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Title: A Sailor of King George
Author: Hoffman, Frederick, Captain
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Sailor of King George" ***

[Illustration: Captain F. W. Hoffman, R.N.]

                                A SAILOR
                             OF KING GEORGE

                             THE JOURNALS OF
                     CAPTAIN FREDERICK HOFFMAN, R.N.

                               EDITED BY
                          _A. BECKFORD BEVAN_
                         _H.B. WOLRYCHE-WHITMORE_



                  BRADBURY, AGNEW, & CO. LD., PRINTERS,
                          LONDON AND TONBRIDGE.


In a memorial presented in 1835 to the Lords of the Admiralty, the author
of the journals which form this volume details his various services. He
joined the Navy in October, 1793, his first ship being H.M.S. _Blonde_. He
was present at the siege of Martinique in 1794, and returned to England
the same year in H.M.S. _Hannibal_ with despatches and the colours of
Martinique. For a few months the ship was attached to the Channel Fleet,
and then suddenly, in 1795, was ordered to the West Indies again. Here he
remained until 1802, during which period he was twice attacked by yellow

The author was engaged in upwards of eighteen boat actions, in one of
which, at Tiberoon Bay, St. Domingo, he was wounded in the head, and
entirely lost the hearing of his left ear.

As first lieutenant of H.M.S. _Volage_, while attempting to cut out an
enemy’s vessel laden with tobacco from under the guns of the Moro Castle,
St. Jago de Cuba, after a running fight of two hours with three Spanish
privateers, he was obliged to surrender, and was carried prisoner to St.
Jago, where he remained for six weeks until exchanged. In 1802 he returned
to England in the _Volage_, which was then paid off.

In 1803 he was appointed lieutenant of H.M.S. _Minotaur_ on the Channel
Service, but in 1804, in consequence of a very severe attack of rheumatic
fever, which completely prostrated him and for several months necessitated
the use of crutches, he resigned his post.

On his recovery, in the summer of 1805, he was appointed to H.M.S.
_Tonnant_, and was senior lieutenant of her lower deck quarters in the
Battle of Trafalgar, concerning which he gives several new and interesting
details. During the battle he was slightly wounded in the left hand.

His next ship was H.M.S. _Diamond_ (to which he was appointed March 8th,
1806), ordered for service on the West Coast of Africa. In 1807 he became
commander of the _Favourite_ sloop of war in consequence of the death of
her captain, and three months afterwards took the last convoy of slave
ships to the West Indies.

In 1808, while in Jamaica, he was attacked by fever, which affected his
eyesight, nearly producing blindness; and, on the advice of the doctor at
Port Royal Hospital, Admiral Dacres gave him permission to exchange into
the _Goelan_ sloop of war, which was shortly afterwards ordered to England
with convoy.

In 1810 he was appointed to command the _Apelles_ on the Downs station,
and in this capacity he was actively employed until May, 1812, when,
during the middle watch, and in a dense fog, the _Apelles_, with the
_Skylark_, her leader, unfortunately grounded on the French coast, near
Etaples, on “the infant ebb of a spring tide.” All efforts to float the
sloop were vain, and, after being for three hours under the incessant fire
of a French battery, which riddled her hull and cut away her masts, and
having meanwhile sent away all the crew which the boats were capable of
containing, the author and eighteen others were compelled to surrender.

The following is the sentence of the Court Martial held at Portsmouth on
the conduct of Captain Hoffman for the loss of H.M. sloop _Apelles_, Sir
George Martin, Bart., President:—

“That there is no blame whatever attached to the conduct of Captain
Hoffman; that he is fully and honourably acquitted.

“That great praise is due to him for remaining with his ship.

“That the Court regrets he was under the painful necessity of becoming a
prisoner, and that his services were lost to his country for the period of
two years.”

After reading the sentence Sir G. Martin spoke as follows:—

“Captain Hoffman,—In the name of the Court and myself I present you the
sword, which by your conduct you so well merit.”

The author spent about two years in France, and during his captivity there
did excellent service to his country by opening and superintending a
school for the midshipmen who were also prisoners of war at Verdun.

It appears that he wrote these records of his life while residing at Dover
in 1838. He evidently intended to have them published, but for some reason
or another they have never hitherto been printed.

The Editors, in presenting them to the public more than sixty years after
they were originally written, think that they will prove of general
interest, not because they lay claim to literary excellence, but because
they present a simple, unexaggerated picture of the everyday life in the
navy a century ago, and give us an insight into the characters of the men
who helped to build up the sea power of Great Britain, and to bring her to
her present position of political and commercial greatness.

_November, 1901._


                                CHAPTER I.

                            EARLY EXPERIENCES.

My mother consents to my going to sea—Journey to Portsmouth—Join H.M.S.
_Blonde_—Take General Prescott and suite on board—We sail—Supply West
Indiamen with provisions and in return impress six seamen—Windbound at
Falmouth—Again sail—Attacked by four French frigates, but escape and again
make Falmouth—Finally sail for West Indies—Amusements in crossing the

                                                                _pp. 1-17_

                               CHAPTER II.

                               WEST INDIES.

Arrival in West Indies—Cruise among the French Islands—Bombardment and
capture of St. Pierre, Dominique—Attack on Fort Bourbon—Capture of
Forts—Surrender of General Rochambeau and the French garrison.

                                                               _pp. 18-29_

                               CHAPTER III.

                            RETURN TO ENGLAND.

Sail for England with despatches—A lunar rainbow—A two-tailed fish—Reach
Falmouth after passage of fifteen days—To Plymouth to refit—All leave
refused—Sailors’ frolics ashore—To sea again—Cruise off French coast and
Channel Islands—Run aground off Guernsey—Return to Plymouth to repair
damages—Rejoin fleet—French fleet escapes into Brest—Return to Plymouth to
refit for foreign service—Transhipped to H.M.S. _Hannibal_—Description of
the ship’s officers—Tricks played on the Irish chaplain.

                                                               _pp. 30-45_

                               CHAPTER IV.

                               OFF USHANT.

Join the Channel fleet off Ushant—Capture the French frigate _Gentille_,
also a twenty-four-gun ship five days later—Fleet returns to
Portsmouth—Prize-money—To sea again in charge of a convoy—Transport with
two hundred Hessian troops on board founders off Cape Finisterre—Suddenly
ordered to West Indies—Fight between a negro and a shark at Port Royal,
Jamaica—Dignity balls—Collision with H.M.S. _Sampson_—Outbreak of yellow
fever—Ordered to sea—Capture two French ships and two privateers.

                                                               _pp. 46-56_

                                CHAPTER V.

                            WEST INDIES AGAIN.

Owing to ravages of yellow fever go to Jamaica to obtain more
seamen—Difficulties and humours of impressment—Author attacked by yellow
fever—Proceed to Cape St. Nicholas mole—Great mortality among the

                                                               _pp. 57-68_

                               CHAPTER VI.

                               TOUGH YARNS.

Tough yarns—The sea-serpent—The fair-wind sellers of Bremen—Mermen and
mermaidens—Capture of Spanish schooner with mulatto laundresses on
board—Boat attack on, and capture of the French privateer
_Salamandre_—Outbreak of malignant scurvy—Novel method of treatment—French
women dressed as men—A voyage of discovery.

                                                               _pp. 69-85_

                               CHAPTER VII.

                         CRUISING OFF PORTO RICO.

A ball on board—Fishing with a seine—Ordered to cruise off Porto Rico—News
of the Battle of Camperdown—The boasts of Napoleon—Views on matrimony—A
sailor’s courtship—Futile boat attack on a Spanish war vessel at St.
Domingo—Author loses the hearing of his left ear from effect of a wound.

                                                               _pp. 86-99_

                              CHAPTER VIII.

                       MUTINY ON H.M.S. _HERMIONE_.

Tea with the boatswain’s wife—News of the mutiny at the Nore causes
trouble among the sailors—Sent to cruise in consequence—A white squall and
waterspout—Capture of a Spanish cruiser—Return to Port Royal—H.M.S.
_Hermione_ seized by mutineers and carried to Porto Bello—Recaptured by
Captain Hamilton—An alarm caused by fireflies.

                                                             _pp. 100-113_

                               CHAPTER IX.

                          A MOCK COURT-MARTIAL.

Transhipped to H.M.S. _Queen_ (98)—Sailors’ appreciation of books—The ship
runs aground and sinks: with difficulty raised—A mock court-martial on the
master—Author made lieutenant with a commission on a twenty-four-gun ship.

                                                             _pp. 114-125_

                                CHAPTER X.

                              MORE CRUISING.

Requested to act as first lieutenant, but refuses—Description of
officers—A fruitless search for a Spanish treasure ship—Run on a coral
reef, but float off again—A tropical thunderstorm—A futile attempt to cut
out three schooners off Matanzas—Author becomes first lieutenant—Return to
Port Royal—The incriminating papers of an American sloop found in a
shark—Seize a French ship in ballast off St. Domingo.

                                                             _pp. 126-138_

                               CHAPTER XI.

                          A JAMAICA PLANTATION.

Visit to a Jamaica plantation—Condition of the slaves—A growl against the
House of Commons and the Admiralty—Author attempting to cut out a Spanish
zebec, is taken prisoner—His pleasant experiences while in captivity—At
last released.

                                                             _pp. 139-155_

                               CHAPTER XII.

                            FIGHTING EPISODES.

Returns to his ship—Capture of a French schooner—An episode with two
American sloops of war—Return to Port Royal—Attacked a second time by
yellow fever—Seize and burn a Spanish gunboat—Return to Port Royal—Wetting
a midshipman’s commission—Ordered home with a convoy—Pathetic farewells
with mulatto washerwomen.

                                                             _pp. 156-168_

                              CHAPTER XIII.

                               HOME AGAIN.

Ordered to the Black River—Meet the magistrate there, and “bow to his
bishop”—Sail with a convoy of thirty ships—Arrive at Deal—A cruise on
horseback on a baker’s nag, which conscientiously goes the bread round—The
author’s brother comes on board, but he fails to recognise him—Paid off at

                                                             _pp. 169-181_

                               CHAPTER XIV.

                            A HOLIDAY ASHORE.

On shore—Tired of inactivity—Apply for a ship—Appointed to H.M.S.
_Minotaur_ (74)—Prisoners sent on board as part of crew—Go to
Plymouth—Scarcity of seamen—Ruse to impress an Irish farm labourer—Ordered
to join the Channel fleet off Ushant—Capture French thirty-six-gun ship—In
danger off Ushant—Capture two small French ships and one Dutch one: Author
sent to Plymouth in charge of the latter—Placed in quarantine.

                                                             _pp. 182-198_

                               CHAPTER XV.

                          A LINE-OF-BATTLE SHIP.

The ship arrives—Captain’s attempt to form a band—Sail again—Attacked by
rheumatic fever and invalided ashore—Ordered to join H.M.S.
_Tonnant_—Proceed to Mediterranean—At Oran: experiences ashore.

                                                             _pp. 199-209_

                               CHAPTER XVI.

                           BATTLE OF TRAFALGAR.

Join Lord Nelson’s squadron—Battle of Trafalgar—Author’s
experiences—Occurrences during action—Severity of operations before the
use of anæsthetics—The _Tonnant’s_ casualty list—Proceed to Gibraltar—A
truce with Spain during horse races on neutral ground there.

                                                             _pp. 210-221_

                              CHAPTER XVII.

                                OFF BREST.

Return under jury-masts to England—Arrive at Spithead—The admiral, the
middy, and the dirk—Join H.M.S. _Diamond_ as first lieutenant—Attached to
Lord St. Vincent’s fleet off Brest—A change of captains—Weary waiting for
an enemy who never came.

                                                             _pp. 222-233_

                              CHAPTER XVIII.

                            “ORDERED FOREIGN.”

Ordered on foreign service—Visit Madeira, Cape de Verde, and
Goree—Experiences on shore—Sail for Cape Coast Castle—Difficulty of
landing—The captain’s black lady—Author appointed captain of H.M.S.
_Favourite_—Proceed to Accrah—Sacred alligators.

                                                             _pp. 234-245_

                               CHAPTER XIX.

                          WEST COAST ADVENTURES.

Cruise along West African coast—Dinner with the Danish consul at Cape
Coast Castle—Ordered to Sierra Leone—A trip inland—We proceed to the Los
Islands—A trip up the River Pongo—Quell disturbance on a slaver—A dinner
with a native prince—His presents.

                                                             _pp. 246-258_

                               CHAPTER XX.

                            WITH SLAVE CONVOY.

Return to Sierra Leone—Dinner party aboard—Sail with convoy of five
slave-ships—How the slaves were obtained—Arrive Barbadoes—Sail for Tobago
and Trinidad—Visit Pitch Lake—To Jamaica—Cruising off Cuba—Futile attempt
on two Spanish privateers—Capture small Spanish privateer—Return to
Jamaica—Arrange exchange with captain of home-going ship—A challenge to
Spanish corvette declined by the latter.

                                                             _pp. 259-268_

                               CHAPTER XXI.

                           HOME WITH MAHOGANY.

My new ship—Sail for Belize—Native and alligator—Sail for England with
convoy of ships—Hear of peace being signed between England and
Spain—Arrive in England—Paid off at Sheerness—Return home—Tired of country
life—Apply for ship—Appointed to H.M.S. _Apelles_.

                                                             _pp. 269-279_

                              CHAPTER XXII.

                              OFF BOULOGNE.

Brig sloop sent to watch the French flotilla off Boulogne—Monotonous
duty—Return to Sheerness to refit—Story of Billy Culmer—More cruising off
Boulogne—Return to England.

                                                             _pp. 280-289_

                              CHAPTER XXIII.

                          THE SAME WEARY ROUND.

Leave to return home for four days—Visit of the Duke of Clarence—Again off
Boulogne—Down Channel with a convoy—Boulogne once more—Refit at
Plymouth—Return Boulogne—Run aground on French coast—Part of crew escape
in boats—Author and nineteen men remain on board.

                                                             _pp. 290-300_

                              CHAPTER XXIV.

                             TAKEN PRISONER.

Taken prisoner, and removed to Boulogne gaol—Asked to dinner by General
Lemaroix—News of Perceval’s assassination—Parole refused—Marched to
Montreuil-sur-Mer—On to Hesdin; being footsore, Author insists on having a
carriage—Drives to Arras.

                                                             _pp. 301-310_

                               CHAPTER XXV.

                               AT CAMBRAY.

Meet an Englishman—At last put on parole—Dine with Lieutenant
Horton—Proceed to Cambray—Relics of Archbishop Fénélon—Meet Captain Otter
at Verdun—Prisoners’ amusements—Author and Captain Otter establish a
school for midshipmen—Author moves into country quarters—Severe censorship
of prisoner’s letters—Ordered to Blois—Purchase a cart and horses.

                                                             _pp. 311-320_

                              CHAPTER XXVI.

                            END OF CAPTIVITY.

Horses bolt, and cart upsets—Reach Blois after six days’
travelling—Miserable condition of French troops after return from
Moscow—Ordered to Gueret on the Creuse—A miserable journey of five
days—Poor accommodation—Allowed to move to country quarters at Masignon—An
earthquake shock—News of Napoleon’s abdication—Start for Paris—Reach
Fontainebleau in nine days—Proceed to Paris—Lodgings dear and scarce—State
entrance of Louis XVIII. into Paris.

                                                             _pp. 321-331_

                              CHAPTER XXVII.

                          HONOURABLY ACQUITTED.

Obtain a passport after some difficulty from Prince Metternich—Start for
England _viâ_ Rouen and Havre—Sail to Spithead—Amused at Englishwomen’s
queer dress—Return to family—Acquitted for loss of H.M.S. _Apelles_.

                                                             _pp. 332-334_


                                                             _pp. 335-340_

                          LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.

CAPTAIN F. HOFFMAN, R.N. (_by V. Varillas, 1818_)    _Frontispiece_
FALMOUTH HARBOUR                                     _To face_          10
PLYMOUTH HARBOUR                                     "                  50
PORT ROYAL, JAMAICA                                  "                 108
LUXURIOUS VEGETATION, JAMAICA                        "                 140
ENTRANCE TO ST. IAGO, CUBA                           "                 146
THE BATTLE OF TRAFALGAR (_after C. Stanfield,        "                 210
H.M.S. _APELLES_                                     "                 280
ST. MARTIN, MARCH 31, 1814

                         A SAILOR OF KING GEORGE.

                                CHAPTER I.

                            EARLY EXPERIENCES.

     My mother consents to my going to sea—Journey to Portsmouth—Join
       H.M.S. _Blonde_—Take General Prescott and suite on board—We
     sail—Supply West Indiamen with provisions and in return impress
       six seamen—Windbound at Falmouth—Again sail—Attacked by four
     French frigates, but escape and again make Falmouth—Finally sail
           for West Indies—Amusements in crossing the Equator.

One morning sitting with my mother in the drawing room and entreating her
to comply with my wish to enter the Navy, she was so intent on listening
to my importunities and her patchwork that she did not observe that the
cat was running away with her favourite goldfinch; the cat, with the poor
bird in its mouth, was near the door, waiting to escape. Seeing what had
happened, I immediately ran to the poor little bird’s assistance, but,
alas! too late, as the cruel animal had torn off one of its wings.

Whilst my mother was feelingly lamenting her favourite’s untimely death,
and deliberating whether the cat should be given away, the door opened,
the culprit escaped, and Captain Elphinstone entered. On his observing my
mother’s paleness, he requested to know if anything of a serious nature
had occurred in the family. “No,” replied she, “except the loss of a
favourite bird, which I certainly regret, as it was killed by the cat in a
most distressing manner, and,” added she, “my spirits are not at this
moment very good in consequence of my son’s wishing to enter the Navy.”
“The first,” said he, “I lament, as it has deprived you of a pet; the
latter may in the end be a matter of rejoicing. Who knows but that your
son, if he enters that noble service, may turn out a second Hawke.” My
ears thrilled at his remark.

“Do you really think, Captain Elphinstone,” said my mother, with a
half-sorrowful countenance, “that it would be to his advantage?” “Most
assuredly,” replied he, “as I think it very likely war will shortly be
declared against that unhappy and distracted France, and he will have a
very fair chance of making prize money, and in time will gain his

“Quit the room a short time, my love,” said my mother to me. In about a
quarter of an hour, which I thought an hour, I was sent for. Captain
Elphinstone had taken his leave. I found my mother still very pale. “I am
afraid, dear boy,” she began, “that Captain Elphinstone has almost
persuaded me against my will. He has spoken of the prospects of the Naval
Service in so favourable a manner that I am nearly tempted to let you
enter it, and should war unhappily be declared against our unfortunate
neighbours, the French, and my friend Captain Markham be appointed to a
ship, I believe I must make up my mind to be quite persuaded and let you
have your wish.” “Thank you, my dear mother,” replied I, overjoyed at what
I knew nothing about. A short time after this conversation, war was
declared against France, or rather France provoked it, and Captain Markham
was appointed to the _Blonde_ frigate. My mother instantly wrote to him;
his answer was favourable, and he requested her to let me join him as soon
as possible. All now was bustle and preparation. My brothers were sent for
home, and begged to be allowed to go with me. Poor fellows! they little
knew what they asked. In a few days I was fully equipped. I mounted my
uniform, and I thought my brothers and the young friends who came to take
leave of me appeared to envy me my finery, particularly my dirk, which
they examined so often that I began to think they would wear it out. At
length the evening arrived for me to quit my dear, happy home. My mother
was sensibly affected, my sister looked serious, but my brothers, who were
younger than myself—little rogues!—only looked disappointed that they
could not go with me. I am sorry to say that my spirits were so buoyant
that sorrow did not enter my head.

Captain Elphinstone was kind enough to accompany me to the coach, and on
the 12th day of October, 1793,—oh! happy day, at least I thought so—we
repaired to the sign of that nondescript bird, the “Swan with Two Necks”
in Lad Lane, Cheapside. After taking an affectionate farewell of those who
came with me, I stepped into the vehicle of transport with a light foot, a
light heart, and, I fear, a light head, as I fancied by the people staring
at me that I was the lion of the occasion. When we stopped for supper a
gentlemanly person, who sat opposite, asked me what ship I belonged to. I
informed him, and he told me he was Captain W., of the 31st Regiment,
going to join his division at Portsea, destined for Gibraltar. “It is
probable you will not join the frigate for a few days after your arrival,”
said he, “and if you do not, we have a mess at Portsmouth where I shall be
happy to see you.” I thanked him warmly for his considerate and kind
invitation. I had only one opportunity of dining with him, as he embarked
three days after his arrival. About six o’clock in the evening I reached
the “Blue Postesses” where the midshipmen put their chestesses and eat
their breakfastesses. Next morning, and whilst I was prosing over my
breakfast, in walked a midshipman, about twenty years of age, with a face
which appeared to have been rolled down Deal beach a dozen times.
“Waiter,” said he, “have you in the house a young officer lately arrived
from Lunnen?” “Ho, ho!” thinks I, “my boy, you are from my country the
West, and probably from where it rains upon Dock(1) nine months in the
twelve.” “Yes, sir,” said the waiter, “the young officer is eating his
breakfastesses;” saying this he brought him to my box. “Good morning,
sir,” said he, “I have come on shore to take you on board. Have you all
your things ready?” “Yes,” said I, “I shall be ready in twenty minutes.
Can you spare me that time? But,” continued I, “have you breakfasted?—you
look rather cold,”—I was afraid to say hungry—“I think a cup of tea will
warm you.” I then gave him one. “If you will allow me,” said he, “I’ll put
a poker in it.” I wondered what he meant. It was soon explained. He called
the waiter and told him to bring a glass of rum, which he put into the
tea, and, as he thought I should feel the cold going off, he said I had
better do the same. As I considered him my superior officer I complied,
although the fiery taste of the spirit almost burnt my mouth, which he
perceiving smiled, and told me I should soon be used to it. “You will
oblige me,” said I, “if you will give me a little insight into the
characters of the officers of the ship.” “Why,” said he, “the captain is a
tight one, and sometimes in a hurricane I never heard any officer pray so
well or so heartily as he does: his prayers, if not heard elsewhere, are
certainly heard by all on board, and are generally effective. However,”
added he, “you will soon be able to judge for yourself. The first
lieutenant is one of the old woman’s school, an easy and good kind of
person, but not fit to be first of an active frigate. The second
lieutenant is a regular-built sailor, and knows his duty well, but he is
fond of mast-heading the youngsters when they think they do not deserve
it. The third lieutenant would be a sailor if he knew how to set about it;
he generally begins at the wrong end, and is always making stern way,
but,” said he, “he almost prays as good a stick as the skipper. As for the
other officers, we have not so much to do with them as with those I have
described. However,” added he, “there is one more—I mean the purser: he is
a complete nip-cheese, and as for his steward, he ought to have swung at
the fore-yard arm long ago.” “There is one more question I have to ask,”
said I, “which is, what sort of young gentlemen are the midshipmen?”
“Why,” replied he, “two of what you term young gentlemen are old enough to
be your father, but take them in a lump they are not so bad; four of them
are about your age, and full of fun and frolic. Now,” said he, “it’s time
to be off.” He beckoned to a seaman near the door, who, I found, was the
coxswain of the cutter. “Take this officer’s chest to the boat.” Here the
waiter interposed, and said it was customary for the waterman of the “Blue
Postesses” to take packages down to the water side. To this I consented,
and away we trotted to sally port where the boat was lying. On our arrival
at the stairs, I found another midshipman about my own age, who had been
left in charge of the boat’s crew during the other’s absence. He eyed me
obliquely; then turning to the elder, “I thought,” said he, “you would
never come. I have been so bothered during the time you were away by three
of the men’s confounded trulls, who wanted me to give them a passage off,
that every five minutes appeared an hour, and I have only this moment got
rid of them.” “Never mind, my boy,” said the other, “let’s shove off.”

Passing round a point, going out of the harbour, I observed a gibbet with
part of a human skeleton hanging on it. “You are looking at the remains of
Jack the painter,” said the elder midshipman to me. “Do you know his
history?” I answered in the negative. “Why,” said he, “that burning rascal
set fire to the rope-house in the dockyard about the time you were born,
and there the gentleman’s bones are rattling to the breeze as a warning to
others.” The wind was blowing strong, and we were more than an hour before
we reached the frigate, which was lying at Spithead. My eyes during that
time were fixed on twelve sail of the line ready for sea. As I had never
seen a line of battleship, I was much struck with their noble and imposing
appearance, and I imagined everybody who served on board them must feel
pride in belonging to them. After a severe pull we got alongside as the
boatswain and his mates were piping to dinner. I followed the elder
midshipman up the side, the other came up after me. On reaching the
quarter-deck we made our bows, when I was introduced to the second
lieutenant, who had the watch on deck. He asked me some indifferent
questions, and sent for one of the master’s mates to give orders
respecting my hammock. The first lieutenant, an elderly, weather-beaten,
gentlemanly looking person, now came on deck. I had a letter for him from
my sister’s husband-elect, which I gave him. After reading it he asked me
how I had left my friends, and before I could answer the question I heard
him say to the second lieutenant, “What the devil do they send such
delicate boys into the Service to be knocked on the head for?—much better
make civilians of them.” Then turning to me, “Well, youngster,” said he,
with a good-humoured smile, “you’ll dine in the gun room with us at three
o’clock.” He then sent for the gunner, and requested him to take me into
his mess, who grinned assent. This last was a square, broad-shouldered
Welshman, with an open countenance, and of no little consequence. I
descended to his cabin, which was under water, and I could, when in it,
distinctly hear that element bubbling like a kettle boiling as it ran by
the ship’s side above our heads. I found this said cabin not too large for
three of us, as the surgeon’s mate was an inmate as well as myself. Its
dimensions were about eight feet by six, and when we were at table the boy
who attended us handed everything in we wanted by the door. In a few days
I was quite at home with the mids; some of them began spinning tough yarns
respecting the hardships of a sea life—what a horrible bore it was to keep
night watches, or any watch at all, and you are sure, said one of them, to
catch the fever and ague after you have been four hours walking under the
draught of the mizzen stay-sail; and, added another, to be mast-headed for
three hours with your face to windward by those tyrants, the second and
third lieutenants. They both ought to be turned out of the Service for
tyranny and oppression, and as to the last he does not know how to put the
ship about without the assistance of Hamilton Moore or the old
quartermaster. I thought this all very encouraging. I, however, kept my
own counsel, and as I did not appear much discomposed by the recital of so
many miseries, they considered me a complete Johnny Newcome just caught.

We were now ready for sailing, and only waiting the arrival of a general
officer and his suite. The second morning after I joined the frigate a
most serious accident occurred which might easily have proved fatal to all
on board. In a part called the after cockpit, where, after breakfast, the
surgeon examines the sick, a large piece of iron called a loggerhead, well
heated, is put into a bucket of tar in order to fumigate it after the sick
have left it. On this occasion the tar caught fire. It soon reached the
spirit-room hatches, which were underneath, and the powder magazine
bulkhead. Unfortunately, without considering the consequences, a few
buckets of water were thrown on the flaming tar, which made it spread
more. At length the engine was set to work, and beds and blankets from the
purser’s store-room surcharged with water soon got it under. These last
were of the greatest service in smothering the flame, and were more
effectual in saving the ship than the engine. The captain and officers
behaved nobly on this occasion. I had the honour of conducting the hose of
the engine down the hatchway, and was almost stifled by the smoke for my
pains. On looking through one of the gunports after the danger was over, I
could not help laughing to see two of the women with a rope fastened under
their arms and held by their husbands, paddling close to the ship’s side,
with their clothes rising like large bladders around them. A number of
boats on seeing our danger came to our assistance, but they were ordered
to lay on their oars at a distance. Providentially we did not require
their aid.

On the 2nd of November we received on board General Prescott and his
suite, and immediately afterwards got under weigh and made sail with a
favourable wind down Channel. We had taken our departure from the Lizard,
when, on the same night the wind, which had continued some time from the
eastward, changed to the westward, and came on to blow fresh with very
hazy weather. A number of West Indiamen passed us; they had been beating
about in the chops of the Channel for more than a week. Some of them were
in great distress for provisions. We relieved three of them by sending
some bags of biscuit and casks of salt beef, and as we were feelingly
alive to their situation, we took from their crews six of their seamen. I
was much interested in two of these men. They had been absent nearly
eighteen months from their wives and families, and were fondly looking
forward to a meeting with those for whom they lived and toiled, but, alas!
they were doomed to return to that foreign climate they had a few months
before left, and from whence it was impossible to know when they would
come back.

[Illustration: FALMOUTH HARBOUR.   [_Frith, Reigate._]

We kept the sea for two days longer notwithstanding the violence of the
westerly gale, in the hope it would not long continue; but finding we were
losing ground, we on the third day bore up for Falmouth, where we anchored
in the evening and remained windbound four days, during which period we
exercised the guns and sails.

On one of these days I went with a party of my shipmates on shore at St.
Maw’s. Before coming off I bethought me of a pair of shoes, which I had
forgotten to procure at Falmouth. I inquired of a boy who passed me where
I could find a shop to supply my wants; he informed me the mayor was the
best shoemaker in the town. To this worthy magistrate I repaired, who I
found very busily employed on a pair of boots. He had spectacles on nose,
which feature was not very prominent and of a reddish-blue. I acquainted
him with my wish to have a pair of solid, good understanders. Pointing to
some shoes, “Good,” said he, “young officer, here’s a pair will fit you to
a T. They were made for Captain H.’s son, but the ship sailed before he
could send for them.” As they fitted me I bought them. “So I understand,”
said he, “gentlemen,”—for two of the mids were with me—“you are going to
the Indies to make your fortunes.” “Are we?” said I, “that is more than we
know.” “Yes,” continued he, “I am sure of it, and in a year’s time you
will return with your pockets well filled with French money; and I hope,”
added he, “that if you return to Falmouth you will pay my shop a second
visit.” I need not inform my reader that the worshipful shoemaking
magistrate proved a false prophet. We did return within a twelve-month,
and to Falmouth, ’tis true, but nearly as poor as when he told us our
fortunes; consequently we did not visit his shop a second time.

As we were the senior officer, and there being several sloops of war and
cutters in the harbour, we fired the evening and morning guns. The first
evening we fired proved fatal to a pilot and four boatmen, who imagined
the firing proceeded from a ship seen standing for the harbour with the
loss of her fore top-mast. The night was very dark and tempestuous, and a
short time after leaving St. Maw’s the boat upset and they were all lost.
This was the more distressing as they all left wives and families. The
officers among the squadron made a subscription for them, and the mids,
although not rich, were not backward. The wind becoming favourable, we on
the fifth morning made sail out of the roads and stood down Channel. The
same night, which was very dark and squally, we fell in with the _Venus_
frigate, who, before we could answer the private signal, favoured us with
a discharge of musketry. Fortunately, it did no other damage than cutting
some of the ropes.

On the morning of the second day after leaving Falmouth we saw four ships
about five miles distant to the S.W. At first we took them for Indiamen
homeward bound. In the expectation of procuring some good seamen we stood
towards them. After a short time we discovered them to be French frigates.
We immediately altered our course, and made all possible sail to avoid
them. On perceiving this they signalled each other and stood after us
under a press of sail. The wind was moderate, and had again changed to the
westward. The enemy was drawing fast on us. After a chase of five hours
the nearest frigate fired her foremost guns at us, which cut away the
maintop bowline. We returned their fire with our stern chasers. As they
had neared us so rapidly, we thought it prudent to throw overboard the
foreign stores in order to improve our sailing. Two of the enemy’s
frigates were now within gunshot and the two others nearing us fast. We
had almost despaired of escaping, when fortunately one of our shot brought
down the advanced frigate’s fore topsail yard, and we soon found we were
leaving her. The second yawed, and gave us a broadside; only two of her
shot took effect by striking near the fore channels. Her yaw saved us, as
we gained on her considerably. The wind had become light, which still
further favoured us. We were now nearing our own coast, and towards sunset
the enemy had given up the chase and hauled off to the S.W. The wind
veering to the northward, we altered our course to the westward; but,
singular to say, at daylight next morning we found ourselves about six
miles from the same vessels, who, directly they perceived us, made all
sail towards us. We tacked and stood again for Falmouth, where we anchored
that evening and remained three days to complete our stores. We once more
made sail for our destination, which I now found was the West Indies,
without meeting further obstacle. As we neared the tropic those who had
crossed it were anticipating the fun; others were kept in ignorance until
Neptune came on board, which he did with one of his wives. It was my
morning watch, when the frigate was hailed and desired to heave to, which
was done. The cooper, a black man, personated the sea-god. His head was
graced with a large wig and beard made of tarred oakum. His shoulders and
waist were adorned by thrumbed mats; on his feet were a pair of Greenland
snow-shoes. In his right hand he held the grains (an instrument something
resembling a trident, and used for striking fish). He was seated on a
match tub placed on a grating, with his wife, a young topman, alongside of
him. Her head-dress consisted of a white flowing wig made of oakum, with a
green turban; on her shoulders was an ample yellow shawl; her petticoat
was red bunting; on her feet were sandals made from the green hide of a
bullock. In her right hand she held a harpoon; her cheeks were thickly
smeared with red ochre.

After being drawn round the decks three times in order to astonish those
confined below by the noise and bustle it made, Neptune introduced his
young bride to the captain, and informed him he was in mourning for his
last wife, pointing to his skin. “What occasioned her death?” inquired the
captain. “She,” replied the sea-god, “died of a violent influenza she
caught on the banks of Newfoundland nursing her last child in a thick fog,
and,” added he, “I intend next month blockading the coast of Shetland in
order to compel the mermaids to give up one of their young women whom I
hired three months ago to suckle my last infant, since the death of its
mother.” He then requested to know if there were any new arrivals from his
favourite island, England. The captain informed him there were several,
and as some of them were rather delicate, with very little beard, he hoped
his barber would not shave them too close. One of the midshipmen was then
brought up blindfolded. Neptune asked him how he had left his mamma, that
he must refuse biscuit when he could have soft tommy (white bread), that
he should lower his main-top gallant sail to a pretty girl, and make a
stern board from an ugly one. After being taken to the sea-god’s wife, who
embraced him most cordially, leaving no small proportion of the ochre on
his cheeks, he was desired to be seated, and was led to the narrow plank
placed over a very large tub of water. The barber then began his
operations with grease and tar, and as the mid did not admire the
roughness of the razor, he began to be a little restive, when over he went
into the tub, where he floundered for some short time. He was drawn out,
the bandage removed from his eyes, and he appeared not a little surprised
to see so many grotesque figures around him. He soon recovered himself and
entered into the fun which followed.

All the others came up one at a time and went through the same ceremony.
Some were inclined not to submit to Neptune’s directions. This only made
matters worse for them, as the more they struggled the oftener they were
plunged into the tub of water. After about two hours’ amusement the decks
were dried, everything in order, and all hands at breakfast. I could not
help laughing at one of the lieutenants of Marines who, to avoid getting
wet, had placed himself on the forecastle to enjoy the pastime without
partaking in it. One of the mids who had been ducked determined he should
not escape, and had a couple of buckets filled with water on the gangway,
ready to throw on him when he quitted his post, which he did when he saw
the tub removed from the quarter-deck. As the youngster wished, he went
along the main-deck, when, as he passed, over his shoulders went the first
bucket of water; he unfortunately lifted his head to see who threw it,
when over went the other right in his face and breast, so that he was as
completely drenched as if he had been ducked. Unluckily, he had on his red
coat, which was completely spoiled; salt water is a bitter enemy to red
cloth, as it turns it black. A few days afterwards we caught several
dolphins and a shark seventeen feet in length. We were obliged to fire
seven pistol balls into its head to kill it before we could get it on
board. It was cut up and put into pickle for those who chose to eat it.
There was a beautiful fish, striped alternately black and yellow, swimming
under it. The sailors called it a pilot-fish, and they informed me that
sharks are very seldom without one or two, and that they appear to direct
them where to go; this last must be mere conjecture. The pilot-fish is
generally about a foot long, and in shape like a mullet.

                               CHAPTER II.

                               WEST INDIES.

    Arrival in West Indies—Cruise among the French islands—Bombardment
    and capture of St. Pierre, Dominique—Attack on Bourbon—Capture of
      forts—Surrender of General Rochambeau and the French garrison.

After a pleasant passage of thirty-four days we anchored in Carlisle Bay,
Barbadoes. Two days after our arrival I had permission to go on shore with
the gunner, who had been here before. I found the town not very extensive.
The houses are built much in the same style as those at Kingston, in
Jamaica, except that they have more garden ground. The streets are very
sandy, but they are ornamented with a profusion of cocoa, plantain and
banana trees, which afford a partial shade. It appeared to me that most of
the people who inhabited Bridge Town maintained themselves by washing
clothes. The women are well made and very indolent. The men are
sufficiently conceited but active. I procured here a quantity of very
pretty small sea-shells. They assort them very tastefully in cases, and
for about two dollars you may purchase a tolerable collection. The natives
of this island pride themselves on not being creoles, that is not being of
the Caribbean race, although it assuredly is one of the Caribbean Islands.
If you are unfortunate enough to speak in favour of any of the other West
Indian Islands in their presence, they immediately exclaim, “Me tankey my
God dat I needer Crab nor Creole, but true Barbadeen born.” They drawl out
their words most horribly. I happened one day to hear two of the dignity
ladies of Bridge Town, as black as ink, returning the salutations of the
morning. The first began by drawling out, “How you do dis maurning. I hope
you berry well, m-a-a-m, but I tink you look a little p-a-a-le.” The other
answered, “I tank you body, I hab berry b-a-a-d niete (night), but I
better dis mording, I tank you, m-a-a-m.” This island is famed for its
noyeau, guava jelly, candied fruits—particularly the pine-apple, which is
put on table in glass cases—and its potted flying-fish, which I thought
equal in flavour to potted pilchards. Were I to make this assertion at
Mevagissey I fear I should stand but little chance of being invited to
dine off star gazy pie(2); but for fear my reader should be from that
neighbourhood, I beg him to understand that I do not think them better,
but, in my individual opinion, as good. After remaining among these true
Barbadian-born drawlers about ten days, we left them, and made sail for
St. Pierre Dominique, where we anchored two days after. The manners and
customs of the people at this island were totally different to those in
vogue in Barbadoes; all, with the exception of a few, spoke creole French.

This island is mountainous, but not very picturesque. It produces sugar
which undergoes the process of being clayed—that is, after a great part of
the molasses has been drained from it, it is put into forms made of clay,
which extract the remaining moisture; it then becomes a beautiful straw
colour; it is exported in cases. Coffee also grows here, but not of the
finest quality. We also saw abundance of different fruits. The purser
purchased several tons of yams for the use of the ship’s crew, some of
which weighed upwards of twenty pounds each. We bought for our mess some
sweet potatoes, plantains, bananas, shaddocks, forbidden fruit, and limes.
There were groves of oranges, but we had not time to visit them. We saw in
the market melons, guavas, sour-sops, alligator-pears, love-apples and
mangoes. I remarked that oxen were the only animals used for burthen. I
did not see a single horse. The streets of the town of St. Pierre are not
laid out with much regularity, nor are the houses well built. I thought it
an ugly town; it is, however, ornamented with a number of cocoanut-trees,
some of which are forty and fifty feet high.

The general officer we brought from England and his suite left us at this
place. The object of his visit was to raise a mongrel regiment for the
purpose of acting against the French islands, as a fleet with troops from
England was daily expected to effect their capture. We remained here a few
days, and afterwards amused ourselves by cruising off the islands of
Martinique, Guadaloupe, St. Lucie and Marie Galante, but were not
fortunate enough to effect any captures. We repaired a second time to St.
Pierre roads and received on board two companies of mongrels to transport
to Barbadoes. We wished them, and sometimes ourselves, in heaven. All the
mids thought it a great pity that we had not fallen in with a first-class
French frigate. We might have walked on board of her, said they, in such
fine style. There were several women with the troops, some of whom had
children at the breast. I pitied them, and endeavoured to assist them all
in my power. For them to stay below was impossible, as we had almost as
many soldiers on board as our ship’s company, and to keep their children
quiet was equally difficult. To effect this they frequently gave them
strong rum and water, which threw them into a state of stupor—poor,
miserable little beings! After having these suffering people on board for
five days we at length, to their relief and our great joy, arrived amongst
our drawling—no, creole friends, and the following morning all the
redcoats were disembarked. On the second day after our anchoring the
expected fleet made its appearance. It consisted of the _Boyne_,
Vice-Admiral Sir J. Jervis, one 70 and two 64-gun ships, several frigates,
sloops of war, bomb-ships, and transports with troops. We saluted the
admiral, which he returned. All now was life and bustle, and in a short
time the gun-boats were ready; each man-of-war received two flat boats to
tow astern. In the latter end of February, 1794, we finally bid an
affecting adieu to our yellow and black legged female friends at Bridge
Town, who remained on the shore waving handkerchiefs much whiter than
themselves until the fleet cleared the harbour. On making sail, Needham’s
Fort, which commands the harbour, saluted the admiral, which he returned.
The fleet and transports soon cleared the bay, when each ship took her
station. It was a majestic sight to see so many vessels with all their
canvas spread and swelling to a strong sea-breeze.

The second day we reached Fort Royale Bay, Martinique, in admirable order,
and took French leave to let go our anchors out of range of the enemy’s
shells. The nearest vessels of the fleet had been warmly saluted by Pigeon
Island, as they were going in, which, however, we treated with contempt.
On the third day after our arrival a frigate with a bomb-ship and three
gun-boats engaged it, and three hours afterwards it capitulated. One of
the sixty-four-gun ships, some frigates, and a bomb with transports, had
gone round to subdue the northern part of the island. We were now all
actively employed getting ready the gun and flat-bottomed boats for
landing the troops, who were commanded by Lieut.-Gen. Sir C. Gray. The
Duke of Kent shortly after arrived with some troops from Halifax. As it
was thought advisable to reduce some of the smaller towns before the
attack on Fort Royale, we were ordered with one of the sixty-fours, two
frigates, the bomb-ship and some gun-boats to assault the town of St.
Pierre. We gave three cheers in the cockpit on hearing this news. At
daylight we weighed, and in the evening entered the bay of St. Pierre; we
were ordered to take off the hard knocks from the bomb by anchoring
between her and the enemy. About 9 P.M. we all opened our fire as nearly
as possible at the same time. It was a most brilliant sight; the bay was
literally illuminated. The enemy’s batteries began to play with some
trifling effect; this added to the splendour of the scene. The night,
fortunately for us, was very dark, which made it difficult for them to
strike us, as they could but imperfectly discern the object they fired at;
this was evident, as they fired immediately after we did. Our shot and
shell could not fail every time we fired them, as we had taken the
bearings of the principal places when we anchored. The cannonading ceased
about 3 A.M., when all the enemy’s batteries, except one, struck their
colours. This was in a great measure owing to our troops investing the
back of the town. At four o’clock the remaining fort, finding the town had
surrendered, hauled down the tricoloured flag. The losses on our part were
twelve killed and twenty wounded. Those of the enemy must have been

All the flat-bottomed boats and those belonging to the squadron were
ordered to land a number of marines. I was in the first division. We
landed about 7 A.M., and were astonished at the mischief our shot and
shell had done. The roof of the municipality, or town house, was nearly
knocked in. At the time some of the shells fell through it, all the wise
men of the town were assembled under its, as they imagined, bomb-proof
roof. Two of them were killed and several wounded. The principal church
had also suffered, as two sacrilegious shells had penetrated it and fallen
near the altar. On entering it we found the models of three frigates. As
they had not struck their colours, we did them that favour, and made
prizes of them. There were also some pictures of grim-looking saints,
which one of the sailors was endeavouring to unhook until another called
out, “Let them alone, Jack, they’ll only bring you bad luck,” on which he
desisted. This church was very dirty, and the ceilings of it filled with
cobwebs; the priests had taken everything from the altar, as well as from
the recesses or small chapels. A party of marines, with some artillerymen,
took possession of the forts, and sentinels were stationed over the public
buildings, and picquets round the town. Terms of capitulation had been
drawn out by the authorities, which, as the town was taken by assault,
were not agreed to. All found in arms were considered prisoners of war;
everything belonging to the Republic was given up. The citizens were not
molested, and allowed to keep their private effects. I was much amused at
the genuine _sang-froid_, or more properly speaking, the French
philosophy, of the people who kept the coffee-houses. They moved about as
gay as if nothing had happened, everything was regularly paid for, and the
most perfect discipline observed.

Having taken on board some of the principal French officers and a party of
our troops, we arrived at our former anchorage, Fort Royale Bay, the next
morning. Fort Royale, which was of considerable strength, had been
bombarded for several days, when it was decided to carry it by storm. On
the third day after our anchoring, at 3 A.M., the attack took place. The
gun and flat-bottomed boats were covered by the bomb-ships and frigates. A
landing was soon effected; the bamboo ladders for two men to mount abreast
were placed against the outer bastion of the fort. The soldiers and
sailors vied with each other who should mount first. Unfortunately, some
of the ladders gave way, and the men were precipitated to the ground; and,
what was still more unfortunate, some few fell on the bayonets of those
below and were shockingly wounded. In about ten minutes the outer works
were carried, and a marine’s jacket, for want of other colours, was
hoisted on the flagstaff. The enemy retreated to the inner work, but it
availed them little. In less than a quarter of an hour they were compelled
to give way. Several of them were cut down by the sailors, who had thrown
away their pistols after discharging them. Most of them had abandoned
their half-pikes before mounting, as they declared they were only in their
way, and that they preferred the honest cutlass to any other weapon. The
sailors and soldiers behaved well on this occasion; those who did not form
the escalade covered those who did by firing incessant volleys of
musketry, which brought down those of the enemy who were unwise enough to
show their unlucky heads above the parapet. In about twenty minutes the
British flags were floating on the flagstaffs, the French officers
surrendered their swords, and were sent on board the _Boyne_. I forgot to
mention that an explosion had taken place in one of the magazines of the
fort before we entered it, which killed and wounded more than fifty of the
enemy. About ninety of the enemy were killed and more than twenty wounded.
We had forty-six killed and wounded; among the number were eleven
officers. We found in the harbour a frigate of thirty-six guns and a
corvette fitted up as a receiving ship for the wounded. Several merchant
ships, loading with sugar when we first entered the bay, had relanded
their cargoes. The warehouses were more than half filled with sugar, rum
and coffee. A party of seamen were immediately employed to load the

The town had suffered considerably from the shells and shot. Some of the
houses were in ruins and the public buildings much damaged, particularly
those in the dockyard.

We now encamped before and laid siege to the principal Republican fort,
commanded by the French General Rochambeau. It had before been called
“Fort Bourbon,” and had a garrison of 3,000 men.(3)

We had already taken one of its principal redoubts within gunshot of it
and Fort Royale. A party of sailors who had the management of it under a
lieutenant and three midshipmen, christened it by a name that would shock
ladies’ ears. When the enemy’s shot fired at them were not too deeply
entrenched in the ground, they dug them up and returned them, the middies
first writing on them in chalk the names of those quack doctors who sold
pills as a remedy for all complaints.

For the first fourteen days we all appeared to enjoy the novelty of our
situation, although it was by no means an enviable one, as the shot and
shell were flying about us in every direction, and it was no joke to
scamper away from a bursting shell just as we had sat down to dinner. Some
were almost every day sent to “Kingdom come” sooner than they expected.
Our camp on the plain before the enemy’s fort was picturesque enough; the
officers only had tents or marquees, the sailors and soldiers made the
most of their blankets. However, except when the dew fell heavily at
night, these were quite sufficient. A few only suffered who were not of
the strongest, and they were attacked by a low fever.

We had been before this fortress nearly three weeks, and were impatient to
storm it, as what with casualties and the enemy’s shot we were losing the
number of our mess faster than we liked, and, although our fire had been
incessant, we had not been able to effect a breach of any considerable
consequence. To give more facility to the operations the _Boyne_ landed
some of her guns, and a party of sailors were ordered to draw them up, or
rather they volunteered to do so. The guns were placed in an advanced
fascine-intrenched battery, made by the pioneers and artillerymen during
the night, within half a gun shot of the enemy. In getting them up they
were either placed upon field carriages or sledges made out of the trunks
of trees. The sailors, who were harnessed by twenties, soon had them in
their places, and when they were mounted they gave three hearty cheers,
which must have astonished the enemy. The guns soon after opened a most
destructive fire on the nearest work, as we could see quantities of the
wall fly like showers of hail. During the night we expected a sortie from
the fort, and were provided for such an event. A constant fire from all
the batteries was kept up all night; the shells were well directed, and an
explosion took place in the enemy’s fort. At daylight we perceived that
the advanced sailors’ battery had effected a considerable breach in the
fort, and a consultation was held among the superior officers. When over,
they acquainted the sailors and soldiers that they were determined to
storm it the following night. The three cheers which followed this speech
must have been heard for miles. At 10 A.M. we discerned a flag of truce
advancing towards our lines, and shortly after a French superior officer
with his aide-de-camp requested to speak to the commanding officer. As the
enemy had ceased firing, we did the same. The purport of the flag of truce
was that General Rochambeau, finding it useless holding out any longer,
wished to treat on terms, and requested a cessation of hostilities for
twenty-four hours. The following morning the capitulation was arranged. At
10 A.M. the enemy marched out of the fort under arms, with drums beating
and their colours flying, when we marched in and soon hoisted the colours
of Old England on the flag-staffs. The island was now entirely in our
possession. The French garrison marched to Fort Royale, where they
grounded their arms in the market-place. Their superior officers were met
by the Admiral, Sir C. Gray, and the Duke of Kent, as well as other
officers of the Navy and Army. In a few days afterwards they were embarked
on board some of the transports and sent to France, the officers on
parole, and the men not to serve until regularly exchanged.

                               CHAPTER III.

                            RETURN TO ENGLAND.

      Sail for England with despatches—A lunar rainbow—A two-tailed
     fish—Reach Falmouth after passage of fifteen days—To Plymouth to
          refit—All leave refused—Sailors’ frolics ashore—To sea
    again—Cruise off French coast and Channel Islands—Run aground off
    Guernsey—Return to Plymouth to repair damages—Rejoin fleet—French
     fleet escapes into Brest—Return to Plymouth to refit for foreign
    service—Transhipped to H.M.S. _Hannibal_—Description of the ship’s
              officers—Tricks played on the Irish chaplain.

On the 14th of April, 1794, we were ordered to receive on board a superior
officer of the Navy and Army with the despatches for England, also several
wounded officers and the colours taken from the forts and churches. In the
evening we saluted the admiral and left the bay for England.

On our passage, during a middle watch, I beheld a splendid and most
perfect lunar rainbow. It extended from the stern of the frigate to some
considerable distance. These bows are generally more distinct than the
solar, owing to the glare of light not being so great.

We were followed for some days by a fish with two regular tails. It was
about three feet long, of a bluish colour, and shaped like a salmon. We
endeavoured by every possible stratagem to take it, but it was either too
shy or too cunning to be caught. Fifteen days after quitting Martinique we
anchored at Falmouth. The officers in charge of the despatches left the
ship to proceed to London.

After having taken on board water and refreshments we repaired to
Plymouth, ran into Hamoaze, lashed alongside a receiving hulk, unrigged
and got the guns and stores out, and were afterwards taken into dock to
have the copper cleaned and repaired.

Now, reader, I hope you will not think me unreasonable when I make known
to you that I wished to see my mother, but I might as well have asked for
a captain’s commission. The time was too precious, and we were of too much
use to be spared to see our mammas, so the second lieutenant said, and
that was a sufficient damper. He had his wife in snug lodgings at Dock; he
neither felt for us nor our mammas, so one of the youngsters remarked.

Whilst the frigate is refitting, I will describe some of our sailors’
frolics on shore. Returning one afternoon from Plymouth, I met two hackney
coaches driving very rapidly. The first of them contained one of our
boatswain’s mates and the coxswain of the launch with their delicate
ladies. On the roof was another of our men playing the fiddle. I expected
to see him fall off every moment, but, like a true sailor, he had learnt
to hold fast. The second coach contained the men’s hats and their ladies’
bonnets. As they were not allowed to go farther than Plymouth, they had
been driving from Dock to that place and back again for the last two
hours. On their coming on board they brought with them the sign of
Whittington’s cat, which belonged to the public-house in North Corner
Street, where they had dined. They gave the landlord fourteen shillings
for it, and two days after gave it to him back for nothing. On another
occasion twelve of them took six coaches, into which they stowed with
their ladies, to drive backwards and forwards from Plymouth to Dock six
times. The sternmost to pay for a dinner, of which the whole were to
partake, each kept bribing the coachman to go faster; the consequence was
that the money they gave for this task amounted to more than the hire of
the vehicles. When they made their appearance on board they were decorated
with shawls tied round them like scarfs, and three of them had portraits
of their females as large as an ordinary picture fastened round their
necks with a piece of a bell rope.

