the Spaniards, released me
from this jeopardy; they surrendered the citadel, after which the
castle was of no use, and we ran down to our boats as fast as we
could; and notwithstanding the very assiduous fire of the watchful
_tirailleurs_ on the hill, we all got on board without accident.

There was one very singular feature in this affair. The Swiss
mercenaries in the French and Spanish services, opposed to each other,
behaved with the greatest bravery, and did their duty with unexceeded
fidelity; but being posted so near, and coming so often in contact
with each other, they would cry truce for a quarter of an hour, while
they made inquiries after their mutual friends; often recognizing each
other as fathers and sons, brothers and near relatives, fighting on
opposite sides. They would laugh and joke with each other, declare the
truce at an end, then load their muskets, and take aim, with the same
indifference, as regarded the object, as if they had been perfect
strangers; but, as I before observed, fighting is a trade.

From Rosas we proceeded to join the admiral off Toulon; and being
informed that a battery of six brass guns, in the port of Silva, would
be in possession of the French in a few hours, we ran in, and anchored
within pistol-shot of it. We lashed blocks to our lower mast-heads,
rove hawsers through them, sent the ends on shore, made them fast
to the guns, and hove off three of them, one after another, by the
capstan; and had the end of the hawser on shore, ready for the others,
when our marine videttes were surprised by the French, driven in, and
retreated to the beach with the loss of one man taken prisoner.

Not having sufficient force on shore to resist them, we re-embarked
our party, and the French, taking up a position behind the rocks,
commenced a heavy fire of musketry upon us. We answered it with
the same; and now and then gave them a great gun; but they had the
advantage of position, and wounded ten or eleven of our men from their
elevated stations behind the rocks. At sunset this ceased, when a boat
came off from the shore, pulled by one Spaniard; he brought a letter
for the captain, from the officer commanding the French detachment.
It presented the French captain's compliments to ours; regretted the
little interruption he had given to our occupation; remarked that the
weather was cold, and as he had been ordered off in a hurry, he had
not had time to provide himself; and as there was always a proper
feeling among _braves gens_, requested a few gallons of rum for
himself and followers.

This request was answered with a _polite note_, and the spirits
required. The British captain hoped the commandant and his party would
make themselves comfortable, and have a _bon repos_. The captain,
however, intended the Frenchman should pay for the spirits, though not
in money, and sent in the bill about one o'clock in the morning.

All at that hour was as still as death; the French guard had refreshed
themselves, and were enjoying the full extent of our captain's
benefaction, when he observed to us that it was a pity to lose the
boat which was left on shore, as well as the other brass guns, and
proposed making the attempt to bring off both. Five or six of us
stripped, and lowering ourselves into the water, very gently swam
ashore, in a breathless kind of silence, that would have done honour
to a Pawnee Loup Indian. The water was very cold, and at first almost
took away my respiration. We landed under the battery, and having
first secured our boat without noise, we crept softly up to where the
end of the hawsers lay by the side of the guns, to which we instantly
made them fast. About a dozen French soldiers were lying near, keeping
watch, fast asleep.

We might easily have killed them all; but as we considered they were
under the influence of our rum, we abhorred such a violation of
hospitality. We helped ourselves, however, to most of the muskets that
were near us, and very quietly getting into the boat, put off and
rowed with two oars to the ship. The noise of the oars woke some of
the soldiers, who, jumping up, fired at us with all the arms they had
left; and I believe soon got a reinforcement, for they fired both
quick and well; and, as it was starlight and we were naked, our bodies
were easily seen, so that the shot came very thick about us.

"Diving," said I, "is not running away;" so over we all went, except
two. I was down like a porpoise never rising till my head touched the
ship's copper. I swam round the stern, and was taken in on the side
opposite the enemy. My captain, I daresay, would have disdained such
a compromise; but though I was as proud as he was, I always thought,
with Falstaff, that "discretion was the better part of valour,"
especially in a midshipman.

The men left in the boat got safe on board with her. The hands were
all ready, and the moment our oars splashed in the water, they hove
round cheerfully, and the guns came galloping down the rocks like
young kangaroos. They were soon under water, and long before the
Frenchmen could get a cut at the hawsers. They then fired at them with
their muskets, in hopes of stranding the rope, but they failed in that
also. We secured the guns on board, and before daylight got under
weigh, and made sail for the fleet, which we joined shortly
afterwards.

I here learned that my own ship had fought a gallant action with an
enemy's frigate, had taken her opponent, but had suffered so much that
she was ordered home for repairs, and had sailed for England from
Gibraltar.

I had letters of introduction to the rear-admiral, who was second in
command; and I thought, under these circumstances the best thing I
could do would be to "clean myself," as the phrase used to be in those
days, and go on board and present them. I went accordingly, and saw
the flag-captain, who took my letters in to the admiral, and brought
out a verbal, and not a very civil message, saying, I might join
the ship, if I pleased, until my own returned to the station. As it
happened to suit my convenience, I _did_ please; and the manner in
which the favour was conferred disburdened my mind of any incumbrance
of gratitude. The reception was not such as I might have expected: had
the letters not been from people of distinction, and friends of the
rear-admiral, I should much have preferred remaining in the frigate,
whose captain also wished it, but that was not allowed.

To the flag-ship, therefore, I came, and why I was brought here, I
never could discover, unless it was for the purpose of completing a
menagerie, for I found between sixty and seventy midshipmen already
assembled. They were mostly youngsters, followers of the rear-admiral,
and had seen very little, if any, service, and I had seen a great deal
for the time I had been afloat. Listening eagerly to my "yarns,"
the youthful ardour of these striplings kindled, and they longed to
emulate my deeds. The consequence was numerous applications from the
midshipmen to be allowed to join the frigates on the station; not one
was contented in the flag-ship; and the captain having discovered that
I was the tarantula which had bitten them, hated me accordingly, and
not a jot more than I hated him.

The captain was a very large, ill-made, broad-shouldered man, with
a lack-lustre eye, a pair of thick lips, and a very unmeaning
countenance. He wore a large pair of epaulettes; he was irritable in
his temper; and when roused, which was frequent, was always violent
and overbearing. His voice was like thunder, and when he launched out
on the poor midshipmen, they reminded me of the trembling bird which,
when fascinated by the eye of the snake, loses its powers, and falls
at once into the jaws of the monster. When much excited, he had a
custom of shaking his shoulders up and down; and his epaulettes, on
these occasions, flapped like the huge ears of a trotting elephant.
At the most distant view of his person or sound of his voice, every
midshipman, not obliged to remain, fled, like the land-crabs on a West
India beach. He was incessantly taunting me, was sure to find some
fault or other with me, and sneeringly called me "one of your frigate
midshipmen."

Irritated by this unjust treatment, I one day answered that I _was_
a frigate midshipman, and hoped I could do my duty as well as any
line-of-battle midshipman, of my own standing, in the service. For
this injudicious and rather impertinent remark, I was ordered aft on
the quarter-deck, and the captain went in to the admiral, and asked
permission to flog me; but the admiral refused, observing, that he did
not admire the system of flogging young gentlemen: and, moreover, that
in the present instance he saw no reason for it. So I escaped; but I
led a sad life of it, and often did I pray for the return of my own
ship.

Among other exercises of the fleet, we used always to reef topsails at
sunset, and this was usually done by all the ships at the same moment,
waiting the signal from the admiral to begin; in this exercise there
was much foolish rivalry, and very serious accidents, as well as
numerous punishments, took place, in consequence of one ship trying to
excel another. On these occasions our captain would bellow and foam at
the mouth like a mad bull, up and down the quarter-deck.

One fine evening the signal was made, the topsails lowered and the men
laying out on the yards, when a poor fellow from the main-topsail yard
fell, in his trying to lay out; and, striking his shoulder against the
main channels, broke his arm. I saw he was disabled, and could not
swim: and, perceiving him sinking, I darted overboard, and held him
until a boat came and picked us up; as the water was smooth, and there
was little wind, and the ship not going more than two miles an hour, I
incurred little risk.

When I came on deck I found the captain fit for Bedlam, because the
accident had delayed the topsails going to the mast-head quite as
quick as the rest of the fleet. He threatened to flog the man for
falling overboard, and ordered me off the quarter-deck. This was
great injustice to both of us. Of all the characters I ever met
with, holding so high a rank in the service, this man was the most
unpleasant.

Shortly after, we were ordered to Minorca to refit; here, to my great
joy, I found my own ship, and I "shook the dust off my feet," and
quitted the flag with a light heart. During the time I had been on
board, the admiral had never said, "How do ye do?" to me--nor did he
say, "Good-bye," when I quitted. Indeed, I should have left the ship
without ever having been honoured with his notice, if it had not
happened, that a favourite pointer of his was a shipmate of mine. I
recollect hearing of a man who boasted that the king had spoken to
him; and when it was asked what he had said, replied, "He desired me
to get out of his way."

My intercourse with the admiral was about as friendly and flattering.
Pompey and I were on the poop. I presented him with a piece of hide
to gnaw, by way of pastime. The admiral came on the poop, and seeing
Pompey thus employed, asked who gave him that piece of hide? The
yeoman of the signals said it was me. The admiral shook his long
spy-glass at me, and said, "By G----, sir, if ever you give Pompey a
bit of hide again, I will flog you."

This is all I have to say of the admiral, and all the admiral ever
said to me.



Chapter VIII

  Since laws were made for every degree,
  I wonder we haven't better company on Tyburn tree.

  "_Beggar's Opera_."


While I was on board of this ship two poor men were executed for
mutiny. The scene was far more solemn to me than anything I had ever
beheld. Indeed it was the first thing of the kind I had ever been
present at. When we hear of executions on shore, we are always
prepared to read of some foul atrocious crime, some unprovoked and
unmitigated offence against the laws of civilized society, which a
just and merciful government cannot allow to pass unpunished. With us
at sea there are many shades of difference; but that which the law
of our service considers a serious offence is often no more than an
ebullition of local and temporary feeling, which in some cases might
be curbed, and in others totally suppressed by timely firmness and
conciliation.

The ships had been a long time at sea, the enemy did not appear--and
there was no chance either of bringing him to action, or of returning
into port. Indeed nothing can be more dull and monotonous than a
blockading cruise "in the team," as we call it; that is, the ships
of the line stationed to watch an enemy. The frigates have, in this
respect, every advantage; they are always employed on shore, often
in action, and the more men they have killed, the happier are the
survivors. Some melancholy ferment on board of the flag-ship I was in
caused an open mutiny. Of course it was very soon quelled; and the
ringleaders having been tried by a court-martial, two of them were
condemned to be hanged at the yard-arm of their own ship, and were
ordered for execution the following day but one.

Our courts-martial are always arrayed in the most pompous manner,
and certainly are calculated to strike the mind with awe--even of a
captain himself. A gun is fired at eight o'clock in the morning from
the ship where it is to be held, and a union flag is displayed at the
mizen peak. If the weather be fine, the ship is arranged with the
greatest nicety; her decks are as white as snow--her hammocks are
stowed with care--her ropes are taut--her yards square--her guns
run out--and a guard of marines, under the orders of a lieutenant,
prepared to receive every member of the court with the honour due to
his rank. Before nine o'clock they are all assembled; the officers in
their undress uniform, unless an admiral is to be tried. The great
cabin is prepared, with a long table covered with a green cloth. Pens,
ink, paper, prayer-books, and the Articles of War, are laid round to
every member. "Open the court," says the president.

The court is opened, and officers and men indiscriminately stand
round. The prisoners are now brought in under the charge of the
provost-marshal, a master-at-arms, with his sword drawn, and placed
at the foot of the table, on the left hand of the judge-advocate. The
court is sworn to do its duty impartially, and if there is any doubt,
to let it go in favour of the prisoner. Having done this, the members
sit down, covered if they please.

The judge-advocate is then sworn, and the order for the court-martial
read. The prisoner is put on his trial; if he says anything to commit
himself, the court stops him, and kindly observes, "We do not want
your evidence against yourself; we want only to know what others can
prove against you." The unfortunate man is offered any assistance he
may require; and when the defence is over, the court is cleared, the
doors are shut, and the minutes, which have been taken down by the
judge-advocate, are carefully read over, the credibility of the
witnesses weighed, and the president puts the question to the youngest
member first, "Proved, or not proved?"

All having given their answer, if seven are in favour of proved, and
six against, proved is recorded. The next question--if for mutiny or
desertion, or other capital crime--"Flogging or death?" The votes
are given in the same way; if the majority be for death, the
judge-advocate writes the sentence, and it is signed by all the
members, according to seniority, beginning with the president and
ending with the judge-advocate. The court is now opened again, the
prisoner brought in, and an awful and deep silence prevails. The
members of the court all put their hats on, and are seated; every
one else, except the provost-marshal is uncovered. As soon as the
judge-advocate has read the sentence, the prisoners are delivered to
the custody of the provost-marshal, by a warrant from the president,
and he has charge of them till the time for the execution of the
sentence.

About three o'clock in the afternoon, I received a message from one of
the prisoners, saying, he wished much to speak with me. I followed the
master-at-arms down to the screened cabin, in the gun-room, where the
men were confined with their legs in irons. These irons consist of one
long bar and a set of shackles. The shackles fit the small part of the
leg, just above the ankle; and, having an eye on each end of them,
they receive the leg. The end of the bar is then passed through,
and secured with a padlock. I found the poor fellows sitting on a
shot-box. Their little meal lay before them untouched; one of them
cried bitterly; the other, a man of the name of Strange, possessed a
great deal of equanimity, although evidently deeply affected. This man
had been pretty well educated in youth, but having taken a wild and
indolent turn, had got into mischief, and to save himself from a
severe chastisement, had run away from his friends, and entered on
board a man-of-war. In this situation he had found time, in the
intervals of duty, to read and to think; he became, in time, sullen,
and separated himself from the occasional merriment of his messmates;
and it is not improbable that this moody temper had given rise to the
mutinous acts for which he was to suffer.

This man now apologized for the liberty he had taken, and said he
would not detain me long. "You see, sir," said he, "that my poor
friend is quite overcome with the horror of his situation: nor do I
wonder at it. He is very different from the hardened malefactors that
are executed on shore: we are neither of us afraid to die; but such a
death as this, Mr Mildmay--to be hung up like dogs, an example to
the fleet, and a shame and reproach to our friends--this wrings our
hearts! It is this consideration, and to save the feelings of my poor
mother, that I have sent for you. I saw you jump overboard to save a
poor fellow from drowning; so I thought you would not mind doing a
good turn for another unfortunate sailor. I have made my will, and
appointed you my executor; and with this power of attorney you will
receive all my pay and prize-money, which I will thank you to give to
my dear mother, whose address you will find written here. My motive
for this is, that she may never learn the history of my death. You can
tell her that I died for my country's good, which is very true, for I
acknowledge the justice of my sentence, and own that a severe example
is wanting. It is eleven years since I was in England; I have served
faithfully the whole of that time, nor did I ever misbehave except
in this one instance. I think if our good king knew my sad story, he
would be merciful; but God's will be done! Yet, if I had a wish, it
would be that the enemy's fleet would come out, and that I might die,
as I have lived, defending my country. But, Mr Mildmay, I have one
very important question to ask you--do you believe that there is such
a thing as a future state?"

"Most surely," said I; "though we all live as if we believed there was
no such thing. But why do you doubt it?"

"Because," said the poor fellow, "when I was an officer's servant,
I was one day tending the table in the ward-room, and I heard the
commander of a sloop of war, who was dining there with his son, say
that it was all nonsense--that there was no future state, and the
Bible was a heap of lies. I have never been happy since."

I told him that I was extremely sorry that any officer should have
used such expressions at all, particularly before him; that I was
incapable of restoring his mind to its proper state; but that I should
recommend his immediately sending for the chaplain, who, I had no
doubt, would give him all the comfort he could desire. He thanked me
for this advice, and profited by it, as he assured me in his last
moments.

"And now, sir," said he, "let me give _you_ a piece of advice. When
you are a captain, as I am very sure you will be, do not worry your
men into mutiny by making what is called a smart ship. Cleanliness and
good order are what seamen like; but niggling, polishing, scraping
iron bars, and ring-bolts, and the like of that, a sailor dislikes
more than a flogging at the gangway. If, in reefing topsails, you
happen to be a minute later than another ship, never mind it, so long
as your sails are well reefed, and fit to stand blowing weather. Many
a sail is split by bad reefing, and many a good sailor has lost his
life by that foolish hurry which has done incredible harm in the navy.
What can be more cruel or unjust than to flog the last man off the
yard? seeing that he is necessarily the most active, and cannot get in
without the imminent danger of breaking his neck; and, moreover, that
one man _must_ be last. Depend upon it, sir, 'that nothing is well
done which is done in a hurry.' But I have kept you too long. God
bless you, sir; remember my poor mother, and be sure you meet me on
the forecastle to-morrow morning."

The fatal morning came. It was eight o'clock. The gun fired--the
signal for punishment flew at our mast-head. The poor men gave a deep
groan, exclaiming, "Lord have mercy upon us!--our earthly career and
troubles are nearly over!" The master-at-arms came in, unlocked the
padlock at the end of the bars, and, slipping off the shackles,
desired the marine sentinels to conduct the prisoners to the
quarter-deck.

Here was a scene of solemnity which I hardly dare attempt to describe.
The day was clear and beautiful; the top-gallant yards were crossed on
board of all the ships; the colours were flying; the crews were all
dressed in white trousers and blue jackets, and hung in clusters, like
bees, on the side of the rigging facing our ship: a guard of marines,
under arms, was placed along each gangway, but on board of our ship
they were on the quarter-deck. Two boats from each ship lay off upon
their oars alongside of us, with a lieutenant's and a corporal's guard
in each, with fixed bayonets. The hands were all turned up by the
boatswain and his mates with a shrill whistle, and calling down each
hatchway, "All hands attend punishment!"

You now heard the quick trampling of feet up the ladders, but not
a word was spoken. The prisoners stood on the middle of the
quarter-deck, while the captain read the sentence of the court-martial
and the order from the commander-in-chief for the execution The
appropriate prayers and psalms having been read by the chaplain, with
much feeling and devotion, the poor men were asked if they were ready;
they both replied in the affirmative, but each requested to have a
glass of wine, which was instantly brought. They drank it off, bowing
most respectfully to the captain and officers.

The admiral did not appear, it not being etiquette; but the prisoners
desired to be kindly and gratefully remembered to him; they then
begged to shake hands with the captain and all the officers, which
having done, they asked permission to address the ship's company. The
captain ordered them all to come aft on the top and quarter-deck. The
most profound silence reigned, and there was not an eye but had a tear
in it.

William Strange, the man who had sent for me, then said, in a clear
and audible tone of voice:--"Brother sailors, attend to the last words
of a dying man. We are brought here at the instigation of some of you
who are now standing in safety among the crowd: you have made fools of
us, and we are become the victims to the just vengeance of the laws.
Had you succeeded in the infamous design you contemplated, what would
have been the consequences? Ruin, eternal ruin, to yourselves and to
your families; a disgrace to your country, and the scorn of those
foreigners to whom you proposed delivering up the ship. Thank God you
did not succeed. Let our fate be a warning to you, and endeavour to
show by your future acts your deep contrition for the past. Now, sir,"
turning to the captain, "we are ready."

This beautiful speech from the mouth of a common sailor must as much
astonish the reader as it then did the captain and officers of the
ship. But Strange, as I have shown, was no common man; he had had
the advantage of education, and, like many of the ringleaders at the
mutiny of the Nore, was led into the error of refusing to _obey_, from
the conscious feeling that he was born to _command_.

The arms of the prisoners were then pinioned, and the chaplain led the
way, reading the funeral service; the master-at-arms, with two
marine sentinels, conducted them along the starboard gangway to the
forecastle; here a stage was erected on either side, over the
cathead, with steps to ascend to it; a tail block was attached to the
boom-iron, at the outer extremity of each foreyard-arm, and through
this a rope was rove, one end of which came down to the stage; the
other was led along the yard into the catharpings, and thence down
upon the main-deck. A gun was primed and ready to fire, on the fore
part of the ship, directly beneath the scaffold.

I attended poor Strange to the very last moment; he begged me to see
that the halter, which was a piece of line, like a clothes' line,
was properly made fast round his neck, for he had known men suffer
dreadfully from the want of this precaution. A white cap was placed on
the head of each man, and when both mounted the platform, the cap was
drawn over their eyes. They shook hands with me, with their messmates,
and with the chaplain, assuring him that they died happy, and
confident in the hopes of redemption. They then stood still while the
yard ropes were fixed to the halter by a toggle in the running noose
of the latter; the other end of the yard-ropes were held by some
twenty or thirty men on each side of the main-deck, where two
lieutenants of the ship attended.

All being ready, the captain waved a white handkerchief, the gun
fired, and in an instant the poor fellows were seen swinging at either
yard-arm. They had on blue jackets and white trousers, and were
remarkably fine-looking young men. They did not appear to suffer any
pain, and at the expiration of an hour, the bodies were lowered down,
placed in coffins, and sent on shore for interment.

On my arrival in England, nine months after, I acquitted myself of my
promise, and paid to the mother of William Strange upwards of fifty
pounds, for pay and prize-money. I told the poor woman that her son
had died a Christian, and had fallen for the good of his country;
and having said this, I took a hasty leave, for fear she should ask
questions.

That the execution of a man on board of a ship of war does not always
produce a proper effect upon the minds of the younger boys, the
following fact may serve to prove.

There were two little fellows on board the ship; one was the son of
the carpenter, the other of the boatswain. They were both of them
surprised and interested at the sight, but not proportionably shocked.
The next day I was down in one of the wings, reading by the light of
a purser's dip--_vulgo_, a farthing candle, when these two boys came
sliding down the main hatchway by one of the cables. Whether they saw
me, and thought I would not 'peach, or whether they supposed I was
asleep, I cannot tell; but they took their seats on the cables, in
the heart of the tier, and for some time appeared to be in earnest
conversation. They had some articles folded up in a dirty check shirt
and pocket-handkerchief; they looked up at the battens, to which the
hammocks are suspended, and producing a long rope-yarn, tried to pass
it over one of them; but unable to reach, one boy climbed on the back
of the other, and effected two purposes, by reeving one end of the
line, and bringing it down to the cables again. They next unrolled the
shirt, and, to my surprise, took out the boatswain's kitten, about
three months old; its fore paws were tied behind its back, its hind
feet were tied together, and a fishing-lead attached to them; a piece
of white rag was tied over its head as a cap.

It was now pretty evident what the fate of poor puss was likely to be,
and why the lead was made fast to her feet. The rope-yarn was tied
round her neck; they each shook one of her paws, and pretended to cry.
One of the urchins held in his hand a fife, into which he poured as
much flour as it would hold out of the handkerchief, the other held
the end of the rope-yarn: every ceremony was gone through that they
could think of.

"Are you ready?" said the executioner, or he that held the line.

"All ready," replied the boy with the fife.

"Fire the gun!" said the hangman.

The boy applied one end of the fife to his mouth, blew out all the
flour, and in this humble imitation of the smoke of a gun, poor puss
was run up to the batten, where she hung till she was dead. I am
ashamed to say I did not attempt to save the kitten's life, although I
caused her foul murder to be revenged by the _cat_.

After the body had hung a certain time, they took it down and buried
it in the shot-locker; this was an indictable offence, as the smell
would have proved, so I lodged the information; the body was found,
and as the facts were clear, the law took its course, to the great
amusement of the bystanders, who saw the brats tied upon a gun, and
well flogged.

The boatswain ate the kitten, first, he said, because he had
"_larned_" to eat cats in Spain; secondly, because she had _not_ died
a natural death (I thought otherwise); and his last reason was more
singular than either of the others: he had seen a picture in a church
in Spain, of Peter's vision of the animals let down in the sheet, and
there was a cat among them. Observing an alarm of scepticism in my
eye, he thought proper to confirm his assertion with an oath.

"Might it not have been a rabbit?" said I.

"Rabbit, sir; d----n me, think I didn't know a cat from a rabbit? Why
one has got short ears and long tail, and t'other has got _wicee
wersee_, as we calls it."

A grand carnival masquerade was to be given at Minorca in honour of
the English, and the place chosen for the exhibition was a church; all
which was perfectly consistent with the Romish faith. I went in the
character of a fool, and met many brother officers there. It was a
comical sight to see the anomalous groups stared at by the pictures of
the Virgin Mary and all the saints, whose shrines were lit up for the
occasion with wax tapers. The admiral, rear-admiral, and most of the
captains and officers of the fleet were present; the place was about a
mile from the town.

Having hired a fool's dress, I mounted that very appropriate animal--a
donkey, and set off amidst the shouts of a thousand dirty vagabonds.
On my arrival, I began to show off in somersaults, leaps, and all
kinds of practical jokes. The manner in which I supported the
character drew a little crowd around me. I never spoke to an admiral
or captain unless he addressed me first; and then I generally sold him
a bargain. Being very well acquainted with the domestic economy of the
ships on the station, a martinet asked me if I would enter for his
ship. "No," said I, "you would give me three dozen for not lashing
up my hammock properly." "Come with me," said another. "No," said I,
"your bell-rope is too short--you cannot reach it to order another
bottle of wine before all the officers have left your table." Another
promised me kind treatment and plenty of wine. "No," said I, "in your
ship I should be coals at Newcastle; besides, your coffee is too weak,
your steward only puts one ounce into six cups."

These hits afforded a good deal of mirth among the crowd, and even the
admiral himself honoured me with a smile. I bowed respectfully to
his lordship, who merely said--"What do you want of me, fool?" "Oh,
nothing at all, my lord," said I, "I have only a small favour to ask
of you." "What is that?" said the admiral. "Only to make me a captain,
my lord." "Oh, no," said the admiral, "we never make fools captains."
"No" said I, clapping my arms akimbo in a very impertinent manner,
"then that, I suppose, is a new regulation. How long has the order in
council been out?"

The good-humoured old chief laughed heartily at this piece of
impertinence; but the captain whose ship I had so recently quitted was
silly enough to be offended: he found me out, and went and complained
of me to my captain the next day; but my captain only laughed at him,
said he thought it an excellent joke, and invited me to dinner.

Our ship was ordered to Gibraltar, where we arrived soon after; and
a packet coming in from England, I received letters from my father,
announcing the death of my dearest mother. O how I then regretted all
the sorrows I had ever caused her; how incessantly did busy memory
haunt me with all my misdeeds, and recall to mind the last moment I
had seen her! I never supposed I could have regretted her half so
much. My father stated that in her last moments she had expressed the
greatest solicitude for my welfare. She feared the career of life on
which I had entered would not conduce to my eternal welfare, however
much it might promise to my temporal advantage. Her dying injunctions
to me were never to forget the moral and religious principles in which
she had brought me up; and, with her last blessing, implored me to
read my Bible, and take it as my guide through life.

My father's letter was both an affecting and forcible appeal; and
never, in the whole course of my subsequent life, were my feelings so
worked upon as they were on that occasion. I went to my hammock with
an aching head and an almost broken heart. A retrospection of my life
afforded me no comfort. The numerous acts of depravity or pride, of
revenge or deceit, of which I had been guilty, rushed through my mind,
as the tempest through the rigging, and called me to the most serious
and melancholy reflections. It was some time before I could collect
my thoughts and analyse my feelings; but when I recalled all my
misdeeds--my departure from that path of virtue, so often and so
clearly laid down by my affectionate parent--I was overwhelmed with
grief, shame, and repentance. I considered how often I had been on the
brink of eternity; and had I been cut off in my sins, what would have
been my destiny? I started with horror at the dangers I had escaped,
and looked forward with gloomy apprehension at those that still
awaited me. I sought in vain, among all my actions since I left my
mother's care, one single deed of virtue--one that sprang from a good
motive. There was, it is true, an outward gloss and polish for the
world to look at; but all was dark within: and I felt that a keener
eye than that of mortality was searching my soul, where deception was
worse than useless.

At twelve o'clock, before I had once closed my eyes, I was called to
relieve the deck, having what is called the middle watch, i.e. from
midnight till four in the morning. We had, the day before, buried
a quarter-master, nick-named Quid, an old seaman who had destroyed
himself by drinking--no very uncommon case in His Majesty's service.
The corpse of a man who has destroyed his inside by intemperance is
generally in a state of putridity immediately after death; and the
decay, particularly in warm climates, is very rapid. A few hours after
Quid's death, the body emitted certain effluvia denoting the necessity
of immediate interment. It was accordingly sewn up in a hammock; and
as the ship lay in deep water, with a current sweeping round the bay,
and the boats being at the same time all employed at the dockyard, the
first lieutenant caused shot to be tied to the feet, and, having read
the funeral service, launched the body overboard from the gangway, as
the ship lay at anchor.

I was walking the deck, in no very happy state of mind, reflecting
seriously on parts of that Bible which for more than two years I had
never looked into, when my thoughts were called to the summons which
poor Quid had received, and the beauty of the funeral service which
I had heard read over him--"I am the resurrection and the life." The
moon, which had been obscured, suddenly burst from a cloud, and a cry
of horror proceeded from the look-out man on the starboard gangway.
I ran to inquire the cause, and found him in such a state of nervous
agitation that he could only say,--"Quid--Quid!" and point with his
finger into the water.

I looked over the side, and, to my amazement there was the body of
Quid,

"All in dreary hammock shrouded,"

perfectly upright, and floating with the head and shoulders above
water. A slight undulation of the waves gave it the appearance of
nodding its head; while the rays of the moon enabled us to trace the
remainder of the body underneath the surface. For a few moments, I
felt a horror which I cannot describe, and contemplated the object in
awful silence; while my blood ran cold, and I felt a sensation as if
my hair was standing on end. I was completely taken by surprise, and
thought the body had risen up to warn me; but in a few seconds I
regained my presence of mind, and I soon perceived the origin of this
reappearance of the corpse. I ordered the cutter to be manned, and,
in the meantime, went down to inform the first lieutenant of what had
occurred. He laughed, and said, "I suppose the old boy finds salt
water not quite so palatable as grog. Tie some more shot to his feet,
and bring the old fellow to his moorings again. Tell him, the next
time he trips his anchor, not to run on board of us. He had his
regular allowance of prayer: I gave him the whole service, and I shall
not give him any more." So saying, he went to sleep again.

This apparently singular circumstance is easily accounted for. Bodies
decomposing from putridity, generate a quantity of gas, which swells
them up to an enormous size, and renders them buoyant. The body of
this man was thrown overboard just as decomposition was in progress:
the shot made fast to the feet were sufficient to sink it at the time;
but in a few hours after were not competent to keep it at the bottom,
and it came up to the surface in that perpendicular position which I
have described. The current in the bay being at the time either slack
or irregular, it floated at the spot whence it had been launched into
the water.

The cutter, being manned, was sent with more shot to attach to the
body, and sink it. When they attempted to hold it with the boat-hook,
it eluded the touch, turning round and round, or bobbing under the
water, and coming up again, as if in sport: but accident saved them
any further trouble; for the bowman, reproached by the boat's crew
for not hooking the body, got angry, and darting the spike of the
boat-hook into the abdomen, the pent-up gas escaped with a loud whiz,
and the corpse instantly sank like a stone. Many jokes were passed on
the occasion; but I was not in humour for joking on serious subjects:
and before the watch was out I had made up my mind to go home, and to
quit the service, as I found I had no chance of obeying my mother's
dying injunctions if I remained where I was.

The next morning I stated my wishes to the captain, not of quitting
the service, but of going home in consequence of family arrangements.
This was about as necessary as that I should make a pilgrimage to
Jerusalem. The captain had been told of the unpleasant news I had
received, and having listened to all I had to say, he replied, that if
I could make up my mind to remain with him it would be better for me.

"You are now," said he, "accustomed to my ways--you know your duty,
and do your work well; indeed, I have made honourable mention of you
to the Admiralty in my public letter: you know your own business best"
(here he was mistaken--he ought not to have parted with me for the
reasons which I offered); "but my advice to you is to stay."

I thanked him--but being bent and determined on going home, he acceded
to my request; gave me my discharge, and added a very handsome
certificate of good conduct, far beyond the usually prescribed form;
he also told me that if I chose to return to him he would keep a
vacancy for me. I parted with the officers, my messmates, and the
ship's company with regret. I had been more than three years with
them; and my stormy commencement had settled down into a quiet and
peaceful acknowledgment of my supremacy in the berth; my qualities
were such as to make me a universal favourite, and I was followed down
the ship's side with the hearty good wishes of all. I was pulled in
the cutter on board of a ship of the line, in which I was ordered to
take my passage to England.



Chapter IX

  How happy could I be with either,
  Were t'other dear charmer away!

  "_Beggar's Opera_."


Hell, they say, is paved with good intentions. If so, it has a much
better pavement than it deserves; for the "trail of the serpent
is over us all." Then why send to hell the greatest proof of our
perfection before the fall, and of weakness subsequent to it? Honest
and sincere professions of amendment must carry with them to the
Throne of Grace a strong recommendation, even if we are again led
astray by the allurements of sense and the snares of the world. At
least, our tears of contrition and repentance, our sorrow for the
past, and our firm resolves for the future, must have given "joy in
heaven," and consequently cannot have been converted into pavement for
the infernal regions.

Pleasure and pain, in youth, are, for the most part, transient
impressions, whether they arise from possession or loss of worldly
enjoyment, or from a sense of having done well or ill in our career.
The excitement, though strong, is not durable; and thus it was with
me. I had not been more than four days on board the ship of the line
in which I took my passage to England, when I felt my spirits buoyant,
and my levity almost amounting to delirium. The hours of reflection
were at first shortened, and then dismissed entirely. The general
mirth of my new shipmates at the thoughts of once more revisiting
their dear native land--the anticipation of indulging in the sensual
worship of Bacchus and Venus, the constant theme of discourse among
the midshipmen; the loud and senseless applause bestowed on the
coarsest ribaldry--these all had their share in destroying that
religious frame of mind in which I had parted with my first captain,
and seemed to awaken me to a sense of the folly I had been guilty of
in quitting a ship, where I was not only at the head of my mess, but
in a fair way for promotion. I considered that I had acted the part of
a madman, and had again begun to renew my career of sin and of folly,
a little, and but a little, sobered by the recent event.

We arrived in England after the usual passage from the Rock. I
consented to pass two days at Portsmouth, with my new companions, to
revisit our old haunts, and to commit those excesses which fools
and knaves applauded and partook of, at my expense, leaving me
full leisure to repent, after we separated. I, however, did muster
resolution enough to pack my trunk; and, after an extravagant supper
at the Fountain, retired to bed intoxicated, and the next morning,
with an aching head, threw myself into the coach and drove off for
London. A day of much hilarity is generally succeeded by one of
depression. This is fair and natural; we draw too largely on our
stock, and squander our enjoyment like our money, leaving us the next
day with low spirits and a lower purse.

A stupid dejection succeeded the boisterous mirth of the overnight.
I slumbered in a corner of the coach till about one o'clock, when we
reached Godalming, where I alighted, took a slight refreshment, and
resumed my seat. As we drove along, I had more leisure, and was in a
fitter frame of mind to review my past conduct since I had quitted
my ship at Gibraltar. My self-examination, as usual, produced no
satisfactory results. I perceived that the example of bad company had
swept away every trace of good resolution which I had made on the
death of my mother. I saw, with grief, that I had no dependence on
myself; I had forgotten all my good intentions, and the firm vows of
amendment with which I had bound myself, and had yielded to the first
temptation which came in my way.

In vain did I call up every black and threatening cloud of domestic
sorrow, which was to meet me on my return home--the dreadful vacuum
occasioned by my mother's death--the grief of my father--my brother
and my sisters in deep mourning, and the couch on which I had left the
best of parents, when I turned away my thoughtless head from her in
the anguish of her grief. I renewed my promise of amendment, and felt
some secret consolation in doing so.

When I arrived at my father's door, the servant who let me in, greeted
me with a loud and hearty welcome. I ran into the drawing-room, where
I found that my brother and sisters had a party of children to spend
the evening with them. They were dancing to the music of a piano,
played on by my aunt, while my father sat in his arm-chair, in high
good-humour.

This was a very different scene from what I had expected. I was
prepared for a sentimental and affecting meeting; and my feelings were
all worked up to their full bearing for the occasion. Judge, then, of
the sudden revulsion in my mind, when I found mirth and good
humour where I expected tears and lamentations. It had escaped my
recollection, that although the death of my mother was an event new
to me, it had happened six months before I had heard of it; and,
consequently, with them grief had given way to time. I was astonished
at their apparent want of feeling; while they gazed with surprise at
the sight of me, and the symbols of woe displayed in my equipment.

My father welcomed me with surprise; asked where my ship was, and what
had brought her home. The fact was, that in my sudden determination to
return to England, I had spared myself the trouble of writing to make
known my intentions; and, indeed, if I had written, I should have
arrived as soon as my letter, unless (which I ought to have done) I
had written on my arrival at Portsmouth, instead of throwing away my
time in the very worst species of dissipation. Unable, therefore, in
the presence of many witnesses, to give my father that explanation
which he had a right to expect, I suffered greatly for a time in his
opinion. He very naturally supposed that some disgraceful conduct on
my part was the cause of my sudden return. His brow became clouded and
his mind seemed occupied with deep reflection.

This behaviour of my father, together with the continued noisy mirth
of my brother and sisters, gave me considerable pain. I felt as if,
in the sad news of my mother's death, I had over-acted my part in the
feeling I had shown, and the sacrifice I had made in quitting my ship.
On explaining to my father, in private, the motives of my conduct, I
was not successful. He could not believe that my mother's death was
the sole cause of my return to England. I stood many firm and angry
interrogations as to the possible good which could accrue to me by
quitting my ship. I showed him the captain's handsome certificate,
which only mortified him the more. In vain did I plead my excess
of feeling. He replied with an argument that I feel to have been
unanswerable--that I had quitted my ship when on the very pinnacle of
favour, and in the road to fortune. "And what," said he, "is to become
of the navy and the country, if every officer is to return home when
he receives the news of the death of a relation?"

In proportion as my father's arguments carried conviction, they did
away, at the same time, all the good impressions of my mother's dying
injunction. If her death was a matter of so little importance, her
last words were equally so; and from that moment I ceased to think of
either. My father's treatment of me was now very different from what
it had ever been during my mother's lifetime. My requests were
harshly refused, and I was lectured more as a child than as a lad of
_eighteen_, who had seen much of the world.

Coldness on his part was met by a spirit of resistance on mine. Pride
came in to my assistance. A dispute arose one evening, at the finale
of which I gave him to understand that if I could not live quietly
under his roof, I would quit it. He calmly recommended me to do so,
little supposing that I should have taken his advice. I left the room,
banging the door after me, packed up a few changes of linen, and took
my departure, unperceived by any one, with my bundle on my shoulder,
and about sixteen shillings in my pocket.

Here was a great mismanagement on the part of my father, and still
greater on mine. He was anxious to get me afloat again, and I had no
sort of objection to going; but his impatience and my pride spoiled
all. Reflection soon came to me, but came too late. Night was fast
approaching: I had no house over my head, and my exchequer was in no
very flourishing condition.

I had walked six miles from my father's house, when I began to tire.
It became dark, and I had no fixed plan. A gentleman's carriage came
by; I took up a position in the rear of it, and had ridden four miles,
when, as the carriage was slowly dragging up a hill, I was discovered
by the parties inside; and the postilion, who had dismounted and been
informed of it, saluted me with two or three smart cuts of his whip,
intimating that I was of no use, but rather an incumbrance which could
be dispensed with.

My readers know that I had long since adopted the motto of our
northern neighbours, _Nemo me_, &c.; so waiting very quietly till the
driver had mounted his horses, at the top of the hill, that he might
be more at my mercy, I discharged a stone at his head which caused him
to vacate his seat, and fall under his horse's belly. The animals,
frightened at his fall, turned short round to the right, or they would
have gone over him, and ran furiously down the hill. The post-boy,
recovering his legs, followed his horses without bestowing a thought
on the author of the mischief; and I made all the haste I could in
the opposite direction, perfectly indifferent as to the fate of the
parties inside of the carriage, for I still smarted with the blows I
had received.

"Fools and unkind," muttered I, looking back, as they disappeared at
the bottom of the hill, with frightful velocity, "you are rightly
served. I was a trespasser, 'tis true, but a civil request would have
had all the effect you required--that of inducing me to get down; but
a whip to me--" And with my blood still boiling at the recollection, I
hastily pursued my journey.

In a few minutes I reached the little town of ----, the lights of which
were visible at the time the horses had turned down the hill and run
away. Entering the first inn I came to, I found the large room below
occupied by a set of strolling players, who had just returned from a
successful performance of "Romeo and Juliet;" and, from the excitement
among them, it was easy to perceive that their success had been fully
equal to their expectations. They were fourteen in number, seated
round a table, not indifferently covered with the good things of this
life; they were clad in theatrical costume, which, with the rapid
circulation of the bottle, gave the whole scene an air of romantic
freedom, calculated to interest the mind of a thoughtless half-pay
midshipman.

Being hungry after my walk, I determined to join the party at supper,
which, being a _table d'hôte_ was easily effected. One of the
actresses, a sweet little, well-proportioned creature, with large
black eyes, was receiving, with apparent indifference, the compliments
of the better sort of bumpkins and young farmers of the neighbourhood.
In her momentary and occasional smiles, she discovered a beautiful set
of small, white teeth; but when she resumed her pensive attitude,
I was sensible of an enchanting air of melancholy, which deeply
interested me in favour of this poor girl, who was evidently in a
lower situation in life than that for which she had been educated. The
person who sat nearest to her vacated his seat as soon as he found his
attentions were thrown away. I instantly took possession of the place,
and, observing the greatest respect, entered at once into conversation
with her.

Whether she was pleased with my address and language, as being
superior to what she was usually compelled to listen to, or whether
she was flattered by my assiduous attention, I know not; but she
gradually unbent, and became more animated; showing great natural
talent and a highly-cultivated mind; so that I was every moment more
astonished to find her in such a situation.

Our conversation had lasted a considerable time; and I had just made
a remark to which she had not replied, apparently struggling with
concealed emotion, when we were interrupted by a carriage driving up
to the door, and cries of "Help! help!" I instantly quitted the side
of my new acquaintance, and flew to answer the signal of distress.

A gentleman in the carriage was supporting a young lady in his arms,
to all appearance lifeless. With my assistance, she was speedily
removed into the house, and conveyed to a bedroom. A surgeon was sent
for, but none was to be had; the only practitioner of the town being
at that moment gone to attend one of those cases which, according
to Mr Malthus, are much too frequent for the good of the country. I
discovered that the carriage had been overturned, and that the young
lady had been insensible ever since.

There was no time to be lost; I knew that immediate bleeding was
absolutely necessary. I had acquired thus much of surgical knowledge
in the course of my professional duties. I stated my opinion to the
gentleman; and although my practice had been very slight, offered my
services to perform the operation. This offer was accepted with
thanks by the grateful father, for such I found he was. With my sharp
penknife I opened a vein in one of the whitest arms I ever beheld.
After a few moments' chafing, the blood flowed more freely; the pulse
indicated returning animation; a pair of large blue eyes opened
suddenly upon me like a masked battery; and so alarmingly susceptible
was I of the tender passion, that I quite forgot the little actress
whom I had left at the supper-table, and who, a few minutes before,
had occupied my whole thoughts and attention.

Having succeeded in restoring the fair patient to consciousness, I
prescribed a warm bed, some tea, and careful watching. My orders were
punctually obeyed; I then quitted the apartment of my patient, and
began to ruminate over the hurried and singular events of the day.

I had scarcely had time to decide in my own mind on the respective
merits of my two rival beauties when the surgeon arrived; and, being
ushered into the sick-room, declared that the patient had been treated
with skill, and that in all probability she owed her life to my
presence of mind. "But, give me leave to ask," said the doctor,
addressing the father, "how the accident happened?" The gentleman
replied that a scoundrel having got up behind the carriage, had been
flogged off by the postilion; and, in revenge, had thrown a stone,
which knocked the driver off his horse: they took fright, turned
round, and ran away down the hill towards their own stables; and after
running five miles, upset the carriage against a post, "by which
accident," said he, "my poor daughter was nearly killed."

"What a villain!" said the doctor.

"Villain, indeed," echoed I; and so I felt I was. I turned sick at the
thought of what my ungoverned passion had done; and my regret was
not a little increased by the charms of my lovely victim; but I soon
recovered from the shock, particularly when I saw that no suspicion
attached to me. I therefore received the praises of the father and the
doctor with a becoming modest diffidence; and, with a hearty shake of
the hand from the grateful parent, was wished a good night and retired
to my bed.

As I stood before the looking-glass, laying my watch and exhausted
purse on the dressing-table, and leisurely untying my cravat, I could
not forbear a glance of approbation at what I thought a very handsome
and a very impudent face: I soliloquised on the events of the day,
and, as usual, found the summing-up very much against me. "This, then,
sir," said I, "is your road to repentance and reform. You insult your
father; quit his house; get up, like a vagabond, behind a gentleman's
carriage; are flogged off, break the ribs of an honest man, who has a
wife and family to support out of his hard earnings--are the occasion
of a carriage being overturned, and very nearly cause the death of an
amiable girl! And all this mischief in the short space of six hours,
not to say a word of your intentions towards the little actress, which
I presume are none of the most honourable. Where is all this to end?"

"At the gallows," said I, in reply to myself,--"the more probably,
too, as my finances have no means of improvement, except by a miracle
or highway robbery. I am in love with two girls, and have only two
clean shirts; consequently there is no proportion between the demand
and the supply."

With this medley of reflections I fell asleep. I was awoke early by
the swallows twittering at the windows; and the first question which
was agitated in my brain was what account I should give of myself to
the father of the young lady, when interrogated by him, as I most
certainly should be. I had my choice between truth and falsehood: the
latter (such is the force of habit), I think, carried it hollow; but
I determined to leave that point to the spur of the moment, and act
according to circumstances.

My meditations were interrupted by the chambermaid, who, tapping at my
door, said she came to tell me "that the gentleman that _belonged_ to
the young lady that I was so kind to, was waiting breakfast for me."

The thought of sitting at table with the dear creature whose brains I
had so nearly spilled upon the road the night before quite overcame
me; and leaving the fabric of my history to chance or to inspiration,
I darted from my bedroom to the parlour, where the stranger awaited
me. He received me with great cordiality, again expressed his
obligations, and informed me that his name was Somerville, of ----.

I had some faint recollection of having heard the name mentioned by my
father, and was endeavouring to recall to mind on what occasion, when
Mr Somerville interrupted me by saying, that he hoped he should have
the pleasure of knowing the name of the young gentleman who had
conferred such an obligation upon him. I answered that my name was
Mildmay; for I had no time to tell a lie.

"I should be happy to think," said he, "that you were the son of my
old friend and school-fellow, Mr Mildmay, of ----; but that cannot
well be," said he, "for he had only two sons--one at college, the
other as brave a sailor as ever lived, and now in the Mediterranean:
but perhaps you are some relation of his?"

He had just concluded this speech, and before I had time to reply to
it, the door opened, and Miss Somerville entered. We have all heard a
great deal about "love at first sight;" but I contend that the man who
would not, at the very first glimpse of Emily Somerville, have fallen
desperately in love with her, could have had neither heart nor soul.
If I thought her lovely when she lay in a state of insensibility, what
did I think of her when her form had assumed its wonted animation, and
her cheeks their natural colour? To describe a perfect beauty never
was my forte. I can only say, that Miss Somerville, as far as I am
a judge, united in her person all the component parts of the finest
specimen of her sex in England; and these were joined in such harmony
by the skilful hand of Nature, that I was ready to kneel down and
adore her.

As she extended her white hand to me, and thanked me for my kindness,
I was so taken aback with the sudden appearance and address of this
beautiful vision, that I knew not what to say. I stammered out
something, but have no recollection whether it was French or English.
I lost my presence of mind, and the blushes of conscious guilt on
my face at that moment, might have been mistaken for those of
unsophisticated innocence. That these external demonstrations are
often confounded, and that such was the case on the present occasion,
there can be no doubt. My embarrassment was ascribed to that modesty
ever attendant on real worth.

It has been said that true merit blushes at being discovered; but I
have lived to see merit that could not blush, and the want of it that
could, while the latter has marched off with all the honours due to
the former. The blush that burned on my cheek, at that moment, would
have gone far to have condemned a criminal at the Old Bailey; but in
the countenance of a handsome young man was received as the unfailing
marks of "a pure ingenuous soul."

I had been too long at school to be ashamed of wearing laurels I had
never won; and, having often received a flogging which I did not
deserve, I thought myself equally well entitled to any advantages
which the chances of war might throw in my way; so having set my
tender conscience at rest, I sat myself down between my new mistress
and her father, and made a most delightful breakfast. Miss Somerville,
although declared out of danger by the doctor, was still languid, but
able to continue her journey; and as they had not many miles further
to go, Mr Somerville proposed a delay of an hour or two.

Breakfast ended, he quitted the room to arrange for their departure,
and I found myself _tête-à-tête_ with the young lady. During this
short absence, I found out that she was an only daughter, and that her
mother was dead; she again introduced the subject of my family name,
and I found also that before Mrs Somerville's death, my father had
been on terms of great intimacy with Emily's parents. I had not
replied to Mr Somerville's question. A similar one was now asked by
his daughter; and so closely was I interrogated by her coral lips and
searching blue eyes, that I could not tell a lie. It would have been a
horrid aggravation of guilt, so I honestly owned that I was the son of
her father's friend, Mr Mildmay.

"Good heaven!" said she, "why had you not told my father so?"

"Because I must have said a great deal more; besides," added I, making
her my confidante. "I am the midshipman whom Mr Somerville supposes to
be in the Mediterranean, and I ran away from my father's house last
night."

Although I was as concise as possible in my story, I had not finished
before Mr Somerville came in.

"Oh, papa," said his daughter, "this young gentleman is Frank Mildmay,
after all."

I gave her a reproachful glance for having betrayed my secret; her
father was astonished--she looked confused, and so did I.

Nothing now remained for me but an open and candid confession, taking
especial care, however, to conceal the part I had acted in throwing
the stone. Mr Somerville reproved me very sharply, which I thought was
taking a great liberty; but he softened it down by adding, "If you
knew how dear the interests of your family are to me, you would not be
surprised at my assuming the tone of a parent." I looked at Emily, and
pocketed the affront.

"And, Frank," pursued he, "when I tell you, that, although the
distance between your father's property and mine has in some measure
interrupted our long intimacy, I have been watching your career in the
service with interest, you will, perhaps, take my advice, and return
home. Do not let me have to regret that one to whom I am under such
obligations should be too proud to acknowledge a fault. I admire a
high spirit in a good cause: but towards a parent it can never be
justified. It may be unpleasant to you; but I will prepare the way by
writing to your father: and do you stay here till you hear from me. I
should wish for the pleasure of your company at ---- Hall; but your
father has prior claims; and I hardly need tell you, that once
restored and reconciled to him, I expect as long a visit as you can
afford to pay me. Think on what I have said; and, in the meantime, as
I daresay your finances are not very flourishing"--(thinks I, you are
a witch!)--"allow me to leave this ten-pound note in your hands."
This part of his request was much more readily complied with than the
other.

He left the room, as he said, to pay the bill; but I believe it was
to give his fair daughter an opportunity of trying the effect of
her eloquence on my proud spirit, which gave no great promise of
concession. A few minutes with _her_, did more than both the fathers
could have effected, the most powerful motive to submission being
the certainty that I could not visit at her father's house until a
reconciliation had taken place between me and mine. I therefore told
her that, at her solicitation, I would submit to any liberal terms.

This being agreed to, her father observed that the carriage was at the
door, shook hands with me, and led his lovely daughter away, whose
last nod and parting look confirmed all my good resolutions.

Reader, whatever you may think of the trifling incidents of the last
twenty-four hours, you will find that they involved consequences of
vast importance to the writer of this memoir. Pride induced me to quit
my father's house; revenge stimulated me to an act which brought the
heroine of this story on the stage, for such will Emily Somerville
prove to be. But, alas! by what fatal infatuation was Mr Somerville
induced to leave me my own master at an inn, with ten pounds in my
pocket, instead of taking me with him to his own residence, and
keeping me till he had heard from my father? The wisest men often err
in points which at first appear of trivial importance, but which prove
in the sequel to have been fraught with evil.

Left to myself, I ruminated for some time on what had occurred; and
the beautiful Emily Somerville having vanished from my sight, I
recollected the little fascinating actress from whom I had so suddenly
parted on the preceding night; still I must say, that I was so much
occupied with the charms of her successor, that I sought the society
of the youthful Melpomene more with a view to beguile the time, than
from any serious prepossession.

I found her in the large room, where they were all assembled. She
received me as a friend, and evinced a partiality which flattered
my vanity. In three days, I received a letter from Mr Somerville,
inclosing one from my father, whose only request was, that I would
return home, and meet him as if nothing unpleasant had occurred. This
I determined to do; but I had now been so long in the company of
Eugenia (for that was the actress's name), that I could not very
easily part with her. In fact, I was desperately in love, after my
fashion; and though perhaps I could not with truth say the same
of her, yet that she was partial to my company was evident. I had
obtained from her the history of her life, which, in the following
chapter, I shall give in her own words.



Chapter X

    She is virtuous, though bred behind the scenes: and, whatever
    pleasure she may feel in seeing herself applauded on the stage,
    she would much rather pass for a modest girl, than for a good
    actress.--_Gil Blas_.


"My father," said Eugenia, "was at the head of this company of
strolling players; my mother was a young lady of respectable family,
at a boarding-school. She took a fancy to my father in the character
of 'Rolla'; and, being of course deservedly forsaken by her friends,
became a prima donna. I was the only fruits of this connection, and
the only solace of my mother in her affliction; for she bitterly
repented the rash step she had taken.

"At five years old, my father proposed that I should take the
character of Cupid, in the opera of Telemaque. To this my mother
strongly objected, declaring that I never should go upon the stage;
and this created a disunion which was daily embittered by my father's
unkind treatment both of my mother and myself. I never left her side
for fear of a kick, which I was sure to receive when I had not her
protection. She employed all her spare time in my instruction, and,
notwithstanding the folly she had been guilty of, she was fully
competent to the task.

"When I was seven years old, a relation of my mother died, and
bequeathed fifteen thousand pounds, to be equally divided between her
and her two sisters, securing my mother's portion in such a manner as
to prevent my father having any control over it. As soon as my mother
obtained this information, she quitted my father, who was too prudent
to spend either his time or his money in pursuit of her. Had he
been aware of her sudden change of fortune, he might have acted
differently.

"We arrived in London, took possession of the property, which was all
in the funds; and then, fearing my father might gain information of
her wealth, my mother set off for France, taking me with her. There I
passed the happiest days of my life; my mother spared no pains, and
went to considerable expense in my education. The best masters were
provided for me in singing, dancing, and music; and so much did I
profit by their instruction, that I was very soon considered a pretty
specimen of my countrywomen, and much noticed accordingly.

"From France we went to Italy, where we remained two years, and where
my vocal education was completed. My poor mother lived all this time
on the principal of her fortune, concluding it would last for ever.
At last she was taken ill of a fever, and died. This was about a year
ago, when I was only sixteen. Delirious many days before her death,
she could give me no instructions as to my future conduct, or where
to apply for resources. I happened, however, to know her banker in
London, and wrote to him immediately; in answer, he informed me that a
balance of forty pounds was all that remained in his hands.

"I believe he cheated me, but I could not help it. My spirits were
not depressed at this news; I sold all the furniture; paid the little
debts to the tradespeople, and, with nine pounds in my pocket, took
my place in the diligence, and set off for London, where I arrived
without accident. I read in the newspaper, at the inn, that a
provincial company was in want of a young actress for genteel comedy.
My mother's original passion for the stage had never left her; and,
during our stay in France, we often amused ourselves with _la petite
comédie_, in which I always took a part.

"Without resources, I thought a precarious mode of obtaining a
livelihood was better than a vicious one, and determined to try my
fortune on the stage: so I ordered a hack, and drove to the office
indicated. I felt a degree of comfort, when I discovered that my
father was the advertising manager, although I was certain he would
never recognise me. I was engaged by the agent, the bargain was
approved of, and in a day or two after, was ordered to a country town,
some miles from the metropolis.

"I arrived; my father did not know me, nor did I wish that he should,
as I did not intend to remain long in the company. I short, I aspired
to the London boards; but aware that I wanted practice, without which
it would have been useless to have offered myself, I accepted this
situation without delay, and applied with great assiduity to the
study of my profession. My father, I found, had married again; and
my joining the company added nothing to his domestic harmony, my
stepmother becoming immoderately jealous of me; but I took good care
to keep my own secret, and never exposed myself for one moment to any
suspicion of my character, which hitherto, thank Heaven, has been
pure, though I am exposed to a thousand temptations, and beset by the
actors to become the wife of one, or the mistress of another.

"Among those who proposed the latter, was my honoured father, to whom,
on that account, I was one day on the point of revealing the secret of
my birth, as the only means of saving myself from his importunities.
He was, at last, taken ill, and died, only three months ago, not
before I had completed my engagements, and obtained an increased
salary of one guinea and a half per week. It is my intention to quit
the company at the expiration of my present term, which will take
place in two months, for I am miserable here, although I am quite at a
loss to know what will be my future destination."

In return for her confidence, I imparted as much of my history as I
thought it necessary for her to know. I became deeply fascinated--I
forgot Miss Somerville, and answered my father's letter respectfully
and kindly. He informed me that he had procured my name to be entered
on the books of the guard-ship, at Spithead: but, that I might gain
time to loiter by the side of Eugenia, I begged his permission to join
my ship without returning home, alleging as a reason, that delay would
soften down any asperity of feeling occasioned by the late fracas.
This in his answer he agreed to, enclosing a handsome remittance; and
the same post brought a pressing invitation from Mr Somerville to come
to ---- Hall.

My little actress informed me that the company would set out in two
days for the neighbourhood of Portsmouth; and, as I found that they
would be more than a fortnight in travelling, I determined to accept
the invitation, and quit her for the present. I had been more than a
week in her society. At parting, I professed my admiration and love.
Silence and a starting tear were her only acknowledgment. I saw that
she was not displeased; and I left her with joyful anticipations.

But what did I anticipate, as I rolled heedlessly along in the
chaise to ---- Hall? Sensual gratification at the expense of a poor
defenceless orphan, whose future life would be clouded with misery.
I could see my wickedness, and moralise upon it; but the devil was
triumphant within me, and I consoled myself with the vulgar adage,
"Needs must when the devil drives." With this, I dismissed the subject
to think of Emily, whose residence was now in sight.

I arrived at ---- Hall, was kindly received and welcomed by both
father and daughter; but on this visit, I must not dwell. When I
reflect on it, I hate myself and human nature! Could I be trusted? yet
I inspired unbounded confidence. Was I not as vicious as one of my
age could be? Yet I made them believe I was almost perfection. Did I
deserve to be happy? Yet I was so, and more so than I had ever been
before or ever have been since. I was like the serpent in Eden, though
without his vile intentions. Beauty and virtue united to keep my
passions in subjection. When they had nothing to feed on, they
concealed themselves in the inmost recesses of my bosom.

Had I remained always with Emily, I should have been reclaimed; but
when I quitted her, I lost all my good feelings and good resolutions;
not, however, before the bright image of virtue had lighted up in
my bosom a holy flame which has never been entirely extinguished.
Occasionally dimmed, it has afterwards burnt up with renewed
brightness; and, as a beacon-light, has often guided me through perils
that might have overwhelmed me.

Compelled at last to quit this earthly paradise, I told her, at
parting, that I loved her, adored her; and to prove that I was in
earnest, and that she believed me, I obtained a lock of her hair. When
I left ---- Hall, it was my intention to have joined my ship, as I had
agreed with my father; but the temptation to follow up my success with
the fair and unfortunate Eugenia was too strong to be resisted; at
least I thought so, and therefore hardly made an effort to conquer it.
True I did, _pro formâ_, make my appearance on board the guard-ship,
had my name entered on the books, that I might not lose my time of
servitude, and that I might also deceive my father. All this being
duly accomplished, I obtained leave of absence from my first
lieutenant, an old acquaintance, who, in a ship crowded with
supernumerary midshipmen, was but too happy in getting rid of me and
my chest.

I hastened to the rendezvous, and found the company in full activity.
Eugenia, when we parted, expressed a wish that our acquaintance might
not be renewed. She feared for her own character as well as mine, and
very sensibly and feelingly observed that my professional prospects
might be blasted; but, having made up my mind, I had an answer for all
her objections. I presented myself to the manager, and requested to be
admitted into the company.

Having taken this step, Eugenia saw that my attachment was not to be
overcome; that I was willing to make any sacrifice for her. I was
accepted; my salary was fixed at one guinea per week, with seven
shillings extra for playing the flute. I was indebted for my ready
admission into this society to my voice: the manager wanted a first
singer. My talent in this science was much admired. I signed my
agreement the same evening for two months; and, being presented in
due form to my brethren of the buskin, joined the supper-table, where
there was more of abundance than of delicacies. I sat by Eugenia,
whose decided preference for me excited the jealousy of my new
associates. I measured them all with my eye, and calculated that, with
fair play, I was the best man among them.

The play-bills announced the tragedy of "Romeo and Juliet." I was to
be the hero, and four days were allowed me to prepare myself. The
whole of that time was passed in the company of Eugenia, who, while
she gave me unequivocal proofs of attachment, admitted of no freedom.
The day of rehearsal arrived, I was found perfect, and loudly
applauded by the company. Six o'clock came, the curtain rose, and
sixteen tallow candles displayed my person to an audience of about one
hundred people.

No one who has not been in the situation can form any idea of the
nervous feeling of a _débutant_ on such an occasion. The troupe, with
the exception of Eugenia, was of a description of persons whom I
despise, and the audience mostly clodhoppers, who could scarcely read
or write; yet I was abashed, and acquitted myself badly, until the
balcony scene, when I became enlivened and invigorated by the presence
and smiles of my mistress. In the art of love-making I was at home,
particularly with the Juliet of that night. I entered at once into the
spirit of the great dramatist, and the curtain dropped amidst thunders
of applause. My name was announced for a repetition of the play, and
I was dragged forward before the curtain, to thank the grocers,
tallow-chandlers, cheesemongers, and ploughmen for the great honour
they had done me. Heavens! how I felt the degradation; but it was too
late.

The natural result of this constant intercourse with Eugenia may
easily be anticipated. I do not attempt to extenuate my fault--it was
inexcusable, and has brought its punishment; but for poor, forlorn
Eugenia I plead; her virtue fell before my importunity and my personal
appearance. She fell a victim to those unhappy circumstances of which
I basely took the advantage.

Two months I had lived with her, as man and wife; I forgot my family,
profession, and even Emily. I was now upon the ship's books; and
though no one knew anything of me, my father was ignorant of my
absence from the ship--everything was sacrificed to Eugenia. I acted
with her, strolled the fields, and vowed volumes of stuff about
constancy. When we played, we filled the house; and some of the more
respectable townspeople offered to introduce us to the London boards,
but this we both declined. We cared for nothing but the society of
each other.

