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Title: Memoir of the Life and Services of Vice-Admiral Sir Jahleel Brenton, Baronet, K.C.B.
Author: Brenton, Jahleel
Language: English
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                                 OF THE
                          SIR JAHLEEL BRENTON,
                            BARONET, K. C. B.

                                EDITED BY
                         THE REV. HENRY RAIKES,

                      HATCHARD AND SON, PICCADILLY;
                     SEACOME AND PRICHARD, CHESTER.




In dedicating to you the Memoir of which I have been permitted to be the
Editor, I cannot but feel how inadequate the portrait, which I have been
endeavouring to sketch, must appear to you, to whom it now is offered.

I undertook the work indeed, chiefly from a sense of public duty; though
without much hope that I should satisfy myself, or those by whom the
charge was entrusted to me. It seemed fit and proper, that the world
should be made acquainted with a character of such rare and peculiar
excellence as that of your husband; and I felt that it was due to the
naval service generally, and in particular to the younger members of it,
that they should see how qualities of a very different kind might be
combined in one man; and might render him, who was the ornament of his
profession, a model of what man ought to be in every relation of life.
My desire therefore was to do good to others, rather than to do justice
to my subject; and instead of dwelling, as to you might seem natural and
proper; on those various graces which endeared him to all, and to those
most, who knew him best; I have endeavoured to shew what he was, by
describing his behaviour under the several trials of his eventful life;
and to extend the benefit of his example by making it more generally

I dare not suppose, therefore, that the offer of the following Memoir
should have any other value in your eyes, than as a token of the
affectionate remembrance, with which I dwell upon the character of your
much loved husband. In this respect, had I attempted more, I should not
have succeeded better; for language never satisfies the requirements of
the heart; and you would still have felt, that the half was yet unsaid;
after I had written all that I could, in endeavouring to express my
admiration and regard.

My chief anxiety is, that the volume may be in some degree acceptable to
those, whose benefit has been always contemplated during its preparation;
and that the navy may not lose the benefit, which the example of Sir
Jahleel Brenton is so well calculated to give. In my solicitude to secure
this object, I have retained as much as possible of the language of
the original memorial, which forms the basis of the narrative. I have
sacrificed all attempt at forming a regular biography, that I might
preserve its originality. I have allowed inequalities of style to remain,
which may offend fastidious minds, that I might not weaken the effect
of particular expressions; and the little that I have ventured to add,
has chiefly been done for the purpose of enabling readers to draw those
inferences from the events recorded, which he, writing with another
object in view, and regarding what was written as merely a memorial
addressed to his children, naturally assumed as certain to be drawn by
those for whom he wrote, and did not think it necessary to add.

In these respects I have endeavoured to speak with the reserve, which
should be felt when professional questions are discussed by one, who is
a stranger to them; and trust, that I have only said, what he would have
wished to have added under similar circumstances. It is satisfactory
to me, however, to think, that whatever may be the deficiencies of the
Memoir, it will at least draw attention to the man, while his qualities
still linger in the recollection of his friends and his associates; for
if the narrative does but lead to enquiry as to the character of the
subject, I feel that there is no doubt as to the result that may be

Though I feel it necessary therefore to apologize to you for the very
inadequate portrait that is now presented, I am not without hope, that
under God’s blessing, the exhibition of such a life may be beneficial to
the world; and if this be the case, I trust that you will merge private
disappointment in the consideration of general good, and be satisfied
with what is done, in the hope it may do good to others. As for the
comfort to be derived from such a memorial, I know you need it not; and
would not seek it in such monuments as man can raise. Your consolation
under loss is drawn from higher sources, and needs not the support of
human praise bestowed on him, who was dearer to you than life itself. The
recollection of his holy, humble walk, of his work of faith, his labour
of love, his cheerful submission to pain, his forgetfulness of self, and
his zeal for the good of others, forms for you a source of comfort, which
no human honour can equal, and no earthly possession rival. This is your
real consolation, and to the convictions on which this rests, the opinion
of the world can add nothing.

But though you do not look to such a memorial as this for the comfort
that you need; I am willing to hope, that if it should be the means of
doing good; if it should make the memory of him you loved, as beneficial
as his example was, it may be acceptable. The great and the good live not
for their own generation only, but for those that follow. They bequeath
their characters to mankind; and it seems an act of justice to them to
collect, and to offer to public notice, the record of efforts which may
awaken the emulation, or strengthen the faith of others; and lead them to
excellence by the knowledge of the victories achieved by those who went
before them.

If it should please God, then, to make this imperfect notice of Sir
Jahleel Brenton’s course useful to that service of which he was so
bright an ornament while living; you will forgive the insufficiency of
the representation which meets your eye; and I shall be thankful, if in
paying this tribute of respect to the memory of a friend whom I revered
and loved, I can communicate any of his feelings to that profession, to
which the country owes so large a debt of gratitude.

    Believe me to remain,

                    Most truly and faithfully your’s,

                                                               H. RAIKES.



  INTRODUCTION.                                                        1

                             CHAPTER I.

  Settlement of the Brenton family in America,—and descent.—Birth
  of the subject of the memoir.—Breaking out of the war and
  removal to England.—Education and introduction to Naval
  Service, in the Dido.—Passes for Lieutenant, and accepts an
  invitation to serve in the Swedish Fleet.—Adventures on way to
  join, and conclusion of service.—Appointed as Lieutenant to the
  Assurance.—Transferred to the Speedy, and sent in command of
  the Trepassey to Newfoundland.—Return to England and appointed
  to the Sybil.—Voyage homewards in the Cleopatra, and in a
  Spanish man of war from Cadiz.                                      34

                             CHAPTER II.

  Service in the Sybil.—Story of the Corfields.—Severe winter at
  sea.—Story of John Iceberg.—Invalided and comes ashore.—Applies
  for employment, and appointed to the Alliance.—Feelings on
  the subject.—Goes out to the Mediterranean.—Made known to
  Sir John Jervis, and appointed to the Gibraltar.—Storm and
  extreme danger of the ship.—Made First Lieutenant of the
  Aigle.—The Aigle being lost, he remains First Lieutenant to the
  Barfleur.—Interview with Lord St. Vincent and the subsequent
  decision.                                                           55

                            CHAPTER III.