I prithee, reader, censure them not too harshly. Sailors possess shades
like other men; but when you reflect that they are on board their ships
for months in an open sea, exposed to all weather, privation, and
hardship, which they bear with philosophic patience, you will agree with
most people and admit that they deserve indulgence when they get on shore;
but you may wish for their sakes that they knew the value of money better.
You cannot change the Ethiopian’s skin without boiling him in pitch, which
you know is a dangerous experiment. Sailors seldom arrive at the age of
reflection until they are past the meridian of life, and when it is almost
too late to lay by anything considerable to make them comfortable in their
old age.

I have known a boatswain’s mate who a few months after he had joined the
ship received about twenty pounds. One of his messmates asked him to lend
him a few shillings. “That I will, my hearty,” was his generous reply;
“here’s a fist full for you. Pay me a fist full when you are able.” The
master at arms who observed the action desired the borrower to count it;
it amounted to twenty-nine shillings.

The frigate now came out of dock and warped alongside the hulk, and in
five days she was ready for sea. On the seventh day we sailed to cruise
off Cherbourg, and to join a squadron of frigates under Captain Saumerez.
The enemy had three large class frigates fitting out at Havre de Grace and
two others at Cherbourg. Our squadron consisted of five frigates and a

At this period, 1794, Cherbourg, although a strong place, was nearly an
open roadstead, and we frequently stood in so close as to oblige the outer
vessels at anchor to run farther in.

Having cruised along the French coast for five weeks watching the progress
of the enemy’s frigates, which appeared very slow, we, in carrying sail
after a small vessel, sprung our fore and mizzen top-masts, and were
ordered to Guernsey, where we shortly after anchored in Castle Cornet
roads. Whilst we remained here some of the mids and myself had permission
to go on shore. After rambling about the town without meeting with any
object worth attention, we crossed over to some small, rocky islands, and
having two fowling-pieces with us we shot four large rabbits; their hair
was very soft and long. The inhabitants, who are neither English nor
French, but speak both languages in a corrupt manner, fabricate gloves and
socks from the fur of these animals. I bought two pairs of the former, but
they did not last long; the hair constantly came out on my clothes, and
when once they are wet they become useless.

On the fifth day after quitting the squadron we rejoined them in Cancale
Bay. At daylight next morning our signal was made to chase an enemy’s
lugger in shore. We were gaining rapidly on her when she ran in between
some rocks; we then prepared the boats to attack and bring her out, but as
we stood in for that purpose we found the water suddenly shoal, and a
battery we had not perceived opened its fire on us. We were obliged to
haul off, but not before we had fired several shot at both lugger and
battery. The latter again fired and knocked away our mizzen top-gallant
mast. We bore up and gave it a broadside, and could see pieces of rock
near it fly in all directions. The signal was made to recall us, and soon
after we rejoined the squadron. For more than two months had we been
tantalized by cruising in this monotonous manner, with little hope of the
sailing of the frigates we were blockading, when the commodore ordered
another frigate, ourselves, and the lugger to Guernsey to refit and
procure live bullocks. Having got on board what we wanted, we made sail
out of the harbour through the Little Vessel passage; the pilot, thinking
the tide higher than it was, bumped the frigate on shore on the rock of
that name. She struck violently, but soon floated off as the tide was
flooding. On sounding the well we found she was making water rapidly. The
pumps were soon at work, but as the leak gained on us, we made the signal
of distress and want of assistance. It was soon answered by the frigate
and lugger, who came within hail. We requested them to see us as far as
Plymouth, as we could not keep the sea in consequence of our mishap.
Fortunately the wind was in our favour, and we reached Plymouth Sound in
the afternoon, ran into Hamoaze the same evening, lashed alongside a
receiving ship and had a party of men to assist at the pumps.

At daylight we got out the guns and the heavy stores, and the ship into
dock. On examining her, it was found that part of the main keel and bottom
were so much injured that it would be a fortnight before the repairs could
be finished. In three weeks we were ready for sea, and were ordered to
join a squadron of nine sail of the line, under the command of
Rear-Admiral Montague. We sailed with the intention of joining the Channel
fleet under Lord Howe, but were much mortified on receiving intelligence
from a frigate we spoke that the action between the English and French
fleets had taken place on the 1st of June, and that the latter were
defeated with considerable loss. In the sanguine hope of meeting with some
of the enemy’s lame ducks, we made all sail for Brest water. The next
morning we saw the Island of Ushant, and soon after eight sail of the
enemy’s line of battle ships and five large frigates. They were about
three leagues on our weather beam. We made all sail in chase of them, but
they being so near Brest, and in the wind’s eye of us, we only neared them
sufficiently to exchange a few shots. In the evening they anchored in
Brest roads. On this mortifying occasion there was a grand cockpit
meeting, when the middies declared the French were a set of cowardly,
sneaking rascals. “Let me,” said one of the youngest amongst them,
“command a squadron of eight sail of the line against ten of the enemy, I
would soon take the gloss off their sides, and show them the way into
Portsmouth harbour.”

On the afternoon of the following day we fell in with the defeated enemy’s
fleet which had escaped Lord Howe. They, unfortunately, were to windward
of us standing for Brest, but the nearest of them was not more than two
leagues distant. We made all possible sail to get between them and the
land. Fourteen sail of their effective ships of the line perceiving our
intention took their stations between us and their disabled vessels.
Towards sunset we exchanged some shot with the nearest without effect.

The night was now setting in with dark, squally weather from the W.S.W.,
when we reluctantly gave up the chase. I will not shock my reader’s ears
with what the mids said on this occasion. Suffice it to say, that they
offered up their prayers most heartily: in this, they, like obedient young
officers, only followed the example of their gallant captain and most of
the lieutenants.

Six weeks after remaining with this squadron we were ordered to Plymouth
to fit for foreign service. The captain went on shore, and we did not see
him until his return from London with a commission in his pocket to
command a seventy-four-gun ship, into which, shortly after, we were all
turned over. We regretted leaving the frigate, for although she was one of
the small class, we were much attached to her. Not one of us mids had ever
served in a larger vessel than a frigate. On board this large ship we were
for some days puzzled to find out each other, and for the first time in
our lives we messed and slept by candle-light. In a few days we received
on board four additional lieutenants, six mids, a captain of marines, a
chaplain, schoolmaster, and two hundred more men, besides forty marines.
As my former messmate, the gunner of the frigate, did not join this ship,
I had to find another mess. One of the master’s mates asked me if I would
join him and six other midshipmen, which I did. Our berth, or the place
where we messed, was on the orlop deck, designated by the name of cockpit,
where open daylight is almost as unknown as in one of the mines of
Cornwall. The mids’ farthing candles and the sentinel’s dark, dismal, not
very clean lanthorn just made a little more than darkness visible. When
the biscuits are manned, that is, infested by “bargemen,” they may be
swallowed in this dark hole by wholesale, as it is next to an
impossibility to detect them, except they quit their stow-holes and crawl
out, and when they do, which is but seldom, they are made to run a race
for a trifling wager. On the home station bargemen are scarcely known; it
is only in warm climates where they abound. Another most destructive
insect to the biscuit is the weevil, called by the mids purser’s l——e.

While walking down Fore Street one morning with one of my messmates we
came up with two well-dressed females, when he exclaimed, “By Job! what a
well-built little frigate she is to the left! How well she carries her
maintop-gallant sail! What a neat counter, and how well formed between the
yardarms! I’ll heave ahead and have a look at her bow chasers, head rails,
and cut heads, for I think I have seen her before somewhere. You,” said he
to me, “can take the one on the starboard hand.” He then let go my arm and
shot ahead. He had no sooner done so than the youngest of them exclaimed,
“Why, my dear George, is that you?” “Yes,” he replied, “my dear Emily, and
my dear mother, too; this is, indeed, taking me aback by an agreeable
surprise. How long have you been here?” They were his mother and only
sister, who had arrived that morning and were going to the Admiral’s
office to gain information respecting the ship to which he belonged. His
mother was a genteel woman, to whom he introduced me; but what shall I say
of his sister! She won my heart at first sight. She was a beautiful,
delicate girl of about nineteen. Her figure haunted me for months
afterwards. They were at the “Fountain,” and intended staying there until
we sailed. “You will go on with us,” said his mother. “Yes,” said he,
“that I will, my dear mother, but after I have conveyed yourself and my
sister to your anchorage I must make all sail I possibly can on board, and
ask the first lieutenant for fresh leave. I hope to be with you in about
an hour.” Having seen them both to the inn, we made our bows and repaired
on board. On explaining to the lieutenant his reason for wishing to go
again on shore he obtained further leave, put on a fresh set of rigging,
jumped into the boat that had brought us off, and was soon in the fond
arms of his mother and sister. Shall I say I envied him? No, I did not; I
only wished my mother and sister—for I had, like him, only one—were at the
“Fountain” and I alongside of them.

In less than a month we were ready for sea, and when we were all a
_taunto_ I was proud to belong to such a commanding and majestic-looking
vessel. Before sailing, I will indulge my reader with a little sketch of
the officers of our noble man-of-war.

The most noble captain I have before described, except that they had given
him in the cockpit (he being a very dark-complexioned man) the name of
“Black Jack”; his praying propensities seldom quitted him, but,
notwithstanding this fault, he had many good qualities. The first
lieutenant of the frigate we left had gone to his family. The second, in
consequence, had become first. He was a thorough seaman, and carried on
the duty with a tight hand. Woe betide the unfortunate mid who was remiss
in his duties: the masthead or double watches were sure to be his portion.
When the former, he hung out to dry two and sometimes four hours. The mids
designated him “The Martinet.” The second lieutenant was an elderly man,
something of the old school, and not very polished, fond of spinning a
tough yarn in the middle watch if the weather was fine, a fidgetty,
practical sailor with a kind heart. He informed us he was born on board
the _Quebec_, that his father was gunner of her when she blew up in the
action with the French frigate _Surveillante_, when all on board except
fourteen of the crew perished. Among the number saved were his father and
himself. The former jumped overboard from the fore-channels with the
latter, who was only seven years of age at the time, on his back, and swam
to the Frenchman’s foremast, which was floating at a short distance,
having been shot away by the English frigate. He added that had not this
unfortunate accident occurred, the French frigate must have struck her
colours in less than ten minutes. He spoke most indignantly of the conduct
of an English cutter that was in sight at the time. His nickname was “Old
Proser.” The third was a gentlemanly person, but more the officer than
practical sailor, fond of reading and drawing, and he frequently gave some
of us instruction in the latter. He had been in the East India Service,
and was a good navigator. We named him “Gentleman Jack.” The fourth had
been third in the frigate we left. I have already handed him up. His right
leg was rather shorter than the left; he was called “Robin Grey.” The
fifth was a delicate-looking man, fond of dress and the ladies, almost
always unwell; he was something of a sailor, but thought it a horrid bore
to keep watch. Strange as it may appear, this officer left the ship a few
months afterwards, and was made commander, post captain, and retired
admiral without serving afloat! We named him “The Adonis.”

The sixth was a stout-built regular man-of-war’s man, an officer and a
sailor, fond of conviviality, of gaming and a stiff glass of grog, but
never off his guard. He went by the name of “Tom Bowline.” The seventh was
as broad as he was long; the cockpitonians dubbed him “Toby Philpot.” He
was an oddity, and fond of coining new words. He knew the ship had three
masts and a sheet anchor. He was a strict disciple of Hamilton Moore, fond
of arguing about dip and refraction, particularly the former, as he put it
in practice on himself, being sometimes found with his head and heels at
an angle of 30 degrees in consequence of dipping his head to too many
north-westers. He was, however, good-natured, knew by rule how to put the
ship in stays, and sometimes, by misrule, how to put her in irons, which
generally brought the captain on deck, who both boxhauled the ship and him
by praying most heartily, although indirectly, for blessings on all
lubberly actions, and would then turn to the quarter-master and threaten
him with a flogging for letting the ship get in irons, poor Toby looking
the whole time very sheepish, knowing the harangue was intended for him.
The master was a middle-aged, innocent west-countryman, a good sailor,
knew all the harbours from Plymouth to the Land’s End, and perhaps several
others, but he was more of a pilot than a master, and usually conversed
about landmarks, church steeples, and crayfish. The surgeon was a clever
little dapper man, well-read, shockingly irritable, fond of controversy on
ethics, etymology, and giving the blue pill. I need not acquaint my reader
he was from York. The purser was the shadow of a man, very regular in his
accounts, fond of peach-water, playing the flute, of going on shore,
receiving his necessary money and taking all imaginable care of number
one. The captain of marines was a soldierly-looking, little, strong-built
man, very upright, fond of his bottle of wine, of holding warm arguments
with the surgeon, which always ended without either’s conviction—sometimes
to the annoyance, but more frequently to the amusement of the wardroom,
and he always appeared an inch taller when inspecting his corps. In his
manner he was always on parade, and he thought it a condescension to
notice a mid. The first lieutenant of marines was a tall, slight man, knew
the manual by heart, was fond of reading novels, presumed he was a great
man among the ladies (question, what sort of ladies?). He was a great
puppy, and when he passed the mids he regarded them with an air of
patronage, which they returned by a look of sovereign contempt. The second
lieutenant of marines was quite a different character. He was as playful
as a kitten, and never happier than when skylarking with the mids in the
cockpit. He was not a bad soldier, and a promising officer. When at sea he
always worked the ship’s reckoning for his amusement. The mids, with the
exception of three, were fine-looking lads from the ages of fifteen to
eighteen, fond of fun and mischief and of their half-pint of rum; were
frequently at watch and watch, mast-headed, pooped, and confined to their
half-farthing candle-lighted mess-holes. But, notwithstanding all these
complicated miseries, they were wicked enough to thrive and grow, and when
on shore forgot all their troubles and enjoyed themselves like princes.

The first surgeon’s assistant was a tall, slight young man, with his head
filled with the Pharmacopoeia, bleeding, blistering and gallipots. We
dubbed him “The Village Apothecary,” and sometimes “Snipes.”

The second assistant was a coarse Scotsman, full of pretension and
conceit, who assured us that if any of us should have occasion to have our
legs or arms amputated he could do it without any pain. He used to feel
our pulses after dinner with ridiculous gravity, and after examining our
tongues tell us we should take great care and not eat salt junk too
quickly, for it seldom digested well on young stomachs, and, added he with
great consequence, “I have a specific for sair heeds if ye ha’ any.” As he
was much pitted with the small-pox, we called him “Doctor Pithead.”

With every feeling of reverence to the revered chaplain, I will tread as
lightly over him as a middy’s clumsy foot encased with boots is capable.
Dear man, he came all the way from the Emerald Isle to join our ship, and
brought with him an ample supply of pure brogue, which he spoke most
beautifully. He was very inoffensive, perfectly innocent, and never
ruffled in temper, except when the wicked youngsters played tricks with
him while he was composing his sermon. One day he was much alarmed by the
following adventure, got up expressly by the mids. Some of these
incorrigible fellows, among whom I blush to acknowledge I was one, had
laid a train of gunpowder to a devil close to his cabin, whilst they
presumed he was very busy writing for their edification. The train was
fired from the cockpit hatchway, and soon caught the devil. As soon as the
dear, good man saw the sparks, he rushed out of his cabin, crying out,
“Oh, shure, byes, the ship’s on fire! Och! what shall I do now the ship’s
on fire? Och! what will I do?” On seeing that he was really alarmed, one
of the master’s mates went up to him with a comically-serious face, and
informed him that the first lieutenant finding, when looking round after
breakfast, that there was something which smelt unpleasant in his cabin,
had ordered it to be fumigated with a devil, but as he knew it was about
the time he composed his sermon, he was unwilling to disturb him, and the
devil had in consequence been placed as near his cabin as possible to
effect the purpose intended. His reverence was quite bewildered—an
unpleasant smell in his cabin, and a devil to drive it away was to him
incomprehensible; until the mate requested him to calm himself, and
assured him there was no danger, that the devil was perfectly harmless
except to unwholesome smells. “There,” added he, “is his infernal
majesty,” for he was ashamed to say devil so often before the chaplain,
“nearly exhausted,” pointing to the shovel which contained the lump of
gunpowder mixed with vinegar. “Now, sir, I hope your alarm has subsided,
and that you will not be more disturbed.” During this ridiculous scene,
worthy of the pencil of Hogarth, the youngsters with their laughing,
wicked heads up the hatchway, were enjoying themselves most heartily. The
following day was Sunday; prayers were read, but no sermon, as the poor
man was too much agitated afterwards to make one, and whenever his
messmates thought his sermon too long, they threatened him by a visit from
another devil.

The captain, on being informed of this trick, sent for the whole of the
mids and admonished them as to their future conduct.

                               CHAPTER IV.

                               OFF USHANT.

       Join the Channel fleet off Ushant—Capture the French frigate
      _Gentille_, also a twenty-four-gun ship five days later—Fleet
      returns to Portsmouth—Prize-money—To sea again in charge of a
    convoy—Transport with two hundred Hessian troops on board founders
    off Cape Finisterre—Suddenly ordered to West Indies—Fight between
    a negro and a shark at Port Royal, Jamaica—Dignity balls—Collision
        with H.M.S. _Sampson_—Outbreak of yellow fever—Ordered to
             sea—Capture two French ships and two privateers.

We were now destined to make one of the Channel fleet, which we joined off
the Island of Ushant, consisting of thirty-six sail of the line and seven

At daylight on the 6th of October, 1794, our signal was made to chase
three suspicious vessels in the S.W. On nearing them we made the private
signal, which they did not answer. We beat to quarters, and as they were
under the same sail as when we first saw them, we neared them fast, and
when within gunshot the nearest yawed and gave us a broadside, running up
a French ensign, as did the other two. The shot fell short of us; we
opened our main-deck guns and brought down her mizzen top-mast. The other
two fired from time to time at us with little effect. They did not support
their companion as they ought to have done. In a short time we were nearly
alongside the one we had engaged, and gave her another broadside which she
returned, and struck her colours. She proved the _Gentille_, of forty-four
guns and three hundred and eighty men. The other two, also French frigates
of the same size, made all sail to the southwards. The enemy had eight men
killed and fifteen wounded; we had four men wounded. We soon exchanged the
prisoners; put the second lieutenant, a master’s mate, three midshipmen
and fifty men on board her, and sent her to Portsmouth. We immediately
made sail in chase of the others, but as they had gained a considerable
distance from us during the time we were exchanging the prisoners, there
was little chance, without a change of wind, of overtaking them. In the
middle watch we lost sight of them, and the day after rejoined the fleet.
In five days afterwards we were again in chase of a ship, and after a
severe tug of fourteen hours we captured her. She proved a French
twenty-four-gun ship, with one hundred and sixty-five men. We also sent
her into Portsmouth. After having cruised off and on near Ushant for about
eight weeks, we were ordered to Portsmouth, where we arrived shortly
afterwards and completed our stores for six months. Before sailing we
received some prize-money, which produced, from stem to stern, little
wisdom, much fun, and more folly. We were again ready for sea, and
received orders to repair off Plymouth and join part of the Channel fleet
and a convoy consisting of more than two hundred sail, bound to different
parts of the world. In a few days we joined the rest of the fleet off Cape
Finisterre, where some of the convoy parted company. The day following a
most tremendous gale sprung up from the S.W., and in the night a transport
with two hundred Hessian troops on board went down on our weather beam.
The shrieks of the poor fellows were distinctly heard. As it was
impossible to render them any assistance, every soul on board her
perished. In the morning the convoy were much dispersed; the gale
continuing, they were ordered to leave the fleet for their destinations.
After the gale abated the signal was made for our captain. An hour
afterwards he came back looking as black as a thundercloud. As soon as he
reached the quarter-deck he stamped with rage, and when it had nearly
subsided he informed the officers that we were to proceed to the West
Indies without delay. This was an unexpected shock to many of the officers
as well as himself, as they had left some of their clothes behind;
however, there was no remedy for this mishap. As for myself, I anticipated
a merry meeting with the many copper-coloured dignity ladies I formerly
knew, provided the land-crabs had not feasted on their delicate persons.

In the afternoon we gave a long, lingering look at the fleet, and parted
company with two other seventy-fours who were in the same scrape. Our
noble captain did not get rid of his angry looks for some days, and
actually wept at what he termed the treacherous conduct of the Admiralty.
We understood afterwards that he was under an engagement of marriage to
the sister of a nobleman, which was to have taken place in three months.
Nothing worth notice occurred during the passage, except the visit from
Neptune and his wife, and the shaving and ducking all his new
acquaintances, who were rather numerous. We saw several tropical birds,
which the sailors call boatswains, in consequence of their having one long
feather for a tail, which they term a marlin-spike—an iron instrument
sharp at one end and knobbed at the other, used in splicing ropes, etc.

The captain of marines also shot an albatross or man-of-war bird, so
called from its manner of skimming through the air after other birds,
which the seamen compare to sailing. It measured seven feet from pinion to
pinion. On the fifth week of our separation from the fleet we made the
Island of San Domingo, and on the day after anchored with the squadron in
Cape St. Nicholas mole. We found here the _Sampson_, of sixty-four guns,
the _Magicienne_ and the _Thorn_, and some transports. This mole, or
harbour, is formed by the high land of the island on the right hand going
in, and on the left by a peninsula, joined by a narrow sandy isthmus to
the island at the head of the mole. It is strongly fortified. The harbour
is a fine one, and would contain the whole British fleet. The town has a
common appearance and has nothing remarkable in it. We remained here three
weeks, at the end of which period we ran down to Jamaica, and anchored off
Port Royal. This town is built on a small peninsula, joined to the island
by a long, narrow neck of sand called the Palisades. Here all unfortunate
whites who depart this life become feasts for crabs of all descriptions,
as it is the place of burial for the town and men-of-war. This isthmus is
the dam which secures the harbour of Kingston from the inroads of the sea.
The houses of this town are generally not more than a single storey high,
constructed of wood with overhanging shingled roofs, and verandahs in
front, which prevent the sun entering the rooms.

[Illustration: PLYMOUTH HARBOUR.   [_Frith, Reigate._]

One evening, being on shore at Port Royal, seated on a bench, I overheard
a grey, woolly-headed black man relate the following story. I will give it
in good English. In the year 1788, said he, the harbour of Port Royal was
much troubled by a very large shark, which drove all the fish out to sea
and distressed a number of fishermen. Every attempt had been made to catch
him, but without success. He at length became so constant a visitor that
they named him “Port Royal Tom.” At last, continued old Sambo, for that
was the narrator’s name, a young friend of mine, who was a very strong,
courageous fisherman, said if the magistrates of the town would give him a
doubloon, he would engage the shark and try to kill him in single combat.
The magistrates consented, and two mornings after, before the sea-breeze
set in, the dorsal fin of “Port Royal Tom” was discovered. The black
fisherman, nothing dismayed, paddled out to the middle of the harbour
where the shark was playing about; he plunged into the water armed with a
pointed carving knife. The monster immediately made towards him, and when
he turned on his side (which providentially sharks are obliged to do to
seize their prey, their mouths being placed so much underneath) the
fisherman, with great quickness and presence of mind, dived, and stabbed
him in the bowels. The shark, in agony, gave a horrid splash with his
tail, and disappeared for a short time. He then rose again and attempted
to seize the man a second time, but the latter once more dived and gave
him his death-blow; he then regained his canoe almost exhausted. The shark
soon after turned on his side, discolouring the water with his blood. Four
men in a canoe threw a rope over his tail and towed him on shore, where
all the town came to meet the courageous fisherman, with the magistrates
at their head, who presented him with his well-merited reward and his
liberty. The shark was dissected and the skeleton sent to Spanish Town,
where a few years afterwards it fell to pieces for want of care. This
unfortunate town has been twice destroyed by an earthquake; the ruins on a
clear day may be seen in three-fathom water.

We had been refitting and amusing ourselves on shore by dancing at dignity
balls given by the upper-class copper-coloured washerwomen, who are the
quintessence of perfection in affectation, when we were obliged to bid
adieu to these interesting copper and coal-skinned ladies, as the ship was
reported ready for sea, and the following morning we weighed and stood out
of the harbour. As we passed the point we saw handkerchiefs without number
waved by our dear, motley-coloured damsels as a farewell. We beat up to
St. Domingo and anchored in Cape St. Nicholas mole, where we found the
_Leviathan_, _Raisonable_, _Sampson_, and several frigates. We remained a
week, and sailed with the above-named ships on a cruise round the island.
On the third night after sailing, which was very dark with a fiery
sea-breeze, the _Sampson_ (sixty-four) ran on board of us. She came with
such force that she, by the shock, carried away her fore-mast, bowsprit,
main-top mast and figure-head. She fortunately struck us abaft the main
channels; had she done so amidships, it would have meant the destruction
of both ships and of about a thousand lives. Her larboard bumpkin
dismounted the eighteen-pounder in the foremost lieutenant’s cabin in the
wardroom, and in falling clear she swept away both quarter galleries from
the side, one of which was fitted up as a library for the first
lieutenant, who lost all his books. Some of the mids who loved him were
wicked enough to say that it was a punishment inflicted on him for
mastheading them so often. I say nothing!

The _Sampson_ was towed to Jamaica by the _Success_ frigate to repair her
damages, and a fortnight afterwards we followed. The heroes of the cockpit
declared the commodore was ashamed of our appearance. As we had only
galleries on one side, we looked like a pig with one ear.

We anchored at Port Royal in the afternoon, and before the sails were
furled we were surrounded by a number of boats and canoes filled with
dignity and first and second-class dingy damsels, some of them squalling
songs of their own composition in compliment to the ship and officers,
accompanied by several banjos. When the ropes were coiled down they were
admitted on board, when they began dancing round the quarter-deck and
making love to the officers for their washing. Having accomplished the
purpose of their visit, they departed, promising that we should “hab ebery
ting berry clean by Saturday ebening, and dat he lib in hope for see massa
at him house berry soon.”

The carpenters from the dockyard soon repaired the quarter galleries, and
made good all other defects, when that fatal scourge, the yellow fever,
made its appearance among the ship’s company. The schoolmaster, a clever,
intelligent young man, who had been educated at Christ’s Hospital, was the
first victim. This was quite sufficient to alarm the nerves of our gallant
captain, who never joined the ship afterwards; he, having obtained
permission from the admiral to return to England by a lugger going with
despatches, took French leave of the whole of us—that is, no leave at all.
In a few days afterwards Captain B. joined us as acting-captain. He was a
young, active, and smart officer. The yellow fever was now making
lamentable havoc among the crew. Six were either carried to the hospital
or buried daily. After losing fifty-two men, one of the lieutenants, the
captain’s clerk, and four mids, the captain requested the admiral’s
permission to go to sea, for, although we had more than thirty cases of
the fever on board, the surgeon thought the pure sea-breeze might be the
means of preserving their lives. Alas! he was fatally mistaken, for nearly
the whole of them were thrown over the standing part of the fore-sheet
before we returned from our cruise. We were one hundred and sixty short of
our complement of men, besides having about fifty more in their hammocks,
but the captain wished to persevere in keeping the sea. We had been from
Jamaica three weeks, cruising on the south side of St. Domingo, when we
captured a French brig of war of fourteen guns and one hundred and
twenty-five men, and two days afterwards a large schooner privateer of one
long eighteen-pounder on a traverse, and six eighteen-pounder carronades,
with seventy-eight men. We now had nearly two hundred prisoners on board,
and thought it prudent to retrace our steps to Port Royal, when on the
following morning we fell in with two more schooner-rigged privateers. The
first we captured mounted a long brass twelve-pounder and two
six-pounders, with sixty-eight men. The other during the time we were
exchanging prisoners had got considerably to windward of us. Fortunately
towards the evening it fell calm, when we manned and armed three of the
boats. I had command of the six-oared cutter with eight seamen and three
marines. In the launch were the lieutenant, a mid, and eighteen men, and
in the other cutter as many as my boat held. We were two hours on our oars
before we got within musket-shot of her. She had several times fired at us
from her long gun charged with grape-shot, but without effect. We cheered
and gave way, when her last charge knocked down the coxswain of the cutter
I was in, who died a few hours afterwards, being shot in the head. The
lieutenant and one man were slightly wounded in the launch. We were soon
under the depression of her gun and alongside, when, on boarding her, one
half of her motley crew ran below. The captain and the remainder made a
show of resistance, when we ordered the marines to present. As soon as
they saw we had possession of her decks and were advancing with our
pistols cocked and our cutlasses upraised, they threw down their arms and
surrendered. She proved a French privateer with a long six-pounder on a
traverse and eight one-pound swivels, with fifty-two men. We took her in
tow and soon regained the ship. We made all sail for Port Royal with our
four prizes, and on our arrival next morning astonished our black and
yellow-faced acquaintances, who, as before, came off with boats and banjos
to welcome our return, not a little by our success. The following morning
we sent fifty men to the hospital. We had buried during the cruise
forty-three seamen, besides two mids and another of the lieutenants. The
most healthy were the first attacked, and generally died on the third day.
Out of the five hundred and sixty men we brought from England, we had only
now two hundred to do the duty of the ship.

                                CHAPTER V.

                            WEST INDIES AGAIN.

      Owing to ravages of yellow fever go to Jamaica to obtain more
    seamen—Difficulties and humours of impressment—Author attacked by
      yellow fever—Proceed to Cape St. Nicholas mole—Great mortality
                           among the officers.

On the fourth evening after our arrival it was thought necessary to
despatch two armed boats to Kingston to procure seamen either by entering
or impressing them. Finding there was no chance of the first, we entered
on the unpleasant duty of the last. We boarded several of the vessels in
the harbour, but found only the mates and young boys, the seamen having on
seeing our boats gone on shore. We had information of three houses
notorious for harbouring seamen. To the first of these we repaired, where,
after strictly searching the premises, we were unsuccessful. A sailor we
had recently impressed, and who the day after entered, informed us that it
was the fashion for the men of the West Indian and Guinea ships, when on
shore, to disguise themselves, sometimes as American women, at other times
as tradesmen, such as coopers, shoemakers, etc.

On entering the second house, the scene was laughably ridiculous. At a
table sat three slovenly-dressed females with old, coarse stockings in
their hands, which they appeared to have been mending, and on the table
near them were some children’s shirts, with needles, thread and a small
basket. Not far distant from them was a cradle of a large size,
half-covered by a thick mosquito net. The bed in the room had also a net,
and in it was lying a person in the last stage of illness. Another female,
who appeared to be a nurse, was near the head of the bed, persuading the
invalid to take the contents of a bottle of some red mixture. At the foot
of the bed stood a man dressed in the uniform of the town militia, who
acquainted us that the woman in bed was his wife in the last stage of
consumption; that in consequence he had sent for all her friends to take
leave of her before she died, and to attend her funeral; and that the
person dressed in black standing near him was the doctor. This last, with
a countenance full of gravity, assured the lieutenant that he did not
think his patient could live more than an hour, and begged him to examine
the house as quietly as possible, as he had another sick patient in the
next room who had arrived from the other side of the island, and from
fatigue and distress had been seized with a fever. The lieutenant, who
really was a humane man, listened to his mournful story with much
attention, and replied he was sorry to disturb a dying person. Then
turning to the women, he assured them it was with much reluctance he
entered on the duty he had to perform, but as he had information of seamen
frequenting the house he must be under the necessity of searching it. One
of the persons sitting at the table, who was most like a female in
appearance, rose and said they had only the room they sat in and the next,
which was occupied at present by the other sick female. “But I guess,”
said she, “your notion of there being British seamen in the house must be
false, as we are not acquainted with any.” During this speech, uttered
with as much grace as a Yankee lady of the seventh magnitude is capable,
the coxswain of one of our cutters, who had been searching the features of
one of those dressed as a female sitting at the table mending a shirt,
exclaimed, “If I ever saw my old shipmate, Jack Mitford, that’s he.”
Another of our men had been cruising round the cradle, and whispered to me
that the baby in it was the largest he had ever seen. After the coxswain’s
ejaculation, all the party appeared taken aback and began to shift their
berths. Perceiving this, we immediately locked the door and insisted on
knowing who they were; but when they spoke we were convinced that they
were all men except the American, who began to scream and abuse us. I
approached the bed, and on looking closely at the sick person I discovered
a close-shaved chin. The lieutenant, who had followed me to the bed,
desired two of our men to move the clothes a little, when we found the
dying person to be a fine young seaman about twenty-six years of age, and
who, on finding he was detected, sprang out of bed, and joining the doctor
and nurse, who had armed themselves with hangers, attempted to resist us.
As we were sixteen in number, and well armed, we told them it was useless,
and the constable who was with us desired them to be peaceable and put
their weapons down. As they saw they were on the wrong tack, they
surrendered. The dear little sleeping infant in the cradle proved a fine
lad sixteen years old. The over-fatigued female in the next room turned
out a young seaman, whom we secured with the pretended sergeant, the
nurse, and the doctor, making in the whole eight good seamen. This was a
good haul. We got them without accident to the boats. The delicate
American female followed us screaming and abusing us the whole way. We
could hear her voice for some time after leaving the wharf. The men a few
days after being onboard, finding the boatswain’s mates did not carry
canes, entered. The nurse, sergeant, doctor and his dying patient were
rated quartermaster’s and gunner’s mates, and the remainder topmen. We had
been a month refitting when we made another attempt to procure seamen at
Kingston, but only sent one boat with a lieutenant, myself, and twelve
seamen. On landing, we made for the house we had not entered on our last
visit, where we knocked at the door, and had to wait some short time
before it was opened, when a mulatto man appeared and asked “What Massa
Buckra want? He hab nutting for sell; he no hab any grog.” “Why, that
copper-skinned rascal,” called out one of our men, “is the fellow who
deserted from the _Thorn_ sloop of war when I was captain of the mizzen
top.” “Take hold of him!” said the lieutenant; but before this could be
done he slammed the door against us; this was the work of a moment. Three
of our seamen instantly set their backs against it, and with a
“Yo-heave-ho,” they forced it in. We now entered the house. After passing
through two small rooms, which, as an Irishman might say, had no room at
all, for they were very small, dirty and barely furnished, we came to a
door which was fastened. We attempted to open it, when an elderly, dingy
white woman made her appearance and informed us the house belonged to
herself and sons, who were coopers, and at work in the cooperage. “That
door,” said she, “leads to it, but I have the key upstairs; wait, and I
will fetch it.” The old woman, on going out, turned the key of the room we
were in. I remarked this to the lieutenant, who, apprehending some
treachery, ordered the men to force the door we had endeavoured to open.
It soon gave way, when we suddenly came on four men dressed as coopers.
Two of them were knocking a cask to pieces, the other two drawing off a
liquid which had the appearance of rum. They did not desist from their
occupation, nor were they surprised at our visit, but told us very coolly
we had mistaken the house. So should we have thought had we not seen our
copper-faced acquaintance who had in such unmannerly fashion shut the door
in our faces. “Come, my lads,” said the lieutenant, “there’s no mistake
here; you must leave off drawing rum for your old mother, who wished to
take great care of us by locking us in, and go with us, as we want
coopers.” “Rum,” said one of the boat’s crew, who had tasted it, “it’s
only rum of the fore-hold. A fellow can’t get the worse for wear with such
liquor as that, sir. It’s only Adam’s ale.”

“Oh, oh!” cried out some of our men, “is this the way you work to
windward, my knowing ones? Come, come, you must be more on a bowline
before you can cross our hawse; so pack up your duds, trip your anchors,
and make sail with us.”

The old woman again made her appearance, and asked us if we were going to
take her sons. “If you dare do it,” said she, “I will prosecute the whole
of you for breaking through my premises, and have you all put into gaol.”
“Hold your tongue, mother,” said one of the men we had taken, “what’s the
good of your kicking up such a bobbery about it? You only make it worse.
If you don’t see us to-morrow, send our clothes to Port Royal.” They then
quietly submitted. We returned through the rooms entered, and on turning
into the passage leading to the street, we encountered Master Copperskin.
Two of our men immediately seized him; he struggled violently, and
attempted to draw a clasped knife, which on the coxswain perceiving he
gave him a stroke on his calabash with his hanger, which quieted him. He
was then pinioned with one of the seamen’s neck-handkerchiefs. On getting
into our boats a party of about twenty men and women of all colours came
down to the wharf in the hope of rescuing the mulatto man, but they were
too late. When we put off from the shore we found it no joke, as they
fired into our boat and seriously wounded the man who pulled the stroke
oar. Luckily the awning was canted towards them, or they would have shot
several of us, as it had seven shots through it. We were obliged to fire
in self-defence, killing one man and wounding several others. I remarked
the man we killed jumped a considerable height from the ground and then
fell prostrate. Finding they had had enough fighting, they marched off
with their killed and wounded. The day after we were summoned to Kingston
to explain our adventure before the magistrates, who, finding we were
first attacked, acquitted us of wilful murder as we had been compelled to
act in self-defence, but informed us it was necessary to appear before a
jury next day for the satisfaction of the townspeople. This was vexatious.

The day following, after rowing about three hours in a hot sun, we were
examined by twelve very wise and common-looking bipeds, who, after
questioning us in a most stupid and tiresome manner, found a verdict of
justifiable homicide. On returning to the boat we were followed by a
number of women and boys, who made a most horrible squalling, and some
stones were thrown at us on our pushing off. The yellow fever was still
making havoc amongst the officers and crew. We had lost five lieutenants,
the surgeon’s mate, captain’s clerk, and eight midshipmen, one of whom
died singing “Dulce Domum.” It was at length my turn. I was seized with a
dreadful swimming in my head; it appeared so large that it was painful to
carry it. I was much distressed by a bitter nausea in my mouth and sudden
prostration of strength. The doctor gave me an emetic, and soon after I
ejected a quantity of bitter bile. It tried me exceedingly, and when I put
my head down I thought I was not far from “Kingdom come.” The second
morning I knew no one, and was in a high fever. The third was much the
same until about noon, when I slept for about two hours. On awaking I
found the pain in my head less, and was perfectly sensible. I requested
something to drink, when the sentinel gave me some orange-juice and water,
which refreshed me. About dusk, one of the mids who had just come on board
from Port Royal, came to me with a cup filled with some sort of herb tea
mixed with rum. He requested me to drink it off. This I refused to do. He
assured me he had been on shore on purpose to procure it for me, that old
Dinah, who was a grey-headed washerwoman, had made it, and I must drink
it. I was so weak that I could scarcely answer him, when he put it to my
mouth and forced more than half of it down my throat. With the exertion I
fainted. He told me the following day he thought he had killed me, and had
called the doctor, who gave me a draught. On the morning of the fourth day
I was considerably better and in a gentle perspiration, and had passed a
quiet night. My three messmates, who alone survived out of eleven, came to
cheer me. He who had given me the tea and rum told me he was certain they
had cured me, and I really believe it caused the pores to open and in a
great measure drove the fever from the system. I was removed to the
gun-room, and in a few days was able to sit up and eat oranges.

A week had now elapsed since the doctor had reported me convalescent, when
I was painfully distressed by seeing my open-hearted, generous messmate
brought in his hammock to the gun-room, attacked by the fatal malady. As
he was placed near me, I watched him with intense anxiety. On the fourth
morning he died. He was a very florid and robust youth of sixteen. He
struggled violently, and was quite delirious. When the sail-maker was
sewing him up in his hammock he gave a convulsive sigh. I immediately
ordered the stitches to be cut, but it availed nothing. He was gone. Poor
fellow! I felt his loss.

In the fifth week I began to crawl about. The boatswain’s wife was very
kind to me and brought me fresh fruit every day. The doctor, who although
a little hasty, was a clever and excellent character, paid me great
attention. The kindness and care I experienced, and the affectionate
letters I received from my mother, informing me of the happy marriage of
my only sister and of the appointment of my youngest brother in India, all
these possibly contributed to my recovery and cheered my spirits. Our
acting-captain, who was a good and active officer, was appointed to a
frigate. He was superseded by an elderly, farmer-looking man, who, we
understood, was what a black man considers a curiosity—a Welshman. When in
harbour we never saw him, and at sea very seldom. He left everything to
the first lieutenant. He appeared to have too much pride to ask an humble
mid to dine at his table, so that when he departed this life, which he did
four months after he joined us, of yellow fever, he died unregretted.
Having received a draft of men from the flagship, we were ordered to our
old station, Cape St. Nicholas mole, it being considered more healthy than
Jamaica, although the yellow fever was carried from thence to the other
islands in 1794 by the vessels captured at Port-au-Prince.

We arrived there three weeks afterwards, having captured on our passage a
French brig laden with coffee. We completed our water, and took on board a
Capuchin friar and two mulatto officers, for what purpose we never could
find except to give them a cruise. The friar, who was a quiet, fat, rather
good-looking man, messed in the cabin. The wicked mids said to “confess”
the captain.

One afternoon we anchored in a bay to the westward of Cape François. The
carpenter was directed to go on shore and cut some bamboos for boats’
yards. The pinnace was despatched with himself, a master’s mate and nine
men. They landed and had cut about nine poles when they were fired on from
the bushes. They, not being armed—for the mulatto officers assured us
there was no danger—attempted to reach the boat, but before they could do
so the carpenter was killed and two men seriously wounded and taken
prisoners. The rest jumped into the boat and came on board. The captain
appeared to feel he had done wrong in placing confidence in people who
were strangers to him. After cruising on the north side of St. Domingo
without capturing anything, we returned to the mole. Our worthy,
hasty-tempered skipper was taken unwell about a month after our arrival,
and took apartments on shore, where he in a fortnight afterwards died.

The captain who stepped into his shoes was a dark, tolerably well-built,
good-looking man, who had a very good opinion of himself, and by his
frequently looking at his legs, imagined there was not such another pair
in the West Indies. This gallant officer proved the quintessence of
gallantry. He loved the ladies, loved a good table, loved the games of
crabs and _rouge-et-noir_, was a judge of hock and champagne. He had seen
much of high and low life, had experienced reverses, he said, through the
imprudence of others, and had been detained in a large house in London
much longer than he wished. He had run through two handsome fortunes, and
was willing to run through two more. He had the misfortune, he told us, of
being a slave to the pleasures of the world, although he knew it was
filled with rogues. Whilst I was with him his memory was rather impaired,
for he forgot to repay several sums of money he borrowed, although he was
frequently written to on the subject. In short, he was a libertine, liked
but by no means respected. He brought with him six mids and his clerk. The
first were complete scamps, picked up from the scrapings of London; the
last was a fine young man. Our martinet mastheading first lieutenant, who
had outlived all the others save one, was promoted as commander into a
sloop of war, in which he died a few months after of apoplexy in
consequence of repletion. The only one remaining of those who sailed from
England with me was a few months afterwards also promoted as commander
into a brig sloop, and he, poor fellow! was drowned on his second cruise.
The six lieutenants who came from England were now no longer living, and
out of eighteen midshipmen only another and myself were in existence. The
lieutenants who had superseded those who died were rather commonplace
characters. The discipline of the ship was totally changed. The first
lieutenant was a disappointed officer and a complete old woman, and the
ship was something of a privateer.

                               CHAPTER VI.

                               TOUGH YARNS.

    Tough yarns—The sea-serpent—The fair-wind sellers of Bremen—Mermen
         and mermaidens—Capture of Spanish schooner with mulatto
      laundresses on board—Boat attack on, and capture of the French
     privateer _Salamandre_—Outbreak of malignant scurvy—Novel method
     of treatment—French women dressed as men—A voyage of discovery.

We generally had about seventy men in the sick list, and were at anchor
nearly four months—half the crew doing nothing and the other half helping
them. They generally amused themselves by dancing, singing, or telling
tough yarns. I was much entertained by hearing some of them relate the
following stories, which they declared were true.

“My brother,” said one of these galley-benchmen, “belonged to the
_Unicorn_, of Shields, which traded to Archangel in the White Sea. I
suppose,” said he, “it is called the White Sea because there is much snow
on the shore, which throws a kind of white reflection on the water. Well,
the ship had anchored about a mile from the town, when my brother, who had
the middle watch, saw something like the ship’s buoy close to the vessel.
At first he took little notice of it until it raised itself about three
feet out of the water and opened a mouth wide enough to swallow a Yankee
flour-barrel. He was very much afeared, for he was only a young chap
without much experience. He immediately jumped down to the chief mate’s
cabin and told him what he had seen. They both went on deck, the mate
armed with a loaded pistol and my brother with a cutlass. By this time the
serpent—for it was a sea-serpent—had twisted itself round the bowsprit of
the vessel, and was about twenty feet long. Its eyes were about the size
of the scuppers and shined like the morning star.” “Why, Bill,” said one
of the listeners, “clap a stopper on that yarn; those sarpents are only
seen on the coast of Ameriky, and nobody but Yankees ever seed them.”
“Avast, Bob,” replied the narrator, “don’t be too hasty; it is as true as
the mainstay is moused, for I never knew Jack tell a lie (meaning his
brother), and now I’ll fill and stand on. The boatswain, hearing the
noise, came on deck. The mate pointed to the monster, and told him to get
an axe. The beast had bristled up like an American porcupine and was ready
to dart at them when the mate got abaft the foremast and fired at its
head, which he missed, but struck it in the neck. The animal, finding
itself wounded, darted with its jaws wider than a large shark’s at the
boatswain, who was the nearest. Luckily for him, the mate was ready to
fire his pistol again. The ball struck its lower jaw and broke it. It then
made a stern-board, but before it could reach the bows the boatswain gave
it a stroke with the axe which nearly gullyteened it; you know, shipmates,
what that is. Why, mayhap you don’t; so I’ll tell you. It’s a kind of
gallows that cuts off Frenchmen’s heads. But I must heave-to a bit and
overhaul my reckoning, for I almost forget. Did ever any of you see a
port-go-chaire?” “We never heard of such a port,” said some of his
auditors; “you’re humbugging us.” “I have been to America, the West and
East Ingees, but I never heard of such a port,” said another. “Why, you
lubbers,” said the story-teller, “if you go to France, you’ll see
thousands of them. It’s what they drive the coaches under into their
yards.” I was inclined to correct the word, but I thought it better not to
interrupt them. “Where did I leave off?” “Come, Bill, heave ahead and save
tide; your yarn is as long as the stream cable; they’ll be piping to grog
presently,” said one of his impatient listeners. “Well,” said Bill, “to
make short a long story, I left off where the boatswain cut off the head
of the sea-serpent. By this time all hands were on deck; they threw a rope
over the beast and secured it to the cable-bits, but not before they had
got several raps over their shins, as it kept twisting about for almost an
hour afterwards. Next morning, said my brother, the magistrates having
heard of it, came on board to know all about it, as no one in the town had
ever seen such a serpent. A man with a cocked scraper offered to buy it,
but the mate wanted to stuff it and carry it to England. The captain who
had come off with the magistrates said it could not remain on board, as it
would bring on an infection. At last it was agreed that if four dollars
were given to the ship’s crew, he might have it. The money was paid to the
mate, and the serpent towed on shore, and before they sailed Jack saw it
in a large room, stuffed and the head spliced on, among a great many more
comical-looking animals. And if any of you go there,” added he, “you may
see all for nothing.” The boatswain’s mates now piped for supper, and the
party left the galley-bench.

The following evening I found another set on the bench. Their tales were
rather marvellous. The captain of the waist of the starboard watch was the
teller. He began by asking the others if they had ever been in the Baltic,
to which they answered in the negative. “It is now,” said he, “five years
since I sailed in the _Mary_, of Newcastle, to Bremen. We had been lying
there a fortnight, taking in hemp and iron, when two old, ugly women came
on board in a small boat paddled by themselves. They had with them two
small leather bags full of wind. They went to the chief mate, for the
captain was on shore, and asked him if he would buy a fair wind, and
pointed to their bags. ‘How long will it last?’ asked the mate. ‘Two
days,’ said the hags; ‘but if you want it for four, we will to-morrow
bring you off a larger sack.’ ‘And what do you ask for it?’ said he. ‘Oh,
only eight dollars,’ replied they.”

I must inform my reader that the greater number of the sons of the sea,
although fearless of the enemy and of the weather, however stormy, are
superstitious and have implicit faith in ghost-stories, mermaids, witches
and sea-monsters, as well as in the flying Dutch ship off the Cape of Good
Hope. This rough son of the north was a hardy sailor, but he had his share
of credulity. He told them the captain was on shore, but if they would
come off in the morning, as they were to sail the following afternoon, it
might be settled. The weather at this time was anything but fair, which
made him the readier to enter into the witches’ bargain. Here I must first
inform my reader that these women are exceedingly cunning, and can not
only scan the mind of the person they deal with, but can also, from keen
observation, calculate on the wind and weather for the next twenty-four
hours, and, as what they prognosticate generally proves true, they
frequently meet with ready customers. Next morning the captain came on
board, and shortly afterwards was followed by the hoary fair-wind sellers.
After some consultation with the mate, the captain gave four dollars for a
bag of fair wind for three days from the time he was to sail.

“The wind,” continued the captain of the waist, “remained foul until four
o’clock next day, when it veered round and became favourable. The
believing captain and mate thought they had made a good bargain. The bag
was to be untied after three hours.” I reflected on this narrative, and
was astonished to find that people who are Englishmen, and who, generally
speaking, imagine themselves the most free from superstition and the most
intellectual of any nation, should be so easily deceived and cheated by a
set of old women.

It was now the turn of another to spin his yarn. He began by entreating
his shipmates not to disbelieve what he was going to say, for it was about
mermen and mermaids. He did not see it himself, but it had been told him
two years before by his uncle, who was mate of a ship that traded to the
North Sea. “The ship,” said he, “was the _John and Thomas_, named after
the owner’s two brothers, and bound to Stockholm for flax and iron. One
day they were becalmed near the Island of Oland, and let go the anchor in
twelve-fathoms water, when soon afterwards they saw, as they supposed, two
men swimming towards the ship. They soon after came alongside, and made
signs for a rope to be thrown to them. On their getting on deck the crew
found they were mermen. One of them, who appeared to be about twenty-six
years old, told the captain he had let go his anchor through his kitchen
chimney, and begged him to weigh it again, as it had knocked down the
kitchen-grate and spoilt his dinner. ‘It has happened very unfortunately,’
said he, ‘for we have some friends from the coast of Jutland, who have
come to attend the christening of our infant.’ Whilst he was speaking four
young mermaidens appeared close to the ship’s side, making signs for the
mermen on board to join them. The sailors wished them to come on board,
and threw them ropes for that purpose; but they were too shy. The mermen
requested the captain to give them some matches to light their fire, and a
few candles. This being complied with, they shook hands with him and the
mate, and jumping overboard, rejoined the females, swam round the ship
three times, singing some kind of song, and disappeared. The wind becoming
favourable, the crew got the anchor up, on which, when catheaded, they
found part of the chimney and the fire-tongs astride on one of the

When this improbable tale was told, I asked them if they believed it to be
true. “Yes,” said two of them, “we do, because we have had shipmates who
lived with some of the mermaidens for several years and had children; but
as for their having combs and glasses, that’s all nonsense. One of the
children was sent to London to be educated, but not liking so many
double-tailed monsters, as he called the men, nor their manner of living,
he crept down to the Thames, and in a few hours rejoined his parents.”

During the time we were at anchor at this place I was ordered, with four
seamen and two marines, to take the command of a block-house on the
Presqu’ Isle to watch the movements of the enemy, whose advanced post was
about four miles on the other side the isthmus, as well as to make signals
to the commodore whenever strange ships appeared near the land. I remained
a month, shooting guanas and gulls and other birds, catching groupers,
snappers and sometimes rock-fish, living principally on salt junk,
midshipman’s coffee (burnt biscuit ground to a powder), picking calelu (a
kind of wild spinach), when we could find it, snuffing up a large portion
of pure sea-breeze, and sleeping like the sheet anchor. Oh, reader, I
blush to inform you that I was envied by the greater part of the mids of
the squadron who loved doing nothing. The life I now led was too
independent to last much longer; my month expired, when I gave up my
Robinson Crusoe government to a master’s mate belonging to a ship which
had come in to refit. We at length up-anchored, as the mids declared if we
remained longer the captain feared we should ground on the beef-bones we
threw overboard daily! Three days after sailing we captured a Spanish
schooner from Cuba, bound to Port-au-Paix, with nine French washerwomen on
board with a quantity of clothes. We presumed, with some reason, these
copper-faced damsels—for they were all mulattos, and some of them
handsome—had taken French leave of their customers, or possibly they were
going on a voyage of discovery to find out whether the water of St.
Domingo was softer for washing linen than that of Cuba. We did not ask
them many questions on the subject, and as the vessel was nearly new, and
about seventy tons, we put a mid and five men on board her and sent the
ladies for a change of air to Jamaica.