And now that time has cooled the youthful ardour that carried me away
let me do justice to this unfortunate girl. She was the most natural,
unaffected and gifted person I ever met with. Boundless wit,
enchanting liveliness, a strong mind, and self-devotion towards me,
the first, and, I firmly believe, the only object she ever loved; and
her love for me ceased only with her life. Her faults, though not to
be defended, may be palliated and deplored, because they were the
defects of education. Her infant days were passed in scenes of
domestic strife, profligacy, and penury; her maturer years, under
the guidance of a weak mother, were employed in polishing, not
strengthening, the edifice of her understanding, and the external
ornaments only served to accelerate the fall of the fabric, and to
increase the calamity.

Bred up in France, and almost in the fervour of the Revolution,
she had imbibed some of its libertine opinions; among others, that
marriage was a civil contract, and if entered into at all, might be
broken at the pleasure of either party. This idea was strengthened and
confirmed in her by the instances she had seen of matrimonial discord,
particularly in her own family. When two people, who fancied they
loved, had bound themselves by an indissoluble knot, they felt from
that time the irksomeness of restraint, which they would never have
felt if they had possessed the power of separation; and would have
lived happily together if they had not been compelled to do it. "How
long you, my dear Frank," said Eugenia to me one day, "may continue
to love me, I know not; but the moment you cease to love me, it were
better that we parted."

These were certainly the sentiments of an enthusiast; but Eugenia
lived long enough to acknowledge her error, and to bewail its fatal
effects on her peace of mind.

I was awoke from this dream of happiness by a curious incident. I
thought it disastrous at the time, but am now convinced that it was
fraught with good, since it brought me back to my profession, recalled
me to a sense of duty, and showed me the full extent of my disgraceful
situation. My father, it appears, was still ignorant of my absence
from my ship, and had come down, without my knowledge, on a visit to
a friend in the neighbourhood. Hearing of "the interesting young man"
who had acquired so much credit in the character of Apollo, as well as
of Romeo, he was persuaded to see the performance.

I was in the act of singing "Pray Goody," when my eyes suddenly met
those of my papa, who was staring like the head of Gorgon; and though
his gaze did not turn me to stone, it turned me sick. I was stupified,
forgot my part, ran off, and left the manager and the music to make
the best of it. My father, who could hardly believe his eyes, was
convinced when he saw my confusion. I ran into the dressing-room,
where, before I had time to divest myself of Apollo's crown and
petticoat, I was accosted by my enraged parent, and it is quite
impossible for me to describe (taking my costume into consideration)
how very much like a fool I looked.

My father sternly demanded how long I had been thus honourably
employed. This was a question which I had anticipated, and, therefore,
very readily replied "Only two or three days;" that I had left
Portsmouth for what we called "a lark," and I thought it very amusing.

"Very amusing, indeed, sir," said my father; "and pray, may I venture
to inquire, without the fear of having a lie told me, how long this
'lark,' as you call it, is to continue?"

"Oh, to-morrow," said I, "my leave expires, and then I must return to
my ship."

"Allow me the honour of keeping your company," said my father; "and I
shall beg your captain to impose some little restraint as to time and
distance on your future excursions."

Then rising in his tone, he added, "I am ashamed of you, sir; the son
of a gentleman is not likely to reap any advantage from the society of
strolling vagabonds and prostitutes. I had reason to think, by
your last letters from Portsmouth, that you were very differently
employed."

To this very sensible and parental reproof I answered, with a demure
and innocent countenance (for I soon regained my presence of mind)
that I did not think there had been any harm in doing that which most
of the officers of the navy did at one time or another (an assertion,
by-the-by, much too general); that we often got up plays on board of
ship, and that I wanted to practise.

"Practise, then with your equals," said my father, "not in company
with rogues and street-walkers."

I felt that the latter name was meant for Eugenia, and was very
indignant; but fortunately kept all my anger within board, and,
knowing I was "all in the wrong," allowed my father to fire away
without returning a shot. He concluded his lecture by commanding me to
call upon him the next morning, at ten o'clock, and left me to change
my dress, and to regain my good humour. I need not add that I did not
return to the stage that night, but left the manager to make his peace
with the audience in any way he thought proper.

When I informed Eugenia of the evening's adventure, she was
inconsolable: to comfort her, I offered to give up my family and
my profession, and live with her. At these words, Eugenia suddenly
recollected herself. "Frank," said she, "all that has happened is
right. We are both wrong. I felt that I was too happy, and shut my
eyes to the danger I dared not face. Your father is a man of sense;
his object is to reclaim you from inevitable ruin. As for me, if he
knew of our connection, he could only despise me. He sees his son
living with strolling players; and it is his duty to cut the chain, no
matter by what means. You have an honourable and distinguished career
marked out for you; I will never be an obstacle to your father's just
ambition or your prosperity. I did hope for a happier destiny; but
love blinded my eyes: I am now undeceived. If your father cannot
respect me, he shall at least admire the resolution of the unhappy
Eugenia. I have tenderly loved you, my dearest Frank, and never have
loved any other, nor ever shall; but part we must: Heaven only knows
for how long a time. I am ready to make every sacrifice to your fame
and character--the only proof I can give of my unbounded love for
you."

I embraced her as she uttered these words; and we spent a great part
of the night in making preparations for my departure, arrangements for
our future correspondence, and, if possible, for our future meetings.
I left her early on the following morning; and with a heavy, I had
almost said, a broken heart, appeared before my father. He was, no
doubt, aware of my attachment and the violence of my passions, and
prudently endeavoured to soothe them. He received me affectionately,
did not renew the subject of the preceding night, and we became very
good friends.

In tearing myself away from Eugenia, I found the truth of the French
adage, "_Ce n'est que la première pas qui coûte_;" my heart grew
lighter as I increased my distance from her. My father, to detach my
mind still more from the unfortunate subject, spoke much of family
affairs, of my brother and sisters, and lastly named Mr Somerville and
Emily: here he touched on the right chord. The remembrance of Emily
revived the expiring embers of virtue; and the recollection of the
pure and perfect mistress of ---- Hall, for a time, dismissed the
unhappy Eugenia from my mind. I told my father that I would engage
never to disgrace him or myself any more, if he would promise not to
name my late folly to Mr Somerville or his daughter.

"That," said my father, "I promise most readily; and with the greater
pleasure, since I see, in your request, the strongest proof of the
sense of your error."

This conversation passed on our road to Portsmouth, where we had
no sooner arrived than my father, who was acquainted with the
port-admiral, left me at the "George," while he crossed the street to
call on him. The result of this interview was that I should be sent
out immediately in some sea-going ship with a "tight captain."

There was one of this description just about to sail for Basque Roads;
and, at the admiral's particular request, I was received on board as a
supernumerary, there being no vacancies in the ship. My father, who by
this time was wide awake to all my wiles, saw me on board; and then
flattering himself that I was in safe custody, took his leave and
returned to the shore. I very soon found that I was under an embargo,
and was not on any account to be allowed leave of absence.

This was pretty nearly what I expected; but I had my own resources.
I had now learned to laugh at trifles, and I cared little about this
decided step which his prudence induced him to take.



Chapter XI

  "Our boat has one sail,
  And the helmsman is pale;
  A bold pilot, I trow
  Who should follow us now,"
    Shouted he.
  As he spoke, bolts of death
  Speck'd their path o'er the sea.
  "And fear'st thou, and fear'st thou?
  And see'st thou, and hear'st thou?
  And drive we not free
  O'er the terrible sea,
    I and thou?"

  SHELLEY.


The reader may think I was over fastidious when I inform him that
I cannot describe the disgust I felt at the licentious impurity of
manners which I found in the midshipmen's berth; for although my
connection with Eugenia was not sanctioned by religion or morality,
it was in other respects pure, disinterested, and, if I may use the
expression, patriarchal, since it was unsullied by inconstancy, gross
language, or drunkenness. Vicious I was, and I own it to my shame; but
at least my vice was refined by Eugenia, who had no fault but one.

As soon as I had settled myself in my new abode, with all the comfort
that circumstances would permit, I wrote a long letter to Eugenia,
in which I gave an exact account of all that had passed since our
separation; I begged her to come down to Portsmouth and see me;
told her to go to the "Star and Garter," as the house nearest the
water-side, and consequently where I should be the soonest out of
sight after I had landed. Her answer informed me that she should be
there on the following day.

The only difficulty now was to get on shore. No eloquence of mine, I
was sure, would induce the first lieutenant to relax his Cerberus-like
guard over me. I tried the experiment, however; begged very hard "to
be allowed to go on shore to procure certain articles absolutely
necessary to my comfort."

"No, no," said Mr Talbot, "I am too old a hand to be caught that way.
I have my orders, and I would not let my father go on shore, if the
captain ordered me to keep him on board; and I tell you, in perfect
good humour, that out of this ship you do not go, unless you swim on
shore, and that I do not think you will attempt. Here," continued
he, "to prove to you there is no ill-will on my part, here is the
captain's note."

It was short, sweet, and complimentary, as it related to myself, and
was as follows:--

"Keep that d----d young scamp, Mildmay, on board."

"Will you allow me, then," said I, folding up the note, and returning
it to him without any comment, "will you allow me to go on shore under
the charge of the sergeant of marines?"

"That," said he, "would be just as much an infringement of my orders
as letting you go by yourself. You cannot go on shore, sir."

These last words he uttered in a very peremptory manner, and, quitting
the deck, left me to my own reflections and my own resources.

Intercourse by letter between Eugenia and myself was perfectly easy;
but that was not all I wanted. I had promised to meet her at nine
o'clock in the evening. It was now sunset; the boats were all hoisted
up; no shore boat was near, and there was no mode of conveyance but _à
la nage_, which Mr Talbot himself had suggested only as proving its
utter impracticability; but he did not know me half so well at the
time as he did afterwards.

The ship lay two miles from the shore, the wind was from the
south-west, and the tide moving to the eastward; so that, with wind
and tide both in my favour, I calculated on fetching South Sea Castle.
After dark I took my station in the fore-channels. It was the 20th of
March, and very cold. I undressed myself, made all my clothes up into
a very tight bundle, and fastened them on my hat, which retained its
proper position; then, lowering myself very gently into the water,
like another Leander I struck out to gain the arms of my Hero.

Before I had got twenty yards from the ship, I was perceived by the
sentinel, who, naturally supposing I was a pressed man endeavouring to
escape, hailed me to come back. Not being obeyed, the officer of the
watch ordered him to fire at me. A ball whizzed over my head, and
struck the water between my hands. A dozen more followed, all of them
tolerably well directed; but I struck out, and the friendly shades of
night, and increasing distance from the ship, soon protected me. A
waterman, seeing the flashes and hearing the reports of the muskets,
concluded that he might chance to pick up a fare. He pulled towards
me, I hailed him, and he took me in, before I had got half a quarter
of a mile from the ship.

"I doubt whether you would ever have fetched the shore on that tack,
my lad," said the old man. "You left your ship two hours too soon: you
would have met the ebb-tide running strong out of the harbour; and the
first thing you would have made, if you could have kept up your head
above water, would have been the Ower's."

While the old man was pulling and talking, I was shivering and
dressing, and made no reply; but begged him to put me on shore on the
first part of South Sea Beach he could land at, which he did. I gave
him a guinea, and ran, without stopping, into the garrison, and down
Point Street to the Star and Garter, where I was received by Eugenia,
who, with great presence of mind, called me her "_dear, dear_
husband!" in the hearing of the people of the house. My wet clothes
attracted her notice. I told her what I had done to obtain an
interview with her. She shuddered with horror!--my teeth chattered
with cold. A good fire, a hot and not very weak glass of
brandy-and-water, together with her tears, smiles, and caresses, soon
restored me.--The reader will, no doubt, here recall to mind the
less agreeable remedy applied to me when I ducked the usher, and one
recommended also by myself in similar cases, as having experienced its
good effects: how much more I deserved it on this occasion than the
former one, need not be mentioned.

So sweet was this stolen interview, that I vowed I was ready to
encounter the same danger on the succeeding night. Our conversation
turned on our future prospects; and, as our time was short, we had
much to say.

"Frank," said the poor girl, "before we meet again, I shall probably
be a mother; and this hope alone alleviates the agony of separation.
If I have not you, I shall, at least, be blest with your image. Heaven
grant that it may be a boy, to follow the steps of his father, and not
a girl, to be as wretched as her mother. You, my dear Frank, are going
on distant and dangerous service--dangers increased tenfold by the
natural ardour of your mind: we may never meet again, or if we do,
the period will be far distant. I ever have been, and ever will be
constant to you, till death; but I neither expect, nor will allow of
the same declaration on your part. Other scenes, new faces, youthful
passions will combine to drive me for a time from your thoughts, and
when you shall have attained maturer years, and a rank in the navy
equal to your merits and your connections, you will marry in your own
sphere of society; all these things I have made up my mind to, as
events that must take place. Your person I know I cannot have--but do
not, do not discard me from your mind. I shall never be jealous as
long as I know you are happy, and still love your unfortunate Eugenia.
Your child shall be no burthen to you until it shall have attained an
age at which it may be put out in the world: then, I know you will not
desert it for the sake of its mother. Dear Frank, my heart is broken;
but you are not to blame; and if you were, I would die imploring
blessings on your head." Here she wept bitterly.

I tried every means in my power to comfort and encourage this
fascinating and extraordinary girl; I forgot neither vows nor
promises, which, at the time, I fully intended to perform. I promised
her a speedy and I trusted a happy meeting.

"God's will be done," said she, "come what will. And now, my dearest
Frank, farewell--never again endanger your life and character for me
as you did last night. I have been blest in your society, and even
with the prospect of misery before me, cannot regret the past."

I tenderly embraced her, jumped into a wherry, at Point, and desired
the waterman to take me on board the _I_----, at Spithead. The first
lieutenant was on deck when I came up the side.

"I presume it was you whom we fired at last night?" said he, smiling.

"It was, sir," said I; "absolute necessity compelled me to go on
shore, or I should not have taken such an extraordinary mode of
conveyance."

"Oh, with all my heart," said the officer; "had you told me you
intended to have swum on shore, I should not have prevented you; I
took you for one of the pressed men, and directed the marines to fire
at you."

"The pressed men are extremely obliged to you," thought I.

"Did you not find it devilish cold?" continued the lieutenant, in a
strain of good humour, which I encouraged by my manner of answering.

"Indeed I did, sir," said I.

"And the jollies fired tolerably well, did they?"

"They did, sir; would they had had a _better mark_."

"I understand you," said the lieutenant; "but as you have not served
your time, the vacancy would be of no use to you. I must report the
affair to the captain, though I do not think he will take any notice
of it; he is too fond of enterprise himself to check it in others.
Besides, a lady is always a justifiable object, but we hope soon to
show you some higher game."

The captain came on board shortly after, and took no notice of my
having been absent without leave; he made some remark as he glanced
his eye at me, which I afterwards learned was in my favour. In a few
days we sailed, and arrived in a few more in Basque Roads. The British
fleet was at anchor outside the French ships moored in a line off the
Isle d'Aix. The ship I belonged to had an active part in the work
going on, and most of us saw more than we chose to speak of; but
as much ill-blood was made on that occasion, and one or two very
unpleasant courts-martial took place, I shall endeavour to confine
myself to my own personal narrative, avoiding anything that may give
offence to the parties concerned. Some days were passed in preparing
the fire-ships; and on the night of the 11th April, 1809, everything
being prepared for the attempt to destroy the enemy's squadron, we
began the attack. A more daring one was never made; and if it partly
failed of success, no fault could be imputed to those who conducted
the enterprise: they did all that man could do.

The night was very dark, and it blew a strong breeze directly in upon
the Isle d'Aix, and the enemy's fleet. Two of our frigates had been
previously so placed as to serve as beacons to direct the course of
the fire-ships. They each displayed a clear and brilliant light; the
fire-ships were directed to pass between these; after which, their
course up to the boom which guarded the anchorage, was clear, and not
easily to be mistaken.

I solicited, and obtained permission to go on board one of the
explosion vessels that were to precede the fire-ships. They were
filled with layers of shells and powder, heaped one upon another: the
quantity on board of each vessel was enormous. Another officer, three
seamen, and myself, were all that were on board of her. We had a
four-oared gig, a small narrow thing (nick-named by the sailors a
"coffin"), to make our escape in.

Being quite prepared, we started. It was a fearful moment; the wind
freshened, and whistled through our rigging, and the night was so
dark, that we could not see our bowsprit. We had only our foresail
set; but with a strong flood-tide and a fair wind, with plenty of it,
we passed between the advanced frigates like an arrow. It seemed to me
like entering the gates of hell. As we flew rapidly along, and our
own ships disappeared in the intense darkness, I thought of Dante's
inscription over the portals:--"You who enter here, leave hope
behind."

Our orders were to lay the vessel on the boom which the French had
moored to the outer anchors of their ships of the line. In a few
minutes after passing the frigates we were close to it; our boat was
towing astern, with three men in it--one to hold the rope ready to let
go, one to steer, and one to bale the water out, which, from our rapid
motion, would otherwise have swamped her. The officer who accompanied
me steered the vessel, and I held the match in my hand. We came upon
the boom with a horrid crash; he put the helm down, and laid her
broadside to it. The force of the tide acting on the hull, and the
wind upon the foresail, made her heel gunwale to, and it was with
difficulty I could keep my legs; at this moment, the boat was very
near being swamped alongside. They had shifted her astern, and there
the tide had almost lifted her over the boom; by great exertion they
got her clear, and lay upon their oars: the tide and the wind formed
a bubbling short sea, which almost buried her. My companion then got
into the boat, desiring me to light the port-fire, and follow.

If ever I felt the sensation of fear, it was after I had lighted this
port-fire, which was connected with the train. Until I was fairly in
the boat, and out of the reach of the explosion--which was inevitable,
and might be instantaneous--the sensation was horrid. I was standing
on a mine; any fault in the port-fire, which sometimes will happen,
any trifling quantity of gunpowder lying in the interstices of the
deck, would have exploded the whole in a moment: had my hand trembled,
which I am proud to say it did not, the same might have occurred. Only
one minute and a half of port-fire was allowed. I had therefore no
time to lose. The moment I had lit it, I laid it down very gently, and
then jumped into the gig, with a nimbleness suitable to the occasion.
We were off in a moment: I pulled the stroke oar, and I never plied
with more zeal in all my life: we were not two hundred yards from her
when she exploded.

A more terrific and beautiful sight cannot be conceived; but we were
not quite enough at our ease to enjoy it. The shells flew up in the
air to a prodigious height, some bursting as they rose, and others
as they descended. The shower fell about us, but we escaped without
injury. We made but little progress against the wind and tide; and we
had the pleasure to run the gauntlet among all the other fire-ships,
which had been ignited, and bore down on us in flames fore and aft.
Their rigging was hung with Congreve rockets; and as they took fire,
they darted through the air in every direction with an astounding
noise, looking like large fiery serpents.

We arrived safely on board, and reported ourselves to the captain, who
was on the hammocks, watching the progress of the fire-ships. One of
these had been lighted too soon; her helm had not been lashed, and
she had broached to, close to our frigate. I had had quite enough of
adventure for that night, but was fated to have a little more.

"Mr Mildmay," said the captain, "you seem to like the fun; jump into
your gig again, take four fresh hands" (thinks I, a fresh midshipman
would not be amiss), "get on board of that vessel, and put her head
the right way."

I did not like this job at all; the vessel appeared to be in flames
from the jib-boom to the topsail; and I own I preferred enjoying
the honours I had already gained, to going after others so very
precarious; however, I never made a difficulty, and this was no time
for exceptions to my rule. I touched my hat, said, "Ay, ay, sir," sang
out for four volunteers, and, in an instant, I had fifty. I selected
four, and shoved off on my new expedition.

As I approached the vessel, I could not at first discover any part
that was not tenanted by the flames, the heat of which, at the
distance of twenty or thirty feet, was far from pleasant, even in that
cold night. The weather quarter appeared to be clearest of flames, but
they burst out with great fury from the cabin windows. I contrived,
with great difficulty, to reach the deck, by climbing up that part
which was not actually burning, and was followed by one of the
sailors. The main-mast was on fire, and the flakes of burning canvas
from the boom mainsail fell on us like a snow-storm; the end of the
tiller was burnt to charcoal, but on the midship part of it I passed a
rope, and, assisted by the sailor, moved the helm, and got her before
the wind.

While I was thus employed, I could not help thinking of my type, Don
Juan. I was nearly suffocated before I had completed my work. I shoved
off again, and away she flew before the wind. "I don't go with you
this time," said I; "_J'ai été_", as the Frenchman said, when he was
invited to an English foxhunt.

I was as black as a negro when I returned on board, and dying with
thirst. "Very well done, Mildmay," said the captain; "did you find it
warm?" I pointed to my mouth, for it was so parched that I could not
speak, and ran to the water-cask, where I drank as much as would have
floated a canoe. The first thing I said, as soon as I could speak, was
"D---- that fire-ship, and the lubber that set her on fire."

The next morning the French squadron was seen in a very disastrous
state; they had cut their cables, and run on shore in every direction,
with the exception of the flag ships of the admiral and rear-admiral,
which lay at their anchors, and could not move till high water; it was
then first quarter flood, so that they had five good hours to remain.
I refer my readers to the court-martial for a history of these events:
they have also been commented on, with more or less severity, by
contemporary writers. I shall only observe, that had the captains of
His Majesty's ships been left to their own judgment, much more would
have been attempted; but with what success I do not presume to say.

My captain, as soon as he could see his mark, weighed, ran in, and
engaged the batteries, while he also directed his guns at the bottoms
of the enemy's ships, as they lay on shore on their beam ends. Isle
d'Aix gave us a warm reception. I was on the forecastle, the captain
of which had his head taken clean off, by a cannon-ball; the captain
of the ship coming forward at the same moment, only said, "Poor
fellow! throw him overboard; there is no time for a coroner's inquest
now." We were a considerable time engaging the batteries, and the
vessels near them, without receiving any assistance from our ships.

While this was going on, a very curious instance of muscular action
occurred: a lad of eighteen years of age was on the forecastle, when
a shot cut away the whole of his bowels, which were scattered over
another midshipman and myself, and nearly blinded us. He fell--and
after lying a few seconds, sprang suddenly on his feet, stared us
horribly in the face, and fell down dead. The spine had not been
divided; but with that exception, the lower was separated from the
upper part of the body.

Some of our vessels seeing us so warmly engaged, began to move up to
our assistance. One of our ships of the line came into action in such
gallant trim, that it was glorious to behold. She was a beautiful
ship, in what we call "high kelter;" she seemed a living body,
conscious of her own superior power over her opponents, whose shot
she despised, as they fell thick and fast about her, while she
deliberately took up an admirable position for battle. And having
furled her sails, and squared her yards, as if she had been at
Spithead, her men came down from aloft, went to their guns, and
opened such a fire on the enemy's ships and batteries, as would have
delighted the great Nelson himself, could he have been present. The
results of this action are well known, and do not need repeating here;
it was one of the winding-up scenes of the war. The French, slow to
believe their naval inferiority, now submitted in silence. Our navy
had done its work; and from that time, the brunt of the war fell on
the army.

The advocates of fatalism or predestination might adduce a strong
illustration of their doctrine as evinced in the death of the captain
of one of the French ships destroyed. This officer had been taken out
of his ship by one of the boats of our frigate; but, recollecting that
he had left on board nautical instruments of great value, he requested
our captain to go with him in the gig, and bring them away before the
ship was burned. They did go, and the boat being very small, they sat
very close side by side, on a piece of board not much more than two
feet long, which, for want of proper seats, was laid across the stern
of the boat. One of the French ships was burning at the time; her guns
went off as fast as the fire reached them; and a chance shot took the
board from under the two captains: the English captain was not hurt;
but the splinters entered the body of the French captain, and killed
him. Late in the evening, the other French line-of-battle ships that
were ashore were set fire to, and a splendid illumination they made:
we were close to them, and the splinters and fragments of wreck fell
on board of us.

Among our killed, was a Dutch boatswain's mate: his wife was on board,
and the stick which he was allowed to carry in virtue of his office,
he very frequently applied to the shoulders of his helpmate, in
requital for certain instances of infidelity; nor, with all my respect
for the fair sex, can I deny that the punishment was generally
deserved. When the cannon-ball had deprived her of her lawful
protector and the guardian of her honour, she sat by the side of his
mangled remains, making many unavailing efforts to weep; a tear from
one eye coursed down her cheek, and was lost in her mouth; one from
the other eye started at the same time, but for want of nourishment,
halted on her cheekbone, where, collecting the smoke and gunpowder
which surrounded us, it formed a little black peninsula and isthmus
on her face, and gave to her heroic grief a truly mourning tear.
This proof of conjugal affection she would not part with until the
following day, when having seen the last sad rites paid to the body of
her faithful Achilles, she washed her face, and resumed her smiles,
nor was she ungrateful to the ship's company for their sympathy.

We were ordered up to Spithead with despatches, and long before we
arrived, she had made the sergeant of marines the happiest of men,
under a promise of marriage at Kingston church, before we sailed on
our next cruise, which promise was most honourably performed.

A midshipman's vacancy having occurred on board the frigate, the
captain offered it to me. I gladly accepted of it; and while he was in
the humour, I asked him for a week's leave of absence; this he also
granted, adding, at the same time, "No more French leave, if you
please." I need not say that not an hour of this indulgence was
intended either for my father or even the dear Emily. No, Eugenia, the
beloved, in her interesting condition, claimed my undivided care. I
flew to G----, found the troop; but she, alas! had left it a fortnight
before, and had gone no one knew whither.

Distracted with this fatal news, I sunk into a chair almost senseless,
when one of the actresses brought me a letter: I knew the hand, it was
that of Eugenia. Rushing into an empty parlour, I broke the seal, and
read as follows:--


"Believe me, my dearest Mildmay, nothing but the most urgent necessity
could induce me to cause you the affliction which I know you will feel
on reading these lines. Circumstances have occurred since we parted,
that not only render it necessary that I should quit you, but also
that we should not meet again for some time; and that you should be
kept in ignorance of my place of abode. Our separation, though long,
will not, I trust, be eternal; but years may elapse before we meet
again. The sacrifice is great to me; but your honour and prosperity
demand it. I have the same ardent love towards you that I ever had;
and for your sake, will love and cherish your child. I am supported in
_this_ my trial, by a hope of our being again united. God in heaven
bless you, and prosper all your undertakings. Follow up your
profession. I shall hear and have constant intelligence of all your
motions, and I shall pray to heaven to spare your life amidst all the
dangers that your courage will urge you to encounter. Farewell! and
forget not her who never has you one moment from her thoughts.

"EUGENIA.

"P.S.--You may at rimes be short of cash; I know you are very
thoughtless in that respect. A letter to the subjoined address will
always be attended to, and enable you to command whatever may be
necessary for your comfort. Pride might induce you to reject this
offer; but remember it is Eugenia that offers: and if you love her as
she thinks you do, you will accept it from her."


Here was mystery and paradox in copious confusion. "Obliged
by circumstances to leave me--to conceal the place of her
retirement"--yet commanding not only pecuniary resources for herself,
but offering me any sum I might require! I retired to my bed; but
sleep forsook me, nor did I want it. I had too much to think of, and
no clue to solve my doubts. I prayed to Heaven for her welfare, vowed
eternal constancy, and at length fell asleep. The next morning I took
leave of my quondam associates, and returned to Portsmouth, neither
wishing to see my father, my family, or even the sweet Emily. It
however occurred to me that the same agent who could advance money
could forward a letter; and a letter I wrote, expressing all I felt.
No answer was returned; but as the letter never came back, I was
convinced it was received, and occasionally sent others, the
contents of which my readers will, no doubt, feel obliged to me for
suppressing, love-letters being of all things in the world the most
stupid, except to the parties concerned.

As I was not to see my Eugenia, I was delighted to hear that we
were again to be sent on active service. The Scheldt expedition was
preparing, and our frigate was to be in the advance; but our gallant
and favourite captain was not to go with us; an acting captain was
appointed, and every exertion was used to have the ship ready. The
town in the meantime was as crowded with soldiers as Spithead and
the harbour was with transports. Late in July, we sailed, having two
gunboats in tow, which we were ordered to man. I applied for, and
obtained the command of one of them, quite certain that I should see
more service, and consequently have more amusement, than if I
remained on board the frigate. We convoyed forty or fifty transports,
containing the cavalry, and brought them all safe to an anchor off
Cadsand.

The weather was fine, and the water smooth; not a moment was lost in
disembarking the troops and horses; and I do not recollect ever having
seen, either before or since, a more pleasing sight. The men were
first sent on shore with their saddles and bridles: the horses were
then lowered into the water in running slings, which were slipped
clear off them in a moment; and as soon as they found themselves free,
they swam away for the shore, which they saluted with a loud neigh as
soon as they landed. In the space of a quarter of a mile we had three
or four hundred horses in the water, all swimming for the shore at the
same time; while their anxious riders stood on the beach waiting their
arrival. I never saw so novel or picturesque a sight.

I found the gun-boat service very hard. We were stationed off
Batz, and obliged to be constantly on the alert; but when Flushing
surrendered we had more leisure, and we employed it in procuring some
articles for our table, to which we had been too long strangers. Our
money had been expended in the purchase of champagne and claret, in
which articles we were no economists, consequently few florins could
be spared for the purchase of poultry and butcher meat; but then these
articles were to be procured, by the same means which had given us the
island of Walcheren, namely powder and shot. The country people were
very churlish, and not at all inclined to barter; and as we had
nothing to give in exchange, we avoided useless discussion. Turkeys,
by us short-sighted mortals, were often mistaken for pheasants; cocks
and hens, for partridges; tame ducks and geese for wild; in short,
such was our hurry and confusion--leaping ditches, climbing dykes,
and fording swamps--that Buffon himself would never have known the
difference between a goose and a peacock. Our game-bags were as
capacious as our consciences, and our aim as good as our appetites.

The peasants shut all their poultry up in their barns, and very
liberally bestowed all their curses upon us. Thus all our supplies
were cut off, and foraging became at least a source of difficulty, if
not of danger. I went on shore with our party, put a bullet into my
fowling-piece, and, as I thought, shot a deer; but on more minute
inspection, it proved to be a four months' calf. This was an accident
that might have happened to any man. The carcass was too heavy
to carry home, so we cut it in halves, not fore and aft down the
backbone, as your stupid butchers do, but made a short cut across the
loins, a far more compendious and portable method than the other. We
marched off with the hind legs, loins, and kidney, having first of all
buried the head and shoulders in the field, determined to call and
take it away the following night.

We were partly seen, and severely scrutinized in our action by
a neighbouring gun-boat, whose crew were no doubt as hungry as
ourselves; they got hold of one of our men, who, like a fool, let the
cat out of the bag, when a pint of grog got into it. The fellow hinted
where the other half lay, and these _unprincipled rascals_ went after
it, fully resolved to appropriate it to themselves; but they were
outwitted, as they deserved to be for their roguery. The farmer to
whom the calf belonged had got a hint of what was done, and finding
that we had buried one half of the calf, procured a party of soldiers
ready to take possession of us when we should come to fetch it away;
accordingly, the party who went from the other gun-boat after dark,
having found out the spot, were very busy disinterring their prey,
when they were surprised, taken prisoners, and marched away to the
British camp, leaving the dead body behind.

We, quite unconscious of what was done, came soon after, found our
veal, and marched off with it. The prisoners were in the meantime sent
on board the flag ship, with the charge of robbery strongly preferred
against them; indeed, _flagrante delicto_ was proved. In vain they
protested that they were not the slayers, but only went in search of
what others had killed: the admiral, who was a kind-hearted man, said,
that that was a very good story, but desired them "not to tell lies
to old rogues," and ordered them all under arrest: at the same time
giving directions for a most rigid scrutiny into the larder of the
other gun-boat, with a view, if possible, to discover the remains of
the calf. This we had foreseen would happen, so we put it into one
of the sailor's bags, and sank it with a lead-line in three fathoms
water, where it lay till the inspection was over, when we dressed it,
and made an excellent dinner, drinking success to His Majesty's arms
by land and sea.

Whether I had been intemperate in food or libation I know not, but
I was attacked with the Walchèren fever, and was sent home in a
line-of-battle ship; and, perhaps, as Pangloss says, it was all for
the best; for I knew I could not have left off my inveterate habits,
and it would have been very inconvenient to me, and distressing to my
friends, to have ended my brilliant career, and stopped these memoirs,
at the beginning of the second and most interesting volume, by hanging
the Author up, like a scarecrow, under the superintendence of the
rascally provost-marshal, merely for catering on the land of a
Walcheren farmer. Moreover, the Dutch were unworthy of liberty, as
their actions proved, to begrudge a few fowls, or a fillet of veal,
to the very men who came to rescue them from bondage;--and then their
water, too, who ever drank such stuff? for my part, I never tasted it
when I could get anything better. As to their nasty swamps and fogs,
quite good enough for such croaking fellows as they are, what could
induce an Englishman to live among them, except the pleasure of
killing Frenchmen, or shooting game? Deprive us of these pursuits,
which the surrender of Flushing effectually did, and Walcheren, with
its ophthalmia and its agues, was no longer a place for a gentleman.
Besides, I plainly saw that if there ever had been any intention of
advancing to Antwerp, the time was now gone by; and as the French were
laughing at us, and I never liked to be made a butt of, particularly
by such chaps as these, I left the scene of our sorrows and disgraces
without regret.

The farewell of Voltaire came into my mind. "_Adieu, Canaux, Canardes,
et Canaille_," which might be rendered into English thus:--"Good-bye,
Dykes, Ducks, and Dutchmen." So I returned to my father's house to be
nursed by my sister, and to astonish the neighbours with the history
of our wonderful achievements.



Chapter XII

  First came great Neptune, with his three-forkt mace,
  That rules the seas, and makes them rise or fall:
  His dewy locks did drop with brine apace
  Under his diademe-imperiall:
  And by his side his queene with coronall,
  Fair Amphitrite

         *       *       *       *       *

  These marched farre afore the other crew.

  SPENSER.


I remained no longer at home than sufficed to restore my strength,
after the serious attack of fever and ague which I had brought with
me from Walcheren. Although my father received me kindly, he had not
forgotten (at least I thought so) my former transgressions; a mutual
distrust destroyed that intimacy which ought ever to exist between
father and son. The thread was broken--it is vain to enquire how, and
the consequence was, that the day of my departure to join a frigate
on the North American station, was welcomed with joy by me, and seen
unregretted by my father.

The ship I was about to join was commanded by a young nobleman, and as
patricians were not so plentiful in the service at that time, as they
have since become, I was considered fortunate in my appointment. I was
ordered, with about thirty more supernumerary midshipmen, to take my
passage in a ship of the line, going to Bermuda. The gun-room was
given to us as our place of residence, the midshipmen belonging to the
ship occupying the two snug berths in the cockpit.

Among so many young men of different habits and circumstances, all
joining the ship at different periods, no combination could be made
for forming a mess. The ship sailed soon after I got on board, and
our party, during the voyage, was usually supplied from the purser's
steward-room. I have thought it very wonderful, that a mess of eight
or twelve seamen or marines will always make the allowance last from
one week to another, and have something to spare; but with the same
number of midshipmen the case is very different, and the larger
the mess the more do their difficulties increase; they are never
satisfied, never have enough, and if the purser will allow them, are
always in debt for flour, beef, pork, and spirits. This is owing to
their natural habits of carelessness; and our mess, for this reason,
was particularly uncomfortable. The government was a democracy; but
the caterer had at times been invested with dictatorial powers, which
he either abused or was thought to abuse, and he was accordingly
turned out, or resigned in disgust, at the end of two or three days.

Most of my messmates were young men, senior to me in the service,
having passed their examinations, and were going to America for
promotion: but when mustered on the quarter-deck, whether they
appeared less manly, or were, in fact, less expert in their duty, I
know not; but certain it is, that the first lieutenant appointed
me mate of a watch, and placed several of these aspirants under my
orders: and so strong did we muster, that we stood in each other's way
when on deck keeping our watch, seldom less than seventeen or eighteen
in number.

In the gun-room we agreed very ill together, and one principal cause
of this was our short allowance of food--daily skirmishes took place,
and not unfrequently pitched battles; but I never took any other part
in them than as a spectator, and the observations I made convinced me
that I should have no great difficulty in mastering the whole of them.

The office of caterer was one of neither honour nor emolument, and
it was voluntarily taken up, and peevishly laid down, on the first
trifling provocation. With the ship's allowance, no being, less than
an angel, could have given satisfaction. The division of beef and
pork into as many parcels as there were claimants, always produced
remonstrance, reproof, and blows. I was never quarrelsome, and took
the part allotted to me quietly enough, until, they finding my
disposition to submit, I found my portion daily decrease, and on the
resignation of the thirteenth caterer, I volunteered my services,
which were gladly accepted.

Aware of the danger and difficulty of my situation, I was prepared
accordingly. On the first day that I shared the provisions, I took
very good care of number one, and, as I had foreseen, was attacked by
two or three for my lion-like division of the prey. Upon this, I made
them a short speech, observing, that if they supposed I meant to take
the trouble of catering for nothing, they were very much mistaken;
that the small difference I made between their portions and mine, if
equally divided among them, would not fill a hollow tooth, and that,
after my own share, all others should be distributed with the most
rigid impartiality, and scrupulous regard to justice.

This very reasonable speech did not satisfy them. I was challenged to
decide the point _à la Cribb_; two candidates for the honour stepped
out at once. I desired them to toss up; and having soon defeated the
winner, I recommended him to return to his seat. The next man came
forward, hoping to find an easy victory, after the fatigue of a recent
battle; but he was mistaken, and retired with severe chastisement.
The next day I took my seat, cleared for action--coat, waistcoat, and
neckcloth off. I observed that I should proceed as I had done before,
and was ready to hold a court of Oyer and Terminer; but no suitors
appeared, and I held the office of caterer from that day till I
quitted the ship, by the strongest of all possible claims--first, by
election; and, secondly, by right of conquest.

We had not been many days at sea, before we discovered that our first
lieutenant was a most abominable tyrant, a brutal fellow, a drunkard,
and a glutton, with a long red nose, and a large belly; he frequently
sent half-a-dozen grown-up midshipmen to the mast-head at a time. This
man I determined to turn out of the ship, and mentioned my intention
to my messmates, promising them success if they would only follow my
advice. They quite laughed at the idea; but I was firm, and told them
that it should come to pass, if they would but behave so ill as just
to incur a slight punishment or reprimand from "Nosey" every day; this
they agreed to; and not a day passed but they were either mast-headed,
or put watch and watch.

They reported all to me, and asked my advice. "Complain to the
captain," said I. They did, and were told that the first lieutenant
had done his duty. The same causes produced the same effects on each
succeeding day; and when the midshipmen complained, they had no
redress. By my direction, they observed to the captain, "It is of
no use complaining, sir; you always take Mr Clewline's part." The
captain, indeed, from a general sense of propriety, gave his support
to the ward-room officers, knowing that, nine times in ten, midshipmen
were in the wrong.

Things worked as I wished; the midshipmen persisted in behaving
ill--remonstrated, and declared that the first lieutenant did not tell
the truth. For a time, many of them lost the favour of the captain,
but I encouraged them to bear that, as well as the increased rancour
of "Old Nosey." One day two midshipmen, by previous agreement, began
to fight on the lee gangway. In those days, that was crime enough
almost to have hanged them; they were sent to the mast-head for three
hours, and when they came down applied to me for advice. "Go," said I,
"and complain. If the first lieutenant says you were fighting, tell
the captain you were only showing how the first lieutenant pummelled
the men last night when they were hoisting the topsails, and the way
he cut the marine's head, when he knocked him down the hatchway." All
this was fairly done--the midshipmen received a reprimand, but the
captain began to think there might be some cause for these continued
complaints, which daily increased both in weight and number.

At last we were enabled to give the _coup de grace_. A wretched boy
in the ship, whose dirty habits often brought him to the gun, was so
hardened that he laughed at all the stripes of the boatswain's cat
inflicted on him by the first lieutenant. "I will make him feel," said
the enraged officer; so ordering a bowl of brine to be brought to him,
he sprinkled it on the lacerated flesh of the boy between every lash.
This inhuman act, so unbecoming the character of an officer and a
gentleman, we all resented, and retiring to the gun-room in a body,
gave three deep and heavy groans in chorus. The effect was dismal;
it was heard in the ward-room, and the first lieutenant sent down to
desire we should be quiet; on which we immediately gave three more,
which sent him in a rage to the quarter-deck, where we were all
summoned, and the reason of the noise demanded. I had, till then, kept
myself in the background, content with being the _primum mobile_,
without being seen. I was always strict to my duty, and never had
been complained of; my coming forward, therefore, on this occasion,
produced a fine stage effect, and carried great weight.

I told the lieutenant we were groaning for the poor boy who had
been pickled. This increased his rage, and he ordered me up to the
mast-head. I refused to go until I had seen the captain, who at that
moment made his appearance on deck. I immediately referred to him,
related the whole story, not omitting to mention the repeated acts of
tyranny which the lieutenant had perpetrated on us all. I saw in a
moment that we had gained the day. The captain had given the most
positive orders that no one should be punished without his express
permission. This order the lieutenant had disobeyed, and that, added
to his unpopular character, decided his fate. The captain walked into
his cabin, and the next day signified to the first lieutenant, that
he must quit the ship on her arrival in port, or be tried by a
court-martial: this latter he knew he dared not stand.

I should have informed my reader that our orders were to see the
East-India convoy as far as the tenth degree of north latitude, and
then proceed to Bermuda. This was of itself a pleasant cruise, and
gave us the chance of falling in either with an enemy or a recapture.
Ships not intending to cross the line usually grant a saturnalia to
the crew when they come to the tropic of Capricorn; it is thought to
renovate their spirits, and to break the monotony of the cruise, or
voyage, where time flows on in such a smooth, undeviating routine,
that one day is not distinguishable from another. Our captain, a young
man, and a perfect gentleman, never refused any indulgence to the men,
compatible with discipline and the safety of the ship: and as the
regular trade-wind blew, there was no danger of sudden squalls
The ceremony of crossing the line, I am aware, has been often
described--so has Italy and the Rhine; but there are varieties of ways
of doing and relating these things; ours had its singularity, and
ended, I am sorry to say, in a deep tragedy, which I shall remember
"as long as memory holds her seat."

One beautiful morning, as soon as the people had breakfasted, they
began to prepare, by stripping to their waists, and wearing nothing
but a pair of duck trousers. The man at the mast-head called out that
he saw something on the weather bow, which he thought was a boat; soon
after, an unknown voice from the jib-boom hailed the ship; the officer
of the watch answered; and the voice commanded him to heave to, as
Neptune was coming on board. The ship was accordingly hove to with
every formality, though going at the rate of seven miles an hour: the
main-yard squared, the head and after-yards braced up.

As soon as the ship was hove to, a young man (one of the sailors)
dressed in a smart suit of black, knee-breeches, and buckles, with his
hair powdered, and with all the extra finery and mincing gait of an
exquisite, came aft on the quarter-deck, and, with a most polished
bow, took the liberty of introducing himself as _gentleman's
gentleman_ to Mr Neptune, who had been desired to precede his master
and acquaint the commander of the vessel with his intended visit.

A sail had been extended across the forecastle by way of curtain, and
from behind this, Neptune and his train, in full costume, shortly
afterwards came forth.

The car of the god consisted of a gun-carriage: it was drawn by six
black men, part of the ship's crew: they were tall muscular fellows,
their heads were covered with sea-weed, and they wore a very small
pair of cotton drawers: in other respects they were perfectly
naked; their skins were spotted all over with red and white paint
alternately; they had conch shells in their hands, with which they
made a most horrible noise. Neptune was masked, as were many of his
attendants, and none of the officers knew exactly by which of the men
the god was represented; but he was a shrewd hand, and did his part
very well. He wore a naval crown, made by the ship's armourer; in
his right hand he held a trident, on the prongs of which there was a
dolphin, which he had, he said, struck that morning; he wore a large
wig, made of oakum, and a beard of the same materials, which flowed
down to his waist; he was full powdered, and his naked body was
bedaubed with paint.

The god was attended by a splendid court: his secretary of state,
whose head was stuck full of the quills of the sea bird of these
latitudes; his surgeon, with his lancet, pill-box, and his
smelling-bottle; his barber, with a razor, whose blade was two feet
long, cut off an iron hoop; and the barber's mate, who carried a small
tub, as a shaving-box; the materials within I could not analyze,
but my nose convinced me that no part of them came from Smith's, in
Bond-street.

Amphitrite followed, on a similar carriage, drawn by six white men,
whose costume was like the others. This goddess was personified by an
athletic, ugly man, marked with the small-pox, dressed as a female,
with a woman's night-cap on his head, ornamented with sprigs of
sea-weed; she had a harpoon in her hand, on which was fixed an
albicore; and in her lap lay one of the boys of the ship, dressed as a
baby, with long clothes and a cap: he held in his hand a marlinspike,
which was suspended round his neck with a rope yarn: this was to
assist him in cutting his teeth, as the children on shore use a coral.
His nurse attended him with a bucket full of burgoo, or hasty pudding,
with which she occasionally fed him out of the cook's iron ladle.
Two or three stout men were habited as sea nymphs, to attend on
the goddess: they carried a looking-glass, some curry-combs, a
birch-broom, and a pot of red paint, by way of rouge.

As soon as the procession appeared on the forecastle, the captain,
attended by his steward, bearing a tray with a bottle of wine and some
glasses, came out of his cabin, and the cars of the marine deities
were drawn up on the quarter-deck. Neptune lowered his trident, and
presented the dolphin to the captain, as Amphitrite did her albicore,
in token of submission and homage to the representative of the King of
Great Britain.

"I have come," said the god, "to welcome you into my dominions, and to
present my wife and child." The captain bowed. "Allow me to ask after
my brother and liege sovereign, the good old King George."

"He is not so well," said the captain, "as I and all his subjects
could wish."

"More's the pity," replied Neptune; "and how is the Prince of Wales?"

"The Prince is well," said the captain, "and now governs as regent in
the name of his royal father."

"And how does he get on with his wife?" said the inquisitive god.

"Bad enough," said the captain; "they agree together like a whale and
a thrasher."

"Ah! I thought so," said the god of the sea. "His royal highness
should take a leaf out of my book: never allow it to be doubtful who
is commanding officer."

"And pray what might your majesty's specific be, to cure a bad wife?"
said the captain.

"Three feet of the cross-jack brace every morning before breakfast,
for a quarter of an hour, and half an hour on a Sunday."

"But why more on a Sunday than any other day?" said the captain.

"Why?" said Neptune, "why, because she'd been keeping Saturday night,
to be sure; besides, she has less to do of a Sunday, and more time to
think of her sins, and do penance."

"But you would not have a prince strike a lady, surely?"

"Wouldn't I? No to be sure, if she behave herself as _sich_, on no
account; but if she gives tongue, and won't keep sober, I'd sarve her
as I do Amphy--don't I, Amphy?" chucking the goddess under the chin.
"We have no bad wives in the bottom of the sea: and so if you don't
know how to keep 'em in order, send them to us."

"But your majesty's remedy is violent; we should have a rebellion in
England, if the king was to beat his wife."

"Make the lords in waiting do it then," said the Surly god; "and if
they are too lazy, which I dare say they are, send for a boatswain's
mate from the Royal Billy--he'd sarve her out, I warrant you; and, for
half a gallon of rum, would teach the yeomen of the guard to dance the
binnacle hornpipe into the bargain."

"His royal highness shall certainly hear your advice, Mr Neptune;
but whether he will follow it or not is not for me to say. Would you
please to drink his royal highness's good health?"

"With all my heart, sir; I was always loyal to my king, and ready to
drink his health, and to fight for him."

The captain presented the god with a bumper of Madeira, and another to
the goddess.

"Here's a good health and a long life to our gracious king and all the
royal family. The roads are unkimmon dusty, and we hav'n't wet our
lips since we left St Thomas on the line, this morning. But we have no
time to lose, captain," said the sea god; "I see many new faces here,
as requires washing and shaving; and if we add bleeding and physic,
they will be all the better for it."

The captain nodded assent; and Neptune, striking the deck with the end
of his trident, commanded attention, and thus addressed his court:
"Heark ye, my Tritons, you are called here to shave, duck, and physic
all as needs, but I command you to be gentle. I'll have no ill-usage;
if we gets a bad name, we gets no more fees; and the first of you as
disobeys my orders, I'll tie him to a ten-inch mortar, and sink him
ten thousand fathoms deep in the ocean, where he shall feed on salt
water and sea-weed for a hundred years: begone to your work." Twelve
constables, with thick sticks, immediately repaired to the hatchway,
and sent down all who had not been initiated, guarding them strictly,
until they were called up one by one.

The cow-pen had been previously prepared for the bathing; it was lined
with double canvas, and boarded, so that it held water, and contained
about four butts, which was constantly renewed by the pump. Many of
the officers purchased exemption from shaving and physic by a bottle
of rum; but none could escape the sprinkling of salt water, which fell
about in great profusion; even the captain received his share, but
with great good-nature, and seemed to enjoy the sport. It was easy
to perceive, on this occasion, who were favourites with the ship's
company, by the degree of severity with which they were treated. The
tyro was seated on the side of the cow-pen: he was asked the place of
his nativity, and the moment he opened his mouth, the shaving-brush of
the barber, which was a very large paint brush, was crammed in with
all the filthy lather with which they covered his face and chin; this
was roughly scraped off with the great razor. The doctor felt his
pulse, and prescribed a pill, which was forced into his cheek; and
the smelling-bottle, the cork of which was armed with short points of
pins, was so forcibly applied to his nose as to bring blood; after
this, he was thrown backwards into the bath, and allowed to scramble
out the best way he could.

The master-at-arms, and ship's corporals, and purser's steward, were
severely treated. The midshipmen looked out for the first lieutenant;
but he kept so close under the wing of the captain, that for a long
time we were unable to succeed. At length, some great uproar in the
waist induced him to run down, when we all surrounded him, and plied
him so effectually with buckets of water, that he was glad to run down
the after-hatchway, and seek shelter in the gun-room; as he ran down,
we threw the buckets after him, and he fell, like the Roman virgin,
covered with the shields of the soldiers.

The purser had fortified himself in his cabin, and with his sword and
pistols, vowed vengeance against all intruders; but the middies were
not to be frightened with swords or pistols: so we had him out, and
gave him a sound ducking, because he had refused to let us have more
spirits than our allowance. He was paraded to the main-deck in great
form, his sword held over his head; his pistols, in a bucket of water,
carried before him; and having been duly shaved, physicked, and soused
into the cow-pen, he was allowed to return to his cabin, like a
drowned rat.

The first lieutenant of marines was a great bore; he was always
annoying us with his German flute. Having no ear of his own, he had no
mercy on ours, so we handed him to the bath; and in addition to all
the other luxuries of the day, made him drink, half a pint of salt
water, which we poured into his mouth through his own flute, as a
funnel. I now recollect that it was the cries of the poor marine which
brought down the first lieutenant, who ordered us to desist, and we
served him as hath been related.

Thus far all was hilarity and mirth; but the scene was very suddenly
changed. One of the foretopmen, drawing water in the chains, fell
overboard; the alarm was instantly given, and the ship hove to. I
ran upon the poop, and, seeing that the man could not swim, jumped
overboard to save him. The height from which I descended made me go
very deep in the water, and when I arose I could perceive one of the
man's hands. I swam towards him; but, O, God! what was my horror, when
I found myself in the midst of his blood. I comprehended in a moment
that a shark had taken him, and expected that every instant my own
fate would be like his. I wonder I had not sunk with fear: I was
nearly paralyzed. The ship, which had been going six or seven miles
an hour, was at some distance, and I gave myself up for gone. I had
scarcely the power of reflection, and was overwhelmed by the sudden,
awful, and, as I thought, certain approach of death in its most
horrible shape. In a moment I recollected myself: and I believe the
actions of five years crowded into my mind in as many minutes. I
prayed most fervently, and vowed amendment, if it should please God
to spare me. My prayer was heard, and I believe it was a special
Providence that rescued me from the jaws of the fish. I was nearly
a mile from the ship before I was picked up; and when the boat came
alongside with me, three large sharks were under the stern. These had
devoured the poor sailor, and, fortunately for me, had followed the
ship for more prey, and thus left me to myself.

As I went up the side, I was received by the captain and officers in
the most flattering manner; the captain thanked me in the presence of
the ship's company for my praiseworthy exertions, and I was gazed on
by all as an object of interest and admiration; but if others thought
so of me, I thought not so of myself. I retired below to my berth with
a loathing and contempt, a self-abasement, which I cannot describe. I
felt myself unworthy of the mercy I had received. The disgraceful
and vicious course of life I had led, burst upon me with horrible
conviction. "_Caelo tonantem credidimus Jovem regnare_," says
Horace; and it was only by the excitement of such peculiarly horrid
situations, that the sense of a superintending power could be awakened
within me, a hardened and incorrigible sinner.

I changed my clothes, and was glad when night came, that I might be
left to myself; but oh, how infinitely more horrid did my situation
appear! I shuddered when I thought of what I had gone through, and I
made the most solemn promises of a new life. How transient were these
feelings! How long did these good resolutions last? Just as long as no
temptation came in the way; as long as there was no excitement to sin,
no means of gratifying appetite. My good intentions were traced in the
sand. I was very soon as thoughtless and as profane as ever, although
frequently checked by the remembrance of my providential escape; and
for years afterwards the thoughts of the shark taking me by the leg
was accompanied by the acknowledgment that the devil would have me in
like manner, if I did not amend.

If after this awakening circumstance, I could have had the good
fortune to have met with sober-minded and religious people, I have no
doubt but I might have had at this time much less to answer for; but
that not being the case, the force of habit and example renewed its
dominion over me, and I became nearly as bad as ever.

Our amusements in the gun-room were rough. One of them was to lie on
the mess table, under the tiller, and to hold by the tiller ropes
above, while we kicked at all who attempted to dislodge us, either by
force or stratagem. Whoever had possession, had nine points of the
law, and could easily oppose the whole. I one day held this envied
position, and kept all at bay, when, unluckily, one of the passed
midshipmen, who had got very drunk with the gunner, came in and made
a furious attack on me. I gave him a kick on the face, that sent him
with great violence on his back, among the plates and dishes, which
had been removed from the dinner-table and placed between the guns.
Enraged, as much at the laughter against him as at the blow he had
received, he snatched up a carving fork, and, before any one was aware
of his intention, stabbed me with it four times. I jumped up to punish
him, but the moment I got on my legs was so stiff, that I fell back
into the arms of my messmates.

The surgeon examined the wounds, which were serious; two of them
nearly touched an artery. I was put to bed sick, and was three weeks
confined to my berth. The midshipman who had committed this outrage,
was very penitent when sober, and implored my pardon and forgiveness.
Naturally good-natured, I freely forgave, because I was disarmed by
submission. I never trampled on a prostrate foe. The surgeon reported
me ill of a fever, which was true; for had the captain known the real
fact, the midshipman, whose commission was signed, and in the ship,
ready to be delivered to him on his arrival at Bermuda, would
certainly have lost his promotion. My kindness to him, I believe,
wounded him more than my resentment; he became exceedingly melancholy
and thoughtful, gave up drinking, and was ever after greatly attached
to me. I reckon this among the few good actions of my life, and own I
have great pleasure in reflecting upon it.

We arrived at Bermuda soon after, having left the convoy in the
latitude of ten degrees north. The supernumeraries were all discharged
into their respective ships; and before we separated, we had the
pleasure to see the first lieutenant take his passage in a ship bound
to England. Most sincerely did we congratulate ourselves on the
success of our intrigue.



Chapter XIII

  Where the remote Bermudas ride,
  In th' ocean's bosom.

  ANDREW MARVELL.


There is a peculiar kind of beauty among these islands, which we might
really believe to be the abode of fairies. They consist of a cluster
of rocks, formed by the zoophyte, or coral worm. The number of the
islands is said to be equal to the days of the year. They are covered
with a short green sward, dark cedar trees, and low white houses,
which have a pretty and pleasing effect; the harbours are numerous,
but shallow; and though there are many channels into them, there is
but one for large ships into the principal anchorage.

Numerous caverns, whose roofs sparkle with the spars and stalactites
formed by the dripping water, are found in every part of the islands.
They contain springs of delicious coolness, to quench the thirst, or
to bathe in. The sailors have a notion that these islands float, and
that the crust which composes them is so thin as to be broken with
little exertion. One man being confined in the guardhouse for having
got drunk and misbehaved, stamped on the ground, and roared to the
guard, "Let me out, or, d--nour eyes, I'll knock a hole in your
bottom, scuttle your island, and send you all to h---- together."
Rocks and shoals abound in almost every direction, but chiefly on the
north and west sides. They are, however, well known to the native
pilots, and serve as a safeguard from nightly surprise or invasion.

Varieties of fish are found here, beautiful to the eye and delicious
to the taste: of these, the best is the red grouper. When on a calm,
clear day, you glide among these lovely islands, in your boat, you
seem to be sailing over a submarine flower-garden, in which clumps of
trees, shrubs, flowers, and gravel walks, are planted in wild, but
regular confusion.

My chief employment was afloat, and according to my usual habit,
I found no amusement unless it was attended with danger; and this
propensity found ample gratification in the whale fishery, the season
for which was just approaching. The ferocity of the fish in these
southern latitudes appears to be increased, both from the heat of the
climate and the care of their young, for which reason it would seem
that the risk in taking them is greater than in the polar seas.

From what I am able to learn of the natural history of the whale, she
brings forth her young seldom more than one at a time in the northern
regions, after which, with the calf at her side, the mother seeks a
more genial climate, to bring it to maturity. They generally reach
Bermuda about the middle of March, where they remain but a few weeks,
after which they visit the West India Islands, then bear away to the
southward, and go round Cape Horn, returning to the polar seas by
the Aleutian Islands and Behring's Straits, which they reach in the
following summer; when the young whale, having acquired size and
strength in the southern latitudes, is enabled to contend with his
enemies in the north, and here also the dam meets the male again. From
my own experience and the inquiries I have been enabled to make, I am
tolerably certain that this is a correct statement of the migration of
these animals, the females annually making the tour of the two great
American continents, attended by their young.

The "maternal solicitude" of the whale makes her a dangerous
adversary, and many serious accidents occur in the season for catching
whales. On one occasion I had nearly paid with my life for the
gratification of my curiosity. I went in a whale-boat rowed by
coloured men, natives of the islands, who were very daring and expert
in this pursuit. We saw a whale, with her calf, playing round the
coral rocks; the attention which the dam showed to its young, the care
she took to warn it of danger, was truly affecting. She led it away
from the boats, swam round it, and sometimes she would embrace it with
her fins, and roll over with it in the waves. We contrived to get the
"'vantage ground" by going to seaward of her, and by that means drove
her into shoal water among the rocks. At last we came so near the
young one, that the harpooner poised his weapon, knowing that the calf
once struck, the mother was our own, for she would never desert it.
Aware of the danger and impending fate of its inexperienced offspring,
she swam rapidly round it, in decreasing circles, evincing the utmost
uneasiness and anxiety; but the parental admonitions were unheeded,
and it met its fate.

The boat approached the side of the younger fish, and the harpooner
buried his tremendous weapon deep in the ribs. The moment it felt the
wound, the poor animal darted from us, taking out a hundred fathom of
line; but a young fish is soon conquered when once well struck: such
was the case in this instance; it was no sooner checked with the line
than it turned on its back, and, displaying its white belly on the
surface of the water, floated a lifeless corpse. The unhappy parent,
with an instinct always more powerful than reason, never quitted the
body.

We hauled in upon the line, and came close up to our quarry just
as another boat had fixed a harpoon in the mother. The tail of the
furious animal descended with irresistible force upon the very centre
of our boat, cutting it in two, and killing two of the men; the
survivors took to swimming for their lives in all directions. The
whale went in pursuit of the third boat, but was checked by the line
from the one that had struck her: she towed them at the rate of ten or
eleven miles an hour: and had she had deep water, would have taken the
boat down, or obliged them to cut away from her.

The two boats were so much employed that they could not come to our
assistance for some time, and we were left to our own resources much
longer than I thought agreeable. I was going to swim to the calf
whale; but one of the men advised me not to do so, saying that the
sharks would be as thick about him as the lawyers round Westminster
Hall; and that I should certainly be snapped up if I went near: for
my comfort he added, "These devils seldom touch a man if they can get
anything else." This might be very true; but I must confess I was very
glad to see one of the boats come to our assistance, while the mother
whale, encumbered with the heavy harpoon and line, and exhausted with
the fountain of black blood which she threw up, drew near to her calf,
and died by its side; evidently, in her last moments, more occupied
with the preservation of her young than of herself.

As soon as she turned on her back, I had reason to thank the "Mudian"
for his good advice; there were at least thirty or forty sharks
assembled round the carcasses; and as we towed them in, they followed.
When we had grounded them in the shallow water, close to the beach,
the blubber was cut off; after which, the flesh was given to the black
people, who assembled in crowds, and cut off with their knives large
portions of the meat. The sharks as liberally helped themselves with
their teeth; but it was very remarkable, that though the black men
often came between them and the whale, they never attacked a man. This
was a singular scene; the blacks with their white eyes and teeth,
hallooing, laughing, screaming, and mixing with numerous sharks--the
most ferocious monsters of the deep--yet preserving a sort of truce
during the presence of a third object: it reminded me, comparing great
things with small, of the partition of Poland.

I found that there was neither honour nor profit for me in this
diversion, so I no more went a whale fishing, but took my passage to
Halifax, in a schooner; one of those vessels built during the war,
in imitation of the Virginia pilot boats; but, like most of our
imitations, about as much resembling the original as a cow is like a
hare, and bearing exactly the same proportion in point of velocity.
And as if it had been determined that these vessels should in every
respect disgrace the British flag, the command of them was conferred
on officers whose conduct would not induce captains to allow them to
serve under them, and who were therefore very unwisely sent into small
vessels, where they became their own masters, and were many of them
constantly drunk; such was the state of my commander from the time I
sailed until we reached Halifax. The example of the lieutenant was
followed by his mate, and three midshipmen; the crew, which consisted
of twenty-five men, were kept sober by being confined to their
allowance, and I had a hopeful prospect.

Fortunately, drinking was not among my vices. I could get "fresh," as
we call it, when in good company and excited by wit and mirth; but I
never went to the length of being drunk; and, as I advanced in years,
pride and cunning made me still more guarded. I perceived the immense
advantage which sobriety gave me over a drunkard, and I failed not to
profit by it.

Keeping constantly on deck, almost night and day, I attended to the
course of the vessel and the sail she carried, never taking the
trouble to consult the lieutenant, who was generally senseless in his
cabin. We made Sambro' Lighthouse (which is at the entrance of Halifax
harbour) in the evening, and one of the midshipmen, who was more than
half drunk, declared himself well acquainted with the place, and his
offer to pilot the vessel in was accepted. As I had never been there
before, I could be of no use; but being extremely doubtful of the
skill of our pilot, I watched his proceedings with some anxiety.