  Service in the Speedy.—Action with gun boats off
  Gibraltar.—Sent to Penon de Velez.—Action on the coast, and
  with gun boats.—His brother’s death from wounds received in
  action in the Peterel.—Letter to his father.—Made Post, and
  appointed to the temporary command of the Genereux at Port
  Mahon.—Sails to Genoa.                                              75

                             CHAPTER IV.

  Disappointment of promotion.—Applies to Lord St. Vincent, and
  through him appointed Captain to the Cæsar, under Sir James
  Saumarez.—Battle at Algesiras.—Exertions of Captain Brenton in
  refitting the Cæsar, and subsequent victory.—Tempting offer of
  going to England with dispatches declined.—Definitive treaty of
  peace signed.—Squadron at Gibraltar.                               102

                             CHAPTER V.

  Returns to England.—Recollections on the Cæsar and the
  Chaplain.—Married to Miss Stewart.—Reflections on this event,
  made after her death.—Hostilities recommenced in 1801, and
  appointment to the command of the Minerve.—Dangerous accident
  and injury during the fitting out the frigate.—Sails for the
  coast of France.—The ship strikes off Cherbourg, and after a
  gallant defence is surrendered, July 3.                            123

                             CHAPTER VI.

  Commencement of captivity.—Journey from Cherbourg.—Kindness of
  M. Dubois.—Arrival at Epinal.                                      151

                            CHAPTER VII.

  Removal from Epinal to Phalsburg, and thence to
  Verdun.—Sufferings of the people on the march, and efforts
  made for their relief and improvement.—The Rev. Robert Wolfe
  offers his services and assistance.—Mrs. Brenton’s arrival at
  Verdun.—Residence at Charni.—Illness, and permission granted to
  reside at Tours.—Conduct of the French Government towards the
  English prisoners of war.                                          172

                            CHAPTER VIII.

  The Rev. Mr. Wolfe one of the detenus—hears of the state of
  the prisoners at Givet, and resolves on going to reside among
  them.—Extract from his work entitled the “British Prisoners in
  France.”.                                                          218

                             CHAPTER IX.

  Journey to Tours, incidents on the road and residence
  there.—Circumstances attending his exchange, and return to
  England.                                                           255

                             CHAPTER X.

  Arrival in England, and application to the Admiralty.—Kindness
  of the First Lord of the Admiralty, Mr. Grenville.—Court
  martial, acquittal and appointment to the Spartan.—Sails to
  the Mediterranean.—Escape from capture.—Boat action with its
  unfortunate result, and court of enquiry ordered by Lord
  Collingwood.                                                       289

                             CHAPTER XI.

  Cruize off Toulon.—Refits at Malta.—Storm off Sardinia.—Joins
  Lord Collingwood’s fleet.—Disaster.—Falls in with the French
  Fleet at sea.—Exertions to convey intelligence and to watch
  the enemy.—Returns to Toulon.—Service on the coast of Italy in
  company with Lord Cochrane.—Reflections.                           319

                            CHAPTER XII.

  Removal from the Toulon station to the Mediterranean.—Cruize
  off Candia, and in the Adriatic.—Action at Pesaro; and
  official letters.—Co-operation with the Austrians in the
  Adriatic.—Letters from Lord Collingwood expressive of his
  entire satisfaction.                                               343

                            CHAPTER XIII.

  Return to Malta to refit.—Sudden offer of joining the
  expedition against the Ionian Islands as suddenly
  accepted.—Capture of Zante, Cephalonia, and Cerigo.—Approbation
  of Lord Collingwood.—Cruize on the coast of Italy.—Action off
  Naples, victory, and severe wound; carried to Palermo and
  Malta.—Letters on the subject, and extract from his personal
  memoranda.—Sails for England.                                      375

                            CHAPTER XIV.

  Joined by his family.—Slow recovery from his wound.—Fresh
  trials from the failure of his agents, and actions threatened
  by neutrals detained.—Friendly interference of Mr.
  Abbott.—Applies to the Admiralty for employment, and appointed
  to the Stirling Castle, 1812.—Compelled by the state of his
  wound to resign the command.—Made Baronet.—Appointed Naval
  Commissioner at Minorca.—Residence there.—Failure of Lady
  Brenton’s health.—The establishment at Minorca broken up on the
  conclusion of the war.—Return to England, and appointment to
  the Dorset Yacht.—Made Naval Commissioner at the Cape.             404

                             CHAPTER XV.

  Residence at the Cape.—Remarks on the advantages of Simon’s Bay
  as a Naval station.—Plans for the improvement of the liberated
  Negroes.—Rapid failure of Lady Brenton’s health and her
  death.—Reflections on it extracted from his private journal.       430

                            CHAPTER XVI.

  Reflections on the death of Lady Brenton.—Extracts from the
  private memoranda.—Sufferings from his wound, and remarks on
  the subject.                                                       471

                            CHAPTER XVII.

  Narrative of a journey to the Mouth of the Knyzna, and remarks
  on the advantages of the Cape as a Colony.                         491

                           CHAPTER XVIII.

  Benevolent exertions in favour of the Negro and Hottentot
  population.—Captain Edward Brenton’s plan for the restoration
  of juvenile delinquents.—Its connection with the Cape,
  and failure.—The establishment at Simon’s Town broken up
  at the death of Buonaparte.—Return to England.—Temporary
  appointment to the Royal Charlotte Yacht.—Marriage.—Made
  Colonel of Marines.—Appointment to the Donegal.—Appointment
  as Lieutenant Governor of Greenwich Hospital,—resigns the
  situation,—residence at Casterton,—at Elford.—Sickness and
  death.                                                             611


It may appear presumptuous in one not connected with the naval service,
to attempt the biography of an officer so distinguished as Sir Jahleel
Brenton; and it may appear a graver, a less excusable offence, that one
belonging to another profession, and that a profession, which requires
the devotion of the whole mind to its own peculiar objects, should be
undertaking an office so foreign from his usual employment and proper
duties. I have, therefore, no hesitation in saying, that if Sir Jahleel
Brenton had merely been the man, whom the world knew through the medium
of gazettes, and the record of public services, and looked up to as a
gallant and distinguished officer; whatever might have been my feelings
towards him as a personal friend, whatever my admiration of him as a
public character, I never should have undertaken the office, which I
am now attempting to discharge. I must also add, that under other
circumstances I must have shrunk from the duty, as involving enquiries
which I had neither leisure nor means to prosecute; if its labours had
not been so far anticipated by documents drawn up by his own hand, and
left to his family; that little more seemed left to his biographer,
than to arrange that which was already written; and to select out of a
memorial designed for the benefit and instruction of his own children,
those parts which might be offered to the public, without trespassing on
the sacredness of a private, a domestic record.