We had been cruising between Cuba and Cape François a fortnight, when we
saw a roguish-looking black schooner about nine miles to the westward of
the cape, close to a small inlet. We tacked and stood to sea, to make her
imagine we had not discovered her. At dusk we stood in again, and at ten
we armed the barge and large cutter. The fifth lieutenant, who was a great
promoter of radical moisture (_i.e._, grog), was in the barge. I had, with
another mid, the command of the cutter. We muffled our oars and pulled
quietly in shore. About midnight we found the vessel near the inlet, where
she had anchored. We then gave way for our quarter. She soon discovered
us, and hailed in French. Not receiving an answer, she fired a volley of
musketry at us. The strokesman of my boat fell shot in the brain, and two
others were seriously wounded in the arm and leg. We had three marines,
two additional seamen and my volunteer messmate in our boat. This last had
smuggled himself in without the first lieutenant’s leave. We cheered and
stretched out. The killed and wounded were placed in the bottom of the
boat, and the extra men took their oars. The barge was nearly alongside of
her, and we boarded at the same time, she on the starboard quarter and we
on the larboard side. The marines kept up a constant discharge of their
muskets, and fired with much effect on the foremost of the enemy. We soon
gained her deck, and found about twenty-five of her crew ready to oppose
us abaft her mainmast. The man who appeared to be the captain waved his
cutlass and encouraged his men to attack us; at the same time he sprang
forward, and about twelve followed him, when the conflict became general.
I was knocked down on my knees. I fired one of my pistols, which took
effect in my opponent’s left leg, and before he could raise his arm to cut
me down with a tomahawk, the coxswain of my boat, who had kept close to
me, shot him in the head, and he fell partly on me. I soon recovered and
regained my legs. I had received a severe contusion on the left shoulder.
The lieutenant had shot the captain, and the marines had knocked down nine
men. The rest now called for quarter and threw down their arms. She proved
to be the French privateer _Salamandre_, of twelve long brass six-pounders
and forty-eight men. She had also on board nine English seamen, the crew
of a Liverpool brig, who informed us they had been captured in the Turk’s
Island passage three days before. The privateer’s loss was eleven killed
and seven severely wounded, ours three men killed and five wounded. On our
drawing off from the shore, a small battery opened its fire on us and
wounded the boat-keeper of the barge. We discharged the guns of the
privateer at it, and as it did not annoy us a second time, we supposed our
shot had rather alarmed their faculties and probably subdued their
courage. By 3 A.M. we rejoined the ship. Our mates gave us three hearty
cheers, which we returned. We soon got the wounded of our men on deck and
the prisoners out. I was ordered to go as prize-master, taking fourteen
men with me, and carry her to Cape St. Nicholas mole, where I arrived the
same evening. I found myself stiff for some days afterwards and my
shoulder painful, but in a short time I was quite myself again. After
remaining idle and half-dead with _ennui_ for three weeks, the ship
arrived, bringing in with her an American brig laden with flour. False
papers were found on board her, and she was shortly afterwards condemned
as a lawful prize. The captain of her, who was a regular-built Bostonian,
declared we were nothing “but a parcel of British sarpents and robbers,
and it was a tarnation shame that the United States suffered it. But,”
said he, “I calculate that in two years we shall have some three-deckers,
and then I have a notion you will not dare to stop American vessels
without being called to account for it.”

The yellow fever had now taken its departure, but in consequence of the
scanty supply of fresh provisions and vegetables, it was succeeded by a
malignant scurvy, and one hundred and forty of the seamen were obliged to
keep their beds. Their legs, hands, feet and gums became almost black, and
swollen to twice their natural size. Some we sent to the hospital, which
was miserably fitted up, for it was only a temporary one, and several died
on being removed. As the cases were increasing, the commodore ordered us
to Donna Maria Bay, near the west end of St. Domingo, where the natives
were friendly disposed towards us. The day after we arrived there, having
taken on board all our sick that could be removed from the hospital with
safety. Immediately, on anchoring, by the advice of the surgeon, we sent a
party on shore with spades to dig holes in the softest soil they could
find for the purpose of putting the worst scurvy subjects into them. The
officer on shore made the concerted signal that the pits were dug. Twenty
men, who looked like bloated monsters, were removed on shore, and buried
in them up to their chins. Some of the boys were sent with the sufferers
to keep flies and insects from their faces. It was ridiculous enough to
see twenty men’s heads stuck out of the ground. The patients were kept in
fresh earth for two hours, and then put into their hammocks under a large
tent. On the fourth day they were so much benefited by that treatment and
living on oranges, shaddocks, and other anti-scorbutic fruits, that they
were able to go on board again. At this place I rambled with some of my
messmates through orange and lime groves of some leagues in extent, as
well as through several cocoa plantations. We were at liberty to take as
much fruit as we chose, and sent off several boats filled with oranges and
limes, as well as a vast quantity of yams, sweet potatoes, cocoanuts and
cocoas, besides fresh calelu (wild spinach), which is considered a fine
anti-scorbutic. We found some arrowroot, which was also of great service.
In one of our rambles we met a party on mules going to the town of Donna
Maria, which was not far distant. It consisted of two young
mustiphena-coloured men, an elderly mulatto woman, with an infant on her
lap, and a black manservant. They saluted us in passing, when we remarked
that the men had delicate European features, and that the infant was

A short time afterwards we stumbled on a burying-ground, and seated on one
of the graves we found the two persons we had taken for men, the eldest of
whom was suckling the infant. They proved to be the wife of the Governor
of Donna Maria, who was a native of France, and her sister. The old woman
was the nurse, and the black man their factotum. They spoke French, which
some of our party understood, and we spent a very agreeable half-hour in
their company. After having given us an invitation to their house, they
bade us adieu and proceeded on their journey. I afterwards found it was a
common custom for the better class of females in this island to ride and
dress like men when they made any distant journey, as the greater part of
the island is too mountainous to admit of travelling in carriages.

One of the lieutenants, who was fond of voyages of discovery, had
permission to take one of the cutters to survey a deep inlet about three
miles from where we anchored. He asked me if I should like to be one of
the party. I thankfully said yes. “Well,” said he, “to-morrow morning at
daylight I intend going round the Cape Donna Maria (which has the shape of
the mysterious helmet of Otranto), and exploring a river which runs into a
large lagoon, and we shall be away most likely two days. I shall find
prog, but don’t forget your great coat and drawing apparatus.”

At four o’clock the following morning we left the ship, and after pulling
for two hours we entered the river, which was narrow and enclosed between
two thickly-wooded hills. The noise of our oars startled a vast number of
large and small birds, which made a horrible screaming. I fired at one of
the large ones and broke its wing; it fell ahead of the boat, and we
picked it up. It was twice the size of a gull, a dark brown colour on the
back, a dirty white underneath, long, reddish legs, and rather a long,
pointed bill; it was shaped like a heron. We had been rowing about an hour
when we entered the lagoon, which was about a mile long and three-quarters
of a mile wide. The country to some extent was low, and covered with
mangrove trees, whose branches take root when they touch the ground, and
one tree forms a number of irregular arches. Those nearest the water are
covered with a profusion of small oysters, which are taken by the natives
and pickled with spice and vinegar, and sold in small jars. They are
considered good eating. We observed several large ants’ nests formed on
the branches of these trees; they were about the size of a bushel measure.
The insect is half an inch in length; its bite is severe, but not very
venomous. We could only make good our landing at one spot, covered with
long, coarse grass, which the natives twist into ropes for the rigging of
their canoes, and the finest of it they clean, stain with different
colours, and fabricate into hammocks, which are made like a net with large

I had strolled from the boat with one of the men, when he called out,
“There goes a large water-snake! Take care, sir!” It came close to me,
when I made a stroke at it with my hanger. I struck it on the body, but
not sufficiently, for before I had time to give it another blow, it had
wound into a kind of jungle, and I lost sight of it. It was about five
feet long, speckled yellow and black; its tongue, which it kept in
continual motion, was forked; its eyes were small, and not projecting.
Finding myself in company with gentry of this description, I retraced my
steps to the boat, where I found the whole party with their hands and
mouths in full activity. I soon was as well employed as themselves. The
lieutenant told me whilst we were at dinner that one of the men had found
some alligators’ eggs; two of them were broken and the young ones alive.
They were about half-a-foot long, of a dirty brown. The eggs were oblong,
and larger than a swan’s, of a brownish-white colour.

The evening was now drawing on, when we pulled the boat to the middle of
the lagoon and let go the grapnel for the night. One of the boat’s crew,
who sung in the style of Incledon, entertained us with several sea songs
until we fell asleep, which was not, however, very refreshing, in
consequence of the multitudes of mosquitoes. I positively believe some of
us lost two ounces of our best blood. About three o’clock in the morning,
the man who had the watch pulled me by the arm and pointed to something
dark floating near the boat. I awoke the lieutenant, who, after yawning
and rubbing his eyes, for he had taken an extra strong north-wester the
evening before to make himself sleep sound, took up his fowling-piece; but
he might as well have fired at the best bower anchor—the swan-shot with
which it was loaded glanced from the object at an angle of twenty-five
degrees. We weighed the grapnel, and were soon in pursuit, when we saw two
other black-looking objects. We steadily gave chase to the first, the
lieutenant, myself and the coxswain firing at and frequently striking it,
but without any visible effect. At length it landed, when we found it was
an alligator about fifteen feet long. It soon ploughed up the mud in which
it buried itself; our musket-balls were unavailing. The other two had also
landed. On turning the boat round, we saw another, and as he was with his
head towards us, we had a better chance. We stretched out, and when within
a few yards of him, let fly our muskets at his head. One of the balls
struck him in the left eye, which stunned him, and he lay insensible on
the water until we reached him. We threw a rope round him and towed him
astern, after having given him another ball in the throat, which
despatched him. He was a young one, nine feet four inches long. After
rowing round the lake in search of fresh adventures, and finding none, we
amused ourselves by cutting off several branches of the mangrove trees
strung with oysters, and being tired of rowing where there was so little
novelty, we turned the boat’s nose towards the river, on reaching which we
again startled numerous flocks of screaming birds, five of which we shot;
but as they were only noddies and boobies, we did not take the trouble to
pick them up. At 4 P.M. we joined the ship, with our prizes, the
alligators, their eggs, the heron, and the oysters. The doctor, who was
something of a naturalist, asked for the alligator we had shot, one of the
young ones, and the bird, and shortly afterwards he had them stuffed. We
had now but five slight scurvy cases, and had only buried three seamen and
one marine, who died two days after our anchoring. The boats were employed
nearly two days in bringing up oranges, limes and yams, besides other

                               CHAPTER VII.

                         CRUISING OFF PORTO RICO.

     A ball on board—Fishing with a seine—Ordered to cruise off Porto
    Rico—News of the battle of Camperdown—The boasts of Napoleon—Views
    on matrimony—A sailor’s courtship—Futile boat attack on a Spanish
      war vessel at St. Domingo—Author loses hearing of his left ear
                         from effect of a wound.

The officers gave a dance to the inhabitants of the town of Donna Maria,
which was attended by the Governor, who was a well-bred, gentlemanly old
Frenchman, his wife and sister-in-law (whom I had seen dressed as men when
we first arrived). The quarter-deck was filled with mustiphenas, mustees,
mulattos, Sambos, and delicate, flat-nosed, large-mouthed and thick-lipped
black ladies. Had Vestris been present, she might have taken some new
hints in dancing. The waltzing was kept up with so much spirit that four
couples were hurled to the deck one over the other, and it was truly
laughable to see the melange of blacks and whites struggling to be the
first on their legs. At one o’clock in the morning they took their
departure, highly pleased with their entertainment.

The following day I was sent with another midshipman with two boats to
haul the seine in a bay about a mile to the westward. On the first haul we
caught about four bucketsful of rays, parrot-fish, snappers, groupers, red
and white mullet, John-dories, some crabs and two electric eels. One of
the boat’s crew hooked one of the latter by the gills with the boat-hook,
when his arm was immediately paralysed, and he let it fall, calling out
that someone had struck him. The man near him laid hold of the fish again
as it was making for the shore, and the shock he received threw him on his
knees. I ran up to him, for he appeared in great pain. However, he soon
recovered, and before the ill-fated eel could reach its element, he caught
up a large stone and made it dearly atone for the pain it had inflicted.
We made another haul, but were not so successful, as we only caught some
ray, crabs, and an alligator three feet long, which had torn the net. We
stunned him by a blow with one of the boat’s stretchers, threw him into
the boat, and after taking in the net, repaired to the ship.

In one of my excursions at this place I found a large manchineel tree. The
fruit is nearly the size of a pippin, of a light yellow colour blushed
with red; it looked very tempting. This tree expands its deadly influence
and poisons the atmosphere to some distance. We in consequence gave it a
wide berth. I also found a number of sponges, and some beautiful shells
and sea-eggs. We had been enjoying ourselves for nearly three weeks at
this agreeable place, when a sloop of war arrived with orders from the
commodore to join him off the east end of Porto Rico, as he had
information that a French squadron had been seen by an American schooner
off the Caicos Islands steering for St. Domingo, which report in the
sequel proved a tarnation Yankee lie. When near the Platform we
experienced a heavy squall, which carried away the foretop-mast and
jib-boom, and, most singular to relate, although some miles from the shore
after the squall had passed, we found some scores of very small crabs on
the decks. I leave this phenomenon to longer heads than mine—although mine
is not the shortest—to explain. We had seen two waterspouts in the morning
between us and the land. It might possibly have happened that the suction
which forms them drew up these unfortunate crabs and crabesses, and
discharged them with unrelenting fury, through the medium of a dark,
lowering cloud upon our decks. They being too small to eat, were given to
the Muscovy ducks, who found them a great treat, and soon made mincemeat
of them. We soon got up another top-mast and jib-boom out, and the
following morning signalled the ships lying in the mole.

Five days after we joined the squadron near the Mona passage, when the
commodore acquainted the captain that the intelligence he had received
respecting the French squadron was all an American humbug. The next
morning we spoke three ships bound to Jamaica, from whom we took seven
good seamen, and procured a newspaper, which informed us of the gallant
action off Camperdown, and that Bonaparte had frightened men, women and
children by his threatening to invade England, take up his residence in
Portland Place, turn the royal palaces into stables, make a riding-school
of St. Paul’s and a dancing academy of Westminster Abbey! The
cockpitonians said he might whisper that to the marines, for the sailors
would not believe him. Here, reader, I beg you will pause and reflect that
you must die; and may your departure be like that of our worthy captain of
marines, who died as he lived, in charity with all his frail fellow men.
His loss was much regretted by nearly all on board. His messmates declared
they could have spared another man, looking hard at the purser whilst they
uttered it; but “Nip-cheese” would not take the hint, and lived to return
to England, where he took unto himself a better half, and I hope he is
happy, for who is not so when they take a fair lady for better—I dislike
adding anything further, so, reader, finish it yourself. I hope to get
spliced myself one of these fine days, and I sincerely trust it will be a
long splice. But we must keep a good look-out that in veering the cable
does not part in the hawse, for if it unfortunately does, ah, me! the
separation, most likely will be a permanent one.

Whilst I am on the tender subject of connubial felicity, I will relate a
short dialogue which passed between two of my messmates. The eldest was a
Benedict, the other about twenty, who wished to be initiated, as he
thought he had a kind of side-wind regard for the innkeeper’s sister at
Port Royal. “Why,” said the first, “I met my wife at a hop in the country
among a parcel of grass-combers. I asked her to dance, which she at first
refused, giving for a reason that, as I was a sailor, I could not know how
to lead down the middle and cast off at top. ‘If that’s all,’ said I, ‘my
dear, I know how to do that as well as anybody in the room.’ I was now
pushed aside by a lubberly, haymaking chap, who led her out, but who as
much knew how to dance as the captain’s cow. After they all sat down, I
asked the catgut scraper if he could play the fisher’s hornpipe. He said
yes. I told him to play away, and I would dance it. After veering and
hauling on his instrument for a short time, he brought it out. I then
struck out, with my hat on one side, my arms a-kimbo, and a short stick
under one of them. The bumpkins all stared, and Nancy began to awake and
find out that a sailor knew how to cut a caper. After I had finished, I
ran up to her to pick up her handkerchief, which I thought she had
dropped, but found it was only the tail of her gown. She smiled and gave
me her hand. I thought this a good beginning, and was determined to follow
it up. I observed her plough-tail admirer did not half like seeing me on
such a good footing with her. I had not forgotten his push, and if he had
interfered I should have knocked him down, for I began to feel that I was
already over head and heels in love. About midnight all the clodhoppers
took their departure. As the dance, or merry-making as they called it, was
given at her father’s house, I remained as long as I could, and as the old
governor was fond of sea songs and tough yarns, I served them out freely
until the clock struck 2 A.M., when, after taking a good swig out of a
large tankard of strong ale, which had frequently been replenished, I took
Nancy’s hand and kissed it, and wished her good-night. The father, who was
a hearty old farmer, asked me to call in again before I sailed, for at
this time I was master’s mate of the _Savage_ sloop of war. She was just
commissioned at Chatham, and as we did not expect to sail for three weeks,
I had plenty of time to make love.” “But did you think it prudent to
marry, knowing that you could scarcely support yourself, much less a
wife?” demanded the younger. “That’s all true,” replied he; “but don’t put
me in mind of my misfortunes. I was in love, you know, and when a man is
in love, why, he’s two-thirds a woman. I only thought of the present—the
future I sent packing to the devil.” “Well,” asked the other, “how long
were you backing and filling?” “About a fortnight,” replied he. “Her
mother said it was too short a time, and the marriage had better be put
off until I returned from a cruise. ‘That will never do,’ replied I; ‘I
may be popped off the hooks. There is nothing like the present moment, is
there?’ said I, appealing to Nancy and her father. ‘Why,’ said she, ‘dear
mother, I think William’—for that, you know, is my Christian name—‘is
right; is he not, father?’ ‘Do as you like, girl,’ said he. ‘I only wish
to see you happy.’ It was now settled that in two days we were to be
spliced. All the clodhoppers and grass-combers I had met before, who were
mostly her relations, were asked to the wedding, and among the rest her
clownish admirer, who, I understood, was her cousin. He was rather sulky
at first, but seeing everyone around him in good humour, he came up to me
and offered his hand, which I took and shook heartily. The farmhouse not
being more than three miles from Chatham, we hired two coaches from that
place, and with the addition of two chay-carts belonging to the farmers,
we made a numerous (for there were twenty-six of us), if not a
respectable, appearance. After pairing off and pairing in, we weighed and
started with a pleasant breeze. The church soon hove in sight, and the
bells struck up merrily. We hove to, all standing before the altar. The
parson read the articles of marriage, and I was hooked. Nancy piped her
eye, and I looked nohow. We made a man-of-war’s cruise there and back
again, and took in our moorings at the farm, where I had leave to remain
four days. I had asked two of my messmates to the wedding, who were
obliged to be off next morning by daylight. The same day my good old
father-in-law took me aside and told me he would allow Nancy forty pounds
a year as long as he lived and did well, and that she might remain with
her mother, who did not like parting with her, as she was their only
child, as long as I liked. I thanked the old governor most sincerely, and
informed him that the Secretary of the Admiralty was a relation of my
mother’s, a ninety-ninth cousin far removed—but that’s nothing—and that I
was certain of a lieutenant’s commission in two years, when my time would
be served. Here I counted my chickens before they were hatched, for I have
now served three years over my time, and here I am, with not much a day,
except the good farmer’s forty pounds, to keep myself, my wife and a
child. You see,” said he, “how I am obliged to keep close hauled, and
can’t afford to sport my figure on shore as some of you do. No,” added he,
“don’t be after splicing yourself until you have a commission, and if you
do then, you will have as much business with a wife as a cow has with a
side pocket, and be, as a noble First Lord of the Admiralty used civilly
to tell married lieutenants, not worth a d——n.”

My messmate’s narrative brought me up with a round turn, and I felt my
heart working like the tiller-ropes in a gale of wind. “Well,” said I,
after a pause, “how did you back out when you parted with your wife?” “You
may well say ‘back out,’” said he. “I was taken slap aback—it came over me
like a clap of thunder. I was half inclined to play the shy cock and
desert, and had it not been for the advice of the good old man, I should
have been mad enough to have destroyed my prospects in the Service for
ever. Now,” said he, “how do you feel?” “A little qualmish,” said I, “and
I’ll take a good stiff glass of grog to wash it down. But you have not
finished. How did she behave when you were ordered to join your ship?”
“Nobly,” said he; “just as I thought she would. After a good fit of
crying, she threw herself on her mother’s shoulder, and after fondly
embracing, me, ‘Go,’ said she. ‘William, may that God who has a particular
providence over our sailors always be with you! If your duty will not
prevent you, come again to-morrow, and get leave to remain until the ship

“I joined the sloop, and the first lieutenant and my messmates told me I
looked more like a person who had been doing something he was ashamed of
than a happy Benedict.

“When I got below, my mates informed me the sloop was to fit foreign and
going to the West Indies. My mind was like a coal-barge in a waterspout
when I heard this, and I was determined to cut and run; but when I
reflected next morning on the probability of my gaining my commission
shortly after our arrival, as I should go out on Admiralty promotion, I
clapped a stopper on my determination, and held on. We were to sail in two
days, and I contrived to get leave to go every evening to the farm, and
return by 8 o’clock next morning. I told my wife our destination, and the
probability of my promotion. ‘Never mind me, William,’ said she, with her
sweet voice; ‘go where duty calls you. When in that path you cannot be
wrong. The hope of your promotion cheers me. Let us do all we can to merit
the blessings of a gracious Creator, and the good-fellowship of our
fellow-creatures, and we shall not be very unhappy, although far distant
from each other.’ The last morning I spent with my wife was a mixture of
cheerfulness and grief. At last I tore myself away. I have now given you
the whole history, from the main-royal truck down to the kelson.”

“Come,” said I, “let’s have another glass of grog, and I’ll drink your
wife’s good health and speedy promotion to yourself.” “That’s a good
fellow,” said he, giving me his hand, and brushing away a tear. “Should
you ever be spliced, which I hope for your own sake will not be for some
years, may you anchor alongside just such another saucy frigate as mine.”
I am truly happy to inform my reader that my good-hearted messmate was
shortly afterwards promoted into a frigate going to England.

After cruising with the squadron for some days, we had permission to go in
search of adventures, and next morning, as we were running down along the
coast of Porto Rico, we discovered five sail of vessels in a small bay.
The water not being sufficiently deep to admit the ship, we manned and
armed three boats and sent them in. I had the six-oared cutter, with nine
men; we were soon alongside of them. They proved Spanish vessels, four
small schooners and a sloop laden with fruit, principally oranges and
shaddocks, and a quantity of yams and plantains. We sent them all down to
Jamaica—why, you must ask the captain, as by the time they reached their
destination almost the whole of the fruit was rotten, and the vessels did
not pay the expenses of their condemnation. Shortly after this affair, two
of the boats, with a lieutenant, a master’s mate, and myself, were sent in
shore near Cape François, St. Domingo, on a cruise of speculation. No
object being in sight when we left the ship, about 10 P.M. we came
suddenly on three dark-looking schooners, who on seeing us gave us a warm
reception. The night, fortunately for us, was very dark, and we were
nearly alongside of them without our perceiving them, as they were
anchored so near the land. I was mid of the lieutenant’s boat, and he
determined on boarding the largest of them. I knew, or rather I could
foresee, the result; but as he had taken in the course of the last two
hours three north-westers, and was half-seas over, my advice availed
little. The other boat was at some distance from us. On we went, when
three of our men were seriously wounded and I received a musket-ball
through the left side of my hat, which slightly wounded my ear, taking
part of the hair, and I felt a distressing whirling noise inside my head,
and was so giddy I was obliged to sit down, not before, however, I had
shot a man in the main-channels who I thought had fired the shot at me. We
had kept up a brisk firing, and must have killed several of their men,
when they got long spars with a spike at the end over the side, and
endeavoured to drive them through the bottom of our boat. The lieutenant,
who was now more himself, found boarding her impracticable, as she had her
boarding netting up, her decks filled with men, and nine ports in her
side. We reluctantly pulled off. We had unfortunately taken the bull by
the horns—that is, pulled for her broadside. The lieutenant and myself,
for I recovered sufficiently to load my musket, kept firing at her decks
as we retired. She paid us the same compliment, and slightly wounded
another of the boat’s crew. Had the night not been so cloudy, and without
a moon, we should have paid dearly for our temerity. We rowed in a
straight line for her stern. The two other vessels were well armed, and
they saluted us with a few shot as we pulled off, which, however, went far
over us. We soon after joined the other boat, which had lost sight of us
when we attempted boarding the enemy’s vessel. We learnt a few days
afterwards, from a New Providence privateer, that they were three
guardacostas, as the captain of her called them—in other words, Spanish
government vessels, commanded by lieutenants, well armed, manned and
equipped. We joined the ship next morning, and gave a Flemish account of
our cruise. One of the wounded men, through loss of blood, died soon after
coming on board. The other three having received flesh wounds, soon
returned to their duty. The surgeon examined my ear, and found the
tympanum ruptured. It destroyed my hearing on that side for ever, and for
years after I was distressed with a loud roaring noise on the left side of
my head. A fortnight later we fell in with a Spanish eighty-gun ship, a
large frigate and a heavy-armed store ship. We were soon alongside the
former, having beat to quarters previously. We asked her where she came
from. Her answer was, “From sea.” We then asked her where she was bound
to. Her answer was, “To sea.” Our skipper then jumped upon one of the
quarter-deck carronades, with his eyes glistening like a Cornish diamond.
The muzzles of our guns were at this time almost touching her side. One of
our crew spoke Spanish. He was desired to hail her, and say that if she
did not answer the questions which had been put she should be fired into.
“From Cadiz” was the prompt answer, and “Bound to the Havannah.” “You
might have answered that before,” said the skipper; “if I had given you a
good dressing, you richly deserved it.” “I do not understand what you
say,” was the reply. “You be d——d,” said our man of war, and we turned off
on our heel. The same evening a court of inquiry was held by the mids, who
were unanimous in declaring that the captain of the line of battle ship
ought to be superseded and made swab-wringer, and that their own captain
had acted with that spirit which became a British commander of a
man-of-war, and that he deserved to have his health drunk in a bumper of
grog, which was accordingly done. Here the court broke up, hoping the mate
of the hold would bring with him, after serving the grog, an extra pint of
rum to make up the deficiency. The captain, having heard of our
proceedings, sent his steward to us with a bottle of the true sort as a
proof of his satisfaction.

                              CHAPTER VIII.

                       MUTINY ON H.M.S. _HERMIONE_.

       Tea with the boatswain’s wife—News of the mutiny at the Nore
     causes trouble among the sailors—Sent to cruise in consequence—A
    white squall and waterspout—Capture of a Spanish cruiser—Return to
     Port Royal—H.M.S. _Hermione_ seized by mutineers and carried to
      Porto Bello—Recaptured by Captain Hamilton—An alarm caused by

On the evening of the next day the boatswain’s wife invited me to take
tea. I could not refuse so kind an offer, and at the vulgar hour of six,
behold us sipping our Bohea out of porringers, with good Jamaica stuff in
it in lieu of milk. “Do you like it?” said the boatswain to me. “Have you
enough rum in it? Take another dash.” “No, thank you,” said I; “no more
splicing, or I shall get hazy, and not be able to keep the first watch.”
“That rum,” said he, “is old pineapple, and like mother’s milk, and will
not hurt a child. Now,” said he, “we are talking of rum, I’ll tell you an
odd story that happened to me in the last ship I belonged to. I had a
capital case of the right sort given to me by a brother Pipes. One evening
I had asked some of the upper class dockyard maties, for we were lying at
Antigua, to take a glass of grog. When I went to the case, I found two of
the bottles at low-water mark, and another a marine. ‘Ho! ho!’ said I to
myself; ‘this is the way you make a southerly wind in my case-bottles, and
turn to windward in my cabin when I am carrying on the war on the
forecastle, is it? I’ll cross your hawse and cut your cable the next time,
as sure as my name is Tricing.’ After the last dog-watch, I threw myself
into my cot all standing, with my rattan alongside of me. About three
bells of the first watch, I heard someone go very cunningly, as he
thought, into my cabin. I immediately sprung out and seized a man in the
act of kissing one of my dear little ones, for it was a case with nine
quart bottles. ‘Who are you?’ said I. ‘Nobody,’ replied he. ‘You are the
fellow I have been cruising after since I entered the service
five-and-twenty years ago, and now I have got you, by G——d! I’ll sheet you
home most handsomely for all past favours.’ I then gave it to him thick
and thin. ‘Now, my lad,’ said I, ‘chalk this down in your log, that when
you have the thievish inclination to take what does not belong to you,
remember my cane, if you do not your God.’ This rum gentleman belonged to
the after-guard, and I did not forget him.”

After cruising round Porto Rico and Hispaniola for two months, we bore up
for the mole, where we found two sail of the line, a sixty-four and two
sloops of war. In the course of our cruise we had sent in an American brig
and a schooner laden with flour. The latter was condemned, half-barrels of
gunpowder being found in the under flour casks. The former was let go,
although we thought she ought to have been condemned, as her register was
defective. We understood that the judge’s wife, of the Vice-Admiralty
Court, who was notorious for accepting presents, had received a purse from
some of the masters of the American vessels detained by the cruisers to
let them escape trial. How true this may be must be left to time and the
curious to decide.

On overhauling the fore-shrouds and mainstay, we found them too much worn
to be trustworthy. As we could not be refitted with lower rigging from the
naval stores at this place, the senior officer gave us an order to proceed
to Jamaica. We took leave of all the “Ballaker ladies,” as the mids chose
to call them. Know, reader, that the fish called by that name is a most
destructive and voracious one, and as I presume they thought the ladies
were of that character, some of them had too much reason to call them so.
We reached Port Royal on the afternoon of the following day, but remarked
we were not received with that welcome as before; no boats filled with
yellow-legged females came off with banjos. Why? Because we brought in no
prize with us. And when we went on shore some of these delicate dames
exclaimed when we accosted them: “Eh, massa, you hab know me before? I no
recollect you. What ship you belong to?” And we were seldom asked to the
dignity balls. We were all now in tolerable health, when the packet from
England arrived, bringing letters for the squadron, one of which I
received, acquainting me that my sister’s husband was appointed to command
the A. frigate fitting for the Mediterranean, and that my youngest
brother, in the India marine, had died in Bengal. He was a fine, spirited
youth, nineteen years of age; we had not met since we were at school. Some
of our seamen also received letters by the same opportunity, acquainting
them with the mutiny at the Nore, and a few days afterwards a disaffected
spirit broke out in the squadron, which we had some trouble in subduing.
However, by reasoning with the petty officers and the best seamen, it
terminated without open mutiny or bloodshed, although the crews of some of
the ships had been mistaken enough to have delegates for their
proceedings. To finally root out the trouble the admiral ordered the five
line of battle ships fitting out at Port Royal to complete their stores
and sail without delay for the Gulf of Mexico. Two days afterwards we
stood out to sea. The squadron consisted of a ship of ninety-eight guns,
four seventy-fours, and a frigate. The commander-in-chief had his flag on
board the former. After touching at the Grand Caymans for turtle, we
reached the Bay of Mexico, where, and off the Havannah, we cruised for
some weeks without taking anything. One night, having the middle watch and
looking over the lee gangway, I observed some black spots on the water.
The moon, which was in her third quarter, was sometimes hidden by the dark
scud, for it was blowing fresh, and when she shone in full splendour the
spots appeared stationary. I lost no time in pointing this out to the
lieutenant of the watch, who agreed with me that they must be the negro
heads of some coral reef. We were with the squadron running directly on
them. We immediately fired a gun and hauled our wind, and then fired a
second to warn the ships astern of us of the danger. When we hauled off we
could not clear them, and it was more than an hour before we got an
offing. They were the “Double-headed shot” keys. Our signal was made for
the captain and master to repair on board the admiral. The latter, we
understood, was well hauled over the coals, and he came on board looking
like a boy who had been whipped. He thought it was “moral impossible” (for
that was always his favourite way of speaking when he thought he had
anything of importance to relate) that the admiral should find fault with
him as a navigator; he could not account for counter currents and
undertows, and he knew how to navigate a ship as well as any man in the

The inhabitants of the cockpit, as usual, held a court of inquiry on his
conduct, when they declared on summing up what they had remarked of his
character, that he was too conceited to be clever, that he was a very
indifferent navigator, and they wondered who the devil gave him his
warrant as master, for they would not trust him to navigate a barge in the
New River. After cruising till the mids declared they were _ennuiéd_ of
seeing the Havannah, the dry Tortugas, Cape Antonio, and the low land near
Mississippi so often, and that they had worn their chemises twice over and
had only soiled sheets for table-cloths; that they were obliged to get one
of the marines to pipe-clay their stockings and the collar of their shirts
when they were asked to dine in the cabin; that it was a horrible, hard
case to eat biscuits filled with bargemen and purser’s lice; that the
water was full of jenny jumps—all these miseries, concluded they, ought to
be made known to the admiral, and that if he did not order the squadron in
again he ought to be tried by a court of mids and reduced to the humble
rank of a cockpitsman and feed off bargemen for a month.

We had now been out for two months when we bore up for the Gulf of
Florida. In making the Havannah for a departure, we fell in with four
Spanish brigs laden with quicksilver, which we captured. When near Cape
Florida we experienced a white squall which carried away the
foretop-gallant mast and split the foresail. The ninety-eight gun-ship,
which led the squadron, heeled so much over before she could shorten sail
that she appeared to be turning the turtle. At last her foreyard went in
the slings, and her main-topsail in ribbons, and she righted.

When off New Providence the wind was light and the clouds heavy and low,
and in less than half an hour seven waterspouts had formed, two not far
from us on our weather beam, the largest of which was nearing us rather
fast. We got two of the main-deck guns ready, and waited until we could
see its suction. The cloud which drew up and contained the water was in
the shape of a reversed cone with a long point at the bottom of it: this
was something like a corkscrew. We now thought it high time to fire, when
down it came, discharging a sheet of water which must have contained many
tons. The shock it gave the water drove it in breakers to some distance,
and we partook of the motion, as we rolled for at least ten minutes before
the swell subsided. The other waterspout passed some distance astern. In
this gulf some years ago a dreadful catastrophe occurred to a West
Indiaman homeward bound, caused by one of the sucking clouds or
waterspouts. Several had formed very near her, one of them so near that
the master of her was afraid to fire as it might endanger the vessel. It
appeared to be passing when a flaw of wind came, and being heavily
surcharged with water, broke it. Fortunately the hatches were on, and only
the master, mate and four men on deck. The immense body of water it
contained fell with such violence that it carried away all her masts,
boats, spars and hen-coops, with all the live stock, as well as washing
the master and three of the men overboard. The mate and the other man were
saved by jumping into the caboose which held on, although they were
half-dead with fright and half-drowned with water. After we had cleared
the islands forming the Bahama group, we fell in with a low,
rakish-looking schooner, which gave us a chase of seven hours, although
our shot went over her. At length two of her men were killed, and the
spyglass knocked out of the skipper’s hand, when he, finding it was
useless holding out any longer, hove to. She proved a Spanish privateer of
six guns and forty men, with a number of sheep on board, but the mids
declared they were more like purser’s lanterns. When killed, one of them
weighed only fifteen pounds. Nothing further occurred during the remainder
of our passage to Jamaica, where we anchored two days after with our
prizes. Before the sails were furled, half the inhabitants of Port Royal
were round the ships making a most hideous noise with their squalling and
banjos. Our five prizes made their eyes shine like a dollar in a bucket of
water, and their mouths water like a sick monkey’s eyes with a violent
influenza. The last time we had anchored we returned prizeless, and no
boat came off but an old washerwoman’s; we now paid them off in their own
coin, and desired all the canoes with the exception of two to paddle to
some other ship, as we should not admit them on board. After lingering for
about half an hour in the hope that we should change our minds, they
paddled away looking blacker than their skins. Soon after our arrival we
heard that the _Hermione_ frigate had been taken and carried into Porto
Bello on the Spanish Main by her crew, after having killed their captain
and all the officers. This dreadful news gave me real concern, as one of
my late messmates was third lieutenant of her. Captain Hamilton, of the
_Surprise_ of twenty-eight guns, offered to bring her out from where her
rebellious crew had anchored her, and a few days after he sailed for that
purpose. We were refitting very leisurely, and had been in harbour nearly
five weeks, when one afternoon we saw the _Surprise_ towing in the
_Hermione_. Captain Hamilton had kept his word to the letter. He was three
days before the port where she lay before he attempted his purpose. She
was at anchor very close in shore, protected by a heavy half-moon and
triangular battery. On the evening of the third day Captain Hamilton made
his will, and after consulting with the officers he armed and manned the
boats, and took with him the lieutenants, surgeon, a proportion of mids,
and the lieutenant of marines, besides sailors and marines, making in the
whole a hundred. He left the master and the remainder of the crew in
charge of the ship, and ordered him when the boats shoved off to stand out
by way of feint. The night was very dark. After a short pull they were
alongside of the _Hermione_, which was evidently taken by surprise. On
seeing the crew of the _Surprise_ board them, they seized their
boarding-pikes and cutlasses, and made a resistance which would have done
them credit in a better cause. The conflict was severe and fatal to many
of them; several jumped overboard. The struggle had continued about half
an hour when her cables were cut and her topsails loosed. The remainder of
the mutineers finding their numbers considerably decreased threw down
their arms and surrendered, and at daylight the ship was in company with
the _Surprise_.(4) Captain Hamilton received a severe contusion on the
head, and had it not been for his surgeon, who was a powerful son of the
Emerald Isle, he must have been killed. The loss on board the _Hermione_
was considerable, that of the _Surprise_ comparatively speaking trifling.
Soon after they anchored I was sent on board the latter to learn the
particulars which I have given above. The mutineers taken in the
_Hermione_ were but few, as the greater part were either on shore or had
jumped overboard from her when they saw they should be overpowered. Before
we sailed they were tried, and, with the exception of two who turned
King’s evidence, were hanged in everlasting jackets on the small islands
without Port Royal harbour. I also learnt that my former messmate was
lieutenant of the watch when the mutiny broke out, and one of the King’s
evidence mutineers gave me the following account:—

[Illustration: PORT ROYAL, JAMAICA.   [_P. N. Edwards, Photo._]

“The captain,” said he, “was very severe with the men, who were all good
seamen, and they were determined to either run the ship on shore and
desert, or else take her by force. This had been in their minds for months
before it happened. At last,” said he, “on a dark night, when the young
lieutenant had the watch, our minds were made up. A party went to the
cabin-door, knocked down the sentry, and entered it. The captain was in
his cot, and he was soon overpowered. We threw him out of the
cabin-window. Another party threw the officer of the watch over the
larboard quarter, but he, being young and active, caught hold of the
hammock-stanchion, when one of the men cut his hands off, and he soon
dropped astern. The first lieutenant had been ill and keeping his cot, but
on hearing the noise, he came up the hatchway in his shirt, when one of
the carpenter’s crew cut him down with an axe, and he was sent overboard
with several others.” Captain Pigot, who commanded her, was no doubt a
severe disciplinarian, but this was a most unheard-of, cruel and
bloodthirsty mutiny; all the officers, both guilty—if there were any
guilty—and innocent shared the same untimely fate, and surely if the crew
found themselves oppressed and ill-used, they ought to have represented
their complaints to the senior officer or the admiral, and they, in
justice, would have been listened to; at least I hope so. I am sorry to
state here that I have seen men sometimes flogged for trifles where a
minor punishment would have been more appropriate. Caprice and partiality
should never govern an officer’s conduct; young lieutenants are too prone
to make complaints to their captain without reflecting on the character of
the offender. A thorough-bred seaman is very seldom in fault, and should
he unfortunately trespass a little on the discipline of the ship, his
offence should be visited as lightly as possible. Well-timed admonition
will make a surer impression than half-a-dozen cats. I speak from
experience. Before we sailed I had occasion to purchase some stockings, as
I found on inquiry that my dingy-faced washerwoman had supplied her
“lubing bruder” with several pair belonging to me, to dance with her at a
banjo hop, and took care I should not have them until the day before we
sailed, which was Saturday. On examining them I found they were so worn
into large holes that I could not put them on. Having obtained permission
to go on shore, I repaired to the magazine. All shops in the West Indies
are called magazines or stores, although some of them are so small that
you are not able to turn round without hurting your elbows. The said shop,
magazine or store was kept by a worthy, said to be honest, Israelite. I
acquainted him with my wants. “I can’t sell you nothing to-day,” he said;
“it is my Sabbath; but I will tell you what I can do. I will lend you six
pair, and you can pay me to-morrow.” “Thank you,” said I; “where’s your
conscience? To-morrow will be my Sabbath.” “Ah,” said he “I forgot that.
Then you can pay me on Monday.” “No,” said I; “I’ll pay you off with the
foretop-sail.” He laughed. “Here, take the stockings, and pay me when you
please.” This I did not do until I had given him a little note promising
to pay him when we returned from our cruise.

We sailed the following morning, to cruise off the windward passages,
where we fell in with two American sloops of war, cruising for an
appetite. We were now tolerably well manned. Yellow fever and scurvy had
taken their departure, and the only evil which remained with us was the
blue devils, in consequence of the monotony so prevalent in a long cruise.
We boarded several American vessels, and from one of them we procured some
long, lanky turkeys. They stood so high that they appeared on stilts; they
were all feather and bone, and Jonathan asked four dollars apiece for
them, but we got him down to two by taking nine, which was all he had. I
asked him if he had any dollar biscuits. “No,” said he; “but some of the
men have a pretty considerable quantity of notions.” Here he called to one
of them, and said, “Nathan, I guess you bought some notions at Baltimore;
bring them up, and let the officer see them.” Nathan was soon down the
hatchway, and as quickly up again with his venture, or notions. They
consisted of two pounds of infamous Yankee tea, three pounds of tobacco
made into a roll, a jar of salt butter, a six-pound ham, and a bag of
hickory nuts. The tea and ham I bought, and one of the boat’s crew had the
tobacco. The first proved too bad for even a midshipman’s palate; and the
ham, when the cover and sawdust were taken away, was animated by
nondescripts, and only half of it eatable. I was tried by a court of
inquiry by my messmates for want of discernment, and found guilty; and the
Yankee who had cheated us was sentenced to be hanged, but as he was out of
sight, the penalty was not carried into execution. We once more anchored
at the mole, after having reconnoitred Porto Rico and part of Cuba,
without any addition to our riches.

On the fifth evening of our arrival we heard the drums at the town beating
to arms. We manned and armed three of our boats, and sent them on shore to
inquire the cause of the alarm. The soldiers were forming to march, when
one of our mids exclaimed: “Look what a vast number of large fire-flies
there are in the bushes over the town!” “Are you sure those lights are
fire-flies?” said a captain of one of the companies. “Yes,” said the mid;
“I’ll convince you in a jiffy.” Away he flew into the bushes, and in about
five minutes returned, with his hat swarming with them, which produced a
pale, bright light equal to several candles. The adventure produced much
laughter at the expense of the piquet who had given the alarm, and the
retreat was beat.

At particular periods of the year these little insects meet in the same
manner that birds do on St. Valentine’s Day. The soldiers who formed the
piquet had never seen anything of the kind before, and as the sentinel at
a small fort at the entrance of the harbour had been shot by the enemy a
few nights previously, they were determined not to be taken by surprise.

                               CHAPTER IX.

                          A MOCK COURT-MARTIAL.

       Transhipped to H.M.S. _Queen_ (98)—Sailors’ appreciation of
     books—The ship runs aground and sinks: with difficulty raised—A
      mock court-martial on the master—Author made lieutenant with a
                  commission on a twenty-four-gun ship.

After completing our water and stores, we sailed, and made the circuit of
St. Domingo, and a month afterwards returned to Port Royal, where we found
the dignity ladies looking as blooming as black roses, and as it was
understood that we were to be paid prize money, a general invitation was
given to all the wardroom officers to a grand ball two days after our
arrival; for be it known to you, gentle reader, that humble mids are never
invited to dignity balls of the first class, which are given by the
mustees and quadroons. Some of these ladies are beautifully formed, with
handsome features. The second class generally consist of mulattos and
blacks; these last are the most numerous; the mids at their balls are
quite at home, and call for sangaree and porter-cup in first style.

At this period I had served my six years within a few months, when the
captain sent for me, and told me he intended sending me on board the
flag-ship on promotion. “I send you there,” added he, “beforehand, that
you may have the opportunity of becoming known to the commander-in-chief,
that at the expiration of your time you may be more immediately under his
notice and be sure of your promotion.” I thanked him sincerely for his
kind intention, and the following morning behold me, bed and traps,
ensconced in the starboard midshipman’s berth—one of the darkest holes of
a cockpit I ever was yet in—on board the _Queen_, a ninety-eight gun ship.
My messmates, ten in number, were the poorest of all poor mids. I was
welcomed to the mess by the master’s mate, who held in his hand a dirty,
empty bottle, with a farthing candle lighted in the neck of it. “Take
care,” said he, “you don’t break your shins over the youngsters’ chests.”
“Thank you,” said I; “but I always thought a flag-ship’s cockpit too well
regulated to have chests athwartships.” “Why, to tell you the truth,”
replied he, “those d——d youngsters are so often changing ships, being here
to-day and promoted to-morrow, that it is impossible to keep either
chests, mess or them in anything like order. I wish they were all at the
devil.” “Amen,” responded a person in the berth, whose nose was looming
out of a hazy darkness, “for, d——n them,” he continued, “they have eaten
all the cheese and have had a good swig at my rum-bottle, but I’ll lay a
point to windward of them yet.” These two hard officers were both old
standards. The last who spoke was the mate of the hold, and the other of
the lower deck. One had seen thirty-five and the other thirty-nine
summers. The hope of a lieutenant’s commission they had given up in
despair, and were now looking out for a master’s warrant. They were both
brought up in the merchant service, and had entered the Navy at the
beginning of the war as quarter-masters, and by their steady conduct were
made master’s mates, a situation which requires some considerable tact.
The greater portion of my hopeful brother officers were from eighteen to
twenty years of age. Their toast in a full bumper of grog of an evening
was usually, “A bloody war and a sickly season.” Some few were
gentlemanly, but the majority were every-day characters—when on deck doing
little, and when below doing less. Books they had very few or none; as an
instance of it, we had only one, except the Hamilton Moore’s and the
Nautical Almanack, among ten of us, and that was “Extracts from the
Poets.” One of the mates above mentioned, seeing me moping with the blue
devils, brought it me. “Here,” said he, “is a book nobody reads. I have
looked into it myself, but there is so much dry stuff in it, that it makes
my grog go too fast; but,” added he, “‘Dry’ is put under that part, so you
can skip over it.” Now, reader, the most beautiful passages of this
neglected book were from Dryden. The mate, happy, ignorant man, imagined,
in his wisdom, that where the abridgment of this poet’s name was placed,
it was to indicate to the reader that the poetry was dry and not worth
reading. Oh, Ignorance, thou art sometimes bliss, but in the present
instance it were not folly to be wise! I attempted to take the Irish
half-crown out of his mind by comparing some of Dryden’s passages with the
others, and he was as much convinced as a cable-tier coiling and
stowing-hold officer is generally capable of being, that the “Dry” poetry
was the best.

The captain of this ship was from the north, I believe, strictly moral and
as strict in discipline, admirably economical, and as regular in his
habits as any old-clothes man in Monmouth Street. He kept all the
cockpitonians on the _qui vive_, and as every recommendation went through
him to the admiral it was but good policy for the mids to be on the alert.
As all the lieutenants were constantly changing, those promoted making
room for others, I shall not describe their characters, except noticing
that the generality of them were good officers and gentlemen. A month
after I joined we were ordered to sail, and on going out of Port Royal
Roads we struck with great force on a sand bank called the Turtle Head.
The master, who was as ignorant as he was conceited, had taken charge of
the ship before she was out of pilot water, and in less than half an hour
after the pilot left us she struck. As we were still in sight of the
vessels at Port Royal, we made the signal for assistance, and soon
afterwards saw a frigate and a store ship coming out towards us. The sea
breeze began to set in, which drove us more on the shoal, notwithstanding
that we had carried out two anchors ahead. At length she thumped so
violently that we jumped at least a foot high from the deck. I could not
refrain from smiling to see the captain and officers with serious, long,
anxious faces, cutting capers against their will. The rudder and false
keel soon parted company, and we all expected to see the masts jerked out
of their steps. On sounding the well we found the ship making water
rapidly. The pumps were set to work, but in vain. She soon sank in three
fathoms and a half water, and we had eighteen feet of water in the hold.
The frigate and store ship, with some smaller vessels, had anchored as
near us as they could with safety. The small craft came alongside and took
out our guns and stores, and one hundred additional men were sent on board
us to work the pumps. Pumps were also sent from the dockyard, and were
introduced into the hold through the decks, which had been scuttled for
that purpose. On the morning of the third day we had got everything,
except the lower masts and bowsprit, on board the lighters, and by the
exertions of the men at the pumps, which had been incessant for three days
and nights, we had lightened her, and she floated off the shoal. The
frigate took us in tow, and in three hours afterwards we were lashed
alongside the dockyard. The fatigue and want of rest, for not a single
hammock had been piped down during the time the ship was on shore, threw
about fifty men into the sick list, and several of them died at the
hospital afterwards. The seamen of the fleet in general had a great
aversion to go to the hospital, and when ill used to entreat the doctor
not to send them there. It was said of the matrons, which did not redound
to their credit if true, that when a seaman died, and was reported to
them, they exclaimed: “Poor fellow! bring me his bag, and mind everything
belonging to him is put into it.” This they considered their perquisite.
Surely this is wrong and robbery! Ah, Mr. Hume! why were you a puling,
helpless babe at that time? Had you been a man and known it, you would
have called for reformation and been the seaman’s friend.

We had now a difficult and arduous duty to perform, which was to heave the
ship down keel out. I was stationed on the lower deck with a party of
thirty seamen to keep the chain pumps going as long as they would
work—that is, until the ship was nearly on her side. In about twenty
minutes she was nearly on her beam ends, when all the temporary stanchions
which had been fixed to keep the deck from yielding gave way like a
regiment of black militia in chase of Obie, or Three-fingered Jack in the
Whee Mountains, when they are in full retreat. I was standing at this time
in no enviable position, my feet rested on the combings of the main
hatchway with my back against the deck. I expected every moment to have my
brains knocked out, but this apprehension was soon superseded by a cry
from the shore of, “Make for the stern ports and jump overboard; the
hawsers are stranded; there will be a boat ready to pick you up.” “Sooner
said than done,” thinks I to myself; “I wish with all my heart that the
first lieutenant who ordered me here was in my place, and he would find
the order practically impossible.” Another cry was then heard: “Hold all
fast on board!” “You are a wise man,” thinks I again for that order; “it
is the very thing we are determined to do.” “All’s safe,” was the next
squall through the trumpet, “the mastheads are secured to the beams.”
“Thank you for nothing,” said I to myself, “it’s more good luck than good
management.” When the ship was hove down, we got some of the pumps to work
on the side next the water, as it had gone from the well, and in a few
hours kept her clear. On the fourth day we righted her, as the dockyard
maties had botched her up.

We had now to wait about six weeks for the rudder; in the meanwhile we got
on board the water, provisions and stores, and fresh powder, the last
having had a ducking. From the time the ship came to the yard we had slept
and messed in the capstan house, consequently we had not an opportunity of
holding a cockpit inquiry on the master’s conduct for running the vessel
on shore. The second day after getting on board we put on our scrapers and
toasting-forks, and assembled in the larboard berth, which was illuminated
for the occasion by four farthing candles. The court consisted of fourteen
members. I was chosen president; a black man who waited on our berth was
to personate the master. After taking our seats according to seniority, we
declared we would show neither favour nor partiality to the prisoner, but
try him fairly by the rules of the cockpit. I began, as president, by
asking him the reason he let the pilot quit the ship before she was clear
of the shoals.

Prisoner: “’Cause, massa, I had berry good opinion of myself, and I tink I
sabby de ground better den dat black scorpion who call himself pilot.”