In half an hour we found ourselves on shore on Cornwallis Island, as
I afterwards learned, and the sea made a fair breach over us. This
sobered the lieutenant and his officers; and as the tide fell, we
found ourselves high and dry. The vessel fell over on her side, and I
walked on shore, determined to trust myself no more with such a set of
beasts. Boats came down from the dockyard at daylight, and took me and
some others who had followed my example, together with our luggage, to
the flag-ship. After two days' hard labour, the vessel was got off,
and brought into the harbour. The admiral was informed of the whole
transaction, and one of the captains advised him to try the lieutenant
by a court-martial, or, at least, to turn him out of the vessel, and
send him home. Unfortunately, he would not follow this advice, but
sent him to sea again, with despatches. It was known that all hands
were drunk on quitting the port; and the vessel ran upon a reef of
rocks called the Sisters, where she sank, and every soul perished. Her
mast-heads were seen just above water the next morning.

The frigate I was to join, came into harbour soon after I reached
Halifax. This I was sorry for, as I found myself in very good
quarters. I had letters of introduction to the best families. The
place is proverbial for hospitality; and the society of the young
ladies, who are both virtuous and lovely, tended in some degree
to reform and polish the rough and libertine manners which I had
contracted in my career. I had many sweethearts; but they were more
like Emily than Eugenia. I was a great flirt among them, and would
willingly have spent more time in their company; but my fate or
fortune was to be accomplished, and I went on board the frigate, where
I presented my introductory letters to the nobleman who commanded her.
I expected to have seen an effeminate young man, much too refined to
learn his business; but I was mistaken. Lord Edward was a sailor
every inch of him: he knew a ship from stem to stern, understood the
characters of seamen, and gained their confidence. He was, besides,
a good mechanic--a carpenter, rope-maker, sail-maker, and cooper. He
could hand, reef, and steer, knot and splice; but he was no orator:
he read little, and spoke less. He was a man of no show. He was
good-tempered, honest, and unsophisticated, with a large proportion of
common sense. He was good-humoured and free with his officers; though,
if offended he was violent but soon calm again; nor could you ever
perceive any assumption of consequence from his title of nobility. He
was pleased with my expertness in practical seamanship; and before
we left the harbour, I became a great favourite. This I took care
to improve, as I liked him both for himself and his good qualities,
independently of the advantages of being on good terms with the
captain.

We were not allowed to remain long in this paradise of sailors, being
ordered suddenly to Quebec. I ran round to say adieu to all my dear
Arcadian friends. A tearful eye, a lock of hair, a hearty shake of a
fair hand, were all the spoils with which I was loaded when I quitted
the shore, and I cast many a longing, lingering look behind, as the
ship glided out of the harbour; white handkerchiefs were waved from
the beach, and many a silent prayer put up for our safe return from
snowy bosoms and from aching hearts. I dispensed my usual quantum of
vows of eternal love and fidelity before I left them, and my departure
was marked in the calendar of Halifax as a black day, by at least
seven or eight pairs of blue eyes.

We had not been long at sea before we spoke an Irish Guineaman from
Belfast, loaded with emigrants for the United States: I think about
seventeen families. These were contraband. Our captain had some twenty
thousand acres on the island of St John's, or Prince Edward's, as
it is now called, a grant to some of his ancestors, which had been
bequeathed to him, and from which he had never received one shilling
of rent, for the very best reason in the world, because there were no
tenants to cultivate the soil. It occurred to our noble captain, that
this was the very sort of cargo he wanted, and that these Irish people
would make good clearers of his land, and improve his estate. He made
the proposal to them, and as they saw no chance of getting to the
United States, and provided they could procure nourishment for
their families, it was a matter of indifference to them where they
colonised, the proposal was accepted, and the captain obtained
permission of the admiral to accompany them to the island, to see them
housed and settled. Indeed, nothing could have been more advantageous
for all parties; they increased the scanty population of our own
colony, instead of adding to the number of our enemies. We sailed
again from Halifax a few hours after we had obtained the sanction of
the admiral, and, passing through the beautiful passage between Nova
Scotia and the island of Cape Breton, known by the name of the Gut of
Canso, we soon reached Prince Edward's Island.

We anchored in a small harbour near the estate, on which we found a
man residing with his wife and family; this fellow called himself the
steward, and from all I could see of him during our three weeks' stay,
he appeared to me to be rascal enough for the stewardship of any
nobleman's estate in England. The captain landed, and took me as his
aide-de-camp. A bed was prepared for his lordship in the steward's
house, but he preferred sleeping on clean hay in the barn. This noble
lord was a man whose thoughts seldom gave much labour to his tongue;
he always preferred hearing others to talking himself; and whoever was
his companion, he must always be at the expense of the conversation.
Nor was it by the usual mode of simple narrative, that his mind was
completely impressed with the image intended to be presented to him;
he required three different versions, or paraphrases, of the same
story or observation, and to these he had three different expletives
or ejaculations. These were hum! eh! and ah! The first denoted
attention; the second, part comprehension; and the third, assent and
entire approval; to mark which more distinctly, the last syllable was
drawn out to an immoderate length, and accompanied by a sort of half
laugh.

I shall give one instance of our colloquial pastime. His lordship,
after we had each taken up our quarters for the night, on the soft dry
hay, thus began:

"I say,"--a pause.

"My lord?"

"What would they say in England, at our taking up such quarters?"

"I think, my lord, that as far as regards myself, they would say
nothing; but as far as regards your lordship, they would say it was
very indifferent accommodation for a nobleman."

"Hum!"

This I knew was the signal for a new version. "I was observing, my
lord, that a person of your rank, taking up his quarters in a barn,
would excite suspicion among your friends in England."

"Eh?" says his lordship.

That did not do--either your lordship's head or mine is very thick,
thinks I. I'll try again, though dying to go to sleep. "I say, my
lord, if the people in England knew what a good sailor you are, they
would be surprised at nothing you did; but those who know nothing,
would think it odd that you should be contented with such quarters."

"Ah!" said his lordship, triumphantly.

What further observations he was pleased to make that night I know
not, for I fell fast asleep, and did not awake till the cocks and hens
began to fly down from their roosts, and make a confounded clamour for
their breakfasts, when his lordship jumped up, gave himself a good
shake, and then gave me another of a different sort: it announced
the purpose, however, of restoring me to that reason, of which the
cackling of the poultry had only produced the incipient signs.

"Come, rouse out, you d----- lazy chap," said my captain. "Do you mean
to sleep all day? we have got plenty to do."

"Ay, ay, my lord," said I. So up I jumped, and my toilet was completed
in the same time, and by the same operation, as that of a Newfoundland
dog, namely, a good shake.

A large party of the ship's company came on shore with the carpenter,
bringing with them every implement useful in cutting down trees and
building log-houses. Such was to be our occupation, in order to house
these poor emigrants. Our men began to clear a patch of land, by
cutting down a number of pine-trees, the almost exclusive natives of
the wood, and, having selected a spot for the foundation, we placed
four stems of trees in a parallelogram, having a deep notch in each
end, mutually to fit and embrace each other. When the walls, by this
repeated operation, were high enough, we laid on the rafters,
and covered the roof with boughs of the fir, and the bark of the
birch-tree, filling the interstices with moss and mud. By practice, I
became a very expert engineer, and with the assistance of thirty or
forty men, I could build a very good house in a day.

We next cleared, by burning and rooting up, as much land as would
serve to sustain the little colony for the ensuing season; and having
planted a crop of corn and potatoes, and given the settlers many
articles useful in their new abode, we left them agreeably to our
orders, and to my great joy returned to dear Halifax where I again was
blessed with the sight of my innocent harem. I remember well that I
received a severe rebuke from the captain for inattention to signals.
One was addressed to us from the flag-ship; I was signal midshipman;
but instead of directing my glass towards the old _Centurion_, it was
levelled at a certain young Calypso, whose fair form I discovered
wandering along the "_gazon fleuris_:" how long would I not have dwelt
in this happy Arcadia, had not another Mentor pushed me off the rocks,
and sent me once more to buffet the briny waves!

Contrary to the opinion of any rational being, the President of the
United States was planning a war against England, and every ship in
Halifax harbour was preparing to fight the Yankees. The squadron
sailed in September. I bade adieu to the nymphs of Nova Scotia with
more indifference than became me, or than the reception I had met with
from them seemed to deserve; but I was the same selfish and ungrateful
being as ever. I cared for no one but my own dear self, and as long
as I was gratified, it mattered little to me how many broken hearts I
left behind.



Chapter XIV

                 At once the winds arise,
  The thunders roll, the forky lightning flies;
  In vain the master issues out commands,
  In vain the trembling sailors ply their hands:
  The tempest unforeseen prevents their care,
  And from the first, they labour in despair.

  Dryden's "_Fables_."


Halifax is a charming, hospitable place: its name is associated with
so many pleasing recollections, that it never fails to extort another
glass from the bottle which, having been gagged, was going to pass the
night in the cellaret. But only say Halifax! and it is like "Open
sesame!"--out flies the cork, and down goes a bumper to the "health of
all good lasses!"

I related, in the last chapter, an adventure with an Irish Guineaman,
whose cargo my right honourable captain converted to the profitable
uses of himself and his country. Another of these vessels had been
fallen in with by one of our cruisers, and the commander of His
Majesty's sloop, the _Humming Bird_, made a selection of some thirty
or forty stout Hibernians to fill up his own complement, and hand over
the surplus to the admiral.

Short-sighted mortals we all are, and captains of men-of-war are not
exempted from this human imperfection! How much, also, drops between
the cup and the lip! There chanced to be on board of the same trader
two very pretty Irish girls of the better sort of _bourgeoisie_; they
were going to join their friends at Philadelphia: the name of the one
was Judy, and of the other Maria. No sooner were the poor Irishmen
informed of their change of destination, than they set up a howl loud
enough to make the scaly monsters of the deep seek their dark caverns.
They rent the hearts of the poor tender-hearted girls; and when the
thorough bass of the males was joined by the sopranos and trebles of
the women and children, it would have made Orpheus himself turn round
and gaze.

"Oh, Miss Judy! Oh, Miss Maria! would ye be so cruel as to see us poor
craturs dragged away to a man-of-war, and not for to go and spake a
word for us? A word to the captain wid your own pretty mouths, no
doubt he would let us off."

The young ladies, though doubting the powers of their own
fascinations, resolved to make the experiment; so, begging the
lieutenant of the sloop to give them a passage on board, to speak with
his captain, they added a small matter of finery to their dress, and
skipped into the boat like a couple of mountain kids, caring neither
for the exposure of legs nor the spray of the salt water, which,
though it took the curls out of their hair, added a bloom to the
cheeks which, perhaps, contributed in no small degree to the success
of their project.

There is something in the sight of a petticoat at sea that never fails
to put a man into a good humour, provided he be rightly constructed.
When they got on board the _Humming Bird_, they were received by the
captain, and handed down into the cabin, where some refreshments were
immediately prepared for them, and every kind attention shown which
their sex and beauty could demand. The captain was one of the best
natured fellows that ever lived, with a pair of little sparkling black
eyes that laughed in your face.

"And pray, young ladies," said he, "what may have procured me the
honour of this visit?"

"It was to beg a favour of your honour," said Judy.

"And his honour will grant it, too," said Maria; "for I like the look
of him."

Flattered by this little shot of Maria's, the captain said that
nothing ever gave him more pleasure than to oblige the ladies; and if
the favour they intended to ask was not utterly incompatible with his
duty, that he would grant it.

"Well then," said Maria, "will your honour give me back Pat Flannagan,
that you have pressed just now?"

The captain shook his head.

"He's no sailor, your honour; but a poor bog-trotter: and he will
never do you any good."

The captain again shook his head.

"Ask me anything else," said he, "and I will give it you."

"Well then," said Maria, "give us Felim O'Shaugnessy?"

The captain was equally inflexible.

"Come, come, your honour," said Judy, "we must not stand upon trifles
nowadays. I'll give you a kiss, if you'll give me Pat Flannagan."

"And I another," said Maria, "for Felim."

The captain had one seated on each side of him; his head turned like a
dog-vane in a gale of wind; he did not know which to begin with; the
most ineffable good humour danced in his eyes, and the ladies saw at
once that the day was their own. Such is the power of beauty, that
this lord of the ocean was fain to strike to it. Judy laid a kiss on
his right cheek; Maria matched it on his left; the captain was the
happiest of mortals.

"Well, then," said he, "you have your wish; take your two men, for I
am in a hurry to make sail."

"Is it sail ye are after making; and do ye mane to take all those
pretty craturs away wid ye? No, faith! another kiss, and another man."

I am not going to relate how many kisses these lovely girls bestowed
on this envied captain. If such are captain's perquisites, who would
not be a captain? Suffice it to say, they released the whole of their
countrymen, and returned on board in triumph. The story reached
Halifax, where the good-humoured admiral only said he was sorry he was
not a captain, and all the happy society made themselves very merry
with it. The captain, who is as brave as he is good, was promoted soon
after, entirely from his own intrinsic merit, but not for this action,
in which candour and friendship must acknowledge he was defeated. The
Lord-Chancellor used to say, he always laughed at the settlement of
pin-money, as ladies were either kicked out of it or kissed out of it;
but his lordship, in the whole course of his legal practice, never saw
a captain of a man-of-war kissed out of forty men by two pretty Irish
girls. After this, who would not shout, "_Erin go bragh_!"

Dashing with a fine breeze out of the harbour, I saw with joy the
field of fortune open to me, holding out a fair promise of glory and
riches. "Adieu!" said I, in my heart, "adieu, ye lovely Nova Scotians!
learn in future to distinguish between false glitter and real worth.
Me ye prized for a handsome person and a smooth tongue, while you
foolishly rejected men of ten times my worth, because they wanted the
outward blandishments."

We were ordered to Bermuda, and on our first quitting the port steered
away to the southward with a fair wind at north-west. This breeze soon
freshened into a gale at south-east, and blew with some violence, but
after a while it died away to a perfect calm, leaving a heavy swell,
in which the ship rolled incessantly. About eleven o'clock the sky
began to blacken; and, before noon, had assumed an appearance of the
most dismal and foreboding darkness; the sea-gulls screamed as they
flew distractedly by, warning us to prepare for the approaching
hurricane, whose symptoms could hardly be mistaken. The warning was
not lost upon us, most of our sails were taken in, and we had, as we
thought, so well secured everything, as to bid defiance to the storm.
About noon it came with a sudden and terrific violence that astonished
the oldest and most experienced seaman among us: the noise it made was
horrible, and its ravages inconceivable.

The wind was from the north-west--the water as it blew on board, and
all over us, was warm as milk; the murkiness and close smell of the
air was in a short time dispelled; but such was the violence of the
wind, that, on the moment of its striking the ship, she lay over on
her side with her lee guns under water. Every article that could move
was danced to leeward; the shot flew out of the lockers, and the
greatest confusion and dismay prevailed below, while above deck things
went still worse; the mizen-mast and the fore and main topmast went
over the side; but such was the noise of the wind, that we could not
hear them fall; nor did I, who was standing close to the mizen-mast at
the moment, know it was gone, until I turned round and saw the stump
of the mast snapped in two like a carrot. The noise of the wind "waxed
louder and louder;" it was like one continued peal of thunder; and the
enormous waves as they rose were instantly beheaded by its fury,
and sent in foaming spray along the bosom of the deep; the storm
stay-sails flew to atoms; the captain, officers, and men, stood
aghast, looking at each other, and waiting the awful event in utter
amazement.

The ship lay over on her larboard side so heavily as to force in the
gun ports, and the nettings of the waist hammocks, and seemed as if
settling bodily down; while large masses of water, by the force of the
wind, were whirled up into the air; and others were pouring down the
hatchways, which we had not had time to batten down, and before we had
succeeded, the lower deck was half full, and the chests and hammocks
were all floating about in dreadful disorder. The sheep, cow, pigs,
and poultry, were all washed overboard out of the waist and drowned;
no voice could be heard, and no orders were given; all discipline was
suspended; every man was equal to his neighbour; captain and sweeper
clung alike to the same rope for security.

The carpenter was for cutting away the masts, but the captain would
not consent. A seaman crawled aft on the quarter-deck, and screaming
into the ear of the captain, informed him that one of the anchors had
broke adrift, and was hanging by the cable under the bows. To have let
it remain long in this situation, was certain destruction to the ship,
and I was ordered forward to see it cut away; but so much had the
gale and the sea increased in a few minutes, that a passage to the
forecastle was not to be found: on the weather side, the wind and sea
were so violent that no man could face them. I was blown against the
boats, and with difficulty got back to the quarter-deck; and going
over to leeward, I swam along the gangway under the lee of the boats,
and delivered the orders, which with infinite difficulty at last were
executed.

On the forecastle, I found the oldest and stoutest seamen holding on
by the weather rigging, and crying like children: I was surprised at
this, and felt proud to be above such weakness. While my superiors in
age and experience were sinking under apprehension, I was aware of our
danger; and saw very clearly, that if the frigate did not right
very shortly, it would be all over with us; for in spite of our
precautions, the water was increasing below. I swam back to the
quarter-deck, where the captain, who was as brave a man as ever trod a
plank, stood at the wheel with three of the best seamen; but such were
the rude shocks which the rudder received from the sea, that it was
with the utmost difficulty they could prevent themselves being thrown
over the ship's side. The lee quarter-deck guns were under water; but
it was proposed to throw them overboard; and as it was a matter of
life and death, we succeeded. Still she lay like a log, and would not
right, and settled down in a very alarming manner. The violence of
the hurricane was unabated, and the general feeling seemed be, "To
prayers!--to prayers!--all lost!"

The fore and main-masts still stood, supporting the weight of rigging
and wreck which hung to them, and which, like a powerful lever,
pressed the labouring ship down on her side. To disengage this
enormous top hamper, was to us an object more to be desired than
expected. Yet the case was desperate, and a desperate effort was to be
made, or in half an hour we should have been past praying for, except
by a Roman Catholic priest. The danger of sending a man aloft was so
imminent, that the captain would not order one on this service;
but calling the ship's company on the quarter-deck, pointed to
the impending wreck, and by signs and gestures, and hard bawling,
convinced them that unless the ship was immediately eased of her
burden, she must go down.

At this moment every wave seemed to make a deeper and more fatal
impression on her. She descended rapidly in the hollows of the sea,
and rose with dull and exhausted motion, as if she felt she could do
no more. She was worn out in the contest, and about to surrender,
like a noble and battered fortress, to the overwhelming power of her
enemies. The men seemed stupefied with the danger; and I have no
doubt, could they have got at the spirits, would have made themselves
drunk; and in that state, have met their inevitable fate. At every
lurch, the mainmast appeared as if making the most violent efforts
to disengage itself from the ship: the weather shrouds became
like straight bars of iron, while the lee shrouds hung over in a
semi-circle to leeward, or with the weather-roll, banged against
the mast, and threatened instant destruction, each moment, from the
convulsive jerks. We expected to see the mast fall, and with it the
side of the ship to be beat in. No man could be found daring enough,
at the captain's request, to venture aloft, and cut away the wreck of
the main-top mast, and the main-yard, which was hanging up and down,
with the weight of the top-mast and topsail yard resting upon it.
There was a dead and stupid pause, while the hurricane, if any thing,
increased in violence.

I confess that I felt gratified at this acknowledgment of a danger
which none dare face. I waited a few seconds, to see if a volunteer
would step forward, resolved, if he did, that I would be his enemy for
life, inasmuch as he would have robbed me of the gratification of my
darling passion--unbounded pride. Dangers, in common with others, I
had often faced, and been the first to encounter; but to dare that
which a gallant and hardy crew of a frigate had declined, was a climax
of superiority which I had never dreamed of attaining. Seizing a sharp
tomahawk, I made signs to the captain that I would attempt to cut away
the wreck, follow me who dared. I mounted the weather-rigging; five
or six hardy seamen followed me; sailors will rarely refuse to follow
where they find an officer to lead the way.

The jerks of the rigging had nearly thrown us overboard, or jammed us
with the wreck. We were forced to embrace the shrouds with arms and
legs; and anxiously, and with breathless apprehension for our lives,
did the captain, officers, and crew, gaze on us as we mounted, and
cheered us at every stroke of the tomahawk. The danger seemed passed
when we reached the catharpens, where we had foot room. We divided our
work, some took the lanyards of the topmast rigging, I, the slings
of the main-yard. The lusty blows we dealt, were answered by
corresponding crashes; and at length, down fell the tremendous wreck
over the larboard gunwale. The ship felt instant relief; she
righted, and we descended amidst the cheers, the applauses, the
congratulations, and, I may add, the tears of gratitude, of most of
our shipmates. The work now become lighter, the gale abated every
moment, the wreck was gradually cleared away, and we forgot our cares.

This was the proudest moment of my life, and no earthly possession
would I have taken in exchange for what I felt when I once more placed
my foot on the quarter-deck. The approving smile of the captain--the
hearty shake by the hand--the praises of the officers--the eager gaze
of the ship's company, who looked on me with astonishment and obeyed
me with alacrity, were something in my mind, when abstractedly
considered, but nothing compared to the inward feeling of gratified
ambition, a passion so intimately interwoven in my existence, that
to have eradicated it, the whole fabric of my frame must have been
demolished. I felt pride justified.

Hurricanes are rarely of long continuance; this was succeeded by a
gale, which, though strong, was fine weather compared to what we
had seen. We fell to work rigged our jury-mast, and in a few days
presented ourselves to the welcome gaze of the town of Halifax,
which, having felt the full force of the hurricane, expressed very
considerable alarm for our safety. My arms and legs did not recover
for some time from the effects of the bruises I had received in going
aloft, and for some days I remained on board. When I recovered I went
on shore, and was kindly and affectionately received by my numerous
friends.

I had not been long at Halifax, before a sudden change took place
in the behaviour of my captain towards me. The cause I could never
exactly discover, though I had given myself some room for conjecture.
I must confess, with sorrow, that notwithstanding his kindness to me
on every occasion, and notwithstanding my high respect for him, as an
officer and a gentleman, I had raised a laugh against him. But he
was too good-humoured a man to be offended at such a harmless act of
youthful levity; and five minutes were usually the limits of anger
with this amiable man, on such occasions as I am about to relate.

The fact was this; my truly noble captain sported a remarkable wide
pair of blue trowsers. Whether he thought it sailor-like, or whether
his tailor was afraid of putting his lordship to short allowance of
cloth, for fear of phlogistic consequences, I know not; but broad
as was the beam of his lordship, still broader and more ample in
proportion were the folds of this essential part of his drapery, quite
enough to have embraced twice the volume of human flesh contained
within them, large as it undoubtedly was.

That "a stitch in time saves nine," is a wise saw; unhappily, like
many others of the same thrifty kind, but little heeded in this our
day. So it was with Lord Edward. A rent had, by some mischance been
made in the central seam, and, on the morning of the hurricane, was
still unmended. When the gale came, it sought a quarrel with any thing
it could lay hold of, and the harmless trowsers of Lord Edward became
subject to its mighty and resistless devastation; the blustering
Boreas entered by the seam aforesaid, and filled the trowsers like the
cheeks of a trumpeter. Yorkshire wool could not stand the inflated
pressure--the dress split to ribbons, and soundly flagellated the very
part it was intended to conceal. What could he do, "in sweet confusion
lost and dubious _flutterings_"--the only defence left against the
rude blast, was his shirt (for the weather was so warm that second
garments were dispensed with), and this too being old, fled in tatters
before the gale. In short, clap a sailor's jacket on the Gladiator in
Hyde-park, and you have a fair view of Lord Edward in the hurricane.

The case was inconvenient enough; but as the ship was in distress, and
we all expected to go to the bottom in half an hour, it was not worth
while to quit the deck to replace the dress, which would have availed
him nothing in the depths of the sea, particularly as we were not
likely to meet with any ladies there; nor if there had been any, was
it a matter of any moment whether we went to Davy's Locker with or
without breeches; but when the danger was passed, the joke began to
appear, and I was amusing a large company with the _tale_ when his
lordship came in. The titter of the ladies increased to a giggle, and
then, by regular gradation, to a loud and uncontrollable laugh. He
very soon discovered that he was the subject, and I the cause, and for
a minute or two seemed sulky; but it soon went off, and I cannot think
this was the reason of his change of sentiments; for, although it is
high treason in a midshipman to look black at the captain's dog, much
less to laugh at the captain under any circumstances, still I knew
that my captain was too good a fellow to be offended with such a
trifle. I rather suspect I was wished out of the ship by the first
lieutenant and gun-room officers; and they were right, for where an
inferior officer is popular with the men, discipline must suffer from
it. I received a good-natured hint from Lord Edward, that another
captain, in a larger frigate, would be happy to receive me. I
understood him; we parted good friends, and I shall ever think of him
with respect and gratitude.

My new captain was a very different sort of man, refined in his
manner, a scholar and a gentleman. Kind and friendly with his
officers, his library was at their disposal; the fore-cabin, where his
books were usually kept, was open to all; it was the school-room
of the young midshipmen, and the study of the old ones. He was
an excellent draughtsman, and I profited not a little by his
instructions; he loved the society of the ladies, so did I; but he
being a married man was more select in his company, and more correct
in his conduct than I could pretend to be.

We were ordered to Quebec, sailed through the beautiful Gut of Canso,
and up the spacious and majestic St Lawrence, passing in sight of the
Island of Anticosta. Nothing material occurred during the passage,
save that a Scotch surgeon's-assistant, having adopted certain
aristocratic notions, required a democratical lecture on heads, which
was duly administered to him. He pretended that he was, by birth and
education (at Edinburgh), entitled to be at the head of our mess. This
I resisted, and soon taught the ambitious son of Esculapius that the
science of defence was as important as the art of healing; and that
if he was skilful in this latter, I would give him an opportunity of
employing it on his own person: whereupon I implanted on his cinciput,
occiput, os frontis, os nasi, and all other vulnerable parts of
his body, certain concussions calculated to stupify and benumb
the censorium, and to produce under each eye a quantity of black
extravasated blood; while, at the same time, a copious stream of
carmine fluid issued from either nostril. It was never my habit to
bully or take any unfair advantage; so, having perceived a cessation
of arms on his part, I put the usual interrogatives as to whether the
party contending was satisfied; and being answered in the affirmative,
I laid by my metacarpal bones until they might be farther wanted,
either for reproof or correction.

We anchored off Cape Diamond, which divides the St Lawrence from the
little river St Charles. The continuation of this cape, as it recedes,
forms the Heights of Abraham, on which the immortal Wolfe defeated
Montcalm, in the year 1759, when both the generals ended their
glorious career on the field of battle. The city stands on the
extremity of the cape, and has a very romantic appearance. The houses
and churches are generally covered with tin, to prevent conflagration,
to which this place was remarkably subject when the houses were
covered with thatch or shingle. When the rays of the sun lay on the
buildings, they had the appearance of being cased in silver.

One of our objects in going to Quebec was to procure men, of which the
squadron was very deficient. Our seamen and marines were secretly
and suddenly formed into press-gangs. The command of one of them was
conferred on me. The officers and marines went on shore in disguise,
having agreed on private signals and places of rendezvous; while the
seamen on whom we could depend, acted as decoy ducks, pretending to
belong to merchant vessels, of which their officer was the master,
and inducing them to engage, for ten gallons of rum and three hundred
dollars, to take the run home. Many were procured in this manner,
and were not undeceived until they found themselves alongside of the
frigate, when their oaths and execrations may be better conceived than
described or repeated.

It may be proper to explain here that the vessels employed in the
timber trade arrive in the month of June, as soon as the ice is
clear of the river, and, if they do not sail by or before the end of
October, are usually set fast in the ice, and forced to winter in the
St Lawrence, losing their voyage, and lying seven or eight months
idle. Aware of this, the sailors, as soon as they arrive, desert, and
are secreted and fed by the crimps, who make their market of them in
the fall of the year by selling them to the captains; procuring for
the men an exorbitant sum for the voyage home, and for themselves a
handsome _douceur_ for their trouble, both from the captain and the
sailor.

We were desired not to take men out of the merchant vessels, but to
search for them in the houses of the crimps. This was to us a source
of great amusement and singular adventure; for the ingenuity in
concealing them was only equalled by the art and cunning exercised in
the discovery of their abodes. Cellars and lofts were stale and out of
use; we found more game in the interior of haystacks, church steeples,
closets under fireplaces where the fire was burning. Some we found
headed up in sugar-hogsheads, and some concealed within bundles of
hoop-staves. Sometimes we found seamen, dressed as gentlemen, drinking
wine and talking with the greatest familiarity with people much
above them in rank, who had used these means to conceal them. Our
information led us to detect these excusable impositions.

I went into the country, about fifteen miles from Quebec, where I had
heard of a crimp's preserve, and after a tedious search, discovered
some good seamen on the rafters of an outhouse intended only to
smoke and cure bacon; and as the fires were lighted, and the smoke
ascending, it was difficult to conceive a human being could exist
there: nor should we have discovered them if one of them had not
coughed; on which he received the execrations of the others, and the
whole party was instantly handed out. We immediately cut the strings
of their trowsers behind, to prevent their running away, (this ought
never to be omitted), and, placing them and ourselves in the farmer's
waggon, made him put his team to and drive us all to Quebec, the
new-raised men joining with our own in all the jokes which flew thick
about on the occasion of their discovery. It was astonishing to me how
easily these fine fellows reconciled themselves to the thoughts of a
man-of-war; perhaps the approaching row with the Yankees tended very
much to preserve good humour. I became an enthusiast in man-hunting,
although sober reflection has since convinced me of its cruelty,
injustice, and inexpediency, tending to drive seamen from the country
more than any measure the government could adopt; but I am not going
to write a treatise on impressment. I cared not one farthing about the
liberty of the subject, as long as I got my ship well manned for the
impending conflict; and as I gratified my love of adventure, I was as
thoughtless of the consequences as when I rode over a farmer's turnips
in England, or broke through his hedges in pursuit of a fox.

A tradesman at Quebec had affronted me, by refusing to discount a bill
which I had drawn on my father. I had no other means of paying him for
the goods I had purchased of him, and was much disconcerted at his
refusal, which he accompanied with an insult to myself and my cloth,
never to be forgotten. Turning the paper over and over, he said, "a
midshipman's bill is not worth a farthing, and I am too old a bird to
be caught with such chaff."

Conscious that the bill was good, I vowed revenge. My search-warrant
enabled me to go wherever I could get information of men being
concealed--this was easily obtained from a brother mid (the poor man
might as well have been in the hands of the holy brotherhood). My
companion stated his firm conviction that sailors were concealed in
the house; I applied to the captain, and received orders to proceed
by all means in execution of my duty. The tradesman was a man of
consequence in Quebec, being what is there called a large storekeeper,
though we in England should have called him a shopkeeper. About one
o'clock in the morning we hammered at his door with no gentle tap,
demanding admittance in the name of our sovereign lord the king. We
were refused, and forthwith broke open the door, and spread over his
house like a nest of cockroaches. Cellars, garrets, maids' room,
ladies' rooms, we entered, _sans ceremonie_; paid little regard to
the Medicean costume of the fair occupants; broke some of the most
indispensable articles of bedroom furniture; rattled the pots and pans
about in the kitchen; and, finding the two sons of the master of the
house, ordered them to dress and come with us, certain, we said, that
they were sailors.

When the old tradesman saw me he began to smell a rat, and threatened
me with severe punishment. I shewed him my search-warrant, and asked
him if it was a _good bill_. After having inspected every part of the
house, I departed, leaving the two young cubs half dead with fear.
The next day, a complaint was lodged at the government-house; but
investigation is a long word when a man-of-war is ordered on service.
Despatches from Albany reached Quebec, stating that the President of
the United States had declared war against England; in consequence of
which, our captain took leave of the governor, and dropped down the
river with all speed, so I never heard any more of my tradesman.

We arrived at Halifax full manned, and immediately received orders to
proceed to sea, "to sink, burn, and destroy." We ran for Boston bay,
when, on the morning we made the land, we discovered ten or twelve
sail of merchant vessels. The first we boarded was a brig; one of our
boats was lowered down; I got into her, and jumped on the deck of the
Yankee, while the frigate continued in chase of the others. The master
of the vessel sat on a hen-coop, and did not condescend to rise or
offer me the least salute as I passed him; he was a short, thick,
paunchy-looking fellow.

"You are an Englishman, I guess?"

"I guess I am," I said, imitating him with a nasal twang.

"I thought we shouldn't be long in our waters afore we met some of you
old-country sarpents. No harm in what I've said, I hope?" added the
master.

"Oh, no," said I, "not the least; it will make no difference in the
long run. But where do you come from, and where are you bound?"

"Come from Smyrna, and bound to Boston, where I hope to be to-morrow
morning, by the blessing of God, and a good conscience."

From this answer, I perceived that he was unacquainted with the war,
and I therefore determined to play with him a little before I gave him
the fatal news.

"And pray," said I, "what might your cargo consist of? you appear to
be light."

"Not so light neither, I guess," said the man; "we have sweet oil,
raisins, and what we calls notions."

"I have no notion," said I, "what they might be. Pray explain
yourself."

"Why, you see, notions is what we call a little of all sorts like.
Some likes one thing, you know, and some another: some likes sweet
almonds, and some likes silk, and some likes opium, and some" (he
added, with a cunning grin) "likes dollars."

"And are these the notions with which you are loaded?" said I.

"I guess they are," replied Jonathan.

"And what might your outward cargo have been?" said I.

"Salt fish, flour, and tobacco," was his answer.

"And is this all you have in return?" I asked. "I thought the Smyrna
trade had been a very good one."

"Well, so it is," said the unwary Yankee. "Thirty thousand dollars
in the cabin, besides the oil and the rest of the goods, an't no bad
thing."

"I am very glad to hear of the dollars," said I.

"What odds does that make to you?" said the captain; "it won't be much
on 'em as'll come to your share."

"More than you may think," said I. "Have you heard the news as you
came along?"

At the word "news," the poor man's face became the colour of one in
the jaundice. "What news?" said he, in a state of trepidation that
hardly admitted of utterance.

"Why, only that your president, Mr Madison, has thought fit to declare
war against England."

"You're only a joking?" said the captain.

"I give you my word of honour I am serious," said I; "and your vessel
is a prize to his Britannic majesty's ship, the ----."

The poor man fetched a sigh from the waistband of his trowsers. "I am
a ruined man," said he. "I only wish I'd known a little sooner of the
war you talk about: I've got two nice little guns there forward; you
shouldn't a had me so easily."

I smiled at his idea of resistance against a fast-sailing frigate of
fifty guns; but left him in the full enjoyment of his conceit, and
changing the subject, asked if he had any thing he could give us to
drink, for the weather was very warm.

"No, I ha'n't," he replied, peevishly; "and if I had--"

"Come, come, my good fellow," said I, "you forget you are a prize;
civility is a cheap article, and may bring you a quick return."

"That's true," said Jonathan, who was touched on the nicest
point--self; "that's true, you are only a doing your duty. Here, boy,
fetch up that ere demi John of Madeira, and for aught I know, the
young officer might like a drop o' long cork; bring us some tumblers,
and one o' they claret bottles out o' the starboard after locker."

The boy obeyed--and the articles quickly appeared. While this dialogue
was going on, the frigate was in chase, firing guns, and bringing-to
the different vessels as she passed them, dropping a boat on board of
one, and making sail after another. We stood after her with all the
sail we could conveniently carry.

"Pray," said the captain, "might I offer you a bit of something to
eat? I guess you ha'n't dined yet, as it isn't quite meridian."

I thanked him, and accepted his offer: he ran down instantly to the
cabin, as if to prepare for my reception; but I rather thought he
wished to place some articles out of my sight, and this proved to be
the case, for he stole a bag of dollars out of the cargo. In a short
time, I was invited down. A leg of cured pork, and a roasted fowl,
were very acceptable to a midshipman at any time, but particularly
so to me; and, when accompanied by a few glasses of the Madeira, the
barometer of my spirits rose in proportion to the depression of his.

"Come, captain," said I, filling a bumper of claret, "here's to a long
and bloody war."

"D----n the dog that won't say amen to that," said the master; "but
where do you mean to carry me to? I guess to Halifax. Sha'n't I have
my clothes, and my own private _venter_?"

"All your private property," said I, "will be held sacred; but your
vessel and cargo are ours."

"Well, well," said the man, "I know that; but if you behave well to
me, you sha'n't find I'm ungrateful. Let me have my things, and I'll
give you a bit o' news, as will be of sarvice to you."

He then told me, on my promising him his private venture, that we had
not a moment to lose, for that a vessel, just visible on the horizon,
was from Smyrna, richly laden; she was commanded by a townsman of his,
and bound to the same place. I turned from him with contempt, and at
the same moment made the signal to speak the frigate. On going on
board, I told the captain what I had heard from the master of the
prize, and the promise I had given. He approved of it; the proper
number of men were instantly sent back to the brig, the prisoners
taken out, and the frigate made sail in chase of the indicated vessel,
which she captured that night at nine o'clock.

I would not willingly believe that such perfidy is common among the
Americans. On parting with the master of my brig, a sharp dialogue
took place between us.

"I guess I'll fit out a privateer, and take some o' your merchanters."

"Take care you are not taken yourself," said I, "and pass your time
on board one of our prison ships; but, remember, whatever may happen,
it's all your own fault. You have picked a German quarrel with us, to
please Boney; and he will only spit in your face when you have done
your best for him. Your wise president has declared war against the
mother country."

"D----n the mother country," muttered the Yankee; "step-mother, I guess,
you mean, tarnation seize her!!!"

We continued following the ship, and by night-time the frigate had
secured eight prizes; one of them being a brig in ballast, the
prisoners were put on board of her, my Yankee friend among the number,
and turned adrift, to find their way home. We took care to give to all
of them their private ventures and their clothes. I was in hopes of
being allowed to go to Halifax with my prize; but the captain, knowing
how I was likely to pass my time, kept me with him. We cruised two
months, taking many privateers, some large and some small; some we
burned, and some we scuttled.

One day we had one of these craft alongside, and having taken every
thing out of her that was worth moving, we very imprudently set her
on fire before she was clear of the ship's side; and as we were on
a wind, it was some minutes before we could get her clear. In the
meantime the fire began to blaze up in a very alarming manner under
the mizzen chains, where, by the attraction of the two floating
bodies, she seemed resolved to continue; but on our putting the helm
up, and giving the vessel a sheer the contrary way, as soon as we were
before the wind, she parted from us, to our great joy, and was soon in
a volume of flame. Our reason for setting her on fire alongside was to
save time, as we wanted to go in chase of another vessel, seen from
the mast-head, and lowering a boat down to destroy this vessel would
have detained us.

Before the end of the cruise, we chased a schooner, which ran on shore
and bilged; we boarded her, brought away her crew and part of her
cargo, which was very valuable. She was from Bordeaux, bound to
Philadelphia. I was sent to examine her, and endeavour to bring away
more of her cargo. The tide rising in her, we were compelled to rip up
her decks, and discovered that she was laden with bales of silk, broad
cloths, watches, clocks, laces, silk stockings, wine, brandy, bars of
steel, olive-oil, &c, &c. I sent word of this to the captain; and
the carpenter and plenty of assistants arriving, we rescued a great
quantity of the goods from the deep or the Yankee boats, who would
soon have been on board after we left her. We could perceive in the
hold some cases, but they were at least four feet under water. It was
confoundedly cold; but I thought there was something worth diving for,
so down I went, and contrived to keep myself long enough under water
to hook one end of a case, by which means we broke it out and got it
up. It was excellent claret, and we were not withheld from drinking it
by any scruples of conscience; for if I had not dived for it, it
would never have come to the mouth of an Englishman. We discussed a
three-dozen case among just so many of us, in a reasonable short
time; and as it was October, we felt no ill effects from a frequent
repetition of the dose.

I never felt colder, and diving requires much stimulant. From practice
at this work, I could pick up pins and needles in a clear, sandy
bottom; and, considering the density of the medium, could live like a
beaver under water; but I required ample fees for my trouble. When we
returned on board, we were very wet and cold, and the wine took no
effect on us; but as soon as we thawed, like the horn of the great
Munchausen, the secret escaped, for we were all tipsy. The captain
inquired the cause of this the next day, and I very candidly told him
the whole history. He was wise enough to laugh at it; some captains
would have flogged every one of the men, and disgraced the officers.

On our return into port, I requested permission to go to England in
order to pass my examination as lieutenant, having nearly completed
my servitude as a midshipman. I was asked to remain out, and take my
chance for promotion in the flag-ship; but more reasons than I chose
to give, induced me to prefer an examination at a sea-port in England,
and I obtained my discharge and came home. The reader will no doubt
give me credit for having written some dozen of letters to Eugenia:
youth, beauty, and transient possession had still preserved my
attachment to her unabated. Emily I had heard of, and still loved
with a purer flame. She was my sun; Eugenia my moon; and the fair
favourites of the western hemisphere, so many twinkling stars of the
first, second, and third magnitude. I loved them all more or less; but
all their charms vanished, when the beauteous Emily shone in my breast
with refulgent light.

I had received letters from my father, who wished me to come home,
that he might present me to some of the great men of the nation, and
secure my promotion to the highest ranks of the service. This advice
was good, and, as it suited my views, I followed it. I parted with
my captain on the best terms, took leave of all my messmates and the
officers in the same friendly manner, and last, not least, went round
to the ladies, kissing, hugging, crying, and swearing love and eternal
attachment. Nothing, I declared, should keep me from Halifax, as soon
as I had passed; nothing prevent my marrying one, as soon as I was a
lieutenant; a second was to have the connubial knot tied when I was a
commander; and a third, as soon as I was made a captain. Oh, how like
was I to Don Galaor! Oh, how unlike the constant Amadis de Gaul! But,
reader, you must take me as I was, not as I ought to have been.

After a passage of six weeks, I arrived at Plymouth, and had exactly
completed my six years' servitude.



Chapter XV

    Examine him closely, goodman Dry; spare him not. Ask him
    impossible questions. Let us thwart him, let us thwart him.

    BEAUMONT AND FLETCHER.


Soon after my arrival at Plymouth, notice was given by a general
order, issued from the flag-ship, that a passing-day for the
examination of midshipmen, as touching their qualifications for the
rank of lieutenant, would be held on board the _Salvador del Mundo_,
in Hamoaze. I lost no time in acquainting my father with this, and
telling him that I felt quite prepared, and meant to offer myself.
Accordingly, on the day appointed, your humble servant, with some
fourteen or fifteen other youthful aspirants, assembled on board the
flag-ship. Each was dressed out in our No. I suits, in most exact and
unquizzable uniform, with a large bundle of log-books under our arms.
We were all huddled together in a small screened canvas cabin, like so
many sheep ready for slaughter.

About eleven o'clock, the captains who were to be our Minos and our
Rhadamanthus, made their appearance, and we all agreed that we did not
much like the "cut of their jibs." At twelve o'clock the first
name was called. The "desperate youth" tried to pluck up a little
courage--he cleared his throat, pulled up his shirt collar, touched
his neck-handkerchief, and seizing his cocked hat and journals,
boldly followed the messenger into the captain's cabin, where three
grave-looking gentlemen, in undress uniform, awaited him. They were
seated at a round table; a clerk was at the elbow of the president;
Moore's navigation, that wise redoubtable, lay before them; together
with a nautical almanack, a slate and pencil, ink and paper. The
trembling middy advanced to the table, and having most respectfully
deposited his journals and certificates of sobriety and good conduct,
was desired to sit down. The first questions were merely theoretical;
and although in the gun-room, or in any other company, he would have
acquitted himself with ease, he was so abashed and confounded, that he
lost his head entirely, trembled at the first question, stared at the
second, and having no answer to make to the third, was dismissed, with
directions "to go to sea six months longer."

He returned to us with a most woe-begone countenance. I never saw a
poor creature in greater mental torment. I felt for him the more, as
I knew not how soon his case might be my own. Another was called, and
soon returned with no better success; and the description he gave of
the bullying conduct of the youngest passing captain was such as to
damp the spirits, and enough to stultify minds so inexperienced as
ours, and where so much depended on our success. This hint was,
however, of great use to me. Theory, I found, was the rock on which
they had split; and in this part of my profession, I knew my powers,
and was resolved not to be bowled out by the young captain. But while
I thus resolved, a third candidate was returned to us _re infecta_;
and this was a young man on whose talents I could have relied: I began
to doubt myself. When the fourth came out with a smiling face, and
told us he had passed, I took a little breath; but even this comfort
was snatched from me in a moment, by his saying that one of the
passing captains was a friend of his father. Here then was solved an
enigma; for this fellow, during the short time I was in his company,
gave proof of being no better than a simpleton.

On my own name being called, I felt a flutter about the heart which I
did not feel in action, or in the hurricane, or when, in a case more
desperate than either, I jumped overboard at Spithead, to swim to my
dear Eugenia. "Powers of Impudence, as well as Algebra," said I, "lend
me your aid, or I am undone." In a moment the cabin door flew open,
the sentinel closed it after me, and I found myself in the presence
of this most awful triumvirate. I felt very like Daniel in the lions'
den. I was desired to take a chair, and a short discussion ensued
between the judges, which I neither heard nor wished to hear: but
while it lasted, I had time to survey my antagonists from head to
foot. I encouraged myself to think that I was equal to one of them;
and if I could only neutralise him, I thought I should very easily
floor the other two.

One of these officers had a face like a painted pumpkin; and his hand,
as it lay on the table, looked more like the fin of a turtle; the
nails were bitten so close off, that the very remains of them seemed
to have retreated into the flesh, for fear of farther depredation,
which the other hand was at the moment suffering. Thinks I to
myself, "If ever I saw 'lodgings to let, unfurnished,' it is in that
cocoa-nut, or pumpkin, or gourd of yours."

The next captain to him was a little, thin, dark, dried up, shrivelled
fellow, with keen eyes, and a sharp nose. The midshipmen called him
"Old Chili Vinegar," or, "Old Hot and Sour." He was what we term a
martinet. He would keep a man two months on his black list, giving him
a breech of a gun to polish and keep bright, never allowing him time
to mend his clothes, or keep himself clean, while he was cleaning that
which, for all the purposes of war, had better have been black. He
seldom flogged a man; but he tormented him into sullen discontent,
by what he called "keeping the devil out of his mind." This little
night-mare, who looked like a dried eel-skin, I soon found was the
leader of the band.

The third captain was a tall, well-looking, pompous man (he was the
junior officer of the three), with a commanding and most unbending
countenance: "He would not ope his mouth in way of smile, though
Nestor swore the jest was laughable."

I had just time to finish my survey, and form a rough estimate of
the qualities of my examiners, when I was put upon my trial by the
president, who thus addressed me,

"You are perfect in the theory of navigation, I presume, Sir, or you
would not come here?"

I replied, that I hoped I should be found so, if they would please to
try me.

"Ready enough with his answer," said the tall captain; "I daresay this
fellow is jaw-master-general in the cockpit.--Who did you serve your
time with, Sir?"

I stated the different captains I had served with, particularly Lord
Edward.

"Oh, ay, that's enough; you _must_ be a smart fellow, if you have
served with Lord Edward."

I understood the envious and sarcastic manner in which this was
uttered, and prepared accordingly for an arduous campaign, quite sure
that this man, who was no seaman, would have been too happy in turning
back one of Lord Edward's midshipmen. Several problems were given to
me, which I readily solved, and returned to them. They examined my
logs and certificates with much seeming scrutiny, and then ventured a
question in the higher branches of mathematics. This I also solved;
but I found talent was not exactly what they wanted. The little skinny
captain seemed rather disappointed that he could not find fault with
me. A difficult problem in spherical trigonometry lay before them,
carefully drawn out, and the result distinctly marked at the bottom;
but this I was not, of course, permitted to see. I soon answered the
question; they compared my work with that which had been prepared for
them; and as they did not exactly agree, I was told that I was wrong.
I was not disconcerted, and very deliberately looking over my work, I
told them I could not discover any error, and was able to prove it by
inspection, by Canon, by Gunter, or by figure.

"You think yourself a very clever fellow, I dare say," said the little
fat captain.

"A second Euclid!" said the tall captain. "Pray, Sir, do you know the
meaning of '_Pons Asinorum_?'"

"Bridge of Asses, Sir," said I, staring him full in the face, with a
smile under the skin.

Now it was very clear to me that the little fat captain had never
heard of the Asses Bridge before, and therefore supposed I was
quizzing the tall captain, who, from having been what we used to term
a "harbour-duty man" all his life, had heard of the _Pons Asinorum_,
but did not know which of the problems of Euclid it was, nor how it
was applicable to navigation. The fat captain, therefore burst into a
horse laugh, saying, "I think he hits you hard; you had better let him
alone: he will puzzle you presently."

Nettled at this observation of his brother officer, the tall captain
was put upon his metal, and insisted that the question last proposed
was not satisfactorily answered, and swore by G---- that he never
would sign my certificate until I did it.

I persisted; the two works were compared: I was threatened to be
turned back; when, lo, to the dismay of the party, the error was
found in their own work. The fat captain, who was a well-meaning man,
laughed heartily; the other two looked very silly and very angry.

"Enough of this, Sir," said the martinet: "now stand up, and let us
see what you can do with a ship." A ship was supposed to be on the
stocks; she was launched; I was appointed to her, and, as first
lieutenant, ordered to prepare her for sea. I took her into dock, and
saw her coppered; took her along the sheer-hulk, masted her; laid her
to the ballast-wharf, took in and stowed her iron ballast and her
tanks; moved off to a hulk or receiving ship, rigged her completely,
bent her sails, took in guns, stores, and provisions; reported her
ready for sea, and made the signal for a pilot; took her out of
harbour, and was desired to conduct her into other harbours, pointing
out the shoals and dangers of Portsmouth, Plymouth, Falmouth, the
Downs, Yarmouth Roads, and even to Shetland.

But the little martinet and the tall captain had not forgiven me for
being right in the problem, and my examination continued. They put my
ship into every possible situation which the numerous casualties of
a sea life present in such endless variety. I set and took in every
sail, from a sky-sail to try-sail. I had my masts shot away, and I
rigged jury-masts: I made sail on them, and was getting fairly into
port, when the little martinet very cruelly threw my ship on her
beam-ends on a dead lee-shore, a dark night, and blowing a hurricane,
and told me to get her out of that scrape if I could. I replied that,
if there was anchorage, I should anchor, and take my chance; but if
there was no anchorage, neither he nor any one else could save the
ship, without a change of wind, or the special interference of
Providence. This did not satisfy old Chili Vinegar. I saw that I was
persecuted, and that the end would be fatal to my hopes: I therefore
became indifferent; was fatigued with the endless questions put to me;
and, very fortunately for me, made a mistake, at least in the opinion
of the tall captain. The question at that time was one which was much
controverted in the service; namely, whether, on being taken flat
aback, you should put your helm a turn or two alee, or keep it
amidship? I preferred the latter mode; but the tall captain insisted
on the former, and gave his reasons. Finding myself on debatable
ground, I gave way, and thanked him for his advice, which I said I
should certainly follow whenever the case occurred to me; not that I
felt convinced then, and have since found that he was wrong; still
my apparent tractability pleased his self-love, and he became my
advocate. "He grinned horribly a ghastly smile," and, turning to the
other captains, asked if they were satisfied.

This question, like the blow of the auctioneer's hammer, ends all
discussion; for captains, on these occasions, never gainsay each
other; I was told that my passing certificate would be signed. I made
my best bow and my exit, reflecting, as I returned to the "sheep pen,"
that I had nearly lost my promotion by wounding their vanity, and had
regained my ground by flattering it. Thus the world goes on; and from
my earliest days, my mind was strengthened and confirmed in every vice
by the pernicious example of my superiors.

I might have passed much more easily abroad. I remember, one fine day
at sea, in the West Indies, a boat was lowered down, and sent with a
young midshipman (whose time was not fairly served, and whose age and
appearance indicated anything but nautical knowledge) to a ship then
in company; in a quarter of an hour he returned, with his passing
certificate. We were all astonished, and inquired what questions were
put to him; he said, "None at all, except as to the health of my
father and mother; and whether I would have port or white wine and
water. On coming away," the brat added, "one of the captains desired I
would, when I wrote home, give his best respects to Lord and Lady G.
He had ordered a turkey to be picked and put in the boat for me, and
wished me success."

This boy was soon afterwards made a post-captain; but fortunately for
the service, died on his passage to England.

There was certainly some difference between this examination and mine;
but when it was over, I rejoiced at the severity of my ordeal. My
pride, my darling pride, was tickled at the triumph of my talents;
and as I wiped away the perspiration from my forehead, I related
my difficulties, my trials, and my success, with a degree of
self-complacency that in any other person I should have called
egregious vanity. One good effect resulted from my long examination,
which continued an hour and a half--this was, that the captains passed
all the other midshipmen with very few questions. They were tired of
their employment; and thus it was only the poor unlucky devils that
took off the fiery edge of their morning zeal, who suffered; and among
"the plucked," it was known there were much cleverer fellows than many
of those who had come off with flying colours.

There was one circumstance which amused me. When the captains came on
deck, the little Chili Vinegar called me to him, and enquired whether
I was any relation of Mr ----. I replied that he was my uncle.

"Bless my soul, Sir! why he is my most intimate friend. Why did you
not tell me you were his nephew?"

I answered with an affected humility, very nearly allied to
impertinence, that I could not see by his face that he knew my uncle;
nor, indeed, had I known it, should I have thought it delicate to have
mentioned it at such a time; as it might not only have implied a want
of confidence in my own abilities, but also a suspicion that he might,
by such a communication, have been induced to deviate from the rigid
path of his duty, and might therefore have received it as a personal
affront.

"All that is very fine, and very true," said the veteran; "but when
you have an older head upon your shoulders, and have seen a little
more of our service, you will learn to trust at least as much to
friends as to merit; and rely on it, that if you could make yourself
out cousin-german to the old tom-cat at the Admiralty, you would fare
all the better for it. However, it's all over now, and there's an end
of it; but make my compliments to your uncle, and tell him that you
passed your examination in a manner highly creditable to you."

So saying, he touched his hat to the serjeant's guard, and slipped
down the side into his gig. As he descended, I said to myself, "D----n
your monkey face, you coffee-coloured little rascal--no thanks to you
if I have passed. I suppose your father was breeches-mender to the
first lord's butler, or else you shared your mother's milk with a lord
in waiting, and that's the way you got the command of the ----."

Elated with the result of the day, I threw myself into the mail that
evening, and reached my father's house in a short time after. My
reception was kind and affectionate; but death had made sad havoc in
my family during my late absence. My elder brother and two sisters had
been successively called to join my poor mother in heaven, and all
that remained now to comfort my father was a younger sister and
myself. I must confess that my father received me with great emotion;
his own heavy afflictions from the loss of his children, and the
dangers I had undergone, as well as the authentic assurances he had
received of my good conduct were more than sufficient to bury all my
errors in oblivion; and he appeared, and I have no doubt really was,
fonder and prouder of me than ever.

As to what my own feelings were on this occasion, I shall not attempt
to disguise them. Sorry I certainly was for the death of my nearest
relatives; but when the intelligence reached me, I was in the midst of
the most active service. Death in all its forms had become familiar to
me; and so little impression did the event make on my mind, that I
did not interrupt the thread of my history to speak of it when it
occurred. I take shame to myself for not feeling more; but I am quite
sure, from this one instance in my life, that the feelings are blunted
in proportion to the increase of misery around us; that the parent
who, in a moment of peace and domestic tranquillity, would be agonized
at the loss of one child, would view the death of ten with comparative
indifference, when surrounded by war, pestilence, or famine.

My feelings, never very acute in this respect, were completely blunted
by my course of life. Those fond recollections which, in a calm scene,
would have wrung from me some tears to their memory, were now drowned
or absorbed in the waste, the profligacy, and the dissipation of war;
and shall I add, that I easily reconciled myself to a loss which was
likely so much to increase my worldly gain. For my eldest brother,
I own that, even from childhood, I had felt a jealousy and dislike,
fostered, as I think, in some measure unwisely, and in part
unavoidably, by the conduct of my parents. In all matters of choice
or distinction, Tom was to have the preference, because he was the
oldest: this I thought hard enough; but when Tom had new clothes at
Midsummer and Christmas, and his old ones were converted to my use,
I honestly own I wished the devil had Tom. As a point of economy,
perhaps, this could not be avoided; but it engendered a hatred towards
my brother which often made me, in my own little malignant mind, find
excuses for the conduct of Cain.

Tom was, to be sure, what is called a good boy; _he_ never soiled his
clothes, as I did. I was always considered as a rantipole, for whom
any thing was good enough. But when I saw my brother tricked out in
new clothes, and his old duds covering me, like a scarecrow, I
appeal to any honourable mind whether it was in human nature to feel
otherwise than I did, without possessing an angelic disposition, to
which I never pretended; and I fairly own that I did shed not one
fiftieth part so many tears over Tom's grave, as I did over his dirty
pantaloons, when forced to put them on.

As for my sisters, I knew little about them, and cared less: we met
during the holidays, and separated, without regret, after a month's
quarrelling. When I went to sea, I ceased to think about them,
concluding there was no love lost; but when I found that death had
for ever robbed me of two of them, I felt the irretrievable loss. I
reproached myself with my coldness and neglect; and the affection I
had denied to them, I heaped threefold on my remaining sister: even
before I had ever seen her on my return, the tide of fraternal love
flowed towards her with an uncontrollable violence. All that I
ought to have felt towards the others, was concentrated in her, and
displayed itself with a force which surprised even myself.

Perhaps the reader may be astonished that my first inquiry in London,
when I had seen my father and my family, should not have been after
poor Eugenia, whom I had left, and who also had quitted me, under such
very peculiar and interesting circumstances. I cannot, however, claim
much credit for having performed this duty. I did go, without loss of
time, to her agent; and all that my most urgent entreaty could obtain
from him was that she was well; that I still had credit at his house
for any sum I chose to draw for in moderation; but that her place of
abode must, till farther orders from her, remain a secret.

As my father did not want interest, and my claims were backed by
good certificates, I received my commission as a lieutenant in his
Majesty's navy about a fortnight after my arrival in London; but not
being appointed to any ship, I resolved to enjoy the "_otium cum
dig_.," and endeavour to make myself some amends for the hard campaign
I had so lately completed in North America. I felt the transport of
being a something: at least, I could live independent of my father,
let the worst come to the worst; and I shall ever think this step gave
me more real pleasure than either of the two subsequent ones which
I have lived to attain. No sooner, therefore, had I taken up my
commission, than my thoughts turned on my Emily; and two days after
the attainment of my rank, I mentioned to my father my intention of
paying a visit to ---- Hall.

He was at the time in high good humour; we were sitting over our
bottle of claret, after an excellent _tête-à-tête_ dinner, during
which I contributed very much to his amusement by the recital of some
of my late adventures. He shuddered at my danger in the hurricane, and
his good-humoured sides had well nigh cracked with laughter when I
recounted my pranks at Quebec and Prince Edward's Island. When I spoke
of Miss Somerville, my father said he had no doubt she would be happy
to see me--that she was now grown a very beautiful girl, and was the
toast of the county.

I received this information with an apparent cool indifference which I
was far from feeling inwardly, for my heart beat at the intelligence.
"Perhaps," said I, picking my teeth, and looking at my mouth in a
little ivory _etui_--"perhaps she may be grown a fine girl: she
bade fair to be so when I saw her; but fine girls are very plenty
now-a-days, since the Vaccine has turned out the small-pox. Besides,
the girls have now another chance of a good shape; they are allowed
to take the air, instead of sitting all day, with their feet in the
stocks and their dear sweet noses bent over a French grammar, under
the rod of a French governess."

Why I took so much pains to conceal from the best of parents the real
state of my heart, I know not, except that, from habit, deceit was to
me more readily at hand than candour; certainly my attachment to this
fair and virtuous creature could not cause me to blush, except at my
own unworthiness of so much excellence. My father looked disappointed;
I know not why; but I afterwards learned that the subject of our union
had, since my brother's death, been discussed and agreed to between
him and Mr Somerville; and that our marriage was only to be deferred
until I should have attained the rank of captain, provided always that
the parties were agreed.

"I thought," said my father, "that you were rather smitten in that
quarter?"

"Me smitten, Sir?" said I, with a look of astonishment. "I have, it
is true, a very high respect for Miss Somerville; but as for being in
love with her, I trust no little attentions on my part have been so
construed. I have paid her no more attention than I may have done to
any pretty girl I meet with." (This was, indeed, true, too true.)

"Well, well," said my father, "it is a mistake on my part."

And here the conversation on that subject was dropped.

It appeared that after the little arrangement between Mr Somerville
and my father, and when I had gone to join my ship in America, they
had had some communication together, in which Mr Somerville disclosed,
that having questioned his daughter, she had ingenuously confessed
that I was not indifferent to her. She acknowledged, with crimson
blushes, that I had requested and obtained a lock of her hair. This
Mr Somerville told my father in confidence. He was not, therefore,
at liberty to mention it to me; but it sufficiently accounts for his
astonishment at my seeming indifference; for the two worthy parents
had naturally concluded that it was a match.

Confounded and bewildered by my asseveration, my father knew not
whose veracity to impeach; but, charitably concluding there was some
mistake, or that I was, as heretofore, a fickle, thoughtless being,
considered himself bound in honour to communicate the substance of our
conversation to Mr Somerville; and the latter no sooner received it,
than he placed the letter in Emily's hands--a very comfortable kind
of _avant-courier_ for a lover, after an absence from his mistress of
full three years.

I arrived at the hall, bursting with impatience to see the lovely
girl, whose hold on my heart and affection was infinitely stronger
than I had ever supposed. Darting from the chaise, I flew into the
sitting-room, where she usually passed her morning. I was now in my
twenty-second year; my figure was decidedly of a handsome cast; my
face, what I knew most women admired. My personal advantages were
heightened by the utmost attention to dress; the society of the fair
Acadians had very much polished my manners, and I had no more of the
professional roughness of the sea than what, like the crust on the
port-wine, gave an agreeable flavour; my countenance was as open and
as ingenuous as my heart was deceitful and desperately wicked.

Emily rose with much agitation, and in an instant was clasped in my
arms: not that the movement was voluntary on her part; it was wholly
on mine. She rather recoiled; but for an instant seemed to have
forgotten the fatal communication which her father had made to her not
two hours before. She allowed me--perhaps she could not prevent it--to
press her to my heart. She soon, however, regained her presence of
mind, and, gently disengaging herself, gave vent to her feelings in a
violent flood of tears.

Not at the time recollecting the conversation with my father, much
less suspecting that Emily had been made acquainted with it, I cannot
but confess that this reception surprised me. My caresses were
repulsed, as coming from one totally disqualified to take such
freedom. She even addressed me as Mr Mildmay, instead of "Frank."

"What may all this mean, my dearest Emily," said I, "after so long an
absence? What can I have done to make so great an alteration in your
sentiments? Is this the reward of affection and constancy? Have I so
long worn this dear emblem of your affection next my heart, in battle
and in tempest, to be spurned from you like a cur on my return?"