I must again mention, that I was aware that even this portion of my duty
was anticipated, and would be performed in my behalf by one, who, with
a single exception, might be regarded as most identified in feelings,
views, and mind, with the subject of the memoir.

The delicate and difficult task of selecting from a long and confidential
memoir, written with all the fulness of a father’s heart, and intended
to be perused as a sort of sacred record by his children; oftentimes
too minute or too particular for publication; and still exhibiting in
general so much of the character that it was desired to pourtray, that
it was difficult to know how to resist insertion; this task was, I say,
undertaken by another, who has discharged it with as much fidelity as
discretion; and who left nothing to me, but to peruse and confirm that,
which had been thus arranged and prepared for the press.

But even these advantages; assisted and increased as they are by the
affectionate recollections of the members of his own family; while
they promised to render the labour of the undertaking easy, would have
been insufficient to determine me to attempt a work for which I was so
incompetent, if I had proposed to offer to the public a memoir of the
professional life, and of the naval achievements of the man whom it was
impossible to know without honouring or loving him. But this seemed
unnecessary to be done, and certainly was not to be done by me. His
public services, both as a seaman and an officer, have been long known
and fully appreciated by the public, and thus have had their appropriate
record in the naval histories of the last war. His professional
character still lives in the recollection of the service. It therefore
is not necessary that naval events should be narrated here, which have
been better told in other places; nor that exploits should be dwelt
upon, which though they never can be heard without emotion, it may be
sufficient for all present purposes to refer to, rather than to repeat.

I would, therefore, beg leave to state at once, that the only aim I
venture to propose to myself, is one which differs essentially from that,
which has been generally followed by the writers of similar memoirs.

I am not anxious to describe the subject of my narrative, in the form in
which he was known and honoured by the world; but in that in which he was
known to those who lived with him, and served with him; to his family and
his friends; to the men who shared his hardships and dangers, as well as
his successes and triumphs. I am not attempting to represent him as the
man of courage, enterprise and decision, formed for the hour of peril
and contest, fitted to lead and direct the energies of his service, and
carrying every heart with him, from the enthusiasm which his example
inspired; but I am desirous to shew that those qualities, for which the
world would easily give him credit, were united with elements of which
the world knew little, and perhaps thought less; but which had their
effect in forming the general character of the man, and made him what he
was in the different relations of life. I feel it due to him, and still
more to those who may be profited by his example, to trace the peculiar
qualities of his character to their source, and to shew the principles
from which they flowed; so that if there be in his life any thing lovely
and of good report; and this there is no one who ever knew him that can
doubt; it may be referred to its proper cause, and be ascribed to that,
which he himself knew, and felt to be the origin.

It will be my aim, therefore, in these pages, chiefly to dwell on those
features of mind, which though seen by few and observed by few, gave to
his whole character its peculiar dignity and grace. I shall endeavour to
shew, that the courage and enterprise, the firmness and self-resource
which rendered him while he lived the ornament of his profession, were
accompanied by qualities, not generally found in combination with these,
but which enhanced their value, and contributed to their excellence; with
patience, with meekness, with the tenderest consideration for others,
and the most unbounded benevolence. I wish to shew, that the brilliancy
of his public life was equalled by the purity and correctness of his
private life: that he was as amiable in every domestic relation, as he
was admirable in all official duties: and still knew how to keep the
warmth of his affections, in such subordination, that the call which
summoned him from that home, where all his happiness was centered, was
obeyed without a question or a doubt, whenever the interests of his
country and the service required it. Above all, I wish to shew, that the
secret, but the only cause of this unusual combination of qualities, not
often found in his profession, and sometimes considered as incompatible
with it; was that instinctive subjection of the heart to God, which
growing as he grew, and gaining strength and expansion by the trials of
his life, raised him from the state of a conscientious and upright man,
to that of a mature and confirmed Christian; which sustained him under
the various difficulties and burdens of his lot, by teaching him to
look to God in all emergencies, and to cast himself on His mercy under
every doubt; which finally regulated the enquiries which it prompted,
and realizing the divine promises, “that the meek shall He guide in
judgment,” “that God giveth grace to the humble,” brought him through
all the conflict of religious opinions, to that simple child-like faith,
which formed the substance of his happiness in life, as well as of his
hope in decay.

The description of a character such as this, together with a narrative
of the events under which it was formed and perfected, may, under God’s
blessing, be made profitable to many; and as the circumstances of his
story are such as must interest every reader, it is to be hoped that
the memoir of such a man may be offered without presumption to the world
at large, as including much that may be generally useful as well as
amusing. But there is one class of readers to whose attention it may
be more particularly recommended, and to whose improvement and welfare
it is specifically dedicated. I mean the young aspirants to honour and
distinction in the navy, the rising members of that profession, of
which Sir Jahleel was so fine a specimen; and for whom he always felt
and expressed so strong and so paternal an interest. I could wish, that
they who are taught to emulate his character as an officer, and who are
animated by hearing of the gallantry of his actions, should know more of
the man whom they are led to admire, than can be learnt from gazettes
or naval histories; and that they should be made acquainted with the
real secret of the excellence which is held up to them as a model for
imitation. I wish that they should know from his example, that the most
brilliant courage, the greatest firmness in action, and the most perfect
self-possession in the moment of danger, are not only compatible with
deep religious impressions, and personal piety; but that they never can
be looked for with so much confidence, nor will ever be found so largely
developed, as when combined with these as the habitual principles of
the life. And as example is generally more conclusive than theory, it
seems expedient that they should above all others be reminded, that
the man, who in his day, was the model of all we wish to imagine in a
British officer, and a British seaman; the man whose daring courage made
him at one time the chosen associate and friend of Sir Sidney Smith;
who was afterwards selected by that acute and discriminating judge of
character, Lord St. Vincent, out of the number of eminent and gallant
officers around him; and appointed to situations which required all
the combination of naval skill and firmness; was, and avowed himself
to be, in the full sense of the word, a Christian; confessed Christ
and His words in every situation, and under every circumstance with
uncompromising firmness; and still maintained his profession of religion
with such gentleness and dignity, that those who differed from him never
failed to respect and to love him; and could not help venerating the man,
even while they felt that his principles condemned their practice.