President: “If you knew the channels better than the pilot, how came you
to let the ship get on shore on the Turtle Head shoal?”

Prisoner: “Ah, Massa President, me no tink Turtle Head lib dere; me tink
him lib tree legs more west. De chart say him moral impossible he lib so
near Port Royal.”

Here the chart was examined, and the shoal was in reality laid down in a
wrong place. This saved the master, or he must have been smashed. Here the
court adjourned to consider the sentence. After laughing and joking some
short time in the larboard wing, we again assembled looking as solemn as a
Lord Chancellor, when I, as the noble president, addressed the prisoner as

“Prisoner, this honourable Court having duly considered the unseamanlike
and stupid blunder you have committed, do adjudge you to be suspended from
your duty as master of this ship for six calendar months, in order to give
you time to reflect on the mischief you have done and the great expense
you have occasioned by running His Majesty’s ship on a shoal called the
Turtle Head; and they advise you not to be so self-sufficient in future,
and, if it be not morally impossible, to clothe yourself with the robe of
humility, and to put all your conceit into the N.W. corner of your chest,
and never let it see daylight. And the Court further adjudges you, in
consequence of your letting the pilot quit the ship before she was in
sea-way, to be severely reprimanded and also admonished as to your future
conduct, and you are hereby suspended, reprimanded, and admonished
accordingly. I dissolve this Court. Master Blacky, get dinner ready as
fast as you can, as we are very sharp set.”

“Yes, massa,” was the answer; “to-day you hab for dinner salt junk and
bargeman biscuit, and to-morrow you hab change.” “What do you say, you
black woolly-headed rascal?” said one of the mids. “Why, I say, massa, you
hab change to-morrow—you hab bargeman biscuit and salt junk.” “Why,” said
another horrified mid, “I heard the caterer order you to get some fish
from the canoe alongside.” “Yes, massa, dat berry true, but de d——d black
scorpion would not sell ’um to massa midshipman, cause he no hab pay for
fish last time.” “If you mention that again,” said one of my messmates,
“I’ll crack your black cocoa-nut, and if you do not get some to-morrow,
I’ll take care your grog shall be stopped.” Here the caterer of the mess
interfered by promising the mess should have some fish for their dinner
next day, and the contest ended. Master Blacky started up the ladder to
stand the wrangle in the galley for our dinner, and shortly after we
attacked a tolerably good-looking piece of King’s own, with the addition
of some roasted plantains, which our black factotum had forgotten to
mention in his bill of fare.

Having procured our rudder we sailed to prove, the middies said, “Whether
promotion should be stopped or not by the ship’s sinking or floating?”
Fortunately for us, by the aid of the chain pumps twice a day, she did the
latter. We continued on a man-of-war’s cruise there and back again for
five weeks, and then returned to our former anchorage. During this short
cruise I had prepared myself for passing, and soon after our arrival, my
time being served, I requested the first lieutenant to speak to the
captain that I might pass for a lieutenant. “Go yourself,” said he, “and
tell him. He is in his room at the capstan house. I’ll give you the jolly

I was soon on shore and at the door of his room. I knocked. “Enter,” said
a voice not at all encouraging. “What do you want, any orders?” “No, sir,”
said I, with one of my best quarter-deck bows, which appeared to soften
him. “I hope I am not intruding; I have taken the liberty of waiting on
you, sir, to acquaint you that I have served my time.” He was half-shaved,
and my visit appeared unfortunately ill-timed, and I began to apprehend by
the expression of his countenance, and the flourishes he made with his
razor, he intended making me a head shorter. “Who sent you to me at this
inconvenient time?” asked he. “The first lieutenant, sir,” said I; “he
thought it was better for me to inform you before you went to the
Admiral’s pen.” “Oh, very well; you may go; shut the door, and let the
barge come for me at seven o’clock.” On board I repaired, and delivered
the message. I kept pondering whether my hardy, half-shaven captain’s
manner was favourable to the information I had given him or not. My
messmates were anxious to know how I was received. “Not very graciously,”
was my reply. Next morning, to my agreeable surprise, I was ordered to
take the barge, and go on board the _Alarm_ frigate, where I met my old
captain, who shook hands with me, and two others. “Well,” said the former,
“are you prepared to prove you are an able seaman and an officer?” “I hope
so, sir,” said I. He introduced me to his two brother officers, and
informed them I had sailed with him some time, and that I had frequently
charge of a watch. We all descended to the cabin, where Hamilton Moore’s
“Epitome,” a slate and pencil were placed before me. I was first asked
several questions respecting coming to an anchor, mooring, tacking,
veering, and taking in sail. I was then desired to find the time of high
water at different places, and the variation of the compass.

They appeared satisfied with my answers and solutions, and before I left
the ship they presented me with my passing certificate. On the following
day I took the oath of allegiance, abused the Pope—poor, innocent man—and
all his doctrines, and received my commission for a twenty-four gun ship
which I joined the day after. I left some of my messmates with regret, as
they were made of the very stuff our Navy required.

                                CHAPTER X.

                              MORE CRUISING.

     Requested to act as first lieutenant, but refuses—Description of
     officers—A fruitless search for a Spanish treasure ship—Run on a
     coral reef, but float off again—A tropical thunderstorm—A futile
      attempt to cut out three schooners off Matanzas—Author becomes
    first lieutenant—Return to Port Royal—The incriminating papers of
    an American sloop found in a shark—Seize a French ship in ballast
                             off St. Domingo.

On introducing myself to my new captain, who was a short, corpulent,
open-countenanced man, he informed me he had conversed with my former
captain respecting me. “We lost both the lieutenants by the yellow fever
the latter part of last cruise,” said he, “and if you like to be first
lieutenant, I will request the Admiralty to give me an acting officer.” I
thanked him for his good opinion, but begged leave to decline being first.
About a fortnight afterwards, during which time no other lieutenant had
joined, the captain again asked me if I had altered my mind. “And,” added
he, “the time you have been on board has given you some insight respecting
a first lieutenant’s duty. Your early rising I much approve, and your
regularity with the duty pleases me. Let me write for an acting
lieutenant.” I made him due acknowledgments but still declined, pleading
the want of experience. “Well,” said he, “if you will not, I must ask for
a senior officer,” and soon afterwards he was appointed. Another fortnight
expired, when we sailed for the Gulf of Mexico. I will now rest on my oars
a little, and as I have the watch below, I will amuse myself by sketching
the outline of the gun-room inmates.

The first lieutenant knew his duty, but was too fond of the contents of
his case-bottles of rum, which made him at times very irritable and hasty;
in other respects he was a sociable messmate. The second was a kind of
nondescript; he was certainly sober, and I hope honest, fond of adventure,
and always volunteered when the boats were sent on any expedition. He was
sociable, and frequently rational, although too often sanguine where hope
was almost hopeless. Three-and-twenty summers had passed over his head,
but still there was much to correct. He was generous and open-hearted, and
never could keep a secret, which often got him into a scrape with ladies
of all colours. The value of money never entered his head, and when he
received a cool hundred, he spent it coolly, but not without heartfelt
enjoyment. The master comes next. He was a little, natty man; we presumed
he had been rolled down Deal beach in his infancy, where pebbles without
number must have come in rude contact with his face, for it was cruelly
marred. He had made some trips in the East India Service, which had given
him an air of consequence. He was not more than twenty-four years of age,
and certainly clever in his profession. I will now bring forward the
doctor, who appeared to doctor everybody but himself. He was every inch a
son of Erin, could be agreeable or the reverse as the fit seized him, fond
of argument, fond of rum, and sometimes fond of fighting. To see him put
his hand to his mouth was painful; it was so tremulous that half the
contents of what he eat or drank fell from it, yet he was never tipsy,
although the contents of three bottles of port wine found their way very
glibly down his throat at a sitting.

Now I will have a dead-set at the purser, who was generally purseless. He
was the gayest of the gay, very tall, very expensive, and always in love.
The first fiddle of the mess and caterer, fond of going on a boat
expedition, very fond of prize-money, and as fond of getting rid of it. He
used to say, “It was a terrible mistake making me a purser. I shall never
be able to clear my accounts,” and this was literally the case. Some years
afterwards he was appointed to a large frigate, but by the irregularity of
his conduct, although his captain was his friend, he was by a
court-martial dismissed the Service. When I heard this I was much
concerned, as there were some good points about him. I have now handed up
all the gun-room officers. Other characters in the ship I shall not
describe; some were good, some bad, and some indifferent, but I am happy
to remark the first-named preponderated. We made the Grand Cayman, and
sent a cutter to the shore to purchase turtle and fruit. In about an hour
and a half she came off with three turtle, some yams, plantains,
cocoa-nuts, and a few half-starved fowls. I had cautioned the purser not
to buy any grunters, as those poor animals blown out with water we had
purchased from these honest islanders in days of yore, were still fresh in
my memory.

The same evening we made Cape Antonio, and cruised between that cape and
the Loggerhead Keys for some days without seeing anything but two American
vessels from New Orleans. One of them gave us notice of a Mexican armed
zebec ready to sail with treasure from Mexico for the Havannah. This news
elated us. We were all lynx-eyed and on the alert. The youngsters were
constantly at the masthead with glasses, in the sanguine hope of being the
first to announce such good fortune. Alas! we cruised from the mouth of
the Mississippi to the Bay of Campechy for five long weeks, at the period
of which we saw a vessel we made certain was that which was to make our
fortunes, and our heads were filled with keeping our kittereens and having
famous champagne dinners at Spanish Town. After a chase of seven hours, we
came up with her, but judge of our chagrin! She was the same rig as the
American captain described. I was sent on board her, and expected to have
returned with the boat laden with ingots, bars of gold and silver cobs.
Oh, mortification! not easily to be effaced! On examining her, she proved,
with the exception of four barrels of quicksilver, to have no cargo of any
value. I really was so disappointed that I was ashamed to return on board,
and when I did, and made my report, there was a complete metamorphosis of
faces. Those that were naturally short became a fathom in length, and
those that were long frightful to behold. The order was given to burn her
and take out the seven Spaniards who composed her crew. On interrogating
the patroon, or master, of her, he informed us that the vessel with the
precious metal had sailed from Mexico two months before, and had arrived
at the Havannah. The Yankee captain who had given us this false
information, and made us for five weeks _poissons d’Avril_, was remembered
in our prayers; whether they ascended or descended is a problem unsolved.
We remained in the Gulf of Mexico jogging backwards and forwards, like an
armadillo in an enclosure, for ten days longer, and then shaped our course
for the coast of Cuba, looked into the Havannah, saw nothing which
appeared ready for sailing, and made all sail for the Florida shore. The
following morning it was very foggy, when about noon we had the felicity
of finding that the ship had, without notice, placed herself very
comfortably on a coral reef, where she rested as composedly as grandmamma
in her large armchair. We lost no time in getting the boats and an anchor
out in the direction from whence we came. Fortunately it was nearly calm,
otherwise the ship must have been wrecked. The process of getting her off
was much longer than that of getting her on. The mids, I understood,
declared she was tired of the cruise and wished to rest. In the afternoon
it became clear, when we saw an armed schooner close to us, which hoisted
English colours and sent a boat to us. The captain of her came on board
and informed us that his vessel was a Nassau privateer, and he tendered
all the assistance in his power to get us afloat. As the ship appeared
disinclined to detach herself from her resting-place, we sent most of the
shot and some of the stores on board this vessel, when we began to lift,
and in a short time she was again afloat, and as she did not make water we
presumed her bottom was not injured. On examining the chart, we found it
was the Carisford reef that had so abruptly checked the progress of His
Majesty’s ship. Nothing dismayed, we cruised for a week between Capes
Sable and Florida, until we were one night overtaken by a most tremendous
thunderstorm, which split the fore and maintop-sails, carried away the
jib-boom and maintop-sail yard, struck two of the men blind, and shook the
ship fore and aft. It continued with unabated rage until daylight. We soon
replaced the torn sails and got another yard across and jib-boom out.

The following day we were joined by a frigate, and proceeded off the Bay
of Matanzas. Towards evening we perceived three dark-looking schooners
enter the bay. As it was nearly calm, we manned and armed four boats, two
from the frigate, under the direction of her first lieutenant and my
senior officer, and two from our ship, under my orders. We muffled our
oars and pulled quietly in. The night was very dark and the navigation
difficult, owing to the numerous coral reefs and small mangrove islands.
At length we discovered them anchored in a triangle to support each other.
We gave way for the largest, and when within about half pistol-shot they
opened their fire on us. Two of the boats were struck and my commanding
officer knocked overboard, but he was soon afterwards picked up, and,
except a slight wound in the knee, unhurt. We persevered and got alongside
the one we had singled out. She received us as warmly as if she had known
us for years. I took the liberty of shooting a man in her main rigging who
was inclined to do me the same kind office, had I not saved him the
trouble. We attempted cutting away her boarding netting, and in so doing
three men were severely wounded. Her decks appeared well filled with men:
some of their voices were, I am certain, English. After a struggle of some
minutes, in which one of the boats had not joined, my senior officer, who
had five of his men wounded, ordered the boats to pull off. Shall I say I
was disappointed? I most assuredly was, and my boat’s crew murmured. I
desired them to be silent. The boat which had lost her way now came up,
and received a broadside from the vessel we were retreating from, which
almost sank her, and killed and wounded four of her crew. The order was
again given to pull off as fast as possible. As the senior officer neared
me in his boat, I asked him, as we had found the large schooner so strong,
if it were not desirable to attempt the others. His answer was yes, were
they not so well armed and so close to each other. “But,” said he, “it is
my orders that the boats repair on board their own ships, as my wounded
men are dying, and I am suffering the devil’s own torments.” “So much for
a broken-down expedition,” thinks I to myself. “If the bull had not been
taken by the horns, something might have been effected.”

On joining my ship I reported the wounded men, who were sent to their
hammocks, after having been dressed by the doctor, who declared their
wounds, though severe, not to be serious. “Well,” said the captain, “what
have you done?” “Worse than nothing,” replied I. “I never was on so sorry
or so badly planned an expedition. The enemy’s armed vessels were on the
alert, whilst we were half asleep, and they were anchored so close under
the land that we were nearly on the broadside of the largest before we
perceived her, and she gave it us most handsomely, and I give her credit
for her spirited conduct.” “You are a generous enemy,” said my skipper.
“Not at all,” returned I; “it is my opinion that the man who commands that
vessel, who has given us such a good trimming, deserves well of his
country.” I then made him acquainted with all the particulars. “My opinion
of the officer who had the management of this boat affair has been
hitherto favourable,” said the captain. “He is certainly a young man, but
his captain is perfectly satisfied with his method of carrying on the duty
in the ship.” “Yes,” said I; “but ship duty and boat duty are different.”
Here the conversation, which was irksome to my feelings, terminated. A few
days floated away, when the first lieutenant had a dispute with the
captain, and he was suspended from his duty. I was sent for into the
cabin, when the captain told me he was happy in the opportunity of again
offering me the situation of first lieutenant. “For,” added he, “Mr. G.
and I shall never accord after what has happened, and if he does not
effect an exchange with a junior officer to yourself, I will try him by a

Two weeks more finished our unsuccessful cruise. We bore up for the
Florida Stream, ran through the Turks’ Island passage, made St. Domingo
and Cuba, passed over the Pismire shoal of the N.E. end of Jamaica, and
anchored at Port Royal. The morning following we received letters from
England. I must here relate an incident which was most feelingly trying to
one of the youngsters. He had, among others, received a letter from his
mother, and to be more retired had gone abaft the mizzen-mast to read it.
The sea-breeze was blowing fresh, when, just as he had opened it and read
the first words, it blew from his hands overboard. Poor little fellow! The
agonised look he gave as it fell into the water is far beyond description.
He was inclined to spring after it. Had he known how to swim he would not
have hesitated a moment. Unfortunately all the boats were on duty, or it
might have been recovered. Mr. G., the first lieutenant, effected his
exchange, and a fine young man joined as second. I was now positively
fixed as first. I was invited to dignity balls without number, and had
partners as blooming as Munster potatoes.

My servant was of a shining jet colour, and a fiddler. I took lodgings on
shore, and after the duty of the day was performed, about half after six
o’clock in the evening, I went to my _château_, taking with me Black
George and his fiddle, where my shipmates and a few friends of all colours
amused themselves with an innocent hop and sangaree, for I had now grown
too fine to admit the introduction of vulgar grog. Even the smell of it
would have occasioned the ladies to blush like a blue tulip. After amusing
ourselves on shore and performing our duty on board, we were ready for sea
the fifth week after our arrival, and on the sixth we sailed for the south
side of St. Domingo. We had been cruising a few days off the port of
Jacmel, when the _Nimrod_ cutter and the _Abergavenny’s_ tender joined us.
The lieutenants of both vessels came on board, and related the following
fact in my hearing:—The former vessel had detained an honest trading
Yankee brig on suspicion, and had sent her to Jamaica to be examined. The
latter vessel caught a large shark the morning after, and found in its maw
the false papers of this said American brig, which she had thrown
overboard when the _Nimrod_ chased her.

“Will you oblige me by a relation of the circumstance?” said our skipper
to Whiley, who commanded the cutter. “It happened in the following manner:
I had information of this Charlestown vessel before I left Port Royal, and
I was determined to look keenly after her. I had been off the Mosquito
shore, where I understood she was bound with gunpowder and small arms. At
length I fell in with her, but could not find any other papers than those
which were regular, nor any powder or firearms; but as I had good
information respecting her, I was determined to detain her, even if I
burnt my fingers by so doing. The morning after I sent her for Jamaica I
fell in with Lieutenant Fitton, who hailed me, and begged me to go on
board him. When I got on the quarter-deck of the tender I saw several
large sheets of paper spread out on the companion.

“‘Hulloa!’ said I; ‘Fitton, what have you here?’ ‘Why,’ said he, ‘I have a
very curious story to relate; for that reason I wished you to come on
board me. This morning we caught a shark, and, singular to tell you, on
cutting him up we found those papers (which you see drying) in his maw. He
must have been preciously hard set, poor fellow. I have examined them, and
find they belong to the _Nancy_, of Charlestown.’ ‘The _Nancy_, of
Charlestown,’ said I. ‘That is the very brig I have sent to Jamaica.’
‘Well, then,’ said Fitton, ‘they are yours, and I congratulate you on the
discovery and your good fortune.’” “This is singularly remarkable,” said
our captain; “I hope you have taken care of the jaw of the shark. It must
be sent to the Vice-Court of Admiralty at Jamaica as a memento of the
fact, and a remembrancer to all Yankee captains who are inclined to be
dishonest.” “A good hint,” said Fitton; “it shall be done, sir.” And it
was done, as I well recollect its being suspended over where the American
masters of detained vessels stood when they desired to make oath.

In the evening these gentlemen, after having dined on board us, repaired
to their respective vessels, and we soon after parted company. The
following day we anchored off the Isle de Vâche, near Port au Paix, St.
Domingo, and sent the two cutters in shore on a cruise of speculation,
under my orders. On quitting the ship we all blacked our faces with burnt
cork and tied coloured handkerchiefs round our heads, in order to deceive
the fishing canoes. On nearing the shore we discovered a schooner sailing
along close to the beach. In a short time afterwards we boarded her, and
found she was a French vessel in ballast from Port au Paix, bound to
Jacmel. She was quite new, and not more than fifty tons burden. We took
possession of her, but unfortunately, when we were in the act of securing
the prisoners, the enemy fired at us from the shore. We had three men
severely wounded and the schooner’s crew one. We lost no time in getting
the boats ahead to tow her off, and although the enemy’s fire was
frequent, it did no further mischief. On nearing the Isle de Vâche we
found the ship gone, and, notwithstanding we were without a compass, I was
determined to bear up before the sea-breeze for Jamaica. Fortunately we
fell in with the _A._ frigate, who took out the wounded men, and wished me
to burn the prize. This proposal I rejected. The following evening we
reached Port Royal, and I sold her for £140. In a fortnight afterwards the
ship arrived. On joining her the captain informed me that three hours
after we had quitted her two vessels hove in sight, and as they looked
suspicious he got under weigh and chased, with the intention of again
returning to his anchorage after having made them out. This he was not
able to effect, as in point of sailing they were far superior to the
_Volage_, and after a useless chase of a night and a day, they got into
the port of St. Domingo. The ship regained the anchorage the day
afterwards, and fired guns, hoping we were on the island; but after an
interval of some hours, without seeing the boats, the captain despatched
an officer with a flag of truce to Port au Paix, thinking it likely we had
been in want of provisions, or overpowered by gunboats. The officer
returned with the information of our having been on the coast, but that we
had not been seen for two days. The ship again put to sea, and after a
short cruise came to Port Royal, where happily they found us.

                               CHAPTER XI.

                          A JAMAICA PLANTATION.

      Visit to a Jamaican plantation—Condition of the slaves—A growl
     against the House of Commons and the Admiralty—Author attempting
        to cut out a Spanish zebec, is taken prisoner—His pleasant
             experiences while in captivity—At last released.

Soon after we arrived I was invited to spend a few days in the mountains.
We were mounted on mules, and started from Kingston at four o’clock in the
morning. Some part of the road was very narrow and wound round the
mountain we were going to. At one of the angles, or turns, the purser, who
was one of the party, had got his mule too near the precipice, and in a
few seconds was rolling down the declivity, the mule first and he
afterwards. Fortunately for both animals, there were several dwarf
cotton-trees about half-way down, which brought them up with a severe
round turn. The planter, who, I presumed, had seen exploits of this kind
before, lost no time in procuring from the nearest estate some negroes
with cords, and in a few minutes they were extricated from their perilous
situation. The purser was much cut about the head, and both his arms
severely contused. The poor animal had one of his legs broken, and it was
a charity to shoot him on the spot.

[Illustration: FOREST SCENERY, JAMAICA.   [_P. N. Edwards, Photo._]

As we were not far from the estate we were going to, the black men, who
manifested much willingness and humanity, procured a hammock, which they
suspended to a pole, and carried with much ease my poor unfortunate
messmate, who, notwithstanding his bruises, kept joking on his
misadventure. Another hour brought us to a delightful pavilion-built house
surrounded by verandahs. It was like a Paradise; the grounds were highly
cultivated and produced sugar-canes, coffee, cotton and pimento. The air
was quite embalmed, and the prospect from the house was enchanting. I
could see the ships at Port Royal, which appeared like small dark dots.
The estate belonged to a young lady, a minor, residing in London, and it
was managed by her uncle. The number of slaves it contained was three
hundred. They appeared to me, the four days I remained among them, as one
happy family. I visited, with the surgeon of the estate, several of the
cabins or huts; each had a piece of ground to grow plantains, yams, sweet
potatoes, cocoas, etc. Some grew a few melons, nearly all had fowls, and
several had two or three pigs. The whole of Sunday and the Saturday
afternoon were their own, on which days they repaired to Spanish Town or
Kingston markets to sell their vegetables, fruit and poultry. The pigs,
the doctor informed me, were generally bought at the market price by the
overseers. “This estate,” resumed the doctor, “is very well conducted, and
during the five years I have been here we have only lost three slaves, and
two of those were aged. I need not say that the manager is a man of
humanity—you know him as a gentleman. The whip is seldom used, and only
for theft, which scarcely ever occurs. And I do not think that, were they
free to-morrow, they would leave Mr. W., who is an Englishman.”

On the second morning of my residence here I rose at four o’clock, and the
view from a kind of field called the Park was most remarkable and
picturesque in the extreme. Below me in all the valleys was a dense fog,
resembling a white woolly-looking cloud, stretched out like an immense
lake. The lower mountains appeared like so many islands. At first I stared
in astonishment at so novel a sight, and it reminded me of the picture of
the Deluge, when all the lower world was under water.

At breakfast I mentioned to Mr. W. the extraordinary scene I had
witnessed. “To you,” said he, “it may appear strange, but for at least
four months in the year we have those settling clouds or fogs. They first
form on the higher mountains, and then descend into the valleys. About
seven o’clock, as the sun gains force, they disperse. But,” added he,
“they are very necessary to the young plantations, which they moisten

The purser was now sufficiently recovered to join us in our rambles of an
evening, in one of which we came near a large tamarind-tree, where a
number of humming-birds were flying around. “I would not hurt any of those
little creatures for a trifle,” said Mr. W. “Were I to do it in the
presence of any of the negroes, they would immediately conclude I was
wicked. They consider them sacred, and, although they might fetch a good
price, I have never known one to be sold.”

On the fifth morning the mules were ordered at an early hour, and we bid
adieu to our kind and hospitable friend, who promised to spend a day with
us on board on our return from our cruise. We arrived at Kingston at
eleven o’clock without accident, and were on board by dinner-time. On the
following Sunday we put to sea, and a week afterwards were on our old
cruising grounds in the Mona passage and off Porto Rico.

We again sent two boats away on a speculative cruise with the second
lieutenant, who a few hours after returned with a very handsome Spanish
schooner, about forty tons, in ballast. We now put all our wise heads
together, whether to send her to Jamaica or make a tender of her. As I was
the first consulted, I voted for the last, “As were she to be sent to
Jamaica,” said I, “the expenses of her condemnation will most likely
exceed what she may be sold for. In this case, we should not only lose our
prize, but have to pay for capturing her.” “That is very true,” said the
captain, “and I have experienced the fact, which I will relate in a few

“I took a French ship from Antwerp bound to Caen, laden with salt. I took
her into Portsmouth. A few months afterwards I received a letter from my
agent to inform me that the vessel and cargo had been sold; but in
consequence of the duty paid to Government on the salt, she had not
covered the expenses of her trial by eight pounds, which my agents were
obliged to pay for me to the Proctors.”

“It is a hard case,” said we all. “After risking our lives and distressing
the ships by sending officers and men away in captured vessels, we are
sometimes informed, as a reward for the risk, anxiety and trouble, that
instead of receiving we have to pay money.” This most certainly cries
aloud for reform, and it appears monstrous that sailors find so little
support either in the House of Commons or at the Admiralty. Soldiers have
many advocates in the former, but sailors few, and those few not worth
having. The first Secretary of the Admiralty is generally a member of
Parliament, but he only concerns himself with the affairs of the
Admiralty; but ask him respecting the habits of sailors, he may tell it to
the marines, for the captain of the main-top will never believe him. It is
true the Admiralty have now given orders for captains to make a quarterly
return of all punishments inflicted on seamen. This I think quite right,
as it must in a great measure strike down the hand of tyranny. Nor do I
find fault with the encouragement and respectability which has lately been
given to the petty officers. I am only astonished it was not given years
ago, but we are still in our infancy.

Before I quit this subject, I am compelled in justice to ask both
Admiralty and Lower House the reason why old and meritorious officers are
so shamefully neglected. The commanders above the year 1814 may, I hope,
expect promotion in heaven, as I fear they never will meet with it on
earth. One would suppose the Admiralty were ashamed of having such old
officers, and wish to forget them altogether, or probably they think they
are too well paid and deserve, after spending the best part of their lives
in toil and service, nothing more. As for the old lieutenants, God help
them!—they must contrive to hang on by the eyelids until they slip their
cables in this, and make sail into another world. Is the hand of interest
so grasping that the Lords of the Admiralty cannot administer justice to
old officers and promote four or six from the head of the list on a
general promotion as well as those very young officers, who most likely
were not in being when their seniors entered the Service, nor have many of
them seen a shot fired except in a preserve? It has been said that the
patronage for the promotion of officers in the Navy is entirely in the
hands of the First Lord, who is a civilian. If this be true, interest and
not service must be his order of the day. He cannot know the merits or
demerits of officers but from others. Possessing this ignorance, it is but
a natural conclusion, though no consolation, to those who suffer from it,
that he should only promote those who are recommended to him, and this
accounts for so many officers who entered the Navy at the conclusion or
since the termination of the war being made post-captains or commanders.
We read that promotion comes neither from the east nor the west. In a
recent instance it came from the north. It may be advisable for some old
officers to make a trip to the coast of Nova Zembla, get frozen in for two
or three years among the Nova Zemblians and Yakee Yaws, come home, present
themselves to the Admiralty, who would undoubtedly promote them, then they
would have an audience and receive knighthood from a higher personage.
This, as we all know, has occurred, and may occur again, more particularly
so if they should be able to add to the important information the last
persevering and gallant adventures brought to England. The French beg a
thousand pardons when they have committed any little indiscretion; an
Englishman says simply, “I beg your pardon.” As such, gentle reader, I
sincerely beg yours, for having led you such a Tom Coxe’s traverse.

[Illustration: ENTRANCE OF ST. IAGO, CUBA.
“My First Capture by the Spaniards,” from a Drawing by the Author.]

To resume my narrative. We came to a conclusion that the schooner should
be fitted up as our tender, and as we had all taken a fancy to her she
should be called the _Fancy_. We put on board her a twelve-pounder
carronade and mounted four half-pound swivels on her gunwales. The second
lieutenant, as he captured her, was to command her; he took with him one
of the senior midshipmen and sixteen good seamen. After receiving his
orders and provisions he parted company for the north side of Cuba, and
was desired to rendezvous every Sunday afternoon off Cape Maize. This was
Tuesday. In the meanwhile we sent a boat into a small bay to the westward
of the Cape to fill some small casks with water from a fall we saw from
the ship. Three hours afterwards she returned, not only with water but
also with three large pigs, which the master, who had direction of the
boat, had shot. At last Sunday arrived; we were off the Cape, but no
_Fancy_. The weather had been very squally, and we thought it probable she
might have got to leeward. The following morning we spoke an American brig
from St. Jago, who informed us that she had passed a Spanish schooner
laden with tobacco at anchor at the mouth of the river. We stood in, and
discovered the ship with the glass. In the evening I volunteered to cut
her out, and at dusk we started in a six-oared cutter. By eleven at night
I was within the mouth of the river and under the Moro Castle and another
large fort. Our oars being muffled prevented any noise. We pulled round
the entrance twice, but to no purpose, as the vessel had removed and we
could not discover her. Daylight was breaking as we cleared the shore,
when we saw a vessel which appeared like our ship standing towards us, but
were with reason alarmed at seeing three more. I immediately concluded
they were enemy’s privateers. My fears were soon confirmed by their
hoisting Spanish colours, and the nearest began firing at us. I had eight
men and a midshipman with me, and we all did our utmost to escape.
Unfortunately our ship was not in sight, and after a fatiguing and anxious
pull for three hours and having two of the boat’s crew wounded, I was, in
consequence of the nearest privateer being within pistol shot, obliged to
surrender. We were taken possession of by the _Gros Souris_, a Spanish
zebec with a long eighteen-pounder and seventy-five men. The other vessels
were a three-masted zebec with an English sloop which she had captured and
a schooner. Two hours afterwards we were all at anchor in the river, and
the next day proceeded to St. Jago, where I had, with the crew, the
felicity of being put into the gaol. In the afternoon I received my
parole, as also did the youngster who was with me. The American Consul,
Mr. B., very handsomely sent a person to conduct me to the American hotel.
This said tavern was kept by a Boston widow, who was really a good sort of
person. The _table d’hôte_ was very tolerable, and I had the honour of
being acquainted with some of the American skippers. Some were very
_outré_, coarse and vulgar, but two of them were agreeable and very civil.
The morning after my arrival the Governor sent for me. On being introduced
he requested me to take a seat, a cup of coffee and a cigar. The two
former I accepted, the latter I refused, at which he expressed some
surprise, as he imagined all Englishmen smoked. He then requested me to
relate through an American interpreter the manner in which I had been made
prisoner, if I had been treated well on board the privateer, or if any of
my clothes had been taken. I answered him very promptly to the last
question by informing him that I had nothing to lose, as I left the ship
only in the clothes I stood in. After a pause he sent for his secretary,
and desired him to write a note to the American Consul, who in a short
time after made his appearance. “Here,” said he, “is a British officer who
has been unfortunately taken by one of our vessels; as you speak his
language, tell him from me that I am very sorry for his accident, and that
I have requested you to let him have any money he may require, for which I
will be responsible.”

I made suitable acknowledgment for so noble and disinterested an offer. I
told him in my own language, for he understood it, and spoke it
imperfectly, that it was out of my power to thank him sufficiently for his
generosity to an enemy and a stranger. “The first, I am sure,” replied he,
“you are no longer; the last you are, and call forth my sympathy and
protection,” offering me his hand, which I took respectfully. “Now,”
continued he, “we understand each other, and I shall be happy to see you
without ceremony whenever you like to come.” Here he turned to the Consul,
and after some complimentary conversation, he said, “Take this officer
with you and treat him as a friend, for he has found one in me.”

We made our bows and withdrew. In our walk to his house I could not
forbear speaking of the great kindness the Governor had evinced towards
me. “I am not astonished at it,” said the Consul; “I do not think since he
has had the government of this place he has ever seen a lieutenant of your
Navy, and as he considers you an officer of rank, he is determined as an
act of policy to make the most of you. His character is that of the high
Spanish, and I may add Irish, school, for his grandfather was an Irishman,
and died ennobled and a general officer in their service. His name is

This conversation brought us to the Consul’s residence. “Walk in,” said
he, “and rest yourself.” After having conversed on the unprofitable
service and risk of boating, he asked me if my purse wanted replenishing.
I answered in the affirmative. He gave me what I required, for which I
gave him an order on my agent at Kingston. Before we parted, he invited me
to ride out and spend the evening, which I accepted. At three in the
afternoon we were on horseback. “Sailors,” remarked he to me, “are not
generally considered Nimrods. They ride too fast and sit too much over the
horse’s shoulders; but probably,” continued he, “you British sailors ride
much better than the Americans, for they certainly do not make much figure
on horseback.” “I frankly acknowledge,” said I, “that I am no horseman,
for the last time I was mounted was with a party of landsmen who had asked
me to dine at Rock Fort, but I blush to relate that when we had reached
the Parade at Kingston, my horse took fright at the black soldiers who
were exercising. I, finding I could not manage him, gave him the bridle,
when he ran into the ranks, knocked down one of the sergeants, and would
have knocked my brains out against the upper part of the stable door, if
fortunately a man had not been there, who threw up both his arms, which
stopped him from entering.”

“How did you proceed afterwards?” inquired he; “Did you lose your dinner?”
“No,” said I, laughing, “that would have been very hard on the rest of the
party, whose mouths were anxious to devour the fish ordered at the tavern.
I procured a more quiet horse, and we proceeded at a parson’s trot, and
did ample honour to our feast, for we were very hungry on our arrival.” In
our ride I found the country in this part of Cuba highly cultivated. Large
patches of sugar-canes, cocoa, orange and lime groves met my eye in every
direction, and in some places near lagoons or pieces of water rice was
cultivated. I also observed some plantations of tobacco. Three and four
times a week I rode out with the Consul, and found him and our excursions
very agreeable. He informed me he had been several times in England, and
was much pleased with his visits. “I found,” said he, “the men prompt and
regular in business, as well as hospitable; but,” added he, “the greater
part of your women have the minds of angels, and make the best wives in
the world. In saying this I only allude to the society I moved in—the
merchants of the higher classes. I much regret,” continued he, “that the
better sort of my countrymen have not the polish of yours. As long as they
give up all their time to dollar-making they cannot be anything more than
what they are.”

One morning at an early hour I was called to attend the Governor. On my
seeing him, he appeared agitated; he had a kind of despatch in his hand.

“I am sorry to say,” said he, “I have bad news for you. I have received
accounts from the coast that another of your boats has been taken. The
officer and three men have been shot, and five taken prisoners. I have
reprimanded my people severely for firing on them, as they were much
superior to yours in numbers. The officer who commanded our party assures
me he could not prevent it, as the natives near where your boat landed had
been plundered of most part of their live stock, and several of their pigs
were found shot near their huts.” By the description given I knew it to be
the master, who had before brought off pigs which he had shot. I told him
then he would, I feared, try once too often, at which he only laughed. I
made as many lame excuses for the conduct of those who ought to have known
better, as I thought prudent, and assured the Governor that the officer
must have exceeded his orders, as I was convinced the captain would be
very much grieved to hear that he had lost his life and the lives of
others on so worthless an occasion.

“No,” said he, “by what I can learn, his purpose was to procure water; had
he quietly restricted himself to that employment he would not have been
interrupted.” Here the interview ended; I withdrew, and went with my mind
disquieted to the tavern, where I met some of the Yankee captains, who
would have drawn me into a conversation on what had happened, but I was
determined to be silent, and retired to prose in my chamber.

On the second day after this sad event I received an invitation for myself
and Mr. S., the mid who was with me, to a ball given by the Governor.
About eight o’clock in the evening Mr. B., the American Consul, called for
us, and we repaired to the Government House, a large, square building in a
spacious yard. We entered an ante-room, where the guard were stationed,
and afterwards a lofty kind of hall, the walls of which were whitewashed,
and at the farthest end was an orchestra raised on a platform. About
eighty well-dressed people were assembled, the greater part of whom were
females; some of them were very pretty, and made my heart go pit-a-pat. I
saluted the Governor, who shook hands with me, and introduced me to a
lady, who, as he was a bachelor, presided for him, and whose fine auburn
hair was so long that she had it fastened with a graceful bow to her side,
otherwise it would have trailed on the ground. She was a native of
Guadeloupe, and married to a relation of the Governor’s. The ball was
opened by four sets of minuets, which were danced with much grace. I
figured off in one, but I fear, not gracefully. Country dances then began,
which were kept up for about two hours. Waltzes were then the order of the
ball, which continued until nearly daylight. I was heartily glad to reach
my room, and did not breakfast until a late hour. I was spending my time
very pleasantly, but not profitably. I was a prisoner, and that was
sufficient to embitter a mind naturally active. I began to get tired of
doing nothing, and longed to be free. I was shortly afterwards invited to
two more balls, but as they were much the same as the one I have
described, it is not worth while speaking of them, except that I lost my
heart to three young females, who, alas! were perfectly ignorant of the

On the day of the American Independence, Mr. B. invited me to his
dinner-party, where I met the Lord knows who. A number of toasts were
given replete with freedom and Republicanism, and guns were fired, and we
were all very merry, until a person near me, in hip-hip-hipping, hipped a
bumper of wine in his next neighbour’s face. This disturbed the harmony
for some minutes, when, on the friendly interference of the Consul, the
offended and the offender shook hands, and all went on prosperously until
midnight, at which hour we took leave of our kind host, some with their
eyes twinkling and others seeing double. A few mornings afterwards the
Governor asked me to breakfast at six o’clock. I found him taking his
coffee on the terrace of the house, where he had one of Dollond’s large
telescopes, the view from which was magnificent and rich; but before I had
been half an hour with him I found my eyes suffering from the great glare
of light owing to the terrace being white. This he remarked. “We will
descend,” said he, “and if you are fond of horses and mules, you shall see
my stud.” On the landing-place of the stairs we met a servant. “Go,” said
he to him, “and tell the grooms to bring all the mules into the yard. In
the meanwhile you and I will enter this room,” pointing to a door on the
right. “This,” said he, “is my retreat, and where I take my nap after
dinner.” I remarked it contained no bed, but a Spanish silk-grass hammock
hung low from the ceiling, over which was a mosquito net and a light
punkah within it. “Here,” said he, “I lose sight of the world and all its
absurdities for at least two hours every day by going quietly to rest, and
as it is the custom of the country, there is little fear of my being
disturbed.” The head groom came to announce that the mules were in the
yard. “Come,” said he, “let us go and look at them; they are considered
fine animals.” We were soon in their company, and I beheld eight beautiful
cream-coloured mules of considerable height. “These are my state mules,
and are seldom used. I have eight others for common work. Horses,”
continued he, “are seldom in request, but I have three, which you shall
see in the stable.” They were large-boned, with ugly heads and short
necks. “You do not admire them,” said he; “they are not very handsome.
They came from the Island of Curaçoa, and perhaps are rather of Dutch
build. I use them for the family carriage.” After expressing my
gratification which the sight of the beautiful mules had excited, and
thanking him for his condescension, I took my leave. A week after this
visit I was again sent for. “I have now good news for you,” said the
kind-hearted Governor. “Your ship is close in to the Moro, and has sent in
a flag of truce to request me to release you, and you are free from this
moment, and,” added he, “I will send every English prisoner with you, if
you will say that an equal number of Spaniards shall be returned on your
arrival at Jamaica.” This I did not hesitate to promise, as I was certain
the commander-in-chief would do it on a proper representation. I took
leave of this excellent man and the Consul with the warmest feelings of
respect and gratitude.

                               CHAPTER XII.

                            FIGHTING EPISODES.

     Returns to his ship—Capture of a French schooner—An episode with
    two American sloops of war—Return to Port Royal—Attacked a second
     time by yellow fever—Seize and burn a Spanish gunboat—Return to
     Port Royal—Wetting a midshipman’s commission—Ordered home with a
           convoy—Pathetic farewells with mulatto washerwomen.

On going on board a boat provided for the purpose, I found with much joy
the five men who had been taken when the unfortunate master lost his life,
my own boat’s crew, and seven other seamen. This addition was cheering.
Five hours later we were shaking hands with some of our mess and
shipmates, who appeared delighted to see us. The ship being close in with
the shore, we soon reached her, and received a hearty welcome from all on
board. I acquainted the captain with every circumstance respecting our
capture, and with the great kindness and liberality of the Governor and
American Consul, and that I had pledged my word of honour as an officer
that an equal number of officers and men should be exchanged for us. “For
your satisfaction, and I hope for his,” replied the captain, “a cartel is
on her passage with a superior Spanish officer and twenty men, for
immediately our liberal-minded commander-in-chief, Lord H. Seymour, heard,
by an American vessel, of our misfortunes, he ordered the cartel to be got
ready, and desired me to proceed, before we had half refitted, to St. Jago
to reclaim you, having written a handsome letter to acknowledge the humane
manner in which the Governor treated the English prisoners”—which letter
was given to the Spanish officer to present to him on his arrival. “Now,”
continued the captain, “have you heard anything of the _Fancy_? I am
afraid she is lost, with all on board her. The morning after you went
away,” resumed he, “we saw a vessel in the offing much resembling her. I
stood towards her, and found she was an American. The sea-breeze became so
strong that I could not fetch sufficiently to windward, and that accounts
for your not seeing us. I was truly unfortunate, and the cruise was
disastrous beyond credibility. You a prisoner, with a midshipman and nine
seamen, the master and three men killed, and five others taken, and the
second lieutenant, a midshipman and sixteen of the best seamen most likely
drowned—for I think beyond a doubt she has upset.” This conjecture was a
few days after unhappily confirmed by a Bermudian sloop, which informed us
that she had passed a small vessel, as we described her, bottom up near
the Island of Inagua. This intelligence threw a gloom over the whole of
us. “This is too tender a subject,” said I, “to have any more tenders.”
“No,” replied the captain; “all these unhappy circumstances combined are
most deplorable. I do not think I will ever send the boats away again.”
“Not till the next time,” thinks I to myself. We repaired to one of our
old cruising grounds, the Isle de Vâche, and although our noble captain
had some days before come to a kind of secondhand determination of not
sending boats away from the ship, on a large schooner heaving in sight
towards the evening, I volunteered with the purser, if he would allow us
the two cutters, as the wind had died away, to go after her. He, after a
brown study of about half an hour, granted our request. “But,” said he,
“be cautious, and if you find her heavily armed, try to decoy her off
shore, but by no means attempt boarding her. We have suffered too much
already.” Having prepared the boats, away we started, and after a most
fatiguing pull, came up with her as she was making for Jacmel. Fortunately
for us, the land-breeze was blowing rather fresh, which obliged her to
make several tacks, and we boarded her whilst in stays. The people on
board appeared astonished to see so many armed men so suddenly on her
deck, as she had in the obscure light taken us for fishing canoes. She
proved a French schooner, laden with bags of coffee. We soon rejoined the
ship, quite elated with our prize, and sent her to Jamaica in charge of
the purser. In the course of this cruise we fell in with two American
sloops of war, which we chased, and as they did not shorten sail nor
answer the private signal, we fired at the nearest; the shot passed
through her cutwater. This event roused the minds and, I presume, the
Yankee blood of both Jonathans, for they bore up, and we could hear their
drums beating to quarters. We shortened sail, and they soon bowled
alongside of us, with their sails spread like the tail of a turkey-cock.
“You have fired into me,” said the nearest. “Have I?” said our skipper,
very coolly; “I intended the shot to go ahead of you. You must blame your
superior sailing for the accident. You fore-reached so rapidly that the
shot had not time to go ahead of you.” “I don’t know anything about that,”
was the reply. “We are American cruisers, and no one has a right, I guess,
to fire into the United States men-of-war.” “Then the United States
men-of-war should have answered the private signal and hoisted their
colours,” returned our captain, “as we did ours.” Here they hailed each
other, and soon afterwards hoisted their colours. Another boat adventure
and the capture of a beautiful small schooner without any accident was the
wind up of this cruise.

We anchored at Port Royal once more. About a week after our arrival I was
again attacked with the yellow fever and removed to my lodgings, where I
was nursed with unremitting attention by a quadroon female, who did not
leave my bedside day or night. She was a most tender and attentive nurse.
It was a month before I was sufficiently strong to go on board, and nearly
another before I could resume my duty. I was so reduced that I was
literally a walking skeleton, or, if my reader pleases, the shadow of a
ghost, and, had a purser’s candle been placed within me, I might have made
a tolerably good substitute for the flag-ship’s top light. We were, in
consequence of several of the crew being seized with yellow fever, ordered
by the recommendation of the surgeon to Bluefields for change of air, and
I am happy to state that from this judicious arrangement we did not lose a
man. During the three weeks we remained here we amused ourselves by
fishing. The water in eight fathoms was as pellucid as glass, and we could
see the large conger eels twisting about between the stones at the bottom,
as well as other fish, of which we caught several. I was regaining my
strength rapidly, and was frequently invited to spend the day at several
of the estates.

I enjoyed walking of an evening about an hour before sunset in the pimento
groves, of which there were several, and when the land-breeze set in we
were often regaled on board the ship by their balmy fragrance. Mr. S., at
whose house I frequently dined, was particularly kind, and his hospitality
will not easily be effaced from my recollection. He had an amiable
daughter, and had my heart not been lost in six different places, I think
I should have sent it to cruise in her snug little boudoir. The captain,
as the people who were ill had nearly recovered, thought His Majesty’s
ship should no longer lie idle. We bade adieu to our kind friends, and
once more made the water fly before us. Three days more brought us off the
Havannah, where we joined the _Trent_ and _Alarm_ frigates. Nothing worth
noticing occurred until the _Trent_, which was in chase of a vessel, ran
on a coral reef off Matanzas. The wind was light and the sea smooth, and
we soon got her afloat again. The vessel she had chased ran on a sand
beach under the protection of a martello tower. Two boats armed were soon
in motion from each ship, to get her off if possible. I had the direction
of our boats. The enemy’s gun-boat, for such she was, under Spanish
colours, hoisted her ensign and the red flag of defiance, and kept up a
smart fire on our boats. Fortunately we escaped, but those from the
_Alarm_ had the lieutenant and three men wounded. Our boats were the first
alongside of her, when I hauled down the red flag and her colours, and
threw them into one of our boats, but the senior lieutenant claimed the
former. This I refused, because as I was first on board and hauled it down
I considered myself entitled to keep it. He said he should refer it to his
captain, who was the chief officer. “So be it,” I replied. On our boarding
the enemy’s vessel we found the crew had abandoned her, and were firing at
us with muskets from the bushes. They had scuttled her, and she was full
of water. We turned her guns on them, which soon dislodged them, and they
scampered off as fast as their legs would carry them. More than half of
our boat’s crews had landed and were under my orders. We soon perceived
about thirty horse soldiers in a full trot towards us. We formed in a body
two deep, and when we were near enough gave them a sailor’s salute with
our muskets and three cheers. We knocked one off his horse, and set the
others on a full gallop back from whence they came. They discharged their
carbines at us, but they were too much alarmed to take good aim, and we
escaped unharmed.

As it was impossible to get the gun-boat afloat, we tarred her sails and
set fire to her. We should have blown her up had not her powder been under
water. She mounted a long eighteen-pounder on a traverse, and six long
six-pounders on her quarter-deck. She was of great length and a formidable
vessel, and we much regretted our not being able to get her afloat, as she
would have answered for the Service. She had also four brass swivels
mounted on her gunwales, which we took in the boats. After waiting until
she had nearly burnt down to the water’s edge, we returned to our ships,
taking with us the wounded Spanish dragoon. Soon after we were on our oars
the martello tower began blazing away at us. It had hitherto been silent,
but we supposed that when the run-away dragoons perceived we were
withdrawing, they returned and mounted the tower to give us a parting
salute. They might have spared themselves the trouble, as it had only one
gun, and that badly served. We were on board our own ships before they
fired the fourth shot. “Well,” said the captain, on my reaching the
quarter-deck, “you were not able to get the vessel off.” “No,” I replied;
“she was scuttled, and sank before we boarded her.” “Were her guns brass
or iron?” “Iron,” said I, “and not worth bringing on board; there were
four brass one-pound swivels, but those were taken by the lieutenant of
the commodore’s boat, and he ungenerously claimed the red flag I had
hauled down, but I refused to give it up.” Whilst this conversation was
going on, a boat from the _Alarm_ came alongside with a midshipman and a
written order from the commodore for me to give up, no longer the flag of
defiance but that of dispute. “I think,” said the captain, “you had better
comply with the order.” On seeing my disinclination to do so, he said, “It
is not worth contending about.” “I believe, sir,” I replied, “you are
right. It is of too childish a nature to contend about, although I cannot
help considering it arbitrary, and I am surprised that a man like Captain
D. could ever give such an unjust order.” “There are many men of various
minds,” said he. There the disagreeable conversation ended. The mid
received the piece of red bunting, and I walked the deck as surly as a
bear with the Caledonian rash. The captain, who was going to dine with
Captain A., told me he would explain to him anything I wished respecting
what had occurred. This I declined, but I mentioned the swivels, and told
him that they were very handy to mount in the boats when going on service.
“I will ask him for two of them,” said he; “by doing this I probably may
get one. You know,” continued he, laughing, “he is from the Land of Cakes
and bannocks, where the device is ‘To hold fast and not let go.’”

In the evening the captain returned on board, bringing in the boat one of
the swivels. “I have laid a point to windward of the Highlander,” said he
to me; “but I was obliged to make use of all my best logic, for he chose
to be distressingly deaf on the subject of giving. But when I mentioned
that I had a canister of real Scotch which was of no use to me, as I had
left off taking snuff, his ears became instantly opened. ‘You said
something about two swivels, I think,’ said he; ‘I cannot spare you two,
but I will give you one. Will you take it in your boat with you, or I will
send it in our jolly boat, and as I am nearly out of snuff, you can spare
me the canister you mentioned that you do not need.’” “This puts me in
mind,” said I, “of an Irish pilot who asked the purser of a ship I
formerly belonged to, to spare him an empty barrel to make his pig a
hencoop, and he would give him a sack of praters for nothing at all, at
all.” “The case is nearly in point,” replied the captain; “I am afraid I
have not gained so much on his weather-beam as I first imagined.” The
signal was now made to weigh, and we were soon under sail. Next morning we
parted company with the frigates, swept the Bay of Mexico, ran through the
Turks’ Island passage, and cruised between Capes Maize and François for
three weeks; took a small French schooner with tobacco, and burnt a small
sloop in ballast. Again our anchor found the bottom of Port Royal, and the
crew their copper and jet-coloured ladies.

One afternoon, taking a glass of sangaree at the tavern, I was accosted by
one of our late mids who had come on shore with some others to what he
called wet his commission. “Will you do me the favour to join us for a
quarter of an hour. We have a room upstairs,” said he to me. I told him I
would in about five minutes. On entering, I found a gallon bowl filled
with strong punch, with his commission soaking in it, and eight jolly mids
sitting at the table in full glee. They all rose as I approached, and one
of them offered me a chair. “Come, sir,” said the donor of the
entertainment, offering me a bumper from the contents of the bowl, “tell
me if it will suit your taste.” “Not quite,” replied I, “you have spoilt
it by putting your commission into it instead of your pocket, and it
smacks too much of ink and parchment.” “I told you how it would be,” said
he, addressing a sly, roguish-looking youngster, who had persuaded him to
put it in. “I vote that he shall drink it himself, and we will have
another.” “Not on any account,” said I, “without you will allow me to pay
for it.” “That will never do,” cried all of them. Another of a smaller
size was ordered, out of which I drank his success. I remained nearly half
an hour, during which time the large bowl was drained to the last dregs in
spite of its parchment flavour, and the parchment was, what the mids
called, returned high and dry to the owner of it, with the writing on it
nearly effaced. I remarked they ought certainly to have a patent for
wetting commissions, and wished them a pleasant evening.