I felt that I had a clear right to boast of constancy; nor were the
flirtations of Halifax and Quebec at all incompatible with such a
declaration. The fair sex will start at this proposition; but it is
nevertheless true. Emily was to me what the Dutchman's best anchor
was to him--he kept it at home, for fear of losing it. He used other
anchors in different ports, that answered the purpose tolerably well;
but this best bower he always intended to ride by in the Nieu deep,
when he had escaped all the dangers and quicksands of foreign shores:
such was Emily to me. I thought of her when in the very jaws of the
shark; I thought of her when I mounted the rigging in the hurricane; I
thought of her when bored and tormented to madness by the old passing
captains; all, all I might gain in renown was for her. Why, then,
traitor like, did I deny her? For no other reason that I can devise
than that endless love of plot and deceit which had "grown with my
growth."

Madame de Stael has pronounced love to be an episode in a man's life;
and so far it is true. There are as many episodes in life as there
are in novels and romances; but in neither case do they destroy the
general plot of the history, although they may, for the time, distract
or divert our attention. Here, then, is the distinction between
passion and love. I felt a passion for Eugenia, love for Emily. And
why? Because although it was through my own persuasions and entreaties
that her scruples had been overcome; although it was through her
affection for me which would not allow her to refuse me any demand,
even to the sacrifice of herself, that Eugenia had fallen, still, in
the eyes of society, she had fallen; and I did not offer up a pure and
holy love to that which was not accounted pure. In this I gave way,
ungratefully, to the heartless casuistry of the world. But Emily,
enshrined in modesty, with every talent, equal, if not superior
charms, defended by rank and connection, was a flower perpetually
blooming on the stem of virtue, that it would have amounted to
sacrilege to attempt to have plucked; and the attempt itself would
have savoured of insanity, from the utter hopelessness of success.
Every sentiment connected with her was pure, from mere selfishness.
Not for worlds would I have injured her; because in destroying her
peace of mind, my own would have fled for ever. When I contemplated
our final union, I blushed for my own unworthiness; and looked forward
to the day when, by repentance and amendment, I might be deemed worthy
to lead her to the altar.

I had not time to pursue these reflections any farther. Emily heard
my appeal, and rising from her seat in the most dignified manner,
addressed me in the commanding language of conscious virtue and
injured innocence.

"Sir," said she, "I trust I am too honest to deceive you, or any one;
nor have I done that of which I need be ashamed. Whatever reasons I
may have to repent of my misplaced confidence, I will make no secret
of that which now compels me to change my opinion of you; you will
find them amply detailed in this paper," at the same time putting into
my hand a letter from my father to Mr Somerville.

In a moment the mystery was unravelled, and conviction flashed in
my face like the priming of a musket. Guilty, and convicted on the
clearest evidence, I had nothing left for it, but to throw myself on
her mercy; but while I stood undecided, and unknowing what to do, Mr
Somerville entered, and welcomed me with kind, but cool hospitality.
Seeing Emily in tears, and my father's letter in her hand, he knew
that an _éclaircissement_ had taken place, or was in progress. In this
situation, candour, and an honest confession that I felt a _mauvaise
honte_ in disclosing my passion to my father would undoubtedly have
been my safest course; but my right trusty friend, the devil, stepped
in to my assistance, and suggested deceit, or a continuation of that
chain by which he had long since bound me, and not one link of which
he took care should ever be broken; and fortunately for me, this plan
answered, at the time, better than candour.

"I must acknowledge, sir," said I, "that appearances are against me. I
can only trust to your patient hearing, while I state the real facts.
Allow me first to say, that my father's observations are hardly
warranted by the conversation which took place; and if you will
please, in the first place, to consider that that very conversation
originated in my expressing a wish and intention of coming down to see
you, and to produce to your daughter the memento so carefully guarded
during my long absence, you must perceive that there is an incongruity
in my conduct, difficult to explain; but still, through all these
mazes and windings, I trust that truth and constancy will be found
at the bottom. You may probably laugh at the idea, but I really
felt jealous of my father's praises so lavishly bestowed on Miss
Somerville; and not supposing he was aware of my attachment, I began
to fear he had pretensions of his own. He is a widower, healthy, and
not old; and it appeared to me that he only wanted my admiration to
justify his choice of a step-mother for myself and sister. Thus,
between love for Miss Somerville, and respect for my father, I
scarcely knew how to act. That I should for one moment have felt
jealous of my father, I now acknowledge with shame: yet labouring
under the erroneous supposition of his attachment to an object which
had been the only one of my adoration, I could not make up my mind to
a disclosure, which I feared would have renewed our differences, and
produced the most insuperable bars to our future reconciliation.
This thought burned in my brain, and urged the speed of the jaded
post-horses. If you will examine the drivers, they will tell you, that
the whole way from town, they have been stimulated by the rapping of a
Spanish dollar on the glass of the chaise. I dreaded my father getting
the start of me; and busy fancy painted him, to my heated imagination,
kneeling at the feet of my beloved Emily. Condemn me not, therefore,
too harshly; only allow me the same lenient judgment which you
exercised when I first had the pleasure of making your acquaintance."

This last sentence delicately recalled the scene at the inn, and the
circumstances of my first introduction. The defence was not bad; it
wanted but one simple ingredient to have made it excellent--I mean
truth; but the court being strongly biassed in favour of the prisoner,
I was acquitted, and at the same time, "admonished to be more careful
in future." The reconciliation produced a few more tears from my
beloved Emily, who soon after slipped out of the room to recover her
flurry.

When Mr Somerville and myself were left together, he explained to
me the harmless plot which had been laid for the union between his
daughter and myself. How true it is, that the falling out of lovers is
the renewal of love! The fair, white hand extended to me, was kissed
with the more rapture, as I had feared the losing of it for ever. None
enjoy the pleasures of a secure port, but he who has been tempest
tossed, and in danger of shipwreck.

The dinner and the evening were among the happiest I can remember.
We sat but a short time over our wine, as I preferred following
my mistress to the little drawing-room, where tea and coffee were
prepared, and where the musical instruments were kept. Emily sang and
played to me, and I sang and accompanied her; and I thought all the
clocks and watches in the house were at least three hours too fast,
when, as it struck twelve, the signal was made to retire.

I had no sooner laid my head on my pillow than I began to call myself
to a severe account for my duplicity; for, somehow or other, I don't
know how it is, conscience is a very difficult sort of gentleman to
deal with. A tailor's bill you may avoid by crossing the channel;
but the duns of conscience follow you to the antipodes, and will be
satisfied. I ran over the events of the day; I reflected that I
had been on the brink of losing my Emily by an act of needless and
unjustifiable deceit and double-dealing. Sooner or later I was
convinced that this part of my character would be made manifest,
and that shame and punishment would overwhelm me in utter ruin. The
success which had hitherto attended me was no set-off against the risk
I ran of losing for ever this lovely girl, and the respect and esteem
of her father. For her sake, therefore, I made a vow for ever to
abandon this infernal system. I mention this more particularly as it
was the first healthy symptom of amendment I had discovered, and one
to which I long and tenaciously adhered, as far, at least, as my
habits and pursuits in life would allow me. I forgot, at that time,
that to be ingenuous it was necessary to be virtuous. There is no
cause for concealment when we do not act wrong.

A letter from Mr Somerville to my father explained my conduct; and
my father, in reply, said I certainly must have been mad. To this I
assented, quoting Shakspeare--"the lunatic, the lover, and the poet,
&c.!" So long as I was out of the scrape, I cared little about the
impeachment of my rationality.

The days at the Hall flew, just like all the days of happy lovers,
confoundedly fast. The more I saw of Emily, the firmer and faster did
she rivet my chains. I was her slave: but what was best, I became a
convert to virtue, because she was virtuous; and to possess her, I
knew I must become as like her as my corrupt mind and unruly habits
would permit. I viewed my past life with shame and contrition. When I
attended this amiable, lovely creature to church on a Sunday, and saw
her in the posture of devotion before her Maker, I thought her an
angel, and I thought it heaven to be near her. All my thoughts and
sentiments seemed changed and refined by her example and her company.
The sparks of religion, so long buried in the ashes of worldly
corruption and infidelity, began to revive. I recalled my beloved
mother and the Bible to my recollection; and could I have been
permitted to have remained longer with my "governess," I have no doubt
that I should have regained both purity of mind and manner. I should
have bidden adieu to vice and folly, because they could not have dwelt
under the same roof with Emily; and I should have loved the Bible and
religion, because they were beloved by her: but my untoward destiny
led me a different way.



Chapter XVI

  And oft his smooth and bridled tongue
      Would give the lie to his flushing cheek:
  He was a coward to the strong:
      He was a tyrant to the weak.

  SHELLEY.


My father, as soon as he had obtained my promotion, asked for my being
employed; and having had a promise from the Admiralty, that promise,
unlike thousands of its predecessors and successors, was too rapidly
fulfilled. I received a letter from my father, and a bouncing one from
the Admiralty, by the same post, announcing officially my appointment
to the D---- brig, of eighteen guns, at Portsmouth, whither I was
directed to repair immediately, and take up my commission. In this
transaction I soon after found there was an underplot, which I was too
green to perceive at the time; but the wise heads of the two papas had
agreed that a separation between the lovers was absolutely necessary,
and that the longer it was delayed, the worse it would be for both of
us: in short, that until I had attained my rank, nothing should be
thought of in the way of matrimony.

As the reader is, no doubt, by this time pretty well versed in all
the dialogue of parting lovers, I shall not intrude upon his or her
patience with a repetition of that which has been much too often
repeated, and is equally familiar to the prince and the ploughman. I
should as soon think of describing the Devil's Punch Bowl, on the road
to Portsmouth, where I arrived two days after my appointment.

I put up at Billett's, at the George, as a matter of course, because
it was the resort of all the naval aristocracy, and directly opposite
to the admiral's office. The first person for whom I made my kind
inquiries was my captain elect; but he herded not with his brother
epaulettes. He did not live at the George, nor did he mess at the
Crown; he was not at the Fountain, nor the Parade Coffee-house; and
the Blue Posts ignored him; but he was to be heard of at the Star and
Garter, on the tip of Portsmouth Point. He did not even live there,
but generally resided on board. This does not savour well; I never
like your captains who live on board their ships in harbour; no ship
can be comfortable, for no one can do as he pleases, which is the life
and soul of a man-of-war, when in port.

To the Star and Garter I went, and asked for Captain G. I hoped I
should not find him here; for this house had been, time out of mind,
the rendezvous of warrant-officers, mates, and midshipmen. Here,
however, he was; I sent up my card, and was admitted to his presence.
He was seated in a small parlour, with a glass of brandy and water, or
at least the remains of it, before him; his feet were on the fender,
and several official documents which he had received that morning
were lying on the table. He rose as I entered, and shewed me a short,
square-built frame, with a strong projection of the sphere, or what
the Spaniards call _bariga_. This rotundity of corporation was,
however, supported by as fine a pair of Atlas legs as ever were worn
by a Bath chairman. His face was rather inclined to be handsome; the
features regular, a pleasant smile upon his lips, and a deep dimple in
his chin. But his most remarkable feature was his eye; it was small,
but piercing, and seemed to possess that long-sought _desideratum_ of
the perpetual motion, since it was utterly impossible to fix it for
one moment on any object: and there was in it a lurking expression,
which, though something of a physiognomist, I could not readily
decipher.

"Mr Mildmay," said my skipper, "I am extremely happy to see you, and
still more so that you have been appointed to my ship; will you be
seated?"

As I obeyed, he turned round, and, rubbing his hands, as if he had
just laid down his soap, he continued, "I always make it a rule,
previous to an officer joining my ship, to learn something of his
character from my brother captains; it is a precaution which I take,
as I consider that one scabby sheep, &c. is strictly applicable to our
service. I wish to have good officers and perfect gentlemen about me.
There are, no doubt, many officers who can do their duty well, and
with whom I should have no fault to find; but then there is a way of
doing it--a _modus in rebus_, which a gentleman only can attain to;
coarse manners, execrations, and abusive language render the men
discontented, degrade the service, and are therefore very properly
forbidden in the second article of war. Under such officers, the
men always work unwillingly. I have taken the liberty to make some
inquiries about you; and can only say, that all I have heard is to
your advantage. I have no doubt we shall suit each other; and be
assured it shall be my study to make you as comfortable as possible."

To this very sensible and polite address, I made a suitable reply. He
then stated that he expected to sail in a few days; that the officer
whom I was to supersede had not exactly suited his ideas, although he
believed him to be a very worthy young man; and that, in consequence,
he had applied and succeeded in obtaining for him another appointment;
that it was necessary he should join his ship immediately; but, of
course, he must first be superseded by me. "Therefore," said he,
"you had better meet me on board the brig to-morrow morning at nine
o'clock, when your commission shall be read; and after that I beg you
will consider yourself your own master for a few days, as I presume
you have some little arrangements to prepare for your cruise. I am
aware," pursued he, smiling most benignantly, "that there are many
little comforts which officers wish to attend to; such as fitting
their cabins and looking to their mess, and a thousand other nameless
things, which tend to pass the time and break up the monotony of a
sea-life. Forty years have I trod the king's planks, man and boy, and
not with any great success, as you may perceive, by the rank I now
hold, and the life I am leading; for here I sit over a glass of humble
grog, instead of joining my brother captains in their claret at the
Crown; but I have two sisters to support, and I feel more satisfaction
in doing my duty as a brother, than indulging my appetite; although
I own I have no dislike to a glass of claret, when it does not come
before me in a questionable shape: I mean when I have not got to pay
for it, which I cannot afford. Now do not let me take up any more of
your time. You have plenty of acquaintances that you wish to see, I
have no doubt; and as for my yarns, they will do to pass away a watch,
when we have nothing more attractive to divert us." So saying, he
held out his hand, and shook mine most cordially. "To-morrow, at nine
o'clock," he repeated; and I left him, much pleased with my interview.

I went back to my inn, thinking what a very fortunate fellow I was
to have such an honest, straight-forward, bold, British hero of a
captain, on my first appointment. I ordered my dinner at the George,
and then strolled out to make my purchases, and give my orders for a
few articles for sea service. I fell in with several old messmates;
they congratulated me on my promotion, and declared I should give them
a dinner to wet my commission, to which I readily consented. The day
was named, and Mr Billett was ordered to provide accordingly.

Having dined _solus_, I amused myself in writing a long letter to my
dear Emily; and with the assistance of a bottle of wine, succeeded in
composing a tolerably warm and rapturous sort of a document, which
I sealed, kissed, and sent to the post-office; after which, I built
castles till bed time; but not one castle did I build, in which Emily
was not the sole mistress. I went to bed, and slept soundly; and the
next morning, by seven o'clock, I was arrayed in a spick-span new
uniform, with an immensely large epaulette stuck on my right shoulder.
Having breakfasted, I sallied out, and, in my own conceit, was as
handsome a chap as ever buckled a sword belt. I skimmed with a light
and vigorous foot down High-street.

"Boat, your honour?" said a dozen voices at once, as I reached New
Sallyport; but I was resolved that Point-street should have a look
at me, as well as High-street; so I kept a profound and mysterious
silence, and let the watermen follow me to Point, just like so many
sucking fish after a shark. I had two or three offers for volunteers
to serve with me as I went along; but they were not of the right sex,
so I did not take them.

"Boat to Spithead, your honour?" said a tough old waterman.

"Ay, you'll do," said I; so I jumped into his wherry, and we shoved
off.

"What ship is your honour going to?" said the man.

"To the D---- brig."

"Oh, you are a-going to she, are you? To belong to her, mayhap?"

"Yes," I replied.

The waterman gave a sigh, feathered his oar, and never spoke another
word till we came alongside. I did not regret his taciturnity, for I
was always more amused with my own thoughts, than in conversing with
illiterate people.

The brig was a most beautiful vessel. She mounted eighteen guns, and
sat on the water like a duck. I perceived that the pendant was up for
punishment, and this I thought rather an unusual sight at Spithead: I
took it for granted that some aggravated offence, such as theft, or
mutiny, had been committed. Seeing I was an officer, I was admitted
alongside; so I paid the waterman, and sent him away. As I went up the
side, I saw a poor fellow spread-eagled up to the grating, "according
to the manners and customs of the natives," while the captain,
officers, and ship's company stood round witnessing the athletic
dexterity of a boatswain's mate, who, by the even, deep, and parallel
marks of the cat on the white back and shoulders of the patient,
seemed to be perfectly master of his business. All this did not
surprise me: I was used to it; but after the address of my captain
on the preceding day, I was very much surprised to hear language in
direct violation of the second article of war.

Cursings and execrations poured out of his mouth with a volubility
equal to any the most accomplished lady on the back of the Point.

"Boatswain's mate," roared the captain, "do your duty, or by G---- I
will have _you_ up, and give you four dozen yourself. One would think,
d----n your b----d, that you were brushing flies off a sleeping Venus,
instead of punishing a scoundrel, with a hide as thick as a buffalo's,
and be d----d to him--do your duty, Sir, d----n your soul."

During this elegant address, the unhappy wretch had received four
severe dozen, which the master-at-arms had counted aloud, and reported
to the captain. "Another boatswain's mate," said he. The poor creature
turned his head over his shoulders with an imploring look, but it was
in vain. I watched the countenance of the captain, and the peculiar
expression, which I could not decipher at my first interview, I now
read most plainly: it was malignant cruelty, and delight in torturing
his own species; he seemed to take a diabolical pleasure in the
hateful operation which we were compelled to witness. The second
boatswain's mate commenced, with a fresh cat, and gave a lash across
the back of the prisoner, that made _me_ start.

"One," said the master-at-arms, beginning to count.

"One!" roared the captain; "do you call that one? not a quarter of
a one. That fellow is only fit for fly-flapper at a pork shop! I'll
disrate you, by G----d, you d----d Molly Mop; is that the way you
handle a cat; that's only wiping the dirt off his back. Where's the
boatswain?"

"Here," said a stout, gigantic, left-handed fellow, stepping forward,
with a huge blue uniform coat and a plain anchor button, holding his
hat in his left hand, and stroking his hair down his forehead with his
right. I surveyed this man, as he turned himself about, and concluded,
that the tailor who worked for him had been threatened with a specimen
of his art, if he stinted him in cloth; for the skirts of his coat
were ample, terminating in an inclined plane, the corners in front
being much lower than the middle of the robe behind; the buttons on
the hips were nearly pistol shot asunder.

"Give this man a dozen, Sir," said Captain G.; "and if you favour him,
I'll put you under arrest, and stop your liquor."

This last part of the threat had more effect with Mr Pipe than the
first. He began to peel, as the boxers call it; off came his capacious
coat; a red waistcoat--full-sized for a Smithfield ox--was next
deposited; then he untied a black silk handkerchief, and showed a
throat, covered like that of a goat, with long brown hairs, thick as
pack-thread. He next rolled up his shirt-sleeves above his elbow, and
showed an arm and a back very like the Farnese Hercules, which, no
doubt, all my readers have seen at the foot of the staircase at
Somerset-house, when they have been to the exhibition.

This hopeful commentator on articles of war, seized his cat: the
handle was two feet long, one inch and three quarters thick, and
covered with red baize. The tails of this terrific weapon were three
feet long, nine in number, and each of them about the size of that
line which covers the springs of a travelling carriage. Mr Pipes,
whose scientific display in this part of his art, had no doubt
procured for him the warrant of a boatswain, in virtue of which he now
stood as the vindicator of the laws of his country, handled his cat
like an adept, looked at it from top to bottom, cleared all the tails,
by the insertion of his delicate fingers, and combing them out,
stretched out his left leg--for he was left-legged as well as
left-handed--and measuring his distance with the accurate eye of an
engineer, raised his cat high in air with his left hand, his right
still holding the tips of the tails, as if to restrain their
impatience; when, giving his arm and body a full swing, embracing
three-fourths of the circle, he inflicted a tremendous stroke on the
back of the unfortunate culprit. This specimen seemed to satisfy the
amateur captain, who nodded approbation to the inquiring look of the
amateur boatswain. The poor man lost his respiration from the force of
the blow; and the tails of the cat coming from an opposite direction
to the first four dozen, cut the flesh diamond-wise, bringing the
blood at every blow.

I will not wound the feelings of my readers with a description of the
poor wretch's situation. Even at this distance of time, I am shocked
at it, and bitterly lament the painful necessity I have often been
under of inflicting similar punishment; but I hope and trust I never
did it without a cause, or in the wanton display of arbitrary power.

The last dozen being finished, the sum total was reported by the
master-at-arms, "five dozen."

"Five dozen!" repeated Captain G; "that will do--cast him off. And
now, sir," said he, to the fainting wretch, "I hope this will be a
warning to you, that the next time you wish to empty your beastly
mouth, you will not spit on my quarter-deck."

"Heavens!" thought I, "is all this for spitting on the quarter-deck?
and this, from the moralist of yesterday, who allowed neither oaths
nor execrations, and has uttered more blasphemy in the last ten
minutes, than I have heard for the last ten weeks?"

I had not yet caught the captain's eye--he was too intent on his
amusement. As soon as the prisoner was cast loose, he commanded to
pipe down, or in other words, to dismiss the people to their usual
occupations, when I went up to him, and touched my hat.

"Oh! you are come, are you? Pipe, belay there--send every body aft on
the quarter-deck."

My commission was then read: all hats off in respect to the sovereign,
from whom the authority was derived. After this, I, being duly
inaugurated, became the second lieutenant of the sloop; and the
captain, without condescending to give me another word or look,
ordered his gig to be manned, and was going on shore. I was not
presented by him to any of the officers, which, in common courtesy, he
ought to have done. This omission, however, was supplied by the first
lieutenant, who invited me down into the gun-room, to introduce me
to my new messmates. We left the tiger pacing up and down on his
quarter-deck.

The first lieutenant was of the medium stature, a suitable height for
a sloop of war, a spare figure of about forty years of age; he had but
one eye, and that eye was as odd a one as the captain's. There was in
it, however, unlike the captain's, an infinite deal of humour, and
when he cocked it, as he constantly did, it almost spoke. I never saw
three such eyes in two such heads. There was a lurking smile in the
lieutenant's face, when I told him that the captain had desired me to
come on board and read my commission, after which I might have two or
three days to myself to prepare for sea.

"Well," said he, "you had better go and ask him now; but you will find
him a rum one."

Accordingly, up I went to him. "Have you any objection to my going on
shore, Sir?"

"Shore, Sir!" bellowed he "and who the devil is to carry on the duty,
if you go on shore? Shore, eh! I wish there was no shore, and then
d----n the dog that couldn't swim! No, Sir; you have had shore
enough. The service is going to h----l, Sir! A parcel of brats, with
lieutenants' commissions before they should have been clear of the
nursery! No, Sir: stay on board, or, d----n me, I'll break you, like
an egg-shell, before you have taken the shine out of that fine new
epaulette! No, no, by G----; no more cats here than catch mice. You
stay on board, and do your duty: every man does his duty here; and let
me see the ---- that don't do it!"

I was in some measure prepared for this sublime harangue; but still
there was sufficient room in my mind to admit of great astonishment at
this sudden change of wind. I replied that he had promised me leave
yesterday, and that, upon the strength of that promise, I had left all
my things on shore, and that I was not in any way prepared to go to
sea.

"I promised you leave, did I? Perhaps I did; but that was only to get
you on board. I am up to your tricks, you d----d young chaps: when you
get on shore, there is no getting you off again. No, no; no-catchee
no-habee! You would not have made your appearance these three days, if
I hadn't sugared the trap! Now I have got you, I'll keep you, d----n my
eyes!"

I repeated my request to go on shore; but, without condescending to
offer any farther reasons, he answered--

"I'd see you d----d first, Sir! And observe, I never admit of
expostulation. Nothing affords me more pleasure than to oblige my
officers in every thing reasonable; but I never permit reply."

Thought I to myself, "You certainly have escaped from hell, and I do
not see how the infernal regions can do without you. You would have
been one of the most ingenious tormentors of the damned. Domitian
would have made you admiral, and your boatswain captain of the fleet!"

Having made this reflection, as I took a turn or two on deck, thinking
what was best to be done, and knowing that "the king could do no
wrong," the officer whom I had just superseded came up the hatchway,
and, touching his hat very respectfully to the captain, asked whether
he might go on shore.

"You may go to hell, and be d----d, Sir!" said the captain (who hated
bad language); "you are not fit to carry guts to a bear!--you are not
worth your salt; and the sooner you are off, the cleaner the ship will
be! Don't stand staring at me, like a bull over a gate! Down, and pack
up your traps, or I'll freshen your way!" raising his foot at the same
time, as if he was going to kick him.

The young officer, who was a mild, gentlemanly, and courageous
youth, did as he was bidden. I was perfectly astonished: I had been
accustomed to sail with gentlemen. I had heard of martinets, and
disciplinarians, and foul-mouthed captains; but this outdid all I ever
could have conceived, and much more than I thought ever could have
been submitted to by any correct officer. Roused to indignation, and
determined not to be treated in this manner, I again walked up to him,
and requested leave to go on shore.

"You have had your answer, Sir."

"Yes, I have, Sir," said I, "and in language that I never before heard
on his Majesty's quarter-deck. I joined this ship as an officer and a
gentleman, and as such I will be treated."

"Mutiny, by G----!" roared the captain. "Cock-a-hoop with your new
commission, before the ink is dry!"

"As you please, Sir," I replied; "but I shall write a letter to the
port-admiral, stating the circumstances and requesting leave of
absence; and that letter I shall trouble you to forward."

"I'll be d----d if I do!" said he.

"Then, Sir," said I, "as you have refused to forward it, and in the
presence of all the officers and ship's company, I shall forward it
without troubling you."

This last shot of mine seemed to produce the same effect upon him that
the last round does upon a beaten boxer; he did not come to time,
but, muttering something, dived down the companion, and went into his
cabin.

The first lieutenant now came up, and congratulated me on my victory.
"You have puzzled and muzzled the bear completely," said he; "I have
long wanted a coadjutor like yourself. Wilson, who is going to leave
us, is the best creature that ever lived: but though brave as a lion
before an enemy, he is cowed by this incarnate devil."

Our conversation was interrupted by a message from the captain, who
desired to speak with me in his cabin. I went down; he received me
with the benignant smile of our first acquaintance.

"Mr Mildmay," said he, "I always assume a little tartness with my
officers when they first join" ("and when they quit you too," thought
I), "not only to prove to them that I am, and will be the captain of
my own ship, but also as an example to the men, who, when they see
what the officers are forced to put up with, feel themselves more
contented with their lot, and obey more readily; but, as I told you
before, the comfort of my officers is my constant study--you are
welcome to go ashore, and have twenty-four hours' leave to collect
your necessaries."

To this harangue I made no reply; but, touching my hat, quitted the
cabin. I felt so much contempt for the man that I was afraid to speak,
lest I should commit myself.

The captain shortly after quitted the ship, telling the first
lieutenant that I had permission to go on shore. I was now left at
liberty to make acquaintance with my companions in misery--and nothing
conduces to intimacy so much as community of suffering. My resistance
to the brutality of our common taskmaster had pleased them; they told
me what a tyrant and what a disgrace to the service he was, and how
shameful it was that he should be entrusted with the command of so
fine a vessel, or of any vessel at all, except it were a convict ship.
The stories they told me of him were almost incredible, and nothing
but the too well founded idea, that an officer trying his captain by
a court-martial, had a black mark against him for ever after, and was
never known to rise, could have saved this man from the punishment he
so richly deserved: no officer, they said, had been more than three
weeks in the ship, and they were all making interest to leave her.

In my report of what occurred in this vessel during the time I
belonged to her, I must, in justice to the captains and commanders of
his Majesty's navy observe, that the case was unique of its kind--such
a character as Captain G---- was rarely met with in the navy then,
and, for reasons which I shall give, will be still more rare in
future. The first lieutenant told me that I had acted very judiciously
in resisting at first his undue exertion of authority; that he was
at once a tyrant, a bully, and a coward, and would be careful how he
attacked me again. "But be on your guard," said he, "he will never
forgive you; and, when he is most agreeable, there is the most
mischief to be dreaded. He will lull you into security, and, whenever
he can catch you tripping, he will try you by a court-martial. You had
better go on shore, and settle all your business, and, if possible, be
on board before your leave is out. It was only your threat of writing
to the port-admiral that procured you leave of absence. You have
nothing to thank him for: he would have kept you on board if he dared.
I have never quitted the ship since I joined her; and never has a
day passed without a scene similar to what you have this morning
witnessed. And yet," continued he, "if it were not for his cruelty to
the men, he is the most amusing liar I ever heard. I am often more
inclined to laugh than to be angry at him; he has a vein of wit and
rich humour that runs through his composition, and never quits him.
There is drollery even in his malice, and, if we cannot get clear of
him, we must make the best of him."

I went on shore, collected all my clothes and the other articles of
which I stood in need, and was on board my ship again the next morning
before eight o'clock.



Chapter XVII

    He will lie, Sir, with such volubility, that you would think
    truth were a fool: drunkenness is his best virtue; for he will be
    swine-drunk; and in his sleep he does little harm.--SHAKSPEARE.


When Captain G---- made his appearance, he seemed to be in the most
amiable humour possible. As soon as he saw me, he said, "Ah, this is
what I like; never break your leave even for five minutes. Now that I
see I can trust you, you may go on shore again as soon as you please."

This speech might have done very well to any person before the mast;
but as applied to an officer, I thought it rude and ungentlemanly.

The caterer had prepared lunch in the gun-room: it consisted of
beef-steaks and broiled bullocks' kidneys, with fried onions; and
their savoury smell rose in grateful steams up the skylight, and
assailed the nostrils of the skipper. His facetious small-talk knew
no bounds; he leaned over the frame, and, looking down, said--"I say,
something devilish good going on there below!"

The hint was taken, and the first lieutenant invited him down.

"I don't care if I do; I am rather peckish."

So saying, he was down the hatchway in the twinkling of one of his own
funny eyes, as he feared the choice bits would be gone before he could
get into action. We all followed him; and as he seated himself, he
said--

"I trust, gentlemen, this is not the last time I shall sit in the
gun-room, and that you will all consider my cabin as your own. I
love to make my officers comfortable: nothing more delightful than a
harmonious ship, where every man and boy is ready to go to h----l for
his officers. That's what I call good fellowship--give and take--make
proper allowances for one another's failings, and we shall be sorry
when the time comes for us to part. I am afraid, however, that I shall
not be long with you; for, though I doat upon the brig, the Duke
of N---- and Lord George ----, have given the first Lord a d----d
_whigging_ for not promoting me sooner; and, between ourselves, I
don't wish to go farther. My post commission goes out with me to
Barbadoes."

The first lieutenant cocked his eye; and quick as were the motions
of that eye, the captain, with a twist of one of his own, caught a
glimpse of it, before it could be returned to its bearing on the
central object, the beef-steaks, kidneys, and onions. But it passed
off without remark.

"A very capital steak this! I'll trouble you for some fat and a little
gravy. We'll have some jollification when we get to sea; but we must
get into blue water first: then we shall have less to do. Talking of
broiling steaks, when I was in Egypt, we used to broil our beef-steaks
on the rocks--no occasion for fire--thermometer at 200--hot as h----l!
I have seen four thousand men at a time cooking for the whole army
as much as twenty or thirty thousand pounds of steaks at a time,
all hissing and frying at a time--just about noon, of course, you
know--not a spark of fire! Some of the soldiers, who had been brought
up as glass-blowers, at Leith, swore they never saw such heat. I used
to go to leeward of them for a whiff, and think of old England! Ah,
that's the country, after all, where a man may think and say what he
pleases! But that sort of work did not last long, as you may suppose;
their eyes were all fried out, d----n me, in three or four weeks! I had
been ill in my bed, for I was attached to the 72nd regiment, seventeen
hundred strong. I had a party of seamen with me; but the ophthalmia
made such ravages, that the whole regiment, colonel and all, went
stone blind--all, except one corporal! You may stare, gentlemen, but
it's very true. Well, this corporal had a precious time of it: he was
obliged to lead out the whole regiment to water--he led the way, and
two or three took hold of the skirts of his jacket, on each side; the
skirts of these were seized again by as many more; and double the
number to the last, and so all held on by one another, till they had
all had a drink at the well; and, as the devil would have it, there
was but one well among us all--so this corporal used to water the
regiment just as a groom waters his horses; and all spreading out, you
know, just like the tail of a peacock."

"Of which the corporal was the rump," interrupted the doctor.

The captain looked grave.

"You found it warm in that country?" inquired the surgeon.

"Warm!" exclaimed the captain; "I'll tell you what, doctor, when
you go where you have sent many a patient, and where, for that very
reason, you certainly will go, I only hope, for your sake, and for
that of your profession in general, that you will not find it quite so
hot as we found it in Egypt. What do you think of nineteen of my men
being killed by the concentrated rays of light falling on the barrels
of the sentinels' bright muskets, and setting fire to the powder? I
commanded a mortar battery at Acre, and I did the French infernal
mischief with the shells. I used to pitch in among them when they had
sat down to dinner: but how do you think the scoundrels weathered on
me at last? D----n me, they trained a parcel of poodle dogs to watch
the shells when they fell, and then to run and pull the fuses out with
their teeth. Did you ever hear of such d----d villains? By this means,
they saved hundreds of men, and only lost half a dozen dogs--fact,
by G----; only ask Sir Sydney Smith; he'll tell you the same, and a
d----d sight more."

The volubility of his tongue was only equalled by the rapidity of his
invention and the powers of mastication; for, during the whole of this
entertaining monodrame, his teeth were in constant motion, like the
traversing beam of a steam boat; and as he was our captain as well as
our guest, he certainly took the lion's share of the repast.

"But, I say, Soundings," said he, addressing himself familiarly to the
master, who had not been long in the vessel, "let us see what sort
of stuff you have stowed the fore-hold with. You know I am a water
drinker; give me only the pure limpid stream, and a child may lead me.
I seldom touch liquor when the water is good." So saying, he poured
out a tumbler, and held it to his nose. "Stinks like h----! I say,
master, are you sure the bungs are in your casks? The cats have been
contributing to the fluid. We must qualify this;" and having poured
one-half of the water, which by the by was very good, he supplied the
vacancy with rum. Then tasting it, he said, "Come, Miss Puss; this
will rouse you out, at any rate."

A moment's pause, while he held the bumper before his eye, and then,
down it went, producing no other emotion than a deep sigh. "By the by,
that's well thought of--we'll have no cats in the ship (except those
which the depravity of human nature unhappily compels the boatswain to
use). Mr Skysail, you'll look to that. Throw them all overboard."

Taking his hat, he rose from the table, and mounting the ladder, "On
second thought," said he, addressing Skysail again, "I won't throw the
cats overboard; the sailors have a foolish superstition about that
animal--its d----d unlucky. No; put them alive in a bread-bag, and
send them on shore in the bum-boat."

Recollecting that my dinner party at the George was to take place this
day, and remembering the captain's promise that I should go on shore
whenever I pleased, I thought it only necessary to say I was going,
merely passing the usual compliment to my superior. I therefore went
to him, with a modest assurance, and told him of my engagement and my
intention.

"Upon my honour, Sir," cried he, putting his arms akimbo, and staring
me full in the face; "you have a tolerable sea-stock of modest
assurance; no sooner come on board than you ask leave to go on shore
again, and at the same time you have the impudence to tell me, knowing
how much I abhor the vice, that you mean to wet your commission, and
of course to get beastly drunk, and to make others as bad as yourself.
No, Sir; I'd have you to know, that as captain of this ship, and as
long as I have the honour to command her, I am _magister morum_."

"That is precisely what I was coming to, Sir," said I, "when you
interrupted me. Knowing how difficult it is to keep young men in
order, without the presence of some one whom they respect, and can
look up to as an example, I was going to request the honour of your
company as my guest. Nothing, in my opinion, could so effectually
repress any tendency to improper indulgence."

"There you speak like a child of my own bringing up," replied Captain
G----: "I did not give you credit for so much good sense. I am far
from throwing a wet blanket over any innocent mirth. Man is man after
all--give him but the bare necessaries of life, and he is no more than
a dog. A little mirth on such an occasion, is not only justifiable,
but praiseworthy. The health of a good king, like ours, God bless him,
should always be drank in good wine; and as you say the party is to be
select, and the occasion the wetting of your commission, I shall have
no objection to come and give away the bride; but, remember, no hard
drinking--no indecorum--and I'll do my best, not only to keep the
young bloods in order, but to add my humble powers to the hilarity of
the evening."

I thanked him for his kind condescension. He then gave a few
directions to Skysail, the first lieutenant, and, ordering his gig to
be manned, offered me a passage on shore.

This was, indeed, a mark of favour never before conferred on any
officer in the ship, and all hands spontaneously turned out to see
the sight. The first lieutenant cocked his eye, which was more than
saying, "This is too good to last long." However, into the boat we
went, and pulled away for old Sally-port. The harbour-tide rolling
out, we passed close to the buoy of the _Boyne_.

"Ah! well I remember that old ship; I was midshipman of her when she
blew up. I was signal midshipman. I was in the act of making the
signal of distress, when up I went. Damnation! I thought I never
should have come down any more."

"Indeed, Sir," said I, "I thought there had been no one on board at
the time."

"No one on board!" repeated the captain, with scorn on his upper lip,
"who did you get that from?"

"I heard it from a captain I served with in America."

"Then you may tell your captain, with my compliments, that he knew
nothing at all about it. No one on board! Why, d---- me, Sir, the poop
was crowded like a sheepfold, and all bellowing to me for help. I told
them all to go to h----, and just at that moment away we all went,
sure enough. I was picked up senseless. I was told somewhere in
Stokes-bay, and carried to Haslar hospital, where I was given over for
three months--never spoke. At last I got well; and the first thing I
did, was to take a boat and go and dive down the fore-hold of my old
ship, and swam aft to the bread-room."

"And what did you see, Sir?" said I.

"Oh, nothing, except lots of human skeletons, and whitings in
abundance, swimming between their ribs. I brought up my old quadrant
out of the starboard wing, where I was adjusting it when the alarm was
given. I found it lying on the table just where I left it. I never
shall forget what a d----d rap we hit the old Queen Charlotte, with
our larboard broadside; every gun went slap into her, double-shotted.
D----n my eyes, I suppose we diddled at least a hundred men."

"Why, Sir," said I, "I always understood she only lost two men on that
occasion."

"Who told you that?" said Captain G----, "your old captain?"

"Yes, Sir," said I, "he was a midshipman in her."

"He be d----," said my skipper; "to my certain knowledge, three
launch loads of dead bodies were taken out of her, and carried to the
hospital for interment."

As the boat touched the landing-place, this accomplished liar had time
to take breath, and, in fact, I was afraid he would have exhausted his
stock of lies before dinner, and kept nothing for the dessert. When we
landed, he went to his old quarters, at the Star and Garter, and I to
the George. I reminded him, at parting, that six o'clock was my hour.

"Never fear me," said he.

I collected my company previous to his arrival, and told my friends
that it was my determination to make him drunk, and that they must
assist me, which they promised to do. Having once placed him in that
predicament, I was quite sure I should stop his future discourses in
favour of temperance. My companions, perfectly aware of the sort of
man they had to deal with, treated him on his entrance with the most
flattering marks of respect. I introduced them all to him in the
most formal manner, taking them to him, one by one, just as we
are presented at court--to compare great things with small. His
good-humour was at its highest spring-tide; the honour of drinking
wine with him was separately and respectfully asked, and most
condescendingly granted to every person at the table.

"Capital salmon this," said the captain; "where does Billett get it
from? By the by, talking of that, did you ever hear of the pickled
salmon in Scotland?"

We all replied in the affirmative.

"Oh, you don't take. D----it, I don't mean dead pickled salmon; I mean
live pickled salmon, swimming about in tanks, as merry as grigs, and
as hungry as rats."

We all expressed our astonishment at this, and declared we never heard
of it before.

"I thought not," said he, "for it has only lately been introduced into
this country, by a particular friend of mine, Dr Mac----. I cannot
just now remember his d----d jaw-breaking Scotch name; he was a great
chemist and geologist, and all that sort of thing--a clever fellow
I can tell you, though you may laugh. Well--this fellow, Sir, took
nature by the heels and capsized her, as we say. I have a strong idea
that he had sold himself to the devil. Well--what does he do, but he
catches salmon and puts them into tanks, and every day added more and
more salt, till the water was as thick as gruel, and the fish could
hardly wag their tails in it. Then he threw in whole pepper corns,
half-a-dozen pounds at a time, till there was enough. Then he began to
dilute with vinegar, until his pickle was complete. The fish did not
half like it at first; but habit is every thing, and when he shewed me
his tank, they were swimming about as merry as a shoal of dace; he
fed them with fennel chopped small, and black-pepper corns. 'Come,
doctor,' says I, 'I trust no man upon tick; if I don't taste, I won't
believe my own eyes, though I _can_ believe my _tongue_.'" (We looked
at each other.) "'That you shall do in a minute,' says he; so he
whipped one of them out with a landing net; and when I stuck my knife
into him, the pickle ran out of his body, like wine out of a claret
bottle, and I ate at least two pounds of the rascal, while he flapped
his tail in my face. I never tasted such salmon as that. Worth your
while to go to Scotland, if it's only for the sake of eating live
pickled salmon. I'll give you a letter, any of you, to my friend.
He'll be d----d glad to see you; and then you may convince yourselves.
Take my word for it, if once you eat salmon that way, you will never
eat it any other."

We all said we thought that very likely.

The champagne corks flew as fast and as loud as his shells at Acre;
but we were particularly reserved, depending entirely on his tongue
for our amusement; and, finding the breeze of conversation beginning
to freshen, I artfully turned the subject to Egypt, by asking one of
my friends to demolish a pyramid of jelly, which stood before him, and
to send some of it to the captain.

This was enough: he began with Egypt, and went on increasing in the
number and magnitude of his lies, in proportion as we applauded them.
A short-hand writer ought to have been there, for no human memory
could do justice to this modern Munchausen. "Talking of the water of
the Nile," said he, "I remember, when I was first lieutenant of the
_Bellerophon_ I went into Minorca with only six tons of water, and in
four hours we had three hundred and fifty tons on board, all stowed
away. I made all hands work. The admiral himself was up to the neck
in water, with the rest of them. 'D----n it, admiral,' says I, 'no
skulking.' Well--we sailed the next day; and such a gale of wind I
never saw in all my life--away went all our masts, and we had nearly
been swamped with the weather-roll. One of the boats was blown off the
booms, and went clean out of sight before it touched the water. You
may laugh at that, but that was nothing to the _Swallow_ sloop of
war. She was in company with us; she wanted to scud for it, but, by
Jupiter, she was blown two miles up the country--guns, men, and all;
and the next morning they found her flying jib-boom had gone through
the church-window, and slap into the cheek of the picture of the
Virgin Mary. The natives all swore it was done on purpose by d----d
heretics. The captain was forced to arm his men, and march them all
down to the beach, giving the ship up to the people, who were so
exasperated that they set her on fire, and never thought of the powder
which was on board. All the priests were in their robes, singing some
stuff or another, to purify the church; but that was so much time
thrown away, for in one moment away went church, priests, pictures,
and people, all to the devil together."

Here he indulged himself in some vile language and scurrilous abuse of
religion and its ministers. All priests were hypocritical scoundrels.
If he was to be of any religion at all, he said, he should prefer
being a Roman Catholic, "because, then, you know," added he, "a
man may sin as much as he likes, and rub off as he goes, for a few
shillings. I got my commission by religion, d----n me. I found my old
admiral was a psalm-singer; so says I, 'my old boy, I'll give you
enough of that,' so I made the boatswain stuff me a hassock, and this
I carried with me every where, that I might save my trowsers, and not
hurt my knees; so then I turned to and prayed all day long, and kept
the people awake, singing psalms all night. I knelt down and prayed on
the quarter-deck, main-deck, and lower deck. I preached to the men in
the tiers, when they coiled the cables, and groaned loud and deep when
I heard an oath. The thing took--the admiral said I was the right
sort, and he made a commander out of the greatest atheist in the ship.
No sooner did I get hold of the sheepskin, than to the devil I pitched
hassock and bible."

How long he might have gone on with this farrago, it is difficult to
say; but we were getting tired of him, so we passed the bottle till he
left off narrative, and took to friendship.

"Now I say (hiccup), you Frank, you are a devilish good fellow; but
that one-eyed son of a gun, I'll try him by a court-martial, the first
time I catch him drunk; I'll hang him at the yard-arm, and you shall
be my first lieutenant and _custos-rot-torum_, d----n me. Only you come
and tell me the first time he is disguised in liquor, and I'll settle
him, d----n his cock eye--a saucy, Polyphemus-looking _son of a--_
(hiccup) a Whitechapel bird-catcher."

Here his recollection failed him; he began to talk to himself, and to
confound me with the first lieutenant.

"I'll teach him to write to port-admirals for leave--son of a sea
cook."

He was now drawing to the finale, and began to sing,

  "The cook of the huffy got drank,
  Fell down the fore-scuttle, and
  Broke his gin bottle."

Here his head fell back, he tumbled off his chair, and lay motionless
on the carpet.

Having previously determined not to let him be exposed in the streets
in that state, I had provided a bed for him at the inn; and, ringing
the bell, I ordered the waiter to carry him to it. Having seen him
safely deposited, untied his neckcloth, took off his boots, and raised
his head a little, we left him, and returned to the table, where we
finished our evening in great comfort, but without any other instance
of intoxication.

The next morning, I waited on him. He seemed much annoyed at seeing
me, supposing I meant, by my presence, to rebuke him for his
intemperance; but this was not my intention. I asked him how he felt;
and I regretted that the hilarity of the evening had been interrupted
in so unfortunate a manner.

"How do you mean, sir? Do you mean to insinuate that I was not sober?"

"By no means, Sir," said I; "but are you aware, that in the midst of
your delightful and entertaining conversation, you tumbled off your
chair in an epileptic fit?--are you subject to these?"

"Oh, yes, my dear fellow, indeed I am; but it is so long since I last
had one, that I was in hopes they had left me. I have invalided for
them four times, and just at the very periods when, if I could have
remained out, my promotion was certain."

He then told me I might remain on shore that day, if I pleased. I gave
him credit for his happy instinct in taking the hint of the fit; and
as soon as I left him, he arose, went on board, and flogged two men
for being drunk the night before.

I did not fail to report all that had passed to my messmates, and we
sailed a few days afterwards for Barbadoes.

On the first Sunday of our being at sea, the captain dined in the
gun-room with the officers. He soon launched out into his usual strain
of lying and boasting, which always irritated our doctor, who was a
sensible young Welshman. On these occasions, he never failed to raise
a laugh at the captain's expense, by throwing in one or two words at
the end of each anecdote; and this he did in so grave and modest a
manner, that without a previous knowledge of him, anyone might have
supposed he was serious. The captain renewed his story of the corps of
poodles to extract the fuses from the shells. "I hoped," he said, "to
see the institution of such a corps among ourselves; and if I were to
be the colonel of it, I should soon have a star on my breast."

"That would be the Dog Star," said the doctor, with extreme gaiety.

"Thank you, Doctor," said the captain; "not bad; I owe you one."

We laughed; the doctor kept his countenance; and the captain looked
very grave; but he continued his lies, and dragged in as usual the
name of Sir Sydney Smith to support his assertions. "If you doubt me,
only ask Sir Sydney Smith; he'll talk to you about Acre for thirty-six
hours on a stretch, without taking breath; his cockswain at last got
so tired of it, that he nick-named him 'Long Acre.'"

The poor doctor did not come off scot free; the next day, he
discovered that the deck leaked over his cabin, and the water ran into
his bed. He began, with a hammer and some nails, to fasten up a piece
of painted canvas, by way of shelter. The captain heard the noise of
the hammer, and finding it was the doctor, desired him to desist. The
doctor replied, that he was only endeavouring to stop some leaks over
his bed: the captain said they should not be stopped; for that a bed
of leeks was a very good bed for a Welshman.

"There, Doctor; now we are quits: that's for your Dog Star. I suppose
you think nobody can make a pun or a pill, in the ship, but yourself?"

"If my pills were no better than your puns," muttered the doctor, "we
should all be in a bad way."

The captain then directed the carpenter not to allow any nails to the
doctor, or the use of any of his tools; he even told the poor surgeon
that he did not know how to make a pill, and that "he was as useless
as the Navy Board." He accused him of ignorance in other parts of his
profession; and, ordering all the sick men on deck, rope-ended them to
increase their circulation, and put a little life into them.

Many a poor sick creature have I seen receive a most unmerciful
beating. My wonder was that the men did not throw him overboard; and I
do really believe that if it had not been for respect and love to the
officers, they would have done so. No sooner had we got into blue
water, as he called it--that is, out of soundings--than he began his
pranks, which never ceased till we reached Carlisle Bay. Officers and
men were all treated alike, and there was no redress, for no one
among us dared to bring him to a court-martial. His constant maxim
was--"Keep sailors at work, and you keep the devil out of their
minds--all hands all day-watch, and watch all night."

"No man," said Jacky (the name we gave him) "eats the bread of
idleness on board of my ship: work keeps the scurvy out of their
bones, the lazy rascals."

The officers and men, for the first three weeks, never had a watch
below during the day. They were harassed and worn to death, and the
most mutinous and discontented spirit prevailed throughout the ship.
One of the best seamen said, in the captain's hearing, that, "since
the ship had been at sea, he had only had three watches below."

"And if I had known it," said the captain, "you should not have had
that;" and turning the hands up, he gave him four dozen.

Whenever he flogged the men, which he was constantly doing, he never
failed to upbraid them with ingratitude, and the indulgences which
they received from him.

"By G----d, there is no man-of-war in the service that has so much
indulgence. All you have to do, is to keep the ship clean, square the
yards; hoist in your provisions, eat them; hoist your grog in, drink
it, and strike the empty casks over the side; but Heaven itself would
not please such a set of d----d fat, lazy, discontented rascals."

His language to the officers was beyond any thing I ever could have
supposed would have proceeded from the mouth of a human being. The
master, one day, incurred his displeasure, and he very flippantly told
the poor man to go to h----.

"I hope, Sir," said the master, "I have as good a chance of going to
Heaven as yourself."

"You go to Heaven!" said the captain, "you go to Heaven! Let me catch
you there, and I will come and kick you out."

This was, indeed, shewing how far he would have carried his tyranny if
he could. But our feelings are relieved from any violent shock at
this apparent blasphemy, when we recollect that the poor man was an
atheist; and that his idea of Heaven was that of a little parlour at
the Star and Garter, with a good fire, plenty of grog, and pipes of
tobacco.

He kept no table, nor did he ever drink any wine, except when he
dined with us; but got drunk every night, more or less, on the ship's
spirits, in his own cabin. He was always most violent in the evening.
Our only revenge was laughing at his monstrous lies on Sunday, when he
dined with us. One night, his servant came and told the midshipman of
the watch, that the captain was lying dead drunk on the deck, in his
cabin. This was communicated to me, and I determined to make the best
use of it. I ran down to the cabin taking with me the midshipman of
the watch, the quarter-master, and two other steady men; and having
laid the water-drinker in his bed, I noted down the date, with all the
particulars, together with the names of the witnesses, to be used as
soon as we fell in with the admiral.

The next day, I think he had some suspicion of what I had done, and it
had nearly been fatal to me. It was blowing a fresh trade wind, and
the vessel rolling very deep, when he ordered the booms to be cast
loose and re-stowed. This was nothing short of murder and madness: but
in spite of every remonstrance, he persisted, and the consequences
were terrible. The lashings were no sooner cast off, than a spare
top-mast fell and killed one of the men. This was enough to have
completed our mischief for the day; but the devil had not done with us
yet. The booms were secured, and the men were ordered to rattle the
rigging down, which, as the vessel continued to roll heavily, was
still more dangerous, and, if possible, more useless than the former
operation. He was warned of it, but in vain; and the men had not been
aloft more than ten minutes, when one of them fell overboard. Why I
should again have put my life in jeopardy, particularly after the
warning of the last voyage, I know not. I was perhaps vain of what I
could do in the water. I knew my powers; and with the hope of saving
this unfortunate victim to the folly and cruelty of the captain, I
plunged after him into the sea, feeling at the same time, that I was
almost committing an act of suicide. I caught hold of him, and for a
time supported him; and, had the commonest diligence and seamanship
been shewn, I should have saved him. But the captain, it appeared,
when he found I was overboard, was resolved to get rid of me, in order
to save himself: he made use of every difficulty to prevent the boat
coming to me. The poor man was exhausted: I kept myself disengaged
from him, when swimming round him; supported him occasionally whenever
he was sinking; but, finding at last that he was irrecoverably
gone--for though I had a firm hold of him, he was going lower and
lower--and, looking up, perceiving I was so deep that the water was
dark over my head, I clapped my knees on his shoulders, and, giving
myself a little impetus from the resistance, rose to the surface. So
much was I exhausted, that I could not have floated half a minute
more, when the boat came and picked me up.

The delay in heaving the ship to, I attributed to the scene I had
witnessed the night before; and in this, I was confirmed by the
testimony of the officers. Having lost two men by his unseamanlike
conduct, he would have added deliberate murder of a third, to save
himself from the punishment which he knew awaited him. He continued
the same tyrannical conduct, and I had resolved that the moment we
fell in with the admiral to write for a court-martial on this man,
let the consequences be what they might: I thought I should serve my
country and the navy by ridding it of such a monster.

Several of the officers were under arrest, and notwithstanding the
heat of their cabins in that warm climate, were kept constantly
confined to them with a sentinel at the door. In consequence of
this cruel treatment, one of the officers became deranged. We made
Barbadoes, and running round Needham's Point into Carlisle Bay, we saw
to our mortification, that neither the admiral nor any ship of war was
there, consequently our captain was commanding officer in the port.
Upon this, he became remarkably amiable, supposing if the evil day was
put off, it would be dispensed with altogether; he treated me with
particular attention, hoped we should have some fun ashore; as the
admiral was not come in, we should wait for him; tired of kicking
about at sea, he should take all his _duds_, with him, and bring
himself to an anchor on shore, and not come afloat again till we
saluted his flag.

Neither the first lieutenant nor myself believed one word of this;
indeed, we always acted upon the exact reverse of what he said; and it
was well we did so in this instance. After we had anchored, he went
ashore, and in about an hour returned, and stated that the admiral was
not expected till next month; that he should, therefore, go and take
up his quarters at Jemmy Cavan's, and not trouble the ship any more
until the admiral arrived; he then left us, taking his trunk and all
his dirty linen, dirty enough it was.

Some of the officers unfortunately believed that we were to remain,
and followed the captain's example by sending their linen on shore to
be washed. Skysail was firm, and so was I; the lieutenant cocked his
eye, and said, "Messmate, depend on it there is something in the wind.
I have sent one shirt on shore to be washed; and when that comes off,
I will send another; if I lose that it is no great matter."

That night, at ten o'clock, Captain Jacky came on board, bringing his
trunk and dirty linen, turned the hands up, up anchor, and ran out of
Carlisle Bay and went to sea, leaving most of the officers' linen on
shore. This was one of his tricks. He had received his orders when he
landed in the morning; they were waiting for him, and his coming on
board for his things, was only a run to throw us off our guard, and
I suppose compel us, by the loss of our clothes, to be as dirty
in appearance as he was himself, "but he always liked to make his
officers comfortable."

We arrived at Nassau, in New Providence, without any remarkable
incident, although the service continued to be carried on in the same
disagreeable manner as ever. I continued, however, to get leave to go
on shore; and finding no prospect of bringing the captain to justice,
determined to quit the ship, if possible. This was effected by
accident, otherwise I should have been much puzzled to have got clear
of her. I fell between the boat and the wharf as I landed, and by the
sudden jerk ruptured a small bloodvessel in my chest; it was of no
great importance in itself, but in that climate required care, and I
made the most of it. They would have carried me on board again, but
I begged to be taken to the hotel. The surgeon of the regiment doing
duty there attended me, and I requested him to make my case as bad
as possible. The captain came to see me--I appeared very ill--his
compassion was like that of the Inquisitor of the Holy Office,
who cures his victim in order to enable him to go through further
torments. His time of sailing arrived, and I was reported to be too
ill to be removed. Determined to have me, he prolonged his stay. I
got better; the surgeon's report was more favourable; but I was still
unwilling to go on board. The captain sent me an affectionate message,
to say that if I did not come, he would send a file of marines to
bring me: he even came himself and threatened me; when, finding there
were no witnesses in the room, I plainly told him that if he persisted
in having me on board, it would be to his own destruction, for that I
was fully determined to bring him to a court-martial for drunkenness
and unofficerlike conduct, the moment we joined the admiral. I told
him of the state in which I had found him. I recapitulated his
blasphemies, and his lubberly conduct in losing the two men; he stared
and endeavoured to explain; I was peremptory, and he whined and gave
in, seeing he was in my power.

"Well then, my dear fellow," said Jacky, "since you are so very
ill--sorry as I shall be to lose you--I must consent to your staying
behind. I shall find it difficult to replace you; but as the comfort
and happiness of my officers is my first object on all occasions, I
will prefer annoying myself to annoying you." So saying, he held out
his hand to me, which I shook with a hearty good-will, sincerely
hoping that we might never meet again, either in this world or the
next.

He was afterwards brought to a court-martial, for repeated acts of
drunkenness and cruelty, and was finally dismissed the service.

In giving this detail of Captain G----'s peculiarities, let it not be
imagined, that even at that period such characters were common in the
service. I have already said, that he was an unique. Impressment
and the want of officers at the early part of the war, gave him an
opportunity of becoming a lieutenant; he took the weak side of the
admiral to obtain his next step, and obtained the command of a sloop,
from repeated solicitation at the Admiralty, and by urging his
claims of long servitude. The service had received serious injury by
admitting men on the quarter-deck from before the mast; it occasioned
there being two classes of officers in the navy--namely, those who had
rank and connections, and those who had entered by the "hawse-holes,"
as they were described. The first were favoured when young, and did
not acquire a competent knowledge of their duty; the second, with few
exceptions, as they advanced in their grades, proved, from want of
education, more and more unfit for their stations. These defects have
now been remedied; and as all young men who enter the service must
have a regular education, and consequently be the sons of gentlemen,
a level has been produced, which to a certain degree precludes
favouritism, and perfectly bars the entrance to such men as Captain
G----.

After the battle of Trafalgar, when England and Europe were indebted
for their safety to the British fleet, the navy became popular,
and the aristocracy crowded into it. This forwarded still more
the melioration of the service, and under the succeeding naval
administration, silent, certain, and gradual improvements, both in
men, officers, and ships, took place. Subsequently, the navy has been
still more fortunate, in having an officer called to its councils,
whose active and constant employment at sea, previous to the peace of
Paris, had given him a thorough insight into its wants and abuses.
Unconnected with party, and unawed by power, he has dared to do his
duty; and it is highly to the credit of the first lord, who has so
long presided at the board, that the suggestions of this officer have
met with due consideration; I can therefore assure my reader, that as
long as his advice is attended to, he need be afraid of meeting with
no more Captain G----'s.



Chapter XVIII

  There she goes, brimful of anger and jealousy. Mercy on the poor man!

  "_Jealous Wife_."


  The dreadful fish that hath deserved the name
  Of Death.

  SPENSER.


As the brig moved out of the harbour of Nassau, I moved out of bed;
and as she set her royals and made sail, I put on my hat and walked
out. The officers of the regiment quartered there, kindly invited me
to join their mess; and the colonel enhanced the value of the offer
by assigning for me good apartments in the barracks. I was instantly
removed to cleanly and comfortable lodgings. I soon regained my
strength, and was able to sit at the table, where I found thirty-five
young officers, living for the day, careless of the morrow; and,
beyond that never bestowing a thought. It is a singular fact, that
where life is most precarious, men are most indifferent about its
preservation; and, where death is constantly before our eyes, as in
this country, eternity is seldom in our thoughts: but so it is; and
the rule extends still further in despotic countries. Where the union
between the head and shoulders may be dissolved in a moment by the
sword of a tyrant, life is not so valued, and death loses its
terrors; hence the apathy and indifference with which men view their
executioners in that state of society. It seems as if existence, like
estates, was valuable in proportion to the validity of the title-deeds
by which they are held.

To digress no more. Although I was far from being even commonly
virtuous, which is about tantamount to absolute wickedness, I was no
longer the thoughtless mortal I had ever been since I left school.
The society of Emily, and her image graven on my heart; the close
confinement to the brig, and the narrow escape from death in the
second attempt to save the poor sailor's life, had altogether
contributed their share to a kind of temporary reformation, if not
to a disgust to the coarser descriptions of vice. The lecture I had
received from Emily on deceit, and the detestable conduct of my last
captain, had, as I thought, almost completed my reformation. Hitherto
I felt I had acted wrong, without having the power to act right.
I forgot that I had never made the experiment. The declaration of
Captain G.'s atheism was so far from converting me, that from that
moment I thought more seriously than ever of religion. So great was
my contempt for his character, that I knew whatever he said must be
wrong, and, like the Spartan drunken slave, he gave me the greatest
horror of vice.

Such was my reasoning, and such my sentiments, previous to any
relapse into sin or folly. I knew its heinousness. I transgressed and
repented; habit was all-powerful in me; and the only firm support
I could have looked to for assistance was, unfortunately, very
superficially attended to. Religion, for any good purposes, was
scarcely in my thoughts. My system was a sort of Socratic heathen
philosophy--a moral code, calculated to take a man tolerably safe
through a quiet world, but not to extricate him from a labyrinth of
long-practised iniquity.

The thoughtless and vicious conduct of my companions became to me a
source of serious reflection. Far from following their example, I felt
myself some degrees better than they were; and in the pride of my
heart thanked God that I was not like these publicans. My pharisaical
arrogance concealed from me the mortifying fact that I was much worse,
and with very slight hopes of amendment. Humility had not yet entered
my mind; but it was the only basis on which any religious improvement
could be created--the only chance of being saved. I rather became
refined in vice, without quitting it. Gross and sensual gratification,
so easily obtained in the West Indies, was disgusting to me; yet
I scrupled not to attempt the seduction of innocence, rather more
gratified in the pursuit than in the enjoyment, which soon palled, and
drove me after other objects.

I had, however, little occasion to exert my tact in this art in the
Bahama Islands, where, as in all the other islands of the West Indies,
there is a class of women, born of white fathers and mustee or mulatto
women, nearly approaching in complexion to the European; many of them
are brunettes, with long black hair, very pretty, good eyes, and often
elegant figures. These ladies are too proud of the European blood in
their veins to form an alliance with any male who has a suspicion of
black in his genealogical table; consequently they seldom are married
unless from interested motives, when, having acquired large property
by will, they are sought in wedlock by the white settlers.

So circumstanced, these girls prefer an intercourse with the object of
their choice to a legal marriage with a person of inferior birth; and,
having once made their selection, an act of infidelity is of rare
occurrence among them. Their affection and constancy will stand the
test of time and of long separation; generous to prodigality, but
jealous, and irritable in their jealousy, even to the use of the
dagger and poison.