In this point, indeed, a memoir of Sir Jahleel Brenton seems an important
opportunity for bringing the example of such a man before the younger
members of his profession as a model for imitation; and an office which
might have been urged upon me, as due to the memory of a deceased friend;
and might still have been urged in vain, to one so occupied and pledged
to other duties; may be viewed in a different way, when it is considered
in reference to those who may be benefited by acquaintance with his
character, and are not likely to know from other sources what were its
peculiar and distinctive qualities.

The name and profession of the editor will, therefore, it is hoped
preclude the possibility of disappointment to those, who having been
attracted by the title of this memoir, may take up the volume as a
subject of mere professional interest, a record of naval struggles or
naval triumphs. The achievements of Sir Jahleel Brenton have been already
appropriately recorded, and may be read elsewhere by those who wish to
enquire into his services It is proposed to give to the public now, that
which the public has not hitherto known, but which may be profitable to
general readers; and which must be full of value to those of his own
profession; the narrative of a life not unmarked with trial, not devoid
of the interest arising from great dangers undergone, and great qualities
of mind and heart evinced in meeting them; but exhibiting in the midst of
these, and of other circumstances not less perplexing or less afflicting;
that consistency of moral conduct, that steady persevering patience,
that cheerful hope, and child-like submission to the will of God, and
above all, that uniform and prevailing benevolence of spirit, which
belong to the Christian character, and which flow from the one single
principle of Christian faith. That the union of these qualities may be
seen in many individuals at present in the royal navy, I am thankful to
believe and know; but their occurrence is not so general as to render
example useless; while we also know, that men are more easily led to
imitate the practice of one, who has taken his place in the annals of his
country, than that of contemporaries; and that no line of conduct can be
so safely recommended for adoption, as that which has already won the
esteem and admiration of the world. I trust, therefore, that the memoir
of such an officer as Sir Jahleel Brenton may be no unacceptable offering
to a service, which must ever be regarded with the deepest gratitude
and interest, as the instrument of God’s protecting providence to this
country, and as the means of enlarging its beneficial influence; and I
hope that the hours, withdrawn from other duties and given to this, have
been transferred rather than stolen, and transferred to purposes of wider
usefulness and more extensive good, than those which belong to ordinary

In my own profession, the biography of pious and devoted men has long
been regarded as one of the most profitable lines of reading. It has been
felt that the knowledge of truth is likely to be most effective when
combined with its application, and exhibited in practice; and as example
is generally admitted to be more powerful than precept, and men are more
easily led to imitate than to obey; the memorials of those who have been
eminent for zeal and holiness in the work of the ministry, have been
multiplied largely of late years, and are recommended with confidence
as among the most effectual means of raising the tone of feeling and
determining the line of practice among the clergy. In this respect, every
year adds to the resources of the church. Those who are removed from this
field of labour testify to the living. One generation contributes the
encouragement of its experience to the other; and each pious, faithful,
and zealous minister, whose labour and self-devotion are commemorated in
this way, leaves in the record of his example that which may strengthen
the faith, or stimulate the energies of those who are to follow him.

But while the church as a profession, is receiving this increasing
advantage, and sees its means of improvement enlarged by the
recollections of those who are removed from their field of suffering or
of labour; there is reason to presume that other professions are not
equally benefited by the biographies of their distinguished members. They
also have their memorials. The world is anxious to learn the particulars
of their early life and education, as well as of their subsequent
achievements; and those who are called to imitate their example or to
rival their exertions, are naturally desirous to study the secret of
their excellence in the causes which conduced to it. But in cases such as
these, in the narratives of men who have been distinguished in the naval
and military services, or even in the profession of law or medicine, it
is natural that professional excellence should form the chief object of
attention to those who write, as it is probable it will be the chief
object of interest to those who read. The soldier and the sailor, the
lawyer and the physician are described, rather than the man; and the
qualities which raised the individual to distinction, are in these cases
so separate from those, which formed his value as a man, that it is
possible the latter may be wholly lost sight of, while every effort is
being made to do justice to the former. There is danger, therefore, in
all such memorials, that much that is great and good in the individual,
may be merged in the merits of the officer, or in the brilliancy of the
career pursued in practice; and that private excellence, that which
constitutes the real foundation of the man’s value, and makes his life
most profitable as an example, may be lost sight of, while justice is
being done to that which only made him an ornament to his profession, or
an instrument of national advancement.

In a clergyman on the contrary, the chief if not the only claim that
he can possess on the recollection of others, the only sense in which
his life can be held up as an example to those of his own profession,
consists in his personal piety; in the remembrance of that eminence to
which the grace of God had raised him, as a holy, humble-minded, faithful
man; and that is, therefore, told of him, and that is dwelt upon in him,
which it is most useful for other men to know, but which is equally and
alike useful to all of every profession and of every rank. The world
estimates its heroes by a different rule, and looks in consequence to
qualities of a different kind. It dwells on that which is professional to
the exclusion of that which is personal. It dwells on those things which
catch the eye, and fill the ear, and arrest the imagination; while that
which passes within, that which constitutes moral eminence, and which
renders a man a model for a Christian to follow, is overlooked in the
more exciting narrative of contests for distinction, as irrelevant to the
character which is being exhibited; and thus, the benefit of example, in
cases such as these, is lost to men, because men are more interested in
results, than in causes; in the things that have been done, than in the
principles of those who did them; and regard the subjects of biography as
successful candidates for the world’s applause, rather than as models for
private imitation.