On returning on board I found a note for me from the captain, to acquaint
me that we were to sail in a few days for Black River, in order to collect
a homeward-bound convoy, as we were ordered to England. I withdrew my
heart from the different little snug rooms I had left it in, and placed it
on the right hook. I was so much elated that my dinner went from table
untouched. I kept conjuring up Paradises, Elysian fields, and a number of
other places never heard of, inhabited by women more beautiful than
Eastern imagery can possibly describe—so fair, so chaste, so lovely, and
so domestic. “Oh!” said I aloud, to the astonishment of my messmates, who
were much occupied with their knives and forks, “give me but one of those
fair ones, and I will not eat my dinner for a month.” “Hulloa!” said the
surgeon, “what’s the matter with you?” “Nothing,” replied I; “the illusion
is vanished, and I will take a glass of wine with you. I cannot eat, my
mind is too full of England, and my heart crowded with its delightful fair
ones. What unfeeling sea monsters you are all of you,” continued I, “to be
eating with such voracious appetites when you know we are going to
glorious England—the land of freedom and genuine hospitality.” “Not so
fast,” said he, interrupting me; “how long is it since you were there?”
“Nearly eight years,” said I. “I fear,” resumed he, “you will not have
your dreams—for dreams they are—verified. I was there eighteen months ago,
and found freedom in the mouths of the lower classes, who evidently did
not understand the meaning of it, and when they did they only used it as a
cloak to do mischief, for demagoguing—if you will allow the term—was the
order of the day at that time, and as for hospitality that has, as you may
express yourself, made sail and gone to cruise into some other climate. I
had letters to two families from their relations in India; they asked me
to dinner in a stiff, formal manner, and thought, I suppose, they had
performed wonders. There our acquaintance ended. I am an Irishman,”
continued he, “and I assert without partiality that there is more real
hospitality in my land of praters than in all Europe. Freedom we will not
talk about; but as for the women, dear creatures, they are a mixture of
roses and lilies, and such busts, like dairy maids, sure,” said he; “don’t
say anything more about them, or I shall be what has never happened to an
Irishman yet—out of spirits.” “Now,” said I, “doctor, we have found you
out. You lost your heart when in England, and were not requited by the
cruel fair one.” “Fair or foul,” answered he, “I would not give one
Munster girl for a dozen English. To be sure,” added he to a young Irish
midshipman, whose turn it was to dine in the gun-room, “they are rather
thick about the trotters, and their heels are to be compared to their red
potatoes, but the upper part of their figures—say no more. Come, messmate,
let’s drink a speedy passage and soon, as a worthy alderman did at a
Guildhall dinner.” “You mistake, doctor,” said the second lieutenant, “he
gave for a toast, a speedy peace and soon.” “Never mind,” said the doctor,
“it will be all the same a hundred years hence; an Irishman is always
allowed to speak twice.” Our parting with our washerwomen and other
friends was pathetic in the extreme; their precious tears were sufficient
to fill several (but as I did not measure them I cannot say how many)

“Oh, Gramercy, my lob!” said my lady to me, “I neber shall see you no
more; but I hope dat you member dat Julia lob you more den he can tell.
No,” said she, turning aside, “nobody can lob like poor me one, Julia.”
She appeared overwhelmed with grief, and I felt my situation awkward and
pathetically silly, as she had followed me down to the boat, and the eyes
of several boats’ crews with their young, laughing wicked mids, were on
us. I shook hands for the last time and jumped into the boat with a tear
rolling down my cheek from my starboard eye. Reader, I beg you will not
pity me, for I was not in love. I was what an old maiden cousin would have
called imprudent.

                              CHAPTER XIII.

                               HOME AGAIN.

    Ordered to the Black River—Meet the magistrate there, and “bow to
     his bishop”—Sail with a convoy of thirty ships—Arrive at Deal—A
     cruise on horseback on a baker’s nag, which conscientiously goes
    the bread round—The Author’s brother comes on board, but he fails
                  to recognise him—Paid off at Deptford.

At daylight next morning we catted the anchors, made all sail, and were
the next day reposing like a swan in a lake at Black River. As notices
from the merchants at Kingston had been sent to the different ports round
the island that two men-of-war were going to take convoy to England, we
were soon joined by several West Indiamen. This place can scarcely be
called even a village, there being so few houses, and those straggling.
The first time I went on shore I was called to by a stout man wearing a
linen jacket and trousers, with an immense broad-brimmed straw hat on his
head, and his address was abrupt and by no means polished. “What ship,”
said he, “officer?” “The _Volage_,” replied I, not in love with the
person’s face, which was bluish-red, with a large nose. “Then,” said he,
“you bloody dog, come and bow to my bishop,” pointing to the best house
there. I stared with astonishment, and was turning away presuming he was a
cloth in the wind or some madman escaped from his keeper. “Ho, ho! but you
can’t go before you have bowed to my bishop,” he again called out; “come
with me to my house, and we shall be better acquainted.” He took my arm; I
thought him a character, which I afterwards found he was, and gave in to
his whim. On entering the verandah of the house, which was shaded by close
Venetian blinds and very cool, he stopped before an immense large jug in
the shape of a bishop. It was placed on a bracket slab, so that to drink
out of the corner of its hat, which was its beak or spout, you were
obliged to stoop. This I found he called bowing to his bishop. It
contained delicious sangaree, and I bowed to it without being entreated to
do so a second time. “Now,” said he, “you bloody dog, you have complied
like a good fellow with my first request. Your captain dines with me
to-morrow; I must insist on your doing so too, and then I shall consider
you an obedient officer and worthy to bow to my bishop whenever you are
thirsty. My dinner-hour is five o’clock, and as I am the magistrate of
this overgrown metropolis I admit of no excuse.” I could not help smiling
at this rough urbanity. I accepted the invitation, and at the appointed
hour repaired to his house with the captain and surgeon. He received us
with great good humour, and insisted, as we were bloody dogs—I understood
afterwards he was very partial to naval officers and always called them by
that pet name—that we should bow to his bishop before dinner. We met at
his table our kind acquaintance Mr. S., his daughter, another gentleman,
his wife and two nieces, who were going to England in one of the ships of
the convoy. The dining-room was entirely of cedar, and the floor like a
mirror, very spacious, and it partly projected over the river. Above the
dining-table was a large punkah, which was kept in constant motion during
dinner by two young grinning black girls. The table groaned with good
things, and we did ample justice to our host’s entertainment. He was
evidently a great humourist, and amused us at dinner by relating anecdotes
of Lord Rodney and Admiral Benbow’s time. “There are,” said he, “twelve
tough old fellows, of which I am the chairman, who keep up the twelfth of
April by an annual dinner, and as he never flinched from the enemy, we
never flinch from the bottle, and keep it up till daylight, when we are so
gloriously sober that we are carried home by our slaves.” “Is it true,”
said he, addressing the captain, “that Sir Eyre Coote is to supersede the
Earl of B. as Governor of our Islands? Do you know anything of him?” “Only
from report,” was the reply; “I think he distinguished himself by a
brilliant victory over Hyder Ali in the East Indies.” “Why, the devil,”
said he, “I beg your pardon, ladies, for swearing, do they send us
soldiers as governors? We want something in the shape of a statesman with
a lawyer’s head, with his wig and litigation. I have no fault to find with
the earl; he has governed us very fairly, and I hope his successor will do
the same, although we prefer a civilian to a soldier.”

After dinner we were amused by the feats of one of his household slaves
named Paddy Whack, who threw somersaults round the drawing-room, walked on
his hands, and afterwards threw himself several times from the highest
part of the bridge, about twenty-four feet, into the river. After coffee
we took leave of our eccentric but warm-hearted host, who, on shaking
hands, insisted on our bloody dogships dining with him once more before we
sailed. We promised to do so conditionally. Eighteen sail of merchant
vessels had assembled, and we expected seven more. The surf had been high
on the bar, and we had not had communication with the shore for the last
two days. A canoe came off from Mr. C. with Paddy Whack, who delivered a
note to the captain. “What is it about, boy?” said he. “Paper peak,
massa,” was the reply; “Paddy only wait answer from Massa Captain.” The
note was a pressing invitation to dine on shore the following day, and
included the captain and officers. As I had dined with the worthy planter
I persuaded the second lieutenant to go. The rest of the convoy having
joined us, our sails were again swelling to a strong sea-breeze. The
convoy of thirty sail of sugar-laden ships were hovering round us like
chickens round the mother hen. Four others joined us at Bluefields, and
off Negril Point we fell in with the S. frigate, with the former Governor
of Jamaica on board and three other West Indiamen. The captain went on
board the S. to pay his respects and to receive his orders.

After his return on board the signal was made to make all sail, and away
we bowled for the Gulf of Florida. We touched at the Caymans for turtle,
and were cheated as usual. Nothing particular occurred during our passage
but our nearly being run down by one of the ships of the convoy, and my
having my left shoulder unshipped by being washed off one of the weather
guns by a heavy sea, which obliged me to keep my cot for more than a
fortnight. The eighth week brought us in sight of the Land’s End, when we
repeated the signal for the convoy to separate for their respective ports.
Those bound to London kept company with us as far as the Downs. I longed
to be once more on my native shore, but I was doomed to be mortified for
two days, as the surf on the beach was too high to admit a boat to land.
On the third day I jumped on shore with a light heart and a thin pair of
trousers, and repaired to the “Hoop and Griffin.” I had a desperate desire
to have a cruise on horseback. I rang the bell, which was answered by one
of the finest formed young women I ever beheld. I was taken aback, and my
heart, which I had brought from the West Indies, went like the handle of
the chain pumps up and down. “What do you please to want, sir,” said she,
with a most musically toned voice. I blushed and modestly requested to
have a horse as soon as he could be got ready. “I am really sorry, sir,”
answered she, “that all our horses are post-horses, but” continued she,
with the gentlest accent in this world and probably many more, “we will
procure you one.” “Many thanks,” said I; “and will you oblige me by
sending up some bread and butter with some oysters, but not those which
are gathered from the mangrove trees,” for I had the West Indies in my
mind. “Gathered from trees!—oysters from trees! I never heard of such a
thing before,” said she, and she went laughing out of the room. The waiter
soon appeared with what I had ordered, and a foaming tankard of ale which
I had forgotten to order. During my repast I envied no one. I was as happy
as a city alderman at a Lord Mayor’s feast; I could not contain myself or
believe I was in England; I could not sit quietly in my chair; I paced the
room, jumped, rubbed my hands and head, and in one of my ecstatic fits I
rang the bell. My beautiful maid (not Braham’s) entered as I was cutting a
caper extraordinary. “Did you ring, sir?” said she with a smile becoming
an angel. “I believe I did,” I replied, “but I am not certain. I scarcely
know what I am about. I have eaten my oysters, and now I wish for my
horse.” “He is not quite ready yet, sir. You said something about oysters
growing on trees, didn’t you, sir. I told it to my mother, and she thinks
I did not understand what you said. Will you be good enough to tell me if
they grow in orchards like our apples?” “I have seen thousands, and have
eaten thousands that have grown on trees,” said I, “but not in orchards.
The tree that bears them grows close to the water side; its lower branches
dip into it, and are clustered by the shell-fish, which are very small,
and you may swallow a dozen at a mouthful.” “Thank you, sir; my mother I
am sure will believe me now. I will desire John to take away. Did you like
our country oysters as well as those in foreign parts?” “They are,” said
I, “like you, excellent.” “I will see if the horse is ready,” said she, as
she dropped a curtsey and quitted the room.

Shortly after up came John to announce my horse being at the door. “Will
you have a pair of master’s spurs, sir?” said he. “No, I thank you, my
good fellow,” returned I. “Lend me a whip, and I shall be able to manage
without spurs.” Behold a sailor on horseback, gentle reader, to the
admiration or astonishment of all the bystanders, of which there were as
many as would man a king’s cutter. I kept under moderate sail until I
reached Middle Deal, when my companion brought up all standing at the door
of a decent-looking house, nor could I make him again break ground until a
maidservant opened the door. “Lord,” said she, “I thought it was the
baker, sir, for you are on his horse.” “That accounts,” I said, “for his
halting at your door. I wish, Betty, you would get him once more into
plain sailing.” She most kindly took hold of the bridle and led him into
the middle of the street. I now thought myself in the fair way, and I gave
him a stroke with the whip, which I nearly repented, for he kicked up with
his hind legs, and had not I seized the after part of the saddle I should
have gone over his forecastle. I held on until he righted. After this
freak, which was nearly knocking up my cruise, we jogged on steadily until
we came to a narrow street, down which he turned in spite of all my
endeavours to prevent him, and again hove to at the door of another house.

“This turning to windward,” thinks I, “will never do. It reminds me of
Commodore Trunnion making a Tom Coxe’s traverse to fetch the church.”
Whilst I was puzzling my wise noddle what I was to do next, a man passed
me. “I wish you would get this horse under weigh,” said I, “for here have
I been at single anchor for these five minutes at this door, and cannot
cast him the right way.” “Why,” said he, “I knows that there horse; it be
the baker’s.” “D——n the baker, and his horse too,” said I, not much
pleased at his remark. “You are close to the Canterbury road, and mayhap
if I leads him he may go on.” “You are the best fellow I have met for a
quarter of an hour. Do get him into open cruising ground as fast as you
can, for I have been on his back more than an hour, and have not gained
half a mile.” He gave me a broad grin, and good-naturedly led the horse
until I got clear of the houses. He then let go the bridle, gave the
animal a smart slap on the flank, which set him off at a hand-gallop, and
nearly jerked me over the taffrail. I kept him to his speed, and in about
half an hour he stopped suddenly near a small farmhouse, and I was again
nearly going over his bows. A slovenly kind of woman hove in sight. I
hailed her, and asked her to bring me a tumbler of milk, but I might as
well have spoken to a Porto Rico donkey. She showed me her stern, and
brought up in a piggery. “The devil take your hospitality,” said I. The
weather was exceedingly warm, and I was very thirsty, which made me more
hasty in my expressions to the Dulciana of the pigstye than I ought to
have been. But show me the fair one who would not excuse a sailor thirsty
and on the back of an animal as obstinate as a boat’s crew when cutting
out. After a fruitless attempt to proceed further on my voyage of
discovery, I hove about. The animal answered stays as well as any frigate,
and was round sooner than the captain of the forecastle could clap the jib
traveller over the end of the jib-boom. I was heartily tired of my horse
cruise, and was glad when I hove to at the “Hoop and Griffin.”

As soon as I had thrown myself on the sofa, my beautiful maid entered.
“Will you favour me with your name?” said I, addressing her with
quarter-deck modesty. “I am called Lucy,” said she. “That’s a very pretty
name,” returned I. “Pray, Miss Lucy, may I ask where the horse came from I
have been riding? I have had a worse cruise than a dismantled Dutch dogger
on the Goodwin Sands. I have, into the bargain, lost out of my
waistcoat-pocket two two-pound notes and five new gloves out of six which
I very stupidly stuffed into my coat-pocket.” “I am very sorry, sir,
indeed, for your misfortune,” answered she. “The horse came from the
‘Royal Oak.’ We desired them to send a quiet one, as it was for a
gentleman who was not in the habit of riding.” “I wish they had sent me a
donkey instead of the baker’s horse,” said I; “he took it into his head to
stop at his master’s customers’ houses, nor could I make him leave them
without assistance. No more cruising on horseback for me,” continued I.
“Pray do let me have plenty of oysters and bread and butter, with a
tankard of ale as smiling as yourself, as soon as the waiter can bring
them up, for I am very hungry.” “We have a nice cold chicken in the house
and some ham; shall I send them up too?” “That’s the stuff for trousers,”
answered I. “Let all be handed up in the turn of a handspike, and if I do
not do ample justice to the whole, you are not the prettiest girl I have
seen. I suppose it would be treason to ask you to partake of the good
things I have ordered?” “Oh, no, sir,” said she; “that is not the fashion
in our house, for me to sit down with a strange gentleman.” Saying this,
she left the room, and as I observed the smile which dimpled her blooming
cheeks had vanished, I began to think I had said too much. Whilst I was in
a blue study, up came chicken, ham, oysters, bread and butter, with the
ale. I drew to the table and began with a keen West-country appetite, and
for the first ten minutes forgot Lucy, baker’s horse, pound notes and
gloves, and almost that it was growing dark, and that we were to sail by
the next morning’s tide. Before I had finished moving my under jaw, which
had been in constant motion for the last twenty minutes, in came the
purser and one of the mids to report the boat being on shore. “You have
saved me from a surfeit,” exclaimed I. “Come,” said I to the youngster,
“sit down and finish the feast. As for you, Master Purser, I know you have
been faring well elsewhere, therefore I shall not ask you to take

Having paid the bill and shaken hands with Lucy, I jumped into the boat,
and was soon on board. On seating myself in the gun-room, “Now,
messmates,” said I, addressing the second lieutenant and surgeon, “you
commissioned me to buy you each a pair of gloves. I fulfilled it to the
letter, but I have left them on the Canterbury road.” I then related my
adventure, which elicited a hearty laugh. “Now,” added I, “we will have a
glass of grog, and drink to fair Lucy at the ‘Hoop and Griffin,’ for she
is a very pretty girl, and I have lost half my heart.” “If we do not sail
to-morrow,” replied they, “we will go on shore and see whether she
deserves the appellation you have given her.” “Do,” said I, “and give my
love to her.”

At daylight our signal was made to remain at anchor until further orders.
On sending the last boat on shore for the officers, I ordered the
midshipman who had charge of her to acquaint my messmates not to bring off
any strangers to dinner, as no boat would leave the ship after they
returned. About 3 P.M. the boat came on board, and, in contradiction to my
order, brought off a stranger. The second lieutenant was first up the
side, and the stranger followed. On his reaching the quarter-deck, he
introduced him to me as a person sent off by the admiral as a broker to
exchange English for foreign coin. He gave me his card, which I put into
my pocket without looking at it. I began by telling him he had come on
board at a very inconvenient time, and that, in consequence of the spring
tide, the boat would not leave the ship until the morning. “It is of
little consequence to me,” said he, very coolly; “I can remain where I am
until that time.” “Respecting the errand you have come on,” I resumed, “I
am afraid you will be disappointed, as two persons have already been
before you.” “How came you,” said I to the youngster who had charge of the
boat, “to disobey the order I gave you?” Before he could answer the
surgeon came up and whispered to me, “It is your brother.” I examined his
countenance more closely. He gave me one of his schoolboy grins and his
hand, and then I was convinced. We had not seen each other for nearly nine
years, and he had grown entirely out of my recollection. I did not give
him the fraternal hug, but I shook him affectionately by the hand and told
him I should not part with him until we reached Deptford, to which he
willingly consented. He acquainted me with all family concerns, and that
my mother was waiting in London, anxious to see me.

The following day we received on board eighteen French prisoners for the
prison-ships in the river. We wished them at Jericho, where the man fell
among those who used him worse than a Turk would have done. The same
afternoon we daylighted the anchor, mastheaded the sails, crested the
briny wave like a Yankee sea-serpent, and on the second day let go no fool
of a piece of crooked iron off dirty Deptford. As orders were received to
pay us off, we were fully occupied for nearly a week dismantling the ship
and returning stores, etc. On the second day I ran up to London and saw my
mother. She did not, luckily for both parties, shed a flood of tears, but
received me with maternal affection, though she said she scarcely knew
me—I was grown, as my sister was pleased to say, such a black man. On the
sixth day after our anchoring I ordered the ship to be put out of
commission, and the cook hauled down the pendant. We had a parting dinner
at the “Gun” Inn, shook hands and separated.

                               CHAPTER XIV.

                            A HOLIDAY ASHORE.

    On shore—Tired of inactivity—Apply for a ship—Appointed to H.M.S.
      _Minotaur_ (74)—Prisoners sent on board as part of crew—Go to
        Plymouth—Scarcity of seamen—Ruse to impress an Irish farm
      labourer—Ordered to join the Channel fleet off Ushant—Capture
    French thirty-six-gun ship—In danger off Ushant—Capture two small
    French ships and one Dutch one: author sent to Plymouth in charge
                   of the latter—Placed in quarantine.

After I had remained in noisy, bustling, crowded and disagreeable London a
month, my mother wishing to go into Surrey, I was glad of the opportunity
to accompany her and to breathe purer air, and left town without regret.

I was now under my own orders, and was much puzzled to find out how I was
to obey myself. For the last ten years I had been under the control of
superiors. Now I had the whole of my crew within myself, and discipline I
found was necessary. I knew no more of England than it knew of me. Men and
manners were equally strange to me, except those on board the different
men-of-war I had served in, and they were not the most polished. In the
society of the fair sex I was exceedingly shy, and my feelings were
sometimes painful when I had to run the gauntlet through rows of
well-dressed women, some looking as demure as a noddy at the masthead. I
was now in my twenty-third year, and an agreeable—nay, an old lady, whose
word was considered sacred—declared I was a charming young man. My life
passed as monotonously as that of a clock in an old maid’s sitting-room.
My habits were too active to remain long in this state of listlessness. I
was almost idle enough to make love, and nearly lost my heart seven times.
Caring little for the society of the men, I generally strolled over two or
three fields to read my books, or to scribble sonnets on a plough, for I
began to be sentimental and plaintive. Whilst meditating one morning in
bed, I started up with a determination to have an interview with Sir J.
Colpoys, who was one of the Lords of the Admiralty, and ask him in person
for employment, for I began to be apprehensive if I remained longer on
shore I should think a ship was something to eat, and the bobstay the
top-sail haulyards. Three weeks after my application I was appointed to
the _Minotaur_ of seventy-four guns lying at Blackstakes, and I found it
black enough, for she not having her masts stepped, we were all
obliged—that is the officers—to live at the “Tap” at Shurnasty, commonly
called Sheerness, where we spent thirteen out of six shillings a day, and
until the ship was ready to receive us, which was nearly a fortnight, we
drank elevation to the noble Secretary of the Admiralty, for, owing to his
ignorance, we had been obliged to spend seven shillings daily more than
our pay.

Two days after the ship was commissioned, and I had been carrying on the
war, for I was the senior lieutenant, the gallant captain made his
appearance. After touching his hat in return to my grand salaam, he said,
“Hulloa, how is this? I expected to find the ship masted. I will thank you
to desire the boatswain to turn the hands up to hear my commission read,
and quartermaster,” addressing a dockyard matey, “go down and tell all the
officers I am on board.”

“That is not a quartermaster,” said I to him, “he is one of the dockyard
men.” “Then where are the quartermasters?” “We have none,” replied I, “nor
have we a seaman on board except some one-legged and one-armed old
Greenwich pensioners that were sent on board yesterday.” At this
satisfactory intelligence he turned his eyes up like a crow in a
thunderstorm, and muttered, I fear, something in the shape of a prayer for
the whole Board of Admiralty. Whilst we were looking at each other not
knowing what to say next, a man came up the hatchway to report that one of
the Greenwich men had broken his leg. “Where is the surgeon?” said the
captain. “He has not yet joined,” replied I. “We must send him to the
dockyard for surgical aid. Man the boat, and you, Mr. Brown, take him on
shore,” said I. Mr. Brown made one of his best bows, and acquainted me
that it was the carpenter who was wanted and not the surgeon, as the man
had snapped his wooden leg in one of the holes of the grating, and the
carpenter’s mate was fishing it. After a pause of some minutes, “So,”
resumed the captain, “this is the manner King’s ships are to be fitted
out. Why, it will take us a month of Sundays before the lower masts are
rigged. What the devil did they send those old codgers with their wooden
legs here for? I will go immediately to the Admiral, and point out the
state we are in.” In the afternoon another lieutenant joined the ship,
junior to me. I began to think I should be the first, when on the
following day I was unshipped, for two others came on board by some years
my seniors. The captain also sent four young mids on board and the
Admiralty two oldsters, one of whom was a sprig of nobility. On the
morning of the fourth day we were masted, and a lighter came alongside
filled with riggers from London, and soon afterwards we received our
complement of marines, with a captain and two lieutenants. We were now
beginning to get animated and to make some show, when, as I was giving an
order to the boatswain, Mr. Brown, whom I ought to have introduced before
as the gunner, reported a barge coming alongside with prisoners. “That is
surely a mistake,” replied I; “I hope they do not take us for the prison
ship.” Bump she came, stern on. “Hulloa!” I called out; “do you wish to
try what the bends are made of?” Before I could say anything more, up came
and stood before me, cocked-up hat in hand, a consequential, dapper little
stout man dressed in black, with his hair in powder. “Please you, sir, I
have brought, by the order of the magistrates at Maidstone, fifteen men to
belong to your ship. They be all of them tolerable good men, except five,
who have been condemned to be transported, and two to be hung, but as they
be contrabanders like, the Government have sent down orders for ’em to be
sent on board your ship.” “I am sure,” said I, “I can in the name of His
Majesty’s officers offer many thanks to His Majesty’s Government for their
great consideration in sending men who deserve hanging to be made sailors
on board His Majesty’s ships.” He then, with a flourish, presented me a
paper with their names and the offences of which they had been guilty.
Nine of these honest, worthy members of society were stout, robust
fellows, and had only taken what did not belong to them. Two of the
remaining six had been condemned for putting brave citizens in bodily fear
on the King’s highway and borrowing their purses and watches. The other
four were smugglers bold, who wished to oblige their friends with a few
hundreds of yards of Brussels lace and gloves, as well as some tubs of
brandy, but were unfortunately interrupted in the exercise of their
profession by those useless sea-beach cruisers called the Coast Guard.
“Pray, sir,” said I, “to whom may I be obliged to for the safe conveyance
of these honest men?” “I be the under-sheriff’s officer, sir,” answered
he, “and I have had mighty hard work to bring them along.” “You deserve to
be rewarded, Mr. Deputy Sheriff” (for I like to give every man his title),
said I; “you would probably like to have a glass of grog.” “Why it’s
thirsty weather, and I shall be obliged to you, sir.” I called the
steward, desired he might have some refreshment, and he soon after quitted
the ship, admonishing the live cargo he brought on board, who were still
on the quarter-deck, to behave themselves like good men. A month had
expired by the time the top-gallant masts were on end. We had received all
our officers and two hundred men from Chatham and the river. At length,
Greenwich pensioners, riggers, and dockyard mateys took their departure,
to our great satisfaction, as it was impossible to bring the ship’s crew
into discipline whilst they were on board. Our complement, including the
officers, was six hundred and forty men. We had only three hundred and
twenty when orders came down for us to proceed to Plymouth. The captain
and first lieutenant looked very wise on this occasion, and were
apprehensive that if the ship slipped the bridles she would be like an
unruly horse, and run away with us, for there were only forty men on board
who knew how to go aloft except a few of the marines. The pilot made his
appearance, and soon afterwards down went the bridles, and we were fairly
adrift. We reached the Nore, and let go the anchors in a hail squall, and
it was with the greatest difficulty we got the top-sails furled. The
admiral, having proof positive that we were as helpless as a cow in a
jolly-boat, took compassion on us and sent fifty more men from the
flag-ship, most of them able seamen. On the fourth day after quitting the
Nore we anchored in Plymouth Sound.

I now had the delightful opportunity of once more breathing my native air,
viewing beautiful Mount Edgcumbe, revelling in clotted cream and potted
pilchards, tickling my palate—as Quin used to do—with John-dories, conger
eels, star-gazey and squab pies, cray-fish, and sometimes, but not very
often—for my purse was only half-flood in consequence of my expenses
whilst on shore at the “Tap” at Sheerness—I had a drive upon Dock. The
flag-ship in Hamoaze was the _Salvador del Mundo_, a three-decker taken
from the Spaniards in the memorable battle of the fourth of February. The
day after anchoring I was ordered by the captain to go with him on board
the _Sally-waiter-de-Modo_. I reflected a short time, and not knowing
there was such a ship on the Navy List, turned to the first lieutenant and
asked him if he had heard of such a man-of-war. “No,” said he, smiling,
“the captain chooses to call her so; he means the flag-ship.” On repairing
on board her, my commander said to me, “You help me to look at those
fellows’ phizes,” pointing to a number of men who were toeing the seam on
her quarter-deck. “I am to take thirty of them; they are queer-looking
chaps, and I do not much like the cut of their jib. But mind,” added he,
“don’t take any one that has not a large quid of tobacco in his cheek.”

I went up to the second man, who had a double allowance of Virginia or
some other weed in his gill, the captain following me. “Well, my man,”
said I, “how long have you been to sea?” “Four months,” was the reply.
“Why, you d——d rascal,” said our skipper—for observe, reader, he never
swore—“what the devil business have you with such a quantity of tobacco in
your mouth? I thought you were an old sailor.” “No, sir,” answered the
man, “my trade is a tailor, but I have chawed bacca from my infancy.”
“Question another,” was my order. I interrogated the next, who was a
short, slight, pale-faced man. “And pray,” said I, “what part of the play
have you been performing; were you ever at sea?” “No, sir,” said he; “I am
a hairdresser, and was pressed a week ago.” “D——n these fellows!” said my
captain; “they are all tailors, barbers, or grass-combers. I want seamen.”

“Then,” said Captain N., who was the flag-captain, and had just come on
board, “I much fear you will be disappointed. These are the only
disposable men, and it’s Hobson’s choice—those or none.”

“The admiral promised me some good seamen,” returned my skipper, rather
quickly. “Then I fear the admiral must find them,” was the answer, “as I
have not more than twenty seamen on board besides the petty officers. The
last were drafted a few days ago in the _Defiance_. Will you take any of
these men, Captain W.?” “What do you think,” said my captain to me; “shall
we take any of them?” “Suppose,” returned I, “we take twenty of them and
the tailor; they will all fit in in time.” I then picked out twenty of the
best, who were bad enough, as they were the worst set I ever saw grouped.
Their appearance and dress were wretched in the extreme. I reached the
ship before the hour of dinner with my live cargo. “What, more hard
bargains,” said the first lieutenant, “we have too many clodhoppers on
board already. The captain told me we were to have seamen.” “Captain N.,”
said I, “assured our noble captain that the _Defiance_ had taken all the
A.B.’s.” “D——n the _Defiance!_” replied he; “I _defy_ Captain N. or
anybody else to match those gentlemanly ragamuffins.” The master’s mates
were called, and they were given into their charge.

One of them, a tall, large-boned man, requested to remain on deck a little
longer as he had a palpitation of the heart. “What country man are you?”
said I. “Shure,” answered he, “I’m all the way from dear ould Ireland, and
I don’t think I shall be arter seeing the bogs again; but good luck to
her, wherever she goes!” “What did you do there?” said I. “Och,” said he,
“why do I give all this trouble and what business have I here? In Ireland,
plase your honour, I planted praters and tended cows. In the hay season I
came to England and was employed in stacking, when one day, as I was
taking a walk in a field near Lunnen, I fell in with four men who asked me
to join them as they were going to a public-house to have something to
drink. I thought this was very civil to a stranger. After taking the first
pot they told me they intended going in a boat on the river, and asked me
if I could pull an oar. ‘I’ll try,’ said I. ‘Well,’ said they, ‘on
Saturday, at five o’clock in the evening, be down at Wapping Stairs and
you will see a green painted boat with six men in her. I will be ready to
meet you,’ said one of the most good-natured, ‘and we will have a pleasant
trip.’ I little thought, your honour, that these spalpeens, saving your
presence, intended anything more than friendship. I was at the place
pointed out, and stepped into the boat. I took the second oar, but I
caught so many crabs that I was desired to sit in the stern. We pulled up
the river, which I thought very pleasant. In returning, the man who
steered said he had a message to deliver on board a dark-looking vessel we
were close to. We got alongside of her. ‘Won’t you go up, Pat?’ said he;
‘you never was on board so large a vessel; she is worth looking at.’ I
went up after him, when a man dressed in a blue coat with yellow buttons
came up to me and told me to go below. Saying this, he called to another,
who told me he would show me the way, which he soon did, and I was forced
into a dark place where I found seven more half-ragged, half-starved
looking animals. Two of them were countrymen. ‘Who have we here?’ said one
of them. ‘I am all the way from Ireland,’ said I, ‘and I have come to see
this ship.’ ‘The devil you have, my honey; and what do you come here for?’
‘Shure enough,’ replied I, ‘that’s true. I’ll go and see arter my frinds.’
At this they all laughed. I went to the door, but found a sodjer there
with a drawn sword. ‘What do you want?’ demanded he. ‘To go, and plase
you.’ ‘To-morrow, my lad,’ replied he; ‘to-night you stay where you are.’
‘Why, what a bother you are making, Pat,’ said one of my companions; ‘you
know you are going to serve the King.’ ‘And pray,’ said I, ‘who is the
King? I never saw or heard of him before. How can I serve him?’ ‘That’s a
good one,’ said the one who first spoke. ‘Where were you born and
baptized?’ ‘About the bogs of Ireland,’ replied I, ‘and I was baptized
over a bowl of buttermilk and praters by Father Murphy in a stable among a
parcel of cows.’ ‘You’ll do,’ said another; ‘have you any dibbs?’ ‘Yes,’
answered I, ‘I have got two shillings and fourpence.’ ‘That will do. Send
for a pot of the right sort, and we’ll drink a long life to Ireland.’ I
gave the one who spoke some money. We had our pot, drew ourselves up like
pigs in a trough, and went to sleep. Next morning at daylight we were put
on board a tender—not very tenderly, your honour, for I lost my waistcoat
and my money, and when I complained I was forced over the ship’s side.
They said the boat could not wait, as the tender was under weigh. We
arrived at Plymouth about a fortnight ago, and here I am, your honour.”
“Well,” said I, “if you behave yourself well and endeavour to do your
duty, you will be happy enough; and as I brought you on board, I will, if
you deserve it, keep sight of you, and in time you may become a good
seaman, and perhaps a petty officer.” “Long life to your honour! I’ll be
shure and take your advice.” And so he did, and in a few months after was
made captain of the waist.

We were now tolerably in order, and soon after joined the Channel fleet
off Ushant. The second day after leaving Plymouth Sound we fell in with
the _Franchise_, a large French frigate of thirty-six guns and three
hundred and forty men, who, after exchanging a few shot without doing us
any mischief, struck her colours. She was from St. Domingo, with General
F. on board, bound to Brest. Her second captain appeared a very delicate
young person, and during the four days he was on board he never slept in
the cot provided for him in the captain’s cabin, but always threw himself
down on the sofa in his clothes. We all conjectured that, as a son of Erin
might say, he was a woman, which idea after the prisoners left us, was
confirmed by the captain’s steward, who had been bribed to secrecy during
the passage to Plymouth. The lady was the daughter of the captain of the
captured frigate in disguise.

Having seen our prize into Hamoaze, and taken our officers and men out of
her, we left her in charge of the prize agent, and repaired to our station
off Ushant. We joined the fleet, consisting of thirteen sail of the line
and two frigates. We looked into Brest roads, and could discover only
eight sail of the enemy’s line of battle ships, with their top-gallant
yards crossed; nine others were coming forward. Four more sail of the line
having joined our fleet, we were directed to part company and cruise off
Vigo Bay. Soon after we fell in with the _Venerable_. Having the watch on
deck, the captain desired the signalman to hoist the dog-a-tory pendant
over the dinner signal. The man scratched his head and made wide eyes at
one of the midshipmen, requesting him to tell him what the captain meant.
“By Jove!” said the mid, “if you do not bear a hand and get the signal
ready, he will make you a dog-of-a-wig instead of a Tory.” Seeing the man
at a pause, I asked him if he had the signal ready. “Yes, sir,” replied
he; “I have the telegraph dinner flags ready, but I do not know what the
dog-a-tory pennant is; it must be in the boatswain’s store-room, for I
have never had charge of it.” I could not forbear laughing at the man’s
explanation. “What’s the signalman about?” inquired the captain; “why does
he not hoist the signal?” “He did not know where to find the pendant you
mentioned,” replied I. “I have told him you meant the interrogatory
pendant.” “To be sure; I said so as plain as I could speak. The fellow
must be stupid not to understand me,” continued our deeply-read skipper. A
worthier, better or braver seaman than our noble commander never had the
honour of commanding a King’s ship. His zeal and loyalty were
unimpeachable. To hear him read the Articles of War to us once a month
was, if not improving, most amusing. He dogrogated God’s honour with
emphasis, and accused the ministers of the Church of being lethargic. Some
of my messmates declared, although it was perfectly without intention on
his part, that the captain in the last expression was right, for although
the word was liturgy, he was justified in reading it lethargy. Respecting
the other word, “dogrogation,” they had all turned over the leaves of
Bailey’s ancient dictionary in vain; but they presumed the captain meant
to read “derogation,” as it respected God’s honour, and they considered it
as a _lapsus linguæ_. Two of the officers’ names were Bateman and
Slateman. For months after they had been on board our worthy captain did
not appear to know one from the other, and we were sometimes much
diverted, and they were much annoyed, by his sending for one when he meant
the other. Although our cruising ground appeared a profitable one, and we
were considered fortunate in being sent there, for six weeks we only made
prizes of hundreds of the finny tribe by trawling off Quimper and
L’Orient. This amusement, exercising guns, sails and lead, gave us full
employment, and kept us out of mischief.

For nearly two months we had only seen four of our cruisers, and a few of
the enemy’s small craft going along shore, and although we frequently
volunteered for boat service, our commander always closed his ears to our
requests. He was no friend to boating, he said; it very seldom turned out
successful, and it only answered, if it did at all, when courage was
doubtful. “And if you are not men of courage,” he used to add, “you are
not the men I took you for.” At length a cutter brought us orders to
rejoin the Channel fleet under Lord Gardner, as the French fleet had
increased to nineteen sail of the line, besides frigates. After joining,
we were stationed off the Black Rocks, with four other ships, to watch
Brest and the movements of the enemy’s fleet. At this time we were
seventeen sail of the line and three frigates, and were very sanguine that
the ships at Brest would favour us with their company, as they had been
practising their firing and sailing in Brest water. We strained our eyes
and imaginations in vain. There they stuck, as the seamen used to say,
like the _Merrydun_, of Dover, which took seven years in veering, and when
she did so the fly of her ensign swept two flocks of sheep off Beachy
Head, while her jib-boom knocked down the steeple of Calais church and
killed the sexton. Cruising on this Siberian ground was horribly
monotonous work. We sincerely wished the French fleet alongside of us, or
in a warmer place. On one dark night we were caught in a heavy gale from
the westward. We were under close-reefed main and foretop-sails and
mizzen. The ship was settling down on Ushant rapidly, and we expected to
strike every moment. The rebound of the water from the rocks caused the
spray to fly half-way over the decks from to leeward. A rock called La
Jument was on our lee bow. Luckily we saw the sea breaking over it. “Port
the helm!” called out one of the pilots, “or the ship’s lost. She must
bear the main-sail, captain,” added he, “or we shall not weather the
island, and she will strike in less than half an hour.” The main-sail was
cast loose, and after a severe contest, its unwilling tack and sheet were
belayed. The ship was literally buried in the foam, and I expected to see
the main-mast go by the board every instant. Orders had been given, in
case of such an event, to have all the axes ready. Providentially the wind
veered two points to the southward, which saved the ship and her crew. Had
she struck, she must instantly have gone to pieces. The rocks were so
perpendicular that in all probability the whole of us must have made food
for fishes. In a quarter of an hour we were clear of the island. Had we
been under sentence of death, and suddenly reprieved, the effect on our
minds could not have been greater. Long, anxious faces coiled themselves
up to half their length and became brighter. The captain, who had been
pacing the quarter-deck in quick time, brought himself up all standing,
and I could perceive his lips move, and, if I mistake not, he was offering
up a mental prayer of thankfulness for our hair-breadth escape. At
daylight the gale abated, when, on examining the masts, the maintop-mast
was found sprung in the cap. The following evening we captured two French
brigs from Martinique, laden with sugar and coffee, and the day after a
Dutch ship from Smyrna bound to Amsterdam, laden with silks and cotton, in
which I went as prize-master. On our arrival at Plymouth we were put into
quarantine. The boat which came out to us kept on her oars. I could not
forbear smiling when I requested our letters might be sent on shore by her
to see the great and certainly necessary precautions taken by these
cunning people. A long kind of sprit was held up, split at the end to
receive the letters. When in the boat, one man clipped them with a pair of
scissors, another fumigated them with brimstone, a third bedabbled them
with dirty vinegar and threw them into a leathern bag, taking care not to
touch them with his hands.

                               CHAPTER XV.

                          A LINE OF BATTLE SHIP.

          The ship arrives—Captain’s attempt to form a band—Sail
    again—Attacked by rheumatic fever and invalided ashore—Ordered to
         join H.M.S. _Tonnant_—Proceed to Mediterranean—At Oran:
                           experiences ashore.

The ship anchored at Cawsand Bay four days afterwards, when we joined her,
leaving the prizes in charge of the agent. I found her with the yellow
flag flying at the masthead. She had been put in quarantine on her
arrival, which we paid off with the foretop-sail, as we sailed the day
after for a six weeks’ cruise in the chops of the Channel. At the end of
that period we returned to our anchorage with another French brig laden
with Colonial produce. Our gallant and would-be musical captain consulted
us all respecting harmonious sounds, but, alas! we were weighed in the
musical balance and found wanting. This, however, did not discourage him.
Nine of the crew came forward with three of the marines, offering
themselves as candidates for the band. The captain, after having consulted
one of the sergeants of marines, who played the hautboy, whether anything
might be made of the men who had come forward as musicians, it was
determined _nem. con._ that a pease-barrel should be manufactured into a
big drum, that two ramrods should be metamorphosed into triangles, that
the two bassoons and the hautboy taken in the French frigate should be
brought into action without loss of time, that the marine and ship’s
fifer, with the marine drummer, should be drilled with the others, under
the direction of the sergeant, in the captain’s cabin twice a day, and a
horrible confusion of unmusical sounds they made for more than six weeks.
The skipper was in his glory, and everybody else amazed. Some of my
messmates prayed for them heartily, particularly the first lieutenant, who
thought the captain musically mad. The mids declared they never would be
respectable enough to be called a band, but would be bad enough to be
called a banditti, as they looked more like brigands than musicians.

We had nearly completed our water and stores, when I was ordered to the
dockyard with the launch for the remainder and two anchor-stocks. It was
blowing fresh, and in consequence I desired the leaves of the anchor-stock
to be triced up under the oars outside the boat, that in case of shipping
a sea we might be able, if necessary, to cut them away. The last leaf was
lowered down to the boat, when I felt a touch on my shoulder. I turned
quickly round, when my nose, which is not very short, came in rude contact
with a cocked hat, which it nearly knocked off the head of the wearer. It
was the admiral, who was in stature a King John’s man, four feet nothing.
I immediately pulled off my hat and apologised. “What are you doing, sir,”
said he to me, “with these anchor-stocks?” “Tricing them up outside the
boat, sir,” replied I. “Why do you not boat them?” I explained my reasons
for not doing so. After a short pause, he said, “You are perfectly right.
What ship do you belong to?” I informed him. He wished me good evening,
and I repaired on board. The morning after we sailed, and in three days we
joined the Channel fleet under Lord Gardner. For two long, lingering
months we had our patience exercised, jogging backwards and forwards like
a pig on a string. The _Prince_ was our leader, and the ship astern of us
the _Spartiate_. The former sailed like a haystack, the latter like a
witch, and the sailors declared she was built of stolen wood, as she
always sailed best at night. One squally night I was lieutenant of the
middle watch, when the _Prince_ split _her_ maintop-sail, and we were in
consequence obliged to show a light astern and shorten sail. The
_Spartiate_ shot up, and was nearly on board of us. The captain, hearing a
bustle, was soon on deck. “What are the fleet about?” asked he. “What is
the matter with that beastly _Prince_?” I informed him. “And what the
devil is the _Spartang_ doing on our weather quarter?”

“Why,” replied I, “if the _Prince_ and the _Spartiate_ could divide their
sailing, we should do very well; but we are very critically placed, being
constantly obliged to shorten sail for the former, for fear of pooping
her, and in so doing we are in our turn in danger of being pooped by the

“Have you showed a light to the _Spartang_?” demanded he, for he always
called her by that unheard-of name. I answered in the affirmative. “D——n
that _Prince_,” resumed he, “_she_ ought to be ordered out of the line.
When I go on board the admiral, I will report her.” The ships again fell
into their stations, and the captain took his in his cot. It was now the
depth of winter, and the weather very severe. I had caught cold which
confined me to my cot, and when we arrived at Plymouth I had a violent
rheumatic fever. I was carried on shore to sick quarters in blankets, and
before I was sufficiently recovered the ship sailed.

When I was strong enough I requested permission from the admiral to go to
London, which was granted. I had a run in the country for a few months,
for I soon got tired of noisy, smoky London. Soon after this I was
informed by the Admiralty that I was superseded in the last ship, and
ordered to Portsmouth to join the _Tonnant_, an eighty-four. A few days
after receiving my commission, I joined this glorious ship of ships. When
I took a perspective view of her gun-decks, I thought her an equal match
for any ship afloat, and so she certainly was, and nobly proved it
afterwards. Her gallant commander, Captain Troubridge, was from the
Emerald Isle; had a slight touch of the brogue, and was replete with
anecdote; he was good-humoured and a gentleman, and he never punished a
man unless he richly deserved it. My messmates were all young men, and
generally speaking well informed, with the exception of the master, who
was a countryman of mine, and desperately fond of doggerel verse as well
as cray-fish and conger eels.

We were again destined to make one of the Channel fleet, when to our great
joy, after tacking and half-tacking for six weeks, we were ordered with
some more ships of the line under Admiral Collingwood to proceed off Cadiz
to watch the motions of the Spanish and French fleets, after the scratch
they had with our fleet under Sir R. F. Calder. We occasionally ran into
Gibraltar for refreshments and stores. On one of these occasions the
Port-Admiral took it into his head to hoist his flag on board of one of
the active ships, and ordered us with two others to make sail out of the
harbour. As we were not acquainted with his object, we presumed he wanted
to purify his constitution by a strong sea-breeze; if so, he was
disappointed, as it fell calm two hours after we cleared Europa Point, and
during the night we were under the shells and shot of Ceuta, which
fortunately fell harmless. The day after we reached our former anchorage
at Gibraltar, where we found Sir Richard Bickerton, who took us under his
orders to cruise off Carthagena, where three Spanish line of battle ships
were lying ready for sea.

On our way thither we anchored in Oran roads to procure bullocks for the
squadron. As soon as the sails were furled a Turkish officer, dressed
something like that figure of fun called Punch, came on board us, as we
were the nearest ship, to inquire if the fort saluted us what number of
guns would be fired in return. We referred him to the flag-ship; he took
his departure with his interpreter who spoke broken English. About 1 P.M.,
whack came a large shot from the fort nearly into the bow, and presently
several more. At first, as shot were fired so close to us, we could not
exactly tell what was intended until the nineteenth shot was fired, when
the battery was silent. The flag-ship returned seventeen guns. On inquiry
we found that these barbarians always salute with shot, and endeavour to
send them as near you as possible by way of compliment.

About 3 P.M. three principal Turkish officers came on board, the youngest
of whom was the commander or governor of the town. The purser, who had
been eyeing him with a wicked look, said to us, “I’ll make that fellow
drunk before he leaves the ship.” He had expressed a wish to see the ship,
and I offered to take him round the decks. In the meanwhile the purser
went to his cabin, mixed some strong punch, and made some sherbet. “Now,”
said he to me, “when you show him the cockpit, hand him into my cabin.”
The Pacha admired the ship and the guns, and said it was the largest
vessel he had seen. He spoke a little broken English. At length we came to
the purser’s cabin which was neatly fitted up and well lighted. The Turk
was requested to repose himself on the sofa, and to take some sherbet.
“First of all,” whispered the purser to me, “we will try him with the
punch.” A glass was accordingly handed to him, and we filled others for
ourselves. It went down his throat like mother’s milk. He declared it was
the best sherbet he had ever drunk, and asked for another glass of it.
Down that went without a pause. “He’ll do,” whispered the purser, “he is a
true Mussulman; he prefers stiff punch to cobbler’s punch.” A tureen was
now filled with yet stronger punch, of which he took three more tumblers,
and down he fell. He was laid on the sofa until his friends were ready to
leave the ship. When they came from the captain’s cabin, where they had
been taking refreshments, they inquired for the sub-governor. After some
delay and more difficulty he made his appearance. His turban had fallen
off, and his countenance was ghastly. He was so helpless that he was
obliged to be lowered into the boat, to the astonishment and terror of all
those who had brought him off, and to the amusement of all our officers
and crew.

The following morning I received orders to go on shore with three boats,
each containing two barrels of powder and a half barrel of musket balls as
a present to the Bey. On our arrival alongside a kind of quay, hewn out of
the solid rock, a number of Moors rushed into the boats and seized on the
ammunition. I desired the boats’ crews to take the stretchers and give
them some gentle raps on their petit toes, which made them soon jump back
again. I then ordered the boats to lie on their oars, and seeing a person
who looked something in the shape of an Irishman, I asked him if he would
go to the English Consul and inform him that I should not land anything
until he made his appearance. “Shure,” said he, “I am the Consul’s
secretary; won’t that do, so please ye?” “No,” replied I, “nothing less
than the Consul.” “He has not finished his dinner yet, sir,” was the
answer. “Now,” said I, “Mr. Consul’s secretary, if you do not immediately
go to the Consul and acquaint him that I am waiting for him, I will go on
board, and you will all be hanged by the sentence of a court-martial.”
“Oh, sir, I shall be there in no time at all. Do not leave the harbour
until you see me again.” “Run,” returned I, “for your life depends on your
expedition.” The poor man, I believe, was as frightened as he appeared

In about seven minutes down came a tall, large-boned Yankee-kind-of-person
with the before-mentioned secretary. “Will you, if you plaise, permit the
boats to come on shore, sir,” he called out; “I am His Majesty’s Consul.”
We again got alongside the jetty. “Now, Mr. Consul,” said I—“My name is
Murphy, sir, if it’s not bad manners.” “Well, Mr. Murphy, if any of those
barbarians dare come into the boats, they will be thrown overboard. Our
men will put the barrels on the rocks, and they may take them, but you
will give me a receipt for them.” “Shure that I’ll do for you, sir, in a
few minutes. Will you favour me with your company to my house?” “By no
means; my orders are not to set a foot on shore. But if you will purchase
for me half a dozen of small bottles of otto of roses I will thank you. I
cannot remain,” added I, “more than a quarter of an hour longer.” Whilst
we were waiting for His Majesty’s Consul, who, I need not hint, was an
Irishman, an animal made its appearance which the boat’s crew declared was
a woman. It was clad in a coarse, light brown wrapping gown almost in the
shape of a sack with the mouth downwards, with two small holes in the
upper part for the eyes. As soon as it came near the boats it was driven
away by the Moors. At length Mr. Murphy made his appearance with the
requisite piece of paper and eight bottles of otto of roses, for which he
did not forget to ask a good price. He informed me that bullocks would be
sent off to the squadron next morning. We repaired on board, when my
captain asked me if the Bey had sent me a sabre. “No,” replied I, “I have
received nothing.” “Then,” said he, “he is worse than a Turk; he ought to
have given you one.”

The day after we received twelve bullocks not much larger in size than an
English calf, and I, with one of my messmates, went on shore outside the
town. The soil we found very sandy. I took out my sketch book, and had
drawn the outline of the batteries, when an armed Arab rode up to us at
full gallop on a beautiful, small, dark chestnut horse. My messmate wore a
highly polished steel-hilted hanger, the brightness of which, as it
glittered in the sun’s rays, attracted the Arab’s attention. He spoke
broken English, and asked to look at it. “Yes,” said my companion, “if you
will let me look at yours.” He took it from his side without hesitation
and presented it to him. The Arab admired the workmanship of the English
sword, and then examined the blade. We had inspected his, and found it
fine Damascus steel. “Will you exchange,” said my messmate. He made a most
contemptuous grimace at the question. “I tell you what,” said he, “English
very good for handle, but Arab better for blade.” He then put spurs to his
horse and galloped away, chuckling the whole time.

As we had not permission to enter the gates of the town we amused
ourselves by examining the houses outside, which were low and whitewashed.
The windows were few, small and high, and some of these mean,
wretched-looking hovels were surrounded by a mud and sand wall. We saw
only Moors and a few Arabs. The country higher up appeared green and
fresh, although much rock and sand abounded. The harbour, or rather bay,
is small, and its depth of water from two to five fathoms. The principal
battery is built on a solid tongue of rock which curves outward and forms
a kind of harbour. I remarked the Spanish arms on the centre of it, and on
inquiry I found it had been placed there by Charles the Fifth when he
landed and took possession of the town.