One of these young ladies found sufficient allurement in my personal
charms to surrender at discretion, and we lived in that sort of
familiar intercourse which, in the West Indies, is looked upon as a
matter of necessity between the parties, and of indifference by every
one else. I lived on in this Epicurean style for some months; until,
most unfortunately, my _chère amie_ found a rival in the daughter of
an officer, high in rank, on the island. Smitten with my person, this
fair one had not the prudence to conceal her partiality: my vanity
was too much flattered not to take advantage of her sentiments in my
favour; and, as usual, flirtation and philandering occupied most of
my mornings, and sometimes my evenings, in the company of this fair
American.

Scandal is a goddess who reigns paramount, not only in Great Britain,
but also in all his Majesty's plantations; and her votaries very soon
selected me as the target of their archery. My pretty Carlotta became
jealous; she taxed me with inconstancy. I denied the charge; and as a
proof of my innocence, she obtained from me a promise that I should go
no more to the house of her rival; but this promise I took very good
care to evade, and to break. For a whole fortnight, my domestic peace
was interrupted either by tears, or by the most voluble and outrageous
solos, for I never replied after the first day.

A little female slave, one morning, made me a signal to follow her to
a retired part of the garden. I had shewn this poor little creature
some acts of kindness, for which she amply repaid me. Sometimes I had
obtained for her a holiday--sometimes saved her a whipping, and
at others had given her a trifle of money; she therefore became
exceedingly attached to me, and as she saw her mistress's anger daily
increase, she knew what it would probably end in, and watched my
safety like a little guardian sylph.

"No drinkee coffee, Massa," said she, "Missy putty obeah stuff in."

As soon as she had said this, she disappeared, and I went into the
house, where I found Carlotta preparing the breakfast; she had an old
woman with her, who seemed to be doing something which she was not
very willing I should see. I sat down carelessly, humming a tune, with
my face to a mirror, and my back to Carlotta, so that I was able to
watch her motions without her perceiving it. She was standing near
the fireplace, the coffee was by her, on the table, and the old woman
crouched in the chimney corner, with her bleared eyes fixed on the
embers. Carlotta seemed in doubt; she pressed her hands forcibly on
her forehead; took up the coffee-pot to pour me out a cup, then sat
it down again; the old woman muttered something in their language;
Carlotta stamped with her little foot, and poured out the coffee.
She brought it to me--trembled as she placed it before me--seemed
unwilling to let go her hold, and her hand still grasped the cup, as
if she would take it away again. The old woman growled and muttered
something, in which I could only hear the name of her rival mentioned.
This was enough: the eyes of Carlotta lighted up like a flame; she
quitted her hold of the salver, retreated to the fireplace, sat
herself down, covered her face, and left me, as she supposed, to make
my last earthly repast.

"Carlotta," said I, with a sudden and vehement exclamation. She
started up, and the blood rushed to her face and neck, in a profusion
of blushes, which are perfectly visible through the skins of these
mulattos. "Carlotta," I repeated, "I had a dream last night, and who
do you think came to me? It was Obeah!" (She started at the name.) "He
told me not to drink coffee this morning, but to make the old woman
drink it." At these words the beldam sprang up. "Come here, you old
hag," said I. She approached trembling, for she saw that escape from
me was impossible, and that her guilt was detected. I seized a sharp
knife, and taking her by her few remaining grey and woolly hairs,
said, "Obeah's work must be done: I do not order it, but he commands
it; drink that coffee instantly."

So powerful was the name of Obeah on the ear of the hag, that she
dreaded it more than my brandished knife. She never thought of
imploring mercy, for she supposed it was useless after the discovery,
and that her hour was come; she therefore lifted the cup to her
withered lip, and was just going to fulfil her destiny and to drink,
when I dashed it out of her hand, and broke it in a thousand pieces on
the floor, darting, at the same time, a fierce look at Carlotta, who
threw herself at my feet, which she fervently kissed in an agony of
conflicting passions.

"Kill me! kill me!" ejaculated she; "it was I that did it! Obeah is
great--he has saved you. Kill me, and I shall die happy, now you are
safe--do kill me!"

I listened to these frantic exclamations with perfect calmness. When
she was a little more composed, I desired her to rise. She obeyed, and
looked the image of despair, for she thought I should immediately quit
her for the arms of her more fortunate rival, and she considered my
innocence as fully established by the appearance of the deity.

"Carlotta," said I, "what would you have done if you had succeeded in
killing me?"

"I will shew you," said she; when, going to a closet, the took out
another basin of coffee; and before I could dash it from her lips, as
I had the former one from the black woman, the infatuated girl had
swallowed a small portion of it.

"What else can I do?" said she; "my happiness is gone for ever."

"No, Carlotta," said I; "I do not wish for your death, though you have
plotted mine. I have been faithful to you, and loved you, until you
made this attempt."

"Will you forgive me before I die?" said she; "for die I must, now
that I know you will quit me!" Uttering these words, she threw herself
on the floor with violence, and her head coming in contact with the
broken fragments of the basin, she cut herself, and bled so copiously
that she fainted. The old woman had fled, and I was left alone with
her, for poor little Sophy was frightened, and had hidden herself.

I lifted Carlotta from the floor, and, placing her in a chair, I
washed her face with cold water; and having staunched the blood,
I laid her on her bed, when she began to breathe and to sob
convulsively. I sat myself by her side; and as I contemplated her
pale face and witnessed her grief, I fell into a train of melancholy
retrospection on my numerous acts of vice and folly.

"How many warnings," said I, "how many lessons am I to receive before
I shall reform? How narrowly have I escaped being sent to my account
'unanealed' and unprepared! What must have been my situation if I had
at this moment been called into the presence of my offended Creator?
This poor girl is pure and innocent, compared with me, taking into
consideration the advantages of education on my side, and the want
of it on hers. What has produced all this misery and the dreadful
consequences which might have ensued, but my folly in trifling with
the feelings of an innocent girl, and winning her affections merely
to gratify my own vanity; at the same time that I have formed a
connection with this unhappy creature, the breaking of which will
never cause me one hour's regret, while it will leave her in misery,
and will, in all probability, embitter all her future existence? What
shall I do? Forgive, as I hope to be forgiven: the fault was more mine
than hers."

I then knelt down and most fervently repeated the Lord's Prayer,
adding some words of thanksgiving, for my undeserved escape from
death. I rose up and kissed her cold, damp forehead; she was sensible
of my kindness, and her poor head found relief in a flood of tears.
Her eyes again gazed on me, sparkling with gratitude and love, after
all she had gone through. I endeavoured to compose her; the loss of
blood had produced the best effects; and, having succeeded in calming
her conflicting passions, she fell into a sound sleep.

The reader who knows the West Indies, or knows human nature, will not
be surprised that I should have continued this connection as long as I
remained on the island. From the artless manner in which Carlotta had
conducted her plot; from her gestures and her agitation, I was quite
sure that she was a novice in this sort of crime, and that should she
ever relapse into her paroxysm of jealousy, I should be able to detect
any farther attempt on my life. Of this, however, I had no fears,
having by degrees discontinued my visits to the young lady who had
been the cause of our fracas; and I never afterwards, while on the
island, gave Carlotta the slightest reason to suspect my constancy. I
was much censured for my conduct to the young lady, as the attentions
I had shewn her, and her marked preference for me, had driven away
suitors who really were in earnest, and they never returned to her
again.

In these islands, the naturalist would find a vast store to reward
investigation; they abound with a variety of plants, birds, fish,
shells, and minerals. It was here that Columbus made his first
landing, but in which of the islands I am not exactly certain; though
I am very sure he did not find them quite so agreeable as I did, for
he very soon quitted them, and steered away for St Domingo.

It is not, perhaps, generally known, that New Providence was the
island selected for his residence by Blackbeard, the famous pirate;
the citadel that stands on the hill above the town of Nassau, is built
on the site of the fortress which contained the treasure of that
famous freebooter. A curious circumstance occurred during my stay
on this island, and which, beyond all doubt, was connected with the
adventures of those extraordinary people, known by the appellation of
Buccaneers. Some workmen were digging near the foot of the hill under
the fort, when they discovered some quicksilver, and on inspection, a
very considerable quantity was found; it had evidently been a part of
the plunder of the pirates, buried in casks or skins, and these having
decayed, the liquid ore naturally escaped down the hill.

Though not indifferent to the pleasures of the table, I was far from
resigning myself to the Circean life led by the generality of young
military men in the Bahamas.

The education which I had received, and which placed me far above
the common run of society in the colonies, induced me to seek for a
companion whose mind had received equal cultivation; and such a one
I found in Charles ----, a young lieutenant in the ---- regiment,
quartered at Nassau. Our intimacy became the closer, in proportion as
we discovered the sottish habits and ignorance of those around us. We
usually spent our mornings in reading the classic authors with which
we were both familiar; we spouted our Latin verses; we fenced; and we
amused ourselves, occasionally, with a game of billiards, but never
ventured our friendship on a stake for money. When the heat of the day
had passed off, we strolled out, paid a few visits, or rambled over
the island; keeping as much aloof from the barracks as possible, where
the manner of living was so very uncongenial to our notions. The
officers began their day about noon, when they sat down to breakfast;
after that, they separated to their different quarters, to read the
novels, with which the presses of England and France inundated these
islands, to the great deterioration of morals. These books, which they
read lounging on their backs, or laid beside them and fell asleep
over, occupied the hottest part of the day; the remainder, till the
hour of dinner arrived, was consumed in visiting and gossiping, or in
riding to procure an appetite for dinner. Till four in the morning,
their time was wholly devoted to smoking and drinking; their beds
received them in a state of intoxication more or less; parade, at nine
o'clock, forced them out with a burning brain and parched tongue; they
rushed into the sea, and found some refreshment in the cool water,
which enabled them to stand upright in front of their men; the formal
duty over, they retired again to their beds, where they lay till noon,
and then to breakfast.

Such were their days; can it be wondered at that our islands are fatal
to the constitution of Europeans, when this is their manner of life in
a climate always disposed to take advantage of any excess? The men too
readily followed the example of their officers, and died off in the
same rapid manner; one of the most regular employments of the morning
was to dig graves for the victims of the night. Four or five of these
receptacles was thought a moderate number. Such was the fatal apathy
in which these officers existed, that the approach, nay; even
the certainty of death, gave them no apparent concern, caused no
preparation, excited no serious reflection. They followed the corpse
of a brother-officer to the grave in military procession. These
ceremonies were always conducted in the evening, and often have I seen
these thoughtless young men throwing stones at the lanthorns which
were carried before them to light them to the burying-ground.

I was always an early riser, and believe I owe much of my good health
to this custom. I used to delight in a lovely tropical morning, when,
with a cigar in my mouth, I walked into the market. What would Sir
William Curtis, or Sir Charles Flower have said, could they have seen,
as I did, the numbers of luxurious turtle lying on their backs, and
displaying their rich calapee to the epicurean purchaser? Well, indeed
might the shade of Apicius[A] lament that America and turtle were not
discovered in his days. There were the guanas, too, in abundance, with
their mouths sewed up to prevent their biting; these are excellent
food, although bearing so near a resemblance to the alligator, and
its diminutive European representative, the harmless lizard. Muscovy
ducks, parrots, monkeys, pigeons, and fish. Pine apples abounded,
oranges, pomegranates, limes, Bavarias, plantains, love apples,
Abbogada pears (better known by the name of subaltern's butter), and
many other fruits, all piled in heaps, were to be had at a low price.
Such was the stock of a New Providence market.

[Footnote A: Lyttleton's "Dialogues of the Dead."]

Of the human species, buyers and vendors, there were black, brown and
fair; from the fairest skin, with light blue eyes, and flaxen hair, to
the jet-black "Day and Martin" of Ethiopia; from the loveliest form
of Nature's mould, to the disgusting squaw, whose flaccid mammae hung
like inverted bottles to her girdle, or are extended over her shoulder
to give nourishment to the little imp perched on her back; and here
the urchin sits the live long day, while the mother performs all the
drudgery of the field, the house, or the market.

The confusion of Babel did not surpass the present gabble of a West
India market. The loud and everlasting chatter of the black women, old
and young (for black ladies _can_ talk as well as white ones); the
screams of children, parrots, and monkeys; black boys and girls, clad
_à la Venus_, white teeth, red lips, black skins, and elephant legs,
formed altogether a scene well worth looking at; and now, since the
steamers have acquired so much velocity, I should think would not be
an unpleasant lounge for the fastidious _ennuyé_ of France or England.
The beauty and coolness of the morning, the lovely sky, and the
cheerfulness of the slaves, whom our morbid philanthropists wish to
render happy, by making discontented, would altogether amply repay the
trouble and expense of a voyage, to those who have leisure or money
enough to enable them to visit the tropical islands.

The delightful, and, indeed, indispensable amusement of bathing, is
particularly dangerous in these countries. In the shallows you are
liable to be struck by the stingray, a species of skate, with a sharp
barb about the middle of its tail; and the effect of the wound is so
serious, that I have known a person to be in a state of frenzy from it
for nearly forty-eight hours. In deeper water, the sharks are not only
numerous but ravenous; and I sometimes gratified their appetites, and
my own love of excitement, by purchasing the carcass of a dead cow, or
horse. This I towed off, and anchored with a thick rope and a large
stone; then, from my boat, with a harpoon, I amused myself in striking
these devils as they crowded round for their meal. My readers will,
I fear, think I am much too fond of relating adventures among these
marine undertakers; but the following incident will not be found
without interest.

In company with Charles, one beautiful afternoon, rambling over the
rocky cliffs at the back of the island, we came to a spot where the
stillness, and the clear transparency of the water invited us to
bathe. It was not deep. As we stood above, on the promontory, we could
see the bottom in every part. Under the little headland, which formed
the opposite side of the cove, there was a cavern, to which, as the
shore was steep, there was no access but by swimming, and we resolved
to explore it. We soon reached its mouth, and were enchanted with its
romantic grandeur and wild beauty. It extended, we found, a long way
back, and had several natural baths, into all of which we successively
threw ourselves, each, as they receded farther from the mouth of the
cavern, being colder than the last. The tide, it was evident, had
free ingress, and renewed the water every twelve hours. Here we
thoughtlessly amused ourselves for some time, quoting Acis and
Galatea, Diana, and her nymphs, and every classic story applicable to
the scene.

At length, the declining sun warned us that it was time to take our
departure from the cave, when, at no great distance from us, we saw
the back, or dorsal fin of a monstrous shark above the surface of the
water, and his whole length visible beneath it. We looked at him
and at each other with dismay, hoping that he would soon take his
departure, and go in search of other prey; but the rogue swam to and
fro, just like a frigate blockading an enemy's port, and we felt, I
suppose, very much as we used to make the French and Dutch feel last
war, at Brest and the Texel.

The sentinel paraded before us, about ten or fifteen yards in front of
the cave, tack and tack, waiting only to serve one, if not both of us,
as we should have served a shrimp or an oyster. We had no intention,
however, in this, as in other instances, of "throwing ourselves on
the mercy of the court." In vain did we look for relief from other
quarters; the promontory above us was inaccessible; the tide was
rising, and the sun touching the clear blue edge of the horizon.

I, being the leader, pretended to a little knowledge in ichthyology,
and told my companion that fish could hear as well as see, and that
therefore the less we said the better; and the sooner we retreated out
of his sight, the sooner he would take himself off. This was our only
chance, and that a poor one; for the flow of the water would soon have
enabled him to enter the cave and help himself, as he seemed perfectly
acquainted with the _locale_, and knew that we had no mode of retreat
but by the way we came. We drew back, out of sight; and I don't know
when I ever passed a more unpleasant quarter of an hour. A suit in
Chancery, or even a spring lounge in Newgate, would have been almost
luxury to what I felt when the shades of night began to darken the
mouth of our cave, and this infernal monster continued to parade, like
a water-bailiff, before its door. At last, not seeing the shark's fin
above water, I made a sign to Charles that, _coûte qui coûte_, we must
swim for it; for we had notice to quit, by the tide; and if we did
not depart, should soon have an execution in the house. We had been
careful not to utter a word; and, silently pressing each other by
the hand, we slipped into the water; when, recommending ourselves to
Providence, which, for my part, I seldom forgot when I was in imminent
danger, we struck out manfully. I must own I never felt more assured
of destruction, not even when I swam through the blood of the poor
sailor; for then the sharks had something to occupy them, but here
they had nothing else to do but to look after us. We had the benefit
of their undivided attention.

My sensations were indescribably horrible. I may occasionally write
or talk of the circumstance with levity, but whenever I recall it to
mind, I tremble at the bare recollection of the dreadful fate that
seemed inevitable. My companion was not so expert a swimmer as I was,
so that I distanced him many feet, when I heard him utter a faint cry.
I turned round, convinced that the shark had seized him, but it was
not so; my having left him so far behind had increased his terror, and
induced him to draw my attention. I returned to him, held him up, and
encouraged him. Without this, he would certainly have sunk; he revived
with my help, and we reached the sandy beach in safety, having eluded
our enemy; who, when he neither saw or heard us, had, as I concluded
he would, quitted the spot.

Once more on terra firma, we lay gasping for some minutes before we
spoke. What my companion's thoughts were, I do not know; mine were
replete with gratitude to God, and renewed vows of amendment; and I
have every reason to think, that although Charles had not so much room
for reform as myself, his feelings were perfectly in unison with my
own. We never afterwards repeated this amusement, though we frequently
talked of our escape, and laughed at our terrors; yet on these
occasions our conversation always took a serious turn: and, upon the
whole, I am convinced that this adventure did us both a vast deal of
good.

I had now been six months in these islands, had perfectly recovered
my health, and became anxious for active employment. The brilliant
successes of our rear-admiral at Washington made me wish for a share
of the honour and glory which my brethren in arms were acquiring on
the coast of North America; but my wayward fate sent me in a very
opposite direction.



Chapter XIX

  _Mira_. How came we ashore?
  _Pro_. By Providence divine.

         *       *       *       *       *

  Sit still, and hear the last of our sea-sorrow.
  Here in this island we arrived.

  "_Tempest_."


A frigate called at the island for turtle; and, having represented my
case to the captain, he offered to take me on board, telling me at the
same time that he was going much farther to the southward, to relieve
another cruiser, who would then return to England, and the captain of
her would, no doubt, give me a passage home. I accordingly made hasty
preparations for my departure; took leave of all my kind friends at
the barracks, for kind indeed they were to _me_, although thoughtless
and foolish towards themselves. I bade adieu to the families on the
island, in whose houses and at whose tables I had experienced the most
liberal hospitality; and last, though not least, I took leave of poor
Carlotta.

This was a difficult task to perform, but it was imperative. I told
her that I was ordered on board by my captain, who, being a very
different person from the last, I dare not disobey. I promised to
return to her soon. I offered her money and presents, but she would
accept of nothing but a small locket, to wear for my sake. I purchased
the freedom of poor Sophy, the black girl, who had saved my life. The
little creature wept bitterly at my coming away; but I could do no
more for her. As for Carlotta, I learned afterwards that she went on
board every ship that arrived, to gain intelligence of me, who seldom
or ever gave her a thought.

We sailed; and, steering away to the south-east with moderate winds
and fine weather, captured, at the end of that time, a large American
ship, which had made a devious course from the French coast, in hopes
of avoiding our cruisers; she was about four hundred tons, deeply
laden, and bound to Laguira, with a valuable cargo. The captain sent
for me, and told me that if I chose to take charge of her, as prize
master, I might proceed to England direct. This plan exactly suited
me, and I consented, only begging to have a boatswain's mate, named
Thompson, to go along with me; he was an old shipmate, and had been
one of my gig's crew when we had the affair in Basque Roads; he was a
steady, resolute, quiet, sober, raw-boned Caledonian, from Aberdeen,
and a man that I knew would stand by me in the hour of need. He was
ordered to go with me, and the necessary supply of provisions and
spirits were put on board. I received my orders, and took my leave of
my new captain, who was both a good seaman and an excellent officer.

When I got on board the prize, I found all the prisoners busy packing
up their things, and they became exceedingly alert in placing them in
the boat which was to convey them on board the frigate. Indeed they
all crowded into her with an unusual degree of activity; but this did
not particularly strike my attention at the time. My directions were
to retain the captain and one man with me, in order to condemn the
vessel in the Court of Admiralty.

Occupied with many objects at once, all important to me, as I was so
soon to part company with the frigate, I did not recollect this part
of my orders, and that I was detaining the boat, until the young
midshipman who had charge of her asked me if he might return on board
and take the prisoners. I then went on deck, and seeing the whole of
them, with their chests and bags, seated very quietly in the boat,
and ready to shove off, I desired the captain and one of the American
seamen to come on board again, and to bring their clothes with them.
I did not remark the unwillingness of the captain to obey this
order, until told of it by the midshipman; his chest and goods were
immediately handed in upon deck, and the signal from the frigate being
repeated, with a light for the boat to return (for it was now dark),
she shoved off hastily, and was soon out of sight.

"Stop the boat! for God's sake stop the boat!" cried the captain.

"Why should I stop the boat?" said I; "my orders are positive, and you
must remain with me."

I then went below for a minute or two, and the captain followed me.

"As you value your life, sir," said he, "stop the boat."

"Why?" asked I, eagerly.

"Because, sir," said he, "the ship has been scuttled by the men, and
will sink in a few hours: you cannot save her, for you cannot get at
her leaks."

I now did indeed see the necessity of stopping the boat; but it was
too late: she was out of sight. The lanthorn, the signal for her
return, had been hauled down, a proof that she had got on board. I
hoisted two lights at the mizen peak, and ordered a musket to be
fired; but, unfortunately, the cartridges had either not been put in
the boat which brought me, or they had been taken back in her. One of
my lights went out; the other was not seen by the frigate. We hoisted
another light, but it gained no notice: the ship had evidently made
sail. I stood after her as fast as I could, in hopes of her seeing us
that night, or taking us out the next morning, should we be afloat.

But my vessel, deeply laden, was already getting waterlogged, and
would not sail on a wind more than four miles an hour. All hope in
that quarter vanished. I then endeavoured to discover from the captain
where the leaks were, that we might stop them; but he had been
drinking so freely, that I could get nothing from him but Dutch
courage and braggadocia. The poor black man, who had been left with
the captain, was next consulted. All he knew was, that, when at
Bordeaux, the captain had caused holes to be bored in the ship's
bottom, that he might pull the plugs out whenever he liked, swearing,
at the same time, that she never should enter a British port. He did
not know where the leaks were situated, though it was evident to me
that they were in the after and also in the fore parts of the ship,
low down, and now deep under water, both inside as well as out. The
black man added, that the captain had let the water in, and that was
all he knew.

I again spoke to the captain, but he was too far gone to reason with:
he had got drunk to die, because he was afraid to die sober--no
unusual case with sailors.

"Don't tell me; d----n me, who is a-feard to die? I arn't. I swore she
should never enter a British port, and I have kept my word."

He then began to use curses and execrations; and, at last, fell on the
deck in a fit of drunken frenzy.

I now called my people all together, and having stated to them the
peril of our situation, we agreed that a large boat, which lay on the
booms, should be instantly hoisted out, and stowed with every thing
necessary for a voyage. Our clothes, bread, salt meat, and water, were
put into her, with my sextant and spy-glass. The liquor, which was in
the cabin, I gave in charge to the midshipman who was sent with me;
and, having completely stowed our boat, and prepared her with a good
lug-sail, we made her fast with a couple of stout tow-ropes, and
veered her astern, with four men in her, keeping on our course in the
supposed track of the frigate till daylight.

That wished-for hour arrived, but no frigate was to be seen, even from
the mast-head. The ship was getting deeper and deeper, and we prepared
to take to the boat. I calculated the nearest part of South America to
be seven hundred miles from us, and that we were more than twice that
distance from Rio Janeiro. I did not, however, despond, for, under all
circumstances, we were extremely well off: and I inspired the men with
so much confidence, that they obeyed in everything, with the utmost
alacrity and cheerfulness, except in one single point.

Finding the ship could not in all probability float more than an hour
or two, I determined to quit her, and ordered the boat alongside. The
men got into her, stepped the mast, hooked on the lug-sail, ready to
hoist at my orders; and, without my bidding, had spread my boat cloak
in the stern-sheets, and made a comfortable place for me to repose in.
The master proceeded to get into the boat, but the men repulsed him
with kicks, blows, and hisses, swearing most dreadfully that if he
attempted to come in, they would throw him overboard. Although in
some measure I participated in their angry feeling, yet I could not
reconcile myself to leave a fellow-creature thus to perish, even in
the pit which he had dug for others, and this too at a time when we
needed every indulgence from the Almighty for ourselves, and every
assistance from his hand to conduct us into a port.

"He deserves to die; it is all his own doings," said they; "come into
the boat yourself, Sir, or we must shove off without you."

The poor captain--who, after sleeping four hours, had recovered his
senses, and felt all the horror of his situation--wept, screamed, tore
his hair, laid hold of my coat, from which only the strength of my men
could disengage him. He clung to life with a passion of feeling which
I never saw in a criminal condemned by the law; he fell on his knees
before me, as he appealed to us all, collectively and separately; he
reminded us of his wife and starving children at Baltimore, and he
implored us to think of them and of our own.

I was melted to tears, I confess; but my men heard him with the most
stoical unconcern. Two of them threw him over to the opposite side of
the deck; and before he could recover from the violence of the fall,
pushed me into the boat, and shoved off. The wretched man had by this
time crawled over to the side we had just left; and throwing himself
on his knees, again screamed out, "Oh, mercy, mercy, mercy!--For God's
sake, have mercy, if you expect any!--Oh, God! my wife and babes!"

His prayers, I lament to say, had no effect on the exasperated seamen.
He then fell into a fit of cursing and blasphemy, evidently bereft of
his senses; and in this state he continued for some minutes, while we
lay alongside, the bowman holding on with the boat-hook only. I was
secretly determined not to leave him, although I foresaw a mutiny in
the boat in consequence. At length, I gave the order to shove off. The
unhappy captain, who, till that moment, might have entertained some
faint hope from the lurking compassion which he perceived I felt for
him, now resigned himself to despair of a more sullen and horrible
aspect. He sat himself down on one of the hen-coops, and gazed on us
with a ghastly eye. I cannot remember ever seeing a more shocking
picture of human misery.

While I looked at him, the black man, Mungo, who belonged to the ship,
sprang overboard from the boat, and swam back to the wreck. Seizing a
rope which hung from the gangway, he ascended the side, and joined his
master. We called to him to come back, or we should leave him behind.

"No, massa," replied the faithful creature; "me no want to lib: no
takee Massa Green, no takee me! Mungo lib good many years wi massa
cappen. Mungo die wi massa, and go back to Guinea!"

I now thought we had given the captain a sufficient lesson for his
treachery and murderous intentions. Had I, indeed, ever seriously
intended to leave him, the conduct of poor Mungo would have awakened
me to a sense of my duty. I ordered Thompson, who was steering the
boat, to put the helm a-starboard, and lay her alongside again. No
sooner was this command given, than three or four of the men jumped up
in a menacing attitude, and swore that they would not go back for him;
that he was the cause of all their sufferings; and that if I chose to
share his fate, I might, but into the boat he should not come. One of
them, more daring than the rest, attempted to take the tiller out of
Thompson's hand; but the trusty seaman seized him by the collar, and
in an instant threw him overboard. The other men were coming aft
to avenge this treatment of their leader; but I drew my sword, and
pointing it at the breast of the nearest mutineer, desired him,
on pain of instant death, to return to his seat. He had heard my
character, and knew that I was not to be trifled with.

A mutineer is easily subdued with common firmness. He obeyed, but was
very sullen, and I heard many mutinous expressions among the men. One
of them said that I was not their officer--that I did not belong to
the frigate.

"That," I replied, "is a case of which I shall not allow you to be the
judges. I hold in my pocket a commission from the King's Lord High
Admiral, or the commissioners for executing that duty. Your captain,
and mine also, holds a similar commission. Under this authority I
act. Let me see the man that dares dispute it--I will hang him at the
yard-arm of the wreck before she goes down;" and, looking at the man
whom Thompson had thrown overboard, and who still held by the gunwale
of the boat, without daring to get in, I asked him if he would obey
me or not? He replied that he would, and hoped I would forgive him.
I said that my forgiveness would depend entirely on the conduct of
himself and the others; that he must recollect that if our own ship,
or any other man-of-war, picked us up, he was liable, with three or
four more, to be hanged for mutiny; and that nothing but his and their
future obedience could save them from that punishment, whenever we
reached a port.

This harangue had a very tranquillising effect. The offenders all
begged pardon, and assured me they would deserve my forgiveness by
their future submission.

All this passed at some little distance from the wreck, but within
hearing; and while it was going on, the wind, which had been fair when
we put off, gradually died away, and blew faintly from the south-west,
directly towards the sinking wreck. I took advantage of this
circumstance to read them a lecture. When I had subdued them, and
worked a little on their feelings, I said I never knew any good come
of cruelty: whenever a ship or a boat had left a man behind who might
have been saved, that disaster or destruction had invariably attended
those who had so cruelly acted; that I was quite sure we never
should escape from this danger, if we did not show mercy to our
fellow-creatures. "God," said I, "has shown mercy to us, in giving us
this excellent boat, to save us in our imminent danger; and He
seems to say to us now, 'Go back to the wreck, and rescue your
fellow-sufferer.' The wind blows directly towards her, and is foul for
the point in which we intend to steer; hasten, then," pursued I, "obey
the Divine will; do your duty, and trust in God. I shall then be proud
to command you, and have no doubt of bringing you safe into port."

This was the "pliant hour;" they sprang upon their oars, and pulled
back to the wreck with alacrity. The poor captain, who had witnessed
all that passed, watched the progress of his cause with deep anxiety.
No sooner did the boat touch the ship, than he leaped into her, fell
down on his knees, and thanked God aloud for his deliverance. He then
fell on my neck, embraced me, kissed my cheek, and wept like a girl.
The sailors, meanwhile, who never bear malice long, good-naturedly
jumped up, and assisted him in getting his little articles into the
boat; and as Mungo followed his master, shook hands with him all
round, and swore he should be a black prince when he went back to
Guinea. We also took in one or two more little articles of general
use, which had been forgotten in our former hurry.

We now shoved off for the last time; and had not proceeded more than
two hundred yards from the ship, when she gave a heavy lurch on one
side, recovered it, and rolled as deep on the other; then, as if
endued with life and instinct, gave, a pitch, and went down, head
foremost, into the fathomless deep. We had scarcely time to behold
this awful scene, when the wind again sprang up fair, from its old
quarter, the east.

"There," said I, "Heaven has declared itself in your favour already.
You have got your fair wind again."

We thanked God for this; and having set our sail, I shaped my course
for Cape St Thomas, and we went to our frugal dinner with cheerful and
grateful hearts.

The weather was fine--the sea tolerably smooth--and as we had plenty
of provisions and water, we did not suffer much, except from an
apprehension of a change of wind, and the knowledge of our precarious
situation. On the fifth day after leaving the wreck we discovered land
at a great distance. I knew it to be the island of Trinidad and the
rocks of Martin Vas. This island, which lies in latitude twenty
degrees south, and longitude thirty degrees west, is not to be
confounded with the island of the same name on the coast of Terra
Firma, in the West Indies, and now a British colony.

On consulting Horseberg, which I had in the boat, I found that the
island which we were now approaching was formerly inhabited by the
Portuguese, but long since abandoned. I continued steering towards
it during the night, until we heard the breakers roaring against the
rocks, when I hove-to, to windward of the land, till daylight.

The morning presented to our view a precipitous and rugged iron-bound
coast, with high and pointed rocks, frowning defiance over the
unappeaseable and furious waves which broke incessantly at their feet,
and recoiled to repeat the blow. Thus for ages had they been employed,
and thus for ages will they continue, without making any impression
visible to the eye of man. To land was impossible on the part of the
coast now under our inspection, and we coasted along, in hopes of
finding some haven into which we might haul our boat, and secure her.
The island appeared to be about nine miles long, evidently of volcanic
formation, an assemblage of rocky mountains towering several hundred
feet above the level of the sea. It was barren, except at the summit
of the hills, where some trees formed a coronet, at once beautiful
and refreshing, but tantalising to look at, as they appeared
utterly inaccessible; and even supposing I could have discovered a
landing-place, I was in great doubt whether I should have availed
myself of it, as the island appeared to produce nothing which could
have added to our comfort, while delay would only have uselessly
consumed our provisions. There did not appear to be a living creature
on the island, and the danger of approaching to find a landing-place
was most imminent.

This unpromising appearance induced me to propose that we should
continue our course to Rio Janeiro. The men were of another opinion.
They said they had been too long afloat, cooped up, and that they
should prefer remaining on the island to risking their lives any
longer, in so frail a boat, on the wide ocean. We were still debating,
when we came to a small spot of sand, on which we discovered two wild
hogs, which we conjectured had come down to feed on the shell fish;
this decided them, and I consented to run to leeward of the island,
and seek for a landing-place. We sounded the west end, following the
remarks of Horseberg, and ran for the cove of the Nine-Pin Rock. As we
opened it, a scene of grandeur presented itself, which we had never
met with before, and which in its kind is probably unrivalled in
nature. An enormous rock rose, nearly perpendicularly, out of the sea,
to the height of nine hundred or one thousand feet. It was as narrow
at the base as it was at the top, and was formed exactly in the shape
of the nine-pin, from which, it derives its name. The sides appeared
smooth and even to the top, which was covered with verdure, and was so
far above us that the sea birds, which in myriads screamed around it,
were scarcely visible two-thirds of the way up. The sea beat violently
against its base--the feathered tribe, in endless variety, had been
for ages the undisturbed tenants of this natural monument; all its
jutting points and little projections were covered with their white
dung, and it seemed to me a wonderful effort of Nature, which had
placed this mass in the position which it held, in spite of the utmost
efforts of the winds and waves of the wide ocean.

Another curious phenomenon appeared at the other end of the cove. The
lava had poured down into the sea, and formed a stratum; a second
river of fused rock had poured again over the first, and had cooled so
rapidly as to hang suspended, not having joined the former strata,
but leaving a vacuum between for the water to fill up. The sea dashed
violently between the two beds, and spouted magnificently through
holes in the upper bed of lava to the height of sixty feet, resembling
much the spouting of a whale, but with a noise and force infinitely
greater. The sound indeed was tremendous, hollow, and awful. I could
not help mentally adoring the works of the Creator, and my heart sunk
within me at my own insignificance, folly, and wickedness.

As we were now running along the shore, looking for our landing-place,
and just going to take in the sail, the American captain, who sat
close to the man at the helm, seemed attentively watching something on
the larboard bow of the boat. In an instant he exclaimed, "Put your
helm, my good fellow, port-hard." These words he accompanied with a
push of the helm so violent, as almost to throw the man overboard who
sat on the larboard quarter. At the same moment, a heavy sea lifted
the boat, and sent her many yards beyond, and to the right of a
pointed rock, just flush or even with the water, which had escaped our
notice, and which none suspected but the American captain (for these
rocks do not show breakers every minute, if they did they would be
easily avoided). On this we should most certainly have been dashed to
pieces, had not the danger been seen and avoided by the sudden and
skilful motion of the helm; one moment more, and one foot nearer, and
we were gone.

"Merciful God!" said I, "to what fate am I reserved at last? How can I
be sufficiently thankful for so much goodness?"

I thanked the American for his attention--told my men how much we were
indebted to him, and how amply he had repaid our kindness in taking
him off the wreck.

"Ah, lieutenant," said the poor man, "it is a small turn I've done you
for the kindness you have shown to me."

The water was very deep, the rocks being steep; so, we lowered our
sail, and getting our oars out, pulled in to look for a landing. At
the farther end of the cove, we discovered the wreck of a vessel
lying on the beach. She was broken in two, and appeared to be
copper-bottomed. This increased the eagerness of the men to land; we
rowed close to the shore, but found that the boat would be dashed to
pieces if we attempted it. The midshipman proposed that one of us
should swim on shore, and, by ascending a hill, discover a place to
lay the boat in. This I agreed to; and the quarter-master immediately
threw off his clothes. I made a lead-line fast to him under his arms,
that we might pull him in if we found him exhausted. He went over the
surf with great ease, until he came to the breakers on the beach,
through which he could not force his way; for the moment he touched
the ground with his foot, the recoil of the sea, and what is called by
sailors the undertow, carried him back again, and left him in the rear
of the last wave.

Three times the brave fellow made the attempt, and with the same
result. At last he sunk, and we pulled him in very nearly dead. We,
however, restored him by care and attention, and he went again to his
usual duty. The midshipman now proposed that he should try to swim
through the surf without the line, for that alone had impeded the
progress of the quarter-master; this was true, but I would not allow
him to run the risk, and we pulled along shore, until we came to
a rock on which the surf beat very high, and which we avoided in
consequence. This rock we discovered to be detached from the main; and
within it, to our great joy, we saw smooth water; we pulled in, and
succeeded in landing without much difficulty, and having secured
our boat to a grapnel, and left two trusty men in charge of her,
I proceeded with the rest to explore the cove; our attention was
naturally first directed to the wreck which we had passed in the boat,
and, after a quarter of an hour's scrambling over huge fragments of
broken rocks, which had been detached from the sides of the hill, and
encumbered the beach, we arrived at the spot.

The wreck proved to be a beautiful copper-bottomed schooner, of about
a hundred and eighty tons burthen. She had been dashed on shore with
great violence, and thrown many yards above the high-water mark. Her
masts and spars were lying in all directions on the beach, which
was strewed with her cargo. This consisted of a variety of toys
and hardware, musical instruments, violins, flutes, fifes, and
bird-organs. Some few remains of books, which I picked up, were French
romances, with indelicate plates, and still worse text. These proved
the vessel to be French. At a short distance from the wreck, on a
rising knoll, we found three or four huts, rudely constructed out of
the fragments; and, a little farther off, a succession of graves, each
surmounted with a cross. I examined the huts, which contained some
rude and simple relics of human tenancy: a few benches and tables,
composed of boards roughly hewn out and nailed together; bones of
goats, and of the wild hog, with the remains of burnt wood. But we
could not discover any traces of the name of the vessel or owner; nor
were there any names marked or cut on the boards, as might have been
expected, to show to whom the vessel belonged, and what had become of
the survivors.

This studied concealment of all information led us to the most
accurate knowledge of her port of departure, her destination, and her
object of trade. Being on the south-west side of the island, with her
head lying to the north-east, she had, beyond all doubt, been running
from Rio Janeiro towards the coast of Africa, and got on shore in
the night. That she was going to fetch a cargo of slaves was equally
clear, not only from the baubles with which she was freighted but also
from the interior fitting of the vessel, and from a number of hand and
leg shackles which we found among the wreck, and which we knew were
only used for the purposes of confining and securing the unhappy
victims of this traffic.

We took up our quarters in the huts for the night, and the next
morning divided ourselves into three parties, to explore the island. I
have before observed that we had muskets, but no powder, and therefore
stood little chance of killing any of the goats or wild hogs, with
which we found the island abounded. One party sought the means of
attaining the highest summit of the island; another went along the
shore to the westward; while myself and two others went to the
eastward. We crossed several ravines, with much difficulty, until we
reached a long valley, which seemed to intersect the island.

Here a wonderful and most melancholy phenomenon arrested our
attention. Thousands and thousands of trees covered the valley, each
of them about thirty feet high; but every tree was dead, and extended
its leafless boughs to another--a forest of desolation, as if nature
had at some particular moment ceased to vegetate! There was no
underwood or grass. On the lowest of the dead boughs, the gannets, and
other sea birds, had built their nests in numbers unaccountable. Their
tameness, as Cooper says, "was shocking to me." So unaccustomed did
they seem to man, that the mothers, brooding over their young, only
opened their beaks, in a menacing attitude at us, as we passed by
them.

How to account satisfactorily for the simultaneous destruction of this
vast forest of trees, was very difficult; there was no want of rich
earth for nourishment of the roots. The most probable cause appeared
to me, a sudden and continued eruption of sulphuric effluvia from the
volcano; or else, by some unusually heavy gale of wind or hurricane,
the trees had been drenched with salt water to their roots. One or the
other of these causes must have produced the effect. The philosopher,
or the geologist, must decide.

We had the consolation to know that we should at least experience no
want of food--the nests of the birds affording us a plentiful supply
of eggs, and young ones of every age; with these we returned loaded
to the cove. The party that had gone to the westward, reported having
seen some wild hogs, but were unable to secure any of them; and those
who had attempted to ascend the mountain, returned much fatigued, and
one of their number missing. They reported that they had gained the
summit of the mountain, where they had discovered a large plain,
skirted by a species of fern tree, from twelve to eighteen feet
high--that on this plain they had seen a herd of goats; and among
them, could distinguish one of enormous size, which appeared to be
their leader. He was as large as a pony; but all attempts to take one
of them were utterly fruitless. The man who was missing had followed
them farther than they had. They waited some time for his return; but
as he did not come to them, they concluded he had taken some other
route to the cove. I did not quite like this story, fearing some
dreadful accident had befallen the poor fellow, for whom we kept a
watch, and had a fire burning the whole night, which, like the former
one, we passed in the huts. We had an abundant supply of fire-wood
from the wreck, and a stream of clear water ran close by our little
village.

The next morning, a party was sent in search of the man, and some were
sent to fetch a supply of young gannets for our dinner. The latter
brought back with them as many young birds as would suffice for two
or three days; but of the three who went in quest of the missing man,
only two returned. They reported that they could gain no tidings of
him: that they had missed one of their own number, who had, no doubt,
gone in pursuit of his shipmate.

This intelligence occasioned a great deal of anxiety, and many
surmises. The most prevalent opinion seemed to be that there were wild
beasts on the island, and that our poor friends had become a prey to
them. I determined, the next morning, to go in search of them myself,
taking one or two chosen men with me. I should have mentioned, that
when we left the sinking vessel, we had taken out a poodle dog, that
was on board--first, because I would not allow the poor animal to
perish; and, secondly, because we might, if we had no better food,
make a dinner of him. This was quite fair, as charity begins at home.

This faithful animal became much attached to me, from whom he
invariably received his portion of food. He never quitted me, nor
followed any one else; and he was my companion when I went on this
excursion.

We reached the summit of the first mountain, whence we saw the goats
browsing on the second, and meant to go there in pursuit of the
objects of our anxious search. I was some yards in advance of my
companions, and the dog a little distance before me, near the shelving
part of a rock, terminating in a precipice. The shelf I had to cross
was about six or seven feet wide, and ten or twelve long, with a very
little inclined plane towards the precipice, so that I thought it
perfectly safe. A small rill of water trickled down from the rock
above it, and, losing itself among the moss and grass, fell over the
precipice below, which indeed was of a frightful depth.

This causeway was to all appearance safe, compared with many which
we had passed, and I was just going to step upon it, when my dog ran
before me, jumped on the fatal pass--his feet slipped from under
him--he fell, and disappeared over the precipice! I started back--I
heard a heavy squelch and a howl; another fainter succeeded, and all
was still. I advanced with the utmost caution to the edge of the
precipice, where I discovered that the rill of water had nourished
a short moss, close and smooth as velvet, and so slippery as not
to admit of the lightest footstep; this accounted for the sudden
disappearance, and, as I concluded, the inevitable death of my dog.

My first thoughts were those of gratitude for my miraculous escape; my
second unwillingly glanced at the fate of my poor men, too probably
lying lifeless at the foot of this mountain. I stated my fears to the
two seamen who were with me, and who had just come up. The whole bore
too much the appearance of truth to admit of a doubt. We descended the
ruins by a circuitous and winding way; and, after an hour's difficult
and dangerous walk, we reached the spot, where all our fears were too
fully confirmed. There lay the two dead bodies of our companions,
and that of my dog, all mangled in a shocking manner; both, it would
appear, had attempted to cross the shelf in the same careless way
which I was about to do, when Providence interposed the dog in my
behalf.

This singular dispensation was not lost upon me; indeed, latterly, I
had been in such perils, and seen such hair-breadth escapes, that I
became quite an altered and reflecting character. I returned to my
men at the cove, thoughtful and melancholy; I told them of what had
happened; and, having a Prayer-book with me in my trunk, I proposed to
them that I should read the evening prayers, and a thanksgiving for
our deliverance.

In this, the American captain, whose name was Green, most heartily
concurred. Indeed, ever since this poor man had been received into the
boat, he had been a very different character to what I had at first
supposed him; he constantly refused his allowance of spirits, giving
it among the sailors; he was silent and meditative; I often found him
in prayer, and on these occasions I never interrupted him. At other
times, he studied how he might make himself most useful. He would
patch and mend the people's clothes and shoes, or show them how to
do it for themselves. Whenever any hard work was to be done, he was
always the first to begin, and the last to leave off; and to such a
degree did he carry his attention and kindness, that we all began to
love him, and to treat him with great respect. He took charge of a
watch when we were at sea, and never closed his eyes during his hour
of duty.

Nor was this the effect of fear, or the dread of ill-usage among so
many Englishmen, whom his errors had led into so much misfortune. He
very soon had an opportunity of proving that his altered conduct was
the effect of sorrow and repentance. The next morning I sent a party
round by the sea-shore, with directions to walk up the valley and
bury the bodies of our unfortunate companions. The two men who had
accompanied me were of the number sent on this service; when they
returned, I pointed out to them how disastrous our residence had been
on this fatal island, and how much better it had been for us if we had
continued our course to Rio Janeiro, which, being only two hundred and
fifty or two hundred and sixty leagues distant, we should by that time
nearly have reached: that we were now expending the most valuable part
of our provisions, namely--our spirits and tobacco; while our boat,
our only hope and resource, was not even in safety, since a gale
of wind might destroy her. I therefore proposed to make immediate
preparations for our departure, to which all unanimously agreed.

We divided the various occupations; some went to fetch a sea stock
of young birds, which were killed and dressed to save our salt
provisions; others filled all our water-casks. Captain Green
superintended the rigging, sails, and oars of the boat, and saw that
every thing was complete in that department. The spirits remaining
were getting low, and Captain Green, the midshipman, and myself,
agreed to drink none, but reserve it for pressing emergencies. In
three days after beginning our preparations, and the seventh after our
landing, we embarked, and after being nearly swamped by the surf, once
more hoisted our sail on the wide waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

We were not destined, however, to encounter many dangers this time, or
to reach the coast of South America: for we had not been many hours
at sea, when a vessel hove in sight; she proved to be an American
privateer brig, of fourteen guns and one hundred and thirty men, bound
on a cruise off the Cape of Good Hope. As soon as she perceived us,
she bore down, and in half-an-hour we were safe on board; when having
bundled all our little stock of goods on her decks, the boat was cut
adrift. My men were not well treated until they consented to enter for
the privateer, which, after much persuasion and threats, they all did,
except Thompson, contrary to my strongest remonstrances, and urging
every argument in my power to dissuade them from such a fatal step.

I remonstrated with the captain of the privateer, on what I deemed a
violation of hospitality. "You found me," I said, "on the wide ocean,
in a frail boat, which some huge wave might have overwhelmed in a
moment, or some fish, in sport, might have tossed in the air. You
received me and my people with all the kindness and friendship which
we could desire; but you mar it, by seducing the men from their
allegiance to their lawful sovereign, inducing them to become rebels,
and subjecting them to a capital punishment whenever they may (as they
most probably will) fall into the hands of their own government."

The captain, who was an unpolished, but sensible, clearheaded Yankee,
replied that he was sorry I should take any thing ill of him; that no
affront was meant to me; that he had nothing whatever to do with my
men, until they came voluntarily to him, and entered for his vessel;
that he could not but admit, however, that they might have been
persuaded to take this step by some of his own people. "And, now,
Leftenant," said he, "let me ask you a question. Suppose you commanded
a British vessel, and ten or twelve of my men, if I was unlucky enough
to be taken by you, should volunteer for your ship, and say they were
natives of Newcastle, would you refuse them? Besides, before we
went to war with you, you made no ceremony of taking men out of our
merchant-ships, and even out of our ships of war, whenever you had an
opportunity. Now, pray, where is the difference between your conduct
and ours?"

I replied, that it would not be very easy, nor, if it were, would it
answer any good purpose, for us to discuss a question that had puzzled
the wisest heads, both in his country and mine for the last twenty
years; that my present business was a case of its own, and must be
considered abstractedly; that the fortune of war had thrown me in his
power, and that he made a bad use of the temporary advantage of his
situation, by allowing my men, who, after all, were poor, ignorant
creatures, to be seduced from their duty, to desert their flag, and
commit high treason, by which their lives were forfeited, and their
families rendered miserable; that whatever might have been the conduct
of his government or mine, whatever line pursued by this or that
captain, no precedent could make wrong right; and I left it to himself
(seeing I had no other resource) to say, whether he was doing as he
would be done by?"

"As for that matter," said the captain, "we privateer's-men don't
trouble our heads much about it; we always take care of Number One;
and if your men choose to say they are natives of Boston, and will
enter for my ship, I must take them. Why," continued he, "there is
your best man, Thompson; I'd lay a demijohn of old Jamaica rum that
he is a true-blooded Yankee, and if he was to speak his mind, would
sooner fight under the stripes than the Union."

"D----n the dog that says yon of Jock Thompson," replied the Caledonian,
who stood by. "I never deserted my colours yet, and I don't think I
ever shall. There is only one piece of advice I would wish to give to
you and your officers, captain. I am a civil spoken man, and never
injured any soul breathing, except in the way of fair fighting; but if
either you, or any of your crew, offer to bribe me, or in any way to
make me turn my back on my king and country, I'll lay him on his back
as flat as a flounder, if I am able, and if I am not able, I'll try
for it."

"That's well spoken," said the captain, "and I honour you for it. You
may rely on it that I shall never tempt you, and if any of mine do it,
they must take their chance."

Captain Green heard all this conversation; he took no part in it, but
walked the deck in his usual pensive manner. When the captain of the
privateer went below to work his reckoning, this unhappy man entered
into conversation with me--he began by remarking--

"What a noble specimen of a British sailor you have with you."

"Yes," I replied, "he is one of the right sort--he comes from the land
where the education of the poor contributes to the security of the
rich; where a man is never thought the worse of for reading his Bible,
and where the generality of the lower orders are brought up in the
honest simplicity of primitive Christians."

"I guess," said Green, "that you have not many such in your navy."

"More than you would suppose," I replied; "and what will astonish you
is, that though they are impressed, they seldom, if ever, desert; and
yet they are retained on much lower wages than those they were taken
from, or could obtain; but they have a high sense of moral and
religious feeling, which keeps them to their duty.

"They must needs be discontented for all that," said Green.

"Not necessarily so," said I: "they derive many advantages from being
in the navy, which they could not have in other employments. They have
pensions for long services or wounds, are always taken care of in
their old age, and their widows and children have much favour shown
them, by the government, as well as by other public bodies and wealthy
individuals. But we must finish this discussion another time,"
continued I, "for I perceive the dinner is going into the cabin."

I received from the captain of the privateer every mark of respect and
kindness that his means would allow. Much of this I owed to Green, and
the black man Mungo, both of whom had represented my conduct in saving
the life of him who had endangered mine and that of all my party.
Green's gratitude knew no bounds--he watched me night and day, as a
mother would watch a darling child; he anticipated any want or wish I
could have, and was never happy until it was gratified. The seamen on
board the vessel were all equally kind and attentive to me, so highly
did they appreciate the act of saving the life of their countryman,
and exposing my own in quelling a mutiny.

We cruised to the southward of the Cape, and made one or two captures;
but they were of little consequence. One of them, being a trader from
Mozambique, was destroyed; the other, a slaver from Madagascar, the
captain knew not what to do with. He therefore took out eight or ten
of the stoutest male negroes, to assist in working his vessel, and
then let the prize go.



Chapter XX

  But who is this? What thing of sea
  Comes this way sailing,
  Like a stately ship
  With all her bravery on, and tackle trim?

  SAMSON AGONISTES.


The privateer was called the _True-blooded Yankee_. She was first
bound to the island of Tristan d'Acunha, where she expected to meet
her consort, belonging to the same owners, and who had preceded her
when their directions were to cruise between the Cape and Madagascar,
for certain homeward bound extra Indiamen, one or two of which she
hoped would reward all the trouble and expense of the outfit.

We reached the island without any material incident. I had observed,
with concern, that the second mate, whose name was Peleg Oswald, was
a sour, ferocious, quarrelsome man; and that although I was kindly
treated by the captain, whose name was Peters, and by the chief mate,
whose name was Methusalem Solomon, I never could conciliate the good
will of Peleg Oswald.

Green, the captain, who came with me, was, from the time I saved
his life, an altered man. He had been, as I was informed, a drunken
profligate; but from the moment when I received him into my boat,
his manners and habits seemed as completely changed as if he were a
different being. He never drank more than was sufficient to quench his
thirst--he never swore--he never used any offensive language. He read
the Scriptures constantly, was regular in his morning and evening
devotion, and on every occasion of quarrel or ill-will in the brig,
which was perpetually occurring, Green was the umpire and the
peace-maker. He saved the captain and chief mate a world of trouble;
by this system, violent language became uncommon on board, punishment
was very rare, and very mild. The men were happy, and did their duty
with alacrity; and but for Peleg Oswald, all would have been harmony.

We made the island about the 15th of December, when the weather was
such as the season of the year might induce us to expect, it being
then summer. We hove off to the north or windward side of the island,
about two miles from the shore; we dared not go nearer on that side,
for fear of what are called the "Rollers"--a phenomenon, it would
appear, of terrific magnitude, on that sequestered little spot. On
this extraordinary operation of nature, many conjectures have been
offered, but no good or satisfactory reason has ever been assigned to
satisfy my mind; for the simple reason, that the same causes would
produce the same effect on St Helena, Ascension, or any other island
or promontory exposed to a wide expanse of water. I shall attempt
to describe the scene that a succession of Rollers would present,
supposing, what has indeed happened, that a vessel is caught on the
coast when coming in.

The water will be perfectly smooth--not a breath of wind--when,
suddenly, from the north, comes rolling a huge wave, with a glassy
surface, never breaking till it meets the resistance of the land, when
it dashes down with a noise and a resistless violence that no art or
effort of man could elude. It is succeeded by others. No anchorage
would hold if there were anchorage to be had; but this is not the
case; the water is from ninety to one hundred fathoms deep, and
consequently an anchor and cable could scarcely afford a momentary
check to any ship when thus assailed; or, if it did, the sea would, by
being resisted, divide, break on board, and swamp her. Such was the
fate of the unfortunate ----, a British sloop of war; which, after
landing the captain and six men, was caught in the rollers, driven on
shore, and every creature on board perished, only the captain and his
boat's crew escaping. This unfortunate little vessel was lost, not
from want of skill or seamanship in the captain or crew, for a finer
set of men never swam salt water; but from their ignorance of this
peculiarity of the island, unknown in any other that I ever heard
of, at least to such an alarming extent. Driven close in to the land
before she could find soundings, at last she let go three anchors; but
nothing could withstand the force of the "Rollers," which drove her in
upon the beach, when she broke in two as soon as she landed, and all
hands perished in sight of the affected captain and his boat's crew,
who buried the bodies of their unfortunate shipmates as soon as the
sea had delivered them up.

There is another remarkable peculiarity in this island: its shores, to
a very considerable extent out to sea, are surrounded with the plant,
called _fucus maximus_, mentioned by Captain Cook; it grows to the
depth of sixty fathoms, or one hundred and eighty feet, and reaches in
one long stem to the surface, when it continues to run along to the
enormous length of three or four hundred feet, with short alternate
branches at every foot of its length. Thus, in the stormy ocean, grows
a plant, higher and of greater length than any vegetable production of
the surface of the earth, not excepting the banyan tree, which, as its
branches touch the ground, takes fresh root, and may be said to form a
separate tree. These marine plants resist the most powerful attacks
of the mightiest elements combined; the winds and the waves in vain
combine their force against them; uniting their foliage on the bosom
of the waters, they laugh at the hurricane and defy its power. The
leaves are alternate, and when the wind ruffles the water, they flap
over, one after the other, with a mournful sound, doubly mournful
to us from the sad association of ideas, and the loneliness of the
island. The branches or tendrils of these plants are so strong and
buoyant, when several of them happen to unite, that a boat cannot pass
through them; I tried with my feet what pressure they would bear, and
I was convinced that, with a pair of snow shoes, a man might walk over
them.

Captain Peters kindly invited me to go on shore with him. We landed
with much difficulty, and proceeded to the cottage of a man who had
been left there from choice; he resided with his family: and, in
imitation of another great personage on an island to the northward of
him, styled himself "Emperor." A detachment of British soldiers had
been sent from the Cape of Good Hope to take possession of this spot:
but after a time they were withdrawn.

His present Imperial Majesty had, at the time of my visit, a black
consort, and many snuff-coloured princes and princesses. He was in
other respects a perfect Robinson Crusoe; he had a few head of cattle,
and some pigs; these latter have greatly multiplied on the island.
Domestic fowls were numerous, and he had a large piece of ground
planted with potatoes, the only place south of the Equator which
produces them in their native perfection; the land is rich and
susceptible of great improvement; and the soil is intersected with
numerous running springs over its surface. But it was impossible to
look on this lonely spot without recalling to mind the beautiful lines
of Cowper--

    "O Solitude, where are the charms
  That sages have seen in thy face?"

Yet in this wild place, alarms and even rebellion had found their way,
the Emperor had but one subject, and this Caliban had ventured, in
direct violation of an imperial mandate, to kill a fowl for his
dinner.

"Rebellion," said the enraged emperor, "is the son of witchcraft, and
I am determined to make an example of the offender."

I became the mediator between these two belligerents. I represented to
his imperial majesty, that, as far as the matter of example went, the
severity would lose its effect; for his children were as yet too young
to be corrupted; and, moreover, as his majesty was so well versed in
scripture, he must know that it was his duty to forgive. "Besides," I
said, "her majesty the queen has a strong arm, and can always
assist in repelling or chastising any future act of aggression or
disobedience." I suspect that the moral code of his majesty was not
unlike my own it yielded to the necessities of the time. He must have
found it particularly inconvenient not to be on speaking terms with
his prime minister and arch chancellor, whom he had banished to
the opposite side of the island on pain of death. The sentence was
originally for six months; but on my intercession the delinquent was
pardoned and restored to favour. I felt much self-complacency when I
reflected on this successful instance of my mediatorial power, which
had perhaps smothered a civil war in its birth.

The emperor informed me that an American whaler was lying at the east
side of the island, filling with the oil of the walrus, or sea-horse;
that she had been there at an anchor six weeks, and was nearly full. I
asked to be shown the spot where the ---- was wrecked; he took me to
her sad remains. She lay broken in pieces on the rocks; and, not far
from her, was a mound of earth, on which was placed a painted piece of
board by way of a tombstone. The fate of the vessel, together with the
number of sufferers, were marked in rude but concise characters. I
do not exactly remember the words, but in substance it stated, that
underneath lay the remains of one hundred as fine fellows as ever
walked on a plank, and that they had died, like British seamen, doing
their duty to the last. This was a melancholy sight, especially to a
sailor, who knew not how soon the same fate awaited him.

We rafted off several casks of water during that day, and on the
following we completed our water, and then ran to the east end of
the island to anchor near, and wait for our consort the whaler, the
captain of which had come in his boat to visit us: I conversed with
him, and was struck with one remark which he made.

"You Englishmen go to work in a queerish kind of way," said he; "you
send a parcel of soldiers to live on an island where none but sailors
can be of use. You listen to all that those red coats tell you; they
never thrive when placed out of musket-shot from a gin-shop: and
because _they_ don't like it, you evacuate the island. A soldier likes
his own comfort, although very apt to destroy that of other folks; and
it a'n't very likely he would go and make a good report of an island
that had neither women nor rum, and where he was no better than a
prisoner. Now, if brother Jonathan had taken this island, I guess he
would a' made it pay for its keep; he would have had two or three
crews of whalers, with their wives and families, and all their little
comforts about them, with a party of good farmers to till the land,
and an officer to command the whole. The island can provide itself, as
you may perceive, and all would have gone on well. It is just as easy
to 'fish' the island from the shore as it is in vessel, and indeed
much easier. Only land your boilers and casks, and a couple of dozen
of good whale-boats, and this island would produce a revenue that
would repay with profit all the money laid out upon it, for the
sea-horses have no other place to go to, either to shed their coats in
the autumn, or bring forth their young in the spring. The fishing and
other duties would be a source of amusement to the sailors, who, if
they chose, might return home occasionally in the vessels that came to
take away the full casks of oil and land the empty ones."

The captain of the whaler returned to his ship, but, I suppose, forgot
to give our captain very particular directions about the anchorage. We
ran down to the east end of the island, and were just going to bring
up, when, supposing himself too near the whaler, Peters chose to run
a little further. I should have observed, that as we rounded the
north-east point, the breeze freshed, and the squalls came heavy out
of the gullies and deep ravines. We therefore shortened sail, and,
passing very near the whaler, they hailed us; but it blew so fresh
that we did not hear what they said; and, having increased our
distance from the whaler to what was judged proper, let go the anchor.

Ninety fathoms of cable ran out in a crack, before she turned head
to-wind; and, to our mortification, we found we had passed the bank
upon which the whaler had brought up, and must have dropped our anchor
into a well, for we had nineteen fathoms water under the bows, and
only seven fathoms under the stern. The moon showed her face, just at
this moment, and we had the further satisfaction of perceiving, that
we were within fifty yards of a reef of rocks which lay astern of us,
with their dirty, black heads above water.

We were very much surprised to find, notwithstanding the depth of
water, that, during the lulls, we rode with a slack cable; but about
two o'clock in the morning the cable parted, being cut by the foul
ground. All sail was made immediately, but the rocks astern were so
close to us, that you might have thrown a biscuit on them, and we
thought the cruise of the _True-blooded Yankee_ was at an end; but it
proved otherwise, for the same cause which produced the slack cable
preserved the vessel. The _fucus maximus_ we found had interposed
between us and destruction; we had let go our anchor in this
sub-marine forest, and had perched, as it were, on the tops of the
trees; and, so thick were the leaves and branches, that they held us
from driving, and prevented our going on shore when the cable had
parted. We dragged slowly through the plants, and were very glad to
see ourselves once more clear of this miserable spot.

  "Better dwell in the midst of alarms,
  Than reign in this horrible place."

But I sincerely wish all manner of success to this little empire,
though I hope my evil stars will never take me to it again. We shaped
our course for the Cape of Good Hope, for Captain Peters would not run
further risk in waiting for the consort privateer.

Poor Thompson, notwithstanding all my exertions in his favour, was
exposed to much ill-treatment on board the vessel, on account of his
firm and unshaken loyalty. He seldom complained to me, but sometimes
vindicated himself by a gentle hint from one of his ample fists on the
nose or eye of the offender, and here the matter usually ended, for
his character was so simple and inoffensive, that all the best men in
the vessel loved him. One night, a man fell overboard--the weather was
fine, and the brig had but little way; they were lowering down the
jolly-boat from the stern, when one of the hooks by which she hung by
the stern, broke, and four men were precipitated with violence into
the water. Two of them could not swim, and all screamed loudly for
help as soon as they came up from their dive. Thompson, seeing this,
darted from the stern like a Newfoundland dog, swam to the weakest,
supported him to the rudder chains, and, leaving him, went to another,
bringing him to the stern of the vessel, and making a rope fast under
his arms. In this way he succeeded in saving the whole of these poor
fellows. Two of the five would certainly have sank but for his timely
assistance, for they were some time before another boat could be got
ready; and the other three owned that they much doubted whether they
could have reached the vessel without help.