It has also sometimes happened, that religious feelings, when strongly
developed, have led a man to withdraw from the active duties of his
profession, either in the army or navy; and have made his example less
profitable to others, by making it less peculiar, less specific than
it would have been, if he had continued where he was; and thus, these
professions have lost a benefit, which seemed to be their right, by
losing those individuals whose moral character would have reflected
additional lustre on their public services. It is impossible, indeed, to
deny that the first impulse of strong religious conviction, must lead a
man to wish to withdraw from every thing that separates him from God;
and to live to Him alone, whom he has now found to be alone worth living
for. It is equally certain, that the fear of falling back, the dread
of being entangled again in sins, which the soul has learnt to hate,
may reasonably lead a man to fly from associations, which he knows from
experience to be dangerous; and to endeavour to secure his own weakness
by saving it from exposure. Excellent men are continually found arguing
and acting in this manner; and where the grounds are so reasonable, and
the object at stake of such incalculable importance, it is not easy to
resist or to controvert their plea. But if some feel it necessary to
quit the field, and to withdraw from a contest they are unfit to meet,
or in which they see reason to distrust their means of standing firm;
the greater must be our gratitude for those who venture to remain, and
who dare to be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might. The
testimony that they then bear, is one of peculiar value; and we may
venture to hope, that where the danger is considered before it is braved,
and man only exposes himself from the conviction of duty, and under the
confidence of support from heaven, he will not be allowed to fail. As his
days are, so shall his strength be; and we may trust that God, who sees
the principle on which the man continues at the post of danger, will not
forsake His faithful sentinel, but will make His grace sufficient for his
trial, and cause his own strength to be perfected in the weakness of His

On this principle we cannot doubt, that the determination to which
Colonel Gardiner came, and in which he was encouraged by the excellent
Doddridge, to continue in his original calling, and not to quit the army
when he came under deep convictions of religion, has rendered him a far
greater blessing to the world, than he could have been, had he yielded
to his first impressions, and left the service. His memoir would in that
case have remained a record of the unspeakable goodness of God. He might
have edified the world by the piety of his life, and he might have been
named to succeeding generations as a monument of Divine Grace, rescuing
man from the bondage of sin, and plucking him like a brand out of the
fire. But the memoir, as it now stands, is rendered still more valuable
by the testimony of his later life, and by the evidence it contains
to that faith by which he lived; and the power of the grace of God is
manifested more signally in upholding him amidst the opposition which
he at one time thought himself incapable of meeting, than in enabling
him to fly from it at first. Whatever might have been thought then of
Colonel Gardiner’s determination at the time, there can be no doubt, that
Christ was more nobly confessed in the midst of a sinful and adulterous
generation, than He could have been in the retirement of religious
life; and that the doctrine of the gospel was more visibly adorned by
the example of one, who lived in the world without belonging to the
world, than it could have been by the piety which withdrew its subject
from general observation, and led him to seek security by withdrawing
from the scene of temptation. But it is obvious that the value of such
memoirs is enhanced by their rarity. Probably from the causes which have
been enumerated, the narratives which exhibit the moral and religious
character of men belonging to the army or navy are comparatively few;
and those professions in consequence lack the benefit, which example and
experience offer in other cases.

But the loss is not confined to them. There are reasons why it may be
regarded as a general, a public loss; and why all may have cause to
regret that which seems to be a professional want. Whether it be that the
character of these two professions, whether it be that the familiarity
with danger, the necessity for energetic action and quick decision,
carries into the religion they profess, something of its own nature, and
leaves its own particular stamp and impress on its qualities; it seems
admitted, that the men who have been called by the grace of God to a
profession of religion, under such circumstances, have been, generally
speaking, marked and decided Christians. It was a centurion of the Roman
army to whom Christ bore that noble testimony, that He had not found so
great faith, no not in Israel; and we may reasonably think that that
power of grace which sets the soul at liberty in cases such as his, and
enables it to break the ties by which it has been bound, may go on and
carry it to higher attainments than are accessible to other men. But it
may be also confidently asserted, that if the testimony which is there
borne to truth, is not more clear and decided than in common instances,
it is more unquestioned and more unquestionable. The statement that
comes from one, born and bred under the influence of religion, is always
liable to suspicion. It probably may bear upon its surface some traces
of the work of man, in the tone which education has given to the habits
of the mind, to the language and opinions; and in that respect, it may
seem to want the simplicity which belongs to the works of God, and which
shews the source from which the impressions spring. But let the tone of
religion be what it may, it carries a sort of professional stamp upon
it, and is less appreciated than it ought to be, whenever men think that
it is the effect of circumstances, the result of care, and that it could
not have been otherwise. On the other hand, whenever it happens that
conviction is effected under different circumstances, when religion is
found growing where it was least expected, and where it is obvious that
there was nothing to favour or encourage it; when it is found taking its
stand in the midst of opposition and rebuke; overcoming the world by a
power which is not of the world, and which the world cannot understand;
and enabling a man to resist the persecution of which the world is
most sensitive, the persecution of ridicule and contempt, exercised
by associates or superiors, and applied with little consideration or
regard for feeling; when this is seen to be the case, then we cannot be
surprised, if the world is convinced that an influence more than human
is at work; while it sees that done, which seems to be impossible to
man; and men are compelled to feel that it is the power of God by which
the change is effected, while they see a change accomplished, which to
them, and according to their own views and feelings, is nothing less
than miraculous. The unwillingness of the heart to admit a truth which
involves its own condemnation, will naturally induce men to suppress the
acknowledgement of what they feel on such occasions. But the conviction
may be deep, though no confession follows. The testimony which is borne
to truth under circumstances such as these, will possess an authority and
weight which nothing else can give, from a sacred and unuttered reverence
of the power that has produced it; and the results may be perceived at
distant times and in distant places, when the facts had been forgotten by
all, except the persons who had appeared at first most opposed or most

But beyond these reasons, which may shew the value of the memoirs of
men belonging to the naval and military professions, it cannot be
denied that the situations in which such men are placed, and those
qualities which may be called their professional qualities, must add an
interest to the narrative; and make their examples more profitable, in
proportion as their lives have been more interesting. The narrative of
hardships endured, of dangers braved, has always been one of the most
legitimate sources of delight. The description of man rising superior
to the fear which overcomes and subjugates others; daring things, from
which other men shrink; and making a way through difficulties which
seemed insuperable; has ever possessed a charm which no other narrative
could rival; and while human nature remains what it is, and the world is
constituted as it is, the qualities of courage, energy, and activity,
will give an interest to the character with general readers, which the
higher graces of humility, patience, and love might be incapable of
imparting. But as it is important that truth should be presented in the
form most likely to secure its acceptance, no opportunity should be
lost which offers religion to the eyes of the world in the history of
those, whom it respects and admires for excellencies of another kind;
and whenever religion is combined with these, it is little less than an
absolute duty to give publicity to the character, and to admit the world
to benefit by the example.