On the morning of the third day we were under sail for Carthagena. On
nearing the harbour, which is strongly fortified by an island at its
mouth, we discovered two Spanish ships of the line at anchor, but so close
under the island that it was impossible to make any impression on them.
The next day they removed into the harbour and struck their top-masts. We
cruised between Capes di Gata and Palos for a fortnight, occasionally
looking into Carthagena to see if the Spaniards would take the hint.
Finding all our wishes and hints fruitless, we left a frigate and a brig
sloop to watch their motions and shaped our course for Gibraltar. Near the
small island of Alberaw we fell in with two frigates convoying twenty sail
of levanters, the commodore of which called me brother-in-law. As the wind
was light I had permission to spend the day on board his frigate, where I
partook of an Italian dinner, more shadow than substance, and after coffee
I repaired on board my own ship, where I ordered something substantial to
eat, as the Italian dinner had provoked a good appetite. We anchored at
old Gib four days afterwards, and were ordered to refit with all
expedition and join once more Admiral Collingwood off Cadiz, where the
French and Spanish fleets still remained and were apparently ready for

                               CHAPTER XVI.

                           BATTLE OF TRAFALGAR.

         Join Lord Nelson’s squadron—Battle of Trafalgar—Author’s
       experiences—Occurrences during action—Severity of operations
          before the use of anæsthetics—The _Tonnant’s_ casualty
    list—Proceed to Gibraltar—A truce with Spain during horse races on
                          neutral ground there.

In a week’s time we formed one of the squadron, and shortly after were
joined by fourteen sail of the line under Lord Nelson. The salutation was
heartfelt and most gratifying. The dispositions of the fleet were soon
made, and as they were as simple as possible, there could be no mistake. A
cordon of frigates were ordered to repeat signals to us from the one
nearest the shore, whilst we kept nearly out of sight of the land, and all
our ships’ sides were ordered to be painted yellow with black streaks, and
the masts yellow.

We now mustered twenty-seven sail of the line, four frigates, and a
schooner, and were waiting impatiently for the joyful signal from the
frigates that the enemy were coming out of harbour. On the afternoon of
the 20th of October, 1805, our longing eyes were blessed with the signal.
We cleared for quarters and were in high spirits. At daylight we had the
felicity to see them from the deck, and counted thirty-three sail of the
line and three large frigates. They extended in line ahead.

[Illustration: THE BATTLE OF TRAFALGAR.   [_C. Stansfield, R.A., Pinxit._]

We answered with alacrity the signal to make all sail for the enemy,
preserving our order of sailing. The sails appeared to know their places
and were spread like magic. The wind was very light, and it was nearly
noon before we closed with the enemy. We remarked they had formed their
ships alternately French and Spanish. All our ships that had bands were
playing “Rule Britannia,” “Downfall of Paris,” etc. Our own struck up
“Britons, strike home.” We were so slow in moving through the water in
consequence of the lightness of the wind that some of the enemy’s ships
gave us a royal salute before we could break their line, and we lost two
of the band and had nine wounded before we opened our fire. The telegraph
signal was flying from the masthead of the _Victory_, “England expects
every man to do his duty.” It was answered with three hearty cheers from
each ship, which must have shaken the nerve of the enemy. We were saved
the trouble of taking in our studding-sails, as our opponents had the
civility to effect it by shot before we got into their line. At length we
had the honour of nestling His Majesty’s ship between a French and a
Spanish seventy-four, and so close that a biscuit might have been thrown
on the decks of either of them. Our guns were all double-shotted. The
order was given to fire; being so close every shot was poured into their
hulls, down came the Frenchman’s mizzen-mast, and after our second
broadside the Spaniard’s fore and cross-jack yards. A Spanish three-decker
now crossed our bows and gave us a raking broadside which knocked away the
fore and main top-masts, the main and fore-yards with the jib-boom and
sprit-sail yard, part of the head, and killed and wounded twenty-two of
the men. One midshipman was cut literally in half. This was the more
provoking as we could not return her the compliment, having full
employment with those we first engaged.

We were in this situation about half-an-hour, when the Spaniard called out
he had struck, but before we could take possession of him, a French ship
of eighty guns with an admiral’s flag came up, and poured a raking
broadside into our stern which killed and wounded forty petty officers and
men, nearly cut the rudder in two, and shattered the whole of the stern
with the quarter galleries. She then in the most gallant manner locked her
bowsprit in our starboard main shrouds, and attempted to board us with the
greater part of her officers and ship’s company. She had rifle-men in her
tops who did great execution. Our poop was soon cleared, and our gallant
captain shot through the left thigh and obliged to be carried below.
During this time we were not idle. We gave it to her most gloriously with
the starboard lower and main-deckers, and turned the forecastle guns
loaded with grape on the gentleman who wished to give us a fraternal hug.
The marines kept up a warm and destructive fire on the boarders. Only one
man made good his footing on our quarter-deck, when he was pinned through
the calf of his right leg by one of the crew with his half-pike, whilst
another was going to cut him down, which I prevented, and desired him to
be taken to the cockpit. At this period the _Bellerophon_, seeing our
critical position, gallantly steered between us and our first French
antagonist and sheeted her home until she struck her colours. Our severe
contest with the French admiral lasted more than half-an-hour, our sides
grinding so much against each other that we were obliged to fire the lower
deck guns without running them out.

At length both ships caught fire before the chest-trees, and our firemen,
with all the coolness and courage so inherent in British seamen, got the
engine and played on both ships, and finally extinguished the flames,
although two of them were severely wounded in doing so. At length we had
the satisfaction of seeing her three lower masts go by the board, ripping
the partners up in their fall, as they had been shot through below the
deck, and carrying with them all their sharp-shooters to look sharper in
the next world, for as all our boats were shot through we could not save
one of them in this. The crew were then ordered with the second lieutenant
to board her. They cheered and in a short time carried her. They found the
gallant French Admiral Magon killed at the foot of the poop ladder, the
captain dangerously wounded. Out of eight lieutenants five were killed,
with three hundred petty officers and seamen, and about one hundred
wounded. We left the second lieutenant and sixty men in charge of her, and
took some of the prisoners on board when she swung clear of us. We had
pummelled her so handsomely that fourteen of her lower deck guns were
dismounted, and her larboard bow exhibited a mass of splinters.

After she cleared us another Spanish three-decker drifted nearly on board
of us. We received her fire, which shot away the gaff. We returned her
salute with interest, and her foremast went about four feet above her
deck. We cheered and gave her another broadside, and down came her
colours. We manned the jolly boat—the only boat that we thought would
float—to take possession of her, but she had not proceeded more than a few
yards when down she went, leaving the fourth lieutenant and her crew
paddling like sea nondescripts. Having no boat that would float, four of
the seamen jumped overboard to rescue those who could not swim, and they
all regained the ship. Mr. C., the lieutenant, was nearly drowned, and had
it not been for a black man, who took him on his back, he must have sunk.
(This man he never lost sight of and left him a handsome legacy when he
died.) We were drifting like a pig upon a grating, and as helpless as a
sucking shrimp, when the signal was made to repair damages. We soon cut
away all that was useless, and in twenty minutes we were under topsails as
courses, and top-gallant-sails as topsails.

The carpenters had cobbled up one of the cutters, in which I was sent on
board the _Royal Sovereign_ to report our condition and to request the
assistance of one of the fleet to tow us, as in consequence of our rudder
being so much shattered by shot it was rendered unserviceable. The
_Defiance_ was ordered to take us in tow; we shortly afterwards made the
signal, that we were able to renew the action. The enemy’s fleet were
making for Cadiz. Nineteen sail of their line of battleships had
surrendered, and one, the _Achille_, had blown up. The explosion she made
was sublime and awful; a number of her crew were saved by the _Pickle_
schooner. The wind still continued light, and the signal was flying to
renew the attack. In about twenty minutes we were again in the rear of the
enemy, who appeared to have had enough of it, as they had neared Cadiz,
and all the prizes except four seventy-fours were making for the harbour.
This was owing to their having so few of our men on board them, and to our
not being able, in consequence of the loss of boats, to take out the
prisoners. We gave them some parting salutes. There were so many of us in
a crippled state it was thought prudent to haul to the westward, as the
swell was throwing us towards the shore, and the sky had all the tokens of
a gale of wind from the west-south-west. The signal was out to prepare to
anchor if necessary. The _Royal Sovereign_, which had only her foremast
standing, with four other ships of our fleet, had already anchored.

The _Santissima Trinidada_, one of the Spanish prizes, went down in
consequence of having received so many shot between wind and water. Her
crew were taken out by our frigates and she was scuttled. She was the
largest ship and had four regular tiers of guns, mounting in the whole one
hundred and thirty-six. About 7 P.M. the wind began to freshen from the
westward. The signal was made from the _Royal Sovereign_ for all those
ships that could carry sail to proceed to Gibraltar. About 9 P.M. the wind
increased to a heavy gale, and the ship which towed us was obliged to cast
us off. We fortunately had been able to fix the quarter tackles to the
ring-bolts of the rudder before the gale came on. The night was passed in
much painful anxiety, and we expected every time we wore to strike on the
rocks of Cape Trafalgar. Providentially the wind drew more round to the
north-east, and at daylight we weathered the Cape and about noon anchored
at Gibraltar. We found the four prizes with several of our fleet lying
there, and we were congratulated most cordially on our having escaped a
lee shore, as they had given us up as lost.

I must retrograde a little here and relate a few occurrences which took
place during the action, and of which I was an eye-witness. We had hoisted
our colours before the action in four different places, at the
ensign-staff, peak, and in the fore and main top-mast shrouds, that if one
was shot away the others might be flying. A number of our fleet had done
the same, and several of the enemy followed our example. The French
admiral’s ship who so gallantly attempted to board us had his flag hoisted
in three places. One of our men, Fitzgerald, ran up his rigging and cut
away one of them and placed it round his waist, and had nearly, after this
daring exploit, reached his ship, when a rifleman shot him and he fell
between the two ships and was no more seen. The principal signalman, whose
name was White, and a captain of one of the guns on the poop, had his
right great toe nearly severed from his foot. He deliberately took his
knife and cut it away. He was desired to go below to the doctor. “No,
sir,” was his reply; “I am not the fellow to go below for such a scratch
as that. I wish to give the beggars,” meaning the enemy, “a few more hard
pills before I have done with them.” Saying this, he bound his foot up in
his neck-handkerchief and served out double allowance until his carronade
was dismounted by the carriage of it being shattered to pieces. He then
hopped to another gun, where he amused himself at the Frenchman’s expense
until the action ceased.

We had fought on nearly empty stomachs. At the time we began the action it
was dinner time, _i.e._ twelve o’clock; a small proportion of cheese had
been given out and half allowance of grog. During the latter part of the
action the captain, who was lying on a cot in the purser’s cabin, sent for
me. On entering the cockpit I found fourteen men waiting amputation of
either an arm or a leg. A marine who had sailed with me in a former ship
was standing up as I passed, with his left arm hanging down. “What’s the
matter, Conelly?” said I to him. “Not much,” replied he; “I am only winged
above my elbow, and I am waiting my turn to be lopped.” His arm was
dreadfully broken by a grape-shot. I regret to mention that out of sixteen
amputations only two survived. This was in consequence of the motion of
the ship during the gale. Their stumps broke out afresh, and it was
impossible to stop the hæmorrhage. One of them, whose name was Smith,
after his leg was taken off, hearing the cheering on deck in consequence
of another of the enemy striking her colours, cheered also. The exertion
he made burst the vessels, and before they could be again taken up he

When I was sent on board Admiral Collingwood’s ship during the action I
observed a great anxiety in the officers’ faces. It immediately occurred
to me that Lord Nelson had fallen, and I put the question to one of the
lieutenants, who told me he was mortally wounded and that he could not
live long. Thus gloriously fell in the arms, and on the deck, of
_Victory_, as brave, as intrepid, and as great a hero as ever existed, a
seaman’s friend and the father of the fleet. The love of his country was
engraven on his heart. He was most zealous for her honour and welfare, and
his discernment was clear and decisive. His death was deservedly and
deeply felt by every man in the fleet. I must not omit that when the
Commander of the French fleet, Admiral Villeneuve, was brought alongside
us instead of the _Victory_, he was informed it was not Nelson’s ship. “My
God,” said he, “you are all Nelsons!”(5)

On mustering our ship’s company after we were tolerably in order, we found
we had twenty-six killed and fifty-eight wounded, the captain included,
who, as soon as we arrived, went on shore. We sent our wounded men to the
hospital, and began to refit. Our rudder was unshipped, or rather the
wreck of it, to be spliced. On the fourth morning, at daylight, during a
fog, we were not a little astonished at finding ourselves bombarded, and
the shells and shot flying fast and thick amongst us. We had taken the
precaution of keeping our guns towards the enemy shotted, but fortunately
for us and for those people who were amusing themselves in the enemy’s
gun-boats, the fog was so dense that we neither could see them or they us.
However, we fired as nearly as we could judge in the direction from whence
their shells came, and I presume we must have done some execution among
them. After our second broadside all was silent. We had only a few ropes
shot away and one man wounded. The shells fell either short or over us on
shore, where they did no injury. The shot were the most destructive. After
this freak, which might have proved serious, we had additional guard boats
during night.

The Governor, General Fox, sent an invitation to all the officers of the
fleet requesting their company to a ball at the Government House. I
understood it was well attended, and the ladies very amiable. I, having
received a wound in the left hand, which was painful, did not attend.
Before we sailed we had several dinner-parties and made excursions to St.
George’s and other caves. One afternoon I had been rambling with another
brother officer over the Rock, when, as we reached the O’Hara Tower, we
were overtaken by a thunder-storm. As we stood in the tower, which, as
Paddy would say, is no tower at all, we saw the thunder-clouds descend
under us, and could distinctly see the lightning. It was to us a novel and
awful scene. We soon removed from our position, as the small building
under which we had taken shelter had been formerly struck by lightning,
and we began to be apprehensive of its second visit. In descending we
started two large baboons, who appeared as much surprised as we were. We
soon lost sight of them among the rocks. It is strictly forbidden to use
fire-arms or to destroy anything on the Rock. We also saw a few red-legged
partridges, which were not very shy, and some large lizards.

The officers of the garrison gave a horse race on neutral ground, and
invited the Governor of St. Roch with his staff. He came with a numerous
retinue. Flags of truce were stuck up beyond the Gibraltar limits, and we
were at liberty to go nearly as far as the nearest Spanish fort. It was a
singular coincidence to see us shaking hands and offering cigars to men
whose duty it was an hour before to shoot us. Everything went off very
pleasantly except with the poor, distressed horses, who had to run over
deep sand. After the Spanish Governor and his officers had partaken of a
plentiful collation under a large marquee, they took their departure, and
we gave them three cheers. We at length received our rudder from the hands
of the dockyard mateys. They had made a good job of it, and it answered

                              CHAPTER XVII.

                                OFF BREST.

    Return under jury-masts to England—Arrive at Spithead—The admiral,
          the middy, and the dirk—Join H.M.S. _Diamond_ as first
    lieutenant—Attached to Lord St. Vincent’s fleet off Brest—A change
          of captains—Weary waiting for an enemy who never came.

A few days after we sailed, with three other line of battle ships, under
jury-masts, for old England. On our passage we spoke a frigate, who
informed us that Sir Richard Strachan had taken the four sail of the line
which had escaped from the French fleet. We were delighted as well as
“Dicky Strong,” and gave three hearty cheers. On the eighth day we arrived
at Spithead, and were cheered by all the ships lying there, which we
returned. Some of the fleet had, we thought, made rather a show of their
shot-holes, but our commodore declared that “good wine needed no bush.”
Our shot-holes, of which we had a good share, were painted over and not
perceptible at any distance. The captain left us, and was heartily cheered
as he left the ship. As soon as we were in the harbour I had permission
from the Admiralty to return home for a month.

I found my sweetest half (for I had, without knowing why or wherefore,
become a Benedict) in much anxiety, as our ship had been reported lost.
She put into my arms a dear little black-eyed girl, who was born a week
after the action. After spending three delightful weeks, the happiest of
the happy, I tore myself away. On my rejoining the ship I found her in
dock, and all the crew on board a hulk. I now became commanding officer,
as the first lieutenant had leave of absence. I have here to remark that
forty seamen and ten marines had leave to go to their families and friends
for three weeks or a month, according to the distance, and out of six
hundred men only one desertion occurred. I mention this circumstance to
prove that seamen, when they become accustomed to a man-of-war, have no
dislike to her discipline, provided they are properly encouraged when
deserving, and the cat is only used when it is absolutely necessary, which
was the case in our ship. Seamen are too valuable to be ill used.

Admiral Montague was the commander-in-chief at this port, and Sir Isaac
Coffin, of inspecting memory, the rear-admiral. One morning one of the
midshipmen, in stepping into the dockyard boat, had the misfortune to lose
his dirk overboard. As it was blowing strong, he could not return to the
hulk to borrow another. He consequently went to the yard without one. The
rear-admiral, who was always in search of adventure, met him. “Hulloa!
officer,” said he; “why are you without side arms?” The youngster related
what had happened. “Then, sir,” said he, “you must buy another as fast as
you can.” “I have no money, sir,” replied the mid, “and I know no one
here.” “Then I will put you in the way to get one. Come with me to my
office.” The youngster followed him, and received the address of a sword
cutler. “And tell him,” said Sir Isaac, “from me that you are to have a
dirk. But,” added he, “I had better write my name; he will then know I
sent you.” Next morning the mid lost no time in repairing to the shop of
the vendor of slaying instruments. He produced the rear-admiral’s paper.
The cutler at first hesitated. At length he said, “Do you pay for it?”
“No,” answered the mid, “not till I return from my next cruise.” “Oh,
never mind,” said the man of cut and thrust; “Sir Isaac has signed the
paper, and he will, of course, be responsible. What kind of dirk do you
wish to have?” “Oh, a good one,” returned the mid; “one at about forty
shillings.” It was given him; he gave his name and ship, and left the
shop. In a few days after this an order came on board from the admiral to
discharge a lieutenant and a midshipman into another ship bound to the
West Indies. The sixth lieutenant and this youngster were selected. About
four months afterwards the bill was sent to the rear-admiral for payment
of the dirk. It was naturally refused. Some months passed, when the bill
was again presented and refused. The poor mid was far away and not
forthcoming, although he fully intended, had he not been so suddenly
exiled, to pay it when he was able. The cutler now brought an action
against the rear-admiral, and he was, as he had put his name to the paper,
obliged to pay the account.

The shipwrights and carpenters having repaired the ship, she was hauled
alongside the hulk, and in ten days was as majestic as ever. Another
captain was appointed, and I was ordered to join the _Diamond_ frigate, as
first lieutenant, off Brest. I took an affectionate leave of my messmates,
and procured a passage on board a passage-sloop going to Plymouth. We
sailed in the evening, through the Needles passage, and when off the
Shingles the head of the mast went in the hounds. After much exertion we
got the main-sail out of the water, and the try-sail set. We reached, to
my great joy, Portland Roads on the third day, where, as I found myself
rather queerish on board the sloop, I salaamed the skipper of her, and
mounted a horse, which they assured me was quiet enough to carry the
parson. With this assurance, which was corroborated by three old men and
two young women, I trusted myself once more on a horse’s back. A brother
officer, who was also going to join a ship at Plymouth, accompanied me. We
dined at Weymouth, saw Gloucester Lodge, had a somersault, to the terror
and astonishment of the lady housekeeper and servants, on all the
Princesses’ beds, viewed the closet of odd-and-end old china belonging to
the amiable Princess Elizabeth, thought ourselves an inch taller when we
sat ourselves down in the chair in which the good King dined at one
o’clock, generally off a boiled leg of mutton and turnips, so we were
informed, and in the evening hired a post-chaise and arrived at
Dorchester, where we took the mail for Plymouth. On reaching the latter
place we repaired to the admiral’s office, where, as there was no present
opportunity of joining my new ship, I remained five days, calling on my
old acquaintances and talking of old times.

One day we made an excursion to Plympton, and entered a neat farmer’s
house. We inquired if we could be provided with some home-baked brown
bread, and milk from the cow. The farmer’s wife, who was a hale, buxom,
youngish-looking woman, and had only nine children, brought out chairs and
benches. We had some madeira with us, and we made delicious whip-syllabub.
The nice, well-baked and wholesome brown loaves, with the milk and cream,
were too good for city aldermen, but quite good enough for sailors. We did
ample justice to the good wife’s fare, of which she partook with her
mother, who was sixty-five, and had eleven boys and nine girls all living.
Nine of the former were on board different men-of-war, and the other two
working with their father on the farm. “And,” added the poor woman, with
an anxious, smiling face, “whenever we see a squadron of King’s ships
arrive we expect a son.” The girls, with the exception of three who were
married, were out in respectable families. We made a trifling purse, which
we gave to a fine boy about eleven years old for himself and brothers;
recompensed our good hostess, shook hands, and departed in peace and good

Two days later I went on board the _Alexandria_ frigate for a passage to
my proper ship, which we fell in with soon afterwards off the Black Rocks.
I found her a fine, first-class frigate, but, alas! I also found she only
sailed like the launch, stern foremost. The captain, a jolly, little,
fresh-faced, rather corpulent man, welcomed me with a smile, and after a
short conversation relating to the ship he inquired the news, on which I
presented him with the latest newspaper. The surgeon, a delicate, pale
young man, came up to me and asked me to the gun-room. On entering it he
introduced me to my future messmates. The second lieutenant was a
fine-looking young man, highly connected, but unfortunately disgusted with
the Service, and too fond of a very strong north-wester, which soon
destroyed him, as he died a few months after I joined the frigate. The
third lieutenant was a person of great consequence in his own opinion, and
always imagined himself in the right. He was, nevertheless, an active
officer and knew his duty. The master was a hardy north countryman, and
knew what he was about. The marine officer was a well-informed, sensible
man; the mids were a fine set of lads, ripe for mischief and alert on
duty. The ship’s company were, generally speaking, good and willing
seamen, and I thought myself fortunate in being first lieutenant of such a
ship and of having intellectual messmates.

We were placed as one of the look-out frigates to watch the enemy’s
vessels in Brest. The fleet was under the command of the brave and
persevering Earl St. Vincent, whose laws were those of the Medes and
Persians in days of yore. Implicit obedience and non-resistance was his
device, and woe to those who were disobedient. My messmates gave me the
outline of the captain’s character. They informed me he was more cut out
for a country gentleman than the captain of a man-of-war, that he was very
partial to a good dinner—“Show me the man who is not,” interrupted I;—that
he was highly nervous, and that he left everything to the first
lieutenant, except the discipline of his cook. “So be it,” cried I, “I
think we shall accord.” About ten days after being on board he sent for me
into his cabin. “Now,” said he to me, “Mr. Hoffman, we have had time
enough to know each other. I approve of your method of carrying on the
duty, and from henceforth I shall consider you as sailing, and myself as
fighting, captain.” I thanked him for the confidence he reposed in me, and
assured him that, being very partial to the profession, I never was
happier than when in the path of duty. He then mentioned he was not fond
of punishment with the cat. I informed him that, having been first
lieutenant for nearly three years of a former ship, I would submit to his
inspection a code of minor punishments which had proved beneficial to her
discipline. “Did you not use the cat at all?” demanded he. “Never,”
returned I, “except for theft, drunkenness at sea and intentional
disobedience of orders. On these occasions the punishment was severe, and
they very seldom happened.”

When the wind was light, we generally anchored about two gun-shots from
the shore, and in the evening the crew danced or got up a kind of farce,
which was farcical enough. After seven long, lazy, tedious weeks, we were
ordered to Plymouth to refit. We flew like a shovel-nosed barge against
tide, and reached Hamoaze on the evening of the third day. Reader, I do
not know whether you were ever at Plymouth. If you have not, go there. It
is in a beautiful country, and very healthy. The people are very civil,
and until the taxes and poor rates became so high, were very hospitable.
Even in the poorest cottager’s hut, if you happened to call at their
dinner-hour, you were invited, with a hearty “Do ye, God bless ye, sit
down and take some-at. There be more than we can eat.” We frequently made
social picnic parties to the small farmhouses. I have heard sailors
declare they would rather be hanged in their native country than die a
natural death in any other. It is not very agreeable to be hanged even in
Paradise, but I certainly prefer residing in the neighbourhood of Plymouth
to any other part of England. The month we were in harbour vanished like a
dream. We cast off the moorings, and soon after anchored at Spithead.

The following week we were again on the Siberian or Black Rock station.
One night, in consequence of a light westerly wind with a heavy swell and
a counter current, we had drifted so near the south-west end of Ushant
that we were obliged to let go an anchor in rocky ground. For more than
six hours it was a question whether the cable would part or hold on: had
the latter occurred, the frigate must have gone on shore. After hoping,
wishing and expecting a breeze from the eastward, it made its appearance
by cat’s-paws. We weighed, and found the cackling and one strand of the
cable cut through. As the wind freshened we worked up to our old station
off Point St. Matthew, and anchored. The following morning we reconnoitred
Brest, could make out fourteen of the enemy’s ships of the line with their
top-gallant yards crossed, and five others refitting. The same day a
cutter joined us with our letters and two bullocks. After cruising between
Ushant and the Saints, the small rocky island Beriguet and Douarnenez Bay,
until we were tired of seeing them, we, at the expiration of two months,
were again ordered to Plymouth to refit, but not before the considerate
old Earl had taken from us thirty of our best seamen, which so much
pleased our noble captain that he declared if he was ordered to rejoin the
Channel fleet he would give up the frigate. After having refitted, to our
great mortification we were again under orders for the detestable station
off Brest. The captain wrote to be superseded, and as there was no lack of
sharp half-pay skippers looking-out, his request was immediately complied

His successor was a shambling, red-nosed, not sailor-like looking man, who
had persuaded a counterpart of himself, the village barber, to accompany
him as his steward. Sure such a pair was never seen before! The hands were
turned up and his commission read. “Well, my men,” said he, addressing the
crew, “I understand you know how to do your duty, therefore my advice to
you is to do it. That’s all,” said he to me; “pipe down if you please,
sir,” and after adding, “We shall sail to-morrow morning, and I shall be
on board in the evening,” he ordered a cutter to be manned, and went on
shore. At the time appointed we were under weigh, and three days
afterwards off the Black Rocks, which made us look black enough. The
enemy’s fleet were much in the same state, with little prospect of their
coming out. Easterly winds were prevalent, and we were generally at
anchor, one half of the ship’s company doing nothing, and the other
helping them. I soon found that our noble commander was fond of the game
of chess and a stiff glass of grog, and I frequently found him _en
chemise_ with those companions at daylight on one of the cabin lockers. He
was an unmarried man, but a great admirer of the fair sex of all
descriptions, and was sometimes heard to say he was astonished at their
want of taste in not admiring him. He was not altogether an unread man,
but his manners were like his dress, slovenly, and too often coarse. He
had been, when he was a lieutenant, in command of a cutter, and afterwards
of a lugger. There, the mids declared, he ought to have remained, as he
was out of his element on the quarter-deck of a fine frigate. They were
not singular in their opinion. He was, without exception, the most
slovenly officer I ever had the misfortune to sail with. I am probably
rather severe. His only redeeming quality was certainly good nature. He,
unfortunately for himself and in some measure for the Service, courted a
kind of left-handed popularity amongst the seamen, and neglected the
officers. The consequence was, that in less than two months the discipline
of the ship became so relaxed that the crew, from being one of the
smartest in the fleet, was now the slackest. After a disagreeable cruise
of nine weeks, in which time we had carried away the main and
foretop-masts, we were ordered to Portsmouth. After refitting we joined
another frigate to cruise off Havre de Grace, where the enemy had two
frigates and a corvette nearly ready for sea. We were shortly after joined
by a sloop of war. At the full and change of the moon we always anchored
inside the Cape, in order to watch the enemy’s motions more effectively,
and, when under weigh, we sometimes trawled and dredged, and frequently
caught sufficient fish for the whole crew, as well as a quantity of

On one unlucky evening we ran on board the sloop of war, carried away the
mainmast, and destroyed a part of her upper works. Fortunately for the
officer of the watch the captain was on deck, and had been giving orders
respecting the sails, which took the responsibility from the shoulders of
the former. The sloop was so ill-treated by us that she was, without
delay, obliged to proceed to Portsmouth. A few days after this accident we
were ordered to the same port. On our arrival a court of inquiry sat to
investigate the reason why the mainmast of one of His Majesty’s cruisers
should be so unceremoniously knocked away by the jib-boom of another. The
answers not being quite satisfactory our captain was reprimanded and the
other admonished. We sailed shortly after, and resumed our station. Of all
duties imposed on an active mind blockading vessels in an enemy’s port,
from whence there is not much probability of their sailing, is the most
tiresome. The mids declared that had patient Job been on board the ten
weeks we were off Havre he would have lost his patience in the fifth week
and thrown up his commission. After a lazy cruise of nearly eleven weeks
the frigate once more sat like a duck at Spithead.

                              CHAPTER XVIII.

                            “ORDERED FOREIGN.”

       Ordered on foreign service—Visit Madeira, Cape de Verde, and
     Goree—Experiences on shore—Sail for Cape Coast Castle—Difficulty
     of landing—The captain’s black lady—Author appointed captain of
         H.M.S. _Favourite_—Proceed to Accrah—Sacred alligators.

After a refit and taking on board six months’ provisions and stores, as we
were ordered to fit foreign, our signal was made to proceed to sea under
sealed orders, taking with us a sloop of war. On the tenth day we anchored
in Funchal Roads, Madeira, with our consort. The day following was the
natal day of our gracious Queen, on which occasion we both fired a royal
salute and dressed the ships with flags. The captain, with as many of the
officers as could be spared, was invited to dine with the consul at
Funchal. At four o’clock the captain, two of my messmates and myself, left
the ship, and in half an hour afterwards we reached the consul’s house,
where we met an agreeable party, consisting of four English ladies and
eight gentlemen. It was the month of June, and the weather was very warm,
but it did not prevent us from seeing the town and visiting some of the
nunneries. The former was scarcely worth our trouble, and the latter gave
us, from the nuns’ appearance, no very high opinion of female beauty. We
visited some of the vineyards. The vines, trained over arched trellis
work, extend to some distance, and when in full leaf afford a delightful
shade. The grapes are generally remarkably large and of a delicious
flavour. The morning before sailing I found the best bower cable was
two-thirds cut through by some small, sharp instrument on the turn round
the bit-head. The hands were turned up and singly interrogated. Nobody
knew anything about it. All appeared anxious to find out the culprit, but
in vain. Had the cable parted in the night we should not have had room to
have let go the small bower, and must have gone on the rocks.

In the afternoon we sailed, ran along the Canary Islands, and in five days
afterwards anchored off the island of Goree. This small, tolerably
well-fortified island is a few miles from Cape de Verde. It possesses no
harbour, but the anchorage off the town is good. It produces nothing but a
few cotton bushes. The inhabitants are very poor. They manufacture cotton
cloths, in which they clothe themselves. They are a mixture of black,
brown and white. Their features are more of the Arabian than the African
cast. They speak corrupt English, French and Portuguese. They are very
proud and equally independent. The better class live in small houses made
of mud and clay, the inferiors in cone-shaped buildings something like
Indian kraals, formed neatly of bamboo and surrounded by a bamboo wall.
The Governor, Colonel Lloyd, gave us an invitation to dinner and a ball. I
was one of the party. The former consisted of buffalo soup, fish, and
Muscovy ducks, the latter of a number of brown ladies dressed like bales
of cotton. Dancing with them might be compared to a cooper working round a
cask. Some few had tolerably regular features, and I noticed the captain
making love like a Greenland bear to the girl I danced with.

The second morning after our arrival I was sent with two cutters to haul
the seine off the mainland about three miles to the westward of Cape de
Verde. As soon as we had made the first haul, in which we had taken a
quantity of herrings, about twenty of the inhabitants of that part of the
coast rushed towards the fish with the intention of seizing them. I
desired the marines we had with us to present their muskets in order to
frighten them. It answered perfectly, and they retired. I then desired two
of the seamen to take a quantity of the fish and lay them down at some
short distance, and I beckoned to the natives to come and take them, which
they did, tumbling over each other in the scramble. After having taken a
quantity of herrings in three hauls, besides several larger fish, I
proceeded with one of the marines and the coxswain to the town.

I found it a miserable place, much like Goree, but three times the size,
and surrounded by a high fence of thick bamboo matting, supported by long
stakes. All I could purchase were two old Muscovy ducks, some pumpkins,
and a few cocoanuts. One of the ducks got adrift, and a long, lean, hungry
girl caught it and ran off with it into the brushwood, where we lost sight
of her. The people of Goree informed us they were terrible thieves, and we
proved it. The following day I again paid a visit to these Patagonian
people, for the greater part of the men at Cape de Verde were more than
six feet in stature and very slight. They all carried long lances,
principally because of the numerous pattigoes, or hyenas, in their
neighbourhood. The purser, who was with me, purchased with some rum which
the coxswain of the boat brought with him two sacks of beans and some
oranges. I mentioned the loss of my duck the day before to a man who
understood English and spoke it indifferently. As I stood alongside of
him, both the purser and myself, who were five feet seven, appeared like
pigmies. He was at least seven feet two inches, and had an amazing long
lance in his hand. He laughed loud and long at my recital. “Ah, Buckra,”
at last he chuckled out, “you takee care anoder time, eh! and you no
lettee de duck run abay; if you do, anoder piccaninny girl hab it again,

“Confound this fellow!” said the purser; “I believe he is a worse rogue
than the girl. Have you had enough of his palaver?” “Almost too much,”
answered I. “Let us pull foot.” We returned to the boat, and after an
hour’s row got on board. The following day I dined with Commissary
Hamilton, who showed me a letter from the interesting Mr. Mungo Park, who
was surgeon of the regiment he belonged to. Mr. Hamilton told me he had
set out with forty in his party, but that in consequence of sickness it
was reduced to twenty-five; but notwithstanding these drawbacks Park wrote
in good spirits, and was determined to persevere in his journey to

Before we sailed I made another excursion on the mainland, and fell in
with fourteen Arabian travelling merchants. They were seated on the ground
like London tailors, surrounded by their bales of goods, principally rough
cotton, with six camels and two tame ostriches. The former were lying
down, the latter walking about and searching for food among the short,
rank grass and stones. Some of the latter I observed they swallowed. I
purchased from the merchants some ostrich eggs. They asked me to give them
rum. One of them, who spoke a little English, and was interpreter for the
others, told me they intended coming on board to see the ship, and to
shake hands with the captain. I informed him he would feel himself highly
flattered by such Arabian condescension, but that they must make haste, as
the ship would sail in a day or two. They all begged to shake hands with
us, for the marine officer accompanied me. On returning to the boat we
found two of the natives, who appeared at a distance more like maypoles
than men, endeavouring to hold a conversation with the boat’s crew. The
coxswain told me they had fallen in love with the boat-hook, and offered
in exchange one of their lances. When we appeared their thoughts were
turned from the boat-hook to the marine officer’s sword, and they
requested him, by signs, to make an exchange. Another native had joined
the other two, armed with a musket. I made signs to him to let me look at
it, but he would not trust it out of his hands. I remarked it was an old
English worn-out gun without a hammer to the lock. Perceiving that they
were beginning to be troublesome, we jumped into the boat and threw them
some biscuits, which they devoured with the appetite of wolves.

We had not been on board an hour when we were honoured with a visit from
four of the Arabians, who, without ceremony, went up to the captain and
shook him by the hand, and asked him for the purser. The latter very
opportunely made his appearance, when the captain pointed him out to the
Arab who spoke broken English. He soon left the latter, and accosted the
former with unblushing effrontery, and asked him for a cask of flour. “And
for what?” demanded the purser. “Because I your good friend,” was the
answer. “You are an impudent, beggarly rascal,” said our hasty-tempered
purveyor of provisions to him. “What can I see in your precious ugly black
face that will induce me to give you anything but a good kicking?”
“Patience and policy, messmate,” I said. “Where is your philosophy? Let
your steward give them a few biscuits and a dram, and get rid of them.” To
this proposal, after a grumble, he assented, and they departed.

The following morning we weighed, and made all sail for Cape Coast Roads.
On our passage we experienced heavy squalls of wind and rain, which
frequently obliged us to clew all up. We anchored at Sierra Leone on the
fourth day, and found the colony healthy. After remaining two days to
complete our water, we left it, and proceeded to our destination. We
anchored off Cape Coast a few days afterwards, at a respectable distance,
as the surf breaks two miles from the shore. The ship’s boats on this part
of the coast are useless. Were they to attempt to land they would soon be
swamped and knocked to pieces, and the crews drowned. Native canoes of
from eight to twenty paddles are only used, and it requires great caution
and dexterity by the black boatmen to prevent their being upset. I once
came off in a large canoe with twenty paddles. On the third rolling surf
she was half filled, and I was washed out of the chair among the paddlers.
As soon as the sails were furled, a large canoe came off from the Governor
with an invitation for the captain to dine with him. I remarked that the
greater part of the coal-coloured crew of the canoe had the wool on their
heads tied into about thirty tails an inch in length. A painter might have
manufactured a tolerable Gorgonian head from among them.

On the following day we were visited by several flat-nosed, thick-lipped,
black-skinned ladies, who came off with the express purpose of being
married to some of the man-of-war buckras. They soon found husbands. In
the afternoon a canoe came alongside with a tall grasshopper of a woman as
ugly as sin and as black as the ace of spades, with a little girl about
seven years old a shade, if possible, blacker, and as great a beauty as
herself. One of the canoe men came on the quarter-deck with them. He made
a leg and pulled one of the many tails of his wool, and addressed me as
follows: “Massa officer, Massa Buckra Captain hab sent him wife off and
him piccaninny.” Saying this he gave me a note, which was addressed to his
steward, the barber, who came and told me, to my amazement, that the
animal on two ill-formed legs was to have the use of the captain’s cabin.
Thinks I to myself, “Wonders will never cease. There is no accounting for
taste. Some people are over nice, some not nice enough.” About two hours
after our gallant captain came on board, I presume love-sick, for he
either looked love or shame-stricken. Probably I was mistaken, as I
concluded he had discarded the latter when he entered the Service as an
unmanly appendage.

Whilst here I went on shore with some of my messmates, and dined with the
mess at the Castle off goat, boiled, broiled, roasted, stewed, and
devilled, and some fish. In short they have nothing else except some
half-starved fowls and Muscovy ducks; sometimes, but not very often,
buffalo beef, which is so tough that after you have swallowed it—for you
cannot chew it—you are liable to indigestion for two months or so; so
naturally they prefer young goat. The Castle, which stands on an eminence,
is strong on the sea face, but I presume it would not hold out long on the
land side against a regular siege, but as I am no engineer, I will leave
it, as Moore’s Almanac says of the hieroglyphic, to the learned and the
curious. The town consists of small, low huts, the greater part of which
are built of stakes and mud, whitewashed over, and thatched with palm
leaves. I saw a spot of parched, arid ground which was designated a
botanical garden. If it did not contain many exotics, it did a most savage
tiger, which was enclosed in an iron cage.

We had been cruising along the coast, and sometimes anchoring for about
five weeks, when the captain of the sloop of war was promoted from this
fleeting world to a better. I was, in consequence, appointed as her
captain, being in my ninth year as lieutenant when I obtained my
promotion. I parted company with the frigate shortly afterwards, and
anchored off Accrah. A canoe soon came off with an invitation from the
Governor requesting my company to dinner. I accepted it and went on shore,
where I was received by a young man who was more merchant than soldier,
but who had command of the fort which commanded the roadstead and the
town. He informed me that a little distance from the town was a large
lagoon or lake in which were frequently found four or more large tame
alligators. “For,” added he, “although the natives often suffer from their
depredations, and once one of their children was devoured by one of these
reptiles, they hold them sacred, and they are ‘fetiched’ or made holy.” “I
should much like to see one,” said I. “I will,” answered he, “send for one
of the Cabaceers, or head men of the town, and we shall soon know if there
are any in the neighbourhood.” A quarter of an hour had elapsed when in
came a grave-looking black man dressed in blue serge, with a gold-headed
long cane in his hand, the badge of his office. He informed the Governor
there was a large alligator at the bottom of the lake, and that if he
would provide him with a white fowl and a bottle of rum, his people might
possibly lure him out. About an hour expired when we heard a bustle not
far distant, and a man came to apprise us that the alligator was in the
town, that a marabout, or priest, was ready to fetich it, and only waited
for us. We had not proceeded more than twelve yards from the fort when we
saw the reptile, which was about eighteen feet long, in full trot after a
man who held the unfortunate fowl destined to be the victim. As soon as we
approached he turned short round. The reptile, with his upper jaw nearly
thrown on the back of his head, was some time in turning, owing to its
length and the shortness of its legs, and was again in chase of the man
who held the fowl. The marabout now came after it, and when close to its
tail, threw the rum over it, mumbling some strange sounds. It was then
considered sacred, and death would have been the punishment of those who
hurt it. Before it came to the margin of the lagoon, the man with the poor
fowl, which was more than half-dead with fright, slackened his pace, and
threw it into the alligator’s mouth. The reptile then made for the water,
sank to the bottom, and ate the miserable bird. We returned to dinner,
which consisted of a hearty welcome, some excellent fish, fowl soup,
boiled fowl with ham, and a roasted saddle of kid, with yams and
plantains, pine-apples and oranges, madeira and sherry. In the evening I
took leave of my hospitable host and repaired on board, and the following
morning put to sea.

After cruising for six weeks in chase of the wind—for we saw nothing
during that period except two slave ships from Liverpool, from whom we
procured a few indifferent potatoes—we again anchored off Cape Coast. I
went on shore and paid my respects to the Governor, General Tourenne, in a
new character. I had once dined with him when lieutenant of the frigate;
he did not recollect me, but requested me whenever I was disposed to take
up my residence at the Castle, and to consider it my home during the time
I remained on the station. “The Ashantee, or Assentee nation have,”
continued he, “been very troublesome of late and have declared war against
the Fantee nation, who are under our protection, as it is through them all
the commerce along the coast takes place, and of this, the Ashantees, who
are the inland nation, wish to partake. Your being in the roads will in
some measure check them.” I promised to visit the roads as often as my
other duties would permit me, and if necessary assist with the marines.

                               CHAPTER XIX.

                          WEST COAST ADVENTURES.

     Cruise along West African coast—Dine with Danish consul at Cape
     Coast Castle—Ordered to Sierra Leone—A trip inland—We proceed to
     the Los Islands—A trip up the River Pongo—Quell disturbance on a
            slaver—A dinner with a native prince—His presents.

After remaining a few days, during which time nothing transpired that
required our presence, we again weighed and sailed along the coast towards
the Bight of Benin. We experienced frequent calms with much squally
weather, attended with vivid lightning and heavy rain. Finding a current
setting round the bight to the eastward, we were obliged to carry a press
of sail to act against it, and were nearly three weeks working up from
Cape St. Paul’s to Dix Cove, where we anchored. On this part of the coast,
particularly Dix Cove, you may land without the assistance of a canoe, as
the surf is not so rolling or so high. There is a small English settlement
here, which I visited, and dined with the principal settler. The town is
small and not worth a description. We procured a quantity of oranges and
cocoanuts, and I had the opportunity of witnessing the native dancing. A
tom-tom, or rough kind of long drum, is beaten by two men, to the noise of
which (for it was anything but music) they keep time. The dancers,
particularly the women, appeared by their gestures and movements to be in
a state of delirium; they certainly were much excited, and kept up such a
continued howl that I soon took my departure.

As I turned round I came in contact with a most pitiable object—a sickly,
dead-white coloured native. I had heard of such beings, but had never seen
one. He was about five feet five inches high, and very thin; his features
were rather more prominent than those of a negro, his eyes were very
small, very weak, and of a reddish hue. He appeared by his manner to be an
idiot. He held out his hands to me in a supplicating manner. I gave him a
small piece of money; he looked earnestly in my face, and mixed with the
crowd. On returning to the town I passed three females with different
coloured ochres smeared over their bodies. On inquiry, I found they were
subject to fever and ague, and the application of different earths was
their best mode of treating this complaint. Three weeks afterwards we
again visited Cape Coast Roads, where we found the frigate, who had lost
the marine officer and several of the seamen. Whenever the surgeon
reported five men on the sick list in harbour I immediately put to sea,
and to amuse the crew we got up some pantomimes. They were ridiculous
enough, but they answered the purpose and kept all hands in good humour.
The consequence was that we did not lose one man during the four months we
were on the coast.

I received orders from the captain of the frigate to repair to Sierra
Leone and proceed to the West Indies with the slave ships as soon as they
were ready. We had now been more than two months on this station without
capturing anything, and we were much pleased with the order to change. On
taking leave of the Governor, he told me he had had a palaver with the
King of the Ashantees, whom he described as a fine, high-spirited young
man. “I have been trying,” said he, “to prevail on him to make peace with
the Fantees. The King’s answer to my request was brief and positive.
‘What,’ asked he, ‘is your most sacred oath?’ ‘We swear by our God,’ I
replied. ‘Then,’ said the king of the savages, ‘I swear by an Englishman’s
God that instead of making peace with the Fantee nation I will exterminate
the whole race.’ ‘Not those under the protection of the British flag?’
said I. ‘Yes,’ returned he, ‘all, and without exception.’ ‘Then if you do
persist in so fatal a purpose, you must take the consequences, for I also
swear that if you or any of your people come in a hostile manner within
reach of our guns, I will shoot every one of you.’ He gave me a look of
fierce defiance, and informed me by the interpreter that the palaver was
over. On which I took my leave, not highly pleased. You are going to leave
us, I understand,” said he. “I much regret it, for we have just made your
acquaintance, and I should like to have continued it.” I acknowledged the
compliment, which I believe was sincere. “To-morrow,” continued he, “I am
invited to dine at the Danish settlement. The Governor is a very good kind
of man, well-informed, and hospitable. Would you like to accompany me? He
speaks English, and I am sure would feel flattered by your visit.”

I consented, and at four o’clock in the afternoon on the following day I
was at the Castle, where eight stout black men, with palanquins, were
ready to carry us. I found this mode of travelling very easy and
agreeable. The hammock in which I reclined was made of a long grass,
stained with several colours; two of the bearers carried it on their
shoulders by a pole, the other two sang songs, kept off the mosquitoes and
sunflies by whisking about a branch of a cocoanut tree over the hammock,
and occasionally relieved the others. On our journey we paid a short visit
and took Schnapps with the Governor of a Dutch settlement, who saluted us
with his four guns (all he had), and in so doing knocked down some of the
parapet of his fort, which dismounted half of them. My bearers were so
frightened by the report that they let me fall. As their fears soon
subsided, and I was not hurt, we continued our journey. About
three-quarters of an hour brought us within sight of Cronenburg Castle,
the Danish settlement, when we were met by a set of wild black men, who
called themselves men of war. They had a leathern case containing a musket
cartridge hanging from the cartilage of their noses. This gave them the
appearance of having large moustachios, and if they did not look very
warlike, they looked ridiculously savage. They kept constantly charging
and firing muskets, without any order, in honour of our visit.

We at length entered the great gate, and were ushered, by two black
lacqueys in livery, into a large hall, which, for Africa, was tolerably
furnished. The Danish Governor, who was dressed in a blue embroidered
coat, soon made his appearance. He was a portly person, with much good
humour in his countenance. At six we sat down to dinner, which was
abundant, and, for the first time, I eat some kous-kous, or palm nut soup.
I thought it excellent, and the pepper pot was magnificent—so a Frenchman
would have said had he been one of the party. My old acquaintance, goat’s
flesh, did not make its appearance, but instead we had not badly-flavoured
mutton—which, to tell you a secret, was not very tender. We remained until
half-past nine o’clock, when we took our departure. The men of war with
their cartridge moustachios saluted us by firing their muskets, the
wadding of which struck me and my palanquin, for which I did not thank
them, as a bit of the wadding burnt my cheek.

On reaching the Castle at Cape Coast I was so wearied that I was almost
too lazy to undress. I slept soundly, and ate a late breakfast, took a
final leave of the good General (who made me a present of a fine pointer),
repaired on board the frigate, whose captain was tormented with the blue
devils; he requested me to remain until the following day, when, as he had
chased them away by a few glasses of his favourite beverage—good stiff
grog—and there was no further hope of posting myself into the frigate, I
ordered the anchor to be tripped, and we soon made the sparkling,
transparent wave curl like an old maid’s wig before us.

We were three tedious weeks before we reached Sierra Leone, owing to what
sailors term “Irish hurricanes”—when the wind is perpendicular, or, in
plain English, no wind at all. On landing, I met the Governor, Mr. Ludlow,
who had kindly come to welcome me, and begged that I would consider the
Fort my home. I made suitable acknowledgments, and accompanied him to his
house, which was convenient, tolerably cool, and comfortable. He showed me
a clean, cool room, which he was pleased to call my sleeping room. I found
him an amiable and good person, and was happy and proud of his
acquaintance. He told me he intended to make an excursion into the
interior, in order to discover the source of a water-fall, and invited me
to be one of the party, to which, as I was naturally fond of voyages of
discovery, I willingly consented.

The day after, at daybreak, we started, the Governor and myself in
palanquins with awnings and mosquito nets. We were thirty-five in party,
including twenty-four black pioneers, the captain of whom was an
intelligent white man. We cut a path through an immense large forest,
which boasted some noble-looking cotton, manchineel and iron trees, and a
red tree something resembling the bastard mahogany. Although we had
penetrated and ascended more than half-way up one of the Mountains of
Lions, we discovered nothing living but a variety of beautifully-plumaged
birds, which, unused to the intrusion of other bipeds, uttered most
discordant screams. After a fatiguing march, in which we were directed by
a pocket compass, we descried a small rivulet. We followed its course for
some time, and at length arrived at the base of a stupendous rock from
which it issued. We, by calculation, were distant at this time from the
town nineteen miles, nearly seven of which we had cut through the forest.
We all took refreshment and drank His Majesty’s health, first in wine and
then in a crystal draught from the spring. In returning we kept on the
bank of the rivulet until it swelled into a small river. The ground then
became thickly beset with jungle and swampy.

By five o’clock in the afternoon we arrived at the fall, which, by
measurement, was one hundred and seven feet perpendicular, and about
forty-two wide without a break—it was a beautiful sight. We dined on a
large rock about a quarter of a mile from its base, and even at that
distance our clothes were damp from its spray. We discovered a large rock
of granite from which issued a small stream of water that became tributary
to that of the fall. We also saw two brown monkeys, one of which was shot.
Some of the blacks brought it with them; it was of the small kind, and
they told me it was good eating.

We arrived at the Fort at three o’clock the next morning, when I was
suddenly attacked with a severe headache and a violent fit of the bile. As
this was nothing new to me, I kept myself quiet, and Nature was my best
physician. The slave convoy for the West Indies, I found, consisted of
three ships and a brig, with about eleven hundred slaves. As the rice
season was backward, I was petitioned by the merchants to postpone the
convoy a fortnight, to which I consented, and made a short cruise off the
Los Islands, where I anchored and made an excursion up the Rio Pongo. I
passed a small English settlement near its mouth, not fortified, at which
I landed, and was informed that a slave ship belonging to Bristol was in a
state of mutiny, and that her surgeon was confined in irons. As she was
lying about twenty miles farther up the river, and we had to pull that
distance under a burning sun, I thought it no joke. However, as there was
no alternative, we made up our minds to bear it, and reached her after a
fatiguing four hours’ pull. I found her a rakish-looking vessel with her
boarding netting triced up. On gaining her deck I inquired for her
captain. “He is on shore,” was the answer. “Who are you?” said I to the
spokesman. “The chief mate,” returned he. “Turn your hands up and let me
see what sort of stuff you are made of. You look very privateerish
outside.” Nine men made their appearance, some of whom looked sickly.
“These are not all your crew; where are the remainder?” “On shore, sir?”
“Where is the surgeon?” “On shore also.” “Show me the ship’s papers.” “The
captain has them.” “Now,” said I, “I tell you what, Master Mate, I am
going on shore to have some conversation with the African Prince Lawrence,
and if your captain and surgeon are not with me at the chieftain’s house
in half an hour after I land, I will put an officer and men on board your
ship, and if everything I have heard against his conduct is not cleared up
to my satisfaction, I will carry her to Jamaica.”