This conduct of Thompson was much applauded by all on board, and some
asked him why he ventured his life for people who had used him so ill:
he answered, that his mither and his Bible taught him to do all the
good he could: and as God had given him a strong arm, he hoped he
should always use it for the benefit of his brother in need.

It might have been supposed that an act like this would have prevented
the recurrence of any further insult; but the more the Americans
perceived Thompson's value, the more eager were they to have him as
their own. The second mate, whom I have already described as a rough
and brutal fellow, one day proposed to him to belong to their vessel,
certain, he added, that he would make his fortune by the capture of
two, if not three, extra Indiamen, which they had information of on
their passage.

Thompson looked the man fully in the face, and said, "Did ye no hear
what I telled the captain the ither day?"

"Yes," said the man, "I knew that, but that's what we call in our
country 'all my eye.'"

"But they do not call it so in my country," said the Caledonian, at
the same time planting his fist so full and plump in the left eye of
the mate, that he fell like the "_humi bos_," covering a very large
part of the deck with his huge carcase.

The man got up, found his face bleeding plentifully, and his eye
closed; but instead of resenting the insult himself, went off and
complained to the captain. Many of the Americans, either from hatred
or jealousy, went along with him, and clamorously demanded that the
Englishman should be punished for striking an officer. When the story,
however, came to be fairly explained, the captain said he was bound
to confess that the second mate was the aggressor, inasmuch as he had
acknowledged that he knew the penalty of the transgression before he
committed the act; that he (the captain) had told Thompson, when
he made the declaration, that he thought him perfectly right, and,
consequently, he was bound to protect him by every law of hospitality
as well as gratitude, after his services in saving the lives of their
countrymen.

This did not satisfy the crew; they were clamorous for punishment, and
a mutiny was actually headed by the second mate. There was, however,
a large party on board who were in no humour to see an Englishman
treated with such indignity. Of what country they were may readily be
conjectured. The dispute ran high; and I began to think that serious
consequences might ensue, for it had continued from the serving of
grog at twelve o'clock till near two; when casting my eyes over the
larboard quarter, I perceived a sail, and told the captain of it;
he instantly hailed the look-out-man at the mast head; but the
look-out-man had been so much interested with what was going on upon
deck, that he had come down into the main top to listen.

"Don't you see that sail on the larboard quarter?" said the captain.

"Yes, Sir," said the man.

"And why did you not report her?"

The man could make no reply to this question, for a very obvious
reason.

"Come down here," said the captain; "let him be released, Solomon; we
will show you a little Yankee discipline."

But before we proceed to the investigation of the crime, or the
infliction of punishment, we must turn our eyes to the great object
which rose clearer and clearer every five minutes above the horizon.
The privateer was at this time under top sails, and top-gallant-sails,
jib, and foresail, running to the north-east, with a fine breeze and
smooth water.

"Leftenant," said the captain, "what do you think of her?"

"I think," said I, "that she is an extra Indiaman, and if you mean
to speak her, you had better put your head towards her under an easy
sail; by which means you will be so near by sunset, that if she runs
from you, you will be able, with your superior sailing, to keep sight
of her all night."

"I guess you are not far wrong in that," said the captain.

"I guess he is directly in the face of the truth," said the chief
mate, who had just returned from the main top, where he had spent the
last quarter of an hour in the most intense and absorbed attention to
the cut of the stranger's sails. "If e'er I saw wood and canvas put
together before in the shape of a ship, that there is one of John
Bull's bellowing calves of the ocean, and not less than a forty-four
gunner."

"What say you to that, leftenant?" said the captain.

"Oh, as to that," said the mate, "it isn't very likely that he's going
to tell us the truth."

"Because you would not have done it yourself in the same situation,"
said I.

"Just so," said the mate.

And in fact, I must own that I had no particular wish to cruise for
some months in this vessel, and go back for water at Tristan d'Acunha
I therefore did not use my very best optical skill when I gave my
opinion; but as I saw the stranger was nearing us very fast, although
we were steering the same way, I made my mind up that I should very
soon be out of this vessel, and on my way to England, where all my
happiness and prospects were centred.

The chief mate took one more look--the captain followed his example;
they then looked at each other, and pronounced their cruise at an end.

"We are done, sir," said the mate; "and all owing to that d----d
English renegado that you would enter on the books as one of the
ship's company. But let's have him aft, and give him his discharge
regularly."

"First of all," said the captain, "suppose we try what is to be
done with our heels. They used to be good, and I never saw the
brass-bottomed sarpent that could come anear us yet. Send the royal
yards up--clear away the studding-sails--keep her with the wind just
two points abaft the beam, that's her favourite position; and I think
we may give the slip to that old-country devil in the course of the
night."

I said nothing, but looked very attentively to all that was doing. The
vessel was well manned, certainly, and all sail was set upon her in a
very expeditious manner.

"Heave the log," said the captain.

They did so; and she was going, by their measurement, nine and six.

"What do you think your ship is doing?" said the captain to me.

"I think," said I, "she is going about eleven knots; and, as she is
six miles astern of you, that she will be within gunshot in less than
four hours."

"Part of that time shall be spent in paying our debts for this
favour," said the captain. "Mr Solomon, let them seize that
_no-nation_ rascal up to the main rigging, and hand up two of your
most hungry cats. Where is Dick Twist, he that was boatswain's mate of
the _Statira_; and that red-haired fellow, you know, that swam away
from the Maidstone in the _Rappahanock?_"

"You mean carroty Sam, I guess--pass the word for Sam Gall."

The two operators soon appeared, each armed with the instruments of
his office; and I must say that, in malignity of construction, they
were equal to any thing used on similar occasions even by Captain
G----. The culprit was now brought forward, and to my surprise it was
the very man whom Thompson, when in the boat, had thrown overboard for
mutiny. I cannot say that I felt sorry for the cause or the effect
that was likely to be produced by the disputes of the day.

"Seize him up," said the captain; "you were sent to the mast-head in
your regular turn of duty; and you have neglected that duty, by which
means we are likely to be taken: so, before my authority ceases, I
will show you a Yankee trick."

"I am an Englishman," said the man, "and appeal to my officer for
protection."

The captain looked at me.

"If I am the officer you appeal to," said I, "I do not acknowledge
you; you threw off your allegiance when you thought it suited your
purpose, and you now wish to resume it to screen yourself from a
punishment which you richly deserve. I shall certainly not interfere
in your favour."

"I was born," roared the cockney, "in Earl Street, Seven Dials--my
mother keeps a tripe-shop--I am a true born Briton, and you have no
right to flog me."

"You was a Yankee sailor from New London yesterday, and you are a
tripe-seller, from Old London to-day. I think I am right in calling
you a no-nation rascal, but we will talk about the right another
time," said the captain; "meanwhile, Dick Twist, do you begin."

Twist obeyed his orders with skill and accuracy; and having given the
prisoner three dozen, that would not have disgraced the leger-de-main
of my friend the Farnese Hercules in the brig, Sam Gall was desired
to take his turn. Sam acquitted himself _à merveille_ with the like
number; and the prisoner, after a due proportion of bellowing, was
cast loose. I could not help reflecting how very justly this captain
had got his vessel into jeopardy by first allowing a man to be seduced
from his allegiance, and then placing confidence in him.

"Let us now take a look at the chase," said the captain; "zounds, she
draws up with us. I can see her bowsprit-cap when she lifts; and half
an hour ago I only saw her foreyard. Cut away the jolly-boat from the
stern, Solomon."

The chief mate took a small axe, and, with a steady blow at the end of
each davit, divided the falls, and the boat fell into the sea.

"Throw these here two aftermost guns overboard," said the captain; "I
guess we are too deep abaft, and they would not be of much use to us
in the way of defence, for this is a wapper that's after us."

The guns in a few minutes were sent to their last rest; and for the
next half-hour the enemy gained less upon them. It was now about
half-past three P.M.; the courage of the Yankees revived; and the
second mate reminded the captain that his black eye had not been
reckoned for at the main rigging.

"Nor shall it be," said the captain, "while I command the
_True-blooded Yankee_; what is, is right; no man shall be punished for
fair defence after warning. Thompson, come and stand aft."

The man was in the act of obeying this order, when he was seized on
by some six or eight of the most turbulent, who began to tear off his
jacket.

"Avast there, shipmates!" said Twist and Gall, both in a breath. "We
don't mind touching up such a chap as this here tripeman; but not the
scratch of a pin does Thompson get in this vessel. He is one of us; he
is a seamen every inch of him, and you must flog us, and some fifty
more, if once you begin; for d----n my eyes if we don't heave the log
with the second mate, and then lay-to till the frigate comes along
side."

The mutineers stood aghast for a few seconds; but the second mate,
jumping on a gun, called out,

"Who's of our side? Are we going to be bullied by these d----d
Britishers?"

"You are," said I, "if doing an act of justice is bullying. You are in
great danger, and I warn you of it. I perceive the force of those whom
you pretend to call Americans; and though I am the last man in the
world to sanction an act of treachery by heaving the ship to, yet I
caution you to beware how you provoke the bull-dog, who has only broke
his master's chain 'for a lark,' and is ready to return to him. I
am your guest, and therefore your faithful friend; use your utmost
endeavours to escape from your enemy. I know what she is, for I know
her well; and, if I am not much mistaken, you have scarcely more time,
with all your exertions, than to pack up your things; for be assured,
you will not pass twelve hours more under your own flag."

This address had a tranquillising effect. The captain, Captain Green,
and Solomon, walked aft; and, to their great dismay, saw distinctly
the water line of the pursuing frigate.

"What can be done?" said the captain; "she has gained on us in this
manner, while the people were all aft settling that infernal dispute.
Throw two more of the after guns overboard."

This order was obeyed with the same celerity as the former, but not
with the same success. The captain now began to perceive, what was
pretty obvious to me before, namely, that by dropping the boat from
the extreme end of the vessel, where it hung like the pea on the
steelyard, he did good; the lightening her also of the two aftermost
guns, hanging over the dead wood of the vessel, were in like manner
serviceable. But here he should have stopped; the effect of throwing
the next two guns overboard was pernicious. The vessel fell by the
head; her stern was out of the water; she steered wild, yawed, and
decreased in her rate of sailing in a surprising manner.

"Cut away the bower anchors," said the captain.

The stoppers were cut, and the anchors dropped; the brig immediately
recovered herself from her oppression, as it were, and resumed
her former velocity; but the enemy had by this time made fearful
approaches. The only hope of the captain and his crew was in the
darkness; and as this darkness came on, my spirits decreased, for I
greatly feared that we should have escaped. The sun had sunk some time
below the horizon; the cloud of sail coming up astern of us began to
be indistinct, and at last disappeared altogether in a black squall:
we saw no more of her for nearly two hours.

I walked the deck with Green and the captain. The latter seemed in
great perturbation; he had hoped to make his fortune, and retire from
the toils and cares of a sea-life in some snug corner of the Western
settlements, where he might cultivate a little farm, and lead the life
of an honest man; "for _this_ life," said he, "I am free to confess,
is, after all, little better than highway robbery."

Whether the moral essay of the captain was the effect of his present
danger, I will not pretend to say. I only know, that if the reader
will turn back to some parts of my history, he will find me very often
in a similar mood, on similar occasions.

The two captains and the chief mate now retired, after leaving me
meditating by myself over the larboard gunwale, just before the main
rigging. The consultation seemed to be of great moment; and, as I
afterwards learned, was to decide what course they should steer,
seeing that they evidently lost sight of their pursuer. I felt all my
hopes of release vanish as I looked at them, and had made up my mind
to go to New York.

At this moment, a man came behind me, as if to get a pull at the
top-gallant sheets; and while he hung down upon it with a kind of
"yeo-ho," he whispered in my ear--"You may have the command of the
brig if you like. We are fifty-Englishmen--we will heave her to and
hoist a light, if you will only say the word, and promise us our free
pardon."

I pretended at first not to hear, but, turning round, I saw Mr Twist.

"Hold, villain!" said I; "do you think to redeem one act of treachery
by another? and do you dare to insult the honour of a naval officer
with a proposal so infamous? Go to your station instantly, and think
yourself fortunate that I do not denounce you to the captain, who has
a perfect right to throw you overboard--a fate which your chain of
crimes fully deserves."

The man skulked away, and I went off to the captain, to whom I related
the circumstance, desiring him to be on his guard against treachery.

"Your conduct, Sir," said the captain, "is what I should have
expected from a British naval officer; and since you have behaved so
honourably, I will freely tell you that my intention is to shorten
sail to the topsails and foresail, and haul dead on a wind into that
dark squall to the southward."

"As you please," said I; "you cannot expect that I should advise, nor
would you believe me if I said I wished you success; but rely on it
I will resist, by every means in my power, any unfair means to
dispossess you of your command."

"I thank you, Sir," said the captain, mournfully; and, without losing
any more time in useless words, "Shorten sail there," continued
he, with a low but firm voice; "take in the lower and topmost
studding-sail--hands aloft--in top-gallant studding-sails, and roll up
the top-gallant sails."

All this appeared to be done with surprising speed, even to me who
had been accustomed to very well conducted ships of war. One mistake,
however, was made; the lower studding-sail, instead of being hauled
in on deck, was let to fall overboard, and towed some time under the
larboard bow before it was reported to the officers.

"Haul in the larboard braces--brace sharp up--port the helm, and bring
her to the wind, quarter-master."

"Port, it is, Sir," said the man at the helm, and the vessel was close
hauled upon the starboard tack; but she did not seem to move very
fast, although, she had a square mainsail, boom mainsail, and jib.

"I think we have done them at last," said the captain; "what do you
think, leftenant?" giving me a hearty but very friendly slap on the
back. "Come, what say you; shall we take a cool bottle of London
particular after the fatigues of the day?"

"Wait a little," said I, "wait a little."

"What are you looking at there to windward?" said the captain, who
perceived that my eye was fixed on a particular point.

Before I had time to answer, Thompson came up to me and said, "there
is the ship, Sir," pointing to the very spot on which I was gazing.
The captain heard this; and, as fear is ever quick-sighted, he
instantly caught the object.

"Running is of no use now," said he; "we have tried her off the wind,
our best going; she beats us at that; and on a wind, I don't think so
much of her; but still, with this smooth water and fine breeze, she
ought to move better. Solomon, there is something wrong, give a look
all round."

Solomon went forward on the starboard side, but saw nothing. As he
looked over the gangway and bow, coming round on the lee side of
the forecastle, he saw some canvas hanging on one of the
night-heads--"What have we here?" said he. No one answered. He looked
over the fore chains, and found the whole lower studding-sail towing
in the water.

"No wonder she don't move," said the mate; "here is enough to stop the
Constitution herself. Who took in this here lower studding-sail?--But,
never mind, we'll settle that to-morrow. Come over here, you
forecastle men."

Some of the Americans came over to him, but not with very great
alacrity. The sail could not be pulled in, as the vessel had too much
way; and while they were ineffectually employed about it, the flash of
a gun was seen to windward; and as the report reached our ears, the
shot whistled over our heads, and darted like lightning through the
boom mainsail.

"Hurra for old England," said Thompson; "the fellow that fired that
shot shall drink my allowance of grog to-morrow."

"Hold your tongue, you d----d English rascal," said the second mate,
"or I'll stop your grog for ever."

"I don't think you will," said the North Briton, "and if you take a
friend's advice, you won't try." Thompson was standing on the little
round-house or poop; the indignant mate jumped up, and collared him.
Thompson disengaged him in the twinkling of an eye, and with one blow
of his right hand in the pit of the man's stomach, sent him reeling
over to leeward. He fell--caught at the boom-sheet--missed it, and
tumbled into the sea, from whence he rose no more.

All was now confusion. "A man overboard!"--another shot from the
frigate--another and another in quick succession. The fate of the
man was forgotten in the general panic. One shot cut the aftermost
main-shroud; another went through the boat on the booms. The frigate
was evidently very near us. The men all rushed down to seize their
bags and chests; the captain took me by the hand, and said "Sir, I
surrender myself to you, and give you leave now to act as you think
proper."

"Thompson," said I, "let go the main-sheet, and the main-brace."
Running forward myself, I let go the main-tack, and bowlines; the
main-yard came square of itself. Thompson got a lantern, which he held
up on the starboard quarter.

The frigate passed close under the stern, shewing a beautiful pale
side, with a fine tier of guns; and, hailing us, desired to know what
vessel it was.

I replied, that it was the _True-blooded Yankee_ of Boston--that she
had hove-to and surrendered.



Chapter XXI

    "It is not," says Blake, "the business of a seaman to mind state
    affairs, but to hinder foreigners from fooling us."--DR JOHNSON'S
    _Life of Blake_.


The frigate came to the wind close under our lee, and a boat from her
was alongside in a very few minutes. The officer who came to take
possession, leaped up the side, and was on the deck in a moment. I
received him, told him in few words what the vessel was, introducing
the captain and Green, both of whom I recommended to his particular
notice and attention for the kindness they had shown to me, I then
requested he would walk down into the cabin, leaving a midshipman whom
he brought with him in charge of the deck, and who, in the meanwhile,
he directed to haul the mainsail up, and make the vessel snug. The
prisoners were desired to pack up their things, and be ready to quit
in one hour.

When lights were brought in the cabin, the lieutenant and myself
instantly recognised each other.

"Bless my soul, Frank," said he, "what brought you here?"

"That," said I, "is rather a longer story than could be conveniently
told before to-morrow; but may I ask what ship has taken the Yankee? I
conclude it is the _R_----; and what rank does friend Talbot hold in
her?"

"The frigate," said he, "_is_ the _R_----, as you conjectured. We are
on the Cape station. I am first of her, and sent out here on promotion
for the affair of Basque Roads."

"Hard, indeed," said I, "that you should have waited so long for what
you so nobly earned; but come, we have much to do. Let us look to
the prisoners, and if you will return on board, taking with you the
captain, mate, and a few of the hands, whom I will select, as the most
troublesome, and the most careless, I will do all I can to have the
prize ready for making sail by daylight, when, if Captain T---- will
give me leave, I will wait on him."

This was agreed to. The people whom I pointed out, were put into the
boat, four of whose crew came aboard the brig to assist me. We
soon arranged every thing, so as to be ready for whatever might be
required. A boat returned with a fresh supply of hands, taking back
about twenty more prisoners; and the midshipman, who brought them,
delivered also a civil message from the captain, to say, he was glad
to have the prize in such good hands, and would expect me to breakfast
with him at eight o'clock; in the meantime, he desired, that as soon
as I was ready to make sail, I should signify the same by showing two
lights at the same height in the main rigging, and that we should then
keep on a wind to the northward under a plain sail.

This was completed by four A.M., when we made the signal, and kept on
the weather quarter of the frigate. I took a couple of hours' sleep,
was called at six, dressed myself, and prepared to go on board at half
past seven. I heard her drum and fife beat to quarters, the sweetest
music next to the heavenly voice of Emily, I had ever heard. The tears
rolled down my cheeks with gratitude to God, for once more placing me
under the protection of my beloved flag. The frigate hove-to; soon
after, the gig was lowered down, and came to fetch me; a clean white
cloak was spread in the stern sheets: the men were dressed in white
frocks and trousers, as clean as hands could make them, with neat
straw hats, and canvas shoes. I was seated in the boat without delay,
and my heart beat with rapture when the boatswain's mate at the
gangway piped the side for me.

I was received by the captain and officers with all the kindness and
affection which we lavish on each other on such occasions. The captain
asked me a thousand questions, and the lieutenants and midshipmen all
crowded round me to hear my answers. The ship's company were also
curious to know our history, and I requested the captain would send
the gig back for Thompson, who would assist me in gratifying the
general curiosity. This was done, and the brave, honest fellow came on
board. The first question he asked was, "Who fired the first shot at
the prize?"

"It was Mr Spears, the first lieutenant of marines," said one of the
men.

"Then Mr Spears must have my allowance of grog for the day," said
Thompson; "for I said it last night, and I never go from my word."

"That I am ready to swear to," said Captain Peters, of the privateer:
"I have known men of good resolutions, and you are one of them; and
I have known men of bad resolutions, and he was one of them whom you
sent last night to his long account; and it was fortunate for you
that you did; for as sure as you now stand here, that man would have
compassed your death, either by dagger, by water, or by poison. I
never knew or heard of the man who had struck or injured Peleg Oswald
with impunity. He was a Kentucky man, of the Ohio, where he had
'squatted,' as we say; but he shot two men with his rifle, because
they had declined exchanging some land with him. He had gouged the eye
out of a third, for some trifling difference of opinion. These acts
obliged him to quit the country; for, not only were the officers of
justice in pursuit of him, but the man who had lost one eye kept a
sharp look out with the other, and Peleg would certainly have had a
rifle ball in his ear if he had not fled eastward, and taken again to
the sea, to which he was originally brought up. I did not know all his
history till long after he and I became shipmates. He would have been
tried for his life; but having made some prize money, he contrived to
buy off his prosecutors. I should have unshipped him next cruise, if
it had pleased God I had got safe back."

While Peters was giving this little history of his departed mate, the
captain's breakfast was announced, and the two American captains
were invited to partake of it. As we went down the ladder under
the half-deck, Peters and Green could not help casting an eye of
admiration at the clean and clear deck, the style of the guns, and
perfect union of the useful and ornamental, so inimitably blended as
they are sometimes found in our ships of war. There was nothing in
the captain's repast beyond cleanliness, plenty, hearty welcome, and
cheerfulness.

The conversation turned on the nature, quality, and number of men in
the privateer. "They are all seamen," said Peters, "except the ten
black fellows."

"Some of them, I suspect, are English," said I.

"It is not for me to peach," said the wary American. "It is difficult
always to know whether a man who has been much in both countries is
a native of Boston in Lincolnshire, or Boston in Massachusetts; and
perhaps they don't always know themselves. We never ask questions when
a seaman ships for us."

"You have an abundance of our seamen, both in your marine and merchant
service," said our captain.

"Yes," said Green; "and we are never likely to want them, while you
impress for us."

"_We_ impress for you?" said Captain T----, "how do you prove that?"

"Your impressment," said the American, "fills our ships. Your seamen
will not stand it; and for every two men you take by force, rely on
it, we get one of them as a volunteer."

Peters dissented violently from this proposition, and appeared angry
with Green for making the assertion.

"I see no reason to doubt it," said Green; "I know how our fighting
ships, as well as our traders, are manned. I will take my oath that
more than two-thirds have run from the British navy, because they were
impressed. You yourself have said so in my hearing, Peters--look at
your crew."

Peters could stand conviction no longer; he burst into the most
violent rage with Green; said that what ought never to have been owned
to a British officer, he had let out; that it was true that America
looked upon our system of impressment as the sheet-anchor of her navy;
but he was sorry the important secret should ever have escaped from an
American.

"For my part," resumed Green, "I feel so deeply indebted to this
gallant young Englishman for his kindness to me, that I am for ever
the friend of himself and his country, and have sworn never to carry
arms against Great Britain, unless to repel an invasion of my own
country."

Breakfast ended, we all went on deck; the ship and her prize were
lying to; the hands were turned up; all the boats hoisted out; the
prisoners and their luggage taken out of the prize, and, as the
crew of the privateer came on board, they were all drawn up on the
quarter-deck, and many of them known and proved to be Englishmen.
When taxed and reproached for their infamous conduct, they said it
was owing to them that the privateer had been taken, for that they had
left the lower studding-sail purposely hanging over the night-head,
and towing in the water, by which the way of the vessel had been
impeded.

Captain Peters, who heard this confession, was astonished; and the
captain of the frigate observed to him, that such conduct was exactly
that which might be expected from any traitor to his country. Then,
turning to the prisoners, he said, "the infamy of your first crime
could scarcely have been increased; but your treachery to the new
government, under which you had placed yourselves, renders you
unworthy of the name of men; nor have you even the miserable merit you
claim of having contributed to the capture, since we never lost sight
of the chase from the first moment we saw her, and from the instant
she hauled her wind, we knew she was ours."

The men hung down their heads, and when dismissed to go below, none of
the crew of the frigate would receive them into their messes; but the
real Americans were kindly treated.

We shaped our course for Simon's Bay, where we arrived in one week
after the capture.

The admiral on the station refused to try the prisoners by a
court-martial; he said it was rather a state question, and should send
them all to England, where the lords of the admiralty might dispose of
them as they thought proper.

The _True-blooded Yankee_ was libelled in the vice admiralty court
at Cape Town, condemned as a lawful prize, and purchased into the
service; and, being a very fine vessel of her class, the admiral was
pleased to say, that as I had been so singularly unfortunate, he would
give me the command of her as a lieutenant, and send me to England
with some despatches, which had been waiting an opportunity.

This was an arrangement far more advantageous to me than I could have
expected; but what rendered it still more agreeable was, that my
friend Talbot, who was the first to shake me by the hand on board the
prize, begged a passage home with me, he having, by the last packet,
received his commander's commission. The admiral, at my request, also
gave Captains Peters and Green permission to go home with me. Mungo,
the black man, and Thompson, the quarter-master, with the midshipman
who had been with me in the boat, were also of the party. My crew was
none of the very best, as might be supposed; but I was not in a state
to make difficulties; and, with half-a-dozen of the new Negroes, taken
out of the trader, I made up such a ship's company as I thought would
enable me to run to Spithead.

We laid in a good stock provisions at the Cape. The Americans begged
to be allowed to pay their part; but this I positively refused,
declaring myself too happy in having them as my guests. I purchased
all Captain Peters's wine and stock, giving him the full value for it.
Mungo was appointed steward, for I had taken a great fancy to him;
and my friend Talbot having brought all his things on board, and the
admiral having given my final orders, I sailed from Simon's Bay for
England.

There is usually but little of incident in a run home of this sort.
I was not directed to stop at St Helena, and had no inclination to
loiter on my way. I carried sail night and day to the very utmost.
Talbot and myself became inseparable friends, and our cabin mess was
one of perfect harmony. We avoided all national reflections, and
abstained as much as possible from politics. I made a confidant of
Talbot in my love affair with Emily. Of poor Eugenia, I had long
before told him a great deal.

One day at dinner we happened to talk of swimming. "I think," said
Talbot, "that my friend Frank is as good a hand at that as any of us.
Do you remember when you swam away from the frigate at Spithead, to
pay a visit to your friend, Mrs Melpomene, at Point?"

"I do," said I, "and also how generously you showered the musket-balls
about my ears for the same."

"Your escape from either drowning or shooting on that occasion, among
many others," said the commander, "makes me augur something more
serious of your future destiny."

"That may be," said I; "but I dispute the legality of your act, in
trying to kill me before you knew who I was, or what I was about. I
might have been mad, for what you knew; or I might have belonged to
some other ship; but, in any event, had you killed me, and had my body
been found, a coroner's inquest would have gone very hard with you,
and a jury still worse."

"I should have laughed at them," said Talbot.

"You might have found it no laughing matter," said I.

"How?" replied Talbot, "what are sentinels placed for, and loaded with
ball?"

"To defend the ship," said I; "to give warning of approaching danger;
to prevent men going out of the ship without leave; but never to take
away the life of a man unless in defence of their own, or when the
safety of the king's ship demands it."

"I deny your conclusion," said Talbot; "the articles of war denounce
death to all deserters."

"True," said I, "they do, and also to many other crimes; but those
crimes must first of all be proved before a court-martial. Now you
cannot prove that I was deserting, and if you could, you had not the
power to inflict death on me unless I was going towards the enemy.
I own I was disobeying your orders, but even that would not have
subjected me to more than a slight punishment, while your arbitrary
act would have deprived the king, as I flatter myself, of a loyal,
and not a useless subject; and if my body had not been found, no good
could have accrued to the service from the severity of example. On the
contrary, many would have supposed I had escaped, and been encouraged
to make the same attempt."

"I am very sorry now," said Talbot, "that I did not lower down a boat
to send after you; however, it has been a comfort to me since to
reflect that the marines missed you."

This ended the subject: we walked the deck a little, talked of
sweethearts, shaped the course for the night to make Fayal, which we
were not far from, and then returned to our beds.

Falling into a sound sleep, it was natural that the conversation of
the evening should have dwelt on my mind, and a strange mixture of
disjointed thoughts, a compound of reason and insanity, haunted me
till the morning. Trinidad and Emily, the Nine-Pin Rock, and the
mysterious Eugenia, with her supposed son; the sinking wreck, and the
broken schooner, all appeared separately or together.

  "When nature rests,
  Oft, in her absence, mimic fancy wakes."

I thought I saw Emily standing on the pinnacle of the Nine-Pin Rock,
just as Lord Nelson is represented on the monument in Dublin, or
Bonaparte in that of the Place Vendome; but with a grace as far
superior to either, as the Nine-Pin Rock is in majesty and natural
grandeur to those works of human art.

Emily, I thought, was clad in complete mourning, but looking radiant
in health and loveliness, although with a melancholy countenance. The
dear image of my mistress seemed to say, "I shall never come down from
this pinnacle without your assistance." "Then," thinks I, "you will
never come down at all." Then I thought Eugenia was queen of Trinidad,
and that it was she who had placed Emily out of my reach on the rock;
and I was entreating her to let Emily come down, when Thompson tapped
at my cabin door, and told me that it was daylight, and that they
could see the island of Fayal in the north-east, distant about seven
leagues.

I dressed myself, and went on deck, saw the land, and a strange sail
steering to the westward. The confounded dream still running in my
head--like Adam, I "liked it not," and yet I thought myself a fool
for not dismissing such idle stuff; still it would not go away. The
Americans came on deck soon after; and seeing the ship steering to the
westward, asked if I meant to speak her. I replied in the affirmative.
We had then as much sail as we could carry; and as she had no wish to
avoid us, but kept on her course, we were soon alongside of her. She
proved to be a cartel, bound to New York with American prisoners.

In case of meeting with any vessel bound to the United States, the
admiral had given me permission to send my prisoners home without
carrying them to England. I had not mentioned this either to Peters or
Green, for fear of producing disappointment; but when I found I could
dispose of them so comfortably, I acquainted them with my intention.
Their joy and gratitude were beyond all description; they thanked me a
thousand times, as they did my friend Talbot for our kindness to them.

"Leftenant," said Peters, "I am not much accustomed to the company of
you Englishmen; and if I have always thought you a set of tyrants and
bullies, it arn't my fault. I believed what I was told; but now I
have seen for myself, and I find the devil is never so black as he is
painted." I bowed to the Yankee compliment. "Howsoever," he continued,
"I should like to have a sprinkling of shot between us on fair terms.
Do you bring this here brig to our waters; I hope to get another just
like her, and as I know you are a d----d good fellow, and would as
soon have a dust as sit down to dinner, I should like to try to get
the command of the _True-blooded Yankee_ again."

"If you man your next brig, as you manned the last, with all your best
hands Englishmen," said I, "I fear I should find it no easy matter to
defend myself."

"That's as it may be," said the captain; "no man fights better than he
with a halter round his neck: and remember what neighbour Green has
said, for he has 'let the cat out of the bag:' we should have no
Englishmen in our service, if they had not been pressed into yours."

I could make no return to this salute, because, like the gunner at
Landguard Fort, I had no powder, and, in fact, I felt the rebuke.

Green stood by, but never opened his lips until the captain had
finished; then holding out his hand to me, with his eyes full of
tears, and his voice almost choked, "Farewell, my excellent friend,"
said he; "I shall never forget you; you found me a villain, and, by
the blessing of God, you have made me an honest man. Never, never,
shall I forget the day when, at the risk of your own life, you came
to save one so unworthy of your protection; but God bless you! and if
ever the fortune of war should send you a prisoner to my country, here
is my address--what is mine is yours, and so you shall find."

The man who had mutinied in the boat, and afterwards entered on board
the privateer, who was sent home with me to take his trial, held out
his hand to Captain Green, as he passed him, to wish him good-by, but
he turned away, saying, "A traitor to his country is a traitor to his
God. I forgive you for the injury you intended to do me, and the more
so, as I feel I brought it on myself; but I cannot degrade myself by
offering you the hand of fellowship."

So saying, he followed Captain Peters into the boat. I accompanied
them to the cartel, where, having satisfied myself that they had every
comfort, I left them. Green was so overcome that he could not speak,
and poor Mungo could only say, "Good-by, massa leptenant, me tinkee
you berry good man."

I returned to my own vessel, and made sail for England: once more we
greeted the white cliffs of Albion, so dear to every true English
bosom. No one but he who has been an exile from its beloved shores can
fully appreciate the thrill of joy on such an occasion. We ran through
the Needles, and I anchored at Spithead, after an absence of fourteen
months. I waited on the admiral, showed him my orders, and reported
the prisoners, whom he desired me to discharge into the flag ship;
"and now," said he, "after your extraordinary escape, I will give you
leave to run up to town and see your family, to whom you are no doubt
an object of great interest."

Here a short digression is necessary.



Chapter XXII

  Such was my brother too,
  So went he suited to his watery tomb:
  If spirits can assume both form and suit,
  You come to fright us.

  _Twelfth Night_.


Soon after the frigate which had taken me off from New Providence had
parted company with the American prize that I was sent on board of,
the crew of the former, it appeared, had been boasting among the
American prisoners of the prize-money they should receive.

"Not you," said the Yankees; "you will never see your prize any more,
nor any one that went in her."

These words were repeated to the captain of the frigate, when he
questioned the mate and the crew, and the whole nefarious transaction
came out. They said the ship was sinking when they left her, and that
was the reason they had hurried into the boat. The mate said it was
impossible to get at the leaks, which were in the fore peak, and under
the cabin deck in the run; that he wondered Captain Green had not
made it known, but he supposed he must have been drunk: "the ship,"
continued the mate, "must have gone down in twelve hours after we left
her."

This was reported to the Admiralty by my captain, and my poor father
was formally acquainted with the fatal story. Five months had elapsed
since I was last heard of, and all hopes of my safety had vanished:
this was the reason that when I knocked at the door, I found the
servant in mourning: he was one who had been hired since my departure,
and did not know me. Of course he expressed no surprise at seeing me.

"Good Heavens!" said I, "who is dead?" "My master's only son, Sir,"
said the man, "Mr Frank, drowned at sea."

"Oh! is that all?" said I, "I am glad it's no worse." The man
concluded that I was an unfeeling brute, and stared stupidly at me as
I brushed by him and ran up stairs to the drawing-room. I ought to
have been more guarded; but, as usual, I followed the impulse of my
feelings. I opened the door, when I saw my sister sitting at a table
in deep mourning, with another young lady whose back was turned
towards me. My sister screamed as soon as she saw me. The other lady
turned round, and I beheld my Emily, my dear, dear Emily: she too was
in deep mourning. My sister, after screaming, fell on the floor in a
swoon. Emily instantly followed her example, and there they both lay,
like two petrified queens in Westminster Abbey. It was a beautiful
sight, "pretty, though a plague."

I was confoundedly frightened myself, and thought I had done a
very foolish thing; but as I had no time to lose, I rang the bell
furiously, and seeing some jars with fresh flowers in them, I caught
them up and poured plentiful libations over the faces and necks of
the young ladies; but Emily came in for much the largest share, which
proves that I had neither lost my presence of mind nor my love for
her.

My sister's maid, Higgins, was the first to answer the drawing-room
bell, which, from its violent ringing, announced some serious event.
She came bouncing into the room like a _recouchée_ shot. She was an
old acquaintance of mine; I had often kissed her when a boy, and she
had just as often boxed my ears. I used to give her a ribbon to tie up
her jaw with, telling her at the same time that she had too much of
it. This Abigail, like a true lady's maid, seeing me, whom she thought
a ghost, standing bolt upright, and the two ladies stretched out, as
she supposed, dead, gave a loud and most interesting scream, ran out
of the room for her life, nearly knocking down the footman, whom she
met coming in.

This fellow, who was a country lout, the son of one of my father's
tenants, only popped his head into the door, and saw the ladies lying
on the carpet; he had probably formed no very good opinion of me from
the manner in which I had received the news of my own demise, and
seemed very much inclined to act the part of a mandarin, that is, nod
his head and stand still.

"Desire some of the women to come here immediately," said I; "some
one that can be of use; tell them to bring salts, eau de cologue, any
thing. Fly, blockhead, goose, what do you stand staring at?"

The fellow looked at me, and then at the supposed corpses, which
he must have thought I had murdered; and, either thunderstruck, or
doubting whether he had any right to obey me, kept his head inside the
door and his body outside, as if he had been in the pillory. I saw
that he required some explanation, and cried out, "I am Mr Frank; will
you obey me, or shall I throw this jar at your head?" brandishing one
of the china vases.

Had I been inclined to have thrown it, I should have missed him, for
the fellow was off like a wounded porpoise. Down he ran to my father
in the library; "Oh, Sir--good news--bad news--good news--"

"What news, fool?" said my father, rising hastily from his chair.

"Oh, Sir, I don't know, Sir; but I believe, Sir, Mr Frank is alive
again, and both the ladies _is_ dead."

My poor father, whose health and constitution had not recovered the
shock of my supposed death, tremblingly leaned over his table, on
which he rested his two hands, and desired the man to repeat what he
had said. This the fellow did, half crying, and my father, easily
comprehending the state of things, came upstairs. I would have flown
into his arms, but mine were occupied in supporting my sweet Emily,
while my poor sister lay senseless on the other side of me; for
Clara's lover was not at hand, and she still lay in abeyance.

By this time "the hands were turned up," every body was on the alert,
and every living creature in the house, not excepting the dog, had
assembled in the drawing-room. The maids that had known me cried
and sobbed most piteously, and the new comer kept them company from
sympathy. The coachman, and footman, and groom, all blubbered and
stared; and one brought water, and one a basin, and the looby of a
footman something else, which I must not name; but in his hurry he
had snatched up the first utensil that he thought might be of use; I
approved of his zeal, but nodded to him to retire. Unluckily for him,
the housemaid perceived the mistake which his absence of thought had
led him into; and, snatching the mysterious vessel with her left hand,
she hid it under her apron, while with her right she gave the poor
fellow such a slap on the cheek, as to bring to my mind the tail of
the whale descending on the boat at Bermuda. "You great fool," said
she, "nobody wants that."

"There is matrimony in that slap," said I; and the event proved I was
right--they were _asked_ in church the Sunday following.

The industrious application of salts, cold water, and burnt rags,
together with chafing of temples, opening of collars, and loosening
the stay-laces of the young ladies, produced the happiest effects.
Every hand, and every tongue was in motion; and with all these
remedies, the eyes of the enchanting Emily opened, and beamed upon me,
spreading joy and gladness over the face of creation, like the sun
rising out of the bosom of the Atlantic, to cheer the inhabitants of
the Antilles after a frightful hurricane. In half an hour, all was
right; "the guns were secured--we beat the retreat;" the servants
retired. I became the centre of the picture. Emily held my right, my
father my left; dear Clara hung round my neck. Questions were put and
answered as fast as sobs and tears would admit of their being heard.
The interlude was filled up with the sweetest kisses from the rosiest
of lips; and I was in this half hour rewarded for all I had suffered
since I had sailed from England in the diabolical brig for Barbadoes.

It was, I own, exceedingly wrong to have taken the house, as it were,
by storm, when I knew they were in mourning for me; but I forgot that
other people did not require the same stimulus as myself. I begged
pardon; was kissed again and again, and forgiven. Oh, it was worth
while to offend to be forgiven by such lips, and eyes, and dimples.
But I am afraid this thought is borrowed from some prose or poetry; if
so, the reader must forgive me, and so must the author, who may have
it again, now I have done with it, for I shall never use it any more.

My narrative was given with as much modesty and brevity as time and
circumstances would admit. The coachman was despatched on one of the
best carriage-horses express to Mr Somerville, and the mail coach was
loaded with letters to all the friends and connections of the family.

This ended, each retired to dress for dinner. What a change had one
hour wrought in this house of mourning, now suddenly turned into a
house of joy! Alas! how often is the picture reversed in human life!
The ladies soon reappeared in spotless white; emblems of their pure
minds. My father had put off his sables, and the servants came in
their usual liveries, which were very splendid.

Dinner being announced, my father handed off Emily; I followed with
my sister. Emily, looking over her shoulder, said, "Don't be jealous,
Frank."

My father laughed, and I vowed revenge for this little satirical hit.

"You know the forfeit," said I, "and you shall pay it."

"I am happy to say that I am both able and willing," said she, and we
sat down to dinner, but not before my father had given thanks in a
manner more than usually solemn and emphatic. This essential act of
devotion, so often neglected, brought tears into the eyes of
all. Emily sank into her chair, covered her face with her
pocket-handkerchief, and relieved herself with tears. Clara did the
same. My father shook me by the hand, and said, "Frank, this is a very
different kind of repast to what we had yesterday. How little did we
know of the happiness that was in store for us!"

The young ladies dried their eyes, but had lost their appetites; in
vain did Emily endeavour to manage the tail of a small smelt. I filled
a glass of wine to each. "Come," said I, "in sea phrase, spirits are
always more easily stowed away than dry provisions; let us drink each
other's health, and then we shall get on better."

They took my advice, and it answered the purpose. Our repast was
cheerful, but tempered and corrected by a feeling of past sorrow, and
a deep sense of great mercies from Heaven.

  "If Heaven were every day like this,
  Then 'twere indeed a Heaven of bliss."

Reader, I know you have long thought me a vain man--a profligate,
unprincipled Don Juan, ready to pray when in danger, and to sin when
out of it: but as I have always told you the truth, even when my
honour and character were at stake, I expect you will believe me now,
when I say a word in my own favour. That I felt gratitude to God for
my deliverance and safe return, I do most solemnly aver; my heart was
ready to burst with the escape of this feeling, which I suppressed
from a false sense of shame, though I never was given much to the
melting mood; moreover, I was too proud to show what I thought a
weakness, before the great he-fellows of footmen. Had we been in
private, I could have fallen down on my knees before that God whom I
had so often offended; who had rescued me twice from the jaws of the
shark; who had lifted me from the depth of the sea when darkness
covered me; who had saved me from the poison and the wreck, and guided
me clear of the rock at Trinidad; and who had sent the dog to save me
from a horrible death.

These were only a small part of the mercies I had received; but they
were the most recent, and consequently had left the deepest impression
on my memory. I would have given one of Emily's approving smiles, much
as I valued them, to have been relieved from my oppressed feelings
by a hearty flood of tears, and by a solemn act of devotion and
thanksgiving; but I felt all this, and that feeling, I hope, was
accounted to me for righteousness. For the first time in my life, the
love of God was mixed up with a pure and earthly love for Emily, and
affection for my family.

The ladies sat with us some time after the cloth was removed, unable
to drag themselves away, while I related my "hair-breadth escapes."
When I spoke of the incident of trying to save the poor man who fell
overboard from the brig--of my holding him by the collar, and being
dragged down with him until the sea became dark over my head--Emily
could bear it no longer; she jumped up, and falling on her knees, hid
her lovely face in my sister's lap, passionately exclaiming, "Oh,
do not, do not, my dear Frank, tell me any more--I cannot bear
it--indeed, I cannot bear it."

We all gathered round her, and supported her to the drawing-room,
where we diverted ourselves with lighter and gayer anecdotes. Emily
tried a tune on the pianoforte, and attempted a song; but it would not
do: she could not sing a gay one, and a melancholy one overpowered
her. At twelve o'clock, we all retired to our apartments, and before I
slept I spent some minutes in devotion, with vows of amendment which I
fully intended to keep.

The next morning, Mr Somerville joined us at breakfast. This was
another trial of feeling for poor Emily, who threw herself into her
father's arms, and sobbed aloud. Mr Somerville shook me most cordially
by the hand with both of his, and eagerly demanded the history of my
extraordinary adventures, of which I gave him a small abridgment. I
had taken the opportunity of an hour's _tête à tête_ with Emily, which
Clara had considerately given us before breakfast, to speak of our
anticipated union; and finding there were no other obstacles than
those which are usually raised by "maiden pride and bashful coyness,"
so natural, so becoming, and so lovely in the sex, I determined to
speak to the grey-beards on the subject.

To this Emily at last consented, on my reminding her of my late narrow
escapes. As soon, therefore, as the ladies had retired from the dinner
table, I asked my father to fill a bumper to their health; and, having
swallowed mine in all the fervency of the most unbounded love, I
popped the question to them both. Mr Somerville and my father looked
at each other, when the former said--

"You seem to be in a great hurry, Frank."

"Not greater, Sir," said I, "than the object deserves."

He bowed, and my father began--

"I cannot say," observed the good old gentleman, "that I much approve
of matrimony before you are a commander. At least, till then, you are
not your own master."

"Oh, if I am to wait for that, Sir," said I, "I may wait long enough;
no man is ever his own master in our service, or in England. The
captain is commanded by the admiral, the admiral by the Admiralty, the
Admiralty by the Privy Council, the Privy Council by the Parliament,
the Parliament by the people, and the people by printers and their
devils."

"I admire your logical chain of causes and effects," said my
father; "but we must, after all, go to the _lace manufactory_ at
Charing-cross, to see if we cannot have your shoulders fitted with a
pair of epaulettes. When we can see you command your own sloop of war,
I shall be most happy, as I am sure my good friend Somerville will be
also, to see you command his daughter, the finest and the best girl in
the county of ----"

No arguments could induce the two old gentlemen to bate one inch from
these _sine qua non_. It was agreed that application should be made to
the Admiralty forthwith for my promotion; and when that desirable step
was obtained, that then Emily should have the disposal of me for the
honeymoon.

All this was a very pretty story for them on the score of prudence,
but it did not suit the views of an ardent lover of one-and-twenty;
for though I knew my father's influence was very great at the
Admiralty, I also knew that an excellent regulation had recently been
promulgated, which prevented any lieutenant being promoted to the rank
of commander until he had served two years at sea from the date of his
first commission; nor could any commander, in like manner, be promoted
before he had served one year in that capacity. All this was no doubt
very good for the service, but I had not yet attained sufficient _amor
patriae_ to prefer the public to myself; and I fairly wished the
regulation, and the makers of it, in the cavern at New Providence,
just about the time of high water.

I put it to the ladies whether this was not a case of real distress,
after all my hardships and my constancy, to be put off with such an
excuse? The answer from the Admiralty was so far favourable, that I
was assured I should be promoted as soon as my time was served, of
which I then wanted two months. I was appointed to a ship fitting at
Woolwich, and before she could be ready for sea, my time would be
completed, and I was to have my commission as a commander. This was
not the way to ensure her speedy equipment, as far as I was concerned;
but there was no help for it; and as the ship was at Woolwich, and the
residence of my fair one at no great distance, I endeavoured to pass
my time, during the interval, between the duties of love and war;
between obedience to my captain, and obedience to my mistress; and by
great good fortune, I contrived to please both, for my captain gave
himself no trouble about the ship or her equipment.

Before I proceeded to join, I made one more effort to break through
the inflexibility of my father. I said I had undergone the labours of
Hercules; and that if I went again on foreign service, I might meet
with some young lady who would send me out of the world with a cup of
poison, or by some fatal spell break the magical chain which now bound
me to Emily. This poetical imagery had no more effect on them, than my
prose composition. I then appealed to Emily herself. "Surely," said I,
"your heart is not as hard as those of our inflexible parents? surely
you will be my advocate on this occasion? Bend but one look of
disapprobation on my father with those heavenly blue eyes of yours,
and, on my life, he will strike his flag."

But the gipsy replied, with a smile (instigated, no doubt, from
head-quarters), that she did not like the idea of her name appearing
in the _Morning Post_ as the bride of a lieutenant. "What's a
lieutenant, now-a-days?" said she; "nobody. I remember when I was on a
visit at Fareham, I used to go to Portsmouth to see the dock-yard
and the ships, and there was your great friend the tall admiral, Sir
Hurricane Humbug, I think you call him, driving the poor lieutenants
about like so many sheep before a dog; there was one always at his
heels, like a running footman; and there was another that appeared to
me to be chained, like a mastiff, to the door of the admiral's office,
except when the admiral and family walked out, and then he brought
up the rear with the governess. No, Frank, I shall not surrender at
discretion, with all my charms, to any thing less than a captain, with
a pair of gold epaulettes."

"Very well," replied I, looking into the pier glass, with tolerable
self-complacency; "if you choose to pin your happiness on the promises
of a first lord of the Admiralty, and a pair of epaulettes, I can say
no more. There is no accounting for female taste; some ladies prefer
gold lace and wrinkles, to youth and beauty--I am sorry for them,
that's all."

"Frank," said Emily, "you must acknowledge that you are vain enough to
be an admiral at least."

"The admirals are much obliged to you for the compliment," said I. "I
trust I should not disgrace the flag, come when it will; but to tell
you the truth, my dear Emily, I cannot, say I look forward to that
elevation, with any degree of satisfaction. Three stars on each
shoulder, and three rows of gold lace round the cuff, are no
compensation, in my eyes, for grey hairs, thin legs, a broken back, a
church-yard cough, and to be laughed at or pitied by all the pretty
girls in the country into the bargain."

"I am sorry for you, my hero," said the young lady; "but you must
submit."

"Well then, if I must, I must," said I; "but give me a kiss in the
meantime."

I asked for one, and took a hundred, and should have taken a hundred
more, but the confounded butler came in, and brought me a letter on
service, which was neither more nor less than an order to join my ship
forthwith; _sic transit_, &c.

Pocketing my disappointment with as much _sang froid_ as I could
muster, I continued to beguile the time and to solace myself for my
past sufferings, by as much enjoyment as could be compressed into the
small space of leisure time allotted to me. Fortunately, the first
lieutenant of the frigate was what we used to call "a hard officer;"
he never went on shore, because he had few friends and less money. He
drew for his pay on the day it became due, and it lasted till the next
day of payment; and as I found he doated on a Spanish cigar, and
a _correct_ glass of cognac grog--for he never drank to excess--I
presented him with a box of the former, and a dozen of the latter, to
enable him to bear my nightly absence with Christian composure.

As soon as the day's work was ended, the good-natured lieutenant used
to say, "Come, Mr Mildmay, I know what it is to be in love; I was once
in love myself, though it is a good many years ago, and I am sure I
shall get into the good graces of your Polly (for so he called Emily)
if I send you to her arms. There is the jolly for you: send the boat
off as soon as you have landed, and be with us at nine to-morrow
morning, to meet the midshipman and the working party in the
dock-yard."

All this was perfectly agreeable to me. I generally got to Mr
Somerville's temporary residence on Blackheath by the time the
dressing-bell rang, and never failed to meet a pleasant party at
dinner. My father and dear Clara were guests in the house as well as
myself. By Mr Somerville's kind permission, I introduced Talbot, who,
being a perfect gentleman in his manners, a man of sound sense, good
education, and high aristocratic connections, I was proud to call
my friend. I presented him particularly to my sister, and took an
opportunity of whispering in Emily's ear, where I knew it would not
long remain, that he possessed the indispensable qualification of two
epaulettes. "Therefore," said I, "pray do not trust yourself too near
him, for fear you should be taken by surprise, like the _True-blooded
Yankee_."

Talbot knowing that Emily was bespoken, paid her no more than the
common attentions which courtesy demands; but to Clara his demeanour
was very different: and her natural attractions were much enhanced in
his eyes, by the friendship which we had entertained for each other
ever since the memorable affair of swimming away from the ship at
Spithead; from that time he used jocularly to call me "Leander."

But before I proceed any further with this part of my history, I must
beg leave to detain the reader one minute only, while I attempt to
make a sketch of my dear little sister Clara. She was rather fair,
with a fine, small, oval, well-proportioned face, sparkling black and
speaking eyes, good teeth, pretty red lips, very dark hair, and plenty
of it, hanging over her face and neck in curls of every size; her arms
and bust were such as Phidias and Praxiteles might have copied; her
waist was slender; her hands and feet small and beautiful. I used
often to think it was a great pity that such a love as she was should
not be matched with some equally good specimen of our sex; and I had
long fixed on my friend Talbot as the person best adapted to command
this pretty little, tight, fast-sailing, well-rigged smack.

Unluckily, Clara, with all her charms, had one fault, and that, in
my eyes, was a very serious one. Clara did not love a sailor. The
soldiers she doated on. But Clara's predilections were not easily
overcome, and that which had once taken root grew up and flourished.
She fancied sailors were not well bred; that they thought too much of
themselves or their ships; and, in short, that they were as rough and
unpolished as they were conceited.

With such obstinate and long-rooted prejudices against all of our
profession, it proved no small share of merit in Talbot to overcome
them. But as Clara's love for the army was more general than
particular, Talbot had a vacant theatre to fight in. He began by
handing her to dinner, and with modest assurance seated himself by
her side. But so well was he aware of her failing, that he never once
alluded to our unfortunate element; on the contrary, he led her away
with every variety of topic which he found best suited to her taste:
so that she was at last compelled to acknowledge that he might be one
exception to her rule, and I took the liberty of hoping that I might
be another.

One day at dinner Talbot called me "Leander," which instantly
attracted the notice of the ladies, and an explanation was demanded;
but for a time it was evaded, and the subject changed. Emily, however,
joining together certain imperfect reports which had reached her ears,
through the kindness of "some friends of the family," began to suspect
a rival, and the next morning examined me so closely on the subject,
that fearing a disclosure from other quarters, I was compelled to make
a confession.

I told her the whole history of my acquaintance with Eugenia, of my
last interview, and of her mysterious departure. I did not even
omit the circumstance of her offering me money; but I concealed the
probability of her being a mother. I assured her that it was full
four years and a half since we had met; and that as she knew of my
engagement, it was unlikely we should ever meet again. "At any rate,"
I said, "I shall never seek her; and if accident should throw me in
her way, I trust I shall behave like a man of honour."

I did not think it necessary to inform her of the musket-shots fired
at me by order of Talbot, as that might have injured him in the
estimation of both Emily and Clara. When I had concluded my narrative,
Emily sighed and looked very grave. I asked her if she had forgiven
me.

"Conditionally," said she, "as you said to the mutineers."



Chapter XXIII

    In all states of Europe, there are a set of men who assume from
    their infancy a pre-eminence independent of their moral character.
    The attention paid to them from the moment of their birth, gives
    them the idea that they are formed for command, and they soon
    learn to consider themselves a distinct species: and, being secure
    of a certain rank and station, take no pains to makes themselves
    worthy of it.--RAYNAL.

It is now time to make my reader acquainted with my new ship and
new captain. The first was a frigate of the largest class, built on
purpose to cope with the large double-banked frigates of the Yankees.
She carried thirty long twenty-four pounders on her main deck, and the
same number of forty-two pound carronades on her quarter-gangways and
forecastle.

I had been a week on board, doing duty during the day and flirting on
shore, at Mr Somerville's, at Blackheath, during the evening. I had
seen no captain yet, and the first lieutenant had gone on shore one
morning to stretch his legs. I was commanding officer; the people were
all at their dinner; it was a drizzling soft rain, and I was walking
the quarter-deck by myself, when a shore-boat came alongside with a
person in plain clothes. I paid him no attention, supposing him to be
a wine merchant, or a slop-seller, come to ask permission to serve the
ship. The stranger looked at the dirty man-ropes, which the side-boys
held off to him, and inquired if there was not a clean pair? The lad
replied in the negative; and the stranger perceiving there was no
remedy, took hold of the dirty ropes and ascended the side.

Reaching the quarter-deck, he come up to me, and showing a pair of
sulphur-coloured gloves, bedaubed with tar and dirt, angrily observed,
"By G----, Sir, I have spoiled a new pair of gloves."

"I always take my gloves off when I come up the side," said I.

"But I choose to keep mine on," said the stranger. "And why could not
I have had a pair of clean ropes?"

"Because," said I, "my orders are only to give them when the side is
piped."

"And why was not the side piped for me, Sir?"

"Because, Sir, we never pipe the side until we know who it is for."

"As sure as I shall sit in the House of Peers, I will report you to
your captain for this," said he.

"We only pipe the side for officers in uniform," said I; "and I am yet
to learn by what right you demand that honour."

"I am, Sir," said he (showing his card), "...., &c. Do you know me
now?"

"Yes, Sir," said I, "as a gentleman; but until I see you in a
captain's uniform, I cannot give you the honours you demand:" as I
said this, I touched my hat respectfully.

"Then, Sir," said he, "as sure as I shall sit in the House of Peers, I
shall let you know more of this:" and having asked whether the captain
was on board, and received an answer in the negative, he turned round
and went down the side into his boat, without giving me an opportunity
of supplying him with a pair of clean ropes. He pulled away for the
shore, and I never heard any thing more of the dirty ropes and soiled
gloves.

This officer, I afterwards learned, was in the habit of interlarding
his discourse with this darling object of his ambition; but as he is
now a member of the Upper House, it is to be supposed he has exchanged
the affidavit for some other. While he commanded a ship, he used to
say, "As sure as I shall sit in the House of Peers, I will flog
you, my man;" and when this denunciation had passed his lips, the
punishment was never remitted. With us, the reverse of this became our
bye-word; lieutenants, midshipmen, sailors and marines, asserted their
claim to veracity by saying, "As sure as I shall _not_ sit in the
House of Peers."

This was the noble lord, who when in the command of one of his
Majesty's ships in China, employed a native of that country to take
his portrait. The resemblance not having been flattering, the artist
was sharply rebuked by his patron. The poor man replied, "Ai awe,
master, how can handsome face make if handsome face no have got?" This
story has, like many other good stories, been pirated, and applied to
other cases; but I claim it as the legitimate property of the navy,
and can vouch for its origin as I have related.

My messmates dropped in one after another until our number was
completed; and at length a note, in an envelope addressed to the first
lieutenant "on service," and marked on the lower left hand corner with
the name of the noble writer, announced that our captain would make
his appearance on the following day. We were of course prepared to
receive him in our full uniforms with our cocked hats and swords, with
the marine guard under arms. He came alongside at half-past twelve
o'clock, when the men were at dinner, an unusual hour to select, as
it is not the custom ever to disturb them at their meals if it can
be avoided. He appeared in a sort of undress frock coat, fall down
collar, anchor buttons, no epaulettes, and a lancer's cap, with a
broad gold band.

This was not correct, but as he was a lord, he claimed privilege, and
on this rock of privilege we found afterwards that he always perched
himself on every occasion. We were all presented to him; and to each
he condescended to give a nod. His questions were all confined to the
first lieutenant, and all related to his own comforts. "Where is my
steward to lie? where is my valet to sleep? where is my cow-pen? and
where are my sheep to be?" We discovered when he had been one hour in
our company, that his noble self was the god of his idolatry. As
for the details of the ship and her crew, masts, rigging, stowage,
provisions, the water she would carry, and how much she drew, they
were subjects on which he never fatigued his mind.

One hour having expired since he had come on board, he ordered his
boat, and returned to the shore, and we saw no more of him until we
arrived at Spithead, when his lordship came on board, accompanied by
a person whom we soon discovered was a half pay purser in the navy:
a man who, by dint of the grossest flattery and numerous little
attentions, had so completely ingratiated himself with his patron,
that he had become as necessary an appendage to the travelling
equipage, as the portmanteau or the valet-de-chambre. This despicable
toady was his lordship's double; he was a living type of the Gnatho of
Terence; and I never saw him without remembering the passage that ends
"_si negat id quoque nego_." Black was white, and white was black
with toady, if his lordship pleased; he messed in the cabin, did much
mischief in the ship, and only escaped kicking, because he was too
contemptible to be kicked.

My fair readers are no doubt anxious to know how I parted with Emily,
and truly I am not unwilling to oblige them, though it is, indeed,
a tender subject. As soon as we received our orders to proceed to
Spithead, Mr Somerville, who had kept his house at Blackheath while
the ship was fitting, in hopes that my promotion might have taken
place before she was ready, now prepared to quit the place. To the
renewed application of my father, the answer was that I must go abroad
for my promotion. This at once decided him to break up his summer
quarters, very wisely foreseeing that unless he did so, my services
would be lost to my ship; and if he and Emily did not leave me behind
at Woolwich, I should probably be left behind by my captain: he
therefore announced his intended departure within twenty-four hours.

Emily was very sorry, and so was I. I kindly reproached her with her
cruelty; but she replied with a degree of firmness and good sense,
which I could not but admire, that she had but one counsellor, and
that was her father, and that until she was married, she never
intended to have any other; that by his advice she had delayed the
union: and as we were neither of us very old people, "I trust in God,"
said she, "we may meet again." I admired her heroism, gave her one
kiss, handed her into her carriage, and we shook hands. I need not say
I saw a tear or two in her eyes. Mr Somerville saw the shower coming
on, pulled up the glass, gave me a friendly nod, and the carriage
drove off. The last I saw of Emily, at that time, was her right hand,
which carried her handkerchief to her eyes.

After the dear inmates were gone, I turned from the door of the house
in disgust, and ran direct to my boat, like a dog with a tin-kettle.
When I got on board, I hated the sight of every body, and the smell
of every thing; pitch, paint, bilge-water, tar and rum, entering into
horrible combination, had conspired against me: and I was as sick and
as miserable as the most love-sick seaman can conceive. I have before
observed that we had arrived at Spithead, and as I have nothing new to
say of that place, I shall proceed to sea.

We sailed for the North American station, the pleasantest I could go
to when away from Emily. Our passage was tedious, and we were put on
short allowance of water. Those only who have known it will understand
it. All felt it but the captain; who, claiming privilege, took a dozen
gallons every day to bathe his feet in, and that water, when done
with, was greedily sought for by the men. There was some murmuring
about it, which came to the captain's ears, who only observed, with an
apathy peculiar to Almack's,

"Well, you know, if a man has no privilege, what's the use of being a
captain?"

"Very true, my lord," said the toad-eater, with a low bow.

I will now give a short description of his lordship. He was a smart,
dapper, well made man, with a handsome, but not an intellectual
countenance; cleanly and particular in his person; and, assisted by
the puffs of Toady, had a very good opinion of himself; proud of his
aristocratic birth, and still more vain of his personal appearance.
His knowledge on most points was superficial--high life, and anecdotes
connected with it, were the usual topics of his discourse; at his
own table he generally engrossed all the conversation: and while his
guests drank his wine, "they laughed with counterfeited glee," &c. His
reading was comprised in two volumes octavo, being the Memoirs of the
Count de Grammont, which amusing and aristocratical work was never out
of his hand. He had been many years at sea; but strange to say, knew
nothing, literally nothing, of his profession. Seamanship, navigation,
and every thing connected with the service, he was perfectly ignorant
of. I had heard him spoken of as a good officer, before he joined
us; and I must, in justice to him, say that he was naturally good
tempered, and I believe as brave a man as ever drew a sword.