Whatever then be the quality which excites admiration, whether it be
professional talent, or intellectual superiority; or whether it be simply
that energy of mind which enables man to overcome difficulties and to
struggle through trials; the certainty that the exhibition of such a
character will be read with interest, makes it valuable as a vehicle for
truth; and renders it desirable that such a vehicle should be improved.
But we must also feel that of all the various qualities which have this
effect, and which may in consequence be turned to such a purpose, there
is hardly one which arrests attention so generally, and carries so much
interest with it to common readers, as boldness or contempt of danger.
All men cannot appreciate the higher qualities of mind, the powers of
reasoning or imagination, which lead to literary or political eminence;
but all seem capable of understanding the value of that sort of firmness
which enables man to bear hardships, or to rise superior to fear. It
thus has happened, that in all works of fiction, courage has been the
principal feature of the character held up to admiration, and cowardice
has always been regarded as the reverse; while we know that in real life,
no narratives have been so acceptable to general readers, as those which
described dangers and hardships met and overcome by the firmness and
energy of those, who were exposed to them.

There need therefore be no hesitation in saying, that as every thing
which raises man above the weaknesses of his nature, adds dignity to his
character; the contempt of danger must always entitle him to respect; and
this feeling which adds a sort of grandeur to the bad, gives a sort of
heroic magnificence to the good.

But while we believe that this admiration of courage is inherent in our
very nature, and is felt even by those who are unwilling to confess it;
we cannot be surprised if the admiration which is due to courage, comes
gradually to be limited to such courage as a Christian is capable of
exercising. The boldness which shuts its eye on danger, and rushes on
destruction, may astonish, but it cannot continue to interest the mind,
because it does not satisfy the reason. Men gradually cool on their
impressions, and begin to calculate instead of wondering. They examine
the principle of the action which is set before them. They compare the
risk run with the advantage to be gained; and if they find the risk
infinitely exceeding the value of the prize, or perceive that it was
braved under the mere impulse of passion, in defiance of reason rather
than in subordination to reason; they learn to separate the courage of
the animal from that of the man, and expect that the boldness of the
latter should be regulated by that which is the glory of his nature; and
that even his daring should be reasonable in order that it should be
honoured. In this way the world distinguishes the frenzy of the drunkard,
or that recklessness of life which is found in the infuriated savage,
from the well ordered deliberate firmness, with which a disciplined mind
meets every emergency of trial; and refuses the very name of courage to
the madness, which rushes on death, from the mere impulse of excited

But under circumstances which seem more favourable; after the first
comparison has been made between the object sought and the danger run;
and there has been found reason enough to justify the exposure according
to the world’s principles; another comparison is apt to follow, which is
conducted on Christian principles, and subjects courage, or contempt of
death, to a different analysis. To a Christian mind death is invariably
connected with the judgment that is to follow. Viewed as the end of the
present state of being, it is necessarily considered as the entrance
to that which must succeed it; and an event which puts a close to the
concerns of time, carries the mind, by an inference which cannot be
resisted, to the contemplation of eternity. But he, who has allowed his
imagination to dwell on the secrets of that unexplored abyss, which
commences when life ceases; and has weighed calmly and deliberately
the value of things that are infinite and eternal; turns back to life
with a conviction which cannot be uttered of the vanity and nothingness
of temporal objects, when once compared with those which are to come
hereafter. To him, the eagerness with which the world is pursuing the
various prizes of gain, honour, pleasure, wealth, seems nothing less than
madness; and all that is called good, and all that is called evil among
men, will shrink into nothing, in comparison with the good and evil with
which he has been conversant in meditating on the prospects of eternity.

To such a man, death appears in a very different character from that
in which it is viewed by the savage, or by man, when his moral state
resembles that of the savage. Death thenceforth may be braved, but
it cannot be despised. At the call of duty it will be met without
hesitation; but it will not be met with indifference or carelessness. The
man who meets it will know what cause there is to fear it; though he may
be able to rise above the sense of fear, and despise it. But the victory
which he thus gains over fear, the principle by which he overcomes the
terrors with which he has become acquainted, must be the result of very
different elements from those which he acted on before; and must be
formed in a very different manner from that which constituted courage in
a less enlightened state of mind.

Now, that there are means of doing this; that the gospel offers to
man, what may be called the whole armour of God; that the power of
meeting and overcoming him, who is called the King of Terrors, may be
possessed, and has been, and is continually exercised by those who seem
the weakest of our race, is happily a subject of such general notoriety,
that it does not require a proof or explanation. But till this power is
acquired; until these means of victory are possessed; the contingency,
the inevitable contingency, in every case where life is risked, involves
such awful consequences; that the mind may be justified in shrinking
from the prospect of danger, where the loss of life must be followed by
the destruction of the soul; and even the narrative of perils becomes
too painful to be a source of pleasure to the reader. Courage under such
circumstances may be an object of wonder, but it cannot be a legitimate
object of admiration; and the reader must shudder while contemplating
results, on which men rushed without thought or preparation; and dangers,
which were boldly braved, merely because they were not understood.

The impression made is widely different, when self-possession and
calmness in the midst of danger, are regarded as the effects of faith;
and man is seen rising superior to the fear of death, because he feels
that he is raised above its power. This is Christian heroism; and
compared with this, all other heroism sinks into feelings which cannot be
reconciled with reason, or be recommended for imitation.

I admit that it may be thought the interest of States to encourage and
foment a courage of another and a lower kind, even that animal courage
which rushes upon danger without consideration, and shuts its eyes on
the real nature of the evil that is braved. The pride of men may be
gratified by the imagination of superiority above other men, which this
indifference to danger gives them; or by the distinctions to which it
leads; and the world may concur in admiring that which feeds or flatters
the imagination. But reason, sooner or later, must be heard; and reason
will gradually make itself heard, in a voice which cannot be resisted;
and reason must refuse its sanction to a judgment which teaches men to
throw away eternity for a temporal advantage; and encourages the exposure
of the soul to consequences, the amount of which cannot be calculated.

And yet, let it not be supposed, that courage loses its real character,
because the occasion for its display is mistaken by the world at large;
or that the effect of religion is to make men cowards. So far from
this being the case, courage, even courage of the highest kind, is not
only indirectly inculcated, but is absolutely commanded in the gospel;
commanded by Him whose word is truth, and who alone can enable his
servants to do that, which He in His wisdom sees fit to command. The only
difference is, that the courage which the gospel teaches is reasonable
in its exercise; a courage, which has reason on its side, and aims at
nothing which cannot be justified; which only despises death, because it
has seen that death need not be feared; and only defies suffering, from
the conviction that it is to be borne as submission to the will of God.