The river at this beautiful place, for the country appeared green and
fresh and ornamented with a profusion of lofty palm and cocoanut trees,
was much wider than at its mouth. On landing, a number of the natives had
assembled on the shore to view us as sea-monsters or curiosities, as they
had never seen two men-of-war’s boats at their settlement before. The
prince’s son, who was among them, came up to me. He was dressed in a white
linen jacket and trousers, with a white English hat. He spoke tolerable
English. He requested me to go to his father’s house, which was a long,
low, whitewashed building, with a four-pounder sticking out of a kind of
window at one end of it, and before it was a mud battery of four more
four-pounders in bad repair. On being introduced to him I found he also
spoke English. He asked me the occasion of my visit. I acquainted him,
when he, without ceremony, summoned one of the cabaceers, or principal
men, and desired him to find the captain of the slave-ship and bring him
with him. “I dine at three o’clock,” said he; “I hope you will favour me
with your company.” I accepted the invitation. This prince’s appearance
was like that of an European, his features were regular and pleasing. He
informed me his father was an Arabian chief, but that he was born on the
spot where he now resided, and that he had married one of the native
king’s daughters. He had two sons; the eldest was with him, and the other
in England for his education. “I am very partial to the English,” added
he, “and should like to go to England, but that is impossible.” Our
conversation was interrupted by the entrance of the native magistrate with
the master of the slave-ship, a sharp-looking, rather slight man. He
pulled off his hat. “I understand, sir, that you wish to speak with me.”
“I most assuredly do,” answered I. “Have you brought the ship’s papers and
the surgeon with you?” “I have the first about me,” saying this he took
them from his coat-pocket and gave them to me. “As for the surgeon,” said
he, “he has behaved infamously and ungratefully. I paid his lodgings at
Bristol, and if he had not come with me he must have starved or have been
put in prison.” “This,” answered I, “is your concern and not mine. I want
to know where he is.” “He is in a house about a quarter of a mile off,
where I intend keeping him until I am ready for sea, for he has also made
a mutiny in the ship and the greater part of the men have gone on shore
without leave.” “I have only one order to give,” said I, “and that is that
you show my lieutenant and two marines, whom I will send with you, where
you have confined the surgeon.” He reluctantly consented, and in about an
hour the lieutenant and his party returned with an emaciated, tall young
man. He had been confined in irons and fed on bread and water, with
sometimes a few vegetables.

As it was too long a story for me to investigate, I left it to be
discussed by the proper authorities on the ship’s arrival at Jamaica. I
had the men who had left the ship brought before me. They refused to join
her again until I told them that if they did not I would impress the whole
of them. Five of the best of them immediately stepped forward and begged
to enter. As there were fourteen others I accepted them. The others
returned to the ship on the captain promising to use them well and to
overlook all past grievances. The papers were regular, which I returned,
admonishing him at the same time to be more considerate in his conduct to
his men. A dinner was sent to the boats’ crews by the prince, and I
desired the midshipmen to entertain the surgeon, who had expressed a wish
to join our ship.

After all this much ado about something, I was ready for my dinner, and in
a quarter of an hour it was announced by the blowing of a conch. In
passing through a large hall I found myself surrounded by coal-coloured
gentlemen of all grades, one of whom wished to look at my dirk. He
examined it very closely; it appeared to take his fancy as it was silver
gilt, but as I did not take the hint, and was very hungry, I took it from
him and hastened into the dining-room. The dinner was laid out on a large
table on trestles; all the dishes were covered with cones made of cane and
stained different colours. The table was also covered with light cane
mats; altogether it had a very pretty effect. The eatables consisted of
fowls stewed to death, ducks and buffalo, and an abundance of rice, which
was served up with every dish. My favourite dish, pepper-pot, was much in
request, and I could, by a sly peep, see some of the Massa Blackies use
their fingers instead of their spoons. Roasted plantain was eaten instead
of bread; palm-wine and grog were the principal beverages, although the
prince, the lieutenant and myself drank two bottles of madeira which I had
brought in the boat. The princess was amiability itself; she was very
black, very fat and very good-natured. After dinner we walked round the
mansion. In one of the yards the young prince showed us a black ostrich,
which was considered a rarity. It stood with its neck erect, and was about
eleven feet high to the crown of its head. Its eyes were fierce and
resembled rubies.

At six o’clock I took my leave of the chieftain and his wife. On entering
the boat, I found a milch cow and calf, two dozen ducks, and a dozen
fowls, besides bows and quivers filled with arrows, a variety of fruits,
and some tiger skins. He had also, at parting, presented me with a gold
ring weighing four ounces. I was overpowered with his disinterested
kindness, and sent him some rum and gunpowder. Before I left the place I
obtained from the master of the slave-ship an order, payable at Jamaica,
for the surgeon’s salary and wages of the seamen who had entered. We got
on board the same evening. The next morning I visited the largest of the
Los or Loes Islands, which, I presume, in days of yore had been created by
a volcanic eruption. I struck off some of the rock which contained iron,
and had a ringing sound, and on rubbing it together it smelt of sulphur.
There were a few small houses on the island inhabited by fishermen, who
appeared as poor as Job’s stable-boy.

                               CHAPTER XX.

                            WITH SLAVE CONVOY.

      Return to Sierra Leone—Dinner party aboard—Sail with convoy of
           five slave-ships—How the slaves were obtained—Arrive
        Barbadoes—Sail for Tobago and Trinidad—Visit Pitch Lake—To
         Jamaica—Cruising off Cuba—Futile attempt on two Spanish
           privateers—Capture small Spanish privateer—Return to
        Jamaica—Arrange exchange with captain of home-going ship—A
          challenge to Spanish corvette declined by the latter.

Finding little and seeing less, I repaired on board and made sail for
Sierra Leone, where we anchored next morning. I went on shore and dined
with the Governor, and the day following received an invitation to a
dinner from the principal merchants, which I accepted, and was introduced
to the native king who had sold the settlement to the English. He was
dressed in an embroidered blue silk coat, white satin waistcoat and
inexpressibles, with a gold-laced cocked hat and a pair of heavy
ammunition shoes. He wore no stockings, he was old and ugly, and his shins
were sharp and curved. I gave him an invitation to dine on board, which he
declined. Before we sailed, I joined a picnic party to Bence Island, which
is situated about fourteen miles up the river from Free Town. We dined
there very pleasantly, and one of the merchants made me a present of a
collection of insects and handsome shells, in return for which I sent him
some views. The 21st of October falling on the day before our departure, I
asked the Governor, the officers of the regiment, and the merchants to
dine on board. We dressed the ship and decorated the quarter-deck. At five
o’clock we sat down to a dinner, consisting of all the delicacies of
Sierra Leone and the ship’s provision. Port and madeira circulated freely,
and the company began to get in high spirits; and as there were two white
ladies, wives of the two military commanding officers, who accompanied
their husbands, a dance was proposed on the quarter-deck. The only
musicians we could muster were the marine drummer, ship’s fifer, and my
steward, who performed on the clarionet. I opened the ball with the
Honourable Mrs. Forbes, and was followed by most of the others, until it
became too ridiculous, as few knew anything about dancing. Before
confusion became rife I proposed singing. My steward sung in the style of
Incledon, and he was much applauded; and one of the marines, after the
manner of Braham—he also had his share of applause and encores. Punch was
now the order of the night, and, after laying in a good stock, they all
ordered their canoes and paddled on shore, huzzaing the whole time. The
Governor had taken his departure in one of the ship’s boats some time
before, to avoid the uproar. I shall not mention the toasts that were
given; as we were all loyal and true, they were the quintessence of
loyalty. The morning before sailing I breakfasted at the Fort. The convoy,
consisting of five sail, were ready. I bid an affectionate farewell to the
Governor, who had been uniformly kind, and I was soon on board, where I
found a note from the Honourable Captain Forbes, and one from the
Governor. The first was to beg I would accept some excellent bacon, a
beautiful live fawn, and some cane mats. The last was accompanied by a
fine crown bird, which stood five feet high, two dozen fowls, and some
Muscovy ducks. My feelings were quite overcome by so much genuine
kindness, and I shall ever retain it in grateful recollection, and I have
real pleasure in recording it in this narrative.

I must not omit to inform my readers that during the time I was at Bence
Island, which was the great mart for slave dealing, forty of those
unfortunate beings arrived, most of them half famished. The principal
merchant, who was a mulatto, told me that the greater part of them had
been pledged for rice, which is the principal food in Africa, that they
had not been redeemed at the time appointed, and in consequence had become
the property of those who supplied the food. The remainder were those
taken prisoners in the skirmishes occasioned by their trespassing on each
other’s ground, particularly on the rice patches when the grain was nearly
ripe. A black woman offered me her son, a boy about eleven years of age,
for a cob—about four-and-sixpence. I gave her the money, and advised her
to keep her son. Poor thing! she stared with astonishment, and instantly
gave me one of her earrings, which was made of small shells. It was like
the widow’s mite, all she had to bestow. We were soon under sail, and next
morning Africa was as a dream; it was no longer seen.

During the passage in fine weather I myself or some of the officers
visited the Guinea men, and found them orderly and clean, and the slaves
healthy. On the seventh week we arrived at Barbadoes, saw Lady Rodney,
Sally Neblet, and several more of the true Barbadian born, drawling,
dignity ladies, who entreated in no very dignified manner to “hab de
honour for wash for massa captain.” I gave the preference to the relict of
Lord Rodney, as she was the oldest acquaintance, and remembered me when I
was “a lilly piccaninny midshipman.” I paid my respects to the Admiral,
Sir Alex. Cochrane, who asked me to dinner, where I met the Governor and
some more bigwigs. The Admiral’s secretary, Maxwell, who appeared to have
a snug berth in the country, requested me to dine with him the day after,
and he sent a kittereen, or one-horse gig, for me. I met at dinner some
brother officers and a few military men. Our entertainment did credit to
the donor, who appeared a hospitable, frank kind of man. In the evening I
went on board, and next morning received a chest of money for the troops
at Tobago. At noon we cheered the flagship and sailed. On the evening of
the following day we anchored at Tobago, got rid of the soldiers’ money,
and sailed next morning for Trinidad, which we made the same evening, but
owing to the strong current opposing us through the Boca Chien, or, as it
is otherwise called, the Great Dragon’s Mouth, we did not gain the
anchorage before noon on the following day.

On opening a sealed order I had received from the Commander-in-Chief at
Barbadoes I found I was to take on board some casks of lime juice for the
men of the hospitals of Jamaica. Thinks I to myself, this is what Mr. Hume
would have, in the Commons House, called jobbery, and a poor kind of job
it turned out; for, on inspecting the lime juice at Port Royal, some of it
was condemned as unfit for use. The two days I remained at Trinidad I
dined with the Governor, Sir Thos. Heslip, who was urbanity itself. I
visited the pitch lake at this place, which is a most extraordinary
phenomenon. I remarked several large chasms in it, where small fish were
enjoying themselves. I was told by the officer who accompanied me that the
pitch could not be applied to any use. Whilst we were looking at it one of
the smaller chasms, or rents, closed with a bubbling noise, and the water
above it appeared as if boiling. At daylight on the third day I sailed
with the convoy for Jamaica, and anchored at Port Royal. The day after I
waited on the Admiral at the Pen, where I dined, and met a number of my
brother officers, whose conversation after dinner was principally
respecting their ships. As the ship I commanded was healthy I was, if
possible, determined to keep her so, and I requested permission to sail on
a long cruise as soon as we were refitted. The Pen, or the Government
House, where the Admiral resides, is about three short miles from
Greenwich. It is enclosed in a park, and the views from it are extensive
and beautiful. Some of my former parti-coloured beauties of Port Royal had
gone on the other tack—that is, they had taken up their everlasting abode
among the land crabs on the Palisades, and as I partook of those
crustaceous fish I very possibly might have eaten some part of them. If I
did, I thought them very good.

The yellow fever was making rapid strides on board the squadron. It
fortunately did not reach us, and we sailed on the tenth day after our
arrival. My cruising ground was between the north side of Jamaica and
Cuba. I frequently sighted the Moro Castle at the entrance of the river
where I was formerly taken prisoner and sent to the town of St. Jago. The
good Spanish Governor’s kindness held a lively recollection in my memory,
but the captain of an American vessel who had sailed from thence the day
before I fell in with him, informed me that he was numbered with the dead.
Peace to his “manes.” We had been out a fortnight when one afternoon we
fell in with two large Spanish schooner privateers. They were to windward,
and standing for St. Jago. “Now,” thought I, “if I can get you once under
our guns, I will pay off old scores.” The sea breeze was fresh, and we
were closing fast. They at first, I believe, took us for an American, as I
had hoisted the Yankee colours. When they came nearly within gun-shot
they, unfortunately for us, saw their mistake, and hauled in for the
shore. I tacked, and had got within gun-shot of them, when the lower fort
of the Moro opened its fire on us, one of the shot passing through the
main top-sail. They also fired, and their shot went over us. Finding the
breeze lulling, and that we had no hope of capturing them, I gave them our
passing broadsides, and as one of them yawed, I had reason to believe some
of our shot took effect. The battery gave us a parting salute without
doing us injury, when, as the evening was closing, and the enemy’s vessels
had run into the mouth of the river, I was obliged to haul off.

After blockading the mouth of the river for ten days without the slightest
prospect of success, I anchored at Montego Bay, and procured fresh beef
for the crew. During the two days I remained at anchor I was invited, with
some of my officers, to the ball given by the inhabitants. It was well
attended, and I was agreeably surprised to meet so many of my fair
countrywomen, some of whom were handsome and still in their teens. I soon
became acquainted with several respectable families, and if my heart had
not been in safe keeping in beloved England by a still more beloved being,
I fear I should have lost it. Montego Bay is well fortified, and the town
and its background, consisting of several ranges of hills and mountains,
form a rich and pleasing picture. On the morning of the third day we
sailed, and were soon on our former cruising ground. Off Ochre Bay we
started a small Spanish privateer, which ran into a creek. I sent the
boats armed in pursuit of her, and after a smart contest of a quarter of
an hour, in which the gunner and one of the men were wounded, they brought
her out. The crew had landed and taken her gun—a six-pounder—with them,
which did the mischief to our boats. The gun they threw into deep water,
after having spiked it. She was a small schooner, about seventy-five tons.
I kept her as a tender, put an eighteen-pound carronade, a master’s mate,
and twenty men on board her, and a few days afterwards she captured a very
pretty schooner coming round Cape Mayzi.

My time being expired, I bore up for Jamaica with my two prizes, and
arrived at Port Royal on the second day. My health, which had been
delicate since leaving Africa, began to decline, and I was tormented with
a rash, particularly in my face, which affected my eyesight. I had, at
different periods, been twelve years on the West India station, and I
thought I had had a sufficient share of a torrid zone. The Admiral,
hearing of my indisposition, invited me for change of air to the Pen. This
kindness, however, did but little good to my health. One morning, as I was
strolling in the Park, calling the crown bird I had given to the Admiral,
and feeding him and some Curaçoa birds which were his companions, I was
accosted by the captain of a sloop of war who was ordered to take a convoy
of mahogany ships from Honduras to England, and in the course of
conversation he mentioned that he understood I intended to give up my ship
and invalid. “Whoever informed you that I intended to invalid,” I replied,
“must have laboured under a gross mistake. I would rather go to ‘Kingdom
come’ quietly than run from my post.” “Well,” said he, “be it so, but if
the Admiral were to consent to your exchanging with me, as I am almost a
Johnny Newcome in this part of the world, and you are an old standard,
would this accord with your way of thinking?” “As I am so unwell,”
returned I, “it certainly is a great temptation, but we must both have the
Admiral’s opinion and consent, and I will give you an answer in two days,
provided I do not get better, and Fishly, the builder, shall give me his
opinion respecting your sloop, whether Government, on my arrival in
England, will consider her an effective ship.”

He met me at the builder’s at Port Royal the following day, when the
latter assured me the ship’s repairs would be comparatively trifling, and
that he was certain, as those class of vessels were much wanted in the
Channel, she would be kept in commission. Three days afterwards we
effected the exchange, and I sailed to cruise again off Cuba for six
weeks. Working up against a fiery sea breeze tries the minds of those on
board as well as the rigging, masts and yards of His Majesty’s ships. A
few top-masts sprung and yards carried away are trifles, and you may think
yourself fortunate if it does not happen to a lower mast. We looked into
Tiberoon, crossed over to Cape St. Nicholas Mole, beat up between the
island of Tortuga and the larger island, overhauled the Grange and Cape
François, took a small row-boat with six swivels and fourteen
sharp-looking, smutty-coloured gentlemen, destroyed her, and bore up for
the north side of Cuba, where we captured a small Balaker schooner, who
informed us that a Spanish corvette of eighteen guns was lying at
Barracow. I immediately proceeded off that port, and finding the
information correct, sent her a challenge, and that I should remain three
days waiting for her. I might as well have sent my defiance to the
Eddystone lighthouse. She sent word that I might remain three years if I
chose. The harbour was difficult to enter, and well fortified, otherwise
her three years would not have been three hours before we were alongside
of her. I remained a week watching her movements, which, by-the-bye, were
no movements at all except that she had struck her top-masts and hauled
further inshore. Finding hope, respecting her, hopeless, and our cruise at
its last gasp, I stood close in and fired a gun unshotted by way of
showing our contempt, which probably the Spaniards laughed at, and made
sail once more for Jamaica.

                               CHAPTER XXI.

                           HOME WITH MAHOGANY.

    My new ship—Sail for Belize—Native and alligator—Sail for England
    with convoy of ships—Hear of peace being signed between Spain and
    England—Arrive in England—Paid off at Sheerness—Return home—Tired
      of country life—Apply for ship—Appointed to H.M.S. _Apelles_.

The sloop of war I now commanded was a fine sixteen-gun brig carrying
twenty-four-pound-carronades, with a crew of one hundred and twenty as
fine men as any in the fleet. They had been some time together, and only
wished for an opportunity of making the splinters fly out of a Frenchman’s
side, and hauling down his tricoloured piece of bunting. I found on my
reaching Port Royal that Admiral Rowley had arrived to supersede Admiral
Dacres. In the afternoon I dined with both Admirals, and met the Duke of
Manchester, who was a fine-looking man, but unfortunately had a nervous
affection of the head. He asked me several questions respecting the
different islands, and appeared amused by my description of them. After we
had refitted we sailed for Honduras, the Admiral first taking from me the
master, without appointing another, for which I did not thank him. We made
the Swan Islands, which are small, uninhabited, and surrounded by a reef
of coral, and on the morning of the third day anchored off the town at the
mouth of the Belize river. Colonel Drummond, who was the commanding
officer, received us very civilly, and requested I would dine with him as
often as I could. A deputation of the merchants waited on me to say the
convoy would be ready in a fortnight. I dined frequently at the military
mess, and found the officers generally gentlemanly. I gave two parties on
board, but as I had no music there was no dancing. We revelled in
Calepache and Calapee, and I think some of the city aldermen would have
envied us the mouthfuls of green fat we swallowed. I made an excursion up
the river with Colonel Drummond in a scow, a flat boat so called, or
rather float, and slept at a pavilion he had on the bank of it. I shall
never forget my nocturnal visitors, the bull-frogs, who, _sans façon_,
jumped about the room as if dancing a quadrille, not to my amusement but
their own, making a most unmusical noise to the tune of something like,
“Pay your debts, pay your debts, pay your debts.” After the third croak
they paused, probably to give time for everybody to become honest. I made
daily excursions to the neighbouring quays, and picked up a quantity of
beautiful shells.

Dining one day with Colonel Drummond, I remarked that the black servant
who stood near me had a piebald neck, and mentioned it as something
singular. “Why,” said the Colonel, “thereby hangs a very curious tale, and
not a pleasant one to him, poor fellow. He is a native of Panama, and
formerly was employed to float rafts of mahogany down the Belize river. He
is an expert canoe-man and something of a carpenter, and as he was a free
man I took him into my household. At my request he related to me the cause
of those white marks on his neck. It was thus. As he and another black man
were floating down the river on a large raft of mahogany, it being Sunday
he wished to bathe, and jumped into the river for that purpose. As he was
swimming after the raft, which was close to the mangroves, and had nearly
reached it, a large alligator seized him by the neck. He roared most
piteously; the animal, either alarmed at the noise he made, or wishing to
have a more convenient grip, threw him up, and in so doing he fortunately
fell on the raft. His companion bound up his wounds, which were deep, and
soon after he arrived at Belize he was sent to the hospital, when, on his
recovery, he became my servant.” “It was a most providential escape,”
exclaimed I. “Indeed it was,” replied the Colonel, “and so he thinks
himself.” On reaching the ship in the evening I found a beautiful mahogany
canoe alongside, and on entering my cabin the steward brought me a glass
globe containing two Panama tortoises, which, when full-grown, are richly
marked and not larger than a crown piece. The native name of these pretty
animals is _chinqua_. They were a present from Captain Bromley. At the
time appointed, seven vessels, deeply laden with mahogany, were ready for
sea. I spent the last day on shore, dined at the military mess, bade adieu
to all my red-coat friends, and the following morning got under weigh with
my haystack convoy for England.

We doubled Cape Antonio on the third day, and when off the Havannah we
perceived a frigate standing out of the harbour. We concluded she was
Spanish. I consulted the officers respecting the probability of taking her
by laying her alongside and boarding her. They thought it might be
effected. I turned the hands up and acquainted them of my intention. Three
hearty cheers was the response. We prepared for action, and stood towards
her. We were three gunshots from her when it fell calm, as well as dusk,
and about an hour afterwards a large boat came near us. We presumed she
was a Spanish gunboat, and had taken us for a merchant vessel. I let her
come alongside, having the marines ready to give them a reception when
they boarded, and to quietly disarm and hand them down the hatchway. The
first man who came up was a lieutenant of our service. “Hulloa, sir, how
is this, and where have you come from?” said I. “From the _Melpomene_,”
replied he, “the frigate you see off the Havannah.” “This is a terrible
disappointment,” resumed I. “We had made up our minds to board and, if
possible, carry that frigate, supposing her Spanish.” “Why, sir,” said he,
“we yesterday carried the disagreeable news to the Governor of Cuba of a
Spanish peace, and seeing you with a convoy, Captain Parker despatched me
with some letters for England, if you will have the goodness to take
charge of them.” “Willingly,” replied I, “and pray acquaint him with our

He shortly after left us, and we proceeded through the Gulf with the
convoy. Nothing of any importance transpired during our passage of nine
long, tedious weeks, when we anchored in the Downs, where I got rid of all
our snail-sailing mahogany haystacks. The three days we lay in the Downs I
took up my quarters at the “Hoop and Griffin.” Bread and butter, with
delicious oysters, were my orders of the day, but, alas, my former pretty
maid was no longer there. She was married, had children, and I sincerely
hope was happy. On the same floor, the father-in-law to the First Lord of
the Admiralty, with his daughter and niece, had taken up their abode for a
few days on their return journey to London from a tour in Wales. Before I
was acquainted with this information, seeing a carriage at the door and an
old gentleman with two ladies alight from it, I asked the waiter who they
were. He answered he did not know, but that they had arrived yesterday and
that the gentleman appeared much out of spirits, and one of the ladies
very much out of health. The purser had been dining with me, and we were
enjoying our wine, when I said to the waiter, in a half-joking manner,
“Give my compliments to the old gentleman, and request him to hand himself
in, that we may have a look at him.” He fulfilled his commission, although
I did not intend he should do so, to the letter, and in walked a stately,
gentlemanly-looking man, about seventy. He gave us a look that appeared to
say, “Surely this is some mistake, I know you not.” On perceiving his
embarrassment I advanced towards him, and begged, although there was some
little mistake, that if he were not engaged, he would do me the favour to
take a glass of wine. “I see,” said he, “you are officers of the navy,”
and without further hesitation, sat down and became quite cheerful. In the
course of conversation he informed me that he had tried the air of Wales
for the benefit of his daughter, who was married to a captain in the navy,
and that his other daughter was married to Lord Mulgrave, First Lord of
the Admiralty. I told him we had come from the West Indies and were going
to sail for Sheerness in the morning; that if he thought his daughter
would like to go so far on her journey by sea, instead of by land, my
cabin was entirely at his service. He thanked me cordially, but declined
it. After finishing a brace of decanters of wine he took his leave, first
giving me his address in London. A month afterwards I heard of his death.

The following morning we sailed, and arrived at Sheerness next day, when I
received orders to pay off the ship, in consequence of her being
iron-fastened and wanting so much repair. She was afterwards sold out of
the Service. I need not say I was much disappointed, and thought the
builder at Port Royal something of an old woman, and only fit for
superannuation. I found one of my old captains commissioner at this place,
to whom I gave a turtle, a pig, and a bag of bread dust, for he thought
one without the other useless, and for which he did not even invite me to
his house. “Oh, what is friendship but a name that lulls the fool to
sleep,” etc. On the sixth day the ship was put out of commission and
myself out of full pay. I took a postchaise with my light luggage, and I
arrived in the evening at my dear home, kissed my wife and all the women I
could meet with that were worth the trouble, sat myself down in a snug
elbow-chair near a comfortable English fire, told a long, tough yarn about
mountains of sugar and rivers of rum, bottle-nosed porpoises, sharks,
grampuses, and flying-fish, until I fell sound asleep, but, however, not
so sound to prevent my hearing my best end of the ship whispering to
someone to put more coals on the fire, and roast a chicken for my supper,
and then she added, with her dear, musical, soft voice, “Dear fellow! How
sound he sleeps. I hope he will awake quite refreshed, and eat his supper
with a good appetite. How rejoiced I am he is once more at home.” I could
have jumped up and hugged her, but I thought it better to enjoy my sleep.
If this narrative meets the eye of a bachelor sailor I could wish him to
splice himself to such another clean-looking frigate as my wife, but mind,
not without he has a purse well filled with the right sort, and as long at
least as the maintop bowline, or two cables spliced on end. Love is very
pretty, very sentimental, and sometimes very romantic, but love without
rhino is bewildering misery.

When I awoke next morning I scarcely could believe my senses, it appeared
too much happiness. The _élite_ of the village favoured me with calls and
congratulations, as well as invitations to tea and _petit soupers_, with a
seasoning of scandal. I in return entertained them occasionally with a few
King’s yarns, which, my gentle reader, are not tarred, and are what the
seamen vulgarly call rogue’s yarns, so called because one or more are
twisted in large ropes and cables made in the King’s dockyards, to
distinguish them from those made in the merchants’ yards, and should they
be embezzled or clandestinely sold, the rogue’s or white yarn is evidence
against the possessor. I had been some months on shore when I began to get
tired of looking at green fields and grass combers, and longed to be once
more on the salt seas. My family had increased to seven boys and girls,
and I thought it criminal to be longer idle, and, after many applications,
Mr. Yorke, the First Lord of the Admiralty, favoured me with an
appointment to command a sloop of war on the Downs station.

I joined her in the cold, uncomfortable month of December. The weather was
remarkably severe, and it was five days before I could get a launch to put
me on board her. At length I made my footing on the quarter-deck. The
first lieutenant received me and informed me the captain was unwell in the
cabin, but that he wished to see me. I descended into a complete den,
filled with smoke and dirt. The first object I perceived looming through
the dense vapour was the captain’s nose, which was a dingy red. His linen
was the colour of chocolate, his beard had, I presumed, a month’s growth.
I informed him of my errand, to which he answered with something like a
growl. As it was impossible to remain in the cabin without a chance of
being suffocated, I begged him, if he possibly could, to accompany me to
the quarter-deck. He followed me with a slow step. I expressed my wish to
have my commission read. He then gave orders to the first lieutenant to
turn the hands up. After this ceremony I took the command, made a short
speech to the crew, in which I assured them they should have every
indulgence the Service afforded. I then turned to my predecessor, and
asked him when he wished to leave the ship. He informed me that to-morrow
would suit him. I gave the necessary orders and went on shore. The
admiral, Sir G. Campbell, received me very kindly, and invited me to
dinner, where I met Lady C., the admiral’s wife, a ladylike, pleasant
person. The dinner party consisted of brother officers. The admiral was a
quiet, gentlemanly, pleasing man, and a distinguished and good officer. As
I sat next him he was kind enough to inform me that the captain of the
sloop I superseded was considered out of his mind, that the officers had
represented to him that the discipline on board her was worse than on a
privateer, and that he would neither punish for insubordination nor have
the decks washed. “In consequence of which,” continued the Admiral, “I was
obliged to order a Court of Inquiry. The report was to his disadvantage;
he was advised to go on shore, to which, after some hesitation, he
consented, and another captain was applied for. You have superseded him,
and I make no doubt you will soon make her once more a man-of-war.” I
thanked him for his kind communication, and assured him that zeal on my
part should not be wanting to make her equal to one of his best cruisers.
On rejoining the ship, as I had been the first lieutenant for five years
in former ships, I told the officers I wished to make my own observation
on the men’s conduct, and I would endeavour to effect a reform when I
found it necessary. The officers, with the exception of the master, who
was a rough, practical seaman, were gentlemanly, well-informed men, and I
was not surprised at their wishing to get rid of their insane chief,
although, in any other case, it might have proved to them a difficult and
probably a dangerous experiment. A few days afterwards I called on him. I
found him in small lodgings in an obscure part of the town. I was
accompanied by Captain J., an old messmate of his in former times. He
neither knew us nor asked us to take a seat. He had a large loaf under his
left arm, and in his right hand a dinner knife. He appeared to wear the
same chocolate-coloured chemise and beard, his stockings were down over
his shoes, and his clothes all over flue. We wished him health and
happiness, to which he returned no answer, but began cutting his loaf. The
people of the house told us he would neither wash himself nor take his
clothes off when going to bed, but that he was perfectly quiet. I
understood, before I sailed, that his sister had come from the north of
England to stay with him, and that she had been of great use to him.

                              CHAPTER XXII.

                              OFF BOULOGNE.

        Sent to watch the French flotilla off Boulogne—Monotonous
       duty—Return to Sheerness to refit—Story of Billy Culmer—More
                 cruising off Boulogne—Return to England.

On the ninth day after joining, we sailed to cruise off Boulogne. The
vessel I now commanded was a brig sloop of fourteen 24-pounders, the
ship’s company by no means a bad set, and in the course of the cruise I
had the satisfaction of seeing them alert, clean and obedient. This was in
a great measure owing to the officers, who, when supported, were firm,
discriminating and encouraging. The consequence was that during the time I
commanded her there was only one desertion in eighteen months, and the cat
did not see daylight once in three months. I found off Boulogne another
cruiser watching the French privateers and Bonaparte’s boast—the flotilla.
The captain of her was a Job’s comforter. He told me he was both sick and
sorry to be on such a wear-and-tear, monotonous, do-nothing station, that
he had been out two months without effecting anything, that he had
frequently had the enemy’s privateers under his guns, but that the run was
so short, they were always sure of escaping. “One morning,” said he,
“about five months ago, I had got within musket-shot of one of those
vagabonds, and had been sure of him, when a shell fired from Cape Grisnez
fell directly down the main hatchway, bedded in one of the water-casks,
and shortly after exploded, without, fortunately, doing more mischief than
destroying a few more casks and splintering the beams and deck without
wounding a man. I was in consequence reluctantly obliged to give up the
chase, but not before I had taken ample revenge. In tacking I gave her all
the larboard broadside, and not a vestige of her was to be seen: but,”
continued he, “I hear of their taking prizes; but where the devil do they
carry them to?” “Not into Boulogne or Calais,” replied I. “Havre and
Cherbourg are the ports to sell them in.” “Then why,” said he, “do they
keep so many of us on this station and so few to the westward?” “I presume
it is,” I replied, “because this being the narrowest part of the Channel,
there is more risk of our vessels being captured, and you know all the old
women, with the Mayor and Aldermen, would petition the Admiralty to have
the fleet back again to watch that frightful bugbear the half-rotten
flotilla, which sometimes prevents them from taking their night’s rest.
And it is very probable that, was this station neglected, our vessels
would be cut out from the Downs.” “I never dreamed of that,” answered he.
“It’s all right, and if I can only take six of their privateers, or about
twenty of their flotilla, I will not say a word more.”

[Illustration: H.M.S. APELLES.]

I remained out nearly three months, watching the flotilla and the
privateers. We sometimes anchored just beyond range of their shells, and
frequently when the wind was light hauled the trawl, and were richly
rewarded by a quantity of fine fish. I was at length relieved by another
cruiser, and again anchored in the Downs. We were a fortnight refitting,
during which time I dined several times at the admiral’s table, where I
had the pleasure of meeting Sir R. Strachan, Sir P. Durham, and several
other distinguished officers. One day, after dinner, the characters of
several eccentric officers were the subject of conversation.

“I make no doubt,” said a veteran captain, “that most of the present
company recollect a man by the name of Billy Culmer, a distant relation of
Lord Hood’s. He was a short time one of my lieutenants, and was between
thirty and forty years of age before he obtained his commission. The next
time I dined with Lord Hood, who was then one of the Admirals in the
Channel Fleet, I was determined to request his lordship to give me a brief
outline of his history, which was nearly this. Shall I proceed, Lady
Campbell?” “Oh, by all means, Captain M.”

“‘The Culmers were distantly related to me by marriage,’ said his
lordship. ‘Billy, as he was always called, was sent to me when I hoisted
my pendant as master and commander. He unfortunately had lost an eye when
a boy in one of his freaks, for they could do nothing with him at home.
When he came on board I was not prepossessed in his favour; his manners
were rough and bearish, although he had some redeeming qualities, for he
was straightforward and frank. After being with me about two years, he
said he was tired of being a midshipman, and requested me to obtain his
discharge into the merchant service. I remonstrated with him to no
purpose. To prevent his deserting, which he declared he would do, I
procured his discharge, and he entered on board a West India ship going to
Jamaica. I had lost sight of this extraordinary being for more than eight
years,’ continued his lordship, ‘when, as I was standing on the platform
at Portsmouth, waiting for a boat from the frigate I commanded, I was much
surprised to see Billy Culmer, in a dirty sailor’s dress, a few yards from
me. He perceived me, and pulled off his hat. “Hulloa!” said I, “Billy;
where have you come from? I understood you were dead.” “Not so hard up as
that, sir,” replied he. “I am d——d.” “Explain yourself,” said I. “Why,”
said he, “I am d——d in the King’s service, for I shall never be able to
enter it again, in consequence of my folly in requesting you to get me
discharged.” “I probably may have interest enough, Billy, to get you once
more on the quarter-deck if you will promise me faithfully to remain
steady.” “I promise you solemnly I will,” replied he. “Then meet me at the
admiral’s office to-morrow at ten o’clock,” returned I. “And I suppose,
from your appearance, you are pretty well aground. Here is something that
will keep your body and soul together.” He made a leg and took his
departure.’ But I am afraid, Lady Campbell, you have had enough of this
rigmarole story, for it is rather a long one, and to those who know
nothing of the man it may not be an interesting one.” “Why, Captain M.,”
said Lady Campbell, “as the weather is disagreeable, and we do not intend
to take a drive this evening, we may as well hear about Billy Culmer as
anybody else. Do you not think so, Admiral?” The admiral, who appeared
more inclined for a nap than to listen to a long-spun yarn, I verily
believe, wished the narrator and the subject of his narration at the
masthead together. However, he nodded assent, and the story went on.

“‘On speaking to the admiral, Billy was again under my command,’ resumed
his lordship, ‘and was appointed mate of the hold. When I was promoted to
my flag, Billy and I parted company, for he had followed me steadily from
the frigate to a ship of the line. As soon as he had served his six years,
I sent for him and told him he must go to London to pass his examination.
“You must excuse me, my lord,” was his answer; “I would rather remain the
oldest midshipman than the youngest lieutenant,” and he persisted in this
whim for more than three years. At the end of that period the ship he
belonged to arrived at Spithead, and he came on board me to pay his
respects. “Well,” said I, “Culmer, will you now pass your examination, or
are you determined to die the oldest midshipman in the service?” “I have
been thinking of it,” was his reply, “but I have no money to carry me to
London.” “That,” said I, “I will give you. And if you can mount a horse, I
will procure that also.” In a few days Billy started for London, where he
arrived a week after, having sold my horse on the road, without informing
me of his having done so. When he made his appearance before the
Commissioners at Somerset Place, they were all younger than himself, and
one of them had been a mid in the same ship where he was mate. This last
addressed him, and in a half comic, half serious manner, said: “Well, Mr.
Culmer, I make no doubt you are well prepared for your examination.” “And
who the devil put you there,” answered Billy sharply, “to pass one who
taught you to be something of a sailor? Do you remember the _colting_ I
gave you when you were a youngster in my charge? But I never could beat
much seamanship into you. So you are to examine me, are you?” The two
other commissioners, who knew the whimsical character of the person before
them, called him to order, and requested he would answer some questions,
as he could not obtain his certificate without doing so. “Begin,” said
Billy, turning his quid and hitching up his trousers. “You are running
into Plymouth Sound in a heavy gale from the S.E.; how would you proceed
in coming to an anchor? Your top-gallant masts are supposed to be on
deck.” “I would first furl all and run under the storm forestay sail,
unfid the topmasts going in, and have a long range of both bower cables on
deck, and the sheet anchor ready. On coming to the proper anchorage I
would let go the best bower and lower the topmasts as she tended head to
wind; veer away half a cable and let go the small bower; veer away on both
cables until the best bower splice came to the hatchway. I should then
half a whole cable on one and half a cable on the other.”

“‘“The gale increases, and there is a heavy scud, and you find both
anchors are coming home. What then?”

“‘“Then I would veer to one and a half on the best and a whole on the

“‘“In snubbing the best bower, it parts in the splice. What then?”

“‘“What then?” exclaimed Billy sharply, for he began to be tired of being
interrogated respecting a part of seamanship he thought he knew better
than themselves. “Why,” replied he, taking a fresh quid of tobacco, “I
would let go the sheet anchor.”

“‘“But,” interrupted the elder Commissioner, “there is not, in consequence
of having dragged the bower anchors, room to veer more than a few fathoms
before you tail on the Hoe; consequently your sheet anchor, being only
under foot, will be of little or no use, and the strain being on the small
bower, it soon after parts.”

“‘“What humbug!” cried Billy, who could not contain himself longer. “I
tell you, gentlemen, what I would do. I would let her go on shore and be
d——d, and wish you were all on board her.”

“‘“Sit down, Mr. Culmer,” said the second Commissioner, “and calm
yourself. We shall leave you a short time. Probably we may ask you a few
more questions.”

“‘“Hem!” muttered Billy, and he scratched his head. After an interval of
half an hour, the Commissioner who had been his former messmate, entered
with his certificate.

“‘“I have much pleasure,” said he, “in having the power to present you
your passing certificate, and I hope your speedy promotion will follow. Do
you stay long in London?”

“‘“Only to have a cruise in Wapping and to see St. Paul’s and the
Monument,” returned Billy, “and then I shall make all sail for

“‘“Have you any shot in your locker?” asked Captain T. “As much as will
serve this turn,” replied Billy, “for Lord Hood has sent me an order for
ten pounds on his banker.” “Good afternoon, Culmer,” said the former. “I
wish you your health.” “Thank you,” replied Billy; “the same to you; but
give me more sea-room next time you examine me, and do not let me tail on
the Hoe.”’ Billy, through the interest of Lord Hood, was quickly installed
lieutenant, but died shortly afterwards.”

“Well,” said the admiral’s lady, “I think, Captain M., had I known this
Billy Culmer, as you call him, I certainly should have made a pet of him.”

“I am afraid, my dear,” answered the Admiral, who appeared relieved now
the story was at an end, “you would have found him very pettish.” The
admiral’s play on the word produced a smile.

A young captain who sat near Lady Campbell asked her if she had ever heard
of a captain who was, in consequence of his extravagant behaviour, called
“Mad Montague?” “Pray, my dear,” cried the Admiral, who appeared terrified
at the idea of another story, “let us have our coffee.”

The hint was sufficient, we sipped our beverage and _chasse_, and departed
in peace.

Being ready for sea we left the Downs, and in a few hours were off our old
cruising ground to watch the terrible flotilla and the privateers, which
were principally lugger-rigged and carried long guns of different
calibres, with from fifty to seventy-five men. Some few had ten or
fourteen guns, besides swivels. The vessels forming the flotilla consisted
of praams, ship-rigged, and brigs carrying one or two eighteen or
twenty-four pounders, and the largest a thirty-two pounder (with sixty or
ninety men), all of them flat-bottomed. They sometimes, when the wind blew
fresh from the westward, ran down in squadrons close in shore, under the
protection of their batteries, to Calais. One Sunday I chased twenty-seven
and made the shot tell among some of them, until the pilots warned me that
if I stood further in they would give up charge of the ship. I chased
them, with the exception of one, who ran aground near Calais, into that
port. In hauling off after giving them a few more shot, their battery
favoured us with one which struck us between wind and water. As the shells
were now falling plentifully around us, I thought it prudent to make more
sail, as one of the shells had gone through the foretop-sail. Our force
generally consisted of three sloops of war to watch Boulogne, the senior
officer being the commodore, but in spite of all our vigilance the
privateers crept along shore under cover of the night without being seen,
and they sometimes tantalized us by anchoring outside, but so close in and
under their batteries that it was impossible to get at them in that
position. We, one morning at daybreak, captured a row-boat with twenty-two
men, armed with swivels and muskets. We had disguised the ship so much
that she took us for a merchantman, and before she discovered her mistake
was within pistol-shot. Three months had now expired, which had been
passed much in the same manner as the last cruise, when a cutter came out
to order us into the Downs.

                              CHAPTER XXIII.

                          THE SAME WEARY ROUND.

         Leave to return home for four days—Visit of the Duke of
     Clarence—Again off Boulogne—Down Channel with a convoy—Boulogne
    once more—Refit at Plymouth—Return Boulogne—Run aground on French
    coast—Part of crew escape in boats—Author and nineteen men remain
                                on board.

On our arrival, in consequence of the vessel wanting material repairs, we
were desired to repair to Sheerness. The commander-in-chief at this
ill-flavoured town was a King John’s man, four feet something without his
shoes, and so devoted to the reading of the Scriptures that he sometimes
carried that sacred book under his arm. Some ill-natured people said he
understood little of its doctrines, as he was too cross and unsociable to
be a good Christian. Be that as it may he gave me leave, whilst the ship
was refitting, to go home for four days. Where is the man who does not,
after he has been absent from his family for nearly ten months, yearn to
be with a fond wife and half a house full of dear children once more.
During the short period I was at home, I thought myself in the seventh
heaven. Alas, the time flew away on rapid wings. How soon our joy is
changed to sorrow. I tore myself from the house that contained my dearest
treasures, and was soon again among tar jackets and tar barrels. The
admiral appeared satisfied with my punctuality, but he did not invite me
to dinner, and as he did not I repaired to the principal inn with a few
brother officers, and ordered some fish and a boiled leg of mutton and
mashed turnips. “It is very extraordinary, gentlemen,” replied the head
waiter when we mentioned the articles we wished for dinner. “There are
thirteen different naval parties in the house, and they have all ordered
the same. But,” added he, “I am not at all surprised, for our mutton is
excellent.” The following morning the signal was made for all captains to
repair to the dockyard to receive the Duke of Clarence. At one o’clock he
arrived in the commissioner’s yacht from Chatham. I had the honour of
being presented to him first, as I happened to be nearest. He asked me a
few questions of no importance, and then passed on to another officer. He
inspected the yard and the troops, we all following him. As he was
afterwards to breakfast, or rather lunch, with Commissioner Lobb, the
latter was considerate enough to invite us all to meet him, and a curious
kind of meeting it was. The distinguished and illustrious admiral was very
chatty, and appeared from the manner of his eating to be sharp set. The
little Admiral of the Port did not, for some reason, attend. His friends
said he ought to have given the refreshment instead of the commissioner,
but it was not his fashion. I was not sorry when the Duke took his
departure, as his presence brought everything to a standstill.

In a week’s time we were ready for sea, and I left Sheerness, the little
hospitable admiral, and all its contents without shedding one tear. Off
Margate the pilot had the kindness to bump us on shore, but as the tide
was making, the vessel was soon afloat without receiving any injury. His
wife had predicted this in her preceding night’s dream, and he, silly man,
had not sense enough to give up his turn to another pilot. On arriving in
the Downs, I was ordered next day to repair to my old tiresome cruising
ground, where, during a period of three long, lingering months, we
cruised, anchored, fished, and frequently on Sundays engaged the old
women’s terror, the flotilla. We also took a _chasse marée_ laden with
plaster of Paris. As I imagined I should gratify the honest people at
Dover, particularly the female part, who might be twisting their
papillotes and talking scandal for want of other amusement, by sending in
a vessel with the English flag flying above the French, I was determined
to do so, although I knew she would scarcely pay her condemnation. A few
days afterwards I received a note from the prize agent to request I would
not send in anymore of the same description, as there was a balance of six
pounds against us for Proctor’s fees, etc. Thinks I to myself, how odd.
So, as the sailor says, after venturing life and limb in capturing an
enemy’s vessel, I am to pay for taking her. D——n me, Jack, that’s too bad.
I’ll write to Joseph Hume to bring it before the House of Commons. I know
he is a great reformer and a sailor’s friend, although he terms them a
dead weight.

We were at the end of our cruise relieved, and anchored again in the
Downs, where I was informed Sir G. Campbell had been relieved by Sir Thos.
Foley, his counterpart in worth and gallantry.

I waited on the gallant admiral, left my card on Lady Lucy, and was
invited to dinner. The admiral, as he is well known, and considered one of
our most distinguished officers, I need not describe. His lady was a
lively, hospitable, agreeable person, and I often reflect on the many
pleasant hours I passed at the admiral’s house. I understand she is now a
saint and is very charitable. Generally speaking, I do not admire saints.
They are too pure to mix with this sinful world, and are not fond of
sailors. A fortnight passed away when we once more sighted our anchors,
and the day after that eye-sore Boulogne. Our occupation was much the same
as the last cruise, except that I was ordered shortly after I sailed to
take charge of a large convoy outward bound, and to proceed with them as
far as Portsmouth. On my arrival there I went on shore and waited on the
admiral, Sir R. Curtis, whom I found walking, what he termed his
long-shore quarter-deck, the platform. He was a little, shrewd man, and
knew a handspike from a capstan bar. I informed him from whence I came,
and that I had fulfilled my orders respecting the convoy. I then presented
him the necessary papers belonging to my own ship. “Come with me to my
office,” was the order. In going there we had to pass part of the market,
where the admiral was well-known. He conversed in passing with several
pretty market girls, and chucked them under the chin. “Ho, ho!” thought I.
On breaking the seal of the envelope of the papers I had given him, he
said, “I find all perfectly in order. How long have you been a commander?”
I informed him. “Your seniors,” returned he, “may blush and take your
correctness for a pattern.” I made my bow. “You will sail to-morrow for
your station,” continued he. “Foley is a good fellow, and I will not
detain you longer than that time, so that you may take prizes for him.
There will be a knife and fork at my table at five o’clock, where, if you
are not engaged, I hope to see you.” He then withdrew. If I had not known
this gallant officer’s character as a courtier, I should have been highly
flattered by his compliments. Had anyone else stood in my shoes, his
language would most likely have been the same. However, it put me in good
humour, for who is there that does not like to be commended and sometimes
flattered? At the admiral’s table I met his amiable daughter, who did not
appear in health, and some old brother officers.

At daylight I robbed Spithead of some of its mud, and was soon in sight of
detested Boulogne, and of its, if possible, more hated flotilla; and I
almost believe that if our men could have caught some of its crew they
would have eaten them alive. This cruise we assisted, as the French say,
in taking one of their privateers, the prize-money of which gave soap to
the ship’s company for the next cruise; what other good we did I say not.
At the expiration of another three months, His Majesty’s sloop’s anchors
once more bit the mud in the Downs. On my going on shore to the admiral’s
office, I was informed that I was to repair to Plymouth and there refit. I
was, as Sir R. Strachan said in his despatch, “delighted.” I hoped we
should be ordered to the Mediterranean. I dined with the admiral, and the
day after we tore the anchors from their unwilling bed and made all sail.
As I passed the coast near Boulogne I made my bow and wished it good-bye,
I hoped for ever. On the fourth day we graced Plymouth Sound. I made my
bow to the commander-in-chief, Sir R. Calder, who asked me, with some
surprise, where I came from, and what I did at Plymouth. I produced my
order, etc. “This is a mistake of some of the offices; I have no orders
respecting you. However, as you are here, I suppose we must make good your
defects, and, notwithstanding that you have taken us by surprise, I hope I
shall have the pleasure of seeing you at six o’clock to dinner.”

I repaired on board with a pilot and brought the vessel into Hamoaze. At
the appointed time I waited on the admiral. The dinner I thought passed
off heavily. There were no ladies to embellish the table, and after coffee
I went on board. Next morning I waited on the commissioner, Fanshaw, who
received me very graciously, as I was known to several of his family. As
the vessel was to be docked and fresh coppered, we were hulked, and I took
lodgings on shore, where the commissioner did me the honour of calling on
me and requested me to dine with him the following day. The dinner party
consisted of another brother officer, his own family, who were very
amiable, and myself. During the fortnight I remained here, as I was well
acquainted with several families, I contrived to pass my time very

I expected every hour orders to fit foreign, but, oh! reader, judge of my
mortification when the admiral informed me I was to go back from whence I
came in a few days, and take with me a heavy-laden convoy. My mind had
been filled with Italian skies and burnished golden sunsets, ladies with
tender black eyes, Sicilian coral necklaces, tunny-fish and tusks. I was
to give up all these and to return to that never-to-be-forgotten,
good-for-nothing rotten flotilla, to see Dover pier, the lighthouse, and
the steeple of Boulogne, to cross and re-cross from one to the other to
provoke an appetite. If I had had interest enough I would have changed the
Board of Admiralty for having sent me to Plymouth on a fool’s errand. My
thoughts were bitter and seven fathoms deep. Again I cruised, like an
armadillo on a grassplat, there and back again. After our usual time we
again disturbed the mud, and most likely a number of fish, by letting go
our anchors in the Downs, I little thought for the last time. How blind is
man to future events, and fortunate it is he is so!

On the ninth day His Majesty’s brig was again dividing the water and
making it fly to the right and left in delicate wavy curls. We wished
Boulogne, Bonaparte, and his flotilla burnt to a cinder during this
cruise; we were generally at anchor off that detested place, and took
nothing, for there was nothing to take. On Sunday we were usually firing
at the flotilla as they anchored outside the pier, but so close to it that
I fear our shot made little impression. At this time they were erecting a
column on the heights, on which, we understood from the fishing-boats, an
equestrian statue of that great dethroner, Bonaparte, was to be placed. A
large division of the army of England, as they chose to call themselves,
were encamped round it. We occasionally anchored at Dungeness for a few
hours to procure fresh beef and vegetables. Our cruise was nearly
terminated when the sloop of war, whose captain was senior to myself, made
my signal. On repairing on board her, he informed me that a division of
the flotilla was to run along shore for Cherbourg that night, and that it
was necessary to keep the vessels as close in shore as possible, in order
to intercept them.