He seldom made any professional remark, being aware of his deficiency,
and never ventured beyond his depth intentionally. When he came on the
quarter-deck, he usually looked at the weather main-brace, and if it
was not as _taut_ as a bar, would order it to be made so. Here he
could not easily commit himself: but it became a bye-word with us
when we laughed at him below. He had a curious way of forgetting, or
pretending to forget, the names of men and things, I presume, because
they were so much beneath him; and in their stead, substituted the
elegant phrases of "What's-his-name," "What-do-ye-call-'em," and
"thingumbob."

One day he came on deck, and actually gave me the following very
intelligible order. "Mr, What's-his-name, have the goodness
to--what-do-ye-call-'em,--the,--the thingumbob."

"Ay, ay, my lord," said I. "Afterguard! haul taut the weather
main-brace." This was exactly what he meant.

He was very particular and captious when not properly addressed. When
an order is given by a commanding officer, it is not unusual to say,
"Very good, Sir;" implying that you perfectly understand, and are
going cheerfully to obey it. I had adopted this answer, and gave it to
his lordship when I received an order from him, saying "Very good, my
lord."

"Mr Mildmay," said his lordship, "I don't suppose you mean anything
like disrespect, but I will thank you not to make that answer again:
it is for _me_ to say 'very good,' and not you. You seem to approve
of my order, and I don't like it; I beg you will not do it again, you
know."

"Very good, my lord," said I, so inveterate is habit. "I beg your
lordship's pardon, I mean very well."

"I don't much like that young man," said his lordship to his toady,
who followed him up and down the quarter-deck, like "the bob-tail
cur," looking his master in the face. I did not hear the answer, but
of course it was an echo.

The first time we reefed topsails at sea, the captain was on deck; he
said nothing, but merely looked on. The second time, we found he had
caught all the words of the first lieutenant, and repeated them in a
loud and pompous voice, without knowing whether they were applicable
to the case or not. The third time he fancied he was able to go alone,
and down he fell--he made a sad mistake indeed. "Hoist away
the fore-topsail," said the first lieutenant. "Hoist away the
fore-topsail," said the captain. The men were stamping aft, and the
topsail yards travelling up to the mast-head very fast, when they were
stopped by a sudden check with the fore-topsail haul-yards.

"What's the matter?" said the first lieutenant, calling to me, who was
at my station on the forecastle.

"Something foul of the topsail-tie," I replied.

"What's the matter forward?" said the captain.

"Topsail-tie is foul, my lord," answered the first lieutenant.

"D----n the topsail-tie! cut it away. Out knife there, aloft! I _will_
have the topsail hoisted; cut away the topsail-tie."

For the information of my land readers, I should observe that the
topsail-tie was the very rope which was at that moment suspending the
yard aloft. The cutting it would have disabled the ship until it could
have been repaired; and had the order been obeyed, the topsail-yard
itself, would, in all probability, have been sprung or broke in two on
the cap.

We arrived at Halifax without falling in with an enemy; and as soon as
the ship was secured, I went on shore to visit all my dear Dulcineas,
every one of whom I persuaded, that on her account alone I had used my
utmost interest to be sent out on the station. Fortunately for them
and for me, I was not long permitted to trifle away my time. We were
ordered to cruise on the coast of North America. It was winter and
very cold; we encountered many severe gales of wind, during which time
we suffered much from the frequent and sudden snowstorms, north-east
gales, and sharp frosts, which rendered our running-rigging almost
unmanageable, and obliged us to pour boiling water into the sheaves of
the blocks to thaw them, and allow the ropes to traverse; nor did the
cold permit the captain to honour us with his presence on deck more
than once in the twenty-four hours.

We anchored off a part of the coast, which was not in a state of
defence, and the people being unprotected by their own government,
considered themselves as neutrals, and supplied us with as much fish,
poultry, and vegetables, as we required. While we lay here, the
captain and officers frequently went on shore for a short time without
molestation. One night, after the captain had returned, a snow-storm
and a gale of wind came on. The captain's gig, which ought to have
been hoisted up, was not; she broke her painter, and went adrift, and
had been gone some time before she was missed. The next morning, on
making inquiry, it was found that the boat had drifted on shore a few
miles from where we lay; and that having been taken possession of by
the Americans, they had removed her to a hostile part of the coast,
twenty-two miles off. The captain was very much annoyed at the loss of
his boat, which he considered as his own private property, although
built on board by the king's men, and with the king's plank and nails.

"As my private property," said his lordship, "it ought to be given up,
you know."

I did not tell him that I had seen the sawyers cutting an anchor-stock
into the plank of which it was built, and that the said plank had been
put down to other services in the expense-book. This, however, was no
business of mine; nor had I any idea that the loss of this little boat
would so nearly produce my final catastrophe; so it was, however, and
very serious results took place in consequence of this accident.

"They _must_ respect private property, you know," said the captain to
the first lieutenant.

"Yes," answered the lieutenant; "but they do not know that it is
private property."

"Very true: then I will send and tell them so;" and down he went to
his dinner.

The yawl was ordered to be got ready, and hoisted out at daylight, and
I had notice given me that I was to go away in her. About nine o'clock
the next morning, I was sent for into the cabin; his lordship was
still in bed, and the green silk curtains were drawn close round his
cot.

"Mr Thingamy," said his lordship, "you will take the what's-his-name,
you know."

"Yes, my lord," said I.

"And you will go to that town, and ask for my thingumbob."

"For your gig, my lord?" said I.

"Yes, that's all."

"But, my lord, suppose they won't give it to me?"

"Then take it."

"Suppose the gig is not there, my lord, and if there, suppose they
refuse to give it up?"

"Then take every vessel out of the harbour."

"Very well, my lord. Am I to put the gun in the boat? or to take
muskets only?"

"Oh, no, no arms--take a flag of truce--No. 8 (white flag) will do."

"Suppose they will not accept the flag of truce, my lord?"

"Oh, but they will: they always respect a flag of truce, you know."

"I beg your lordship's pardon, but I think a few muskets in the boat
would be of service."

"No, no, no,--no arms. You will be fighting about nothing. You have
your orders, Sir."

"Yes," thinks I, "I have. If I succeed, I am a robber; if I fail, I am
liable to be hanged on the first tree."

I left the cabin, and went to the first lieutenant. I told him what my
orders were. This officer was, as I before observed, a man who had no
friends, and was therefore entirely dependent on the captain for his
promotion, and was afraid to act contrary to his lordship's orders,
however absurd. I told him, that whatever might me the captain's
orders, I would not go without arms.

"The orders of his lordship must be obeyed," said the lieutenant.

"Why," said I, irritated at his folly, "you are as clever a fellow as
the skipper."

This he considered so great an affront, that he ran down to his cabin,
saying, "You shall hear from me again for this, Sir."

I concluded that he meant to try me by a court-martial, to which I had
certainly laid myself open by this unguarded expression; but I went on
the quarter-deck, and, during his absence, got as many muskets into
the boat as I wanted, with a proper proportion of ammunition. This
was hardly completed, before the lieutenant came up again, and put
a letter into my hands: which was no more than the very comfortable
intelligence, that, on my return from the expedition on which I was
then going, he should expect satisfaction for the affront I had
offered him. I was glad, however, to find it was no worse. I laughed
at his threat; and, as the very head and front of my offending was
only having compared him to the captain, he could not show any
resentment openly, for fear of displeasing his patron. In short, to be
offended at it, was to offer the greatest possible affront to the
man he looked up to for promotion, and thus destroy all his golden
prospects.

As I put this well-timed challenge into my pocket, I walked down the
side, got into my boat, and put off. It wanted but one hour of sunset
when I reached the part where this infernal gig was supposed to be,
and the sky gave strong indications of an approaching gale. Indeed, I
do not believe another captain in the navy could have been found who,
at such a season of the year, would have risked a boat so far from the
ship on an enemy's coast and a lee-shore, for such a worthless object.

My crew consisted of twenty men and a midshipman. When we arrived off
the mouth of the harbour, we perceived four vessels lying at anchor,
and pulled directly in. We had, however, no opportunity of trying our
flag of truce, for as soon as we came within range of musket-shot, a
volley from two hundred concealed militiamen struck down four of my
men. There was then nothing left for it but to board, and bring out
the vessels. Two of them were aground, and we set them on fire, it
being dead low water (thanks to the delay in the morning): in doing
this, we had more men wounded. I then took possession of the other two
vessels, and giving one of them in charge of the midshipman, who was
quite a lad, I desired him to weigh his anchor. I gave him the boat,
with all the men except four, which I kept with me. The poor fellow
probably lost more men, for he cut his cable, and got out before me.
I weighed my anchor, but had one of my men killed by a musket ball in
doing it. I stood out after the midshipman. We had gained an offing
of four miles, when a violent gale and snow-storm came on. The sails
belonging to the vessel all blew to rags immediately, being very old.
I had no resource, except to anchor, which I did on a bank, in five
fathom water. The other vessel lost all her sails, and, having no
anchor, as I then conjectured, and afterwards learned, drifted on
shore, and was dashed to pieces, the people being either frozen to
death, wounded, or taken prisoners.

The next morning I could see the vessel lying on shore a wreck,
covered with ice. A dismal prospect to me, as at that time I knew not
what had become of the men. My own situation was even less enviable;
the vessel was frail, and deeply laden with salt: a cargo, which, if
it by any means gets wet, is worse than water, since it cannot be
pumped out, and becomes as heavy as lead; nothing could, in that
event, have kept the vessel afloat, and we had no boat in case of such
an accident. I had three men with me, besides the dead body, in the
cabin, and a pantry as clear as an empty house: not an article of any
description to eat. I was four miles from the shore, in a heavy gale
of wind, the pleasure of which was enhanced by snow, and the bitterest
cold I ever experienced. We proceeded to examine the vessel, and found
that there was on board a quantity of sails and canvas, that did not
fit, but had been bought with an intention of making up for this
vessel, and not before she wanted them; there was also an abundance of
palms, needles, and twine; but to eat, there was nothing except salt,
and to drink, nothing but one cask of fresh water. We kindled a fire
in the cabin, and made ourselves as warm as we could, taking a view
on deck now and then, to see if she drove, or if the gale abated. She
pitched heavily, taking in whole seas over the forecastle, and the
water froze on the deck. The next morning we found we had drifted
a mile nearer to the shore, and the gale continued with unabated
violence. The other vessel lay a wreck, with her masts gone, and as it
were _in terrorem_, staring us in the face.

We felt the most pinching hunger; we had no fuel after the second day,
except what we pulled down from the bulkheads of the cabin. We amused
ourselves below, making a suit of sails for the vessel, and drinking
hot water to repel the cold. But this work could not have lasted long;
the weather became more intensely cold, and twice did we set the prize
on fire, in our liberality with the stove to keep ourselves warm. The
ice formed on the surface of the water in our kettle, till it was
dissolved by the heat from the bottom. The second night passed like
the first; and we found, in the morning, that we had drifted within
two miles of the shore. We completed our little sails this day, and
with great difficulty contrived to bend them.

The men were now exhausted with cold and hunger, and proposed that we
should cut our cable and run on shore; but I begged them to wait till
the next morning, as these gales seldom lasted long. This they agreed
to: and we again huddled together to keep ourselves warm, the outside
man pulling the dead man close to him by way of a blanket. The gale
this night moderated, and towards the morning the weather was fine,
although the wind was against us, and to beat her up to the ship was
impossible. From the continued freezing of the water, the bob-stays
and the rigging were coated with ice five or six inches thick, and the
forecastle was covered with two feet of clear ice, showing the ropes
coiled underneath it.

There was no more to be done: so, desiring the men to cut the cable,
I made up my mind to run the vessel on shore, and give myself up.
We hoisted the foresail, and I stood in with the intention of
surrendering myself and people at a large town which I knew was
situated about twelve miles farther on the coast. To have given myself
up at the place where the vessels had been captured, I did not think
would have been prudent.

When we made sail on the third morning, we had drifted within half a
mile of the shore, and very near the place we had left. Field pieces
had been brought down to us. They had the range, but they could not
reach us. I continued to make more sail, and to creep along shore,
until I came within a few cables' length of the pier, where men,
women, and children were assembled to see us land; when suddenly a
snow-storm came on; the wind shifted, and blew with such violence,
that I could neither see the port, nor turn the vessel to windward
into it; and as I knew I could not hold my own, and that the wind was
fair for our ship, then distant about forty miles, we agreed to up
helm and scud for her.

This was well executed. About eleven at night we hailed her, and asked
for a boat. They had seen us approaching, and a boat instantly came,
taking us all on board the frigate, and leaving some fresh hands in
charge of the prize.

I was mad with hunger and cold, and with difficulty did we get up the
side, so exhausted and feeble were the whole of us. I was ordered down
into the cabin, for it was too cold for the captain to show his face
on deck. I found his lordship sitting before a good fire, with his
toes in the grate; a decanter of Madeira stood on the table, with a
wine glass, and most fortunately, though not intended for my use, a
large rummer. This I seized with one hand and the decanter with the
other; and, filling a bumper, swallowed it in a moment, without even
drinking his lordship's good health. He stared, and I believe thought
me mad. I certainly do own that my dress and appearance perfectly
corresponded with my actions. I had not been washed, shaved, or
"cleaned," since I had left the ship, three days before. My beard was
grown, my cheeks hollow, my eyes sunk, and for my stomach, I leave
that to those fortunate Frenchmen who escaped from the Russian
campaign, who only can appreciate my sufferings. My whole haggard
frame was enveloped in a huge blue flushing coat, frosted, like a
plum-cake, with ice and snow.

As soon as I could speak, I said, "I beg pardon, my lord, but I have
had nothing to eat or drink since I left the ship."

"Oh, _then_ you are very welcome," said his lordship; "I never
expected to see you again."

"Then why the devil did you send me?" thought I to myself.

During this short dialogue, I had neither been offered a chair nor any
refreshment, of which I stood so much in need; and if I had been able,
should have been kept standing while I related my adventures. I was
about to commence, when the wine got into my head; and to support
myself, I leaned, or rather staggered, on the back of a chair.

"Never mind now," said the captain, apparently moved from his listless
apathy by my situation; "go and make yourself comfortable, and I will
hear it all to-morrow."

This was the only kind thing he had ever done for me; and it came so
_apropos_, that I felt grateful to him for it, thanked him, and went
below to the gun-room, where, notwithstanding all I had heard and read
of the dangers of repletion after long abstinence, I ate voraciously,
and drank proportionably, ever and anon telling my astonished
messmates, who were looking on, what a narrow escape the dead body
had of being dissected and broiled. This, from the specimen of my
performance, they had no difficulty in believing. I recommended the
three men who had been with me to the care of the surgeon; and, with
his permission, presented each of them with a pint of hot brandy and
water, well sweetened, by way of a night cap. Having taken these
precautions, and satisfied the cravings of nature on my own part, as
well as the cravings of curiosity on that of my messmates, I went to
bed, and slept soundly till the next day at noon.

Thus ended this anomalous and fatal expedition: an ambassador sent
with the sacred emblem of peace, to commit an act of hostility under
its protection. To have been taken under such circumstances, would
have subjected us to be hung like dogs on the first tree; to have gone
unarmed, would have been an act of insanity, and I therefore took upon
me to disobey an unjust and absurd order. This, however, must not be
pleaded as an example to juniors, but a warning to seniors how they
give orders without duly weighing the consequences: the safest plan
is always to obey. Thus did his Majesty's service lose eighteen fine
fellows, under much severe suffering, for a boat, "the _private_
property" of the captain, not worth twenty pounds.

The next day, as soon as I was dressed, the first lieutenant sent to
speak to me. I then recollected the little affair of the challenge. "A
delightful after-piece," thought I, "to the tragedy, to be shot by
the first lieutenant only for calling him as clever a fellow as the
captain." The lieutenant, however, had no such barbarous intentions;
he had seen and acknowledged the truth of my observation, and, being
a well meaning north-countryman, he offered me his hand, which I took
with pleasure, having had quite enough of stimulus for that time.



Chapter XXIV

    _Bell_. You have an opportunity now, Madam, to revenge yourself
    upon him for affronting your squirrel. _Belin_. O, the filthy,
    rude beast. _Aram_. 'Tis a lasting quarrel.

    _Old Bachelor_.


We sailed the next day, and after one month more of unsuccessful
cruising, arrived safe at Halifax, where I was informed that an old
friend of my father's, Sir Hurricane Humbug, of whom some mention has
already been made in this work, had just arrived. He was not in an
official character, but had come out to look after his own property.
It is absolutely necessary that I should here, with more than usual
formality, introduce the reader to an intimate acquaintance with the
character of Sir Hurricane.

Sir Hurricane had risen in life by his own ingenuity, and the
patronage of a rich man in the South of England: he was of an
ardent disposition, and was an admirable justice of peace, when the
_argumentum baculinum_ was required, for which reason he had been
sent to reduce two or three refractory establishments to order and
obedience; and, by his firmness and good humour, succeeded. His tact
was a little knowledge of everything (not like Solomon's, from the
hyssop to the cedar), but from the boiler of a potato to the boiler of
a steam-boat, and from catching a sprat to catching a whale; he could
fatten pigs and poultry, and had a peculiar way of improving the size,
though not the breed of the latter; in short, he was "jack of all
trades and master of none."

I shall not go any farther back with his memoirs than the day he chose
to teach an old woman how to make mutton-broth. He had, in the course
of an honest discharge of his duty, at a certain very dirty sea-port
town, incurred the displeasure of the lower orders generally: he
nevertheless would omit no opportunity of doing good, and giving
advice to the poor, gratis. One day he saw a woman emptying the
contents of a boiling kettle out of her door into the street. He
approached, and saw a leg of mutton at the bottom, and the unthrifty
housewife throwing away the liquor in which it had been boiled.

"Good woman," said the economical baronet, "do you know what you
are doing? A handful of meat, a couple of carrots, and a couple of
turnips, cut up into dice, and thrown into that liquor, with a little
parsley, would make excellent mutton-broth for your family."

The old woman looked up, and saw the ogre of the dockyard; and either
by losing her presence of mind, or by a most malignant slip of the
hand, she contrived to pour a part of the boiling water into the shoes
of Sir Hurricane. The baronet jumped, roared, hopped, stamped, kicked
off his shoes, and ran home, d----ning the old woman, and himself too,
for having tried to teach her how to make mutton-broth. As he ran off,
the ungrateful hag screamed after him, "Sarves you right; teach you to
mind your own business."

The next day, in his magisterial capacity, he commanded the attendance
of "the dealer in slops." "Well, Madam, what have you got to say for
yourself for scalding one of his Majesty's Justices of the Peace?
don't you know that I have the power to commit you to Maidstone gaol
for the assault?"

"I beg your honour's pardon, humbly," said the woman; "I did not know
it was your honour, or I am sure I wouldn't a done it; besides, I own
to your honour, I had a drop too much."

The good-natured baronet dismissed her with a little suitable advice,
which no doubt the good woman treated as she did that relative to the
mutton-broth.

My acquaintance with Sir Hurricane had commenced at Plymouth, when he
kicked my ship to sea in a gale of wind, for fear we should ground on
our beef bones. I never forgave him for that. My father had shown him
great civility, and had introduced me to him. When at Halifax, we
resided in the same house with a mutual friend, who had always
received me as his own son. He had a son of my own age, with whom I
had long been on terms of warm friendship, and Ned and I confederated
against Sir Hurricane. Having paid a few visits _en passant_, as I
landed at the King's Wharf, shook hands with a few pretty girls, and
received their congratulations on my safe return, I went to the house
of my friend, and, without ceremony, walked into the drawing-room.

"Do you know, Sir," said the footman, "that Sir Hurricane is in his
room? but he is very busy," added the man, with a smile.

"Busy or not," said I, "I am sure he will see me," so in I walked.

Sir Hurricane was employed on something, but I could not distinctly
make out what. He had a boot between his knees and the calves of his
legs, which he pressed together, and as he turned his head round, I
perceived that he held a knife between his teeth.

"Leave the door open, messmate," said he, without taking the least
notice of me. Then rising, he drew a large, black, tom cat, by the
tail, out of the boot, and flinging it away from him to a great
distance, which distance was rapidly increased by the voluntary
exertion of the cat, which ran away as if it had been mad, "There,"
said he, "and be d----d to you, you have given me more trouble than a
whole Kentucky farm-yard; but I shall not lose my sleep any more, by
your d----d caterwauling."

All this was pronounced as if he had not seen me--in fact, it was a
soliloquy, for the cat did not stay to hear it. "Ah!" said he, holding
out his hand to me, "how do you do? I know your face, but d----n me if I
have not forgot your name."

"My name, Sir," said I, "is Mildmay."

"Ah, Mildmay, my noble, how do you do? how did you leave your father?
I knew him very well--used to give devilish good feeds--many a plate
I've dirtied at his table--don't care how soon I put my legs under
it again;--take care, mind which way you put your helm--you will be
aboard of my chickabiddies--don't run athwart hawse."

I found, on looking down, that I had a string round my leg, which
fastened a chicken to the table, and saw many more of these little
creatures attached to the chairs in the room; but for what purpose
they were thus domesticated I could not discover.

"Are these pet chickens of yours, Sir Hurricane?" said I.

"No," said the admiral, "but I mean them to be pet capons, by and by,
when they come to table. I finished a dozen and a half this morning,
besides that d----d old tom cat."

The mystery was now explained, and I afterwards found out (every man
having his hobby) that the idiosyncrasy of this officer's disposition
had led him to the practice of neutralising the males of any species
of bird or beast, in order to render them more palatable at the table.

"Well, sir," he continued, "how do you like your new ship--how do
you like your old captain?--good fellow, isn't he?--d----n his
eyes--countryman of mine--I knew him when his father hadn't as much
money as would jingle on a tombstone. That fellow owes every thing
to me. I introduced him to the duke of ----, and he got on by that
interest; but, I say, what do you think of the Halifax girls?--nice!
a'n't they?"

I expressed my admiration of them.

"Ay, ay, they'll do, won't they?--we'll have some fine fun--give the
girls a party at George's Island--haymaking--green gowns--ha, ha, ha.
I say, your captain shall give us a party at Turtle Cove. We are going
to give the old commissioner a feed at the Rockingham--blow the roof
of his skull off with champagne do you dine at Birch Cove to-day?
No, I suppose you are engaged to Miss Maria, or Miss Susan, or Miss
Isabella--ha, sad dog, sad dog--done a great deal of mischief,"
surveying me from head to foot.

I took the liberty of returning him the same compliment; he was a
tall raw-boned man, with strongly marked features, and a smile on his
countenance that no modest woman could endure. In his person he gave
me the idea of a discharged life-guardsman; but from his face you
might have supposed that he had sat for one of Rubens' Satyrs. He was
one of those people with whom you become immediately acquainted; and
before I had been an hour in his company, I laughed very heartily
at his jokes--not very delicate, I own, and for which he lost a
considerable portion of my respect; but he was a source of constant
amusement to me, living as we did in the same house.

I was just going out of the room when he stopped me--"I say, how
should you like to be introduced to some devilish nice Yankee girls,
relations of mine, from Philadelphia? and I should be obliged to you
to show them attention; very pretty girls, I can tell you, and will
have good fortunes--you may go farther and fare worse. The old dad
is as rich as a Jew--got the gout in both legs--can't hold out much
longer--nice pickings at his money bags, while the devil is picking
his bones."

There was no withstanding such inducements, and I agreed that he
should present me the next day.

Our dialogue was interrupted by the master of the house and his son,
who gave me a hearty welcome; the father had been a widower for some
years, and his only son Ned resided with him, and was intended to
succeed to his business as a merchant. We adjourned to dress for
dinner; our bed-rooms were contiguous, and we began to talk of Sir
Hurricane.

"He is a strange mixture," said Ned. "I love him for his good temper;
but I owe him a grudge for making mischief between me and Maria;
besides, he talks balderdash before the ladies, and annoys them very
much."

"I owe him a grudge too," said I, "for sending me to sea in a gale of
wind."

"We shall both be quits with him before long," said Ned; "but let us
now go and meet him at dinner. To-morrow I will set the housekeeper
at him for his cruelty to her cat; and if I am not much mistaken, she
will pay him off for it."

Dinner passed off extremely well. The admiral was in high spirits; and
as it was a bachelor's party, he earned his wine. The next morning we
met at breakfast. When that was over, the master of the house retired
to his office, or pretended to do so. I was going out to walk, but Ned
said I had better stay a few minutes; he had something to say to me;
in fact, he had prepared a treat without my knowing it.

"How did you sleep last night, Sir Hurricane?" said the artful Ned.

"Why, pretty well; considering," said the admiral, "I was not
tormented by that old tom cat. D----n me, Sir, that fellow was like
the Grand Signior, and he kept his seraglio in the garret, over my
bed-room, instead of being at his post in the kitchen, killing the
rats that are running about like coach-horses."

"Sir Hurricane," said I, "it's always unlucky to sailors, if they
meddle with cats. You will have a gale of wind, in some shape or
another, before long."

These words were hardly uttered, when, as if by preconcerted
arrangement, the door opened, and in sailed Mrs Jellybag, the
housekeeper, an elderly woman, somewhere in the latitude of fifty-five
or sixty years. With a low courtesy and contemptuous toss of her head,
she addressed Sir Hurricane Humbug.

"Pray, Sir Hurricane, what have you been doing to my cat?"

The admiral, who prided himself in putting any one who applied to
him on what he called the wrong scent, endeavoured to play off Mrs
Jellybag in the same manner.

"What have I done to your cat, my dear Mrs Jellybag? Why, my dear
Madam" (said he, assuming an air of surprise), "what _should_ I do to
your cat?"

"You _should_ have left him alone, Mr Admiral; that cat was my
property; if my master permits you to ill-treat the poultry, that's
his concern; but that cat was mine, Sir Hurricane--mine, every inch of
him. The animal has been ill-treated, and sits moping in the corner
of the fireplace, as if he was dying; he'll never be the cat he was
again."

"I don't think he ever will, my dear Mrs Housekeeper," answered the
admiral, drily.

The lady's wrath now began to kindle. The admiral's cool replies
were like water sprinkled upon a strong flame, increasing its force,
instead of checking it.

"Don't dear _me_, Sir Hurricane. I am not one of _your dears_--_your
dears_ are all in Dutchtown--more shame for you, an old man like you."

"Old man!" cried Sir Hurricane, losing his placidity a little.

"Yes, old man; look at your hair--as grey as a goose's."

"Why, as for my hair, that proves nothing, Mrs Jellybag, for though
there may be snow on the mountains, there is still heat in the
valleys. What d'ye think of my metaphor?"

"I am no more a _metafore_ than yourself, Sir Hurricane; but I'll
tell you what, you are a _cock-and-hen_ admiral, a dog-in-the-manger
barrownight, who was jealous of my poor tom cat, because--, I won't
say what. Yes, Sir Hurricane, all hours of the day you are leering at
every young woman that passes, out of our windows--and an old man too;
you ought to be ashamed of yourself--and then you go to church of a
Sunday, and cry, 'Good Lord, deliver us.'"

The housekeeper now advanced so close to the admiral, that her nose
nearly touched his, her arms akimbo, and every preparation for
boarding. The admiral, fearing she might not confine herself to
vocality, but begin to beat time with her fists, thought it right to
take up a position; he therefore very dexterously took two steps in
the rear, and mounted on a sofa; his left was defended by an upright
piano, his right by the breakfast-table, with all the tea-things on
it; his rear was against the wall, and his front depended on himself
in person. From this commanding eminence he now looked down on the
housekeeper, whose nose could reach no higher than the seals of
her adversary's watch; and in proportion as the baronet felt his
security, so rose his choler. Having been for many years Proctor at
the great universities of Point-street and Blue-town, as well as
member of Barbican and North Corner, he was perfectly qualified, in
point of classical dialect, to maintain the honour of his profession.
Nor was the lady by any means deficient. Although she had not taken
her degree, her tongue from constant use had acquired a fluency which
nature only concedes to practice.

It will not be expected, nor would it be proper, that I should repeat
all that passed in this concluding scene, in which the housekeeper
gave us good reason to suppose that she was not quite so ignorant of
the nature of the transaction as she would have had us believe.

The battle having raged for half an hour with great fury, both parties
desisted, for want of breath, and consequently of ammunition. This
produced a gradual cessation of firing, and by degrees the ships
separated--the admiral, like Lord Howe on the first of June,
preserving his position, though very much mauled; and the housekeeper,
like the Montague, _running down_ to join her associates. A few random
shots were exchanged as they parted, and at every second or third step
on the stairs, Mrs Margaret brought to, and fired, until both were
quite out of range; a distant rumbling noise was heard, and the
admiral concluded, by muttering that she might go--, somewhere, but
the word died between his teeth.

"There, admiral," said I, "did not I tell you that you would have a
squall?"

"Squall! yes--d----n my blood," wiping his face; "how the spray flew
from the old beldam! She's fairly wetted my trousers, by God. Who'd
ever thought that such a purring old b----h could have shown such a
set of claws!--War to the knife! By heavens, I'll make her remember
this."

Notwithstanding the admiral's threat, hostilities ceased from that
day. The cock-and-hen admiral found it convenient to show a white
feather; interest stood in the way, and barred him from taking his
revenge. Mrs Jellybag was a faithful servant, and our host neither
liked that she should be interfered with, or that his house should
become an arena for such conflicts; and the admiral, who was
peculiarly tenacious of undrawing the strings of his purse, found it
convenient to make the first advances. The affair was, therefore,
amicably arranged--the tom cat was, in consideration of his
sufferings, created a baronet, and was ever afterwards dignified by
the title of _Sir H. Humbug_; who certainly was the most eligible
person to select for god-father, as he had taken the most effectual
means of weaning him from "the pomps and vanities of this wicked
world."

It was now about one o'clock, for this dispute had ran away with the
best part of the morning, when Sir Hurricane said, "Come, youngster,
don't forget your engagements--you know I have got to introduce you to
my pretty cousins--you must mind your P's and Q's with the uncle, for
he is a sensible old fellow--has read a great deal, and thinks America
the first and greatest country in the world."

We accordingly proceeded to the residence of the fair strangers, whom
the admiral assured me had come to Halifax from mere curiosity, under
the protection of their uncle and aunt. We knocked at the door, and
the admiral inquired if Mrs M'Flinn was at home; we were answered
in the affirmative. The servant asked our names. "Vice Admiral Sir
Hurricane Humbug," said I, "and Mr Mildmay."

The drawing-room door was thrown open, and the man gave our names with
great propriety. In we walked; a tall, grave-looking, elderly lady
received us, standing bolt upright in the middle of the room; the
young ladies were seated at their work.

"My dear Mrs M'Flinn," said the admiral, "how do you do? I am
delighted to see you and your fair nieces looking so lovely this
morning."--The lady bowed to this compliment--a courtesy she was
not quite up to--"Allow me to introduce my gallant young friend,
Mildmay--young ladies, take care of your hearts--he is a great rogue,
I assure you, though he smiles so sweet upon you."

Mrs M'Flinn bowed again to me, hoped I was very well, and inquired
"how long I had been in these parts."

I replied that I had just returned from a cruise, but that I was no
stranger in Halifax.

"Come, officer," said the admiral, taking me by the arm, "I see you
are bashful--I must make you acquainted with my pretty cousins. This,
Sir, is Miss M'Flinn--her Christian name is Deliverance. She is a
young lady whose beauty is her least recommendation."

"A very equivocal compliment," thought I.

"This, Sir, is Miss Jemima; this is Miss Temperance; and this is Miss
Deborah. Now that you know them all by name, and they know you, I hope
you will contrive to make yourself both useful and agreeable."

"A very pretty sinecure," thinks I to myself, "just as if I had not my
hands full already." However, as I never wanted small talk for pretty
faces, I began with Jemima. They were all pretty, but she was a
love--yet there was an awkwardness about them that convinced me they
were not of the _bon ton_ of Philadelphia. The answers to all
my questions were quick, pert, and given with an air of assumed
consequence; at the same time I observed a mode of expression which,
though English, was not well-bred English.

"Did you come through the United States," said I, "into the British
territory, or did you come by water?"

"Oh, by water," screamed all the girls at once, "and _liked_ to have
been eaten up with the nasty roaches."

I did not exactly know what was meant by "roaches," but it was
explained to me soon after. I inquired whether they had seen a British
man-of-war, and whether they would like to accompany me on board of
that which I belonged to? They all screamed out at same moment--

"No, we never have seen one, and should like to see it of all things.
When will you take us?"

"To-morrow," said I, "if the day should prove fine."

Here the admiral, who had been making by-play with the old chaperon,
turned round, and said:

"Well, Mr Frank, I see you are getting on pretty well without my
assistance."

"Oh, we all like him very much," said Temperance; "and he says he will
take us on board his ship."

"Softly, my dear," said the aunt: "we must not think of giving the
gentleman the trouble, until we are better acquainted."

"I am sure, aunt," said Deborah, "we are very well acquainted."

"Then," said the aunt, seeing she was in the minority, "suppose you
and Sir Hurricane come and breakfast with us to-morrow morning at
eleven o'clock, after which, we shall all be very much at your
service."

Here the admiral looked at me with one of his impudent leers, and
burst into a loud laugh; but I commanded my countenance very well, and
rebuked him by a steady and reserved look.

"I shall have great pleasure," said I, to the lady, "in obeying your
orders from eleven to-morrow morning, till the hour of dinner, when I
am engaged."

So saying, we both bowed, wished them a good morning, and left the
room. The door closed upon us, and I heard them all exclaim--"What a
charming young man!"

I went on board, and told the first lieutenant what I had done; he,
very good-naturedly, said he would do his best, though the ship was
not in order for showing, and would have a boat ready for us at the
dock-yard stairs at one o'clock the next day.

I went to breakfast at the appointed hour. The admiral did not appear,
but the ladies were all in readiness, and I was introduced to their
uncle--a plain, civil-spoken man, with a strong nasal twang. The
repast was very good; and as I had a great deal of work before me,
I made hay while the sun shone. When the rage of hunger had been a
little appeased, I made use of the first belle to inquire if a lady
whom I once had the honour of knowing, was any relation of theirs, as
she bore the same name, and came, like them, from Philadelphia.

"Oh, dear, yes, indeed, she is a relation," said all the ladies
together; "we have not seen her this seven years, when did you see her
last?"

I replied that we had not met for some time; but that the last time I
had heard of her, she was seen by a friend of mine at Turin on the Po.
The last syllable was no sooner out of my mouth, than tea, coffee, and
chocolate was out of theirs, all spirting different ways, just like so
many young grampuses. They jumped up from the table and ran away to
their rooms, convulsed with laughter, leaving me alone with their
uncle. I was all amazement, and I own felt a little annoyed.

I asked if I had made any serious lapsus, or said any thing very
ridiculous or indelicate; if I had, I said I should never forgive
myself.

"Sir," said Mr M'Flinn, "I am very sure you meant nothing indelicate;
but the refined society of Philadelphia, in which these young ladies
have been educated, attaches very different meanings to certain words,
to what you do in the old country. The back settlements, for instance,
so called by our ancestors, we call the western settlements, and we
apply the same term, by analogy, to the human figure and dress. This
is a mere little explanation, which you will take as it is meant. It
cannot be expected that '_foreigners_' should understand the niceties
of our language."

I begged pardon for my ignorance; and assured him I would be more
cautious in future. "But pray tell me," said I, "what there was in my
last observation which could have caused so much mirth at my expense?"

"Why, Sir," said Mr M'Flinn, "you run me hard there; but since
you force me to explain myself, I must say that you used a word
exclusively confined to bedchambers."

"But surely, Sir," said I, "you will allow that the name of a
celebrated river, renowned in the most ancient of our histories, is
not to be changed from such a refined notion of false delicacy?"

"There you are wrong," said Mr M'Flinn. "The French, who are our
instructors in every thing, teach us how to name all these things; and
I think you will allow that they understand true politeness."

I bowed to this dictum, only observing, that there was a point in our
language where delicacy became indelicate; that I thought the noble
river had a priority of claim over a contemptible vessel; and,
reverting to the former part of his discourse, I said that we in
England were not ashamed to call things by their proper names; and
that we considered it a great mark of ill-breeding to go round about
for a substitute to a common word, the vulgar import of which a well
bred and modest woman ought never to have known.

The old gentleman felt a little abashed at this rebuke, and, to
relieve him, I changed the subject, hoping that the ladies would
forgive me for this once, and return to their breakfasts.

"Why, as for that matter," said the gentleman, "the Philadelphia
ladies have very delicate appetites, and I dare say they have had
enough."

Finding I was not likely to gain ground on that tack, I steered my
own course, and finished my breakfast, comforting myself that much
execution had been done by the ladies on the commissariat department,
before the "Po" had made its appearance.

By the time I had finished, the ladies had composed themselves; and
the pretty Jemima had recovered the saint-like gravity of her lovely
mouth. Decked in shawls and bonnets, they expressed much impatience to
be gone. We walked to the dock-yard, where a boat with a midshipman
attended, and in a few minutes conveyed us alongside of my ship.
A painted cask, shaped like a chair, with, a whip from the main
yard-arm, was let down into the boat; and I carefully packed the fair
creatures, two at a time, and sent them up. There was a good deal of
giggling, and screaming, and loud laughing, which rather annoyed me;
for as they were not my friends, I had no wish that my messmates
should think they belonged to that set in Halifax in which I was so
kindly received.

At length, all were safely landed on the quarter-deck, without the
exposure of an ancle, which they all seemed to dread. Whether their
ancles were not quite so small as Mr M'Flinn wished me to suppose
their appetites were, I cannot say.

"La! aunt," said Deborah, "when I looked up in the air, and saw you
and Deliverance dangling over our heads, I thought if the rope was to
break, what a 'squash' you would have come on us: I am sure you would
have _paunched us_."

Determined to have the Philadelphia version of this elegant phrase, I
inquired what it meant, and was informed, that in their country when
any one had his bowels _squeezed_ out, they called it "_paunching_."

"Well," thought I, "after this, you might swallow the Po without
spoiling your breakfasts." The band struck up "Yankee Doodle," the
ladies were in ecstacy, and began to caper round the quarter-deck.

"La! Jemima," said Deborah, "what have you done to the western side of
your gown? it is all over white."

This was soon brushed off, but the expression was never forgotten in
the ship, and always ludicrously applied.

Having shown them the ship and all its wonders, I was glad to conduct
them back to the shore. When I met the admiral, I told him I had done
the honours, and hoped the next time he had any female relatives, he
would keep his engagements, and attend to them himself.

"Why, now, who do you think they are?" said the admiral.

"Think!" said I, "why, who should they be but your Yankee cousins?"

"Why, was you such a d----d flat as to believe what I said, eh? Why,
their father keeps a shop of all sorts at Philadelphia, and they were
going to New York, on a visit to some of their relatives, when the
ship they were in was taken and brought in here."

"Then," said I, "these are not the bon-ton of Philadelphia?"

"Just as much as Nancy Dennis is the bon-ton of Halifax," said the
admiral; "though the uncle, as I told you, is a sensible fellow in his
way."

"Very well," said I; "you have caught me for once; but remember, I pay
you for it."

And I was not long in his debt. Had he not given me this explanation,
I should have received a very false impression of the ladies of
Philadelphia, and have done them an injustice for which I should never
have forgiven myself.

The time of our sailing drew near. This was always a melancholy time
in Halifax; but my last act on shore was one which created some mirth,
and enlivened the gloom of my departure. My friend Ned and myself had
not yet had an opportunity of paying off Sir Hurricane Humbug for
telling tales to Maria, and for his false introduction to myself. One
morning we both came out of our rooms at the same moment, and were
proceeding to the breakfast parlour, when we spied the admiral
performing some experiment. Unfortunately for him, he was seated in
such a manner, just clear of a pent-house, as to be visible from our
position; and at the same time, the collar of his coat would exactly
intersect the segment of a circle described by any fluid, projected by
us over this low roof, which would thus act as a conductor into the
very pole of his neck.

The housemaid (these housemaids are always the cause or the
instruments of mischief, either by design or neglect), had left
standing near the window a pail nearly filled with dirty water, from
the wash-hand basins, &c. Ned and I looked at each other, then at the
pail, then at the admiral. Ned thought of his Maria: I of my false
introduction. Without saying a word, we both laid our hands on the
pail, and in an instant, souse went all the contents over the admiral.

"I say, what's this?" he roared out. "Oh, you d----d rascals!"

He knew it could only be us. We laughed so immoderately, that we
had not the power to move or to speak; while the poor admiral was
spitting, sputtering, and coughing, enough to bring his heart up.

"You infernal villains! No respect for a flag-officer? I'll serve you
out for this."

The tears rolled down our cheeks; but not with grief. As soon as
the admiral had sufficiently recovered himself to go in pursuit, we
thought it time to make sail. We knew we were discovered; and as the
matter could not be made worse, we resolved to tell him what it was
for. Ned began.

"How do you do, admiral? you have taken a shower-bath this morning."

He looked up, with his teeth clenched--"Oh, it's you, is it? Yes, I
thought it could be no one else. Yes, I have had a shower-bath, and be
d----d to you; and that sea-devil of a friend of yours. Pretty pass
the service has come to, when officers of my rank are treated in this
way. I'll make you both envy the tom-cat."

"Beware the housekeeper, admiral," said Ned. "Maria has made it up
with me, admiral, and she sends her love to you."

"D----n Maria."

"Oh, very well, I'll tell her so," said Ned.

"Admiral," said I, "do you remember when you sent the --- to sea in a
gale of wind, when I was midshipman of her? Well, I got just as wet
that night as you are now. Pray, admiral, have you any commands to the
Misses M'Flinn?"

"I'll tell you when I catch hold of you," said Sir Hurricane, as he
moved up stairs to his room, dripping like Pope's Lodona, only not
smelling so sweet.

Hearing a noise, the housekeeper came up, and all the family assembled
to condole with the humid admiral, but each enjoying the joke as much
as ourselves. We however paid rather dearly for it. The admiral swore
that neither of us should eat or drink in the house for three days;
and Ned's father, though ready to burst with laughter, was forced in
common decency to say that he thought the admiral perfectly right
after so gross a violation of hospitality.

I went and dined on board my ship, Ned went to a coffee-house; but
on the third morning after the shower, I popped my head into the
breakfast parlour, and said,

"Admiral, I have a good story to tell you, if you will let me come
in."

"I'd see you d----d first, you young scum of a fish pond. Be off, or
I'll shy the ham at your head."

"No, but indeed, my dear Admiral, it is such a nice story; it is one
just to your fancy."

"Well then, stand there and tell it, but don't come in, for if you
do--"

I stood at the door and told him the story.

"Well, now," said he, "that is a good story, and I will forgive you
for it." So with a hearty laugh at my ingenuity, he promised to
forgive us both, and I ran and fetched Ned to breakfast.

This was the safest mode we could have adopted to get into favour, for
the admiral was a powerful, gigantic fellow, that could have given us
some very awkward squeezes. The peace was very honourably kept, and
the next day the ship sailed.



Chapter XXV

    They turned into a long and wide street, in which not a single
    living figure appeared to break the perspective. Solitude is never
    so overpowering as when it exists among the works of man. In old
    woods, or on the tops of mountains, it is graceful and benignant,
    for it is at home; but where thick dwellings are, it wears a
    ghost-like aspect.--INESILLA.


We were ordered to look out for the American squadron that had done so
much mischief to our trade; and directed our course, for this purpose,
to the coast of Africa. We had been out about ten days, when a vessel
was seen from the mast-head. We were at that time within about one
hundred and eighty leagues of the Cape de Verd Islands. We set all
sail in chase, and soon made her out to be a large frigate, who seemed
to have no objection to the meeting, but evidently tried her rate of
sailing with us occasionally: her behaviour left us no doubt that she
was an American frigate, and we cleared for action.

The captain, I believe, had never been in a sea fight, or if he had,
he had entirely forgotten all he had learned; for which reason, in
order to refresh his memory, he laid upon the capstan-head, the famous
epitome of John Hamilton Moore, now obsolete, but held at that time to
be one of the most luminous authors who had ever treated on maritime
affairs. John, who certainly gives a great deal of advice on every
subject, has, amongst other valuable directions, told us how to bring
a ship into action, according to the best and most approved methods,
and how to take your enemy afterwards, if you can. But the said John
must have thought red hot shot could be heated by a process somewhat
similar to that by which he heated his own nose, or he must entirely
have forgotten "the manners and customs in such cases used at sea,"
for he recommends, as a prelude or first course to the entertainment,
a good dose of red hot shot, served up the moment the guests are
assembled; but does not tell us where the said dishes are to
be cooked. No doubt whatever that a broadside composed of such
ingredients, would be a great desideratum in favour of a victory,
especially if the enemy should happen to have none of his own to give
in return.

So thought his lordship, who walking up to the first lieutenant, said,

"Mr Thingamay, don't you think red hot what-do-ye-call-ums should be
given in the first broadside to that thingumbob?"

"Red hot shot, do you mean, my lord?"

"Yes," said his lordship; "don't you think they would settle his
hash?"

"Where the devil are we to get them, my lord?" said the first
lieutenant, who was not the same that wanted to fight me for saying he
was as clever a fellow as the captain: that man had been unshipped by
the machinations of Toady.

"Very true," said his lordship.

We now approached the stranger very fast, when, to our great
mortification, she proved to be an English frigate; she made the
private signal, it was answered; showed her number, we showed ours,
and her captain being junior officer came on board, to pay his
respects and show his order. He was three weeks from England, brought
news of a peace with France, and, among other treats, a navy list,
which, next to a bottle of London porter, is the greatest luxury to a
sea officer in a foreign climate.

Greedily did we all run over this interesting little book, and among
the names of the new made commanders, I was overjoyed to find my own;
the last on the list to be sure, but that I cared not for. I received
the congratulations of my messmates; we parted company with the
stranger, and steered for the island of St Jago, our captain intending
to complete his water in Port Praya Bay, previous to a long cruise
after the American squadron.

We found here a slave vessel in charge of a naval officer, bound to
England; and I thought this a good opportunity to quit, not being over
anxious to serve as a lieutenant when I knew I was a commander. I was
also particularly anxious to return to England for many reasons,
the hand of my dear Emily standing at the head of them. I therefore
requested the captain's permission to quit the ship; and as he wished
to give an acting order to one of his own followers, he consented. I
took my leave of all my messmates, and of my captain, who, though an
unfeeling coxcomb and no sailor, certainly had some good points about
him: in fact, his lordship was a gentleman; and had his ship fallen
in with an enemy, she would have been well fought, as he had good
officers, was sufficiently aware of his own incapability, would take
advice, and as a man of undaunted bravery, was not to be surpassed in
the service.

On the third day after our arrival, the frigate sailed. I went on
board the slaver, which had no slaves on board except four to assist
in working the vessel; she was in a filthy state, and there was no
inn on shore, and of course no remedy. Port Praya is the only good
anchorage in the island; the old town of St Jago was deserted, in
consequence of there being only an open roadstead before it, very
unsafe for vessels to lie in. The town of Port Praya is a miserable
assemblage of mud huts; the governor's house, and one more, are better
built, but they are not so comfortable as a cottage in England. There
were not ten Portuguese on the island, and above ten thousand blacks,
all originally slaves; and yet every thing was peaceable, although
fresh arrivals of slaves came every day.

It was easy to distinguish the different races: the Yatoffes are tall
men, not very stoutly built; most of them are soldiers. I have seen
ten of them standing together, the lowest not less than six feet two
or three inches. The Foulahs, from the Ashantee country, are another
race, they are powerful and muscular, ill-featured, badly disposed,
and treacherous. The Mandingoes are a smaller race than the others,
but they are well disposed and tractable.

The island of slaves is kept in subjection by slaves only, who are
enrolled as soldiers, miserably equipped; a cap and a jacket was all
they owed to art, nature provided the rest of their uniform. The
governor's orderly alone sported a pair of trousers, and these were on
permanent duty, being transferred from one to the other as their turn
for that service came on.

I paid my respects to the governor, who, although a Portuguese, chose
to follow the fashion of the island, and was as black as most of his
subjects. After a few French compliments, I took my leave. I was
curious to see the old town of St Jago, which had been abandoned; and
after a hot walk of two hours over uncultivated ground, covered with
fine goats, which are the staple of the island, I reached the desolate
spot.

It was melancholy to behold: it seemed as if the human race were
extinct. The town was built on a wide ravine running down to the sea;
the houses were of stone, and handsome; the streets regular and paved,
which proves that it had formerly been a place of some importance; but
it is surprising that a spot so barren as this island generally is
should ever have had any mercantile prosperity. Whatever it did enjoy,
I should conceive must have been anterior to the Portuguese having
sailed round the Cape of Good Hope; and the solidity and even elegance
of construction among the buildings justifies the supposition.

The walls were massive, and remained entire; the churches were
numerous, but the roofs of them and the dwelling-houses had mostly
fallen in. Trees had grown to a considerable height in the midst of
the streets, piercing through the pavements and raising the stones
on each side; and the convent gardens were a mere wilderness. The
cocoa-nut tree had thrust its head through many a roof, and its long
stems through the tops of the houses; the banana luxuriated out of
the windows. The only inhabitants of a town capable of containing ten
thousand inhabitants, were a few friars who resided in a miserable
ruin which had once been a beautiful convent. They were the first
negro friars I had ever seen; their cowls were as black as their
faces, and their hair grey and woolly. I concluded they had adopted
this mode of life as being the laziest; but I could not discover by
what means they could gain a livelihood, for there were none to give
them anything in charity.

The appearance of these poor men added infinitely to the necromantic
character of the whole melancholy scene. There was a beauty, a
loveliness, in these venerable ruins, which delighted me. There was a
solemn silence in the town; but there was a small, still voice, that
said to me: "London may one day be the same--and Paris; and you and
your children's children will all have lived and had their loves and
adventures; but who will the wretched man be, that shall sit on the
summit of Primrose Hill, and look down upon the desolation of the
mighty city, as I, from this little eminence, behold the once
flourishing town of St Jago?"

The goats were browsing on the side of the hill, and the little kids
frisking by their dams. "These," thought I, "perhaps are the only food
and nourishment of these poor friars." I walked to Port Praya, and
returned to my floating prison, the slave ship. The officer who was
conducting her home, as a prize, was not a pleasant man; I did not
like him: and nothing passed between us but common civility. He was an
old master's mate, who had probably served his time thrice over; but
having no merit of his own, and no friends to cause that defect to be
overlooked, he had never obtained promotion: he therefore naturally
looked on a young commander with envy. He had only given me a passage
home, from motives which he could not resist; first, because he was
forced to obey the orders of my late captain; and, secondly,
because my purse would supply the cabin with the necessary stock of
refreshments, in the shape of fruit, poultry, and vegetables, which
are to be procured at Port Praya; he was therefore under the necessity
of enduring my company.

The vessel, I found, was not to sail on the following day, as he
intended. I therefore took my gun, at daybreak, and wandered with a
guide up the valleys, in search of the pintados, or Guinea fowl, with
which the island abounds; but they were so shy that I never could get
a shot at them; and I returned over the hills, which my guide assured
me was the shortest way. Tired with my walk, I was not sorry to arrive
at a sheltered valley, where the palmetto and the plantain offer
a friendly shade from the burning sun. The guide, with wonderful
agility, mounted the cocoa-nut tree, and threw down half a dozen nuts.
They were green, and their milk I thought the most refreshing and
delicious draught I had ever taken.

The vesper bells at Port Praya were now summoning the poor black
friars to their devotion; and a stir and bustle appeared among the
little black boys and girls, of whose presence I was till then
ignorant. They ran from the coverts, and assembled near the front of
the only cottage visible to my eye. A tall elderly negro man came out,
and took his seat on a mound of turf a few feet from the cottage; he
was followed by a lad, about twenty years of age, who bore in his
hand a formidable cowskin. For the information of my readers, I must
observe that a cowskin is a large whip, made like a riding whip, out
of the hide of the hippopotamus, or sea-cow, and is proverbial for
the severity of punishment it is capable of inflicting. After the
executioner came, with slow and measured steps, the poor little
culprits, five boys and three girls, who, with most rueful faces,
ranged themselves, rank and file, before the old man.

I soon perceived that the hands were turned up for punishment; but the
nature of the offence I had yet to learn: nor did I know whether any
order had been given to strip. With the boys this would have been
supererogatory, as they were quite naked. The female children had on
cotton chemises, which they slowly and reluctantly rolled up, until
they had gathered them close under their armpits.

The old man then ordered the eldest boy to begin his Pater Noster;
and simultaneously the whipper-in elevated his cowskin by way of
encouragement. The poor boy watched it, out of the corner of his eye,
and then began "Pattery nobstur, qui, qui, qui--(here he received a
most severe lash from the cowskin bearer)--is in silly," roared the
boy, as if the continuation had been expelled from his mouth by the
application of external force in an opposite direction--"sancty
fisheter nom tum, adveny regnum tum, fi notun tas, ta, ti, tu,
terror," roared the poor fellow, as he saw the lash descending on his
defenceless back--

"Terror indeed," thought I.

"Pannum nossum quotditty hamminum da nobs holyday, e missy nobs
debitty nossa si cut nos demittimissibus debetenibas nossimus e,
ne, nos hem-duckam in, in, in temptationemum, sed lillibery nos a
ma--ma--" Here a heavy lash brought the very Oh! that was "caret" to
complete the sentence.

My readers are not to suppose that the rest of the class acquitted
themselves with as much ability as their leader, who, compared to
them, was perfectly erudite; the others received a lash for every
word, or nearly so. The boys were first disposed of, in order, I
suppose, that they might have the full benefit of the applicant's
muscles; while the poor girls had the additional pleasure of
witnessing the castigation until their turn came; and that they
were aware of what awaited them was evident, from their previous
arrangement and disposition of dress, at the commencement of the
entertainment. The girls accordingly came up one after another to say
their Ave Maria, as more consonant to their sex; but I could scarcely
contain my rage when the rascally cowskin was applied to them, or my
laughter when, smarting under its lash, they exclaimed, "Benedicta
Mulieribus," applying their little hands with immoderate pressure to
the afflicted part.

I could have found in my heart to have wrested the whip out of the
hands of the young negro, and applied it with all my might to him, and
his old villain of a master, and father of these poor children, as I
soon found he was. My patience was almost gone when the second girl
received a lash for her "Plena Gratia." She screamed, and danced, and
lifted up her poor legs in agony, rubbing herself on her "_west_"
side, as the Philadelphia ladies call it, with as much assiduity as if
it had been one of those cases in which friction is prescribed by the
faculty.

But the climax was yet to come. A grand stage effect was to be
produced before the falling of the curtain. The youngest girl was so
defective in her lesson, that not one word of it could be extracted
from her, even by the cowskin; nothing but piercing shrieks, enough
to make my heart bleed, could the poor victim utter. Irritated at
the child's want of capacity to repeat by rote what she could not
understand, the old man darted from his seat, and struck her senseless
to the ground.

I could bear no more. My first impulse was to wrest the cowskin from
the negro's hand, and revenge the poor bleeding child as she lay
motionless on the ground; but a moment's reflection convinced me that
such a step would only have brought down a double weight of punishment
on the victims when I was gone; so, catching up my hat, I turned away
with disgust, and walked slowly towards the town and bay of Port
Praya, reflecting as I went along what pleasant ideas the poor
creatures must entertain of religion, when the name of God and of the
cowskin were invariably associated in their minds. I began to parody
one of Watts's hymns--

  "Lord! how delightful 'tis to see
  A whole assembly worship thee."

The indignation I felt against this barbarous and ignorant negro was
not unmingled with some painful recollections of my own younger days,
when, in a Christian and protestant country, the bible and prayer-book
had been made objects of terror to my mind; tasks, greater than
my capacity could compass, and floggings in proportion were not
calculated to forward the cause of religious instruction in the mind
of an obstinate boy.

Reaching the water-side, I embarked on board of my slaver; and the
next day sailed for England. We had a favourable passage until we
reached the chops of the channel, when a gale of wind from the
north-east caught us, and drove us down so far to the southward that
the prize master found himself under the necessity of putting into
Bordeaux to refit, and to replenish his water.

I was not sorry for this, as I was tired of the company of this
officer, who was both illiterate and ill-natured, neither a sailor nor
a gentleman. Like many others in the service, who are most loud in
their complaints for want of promotion, I considered that even in his
present rank he was what we called a _king's hard bargain_--that is,
not worth his salt; and promoting men of his stamp would only have
been picking the pocket of the country. As soon, therefore, as we
had anchored in the Gironde, off the city of Bordeaux, and had been
visited by the proper authorities, I quitted the vessel and her
captain, and went on shore.

Taking up my abode at the Hôtel d'Angleterre, my first care was to
order a good dinner; and having despatched that, and a bottle of Vin
de Beaune (which, by the by, I strongly recommend to all travellers,
if they can get it, for I am no bad judge), I asked my _valet de
place_ how I was to dispose of myself for the remainder of the
evening?

"_Mais, monsieur_," said he, "_il faut aller au spectacle_?"

"_Allons_," said I, and in a few minutes I was seated in the stage-box
of the handsomest theatre in the world.

What strange events--what unexpected meetings and sudden separations
are sailors liable to--what sudden transitions from grief to joy, from
joy to grief, from want to affluence, from affluence to want! All
this the history of my life, for the last six months, will fully
illustrate.



Chapter XXVI

  You will proceed in pleasure and in pride,
    Beloved, and loving many; all is o'er
  For me on earth, except some years to hide
    My shame and sorrow deep in my heart's core.

  _Don Juan_.


I paid little attention to the performance; for the moment I came to
the house, my eyes were rivetted on an object from which I found it
impossible to remove them. "It is," said I, "and yet it cannot be; and
yet why should it not?" A young lady sat in one of the boxes; she was
elegantly attired, and seemed to occupy the united attentions of many
Frenchmen, who eagerly caught her smiles.

"Either that is Eugenia," thought I, "or I have fallen asleep in the
ruins of St Jago, and am dreaming of her. That is Eugenia, or I am
not Frank. It is her, or it is her ghost." Still I had not that moral
certainty of the identity, as to enable me to go at once to her, and
address her. Indeed, had I been certain, all things considered, the
situation we were in would have rendered such a step highly improper.

"If that be Eugenia," thought I, again, "she has improved both in
manner and person. She has a becoming _embonpoint_, and an air _de bon
societé_ which, when we parted, she had not."

The more intensely I gazed, the more convinced was I that I was right;
the immovable devotion of my eyes attracted the attention of a French
officer, who sat near me.

"_C'est une jolie femme, n'est-ce pas, monsieur_?"

"_Vraiment_" said I. "Do you know her name?"

"_Elle s'appelle Madame de Rosenberg_."

"Then I am wrong, after all," said I to myself. "Has she a husband,
Sir?"

"_Pardonnez-moi, elle est veuve, mais elle a un petit garçon de cinq
ans, beau comme un ange_."

"That is her," said I again, reviving. "Is she a Frenchwoman?"

"_Du tout, Monsieur, elle est une de vos compatriottes; c'est un fort
joli exemplaire_."

She had only been three months at Bordeaux, and had refused many very
good offers in marriage. Such was the information I obtained from my
obliging neighbour; and I was now convinced that Madame de Rosenberg
could be no other than Eugenia. Every endeavour to catch her eye
proved abortive. My only hope was to follow the carriage.

When the play was over, I waited with an impatience like that of a
spirited hunter who hears the hounds. At last, the infernal squalling
of the vocalists ceased, but not before I had devoutly wished that
all the wax candles in the house were down their throats and burning
there. I saw one of the gentlemen in the box placing the shawl over
her shoulders, with the most careful attention, while the bystanders
seemed ready to tear him in pieces, from envy. I hurried to the door,
and saw her handed into her carriage, which drove off at a great pace.
I ran after it, jumped up behind, and took my station by the side of
the footman.

"_Descendez donc, Monsieur_," said the man.

"I'll be d----d if I do," said I.

"_Comment donc_?" said the man.

"_Tais-toi bête_" said I, "_ou je te brulerai la cervelle_."

"_Vous f----e_," said the man, who behaved very well, and instantly
began to remove me, _vi et armis_; but I planted a stomacher in his
fifth button, which I knew would put him _hors de combat_ for a few
minutes, and by that time, at the rate the carriage was driving, my
purpose would have been answered. The fellow lost his breath--could
not hold on or speak--so tumbled off and lay in the middle of the
road.

As he fell on dry ground and was not an English sailor, I did not jump
after him, but left him to his own ease, and we saw no more of him,
for we were going ten knots, while he lay becalmed without a breath of
wind. This was one of the most successful acts of usurpation recorded
in modern history. It has its parallels, I know; but I cannot now stop
to comment on them, or on my own folly and precipitation. I was as
firmly fixed behind the carriage, as Bonaparte was on the throne of
France after the battle of Eylau.

We stopped at a large _porte cochère_, being the entrance to a very
grand house, with lamps at the door, within a spacious court yard;
we drove in and drew up. I was down in a moment, opened the carriage
door, and let down the steps. The lady descended, laid her hand on my
arm without perceiving that she had changed her footman, and tripped
lightly up the stairs. I followed her into a handsome saloon, where
another servant in livery had placed lights on the table. She turned
round, saw me, and fainted in my arms.

It was, indeed, Eugenia, herself; and with all due respect to my
dear Emily, I borrowed a thousand kisses while she lay in a state of
torpor, in a fauteuil to which I carried her. It was some few minutes
before she opened her eyes; the man-servant, who had brought the
lights, very properly never quitted the room, but was perfectly
respectful in his manner, rightly conceiving that I had some authority
for my proceedings.

"My dearest Frank," said Eugenia, "what an unexpected meeting! What,
in the name of fortune, could have brought you here?"

"That," said I, "is a story too long, Eugenia, for a moment so
interesting as this. I also might ask you the same question; but it is
now one o'clock in the morning, and, therefore, too late to begin with
inquiry. This one question, however, I must ask--are you a mother?"

"I am," said Eugenia, "of the most lovely boy that ever blessed the
eyes of a parent; he is now in perfect health and fast asleep--come
to-morrow, at ten o'clock, and you shall see him."

"To-morrow," said I, with surprise, "to-morrow, Eugenia? why am I to
quit your house?"

"That also you shall know, to-morrow," said she; "but now you must do
as you are desired. To-morrow, I will be at home to no one but you."

Knowing Eugenia as I did, it was sufficient that she had decided.
There was no appeal; so, kissing her again, I wished her a good night,
quitted her, and retired to my hotel. What a night of tumult did I
pass! I was tossed from Emily to Eugenia, like a shuttlecock between
two battledores. The latter never looked so lovely; and to the natural
loveliness of her person, was added a grace and a polish, which gave
a lustre to her charms, which almost served Emily as I had served the
footman. I never once closed my eyes during the night--dressed early
the next morning, walked about, looked at Château Trompette and the
Roman ruins--thought the hour of ten would never strike, and when it
did, I struck the same moment at her door.

The man who opened it to me was the same whom I had treated so ill the
night before; the moment he saw me, he put himself into an attitude at
once of attack, defence, remonstrance, and revenge, all connected with
the affair of the preceding evening.

"_Ah, ah, vous voilà donc! ce n'étoit pas bienfait, Monsieur_."

"_Oui_," said I, "_très nettement fait, et voilà encore_," slipping a
Napoleon into his hand.