Acting under these principles the Christian hears his blessed Master
say, “Fear not them who can kill the body, and after that have no more
that they can do;” and feels his heart respond to the exhortation.
He reads the experience of the Psalmist, “Though I walk through the
valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for Thou art with
me;” and he rejoices to think, that he can anticipate the same support
in corresponding circumstances. He hears the apostle say, “Add to
your faith, courage;” and the faith by which he walks, and by which
he overcomes the world, raises him above the power of the world’s
disturbances: and thus, in those things which are, and must be the causes
of alarm and terror to men in general, he feels himself a conqueror, and
more than a conqueror, through Him that loved him. With him then it is no
struggle to rise superior to the fear of death, for it is habitual to him
to despise it. The sting is taken out, its terrors are gone; and Christ,
who commands him not to fear death, has delivered him from its power.

If the Christian, therefore, is not only encouraged against fear, but
is actually commanded not to fear; if he is taught to regard courage as
a duty; and to glorify the Master whom he serves, by the firmness with
which he overcomes that, from which other men are shrinking; we see that
it is not without reason that he is daring; and that he is bold in the
midst of danger, only because he is superior to it.

High as the standard is, which the gospel proposes; and much as it
exceeds all the bearings of the mind in general, it is as reasonable as
it is lofty. The grounds on which the duty is enforced are unquestionable
and undeniable; and man cannot dare too much when he only dares according
to this direction.

One great advantage therefore with biographies like the present, consists
in the exhibition which they offer of courage, based on Christian
principles, and regulated by Christian feeling; and there are special
reasons why this connexion between courage and Christian principle
should be traced and noticed. It is hardly possible to doubt, that the
first effect of religious impressions on a mind previously untouched
and unenlightened, will be to awaken such a sense of the importance of
things spiritual and eternal, as will overpower all other feelings, and
overwhelm the mind with the discoveries which have been made. The soul
then, for the first time perhaps, becomes an object of anxiety to the
man, who previously had never given it a serious thought. The vague
inexplicable fear of death, of which he had been always conscious, grows
then into a firm and settled conviction, that of all objects, death
is the most tremendous; since it is obvious that its consequences may
be the most awful. He feels that with such a subject it is madness to
trifle, and folly to be indifferent. His former carelessness is regarded
with wonder and astonishment; and the mind is lost and bewildered in
endeavouring to comprehend the truths which have thus suddenly burst upon
it, and which seem too tremendous to be contemplated.

In fact, such is the character of those truths which religion includes,
and which, on such an occasion, we suppose to be suddenly and powerfully
revealed, that it would seem probable that the equilibrium of the mind
should be disturbed by their discovery; and that every consideration
should be lost sight of, in comparison with the one great question,
“What shall I do to be saved.” That such should be the effect seems
natural, reasonable, and probable; and if it did not generally happen,
that a fresh and livelier sense of duty is awakened at the same moment,
when these impressions are produced; and that conscience becomes more
active, as a sense of responsibility is formed; it might have seemed
inevitable, that the first burst of religious feeling should weaken
and unnerve the man, and lead him to fly from an exposure which he had
learnt to fear, without consideration of the consequences that might
follow. Whatever may be the causes which regulate the first impulse of
these religious feelings, it is satisfactory to know from experience,
that this excessive and violent action is seldom exhibited. The moral
character is generally strengthened in proportion as the conscience is
awakened; and the faith is strengthened, and the man gains firmness in
the perception of every relative duty, in the same degree in which he is
brought under the influence of religion. To this it must also be added,
that the impressions which the gospel forms, are not those of fear alone,
even when the conscience is most strongly touched; and that terror, in a
Christian’s view, is never so entirely separated from hope, as to justify
any desperate or violent departures from ordinary practice. “We have
not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but we have received
the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry Abba Father:” and this, which
forms the comfort of the advanced Christian, is not without its effect
in mitigating the first agonies of conviction in the convert. Duties
are recognized, while every thing else is forgotten; and men feel that
whatever may be their anxiety about their souls, their salvation will not
be forwarded by the neglect of that which they see and know they ought to

There is in truth a sort of general conviction in men, that if religion
merely taught them what they had to fear, and did not combine with that
the knowledge of what they have to hope; if it awakened us to a sense of
our responsibility, without shewing how the claims of that responsibility
had been met, it would have been a gift of very questionable value; for
in that case it would have darkened all the present scene of trial,
without shewing an horizon on which a better light was falling. It thus
happens, that though the effect of first impressions may be to awaken
fear; the effect which follows, when these impressions are retained and
improved, is to relieve or remove fear; and every subsequent advance in
knowledge, has a direct tendency to cast out fear, to substitute love
as the principle of action, and to make hope the character of the mind,
until hope rises to the very level of assurance.

Those therefore, who think that religion is likely to unnerve the man,
and to unfit him for the hour of danger, by making him aware of the
reason there is for fearing death: betray their ignorance of the subject;
and shew how little they are acquainted with the principle they are
traducing. All men know enough to make them afraid of death. Independent
of any sufferings which the body may undergo, there is a shrinking from
extinction, which belongs to our very nature; and is found acting with
almost equal influence in every member of the human race; except in the
few and rare cases where man has sunk himself to the level of the brute;
and thus it is evident that man needs not the light which religion gives,
in order to fly from that which human nature dreads. But this feeling,
the fear of death, which religion does not create, she can regulate,
control, and conquer; and while all men in their hearts feel the fear of
death, and are obliged to close their eyes against their own convictions,
or to harden their hearts by habitual submission to other principles,
while pretending to despise it; the Christian alone is capable of looking
forward to death with calmness, and of exercising a deliberate and
rational contempt of it.

So long then as the present state of things exists; so long as the
blessings of peace are to be preserved by war; and the security and the
comforts of the many are to be purchased by the exposure of the few;
there must be professions where the call of duty may imply the risk of
life, and where courage must be the character of the men who belong to
them. Courage will then become a duty; and men must be found by whom
death shall be braved without hesitation, whenever the interests of the
service require it.