I again joined my ship and remained on deck until midnight in the hope of
encountering these bugbears, and making them pay dearly for all the
trouble they had given us; but, alas! how futile is the expectation of
man! I had gone to my cabin and thrown myself on the sofa, and fallen into
a canine slumber—that is, one eye shut and the other open—when I heard a
confused kind of rumbling noise, and soon afterwards the officer of the
watch tumbled down the hatchway and called out to me that the ship was
aground on the French coast, but that the fog, which had come on about an
hour after I quitted the deck, was so dense that the land could not be
seen. I had only taken off my coat and shoes. I was immediately on deck,
where I saw, to my sorrow and amazement, my commanding officer hard and
fast about half pistol-shot from us. I asked the pilots, whose
carelessness had done us this favour, what time of tide it was. “The
infant ebb of the spring,” was the comfortable answer. “I wish you were
both hanged,” I replied. “So be it,” responded the officers. During this
period we were not idle; the boats were got out as well as an anchor
astern, and the sails hove aback, the water started, the pumps set going,
guns thrown overboard over the bows as well as shot, but all our efforts
proved fruitless—you might as well have tried to start the Monument; and,
to conclude this distressing and disastrous scene, a heavy battery began
pouring its shot into the vessel I commanded, she being the nearest, and
the fort not more than an eighth of a mile from us on the edge of a cliff.
A boat came from the sloop to request that I would make preparations to
blow up my vessel and quit her with the crew. “Sooner said than done,”
replied I to the officer sent; “my boats will not carry the whole of us,
and however I may wish to go to heaven in a hurry, probably those who are
obliged to remain may not be willing to bear me company.” As the vessel
began to heel over towards the battery, I ordered the boats to be manned,
and all left the ship except nineteen men and myself, who had the felicity
to be fired at like rabbits, as the enemy had now brought some
field-pieces to bear on us. Our rigging was soon shot away and our sails
cut into ribbons. At length away went the lower masts a little above the
deck, while about two hundred men were pegging away at us with muskets. To
make our happiness supreme, the sloop of war which had been set on fire
and abandoned, blew up, and set us partially in a blaze, and while we were
endeavouring to extinguish it the enemy took the cowardly advantage of
wounding the purser, gunner, and two seamen, as well as myself, though
only slightly. We had now fallen so much on the side that we stood with
our feet on the combings of the hatchways, with our backs against the
deck. What a charming sight, as my Lady Dangerfield might have said, to
see four heavy guns from the battery, three field-pieces, and about two
hundred soldiers firing at a nearly deserted vessel, and endeavouring to
pick off and send to “Kingdom come” the unfortunate few of her crew who
remained. The captain of the other sloop, finding I was not in the boats,
pulled back in a gallant manner under a most galling fire to entreat me to
come into his boat. This I declined, as I could not in justice leave those
who were obliged to remain behind. Finding he could not prevail on me to
leave, he joined the other boats and proceeded to England, where, happily,
they all arrived in the evening. We had now been aground about four hours,
and the enemy had amused himself by firing at us for about two hours and a

                              CHAPTER XXIV.

                             TAKEN PRISONER.

     Taken prisoner, and removed to Boulogne gaol—Asked to dinner by
         General Lemaroix—News of Perceval’s assassination—Parole
    refused—Marched to Montreuil-sur-Mer—On to Hesdin; being footsore,
           author insists on having a carriage—Drives to Arras.

When the tide had receded sufficiently for the enemy to board us without
wetting their delicate feet, about one hundred and fifty disgraced our
decks. About thirty of these civil gentlemen, principally officers, paid a
visit to my cabin without asking permission. The wine, of which I had ten
dozen on board, was their first object, which I make no doubt they found
suited their palate, as they drank it with much zest. My clothes,
spyglasses, knives and forks, as well as the crockery-ware, were seized on
in turn; and it appeared by their smirking looks and lively conversation
that all they had achieved was perfectly to their satisfaction, and that
instead of plundering a few ship-wrecked sufferers they had only been
asked to a _fête_ given by me. The commanding officer of these brave and
honest men desired us to go on shore, where we were met by another
officer, who ordered us to the guard-house near the battery, and an hour
afterwards we marched for Boulogne, which was four miles distant, escorted
by about forty of our tormentors. On our arrival we had the unexpected
happiness of being lodged in the common gaol, cooped up in a dirty tiled
room of twelve feet by eight, with a small well-grated window. “Well,”
said I to the doctor, who had remained behind to dress the wounded, “what
will the marines say to this? The sailors will never believe it.” Whilst
we were prosing with our elbows on our knees and our chins on our thumbs,
looking very dolefully at each other, the ill-looking man who had locked
us up made his appearance with a servant in a rich livery, who asked in
French for the commandant. I stood up and said I was that person, on which
he presented me with the following note:—

“Le Général Comte Lemaroix, Aide de Camp de sa Majesté l’Empereur et Roi,
Commandant en Chef le Camp de Boulogne, etc, prie Monsieur Hoffeman,
officier, de lui faire l’honneur de venir dîner avec lui aujourd’hui,
lundi, à 4 heures.


“Now,” said I, “doctor,” addressing my surgeon, “you are my senior in age
and I think in experience; be my mentor on this occasion. In the first
place, I have no inclination to go, for I am too sulky; in the second, I
am wet and dirty.” “Oh, do go, sir!” they all exclaimed. “It may better
our situation, and we may have our parole.” “On your account I will accept
the invitation,” said I. As I had no writing implements I sent a verbal
answer in the affirmative, and made myself as much an Adonis as I was
able. At the appointed hour the same servant and two gendarmes made their
appearance, and from the gaol to the general’s house I appeared, to judge
by the people staring at me, to be the lion of the day. On my arrival I
was ushered into the general’s presence. The Comte Lemaroix, who was about
forty years of age, was of a pleasing manner and countenance. He informed
me he was sorry for my misfortune, but it was the fortune of war. I
apologised for my dress, which was as wretched as my thoughts. At this
time a young man in the French naval uniform came to me and asked me how I
was. I remembered him as one of the officers sent to capture us. He spoke
indifferent English, and as my knowledge of the French language was
slight, I was glad to pair off with him. At the dinner-table were ten
officers and one lady. I was seated on the left side of the Comte. I cut a
sorry figure among so many smart and star-coated men. The dinner was
plentiful and good, and everybody chatty and in good humour, in which I
could not help, notwithstanding my situation, taking a part. After we had
taken our coffee I naturally concluded I should be on parole. When I took
my leave the captain in the navy and another officer said they would walk
with me as it was dusk, and I presumed we were going to an inn—but, oh,
horror of horrors! I was conducted to the prison from whence I came. They
there wished me good-night, and I wished them at the devil. Next morning,
after a restless night on a bed of straw, we were awakened by the grim,
hard-featured gaoler who had been kind enough to lock us up. He asked the
doctor if we wished to have breakfast, and if we could pay for it; he
answered in the affirmative. This turnkey gentleman informed us that our
first admiral, Mons. Poncevan, had been killed by an assassin. This report
puzzled all our wise heads. An hour afterwards our _café-au-lait_ entered,
and with it the principal gaoler, or, as he was called, Mons. le
Gouverneur. He was a stout, square-built man, and gave us an inquisitive
look. The doctor, who was an Irishman and our interpreter, asked him the
news, and if he were ever at Cork. “No,” answered he, “I never was in
America! but,” said he, “I understand that your Prime Minister, Mr.
Piercevell, has been shot by an assassin.” He meant Mr. Percival. We were
sorry to hear such bad news, as Mr. Percival was certainly a loss to his
country and his large family. However, it did not destroy our appetite for
breakfast. The considerate governor only charged us as much more for it as
we should have paid at the best coffee-house in the town.

After two days of durance vile I was visited by three very wise-looking
men, who, I understood, were some sort of lawyers. One of them produced a
printed paper, and asked me if I were acquainted with its contents. I
answered, “No.” “Do you know for what purpose they were intended, for we
have more than thirty of them which were found on board your ship?” I
answered as before. “This appears very extraordinary that you, as captain
of the ship where they were found, should not know they were on board
her.” “It may be so,” I answered with indifference. “You may think it a
trifle,” said one of them, “but it may, without it is satisfactorily
explained, prove in the end very serious to you.” “Indeed,” returned I,
“that will be still more extraordinary. Probably it may be the means of a
change of residence, for I cannot be worse off than where I am at
present.” “Monsieur chooses to be pleasant, but he must give us some
account of these papers before we leave him.” One of them then translated
their contents. As I had never heard of them before I was rather struck
with their purport, which was to create a counter-revolution, and cause
that English-loving man, Bonaparte, to be dethroned. “Doctor,” said I, “do
you know anything about these terrible papers?” “Very little,” replied he.
“They were, I believe, in circulation about two years ago, in Mr. Pitt’s
time, and they were called his projects, for he loved Napoleon with all
his heart.” “Pray,” said I, turning to the commissioner who had the
longest and most snuffy nose, and who had translated the paper, “in what
part of the vessel were these projects found?” “In the second cabin,” was
his answer. He meant the gun-room, where the officers slept and messed.
“What is their date?” “1808.” “Come,” resumed I, “I think you will not
shoot me this time. I did not join the ship until 1810, when they were
never given into my charge. Now, gentlemen, you may either remain or
depart; no more answers or explanation will I give.” They grouped into the
corner of the room, and after taking a pinch of snuff with a few shrugs of
their shoulders and some whispering, took their leave.

Soon after the turnkey appeared with another worthy person as interpreter,
and to whom I was to pay three francs a day and give him a dinner. I
remonstrated, and said the doctor was my interpreter. “Bah, bah!” said the
fellow, and marched out of the room, the door of which he locked. This
person, whom the turnkey had so unceremoniously introduced, had, it
appeared, been sent for by the _gouverneur_, as he chose to understand we
wished to have “un maître de la langue Française,” who could act as
interpreter when required. The poor man, who appeared as if he had fallen
from a balloon, apologised for the intrusion, which he said did not lie
with him, he had been sent for and came, but that when the turnkey
unlocked the door he would withdraw. “No,” said I, “as you are here and
you speak good English,” which he did, “I will, if you have a grammar,
take a lesson in French, and you may come every day during our stay in
this abominable place, which I suppose will not be long.” He pulled a
grammar from his pocket, and I began with the verbs. “I intend sending a
letter to the Comte Lemaroix. Will you,” said I to him, “take it for me?”
“Willingly,” replied he. I drew it up, and he translated it. It was to
request that myself and officers might have our parole, but as day after
day rolled on I do not think he received it, as my request was not
complied with.

I was again examined by a military court respecting those fearful papers,
but they, as well as myself, were not satisfied, I for being sent for on
so useless an errand, and losing my French lesson, and they because they
could not discover whether I was a spy, or prove that I had circulated
those papers among the fishing boats. After this tedious and ridiculous
examination the President, who appeared half sailor and half soldier,
asked me in so mild a manner as if sugar-candy would not have dissolved in
his mouth, “Pray, sir, will you acquaint me how many cruisers you have in
the Channel?” “Your question, Mr. President, is a delicate one,” replied
I, “and the only way you can gain that information is to send all your
frigates that have been lying at anchor so long in your different harbours
to ascertain the fact.” I thought my answer made him look cross, two
others look sulky, and the remainder smile. “I think we may discharge the
prisoner,” said he, turning to the other wise men; “we can elucidate
nothing.” “No,” said I to myself, “you will get nothing out of me.” On the
tenth day after the shipwreck we were ordered to march, and had the honour
of having two livery servants, in the shape of gendarmes on horseback, to
attend us. I begged to have a carriage, but I was refused, although I
offered to pay liberally for one.

We reached Montreuil-sur-Mer in the evening, where we marched into the
common gaol. I was much fatigued, as I had never walked so far in my life;
my feet were becoming blistered, and I was very hungry. “Do,” said I,
“doctor, let us have something to eat, for we have fasted since breakfast.
Have they any eggs?” The _gouverneur du château_ appeared, and informed us
he had plenty of eggs, and could give us a _fricassée de mouton_ and
_pommes de terre au maître d’hôtel_, “but,” added the doctor, “those d——d
fellows the gendarmes must dine with us.” This I did not like, and
requested him to speak to the gaoler, which he did; but the former
declared it was customary, when they escorted prisoners they always eat
with them. We were obliged to conform to the nuisance. After dinner, or
rather supper, or, more correctly speaking, the two in one, I fell asleep
in my chair until a dirty-looking girl shook me by the arm to say that my
bed was ready. I gave her a look that had she been milk it would have
turned her into vinegar. I followed her, however, into a room about twelve
feet by seven, where there were two crib bedplaces like those on board the
packets. They were, considering the place, tolerably decent, and I turned
in half-rigged. At half after two in the morning our two horse attendants
had the civility to wake us out of tired Nature’s sweet reposer, balmy
sleep. I looked daggers, and they looked determined on their plan of
making us march at three o’clock. The dirty, but civil damsel, brought me
a basin of water. I shook my feathers and refreshed myself. She then
appeared with some porringers filled with what she called
_café-au-lait_—_i.e._, milk bedevilled, and some tolerable bread and salt
butter. However, as we presumed we had another long march to encounter, we
made no hesitation in accepting it, and for which and the supper I had to
pay most extravagantly. We began our agreeable walk before daybreak,
accompanied by our two attendant cavaliers. As I walked rather lame one of
them offered me his horse, which I thought civil. I declined it, as I
preferred walking with my officers, although in pain.

About three in the afternoon we reached Hesdin, our destination for that
night, having marched nineteen miles, and were ushered into the gaol. “May
the devil run a-hunting with these rascally vagabonds!” said the doctor.
“Amen,” responded the rest. We were put into a dirty brick-floored room
with a grated window, in which there were three beds. “Now,” said I to the
doctor, “let us hunt for something to eat, for notwithstanding all my
miseries I am very hungry.” The _gouverneur du château_ made his
appearance; he was a brigadier of gendarmes. “What do you wish?” said he.
“What have you to eat?” asked the man of physic. “Eggs, a fowl, and some
excellent ham.” “Let us have them,” cried I, “as soon as possible.” Whilst
these good things were getting ready I bathed my feet in warm water, they
were much swollen, and the blisters on them had broken. I afterwards
rubbed them with brandy. The dinner was put on table, and the gendarmes
took their seats _sans façons_. After I had taken my second tumbler of
wine I began to revive. The dinner was not bad, and by the time it was
finished we were in good humour. “Now,” said I, “doctor,” for he was my
factotum, “tell our attendants if they will not allow me to have some kind
of carriage I will not step a foot further. My feet are so bad I cannot
walk, and they must carry me.” The Brigadier was sent for, and after a
consultation of a few minutes I was told I might have one if I paid for
it, but it could be only a covered cart. “Very well,” said I, “any port in
a storm.” We were now informed it was time to go to rest. This was no
punishment; and notwithstanding being bug- and flea-bitten, I slept well
and forgot all my sorrows. At six I was roused by the men at arms, had a
tolerable good breakfast, and stepped into my travelling machine with two
of my officers, the top of the cart being so low we were obliged to lie
down, and if it had not been for its abominable jolting we should have
found ourselves snug enough.

                               CHAPTER XXV.

                               AT CAMBRAY.

      Meet an Englishman—At last put on parole—Dine with Lieutenant
       Horton—Proceed to Cambray—Relics of Archbishop Fénélon—Meet
     Captain Otter at Verdun—Prisoners’ amusements—Author and Captain
    Otter establish a school for midshipmen—Author moves into country
       quarters—Severe censorship of prisoner’s letters—Ordered to
                    Blois—Purchase a cart and horses.

We reached Arras in the afternoon. On entering the town we were followed
by a crowd of idlers, who I rather think took us for a caravan of wild
beasts. Among this choice assemblage I perceived a sailor who looked like
an Englishman. “What are you doing here?” I called out at a venture. “I am
Lieutenant Horton’s servant,” answered he. “Pray,” said I, “who is he?”
“He is the lieutenant of the sailors at this depôt.”

“Then,” said I, “take this to him,” giving him a piece of paper with my
name on it. “Aye, aye, sir,” said he, and ran off to execute his errand.
We were, as before, ushered into the common gaol with due ceremony, where
we were received by another Brigadier, who had the honour of being
_gouverneur_. The gaol was considerably larger than those we had lodged in
on the road, and the people were civil. We ordered dinner, which I had to
pay for without doing it justice, in consequence of the appearance of
Lieutenant Horton with a French commissary, to inform myself and officers
we were on parole, and the former, like a generous sailor, begged us all
to dine with him at his house. We made ourselves as smart as circumstances
would allow, and accompanied him to a snug little house where he lived. He
introduced us to his wife, who was a very kind person and paid us every
attention, and I shall ever retain a feeling of gratitude for their
hospitality. In the evening we were joined by the English surgeon of the
depôt, who engaged us to dine with him the following day. A servant was
sent to the American hotel to bespeak rooms for us, and the day after I
engaged a carriage to take us to Verdun, for which I was to pay eight
napoleons, and find the coachman. In the evening, or rather night, we took
possession of our new quarters, which from what I had lately been
accustomed to, appeared a paradise, although the doctor and purser
declared they were half bled to death by bugs and fleas. We breakfasted
like gentlemen, and afterwards strolled about the town, to the amusement
of the inhabitants, who, as we passed them, made great eyes at us. I shall
not trouble my readers with a description of Arras, as they may satisfy
their curiosity, if they wish it, by consulting a Gazeteer. At five
o’clock the lieutenant called on me, and we all repaired to the surgeon’s
house. He gave us a good dinner, and was very attentive. At ten o’clock
they accompanied us to the inn, where they took their final leave, as we
were to start in our new vehicle at five in the morning.

At the appointed time behold us seated in our coach chattering like
magpies, and going at the rapid speed of about five miles an hour. At
Cambray we dined and slept. We visited the cathedral, which, thanks to
those honest, religious men, the Republicans, was in total ruins. All the
Virgins and saints were decapitated and the quiet repose of the dead
disturbed by their pure, delicate hands. “Erin’s curse be upon them!”
exclaimed my man of medicine. “The devil has them by this time,” said the
purser. “What a set of impious scoundrels,” ejaculated the midshipman. “I
am afraid,” added I, “France has in a great measure brought all her
misfortunes on herself. If the King and the nobles had stood firm to their
guns and given a more liberal constitution, millions of lives might have
been saved, and we should not have had the supreme happiness of being
attended by the gendarmes or of taking up our abode in their filthy,
loathsome gaols, besides a thousand other circumstances, of which, as you
have been partakers, I need not mention, as they are too agreeable to bear
in memory.” We reached a small place called Cateau Cambresis, where we
dined at a fourth-rate inn, formerly the country palace of the good
Archbishop Fénélon. At dinner, which, like the _auberge_, was also of the
fourth class, I had a silver fork with the armorial bearings of an
archbishop. I remarked the fact to my _maître d’__hôtel_, the doctor. “I
have a spoon with the same,” replied he. “This, you are aware, was
Fénélon’s favourite country palace, and as a quantity of family plate was
buried during the Revolution, these very likely belonged to him.” When the
woman who attended us at dinner came in again, the doctor interrogated her
respecting them. She informed him they had been found among some old
rubbish in the yard. I asked her if she would sell them; she answered in
the affirmative, and demanded thirty francs. I gave her twenty-four, and
took possession of my prizes.

In a remote part of the building I found some Englishmen at work
manufacturing what the French were then little acquainted with, dimity.
They told me they had permission to sleep out of the prison, and that the
French allowed them a franc a day and some wine. I asked them if they were
working on their own account; they answered, no, but on that of the French
Government. “Bonaparte has his wits about him,” said I to myself, “and
appears wide awake.”

We reached Verdun on the sixth day. I waited on Captain Otter of the navy
and the senior officer, who introduced me to the commandant, the Baron de
Beauchêne, who, by his rubicund face, appeared to be fond of good living.
My name was registered at the police office, where I was desired to sport
my graceful figure the first day of every month. Several officers did me
the honour of a visit, but as my news was like salted cod—rather
stale—they were not much edified. The day following I dined with Captain
and Mrs. Otter, who were good, kind of homespun people. I met at their
table the worthy chaplain, Gordon. Some of his friends said he was too
mundane, and bowed to the pleasures of the world most unclerically. I
found him an agreeable, gentlemanly person in society, and a plain-sailing
parson in the pulpit. There were two officers here who were most amusing,
Captains Miller and Lyall, and when dining with them, which I frequently
did, I do not know which I enjoyed most, their dinner or their dry jokes.
I also became acquainted with Captain Blennerhassett, and sometimes took a
cold dinner at a small house he rented on the banks of the Meuse. We
dubbed it Frogmore Hall, in consequence of a vast quantity of those
creatures infesting it. Lord Blaney, who once wrote a book, principally on
the best mode of cooking, figured away here. He was a good-natured but not
a very wise man. He could not bear the midshipmen, because, he said, they
cheated him out of his best cigars and made him give them a dinner when he
did not wish for their company. This was, strange to say, sometimes the

There were about twelve hundred prisoners at this depôt, principally
officers of the army and navy, and a few masters of merchant ships, as
well as some people detained in a most unjust manner by a decree of
Bonaparte when the war broke out. About two miles from the town was a
racecourse, made by the officers and kept up by subscription, where, I was
informed, there was as much jockeyship practised as at Newmarket. It made
a variety, and the ladies say variety is charming. After residing in this
town, where every description of vice was practised, about a month, I
remarked that the mids, of whom there were about one hundred and twenty,
were idle, dissipated, and running into debt. The greater part of them
were fine lads. I proposed to Captain Otter the establishment of a school
for them, and said that if the requisite masters could be procured I would
superintend it. He entered into my views most willingly and wrote to the
Admiralty respecting them, informing their lordships the expenses for a
hundred midshipmen would not be more than eighty pounds a year. Not
receiving an answer, he established it at his own risk; whether he was
ever remunerated is a problem I am not enabled to solve. Six lieutenants
volunteered to assist me, and attended the school hours in turn.(7)
Everything went on exceedingly well for twelve months, when unfortunately
the Baron de Beauchêne died, and was succeeded by a man who ordered the
school to be broken up. This was as unexpected as unmerited. Captain Otter
and myself remonstrated, but in vain. The youngsters were sent to the
right-about; but I am happy to say that the greater part of them had the
good sense to form themselves into classes at their own lodgings, where
the same masters attended them. Finding my services of no further use, I
sighed for country air and a change of scene. The town manners shocked my
delicacy, and I much feared I should lose my innocence. The copy I
frequently wrote when at school stared me in the face—that “Evil
communications corrupt good manners.” I therefore determined before I
became contaminated to change my quarters. I waited on the commandant and
obtained leave to live at a small village two miles from the town. My new
residence was a small _château_, the proprietress of which was the widow
of a colonel of cuirassiers in the old time. I took possession of a
good-sized bedroom and drawing-room, for which I paid, with my board,
seventy napoleons a year. The establishment consisted of a housekeeper,
more like a man than a woman, one maid servant, and two men. The widow was
an agreeable person, nearly in her seventieth year, but very healthy and
active. At the back of the _château_ was a delightful garden, with a brook
running through it, in which were some trout, carp and tench. Adjoining it
were vineyards belonging to the house. I could now, in the literal sense
of the word, in which one of our poets intended it, “From the loop-holes
of my retreat peep at such a world” without partaking of its folly.

My time was occupied with a French master, and in drawing, and reading
French authors, and if my mind had not been tortured by my being a
captive, and not knowing how long I was likely to remain so, I should have
been comparatively happy. Our letters, when we did receive them, were
always broken open and read to the commandant by one of the gendarmes who
could blunder out a little English. If they contained anything against the
French Government, or treated on politics, they never reached us. By these
honourable means all our domestic concerns became known to the mighty
chief, the ignorant, left-handed, blundering translator, and a host of
others. In short, our letters, after having run the gauntlet through a
number of dirty hands, with still more dirty minds, were scarcely worth

One morning, as I was sitting at breakfast in not a very cheerful mood, a
woman, of not very prepossessing appearance, entered. She came, she said,
to make a complaint against three wicked mids. They had taken the figure
of Bonaparte from the mantelpiece and knocked his head off; for so doing
she threatened to complain to the commandant if they did not pay her a
five-franc piece. I told her I would send for the decapitating youngsters,
and, if I found her complaint to be well-grounded, they should remunerate
her by giving her another Emperor, or paying her for the old one. She
departed, but not in peace, as I could hear her grumbling as she went
along the vestibule. At noon next day these Emperor-destroying lads came
to my lodgings to answer the complaint.

“We lodge in this woman’s house,” said one of them, “and one morning we
thought we would amuse ourselves by bringing Bonaparte fairly to a court
martial. Our charges against him were tyranny and oppression, imprisonment
against our consent, and not granting an exchange of prisoners. We found
him guilty on all the charges, and as he could make no defence, we
sentenced him first to be shot, but we thought that too honourable for
him; then to be hanged, and lastly, to have his mischief-making head
chopped off by a case-knife, which sentence was carried into execution;
but as we do not wish the woman to quarrel with us, we have no objection
to pay her two francs, which we think is too much by thirty-nine sous.”

“You value Emperors, gentlemen,” said I, “at a very cheap rate.” “Yes,”
replied they, “such an Emperor as Bonaparte, who we think is a most
unrelenting tyrant.” “Hush!” cried I, “walls sometimes have ears. Go and
make your peace with your landlady, offer her the two francs, and if she
will not accept it send her to me, for, to tell you the truth, were she to
go with her complaint to the commandant, you most likely would be shut up
in the old convent and kept there for a month.” I gave them a glass of
wine, in which they drank the downfall of Bonaparte and departed. I
understood afterwards this knotty point was settled amicably; the woman,
not wishing to lose her lodgers, accepted the money. As the lying
“Moniteur” was the only paper we could read, we of course were always
deceived, and supposed from its contents that France was carrying
everything before her. More than eighteen months had now passed away, like
a disturbed dream, since I became a prisoner, when the order came, like a
flash of lightning, from the police to desire all the English prisoners to
be ready to quit Verdun in forty-eight hours and proceed to Blois. To
those who had the misfortune to be married to French women and had
children it was a thunder-stroke. The weather had set in with great
severity, it being the month of December. Another brother officer and his
nephew joined me in purchasing a covered cart and two cart horses; and a
captain of a merchant vessel, said to be a descendant of the immortal
Bruce, volunteered to be our coachman, provided we lodged and fed him on
the road, to which we, without hesitation, agreed.

                              CHAPTER XXVI.

                            END OF CAPTIVITY.

         Horses bolt, and cart upsets—Reach Blois after six days’
    travelling—Miserable condition of French troops after return from
    Moscow—Ordered to Gueret on the Creuse—A miserable journey of five
      days—Poor accommodation—Allowed to move to country quarters at
     Masignon—An earthquake shock—News of Napoleon’s abdication—Start
          for Paris—Reach Fontainebleau in nine days—Proceed to
    Paris—Lodgings dear and scarce—State entrance of Louis XVIII. into

At the time appointed we had our machine ready. The gendarmes were
literally driving some of the officers out of the town. To save them the
trouble of doing us the same favour we departed early. On the first stage
from Verdun, in descending a steep, long hill, a hailstorm overtook us,
and as the hailstones fell they froze. The horses could not keep their
feet, nor could our sailor coachman keep his seat. The animals slid down
part of the way very comfortably. At length, after much struggling, they
once more gained a footing, and in so doing, the fore wheels came in
contact with their hinder feet, which unfortunately frightened and set
them off at full speed. I got hold of the reins with the coachman, and
endeavoured to pull them into a ditch to the left—on the right was a
precipice—the reins broke, and we had no longer command over them. We were
in this state of anxiety for a few minutes, when the fore wheels detached
themselves from the carriage, and over it went on its larboard broadside.
I was, with the coachman, thrown head foremost into the ditch, which,
being half filled with snow, broke the violence of our launch. I soon
floundered out of it, without being much hurt. My falling companion, being
a much stouter man than myself did not fare so well, as his right shoulder
received a severe contusion. The noble man-of-war captain inside had his
face much cut with the bottles of wine that were in the pockets of the
vehicle, and he would have made an excellent phantasmagoria. His nephew
had one of his legs very much injured. Here we were in a most pitiable
condition, not knowing what to do, as we could not move our travelling
machine without assistance. As we were scratching our wise heads, and
looking at each other with forlorn faces, a party of French soldiers
approached, and for a five-franc piece they assisted us in righting the
carriage and catching the horses, which had been stopped at the bottom of
the hill. On an examination of our cart we found that, fortunately for us,
the traverse pin of the fore-wheels had jumped out, which freed them and
the horses, and occasioned our turning turtle. Had not this taken place,
we most likely should have gone over the precipice. We, after some
sailor-like contrivances, got under weigh. As we were grown wiser by this
mishap, we took care to lock the hinder wheels when going down hill in
future. We reached Clermont in the dusk of the evening, and glad I was to
turn into a bed replete with hoppers, crawlers, and wisdom, for it was
very hard. Being much fatigued, I slept soundly, notwithstanding my
numerous biting companions.

After a most suffering, cold, and uncomfortable journey of six days we
reached Blois. A number of our soldiers and sailors perished with cold on
the road. We assisted some few of them with money and something to eat.
Poor fellows! some were so worn out that they threw themselves down on the
stubble in the fields, where the severe frost soon put an end to their
sufferings. The day we quitted Verdun the retreating French army from
Moscow, with numerous waggons full of their frostbitten and wounded men,
entered it. That and the allied army advancing on the French borders were
the cause of our being sent away with so much speed. When this division of
the enemy’s army marched through Verdun for the purpose of conquering
Russia, it was the general remark amongst the English that the appearance
of the men and their appointments could not be better in any country; but
to see them return in the extreme of wretchedness and suffering was truly
pitiable. Oh, Bonaparte! I charge thee fling away ambition; it is,
unfortunately for the world, thy besetting sin. It cannot continue for
ever, and you will be brought up with a severe round turn before you are
many years older—such is my prophecy.

We had not been settled at Blois a month before we had orders to quit it
and to proceed to Gueret on the river Creuse. We understood the allied
army having entered France was the cause of our removal.

As I had never heard of Gueret before, I requested my landlord to give me
some information respecting it. “Why,” said he, with a most awful shrug of
his shoulders, “it is where Louis the Fourteenth banished his _petite
noblesse_, and is now filled with lawyers, who, as the town is small and
the inhabitants are not numerous, go to law with each other to keep
themselves, I suppose, in practice. Oh, you will find the roads rough and
much out of order; we call it ‘_un chemin perdu_,’ and as the town is
insignificant, and produces nothing, we call it ‘_un endroit inconnu_.’ I
do not think,” added he, “there are more than _cinquante cheminées à feu_
in the whole town.”

This information did not raise my spirits. However, there was no
alternative, and it was of little use to be downhearted. The weather
continued very severe, and we had again to encounter frost, snow, and
intense cold. We prayed for the humane Emperor of France, and wished him
elevated on Haman’s gibbet. Our journey was most horrible and fatiguing;
the roads in some places were literally lost, and we were obliged to drive
over ploughed fields in order to avoid the deep ruts. I thought we should
have had all our bones dislocated. The five days we were on this wretched
road will never be effaced from my memory. We slept where we could. Inns
there were very few, and those few the abodes of poverty, filth, and rags.
The small farms sometimes took us in, where, whilst eating the coarse
brown bread and tough fowls they put before us, and for which they made us
pay most extravagantly, the pigs and poultry kept us company during our

One night, at one of these abominable places, I was obliged to lie on a
table, as they had not a bed to give me. I was awakened early by a most
horrible smell. I thought I should be suffocated. I procured a light and
inspected the room. On opening an old press I found several half-putrid
cheeses, full of jumping gentlemen, and probably ladies, for there was a
large assembly of them. I made my escape from this savoury, not
sweet-smelling den, and threw myself into what they called a chair, which,
from its form and ease must have been fabricated before the time of Adam.
I found I had seated myself before a kind of crib, something like a
corn-bin, in which was lying, fast asleep and snoring, the landlady, who
was a coarse, dingy beauty of about forty. “Lead me not into temptation
and deliver me from evil,” ejaculated I to myself. At this time a huge
cock that had been roosting in some part of the kitchen gave a loud crow.
She started up and called out “Oh, mon Dieu, je ne puis pas dormir à cause
de cette bête là!” I pretended to be asleep, although I made a loop-hole
with my left eye. A short time afterwards she was snoring as loud as

When daylight began to break I went out into the yard, and was saluted by
the barking of a very large dog, who was chained to a small shed. This
roused all the inmates of the house. We had some milk and eggs, and once
more assumed our most agreeable journey. On entering Gueret, I verily
believe all the men, women, children and dogs came to meet us. I do not
know what they thought of us. We appeared, I thought, like a set of wild
men in search of a more civilised country than that whence they came. It
was soon understood we wanted lodgings, and the importunity of the females
was most embarrassing. I took up my abode over a small grocer’s shop. The
only room I could obtain, which contained a small bed, a minikin table,
and two common chairs, cost me fifty francs a month, (about two pounds
sterling), and I was considered fortunate in having such good lodgings. I
sometimes dined at the principal inn, where I met the _élite_ of the town,
such as bankers and half broken-down noblemen who had been pigeoned by
their dearly-beloved Napoleon. One day at dinner I overheard a
conversation between two of these last, one of whom wished, if he could
find two officers among us who preferred living in the country, to have
them as lodgers. I seized the opportunity of introducing myself to them
when we rose from table. An officer in one of our regiments offered
himself as the other inmate.

We were mutually satisfied with each other, and two days afterwards I
obtained leave from the French commandant to remove to Masignon, about
four leagues from Gueret. On reaching the village I was directed to a
large _château_ with two embattled towers. I was much pleased with its
romantic appearance, but more so with its amiable inmates, which consisted
of the Dowager Countess de Barton, the count, her son, and the two young
countesses, her daughters, the eldest in her twenty-fourth and the
youngest in her twenty-second year.

There were seven saddle horses and a carriage, all of which were at our
service, and I had a chamberlain to attend on me. The domain was very
extensive. We had the privilege of shooting and fishing, and I found
myself as comfortable as I could possibly wish, and I much regretted I was
deprived of the happiness of seeing my wife and dear children in such
distinguished and amiable society.

One evening as we were all sitting in the large drawing room, it suddenly
appeared to be going on one side, and immediately after we were much
alarmed by a roaring noise like the flame in a chimney when on fire. I
attempted to move and nearly fell.

This was occasioned by the shock of an earthquake. During the anxious
suspense we were in, the servants had rushed into the room with horror in
their countenances, exclaiming, “Oh, mesdames, le château va tomber, et
nous serons écrasées!”

“Peace,” said the elder countess; “remain where you are.” By the time she
had spoken the trembling ceased, nor had we another shock. After a short
interval we resumed our conversation as if nothing had occurred.

This part of France is much infested with wolves, and I frequently in the
night heard them near the house, but I only saw one of them in the day. I
fired at him, but as he was at some distance, he escaped without injury.

I had resided with this amiable family nearly a month, when one of the
servants who had been to Gueret entered nearly out of breath to say that,
“La belle France était prise!” At the same time he handed a small printed
paper to the mother countess.

She smiled at the idea of the servant’s report, and turning to me she
said, “I am rejoiced to be the first to announce to you that you are no
longer in captivity. The allied armies have taken Paris and Bonaparte has
abdicated. This is the ‘Gazette,’ I am happy to see once more decorated
with the _Fleur de Lys_.”

I kissed her hand for the intelligence, and assured her although the
joyful news was everything I wished, I should much regret quitting her
family, where, during my short stay, I could not have experienced more
affection and kindness from my own relations than she had shown to me.

On the second day after this delightful intelligence, I took an
affectionate leave of the ladies. The count was absent.

At Gueret I joined the same party who had been my companions in misery and
fatigue. Our nags had been well taken care of, and the nine hundred and
ninety-ninth cousin of the brave, but unfortunate, Bruce deserved praise.

I will not describe our tiresome and wretched journey of nine days. At
length we reached Fontainebleau, where we remained two days to rest
ourselves as well as the horses. In passing through its forest, which is
very fine, we were almost poisoned by the stench occasioned by dead men
and horses. We saw the palace, and the ink on the table where Bonaparte
had signed his abdication was so fresh that it came off by rubbing it a
little with the finger.

Two days after we entered Paris, which we found in possession of the
allied armies, and it was with the greatest difficulty that we procured
lodgings even in the Faubourg St. Antoine. They were at the top of the
house, only five stories and an entresol to mount! and alarmingly dear as
well as dirty and small. We sold our stud and carriage for a little more
than we gave for them.

During the three days we remained in Paris, I visited the Louvre and its
stolen goods. It was a brilliant treat; never was any palace so decorated
with such gems of art, nor, I hope, under the same circumstances, ever
will be again. On the day Louis le Désiré entered, I paid a napoleon for
half a window in the Rue St. Denis to view the procession.

Nearly opposite the window the King halted to receive the address from the
Moulins and Poissardes, some of whom appeared to me drunk. A child dressed
like a cupid, with a chaplet of flowers in its hand, was handed to the
Duchess d’Angoulême, who sat on the left hand of the King. I remarked she
was much confused and scarcely knew what to do with the child, who was
about five years of age, and who put the chaplet on her head. At length
she kissed it and returned it to its mother.

The windows of the houses were dressed with pieces of tapestry and white
flags, which appeared to my view nothing more than sheets and
table-cloths. The Garde Nationale lined the streets, and by the
acclamations of, “Vive Louis le Dix-huit, Louis le Désiré, les Bourbons!”
and other cries, all foreigners who had never visited France or conversed
with its natives, would have exclaimed, “Look at these loyal people; how
they love the Bourbon dynasty!”

The mounted National Guard who came after the royal carriage out-Heroded
Herod by their deafening cries of loyalty. Who would have imagined these
gentlemen would have played the harlequin and receive their dethroned
Emperor as they did when he entered Paris again? “Put not your trust in
men, particularly Frenchmen in 1814, O ye house of Bourbon, for they made
ye march out of France without beat of drum.”

MARCH 31, 1814.]

I was much amused with the conduct of the Imperial Guard who followed the
national heroes. The Poissardes cried out, “Vive le Garde Impériale!” All
they uttered was “Vive les Poissardes!” They looked as black as thunder.

I understood there was a cause of dissatisfaction among them in
consequence of a mark of distinction having been given to the shop-keeping
soldiers and not any to them. This was the Comte d’Artois’ clever policy;
at least, so I was informed by my companion who had taken the other half
of the window where we stood. My thoughts were seven fathoms deep.

                              CHAPTER XXVII.

                          HONOURABLY ACQUITTED.

           Obtain a passport after some difficulty from Prince
        Metternich—Start for England _viâ_ Rouen and Havre—Sail to
         Spithead—Amused at Englishwomen’s queer dress—Return to
              family—Acquitted for loss of H.M.S. _Apelles_.

The morning before my departure I waited on Lord Aberdeen, requesting a
passport to England; he referred me to Prince Metternich. I reached his
hotel, and had to wade through a host of long-whiskered, long-piped
gentlemen, who were smoking with all their might and main, and spitting in
all directions.

As I advanced, a genteel-looking young man, who was dressed in an
aide-de-camp’s uniform, came to me and asked in French the purport of my
visit. I informed him. He left me, and soon returned and requested I would
walk into another room, where I found the German Prince, who received me
very cavalierly, and asked me what I did in Paris when there were
transports waiting at Bordeaux to carry over the English.

“I thank your Highness for the information, but I do not wish to go by
that route. My intention is to return to England by Havre, and I shall
feel obliged by your granting me a passport to that effect.”

“You should go to Lord Aberdeen for one.”

“I have already seen him, and he directed me to you, as you were in
command of the capital,” I replied.

He muttered something which I could not, nor did I wish to, understand.
After a pause he asked me my rank. I informed him, when he directed his
secretary to make out my passport, and here ended much ado about nothing.

We started next morning, slept at Rouen, revisited its ancient cathedral,
which had been struck by lightning, breakfasted, and arrived at Havre,
where we remained two days, waiting for a vessel to take us across the
Channel. I viewed this town with much interest, as it had saluted the
vessels I had belonged to with several hundred shot.

We arrived at Spithead in the evening, but too late to go on shore. There
were nine of us—men, women, and squalling children—and we had the comfort
of lying on the cabin deck, there being no sleeping berths, as the vessel
was only about fifty tons, and not fitted up for passengers.

When I landed next morning I appeared to tread on air, but I could not
help laughing out aloud at the, I thought, ridiculous and anything but
picturesque dresses of the women. Their coal-scuttle bonnets and their
long waists diverted me, although I was sorry to observe in my healthy and
fair countrywomen such an ignorance of good taste. I took a hasty mutton
chop at the “Fountain,” and started for London by the first stage coach.

On my arrival at dear home I found all I loved in good health. My
excellent wife and affectionate boys and girls clung round me, and I was
as happy as an innocent sucking pig, or, if my reader thinks the simile
not in place, as happy as a city alderman at a turtle feast.

A few days after my appearance at the Admiralty I was ordered to proceed
to Portsmouth, to undergo my trial for the loss of the ship, which, as a
son of the Emerald Isle would say, was no loss at all, as she was retaken

My sentence was as honourable to the officers of the court martial as it
was to myself. I received my sword from the President, Admiral Sir George
Martin, with a high encomium.

The days of my youth have floated by like a dream, and after having been
forty-five years in the Navy my remuneration is a hundred and eighty
pounds a year, without any prospect of its being increased. If the
generality of parents would take my advice they never would send one of
their boys into the service without sufficient interest and some fortune.
If they do, their child, if he behaves well, may die in his old age,
possibly as a lieutenant, with scarcely an income to support himself; and
if he should under these circumstances have the misfortune to have married
and have children, God, I hope, will help him, for I very much fear no one
else will!

Here ends my eventful but matter-of-fact history, which, if it has
afforded my reader any amusement, my pains are well repaid.


                                 NOTE A.

If the French accounts are to be credited General Rochambeau had a
garrison of only 600 men, 400 of whom were militia (_cf._ “Victoires et
Conquêtes,” tome iii., p. 249). At any rate, when Fort Bourbon surrendered
the garrison was found to be only 200, including the wounded (_cf._ James,
vol. i., p. 219).

                                 NOTE B.

James, in his account of this brilliant feat (vol. ii., p. 360 _et seq._),
gives several interesting details of the affair. “Every man was to be
dressed in blue, and no white of any kind to be seen. The password was
‘Britannia’ and the answer ‘Ireland.’” The boarding party proceeded in six
boats, each being instructed to effect an entrance on a particular part of
the _Hermione_. “From the moment of quitting the _Surprise_ till the
_Hermione_ was boarded Captain Hamilton never lost sight of her for a
moment. He stood up in the pinnace with his nightglass, by the aid of
which he steered a direct course towards the frigate.” When still a mile
from the _Hermione_ the boats were discovered by two Spanish gunboats.
Some of Hamilton’s boats disobeyed orders by attacking these gunboats
instead of concentrating their attention on the _Hermione_, and thus
nearly spoilt the attack.

James adds that: “In effecting this surprising capture the British
sustained so comparatively slight a loss as 12 wounded, including Captain
Hamilton. Of their 365 in crew the Spaniards had 119 killed and 97
wounded, most of them dangerously.”

                                 NOTE C.

Copy of letter written by Lieutenant Hoffman to his wife immediately after
                        the action of Trafalgar:—

                                   “TONNANT, _Oct. 27th, 1805_. Off Cadiz.

“MY BELOVED SARAH,—It has pleased Providence once more to bless our
favoured isle with astonishing success. On the 21st of the month the
combined enemy’s fleet, consisting of thirty-four sail of the line, four
frigates, and two brigs, were seen by us. At five minutes after twelve
afternoon we broke their line and engaged them. Captain Tyler gallantly
placed the _Tonnant_, and I hope we as gallantly defended her. We have
lost twenty-six brave fellows and fifty wounded in our ship only. We have
captured sixteen sail of the line, French and Spanish, and sunk one of the
line and one blew up. We are now going for Gibraltar to refit, as we are
decently maul’d. We were twenty-six of the line, three frigates, a cutter
and a schooner. I am very sorry to relate Lord Nelson has gloriously
fallen, covered with heroic wounds. Captain Tyler is wounded rather
dangerously, but I hope he will soon recover. The French Admiral Magon, in
the _Algerzaries_ (_sic_), of equal force, laid us alongside, and
attempted boarding, but found it ineffectual. At the same time we were
engaged by three other sail of the line. After engaging this fine fellow
for about an hour he struck his flag, and we took possession of her
(_sic_); in short, with this noble ship’s company we humbled three of
nearly equal force. This battle, my beloved, plainly shows it is not
always to the strong. An Almighty Hand fought it for us. To Him we trust
in this and every future event. May He protect my Sarah.”

                                 NOTE D.

  Captain Hoffman’s report to the Admiralty of the loss of the Apelles:—

                                        “VERDUN, FRANCE, _May 28th, 1812_.

“SIR,—Captain Boxer, of H.M.S. _Skylark_, and my senior officer, having
communicated to me on the evening of the 2nd of May he had received
information of a large division of the flotilla being in readiness to
escape from Boulogne to Cherberg that night, he thought it necessary that
his sloop the _Skylark_ and the _Apelles_, under my command, should be
kept as close in shore as possible between Boulogne and Etaples in order
to intercept them. But it is with feelings of regret I have to acquaint
you, for the information of the Lords of the Admiralty, that on Sunday,
A.M. the 3rd of May, H.M.S. _Apelles_ ran aground about eighteen miles to
the westward of Boulogne, as also did H.M.S. _Skylark_. The wind at this
time was moderate at N.E. with a dense fog.

“The sloop, on a wind, heads E.S.E., going about five knots an hour, the
land not perceived. Shortly after it became clear enough to discern that
we were about a musket shot from a battery elevated above our mastheads,
which, on perceiving our situation, opened a most destructive fire on the
_Apelles_, she being the nearest vessel. During this time the boats were
got out, and an anchor carried astern to heave the sloop off. Guns, shot,
and heavy stores, etc., were thrown overboard, from before the chest tree
the water started and pumped out, in order to lighten the vessel, but
without effect, as, unfortunately, the sloops had run on shore on the
infant ebb spring tide, and it receded much faster than it was possible to
lighten them. About half-past five the _Apelles_ fell over on her
starboard side, with her decks entirely exposed to the battery, field
pieces, and musketry from the beach and sandhills. At six she became a
complete wreck, the shot from the enemy having cut away nearly all the
standing rigging, as well as the sails to ribands. In this state Captain
Boxer sent his first lieutenant on board the _Apelles_ to request I would
set fire to her and abandon her without loss of time, as he thought it was
impracticable to get either of the vessels off. I then called a council of
the officers and pilots, who were unanimous in the positive necessity of
quitting the vessels. The pilots further added that as the tide was so
rapidly ebbing, the vessels would soon be left dry on the beach, and if
the crews were not sent immediately away there would be no possibility of
escape. I then ordered the boats to be manned, and shortly afterwards they
left the _Apelles_ with the greater part of the officers, leaving on board
the following in consequence of their not being able to contain more, some
of them (boats) having been struck by shot:

“F. HOFFMAN, _Commander_.
Mr. MANNING, _Surgeon_.
Mr. HANNEY, _Purser_.
Mr. TAYLOR, _Gunner_.
Mr. JOHNSTON, _Mid_.
J. THOMPSON                 }
DAVIES                      }
CROSBIE                     }   _Seamen_.
GEORGE                      }
RAYMOND                     }
Sergt. OWEN                     }
Corp. CLEVERLY                  }
READY                           }           _Marines_.
KING                            }
BAXFIELD                        }

“On the boats of the _Apelles_ joining those of the _Skylark_ Captain
Boxer, finding I remained behind, he, in a most gallant manner, pulled
towards the _Apelles_ with his deeply laden boat under a heavy discharge
of shot and musketry from the enemy to entreat me to go with him. This I
refused, but begged him to make the best of his way with the boats to
England, for as he had not room in the boats for those remaining as well
as myself I could not, as a point of humanity, as well as duty, think of
quitting the _Apelles_ whilst a man was compelled to remain behind.
Finding he could not prevail he gave up the point. He joined the other
boats, and was soon out of sight. I need not express my feelings to their
Lordships, or to you, Sir, on this trying occasion; I cannot describe
them. Shortly after the boats had left the sloops both masts of the
_Apelles_ fell by the board, having been nearly severed in two by the shot
of the enemy. At this time the _Skylark_, having grounded within hail of
us, was enveloped in flame and partially exploded, some of her shot
striking the _Apelles_. I now ordered a white flag to be shown by holding
it up. This at length appeared to silence the enemy, who had been
incessantly firing at us from the time we grounded until about seven
o’clock. About twenty minutes afterwards the _Apelles_, being partly dry,
was boarded by about 200 men, principally soldiers, who compelled us to
leave the sloop, and almost immediately afterwards followed us, as the
_Skylark_ exploded with an appalling report, setting fire to the
_Apelles_. Owing to her being previously dismasted consisted her safety.
The enemy soon after the explosion returned to the _Apelles_, and
extinguished the fire on board her. Only a vestige of the sternpost of
_Skylark_ now remained, half buried in the sand.

“Through this severe trial of more than three hours, whilst the shot were
going through the sides of the _Apelles_, and destroying her masts and
rigging, every officer and man behaved with that coolness inherent in
British seamen, and which I trust will speak favourably of their conduct
to their Lordships.

“I have now to remark that although we were under the painful necessity of
lowering His Majesty’s colours, which was not done until the last
extremity, the enemy did not desist from firing into us for an hour
afterwards. Seeing the crippled and distressed state we were in, his
motive was certainly not that of humanity. I have to add that Mr. Hanney,
the purser, was wounded in the head, and Mr. Taylor, the gunner, in the
shoulder and left hand, but neither dangerously. I am now happy to add
their wounds are nearly healed.

“The signal books and instructions of every description were burnt in the
galley fire by the Purser and myself when we saw there was no possibility
of our escape.

“I have the honour to remain, Sir,
“Your obedient servant,
                                                    (Signed) “F. HOFFMAN,
                                      “Late Commander of H.M.S. _Apelles_.
“WM. CROKER, Esq., &c., &c., &c.,

                                 NOTE E.

  Letter from Captain Otter respecting the establishment of a school for
                          midshipmen at Verdun.

                                               “VERDUN, _Oct. 26th, 1812_.

“DEAR SIR,—As I am very anxious that the establishment of a school should
be supported with our utmost endeavours, it is with the greatest
satisfaction I perceive you enter into the plans, and undertake the
conducting of it, with all the energy I could wish. I have already spoken
to Lieutenants Lambert, Brown, Thackstone, Carslake, Robins, Boyack,
Bogle, and Kennicote, who have volunteered to assist you, and I have no
doubt but that they will always be ready to follow such instruction as you
may think proper to give them.

“It is my wish that all the young gentlemen of the age of eighteen and
under attend the school, and that it may be open to those above that age
who will submit to the rules, and who wish to benefit by the attending

“As the intention of the school is solely for the improvement of the young
gentlemen of the Navy, it is presumed they will be sufficiently sensible
of the advantages they may derive from it, and by their regular attendance
and strict attention when in school, both show their desire of
improvement, and their respect to the gentlemen who have so kindly
volunteered to attend during the school hours.

“Wishing you every success in this your laudable undertaking,

“I remain, dear Sir,
“Yours truly,
                                                               “C. OTTER,
                        “Senior full-pay Captain of the Naval Department.”

                                 NOTE F.

                     Testimonial from Captain Otter.

                                       “BIDEFORD, DEVON, _Aug. 1st, 1827_.

“MY DEAR SIR,—I have sincere pleasure in acknowledging the great
assistance you afforded me by your voluntarily taking the trouble of
superintending, and also the able manner you conducted the school
established by me, as senior naval officer of the depôt of Verdun.

“I have likewise great satisfaction in testifying to your good conduct as
an officer and gentleman during the time you were a prisoner in France.

“I remain, dear Sir,
“Yours very truly,
                                                                “C. OTTER.
“F. HOFFMAN, Esq., Commander R.N.”


    1 Plymouth Dock.

    2 A pie made of pilchards with their heads peeping through the crust,
      hence the name “Star gazing.”

    3 See note (_a_).

    4 See note (b).

    5 Note C.

    6 See Note D.

    7 See Notes E and F.

                            TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE

The author’s footnotes have been moved to the end of the volume.

The following typographical errors were corrected:

      page XII, “prisoners” changed to “prisoner’s” (see page 311)
      page 31, “mens’” changed to “men’s”
      page 39, missing quote added (after “in about an hour.”)
      page 67, “of” added (between “north side” and “St. Domingo”)
      page 190, “lieuteuant” changed to “lieutenant”
      page 192, missing quote added (after “fourpence”)
      page 251, “manchinel” changed to “manchineel”
      page 271, missing quote added (after “he became my servant.”)
      page 302, “Lemarois” changed to “Lemaroix”
      page 313, “hotel” changed to “hôtel”
      page 330, “window” changed to “windows”

Several unusual spellings were retained (“pigstye”, “fidgetty”), as were
small errors in French quotations: “Vive le Garde Impériale!” (for “Vive
la Garde Impériale”), “Presqu’ Isle” (for “Presqu’Isle”), “petit soupers”
(for “petits soupers”).

The following words appear both in hyphenated and unhyphenated forms:
“cocoa-nut/cocoanut”, “cray-fish/crayfish”, “fire-arms/firearms”,
“fire-flies/fireflies”, “flag-ship/flagship”, “flag-staffs/flagstaffs”,
“fore-mast/foremast”, “fore-yard/foreyard”, “gun-boat/gunboat”,
“gun-shot/gunshot”, “main-mast/mainmast”, “main-top/maintop”,
“mast-headed/mastheaded”, “mast-heading/mastheading”,
“pine-apple/pineapple”, “post-chaise/postchaise”,
“quarter-master/quartermaster”, “thunder-storm/thunderstorm”,
“top-mast/topmast”, “top-sail/topsail”.

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