"_Ca s'arrange très-joliment, Monsieur_," said the man, grinning from
ear to ear, and bowing to the ground.

"_C'est Madame, que vous voulez donc_?"

"_Oui_," said I.

He led, I followed; he opened the door of a breakfast
parlour--"_tenez, Madame, voici le Monsieur que m'a renversé hier au
soi_."

Eugenia was seated on a sofa, with her boy by her side, the loveliest
little fellow I had ever beheld. His face was one often described,
but rarely seen; it was shaded with dark curling ringlets, his mouth,
eyes, and complexion had much of his mother, and, vanity whispered me,
much more of myself. I took a seat on the sofa, and with the boy on my
knee, and Eugenia by my side, held her hand, while she narrated the
events of her life since the time of our separation.

"A few days," said she, "after your departure for the Flushing
expedition, I read in the public prints, that 'if the nearest relation
of my mother would call at ----, in London, they would hear of
something to their advantage.' I wrote to the agent, from whom I
learned, after proving my identity, that the two sisters of my mother,
who, you may remember, had like sums left them by the will of their
relative, had continued to live in a state of single blessedness;
that, about four years previous, one of them had died, leaving every
thing to the other, and that the other had died only two months
before, bequeathing all her property to my mother, or her next heir;
or, in default of that, to some distant relation. I, therefore,
immediately came into a fortune of ten thousand pounds, with interest;
and I was further informed that a great-uncle of mine was still
living, without heirs, and was most anxious that my mother or her
heirs should be discovered. An invitation was therefore sent to me to
go down to him, and to make his house my future residence.

"At that time, the effects of my indiscretion were but too apparent,
and rendered, as I thought, deception justifiable. I put on widow's
weeds, and gave out that my husband was a young officer, who had
fallen a victim to the fatal Walcheren fever; that our marriage had
been clandestine, and unknown to any of his friends: such was my story
and appearance before the agent, who believed me. The same fabrication
was put upon my grand-uncle, with equal success. I was received into
his house with parental affection; and in that house I gave birth to
the dear child you now hold in your arms--to your child, my Frank--to
the only child I shall ever have. Yes, dear Eugenio," continued she,
pressing her rosy lips on the broad white neck of the child, "you
shall be my only care, my solace, my comfort, and my joy. Heaven,
in its mercy, sent the cherub to console its wretched mother in the
double pangs of guilt and separation from all she loved; and Heaven
shall be repaid, by my return to its slighted, its insulted laws. I
feel that my sin is forgiven; for I have besought forgiveness night
and day, with bitter tears, and Heaven has heard my prayer. 'Go, and
sin no more,' was said to me; and upon these terms I have received
forgiveness.

"You will no doubt ask, why did I not let you know all this? and why I
so carefully secreted myself from you? My reasons were founded on the
known impetuosity of your character. You, my beloved, who could brave
death, and all the military consequences of desertion from a ship
lying at Spithead, were not likely to listen to the suggestions of
prudence when Eugenia was to be found; and, having once given out that
I was a widow, I resolved to preserve the consistency of my character
for my own sake--for your sake, and for the sake of this blessed
child, the only drop that has sweetened my cup of affliction. Had you
by any means discovered my place of abode, the peace of my uncle's
house, and the prospects of my child had been for ever blasted.

"Now then say, Frank, have I, or have I not, acted the part of a Roman
mother? My grand-uncle having declared his intention of making me heir
to his property, for his sake, and yours, and for my child, I have
preserved the strict line of duty, from which God, in his infinite
mercy, grant that I may never depart.

"I first resolved upon not seeing you until I could be more my own
mistress; and when, at the death of my respected relative, I was not
only released from any restraint on account of his feelings, but
also became still more independent in my circumstances, you might
be surprised that I did not immediately impart to you the change of
fortune which would have enabled us to have enjoyed the comfort of
unrestricted communication. But time, reflection, the conversation and
society of my uncle and his select friends, the care of my infant, and
the reading of many excellent books had wrought a great change in my
sentiments. Having once tasted the pleasures of society among virtuous
women, I vowed to Heaven that no future act of mine should ever drive
me from it. The past could not be recalled; but the future was my own.

"I took the sacrament after a long and serious course of reading;
and, having made my vows at the altar, with the help of God, they are
unchangeable. Dramatic works, the pernicious study and poison of my
youthful ardent mind, I have long since discarded; and I had resolved
never to see you again, until after your marriage with Miss Somerville
had been solemnised. Start not! By the simplest and easiest means
I have known all your movements--your dangers, your escapes, your
undaunted acts of bravery and self-devotion for the sake of others.

"'Shall I then,' said I to myself, 'blast the prospects of the man
I love--the father of my boy? Shall I, to gratify the poor, pitiful
ambition of becoming the wife of him, to whom I once was the mistress,
sacrifice thus the hopes and fortune of himself and family, the reward
of a virtuous maiden?' In all this I hope you will perceive a proper
share of self-denial. Many, many floods of bitter tears of repentance
and regret have I shed over my past conduct; and I trust, that what
I have suffered and what I shall suffer, will be received as my
atonement at the Throne of Grace. True, I once looked forward to the
happy period of our union, when I might have offered myself to you,
not as a portionless bride; but I was checked by one maddening,
burning, inextingishable thought. I could not be received into that
society to which you were entitled. I felt that I loved you, Frank;
loved you too well to betray you. The woman that had so little respect
for herself, was unfit to be the wife of Francis Mildmay.

"Besides, how could I do my sweet boy the injustice to allow him to
have brothers and sisters possessing legitimate advantages over him?
I felt that our union never could be one of happiness, even if you
consented to take me as your wife, of which I had my doubts; and when
I discovered, through my emissaries, that you were on the point of
marriage with Miss Somerville, I felt that it was all for the best;
that I had no right to complain; the more so as it was I who (I blush
to say it) had seduced you.

"But, Frank, if I cannot be your wife--and alas! I know too well that
that is impossible--will you allow me to be your friend, your dear
friend, as the mother of your child, or, if you please, as your
sister? But there the sacred line is drawn; it is a compact between
my God and myself. You know my firmness and decision; once maturely
deliberated, my resolution formed, it is not, I think, in man to turn
me. Do not, therefore, make the attempt; it will only end in your
certain defeat and shame, and in my withdrawing from your sight for
ever. You will not, I am sure, pay me so bad a compliment as to wish
me to renew the follies of my youth. If you love me, respect me;
promise, by the love you bear to Miss Somerville, and your affection
for this poor boy, that you will do as I wish you. Your honour and
peace of mind, as well as mine, demand it."

This severe rebuke, from a quarter, whence I least expected it, threw
me back with shame and confusion. As if a mirror had been held up
to me, I saw my own deformity. I saw that Eugenia was not only the
guardian of her own honour, but of mine, and of the happiness of Miss
Somerville, against whom I now stood convicted of foul deceit and
shameful wrong. I acknowledged my fault, I assured Eugenia that I was
bound to her, by every tie of honour, esteem, and love; and that her
boy and mine should be our mutual care.

"Thank you, dearest," said she: "you have taken a heavy load from my
mind: henceforth remember we are brother and sister. I shall now be
able to enjoy the pleasure of your society; and now, as that point is
settled, let me know what has occurred to you since we parted--the
particulars I mean, for the outline I have had before."

I related to her everything which had happened to me, from the hour of
our separation to the moment I saw her so unexpectedly in the theatre.
She was alternately affected with terror, surprise, and laughter. She
took a hearty crying spell over the motionless bodies of Clara and
Emily, as they lay on the floor; but recovered from that, and went
into hysterics of laughter, when I described the footman's mistake,
and the slap on the face bestowed on him by the housemaid.

My mind was not naturally corrupt. It was only so at times, and from
peculiar circumstances; but I was always generous, and easily recalled
to a sense of my duty, when reminded of my fault. Not for an empire
would I have persuaded Eugenia to break her vow. I loved and respected
the mother of my child; the more when I reflected that she had been
the means of preserving my fidelity to Emily. I rejoiced to think
that my friendship for the one, and love for the other, were not
incompatible. I wrote immediately to Emily, announcing my speedy
return to England.

"Having the most perfect reliance on your honour, I shall now," said
Eugenia, "accept of your escort to London, where my presence is
required. Pierre shall accompany us--he is a faithful creature, though
you used him so ill."

"That," said I, "is all made up, and Pierre will be heartily glad of
another tumble for the same price."

All our arrangements were speedily made. The house was given up--a
roomy travelling barouche received all our trunks; and, seated by the
side of Eugenia, with the child between us, we crossed the Gironde,
and took our way through Poictiers, Tours, and Orleans, to Paris; here
we remained but a short time. Neither of us were pleased with the
manners and habits of the French; but as they have been so fully
described by the swarms of English travellers who have infested
that country with their presence, and this with the fruits of their
labours, I shall pass as quietly through France, as I hope to do
through the Thames Tunnel, when it is completed, but not before.

Eugenia consulted me as to her future residence; and here I own
I committed a great error, but, I declare to Heaven, without any
criminal intention. I ventured to suggest that she should live in a
very pretty village a few miles from ---- Hall, the residence of Mr
Somerville, and where, after my marriage, it was intended that I
should continue to reside with Emily. To this village, then, I
directed her to go, assuring her that I should often ride over and
visit her.

"Much as I should enjoy your company, Frank," said Eugenia, "this is
a measure fraught with evil to all parties; nor is it fair dealing
towards your future wife."

Unhappily for me, that turn for duplicity, which I had imbibed in
early life, had not forsaken me, notwithstanding the warnings I had
received, and the promises of amendment which I had made. Flattering
myself that I intended no harm, I overruled all the scruples of
the excellent Eugenia. She despatched a confidential person to the
village; on the outskirts of which, he procured for her a commodious,
and even elegant cottage ornée ready furnished. She went down with her
child and Pierre to take possession; and I to my father's house, where
my appearance was hailed as a signal for a grand jubilee.

Clara I found had entirely changed her unfavourable opinion of sea
officers, induced thereto by the engaging manners of my friend Talbot,
on whom I was delighted to learn she was about to bestow her very
pretty little white hand at the altar. This was a great triumph to the
navy, for I always told Clara, laughingly, that I never would forgive
her if she quitted the service; and as I entertained the highest
respect for Talbot, I considered the prospects of my sister were very
bright and flattering, and that she had made a choice very likely to
secure her happiness. "Rule Britannia," said I to Clara; "Blue for
ever!"

The next morning I started for Mr Somerville's, where I was of course
received with open arms; and the party, a few days after, having been
increased by the arrival of my father with Clara and Talbot, I was as
happy as a human being could be. Six weeks was the period assigned by
my fair one as the very shortest in which she could get rigged, bend
new sails, and prepare for the long and sometimes tedious voyage of
matrimony. I remonstrated at the unconscionable delay.

"Long as it may appear," she said, "it is much less time than you took
to fit out your fine frigate for North America."

"That frigate was not got ready even then by any hurry of mine," said
I; "and if ever I come to be first lord of the Admiralty, I shall
have a bright eye on the young lieutenants and their sweethearts
at Blackheath, particularly when a ship is fitting in a hurry at
Woolwich."

Much of this kind of sparring went on, to the great amusement of all
parties; meanwhile, the ladies employed themselves in running up
milliner's bills, and their papas employed themselves in discharging
them. My father was particularly liberal to Emily in the articles of
plate and jewellery, and Mr Somerville equally kind to Clara. Emily
received a trinket box, so beautifully fitted and so well filled, that
it required a cheque of no trifling magnitude to cry quits with the
jeweller; indeed my father's kindness was so great, that I was forced
to beg he would set some bounds to his liberality.

I was so busy and so happy, that I had let three weeks pass over my
head without seeing Eugenia. I dreamed of her at last, and thought she
upbraided me; and the next day, full of my dream, as soon as breakfast
was over, I recommended the young ladies to the care of Talbot, and,
mounting my horse, rode over to see Eugenia. She received me kindly,
but she had suffered in her health, and was much out of spirits. I
inquired the reason, and she burst into tears. "I shall be better,
Frank," said she, "when all is over, but I must suffer now; and I
suffer the more acutely from a conviction that I am only paying
the penalty of my own crime. Perhaps," continued she, "had I never
departed from virtue, I might at this moment have held in your heart
the envied place of Miss Somerville; but as the righteous decrees of
Providence having provided punishment to tread fast in the footsteps
of guilt, I am now expiating my faults, and I have a presentiment that
although the struggle is bitter, it will soon be over. God's will be
done; and may you, my dear Frank, have many, many happy years in the
society of one you are bound to love before the unhappy Eugenia."

Here she sank on a sofa, and again wept bitterly.

"I feel," said she, "now, but it is too late--I feel that I have acted
wrongly in quitting Bordeaux. There I was loved and respected; and
if not happy, at least I was composed. Too much dependence on my
resolution, and the vanity of supposing myself superior in magnanimity
to the rest of my sex, induced me to trust myself in your society.
Dearly, alas! have I paid for it. My only chance of victory over
myself was flight from you, after I had given the irrevocable
sentence; by not doing so, the poison has again found its way to my
heart. I feel that I love you; that I cannot have you; and that death,
very shortly, must terminate my intolerable sufferings."

This affecting address pierced me to the soul; and now the
consequences of my guilt and duplicity rushed upon me like a torrent
through a bursting flood-gate. I would have resigned Emily, I would
have fled with Eugenia to some distant country, and buried our sorrows
in each other's bosoms; and, in a state of irrepressible emotion, I
proposed this step to her.

"What do I hear, my beloved?" said she (starting up with horror from
the couch on which she was sitting, with her face between her knees),
"what! is it you that would resign home, friends, character, the
possession of a virtuous woman, all, for the polluted smiles of an ----"

"Hold! hold! my Eugenia," said I; "do not, I beseech you, shock my
ears with an epithet which you do not deserve! Mine, mine, is all the
guilt; forget me, and you will still be happy."

She looked at me, then at her sweet boy, who was playing on the
carpet--but she made no answer; and then a flood of tears succeeded.

It was, indeed, a case of singular calamity for a beautiful young
creature to be placed in. She was only in her three-and-twentieth
year--and, lovely as she was, nature had scarcely had time to finish
the picture. The regrets which subdued my mind on that fatal morning
may only be conceived by those who, like me, have led a licentious
life--have, for a time, buried all moral and religious feeling, and
have been suddenly called to a full sense of their guilt, and the
misery they have entailed on the innocent. I sat down and groaned. I
cannot say I wept, for I could not weep; but my forehead burned, and
my heart was full of bitterness.

While I thus meditated, Eugenia sat with her hand on her forehead, in
a musing attitude. Had she been reverting to her former studies, and
thrown herself into the finest conceivable posture of the tragic muse,
her appearance would not have been half so beautiful and affecting.
I thought she was praying, and I think so still. The tears ran in
silence down her face; I kissed them off, and almost forgot Emily.

"I am better now, Frank," said the poor, sorrowful woman; "do not come
again until after the wedding. When will it take place?" she inquired,
with a trembling and a faltering voice.

My heart almost burst within me, as I told her, for I felt as if I
was signing a warrant for her execution. I took her in my arms, and,
tenderly embracing her, endeavoured to divert her thoughts from the
mournful fate that too evidently hung over her; she became tranquil,
and I proposed taking a stroll in the adjoining park. I thought the
fresh air would revive her.

She agreed to this; and, going to her room, returned in a few minutes.
To her natural beauty was added on that fatal day a morning dress,
which more than any other became her; it was white, richly trimmed,
and fashionably made up by a celebrated French milliner. Her bonnet
was white muslin, trimmed with light blue ribbons, and a sash of the
same colour confined her slender waist. The little Eugenio ran before
us, now at my side, and now at his mother's. We rambled about for some
time, the burthen of our conversation being the future plans and mode
of education to be adopted for the child; this was a subject on which
she always dwelt with peculiar pleasure.

Tired with our walk, we sat down under a clump of beech trees, near
a grassy ascent, winding among the thick foliage, contrived by the
opulent owner to extend and diversify the rides in his noble domain.
Eugenio was playing around us, picking the wild flowers, and running
up to me to inquire their names.

The boy was close by my side, when, startled at a noise, he turned
round and exclaimed--

"Oh! look, mamma, look, papa, there is a lady and a gentleman
a-riding."

I turned round, and saw Mr Somerville and Emily on horseback, within
six paces of me; so still they stood, so mute, I could have fancied
Emily a wax-work figure. They neither breathed nor moved; even their
very horses seemed to be of bronze, or, perhaps the unfortunate
situation in which I found myself made me think them so. They had come
as unexpectedly on us as we had discovered them. The soft turf had
received the impression of their horses' feet, and returned no sound;
and if they snorted, we had either not attended to them in the warmth
of our conversation, or we had never heard them.

I rose up hastily--coloured deeply--stammered, and was about to speak.
Perhaps it was better that I did not; but I had no opportunity. Like
apparitions they came, and like apparitions they vanished. The avenue
from whence they had so silently issued, received them again, and they
were gone before Eugenia was sensible of their presence.



Chapter XXVII

  Fare thee well; and if for ever--
    Still for ever fare thee well:
  Even though unforgiving, never
    'Gainst thee shall my heart rebel.

  BYRON.


I was so stunned with this _contretemps_, that I fell senseless to the
ground; and it was long before the kind attentions and assiduity of
Eugenia could restore me. When she had succeeded, my first act was one
of base ingratitude, cruelty, and injustice: I spurned her from me,
and upbraided her as the cause of my unfortunate situation. She only
replied with tears. I quitted her and the child without bidding them
adieu, little thinking I should never see them again. I ran to the
inn, where I had left my horse, mounted, and rode back to ---- Hall.
Mr Somerville and his daughter had just arrived, and Emily was lifted
off her horse, and obliged to be carried up to her room.

Clara and Talbot came to enquire what had happened. I could give
no account of it; but earnestly requested to see Emily. The answer
returned was that Miss Somerville declined seeing me. In the course of
this day, which, in point of mental suffering, exceeded all I had
ever endured in the utmost severity of professional hardship, an
explanation had taken place between myself, my father, and Mr
Somerville. I had done that by the impulse of dire necessity which I
ought to have done at first of my own free will. I was caught at last
in my own snare. "The trains of the devil are long," said I to myself,
"but they are sure to blow up at last."

The consequence of the explanation was my final dismissal, and a
return of all the presents which my father and myself had given to
Emily. My conduct, though blamable, was not viewed in that heinous
light, either by my father or Mr Somerville; and both of them did all
that could be done to restore harmony. Clara and Talbot interposed
their kind offices, but with no better success. The maiden pride of
the inexorable Emily had been alarmed by a beautiful rival, with a
young family, in the next village. The impression had taken hold of
her spotless mind, and could not be removed. I was false, fickle, and
deceitful, and was given to understand that Miss Somerville did not
intend to quit her room until she was assured by her father that I was
no longer a guest in the house.

Under these painful circumstances, our remaining any longer at the
Hall was both useless and irksome--a source of misery to all.

My father ordered his horses the next morning, and I was carried back
to London, more dead than alive. A burning fever raged in my blood;
and the moment I reached my father's house, I was put to bed, and
placed under the care of a physician, with nurses to watch me night
and day. For three weeks I was in a state of delirium; and when I
regained my senses, it was only to renew the anguish which had
caused my disorder, and I felt any sentiment except gratitude for my
recovery.

My dear Clara had never quitted me during my confinement. I had taken
no medicine but from her hand. I asked her to give me some account of
what had happened. She told me that Talbot was gone--that my father
had seen Mr Somerville, who had informed him that Emily had received
a long letter from Eugenia, narrating every circumstance, exculpating
me, and accusing herself. Emily had wept over it, but still remained
firm in her resolution never to see me more--"And I am afraid, my dear
brother," said Clara, "that her resolution will not be very easily
altered. You know her character, and you should know something about
our sex; but sailors, they say, go round the world without going into
it. This is the only shadow of an excuse I can form for you, much as I
love and esteem you. You have hurt Emily in the nicest point, that in
which we are all the most susceptible of injury. You have wounded her
pride, which our sex rarely, if ever, forgive. At the very moment she
supposed you were devoted to her--that you were wrapped up in the
anticipation of calling her your own, and counting the minutes with
impatience until the happy day arrived; with all this persuasion
on her mind, she comes upon you, as the traveller out of the wood
suddenly comes upon the poisonous snake in his path, and cannot avoid
it. She found you locked hand-in-hand with another, a fortnight before
marriage, and with the fruits of unlawful love in your arms. What
woman could forgive this? I would not, I assure you. If Tal---, I mean
if any man were to serve me so, I would tear him from my heart,
even if the dissolution of the whole frame was to be the certain
consequence. I consider it a kindness to tell you, Frank, that you
have no hope. Much as you have and will suffer, she, poor girl, will
suffer more; and, although she will never accept you, she will not let
your place be supplied by another, but sink, broken-hearted, into her
grave. You, like all other men, will forget this; but what a warning
ought it to be to you, that, sooner or later, guilt will be productive
of misery! This you have fully proved: your licentious conduct with
this woman has ruined her peace for ever, and Divine vengeance has
dashed from your lips the cup which contained as much happiness as
this world could afford: nor has the penalty fallen on you alone--the
innocent, who had no share in the crime, are partakers in the
punishment; we are all as miserable as yourself. But God's will be
done," continued she, as she kissed my aching forehead, and her tears
fell on my face.

How heavenly is the love of a sister towards a brother! Clara was now
everything to me. Having said thus much to me on the subject of my
fault (and it must be confessed that she had not been niggardly in the
article of words), she never named the subject again, but sought by
every means in her power to amuse and to comfort me. She listened
to my exculpation; she admitted that our meeting at Bordeaux was as
unpremeditated as it was unfortunate; she condemned the imprudence of
our travelling together, and still more the choice of a residence for
Eugenia and her son.

Clara's affectionate attention and kind efforts were unavailing. I
told her so, and that all hopes of happiness for me in this world were
gone for ever.

"My dear, dear brother," said the affectionate girl, "answer me one
question. Did you ever pray?"

My answer will pretty well explain to the reader the sort of religion
mine was:--

"Why, Clara," said I, "to tell you the truth, though I may not exactly
pray, as you call it, yet words are nothing. I feel grateful to the
Almighty for his favours when he bestows them on me; and I believe a
grateful heart is all he requires."

"Then, brother, how do you feel when he afflicts you?"

"That I have nothing to thank him for," answered I.

"Then, my dear Frank, that is not religion."

"May be so," said I; "but I am in no humour to feel otherwise, at
present, so pray drop the subject."

She burst into tears. "This," said she, "is worse than all. Shall
we receive good from the hand of the Lord, and shall we not receive
evil?"

But seeing that I was in that sullen and untameable state of mind, she
did not venture to renew the subject.

As soon as I was able to quit my room, I had a long conversation with
my father, who, though deeply concerned for my happiness, said he was
quite certain that any attempt at reconciliation would be useless. He
therefore proposed two plans, and I might adopt whichever was the most
likely to divert my mind from my heavy affliction. The first was, to
ask his friends at the Admiralty to give me the command of a sloop
of war; the second, that I should go upon the continent, and, having
passed a year there, return to England, when there was no knowing what
change of sentiment time and absence might not produce in my favour.
"For," said he, "there is one very remarkable difference in the heart
of a man and of a woman. In the first, absence is very often a cure
for love. In the other, it more frequently cements and consolidates
it. In your absence, Emily will dwell on the bright parts of your
character, and forget its blemishes. The experiment is worth making,
and it is the only way which offers a chance of success."

I agreed to this. "But," said I, "as the war with France is now over,
and that with America will be terminated no doubt very shortly, I
have no wish to put you to the expense, or myself to the trouble, of
fitting out a sloop of war in time of peace, to be a pleasure-yacht
for great lords and ladies, and myself to be neither more or less than
a _maître d'hotel_: and, after having spent your money and mine, and
exhausted all my civilities, to receive no thanks, and hear that I
am esteemed at Almack's only 'a tolerable sea brute enough.' A
ship, therefore," continued I, "I will not have; and as I think the
continent holds out some novelty at least, I will, with your consent,
set off."

This point being settled, I told Clara of it. The poor girl's grief
was immoderate. "My dearest brother, I shall lose you, and be left
alone in the world. Your impetuous and unruly heart is not in a state
to be trusted among the gay and frivolous French. You will be at sea
without your compass--you have thrown religion overboard--and what is
to guide you in the hour of trial?"

"Fear not, dear Clara," said I; "my own energies will always extricate
me from the dangers you apprehend."

"Alas! it is these very energies which I dread," said Clara; "but
I trust that all will be for the best. Accept," said she, "of this
little book from poor broken-hearted Clara; and, if you love her, look
at it sometimes."

I took the book, and embracing her affectionately, assured her, that
for her sake I would read it.

When I had completed my arrangements for my foreign tour, I determined
to take one last look at ---- Hall before I left England. I set off
unknown to my family; and contrived to be near the boundaries of the
park by dusk. I desired the postboy to stop half a mile from the
house, and to wait my return. I cleared the paling; and, avoiding the
direct road, came up to the house. The room usually occupied by the
family was on the ground floor, and I cautiously approached the
window. Mr Somerville and Emily were both there. He was reading aloud;
she sat at the table with a book before her: but her thoughts, it was
evident, were not there; she had inserted her taper fingers into
the ringlets of her hair, until the palms of her hand reached her
forehead; then, bending her head towards the table, she leaned on her
elbows, and seemed absorbed in the most melancholy reflections.

"This, too, is my work," said I; "this fair flower is blighted, and
withering by the contagious touch of my baneful hand. Good Heaven!
what a wretch am I! whoever loves me is rewarded by misery. And what
have I gained by this wide waste and devastation, which my wickedness
has spread around me? Happiness? no, no--that I have lost for ever.
Would that _my_ loss were all! would that comfort might visit the soul
of this fair creature and another. But I dare not--I cannot pray; I
am at enmity with God and man. Yet I will make an effort in favour of
this victim of my baseness. O God," continued I, "if the prayers of an
outcast like me can find acceptance, not for myself, but for her, I
ask that peace which the world cannot give; shower down thy blessings
upon her, alleviate her sorrows, and erase from her memory the
existence of such a being as myself. Let not my hateful image hang as
a blight upon her beauteous frame."

Emily resumed her book, when her father had ceased reading aloud; and
I saw her wipe a tear from her cheek.

The excitement occasioned by this scene, added to my previous illness,
from the effects of which I had not sufficiently recovered, caused a
faintness; I sat down under the window, in hopes that it would pass
off. It did not, however; for I fell, and lay on the turf in a state
of insensibility, which must have lasted nearly half an hour. I
afterwards learned from Clara, that Emily had opened the window, it
being a French one, to walk out and recover herself. By the bright
moon-light, she perceived me lying on the ground. Her first idea was,
that I had committed suicide; and, with this impression, she shut
the window, and tottering to the back part of the room, fainted. Her
father ran to her assistance, and she fell into his arms. She was
taken up to her room, and consigned to the care of her woman, who put
her to bed; but she was unable to give any account of herself, or the
cause of her disorder, until the following day.

For my own part, I gradually came to my senses, and with difficulty
regained my chaise, the driver of which told me I had been gone about
an hour. I drove off to town, wholly unaware that I had been observed
by any one, much less by Emily. When she related to her father what
she had seen, he either disbelieved or affected to disbelieve it, and
treated it as the effects of a distempered mind, the phantoms of a
disordered imagination; and she at length began to coincide with him.

I started for the continent a few days afterwards. Talbot, who had
seen little of Clara since my rejection by Emily, and subsequent
illness, offered my father to accompany me; and Clara was anxious that
he should go, as she was determined not to listen to any thing he
could say during my affliction; she could not, she said, be happy
while I was miserable, and gave him no opportunity of conversing with
her on the subject of their union.

We arrived at Paris; but so abstracted was I in thought, that I
neither saw nor heard any thing. Every attention of Talbot was lost
upon me. I continued in my sullen stupor, and forgot to read the
little book which dear Clara had given, and which, for her sake, I had
promised to read. I wrote to Eugenia on my arrival; and disburthened
my mind in some measure, by acknowledging my shameful treatment of
her. I implored her pardon; and, by return of post, received it.
Her answer was affectionate and consoling; but she stated that her
spirits, of course, were low, and her health but indifferent.

For many days my mind remained in a state, of listless inanity; and
Talbot applied, or suffered others to apply, the most pernicious
stimulant that could be thought of to rouse me to action. Taking
a quiet walk with him, we met some friends of his; and, at their
request, we agreed to go to the saloons of the Palais Royal. This was
a desperate remedy, and by a miracle only was I saved from utter and
irretrievable ruin. How many of my countrymen have fallen victims to
the arts practised in that horrible school of vice, I dare not say!
Happy should I be to think that the infection had not reached our own
shores, and found patrons among the great men of the land. They have,
however, both felt the consequences, and been forewarned of the
danger. _They_ have no excuse: _mine_ was, that I had been excluded
from the society of those I loved. Always living by excitement, was it
surprising that, when a gaming-table displayed its hoards before me, I
should have fallen at once into the snare?

For the first time since my illness, I became interested, and laid
down my money on those abhorred tables. My success was variable; but
I congratulated myself that at length I had found a stimulus; and I
anxiously awaited the return of the hour when the doors would again be
opened, and the rooms lighted up for the reception of company. I won
considerably; and night after night found me at the table--for avarice
is insatiable; but my good luck left me: and then the same motive
induced me to return, with the hope of winning back what I had lost.

Still fortune was unpropitious, and I lost very considerable sums. I
became desperate; and drew largely on my father. He wrote to beg that
I would be more moderate; as twice his income would not support such
an expenditure. He wrote also to Talbot, who informed him in
what manner the money had been expended; and that he had in vain
endeavoured to divert me from the fatal practice. Finding that no
limits were likely to be put to my folly, my father very properly
refused to honour any more of my bills.

Maddened with this intimation, for which I secretly blamed Talbot, I
drew upon Eugenia's banker bill after bill, until the sum amounted
to more than what my father had paid. At length a letter came from
Eugenia. It was but a few lines.

"I know too well, my dearest friend," said she, "what becomes of the
money you have received. If you want it all, I cannot refuse you; but
remember that you are throwing away the property of your child."

This letter did more to rouse me to a sense of my infamous conduct
than the advice of Talbot, or the admonitions of my father. I felt I
was acting like a scoundrel; and I resolved to leave off gaming. "One
night more," said I, "and then, if I lose, there is an end of it; I go
no more." Talbot attended me: he felt he was in some measure the cause
of my being first initiated in this pernicious amusement: and he
watched my motions with unceasing anxiety.

The game was _rouge et noir_. I threw a large sum on the red. I won,
left the stake, doubled, and won again. The heap of gold had increased
to a large size, and still remained to abide the chance of the card.
Again, again, and again, it was doubled. Seven times had the red card
been turned up; and seven times had my gold been doubled. Talbot, who
stood behind me, implored and begged me earnestly to leave off.

"What may be the consequence of one card against you? Trust no more to
fortune; be content with what you have got."

"That," muttered I, "Talbot, is of no use; I must have more."

Again came up the red, to the astonishment of the bystanders; and to
their still greater astonishment, my gold, which had increased to an
enormous heap, still remained on the table. Talbot again entreated me
not to tempt fortune foolishly.

"Folly," said I, "Talbot, has already been committed; and one more
card will do the business. It must be done."

The bankers knowing, after eight red cards had been turned up, how
great the chance was of regaining all their losses by a double or
quits, agreed to the ninth card. Talbot trembled like a leaf. The card
was turned; it came up red, and the bank was broke.

Here all play ceased for that night. The losers, of course, vented
their feelings in the most blasphemous execrations; while I quietly
collected all my winnings, and returned home in a _fiacre_, with
Talbot, who took the precaution of requesting the attendance of two
_gens d'armes_. These were each rewarded with a Napoleon.

"Now, Talbot," said I, "I solemnly swear, as I hope to go to heaven,
never to play again." And this promise I have most religiously kept.
My good fortune was one instance in ten thousand, among those who have
been ruined in that house. The next morning I refunded all I had drawn
upon Eugenia, and all my father had supplied me with, and there still
remained a considerable residue.

Determined not to continue in this vortex of dissipation any longer,
where my resolution was hourly put to the test, Talbot and myself
agreed to travel down to Brest, an arsenal we were both desirous of
seeing.



Chapter XXVIII

    _Pal_. Thou art a traitor, Arcite, and a fellow
  False as thy title to her. Friendship, blood,
  And all the ties between us, I disclaim.
    _Arc_. You are mad.
    _Pal_. I must be,
  Till thou art worthy, Arcite; it concerns me!
  And, in this madness, if I hazard thee
  And take thy life, I deal but truly.
    _Arc_. Fie, Sir!

  _Two Noble Kimmen_.


We quitted Paris two days after; and a journey of three days, through
an uninteresting country, brought us to the little town of Granville,
on the sea-coast, in the channel. We remained at this delightful place
some days; and our letters being regularly forwarded to us, brought us
intelligence from England. My father expressed his astonishment at
my returning the money drawn for; and trusted, unaccountable as the
restitution appeared, that I was not offended, and would consider him
my banker, as far as his expenditure and style of living would permit
him to advance.

Eugenia, in her letters, reproached herself for having written to me;
and concluded that I had drawn so largely upon her, merely to prove
her sincerity. She assured me that her caution to me was not dictated
by selfishness, but from a consideration for the child.

Clara's letter informed me that every attempt, even to servility, had
been made, in order to induce Emily to alter her determination, but
without success; and that a coolness had, in consequence, taken
place, and almost an entire interruption of the intimacy between the
families. She also added, "I am afraid that your friend is even worse
than yourself; for I understand that he is engaged to another woman,
and has been so for years. Now, as I must consider that the great tie
of your intimacy is his supposed partiality to me, and as I conceive
you are under a false impression with respect to his sincerity,
I think it my duty to make you acquainted with all I know. It is
impossible that you can esteem the man who has trifled with the
feelings of your sister; and I sincerely hope that the next letter
from you will inform me of your having separated."

How little did poor Clara think, when she wrote this letter, of
the consequences likely to arise from it; that in thus venting her
complaints, she was exploding a mine which was to produce results ten
times more fatal than any thing which had yet befallen us?

I was at this period in a misanthropic state of mind, hating myself
and every one about me. The company of Talbot had long been endured,
not enjoyed; and I would gladly have availed myself of any plausible
excuse for a separation. True, he was my friend, had proved himself
so; but I was in no humour to acknowledge favours. Discarded by her I
loved, I discarded every one else. Talbot was a log and a chain, and I
thought I could not get rid of him too soon. This letter, therefore,
gave me a fair opportunity of venting my spleen; but instead of a cool
dismissal, as Clara requested, I determined to dismiss him or myself
to another world.

Having finished reading my letter, I laid it down, and made no
observation. Talbot, with his usual kind and benevolent countenance,
inquired if I had any news? "Yes," I replied, "I have discovered that
you are a villain!"

"That is news, indeed," said he; "and strange that the brother of
Clara should have been the messenger to convey it; but this is
language, Frank, which not even your unhappy state of mind can excuse.
Retract your words."

"I repeat them," said I. "You have trifled with my sister, and are a
villain." (Had this been true, it was no more than I had done myself;
but my victims had no brothers to avenge their wrongs.)

"The name of Clara," replied Talbot, "calms me; believe me, Frank,
you are mistaken. I love her, and have always had the most honourable
intentions towards her."

"Yes," said I, with a sarcastic sneer, "at the time that you have
been engaged to another woman for years. To one or the other you must
acknowledge yourself a scoundrel: I do not, therefore, withdraw my
appellation, but repeat it; and as you seem so very patient under
injuries, I inform you that you must either meet me on the sands this
evening, or consent to be stigmatised with another name still more
revolting to the feelings of an Englishman."

"Enough, enough, Frank," said Talbot, with a face, in which conscious
innocence and manly fortitude were blended; "you have said more than I
ever expected to have heard from you, and more than the customs of the
world will allow me to put up with. What must be, must; but I still
tell you, Frank, that you are wrong--that you are fatally deluded, and
that you will bitterly repent the follies of this day. It is yourself
with whom you are angry, and you are venting that anger on your
friend."

The words were thrown away on me. I felt a secret malignant pleasure,
which blindly impelled me forward, with the certainty of glutting my
revenge, by either destroying or being destroyed. My sole preparation
for this dreadful conflict was my pistols; no other did I think of,
not even the chances of sending my friend and fellow-mortal, or going
myself into the presence of an Almighty judge. My mind was absorbed in
secret pleasure, at the idea of that acute misery which Emily would
suffer if I fell by the hand of Talbot.

I repaired to the rendezvous, where I found Talbot waiting. He came up
to me, and again said,

"Frank, I call heaven to witness that you are mistaken. You are wrong.
Suspend your opinion, at least, if you will not recall your words."

Totally possessed by the devil, and not to be convinced, till too
late, I replied to his peaceful overture by the most insulting irony:
"You were not afraid to fire at a poor boy in the water," said I,
"though you do not like to stand a shot in return. Come, come, take
your ground, be a man, stand up, don't be afraid."

"For myself," said Talbot, with a firm and placid resignation of
countenance, "I have no fears; but for you, Frank, I have great cause
of alarm:" so saying, he snatched up the loaded pistol which I threw
down to him.

We had no seconds; nor was there any person in sight. It was a bright
moonlight, and we walked to the water's edge, where the reflux of the
tide had left the sand firm to the tread. Here we stood back to back.
The usual distance was fourteen paces. Talbot refused to measure his,
but stood perfectly still. I walked ten paces, and turned round,
"Ready," said I in a low voice.

We both raised our arms; but Talbot, instantly dropping the muzzle of
his pistol, said, "I cannot fire at the brother of Clara."

"I can at her insulter," answered I; and, taking deliberate aim,
fired, and my ball entered his side. He bounded, gave a half turn
round in the air, and fell on his face to the ground.

How sudden are the transitions of the human mind! how close does
remorse follow the gratification of revenge! The veil dropped from my
eyes; I saw in an instant the false medium, the deceitful vision which
had thus allured me into what the world calls "an affair of honour."
"Honour," good heaven! had made me a murderer, and the voice of my
brother's blood cried out for vengeance.

The manly and athletic form, which one minute before excited my most
malignant hatred, when now prostrate and speechless, became an object
of frantic affection. I ran to Talbot, and when it was too late
perceived the mischief I had done. Murder, cruelty, injustice, and,
above all, the most detestable ingratitude, flashed at once into
my overcrowded imagination. I turned the body round, and tried to
discover if there were any signs of life. A small stream of blood ran
from his side, and, about two feet from him, was lost in the absorbing
sand; while from the violence of his fall the sand had filled his
mouth and nostrils. I cleaned them out; and, staunching the wound with
my handkerchief, for the blood flowed copiously at every respiration,
I sat on the sea-shore by his side, supporting him in my arms. I only
exclaimed, "Would to God the shark, the poison, the sword of the
enemy, or the precipice of Trinidad had destroyed me before this fatal
hour."

Talbot opened his languid eyes, and fixed them on me with a glassy
stare; but he did not speak. Suddenly, recollection seemed for a
moment to return--he recognised me, and, O God, his look of kindness
pierced my heart. He made several efforts to speak, and at last said,
in broken accents, and at long and painful intervals,

"Look at letter--writing-desk--read all--explain--God bless--" His
head fell back, and he was dead.

Oh, how I envied him! Had he been ten thousand times more guilty than
I had ever supposed him, it would have given no comfort to my mind. I
had murdered him, and too late I acknowledged his innocence. I know
not why, and can scarcely tell how I did it, but I took off my
neckcloth, and bound it tightly round his waist, over the wound. The
blood ceased to flow. I left the body, and returned to our lodging, in
a state of mental prostration and misery, proportioned to the heat and
excitement with which I had quitted it.

My first object was to read the letters which my poor friend had
referred to. On my arrival, both our servants were up. My hands and
clothes were dyed with blood, and they looked at me with astonishment.
I ran hastily upstairs, to avoid them, and took the writing-desk, the
key of which I knew hung to his watch-chain. Seizing the poker, I
split it open, and took out the packet he mentioned. At this moment
his servant entered the room.

"_Et mon maître, Monsieur, où est-il_?"

"I have murdered him," said I, "and you will find him in the sands,
near the signal-post; and," continued I, "I am now robbing him!"

My appearance and actions seemed to prove the truth of my assertion.
The man flew out of the room; but I was regardless of everything, and
even wonder why I should have given my attention to the letters at
all, especially as I had now convinced myself of Talbot's innocence.
The packet, however, I did read; and it consisted of a series of
letters between Talbot and his father, who had engaged him to a young
lady of rank and fortune, without consulting him--_une mariage
de convenance_--which Talbot had resisted in consequence of his
attachment to Clara.

I have already stated that Talbot was of high aristocratic family; and
this marriage being wished for by the parents of both parties, they
had given it out as being finally settled to take place on the return
of Talbot to England. In the last letter, the father had yielded to
his entreaties in favour of Clara; only requesting him not to be
precipitate in offering himself, as he wished to find some excuse for
breaking off the match; and, above all, he fatally enjoined profound
secrecy till the affair was arranged. Here, then, was everything
explained. Indeed, before I had read these letters, my mind did not
need this damning proof of his innocence and my guilt.

Just as I had finished reading, _the gens d'armes_ entered my room,
and, with the officers of justice, led me away to prison. I walked
mechanically. I was conducted to a small building in the centre of a
square. This was a _cachot_, with an iron-grated window on each of
its four sides, but without glass. There was no bench, or table, or
anything but the bare walls and the pavement. The wind blew sharply
through. I had not even a great-coat; but I felt no cold or personal
inconvenience, for my mind was too much occupied by superior misery.
The door closed on me, and I heard the bolts turn. There was not an
observation made on either part, and I was left to myself.

"Well," said I, "Fate has now done its worst, and Fortune will be
weary at last of tormenting a wretch that she can sink no lower! Death
has no terrors for me; and, after death--!" But, even in my misery,
I scarcely gave a thought to what might happen in futurity. It
might occasionally have obtruded itself on my mind, but was quickly
dismissed: I had adopted the atheistical creed of the French
Revolution.

"Death is eternal sleep, and the sooner I go to sleep the better!"
thought I. The only point that pressed itself on my mind was the dread
of a public execution. This my pride revolted at; for pride had again
returned, and resumed its empire, even in my _cachot_.

As the day dawned, the noise of the carts and country people coming
into the square with their produce, roused me from my reverie, for I
had not slept. The prison was surrounded by all ages and all classes,
to get a sight of the English murderer; and the light and the air were
stopped out of each window by human faces pressed against the bars. I
was gazed at as a wild beast; and the children, as they sat on their
mothers' shoulders to look at me, received a moral lesson and a
warning at my expense.

As a tiger, in his cage, wearies the eye by incessantly walking and
turning, so I paced my den; and if I could have reached one of the
impertinent gazers, through the slanting aperture and three foot
wall, I should have throttled him. "All these people," said I, "and
thousands more, will witness my last moments on the scaffold!"

Stung with this dreadful thought, with rage I searched in my
pockets for my penknife, to relieve me at one from my torments and
apprehensions; and had I found it, I should certainly have committed
suicide. Fortunately I had left it at home, or it would have been
buried, in that moment of frenzy, in the carotid artery; for as well
as others, I knew exactly where to find it.

The crowd at length began to disperse; the windows were left, except
now and then an urchin of a boy showed his ragged head at the grille.
Worn out with bodily fatigue and mental suffering, I was going to
throw myself along upon the cold stones, when I saw the face of my own
servant, who advanced in haste to the window of the prison, exclaiming
with joy--

"_Courage, mon cher maître; Monsieur Talbot n'est pas mort_."

"Not dead!" exclaimed I (falling unconsciously on my knees, and
lifting up my clasped hands and haggard eyes to Heaven): "not dead!
God be praised. At least there is a hope that I may escape the crime
of murder."

Before I could say more, the mayor entered my _cachot_ with the
officers of the police, and informed me that a _procès-verbal_ had
been held; that my friend had been able to give the clearest answers
to all their questions; and that it appeared from the evidence of
_Monsieur Talbot_ himself, that it was an affair _d'honneur_, fairly
decided; that the brace of pistols found in the water had confirmed
his assertions. "And therefore, _Monsieur_," continued the mayor,
"whether your friend lives or dies, _tout a été fait en règle, et vous
êtes libre_."

So saying, he bowed very politely, and pointed to the door; nor was I
so ceremonious as to beg him to show me the way; out I ran, and flew
to the apartment of Talbot, who had sent my servant to say how much he
wished to see me. I found him in bed. As I entered, he held out his
hand to me, which I covered with kisses, and bathed with my tears.

"Oh, Talbot!" said I, "can you forgive me?"

He squeezed my hand, and from exhaustion let it fall. The surgeon led
me out of the room, saying, "All depends on his being kept quiet." I
then learned that he owed his life to two circumstances--the first
was, my having bound my neckcloth round the wound; the other was, that
the duel took place below high-water mark. The tide was rising when I
left him; and the cold waves, as they rippled against his body, had
restored him to animation. In this state he was found by his servant,
not many minutes before the flood would have covered him, for he had
not strength to remove out of its way. I ascertained also that the
ball had entered his liver, and had passed out without doing farther
injury.

I now dressed myself, and devoutly thanking God for his miraculous
preservation, took my seat by the bed-side of the patient, which
I never quitted until his perfect recovery. When this was happily
completed, I wrote to my father and to Clara, giving both an exact
account of the whole transaction. Clara, undeceived, made no scruple
of acknowledging her attachment. Talbot was requested by his father to
return home. I accompanied him as far as Calais, where we parted; and
in a few weeks after, I had the pleasure of hearing that my sister had
become his wife.

Left to myself, I returned slowly, and much depressed in spirits,
to Quillac's; where, ordering post-horses, I threw myself into my
travelling carriage, into which my valet had, by my orders, previously
placed my luggage.

"Where are you going to, Monsieur?" said the valet.

"_Au diable!_" said I.

"_Mais les passeports?_" said the man.

I felt that I had sufficient passports for the journey I had proposed;
but correcting myself, said, "to Switzerland." It was the first name
that came into my head; and I had heard that it was the resort of all
my countrymen whose heads, hearts, lungs, or finances were disordered.
But, during my journey, I neither saw nor heard any thing,
consequently took no notes, which my readers will rejoice at, because
they will be spared that inexhaustible supply to the trunk makers, "A
Tour through France and Switzerland." I travelled night and day; for
I could not sleep. The allegory of Io and the gad-fly, in the heathen
mythology, must surely have been intended to represent the being, who,
like myself, was tormented by a bad conscience. Like Io, I flew; and
like her, was I pursued by the eternal gad-fly, wherever I went, and
in vain did I try to escape it.

I passed the Great St Bernard on foot. This interested me as I
approached it. The mountains below, and the Alps above, were one mass
of snow and ice, and I looked down with contempt on the world below
me. I took up my abode in the convent for some time; my ample
contributions to the box in the chapel, made me a welcome sojourner
beyond the limited period allowed to travellers, and I felt less and
less inclined to quit the scene. My amusement was climbing the most
frightful precipices, followed by the large and faithful dogs, and
viewing nature in her wildest and most sublime attire. At other times,
when bodily fatigue required rest, I sat down, with morbid melancholy,
in the receptacle for the bodies of those unfortunate persons who had
perished in the snow. There would I remain for hours, musing on their
fate: the purity of the air admitted neither putrefaction, or even
decay, for a very considerable time; and they lay, to all appearance,
as if the breath had even then only quitted them, although, on
touching those who had been there for years, they would often crumble
into dust.

Roman Catholics, we know, are ever anxious to make converts. The prior
asked me whether I was not a protestant? I replied, that I was of no
religion; which answer was, I believe, much nearer to the truth than
any other I could have given. The reply was far more favourable to the
hopes of the monks, than if I had said I was a heretic or a moslem.
They thought me much more likely to become a convert to _their_
religion, since I had none of my own to oppose to it. The monks
immediately arranged themselves in theological order, with the whole
armour of faith, and laid constant siege to me on all sides; but I was
not inclined to any religion, much less to the one I despised. I would
sooner have turned Turk.

I received a letter from poor unhappy Eugenia--it was the last she
ever wrote. It was to acquaint me with the death of her lovely boy,
who, having wandered from the house, had fallen into a trout-stream,
where he was found drowned some hours after. In her distracted
state of mind, she could add no more than her blessing, and a firm
conviction that we should never meet again in this world. Her letter
concluded incoherently; and although I should have said, in the
morning, that my mind had not room for another sorrow, yet the loss of
this sweet boy, and the state of his wretched mother, found a place in
my bosom for a time, to the total exclusion of all other cares. She
requested me to hasten to her without delay, if I wished to see her
before she died.

I took leave of the monks, and travelled with all speed to Paris, and
thence to Calais. Reaching Quillac's hotel, I received a shock which,
although I apprehended danger, I was not prepared for. It was a letter
from Eugenia's agent, announcing her death. She had been seized with
a brain fever, and had died at a small town in Norfolk, where she had
removed soon after our last unhappy interview. The agent concluded his
letter by saying, that Eugenia had bequeathed me all her property,
which was very considerable, and that her last rational words to him
were, that I was her first and her only love.

I was now callous to suffering. My feelings had been racked to
insensibility. Like a ship in a hurricane, the last tremendous sea had
swept everything from the decks--the vessel was a wreck, driving as
the storm might chance to direct. In the midst of this devastation,
I looked around me, and the only object which presented itself to my
mind, as worthy of contemplation, was the tomb which contained the
remains of Eugenia and her child. To that I resolved to repair.



Chapter XXIX

  With sorrow and repentance true,
  Father, I trembling come to you.

  _Song_.


I arrived at the town where poor Eugenia had breathed her last, and
near to which was the cemetery in which her remains were deposited.
I went to the inn, whence, after having dismissed my post-boy and
ordered my luggage to be taken up to my room, I proceeded on foot
towards the spot. I was informed that the path lay between the church
and the bishop's palace. I soon reached it; and, inquiring for the
sexton, who lived in a cottage hard by, requested he would lead me to
a certain grave, which I indicated by tokens too easily known.

"Oh, you mean the sweet young lady, as died of grief for the loss of
her little boy. There it is," continued he, pointing with his finger;
"the white peacock is now sitting on the headstone of the grave, and
the little boy is buried beside it."

I approached, while the humble sexton kindly withdrew, that I might,
without witnesses, indulge that grief which he saw was the burthen of
my aching heart. The bird remained, but without dressing its plumage,
without the usual air of surprise and vigilance evinced by domestic
fowls, when disturbed in their haunts. This poor creature was
moulting; its feathers were rumpled and disordered; its tail ragged.
There was no beauty in the animal, which was probably only kept as a
variety of the species; and it appeared to me as if it had been placed
there as a lesson to myself. In its modest attire, in its melancholy
and pensive attitude, it seemed, with its gaudy plumage, to have
dismissed the world and its vanities, while in mournful silence it
surveyed the crowded mementoes of eternity.

"This is my office, not thine," said I, apostrophising the bird,
which, alarmed at my near approach, quitted its position, and
disappeared among the surrounding tombs. I sat down, and fixing my
eyes on the name which the tablet bore, ran over, in a hurried manner,
all that part of my career which had been more immediately connected
with the history of Eugenia. I remembered her many virtues; her
self-devotion for my honour and happiness; her concealing herself
from me, that I might not blast my prospects in life by continuing
an intimacy which she saw would end in my ruin; her firmness of
character, her disinterested generosity, and the refinement of
attachment which made her prefer misery and solitude to her own
gratification in the society of the man she loved. She had, alas! but
one fault, and that fault was loving me. I could not drive from my
thoughts, that it was through my unfortunate and illicit connection
with her that I had lost all that made life dear to me.

At this moment (and not once since the morning I awoke from it) my
singular dream recurred to my mind. The thoughts which never had once
during my eventful voyage from the Bahamas to the Cape, and thence to
England, presented themselves in my waking hours, must certainly
have possessed my brain during sleep. Why else should it never have
occurred to my rational mind that the connection with Eugenia would
certainly endanger that intended with Emily? It was Eugenia that
placed Emily in mourning, out of my reach, and, as it were, on the top
of the Nine-Pin Rock.

Here, then, my dream was explained; and I now felt all the horrors of
that reality which I thought at the time was no more than the effect
of a disordered imagination. Yet I could not blame Eugenia; the poor
girl had fallen a victim to that deplorable and sensual education
which I had received in the cockpit of a man-of-war. I, I alone was
the culprit. She was friendless, and without a parent to guide her
youthful steps; she fell a victim to my ungoverned passions. Maddened
with anguish of head and heart, I threw myself violently on the grave:
I beat my miserable head against the tombstones; I called with frantic
exclamation on the name of Eugenia; and at length sank on the turf,
between the two graves, in a state of stupor and exhaustion, from
which a copious flood of tears in some measure relieved me.

I was aroused by the sound of wheels and the trampling of horses;
and, looking up, I perceived the bishop's carriage and four, with
out-riders, pass by. The livery and colour of the carriage were
certainly what is denominated quiet; but there was an appearance of
state which indicated that the owner had not entirely "renounced the
pomps and vanities of this wicked world," and my spleen was excited.

"Ay, sweep along," I bitterly muttered, "worthy type indeed of the
apostles! I like the pride that apes humility. Is that the way
you teach your flock to 'leave all, and follow me'?" I started up
suddenly, saying to myself, "I will seek this man in his palace, and
see whether I shall be kindly received and consoled, or be repulsed by
a menial."

The thought was sudden, and, being conceived almost in a state of
frenzy, was instantly executed. "Let me try," said I, "whether a
bishop can 'administer to the mind diseased' as well as a country
curate?"

I moved on with rapidity to the palace, more in a fit of desperation
than with a view of seeking peace of mind. I rang loudly and
vehemently at the gate, and asked whether the bishop was at home. An
elderly domestic, who seemed to regard me with astonishment, answered
in the affirmative, and desired me to walk into an ante-room, while he
announced me to his master.

I now began to recall my scattered senses, which had been wandering,
and to perceive the absurdity of my conduct; I was therefore about to
quit the palace, into which I had so rudely intruded, without waiting
for my audience, when the servant opened the door and requested me to
follow him.

By what inscrutable means are the designs of Providence brought about!
While I thought I was blindly following the impulse of passion, I was,
in fact, guided by unerring Wisdom. A prey to desperate and irritated
feelings, I anticipated, with malignant pleasure, that I should detect
hypocrisy--that one who ought to set an example, should be weighed
by me, and found wanting; instead of which I stumbled on my own
salvation! Where I expected to meet with pride and scorn, I met with
humility and kindness. When I had looked around on the great circle
bounded by the visible horizon, and could perceive no friendly port in
which I might lay my shattered vessel, behold it was close at hand!

I followed the servant with a kind of stupid indifference, and was
ushered into the presence of a benevolent-looking old man, between
sixty and seventy years of age. His whole external appearance, as well
as his white hairs, commanded respect amounting almost to admiration.
I was not prepared to speak, which he perceived, and kindly began.

"As you are a stranger to me, I fear, from your careworn countenance,
that it is no common occurrence which has brought you here. Sit down:
you seem in distress; and if it is in my power to afford you relief,
you may be assured that I will do so."

There was in his manner and address an affectionate kindness which
overcame me. I could neither speak nor look at him; but, laying my
head on the table, and hiding my face with my hands, I wept bitterly.
The good bishop allowed me reasonable time to recover myself, and,
with extreme good breeding, mildly requested that, if it were
possible, I would confide to him the cause of my affliction.

"Be not afraid or ashamed, my good lad," said he, "to tell me your
sorrows. If we have temporal blessings, we do not forget that we are
but the almoners of the Lord: we endeavour to follow his example; but,
if I may judge from appearance, it is not pecuniary aid you have come
to solicit."

"No, no," replied I; "it is not money that I want:" but, choked with
excess of feeling, I could say no more.

"This is indeed a more important case than one of mere bodily want,"
said the good man. "_That_ we might very soon supply; but there seems
something in your condition which requires our more serious attention.
I thank the Almighty for selecting me to this service; and, with his
blessing, we shall not fail of success."

Then, going to the door, he called to a young lady, who I afterwards
found was his daughter; and, holding the door a-jar as he spoke, that
I might not be seen in my distress, said, "Caroline, my dear, write to
the duke, and beg him to excuse my dining with him to-day. Tell him
that I am kept at home by business of importance; and give orders that
I be not interrupted on any account."

He then turned the key in the door; and, drawing a chair close to
mine, begged me, in the most persuasive manner, to tell him every
thing without reserve, in order that he might apply such a remedy as
the case seemed to demand.

I first asked for a glass of wine, which was instantly brought; he
received it at the door, and gave it to me with his own hand.

Having drank it, I commenced the history of my life in a brief
outline, and ultimately told him all; nearly as much in detail as I
have related it to the reader. He listened to me with an intense and
painful interest, questioning me as to my feelings on many important
occasions; and having at length obtained from me an honest and candid
confession, without any extenuation,

"My young friend," said he, "your life has been one of peculiar
temptation and excess. Much to deplore, much to blame, and much to
repent of; but the state of feeling which induced you to come to me,
is a proof that you now only require that which, with God's help, I
trust I shall be able to supply. It is now late, and we both of us
require some refreshment. I will order in dinner, and you must send to
the inn for your portmanteau."

Perceiving that I was about to answer, "I must take no denial,"
resumed he. "You have placed yourself under my care as your physician,
and you must follow my prescriptions. My duty is as much more
important, compared to the doctor's, as the soul is to the body."

Dinner being served, he dismissed the servants as soon as possible,
and then asked me many questions relative to my family, all of which I
answered without reserve. He once mentioned Miss Somerville; but I was
so overcome, that he perceived my distress, and, filling me a glass of
wine, changed the subject.

If I thought that any words of mine could do justice to the persuasive
discourses of this worthy bishop, I would have benefited the world by
making them public; but I could not do this; and I trust that none of
my readers will have so much need of them as I had myself. I shall,
therefore, briefly state, that I remained in the palace ten days, in
the most perfect seclusion.

Every morning the good bishop dedicated two or three hours to my
instruction and improvement; he put into my hands one or two books
at a time, with marks in them, indicating the pages which I ought to
consult. He would have introduced me to his family; but this I begged,
for a time, to decline, being too much depressed and out of spirits;
and he indulged me in my request of being allowed to continue in the
apartments allotted to me.

On the seventh morning, he came to me, and after a short conversation,
informed me that business would require his absence for two or three
days, and that he would give me a task to employ me during the short
time he should be gone. He then put into my hand a work on the
sacrament. "This," said he, "I am sure you will read with particular
attention, so that on my return I may invite you to the feast." I
trembled as I opened the book. "Fear not, Mr Mildmay," said he; "I
tell you, from what I see of your symptoms, that the cure will be
complete."

Having said this, he gave me his blessing, and departed. He returned
exactly at the end of three days, and after a short examination, said
he would allow me to receive the sacrament, and that the holy ceremony
should take place in his own room privately, well knowing how much
affected I should be. He brought in the bread and wine; and having
consecrated and partaken of them himself, agreeably to the forms
prescribed, he made a short extempore prayer in my behalf.

When he had done this, he advanced towards me, and presented the
bread. My blood curdled as I took it in my mouth; and when I had
tasted the wine, the type of the blood of that Saviour, whose wounds
I had so often opened afresh in my guilty career, and yet upon the
merits of which I now relied for pardon, I felt a combined sensation
of love, gratitude and joy--a lightness and buoyancy of spirits, as if
I could have left the earth below me, disburthened of a weight
that had, till then, crushed me to the ground. I felt that I had
faith--that I was a new man--and that my sins were forgiven; and,
dropping my head on the side of the table, I remained some minutes in
grateful and fervent prayer.

The service being ended, I hastened to express my acknowledgments to
my venerable friend.

"I am but the humble instrument, my dear young friend," said the
bishop; "let us both give thanks to the almighty Searcher of hearts.
Let us hope that the work is perfect--for then, you will be the
occasion of 'joy in heaven.' And now," continued he, "let me ask you
one question. Do you feel in that state of mind that you could bear
any affliction which might befall you, without repining?"

"I trust, Sir," answered I, "that I could bear it, not only
cheerfully, but thankfully; and I now acknowledge that it is good for
me that I have been in trouble."

"Then all is right," said he; "and with such feelings I may venture to
give you this letter, which I promised the writer to deliver with my
own hand."

As soon as my eye caught the superscription, "Gracious Heaven!"
exclaimed I; "it is from my Emily."

"Even so," said the bishop.

I tore it open. It contained only six lines, which were as follows:--

"Our mutual kind friend, the bishop, has proved to me how proud and
how foolish I have been. Forgive me, dear Frank, for I too have
suffered much; and come as soon as possible to your ever affectionate

"EMILY."

This, then, was the object of the venerable bishop's absence. Bending
beneath age and infirmity, he had undertaken a journey of three
hundred miles, in order to ensure the temporal as well as eternal
welfare of a perfect stranger--to effect a reconciliation, without
which he saw that my worldly happiness was incomplete. I was
afterwards informed, that notwithstanding the weight of his character
and holy office, he had found Emily more decided in her rejection than
he had anticipated; and it was not until he had sharply rebuked her
for her pride and unforgiving temper, that she could be brought to
listen with patience to his arguments. But having at length convinced
her that the tenure of her own hopes depended on her forgiveness of
others, she relented, acknowledged the truth of his remarks, and her
undiminished affection for me. While she made this confession, she was
in the same position before the bishop, that I was when I received her
letter--on my knees, and in tears.

He gave me his hand, raised me up, "And, now, my young friend,"
said he, "let me give you one caution. I hope and I trust that your
repentance is sincere. If it be not, the guilt must rest on your head;
but I trust in God that all is as it should be. I will not, therefore,
detain you any longer: you must be impatient to be gone. Refreshment
is prepared for you: my horses will take you the first stage. Have you
funds sufficient to carry you through? for it is a long journey, as my
old bones can testify."

I assured him that I was sufficiently provided; and, expressing my
thanks for his kindness, wished that it was in my power to prove my
gratitude. "Put me to the test, my lord," said I, "if you possibly
can."

"Well, then," replied he, "I will: when the day for your union with
Miss Somerville is fixed, allow me to have the pleasure of joining
your hands, should it please God to spare me so long. I have removed
the disease; but I must trust to somebody else to watch and prevent a
relapse. And believe me, my dear friend, however well-inclined a man
may be to keep in the straight path, he gains no little support from
the guidance and example of a lovely and virtuous woman."

I promised readily all he asked; and having finished a slight lunch,
again shook hands with the worthy prelate, jumped into my carriage,
and drove off. I travelled all night; and the next day was in the
society of those I loved, and who had ever loved me, in spite of all
my perverseness and folly.

A few weeks after, Emily and I were united by the venerable bishop,
who, with much emotion, gave us his benediction; and as the prayer of
the righteous man availeth much, I felt that it was recorded in our
favour in Heaven. Mr Somerville gave the bride away. My father, with
Talbot and Clara, were present; and the whole of us, after all my
strange vicissitudes, were deeply affected at this reconciliation and
union.





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