But a Christian community, while it admits this painful necessity, and
tracing the origin of wars and fightings to the lusts which war in our
members, sees in them the marks of the universal corruption of our
nature; and looks on war as the disgrace rather than the glory of man;
must still feel anxious, that the courage which it cherishes and honours
as the means of national security, should be the courage formed on those
bright and lofty principles, which shall discharge its duty to the public
most effectually, without any unjustifiable risk to the individual. There
is an obvious necessity that the public peace should be protected; but
there still may be a question, whether this protection may not be too
dearly purchased; if a limited measure of temporal advantages were to
occasion the loss of an eternity of happiness to those by whom it is

It is surely no idle refinement, no morbid spirit of argument, which
compares an infinite loss occurring to an individual, with a definite
and limited loss occasioned to the community of which he forms a part.
Men have not hesitated to say, that the security of property would be
purchased at a price too dear, if it was to be maintained by capital
punishment; and if political wisdom condescends to note the value of
an individual life, can it, with any consistency, deny the value of an
individual soul?

A Christian community is, therefore, not only justified in taking every
measure, which may raise the moral character of those employed in its
defence, and may make them bold and courageous upon principle; but it is
also bound to use every means which may render those whom it exposes, as
superior to the power of death, as they are, or endeavour to be, to its

It is easy to state the almost insuperable difficulties which here at
once present themselves. The habits of life, which have rendered the
military and naval professions proverbial, and which seem inseparable
from their position in society; the withdrawal from domestic ties, and
from all the usual restraints of the tendencies of men; these may be
named at once, as rendering the attempt at such a moral improvement
chimerical; and these will long continue to render its accomplishment
difficult. In the meantime the world at large, either indifferent to the
consequences, or despairing of a cure, have found it a much cheaper, and
a much more compendious way, to teach their defenders to forget death,
than to endeavour to prepare them to despise it; and lamentable as it is
to say, grave men, and men who were thought wise men, have argued as if
it was necessary that men should be immoral in order that they might be
brave; and have tried to shew that it was expedient that thousands should
be eternally miserable, in order that some temporary advantage might be
achieved by their exertions.

But the difficulty of a work does not imply that it is impracticable.
Something may be done, if all cannot be accomplished: and wherever any
great and undeniable evil exists in society, it is so obviously the will
of God, that it should be abated or removed; that man ought to think of
nothing, but the means of attempting that, which he may leave to the
power of God to perform.

It is therefore manifestly expedient that men engaged in those
professions, where life is of necessity most exposed, should be prepared
to meet death with firmness. The world has its nostrums for effecting
this object, and these it is always ready to supply. It has a sense of
honour for the high-minded and noble. It has levity and carelessness for
the unthinking. It has brutish indifference for the multitude. With one
or other of these, it drugs the men, who are to be the protectors of
their country’s welfare; and sends them forth to danger, like those who
are blinded and intoxicated. We admit the efficacy of the means, but we
are compelled to feel that the remedy is worse than the disease: and we
dare not purchase courage for our soldiers and sailors, at a price which
compromises all the highest hopes of man.

Without dwelling at present on other resources for accomplishing this
important end; on resources, which might be made to act directly on the
habits of these professions; it seems that example might in some respect
be more beneficial than precept; and that the narrative of one, who
exhibited, in his public life and conduct the model of what a British
officer should be, while he was, at the same time, in the full sense of
the word, a Christian; of one, who might have been described through life
as “_sans peur et sans reproche_;” and who became the ornament of his
service, while living in close communion with his God; might be useful to
others, as shewing that religious principles and professional excellence
are not incompatible; and might encourage the young to pursue a course
which should make them all that their profession implies, and all that
their country can require, without forfeiting that inward peace, and that
future hope, which belong to the true Christian, and make up the sum of
his privileges, as well as the substance of his character.

To those who knew Sir Jahleel Brenton, or who can now recall the singular
combination of qualities which formed his character; qualities which
impressed respect while they conciliated the affection of every one
around him; it is unnecessary to dwell upon features not likely to be
forgotten. But it still may be useful to remind others, and especially
those who may be tempted, in running over the following pages, to smile
at the tone in which this great and good man speaks, when occupied with
questions of a religious nature; that there have been few men, whom an
Englishman would have been more desirous, on any occasion of importance,
to put forward, as the representative of his country, than the subject of
this memoir. The description which the great historian of Rome applied
to the man whose merits he has immortalized by his biography, might have
been with equal justice applied to him, “_Bonum virum facile crederes,
magnum libenter_.” Goodness seemed to belong to him; and it sate so
easily on him, that it coloured every word, and look, and gesture. No
one ever met him, without feeling convinced that the qualities which
conciliated and pleased, were in his case not the incidental expression
of a courtesy assumed to serve a particular purpose; but that they were
qualities on which dependence might be placed, as exhibiting the real
feelings of the man; dignified, and yet kind; indulgent to others, and
yet firm in principle; as playful in the hour of repose, as decided
and energetic in the time of peril. Carrying with him, in the stores
of a well disciplined mind, and a refined taste, ample resources for
profitable conversation, he was fitted to take his place in any form
of society, and would have done justice to any situation to which his
country could have called him; while his country might also have felt,
that the man selected to represent her character, and to maintain her
claims, would have also been what few could be; would have been the
Christian representative of a Christian people; and would have shewn the
lustre which consistent religion spreads over that which is admirable in
man, by the effect produced on his own life and conversation.

To prolong the memory of such a man seems nothing less than a duty. To
extend the knowledge of his excellence; and before that knowledge is
effaced by the competition of other claimants for distinction, to shew
the secret springs of the excellence which is admired; to trace to its
real source, all that in him was distinctive and peculiar; to shew that
it was to the grace of God, and to that alone, he owed the combination of
qualities so rarely met with as united, and so much heightened in value
by combination; to encourage imitation by example; and to hold up to the
future defenders of our country, one, whom they may be proud to follow in
the course of service, and whom it will be their happiness to imitate in
private life; this seems a debt, which every one who feels the blessings
of security he owes to their exertions, and who glories in his country’s
honour, should endeavour to discharge.

Conscious of my own inadequacy for the office, which I am describing, I
am still sustained by the hope that the reader will afterwards learn what
the writer cannot teach; that inferences will be drawn, and conclusions
formed from the narrative, which shall realize the purpose with which
it has been undertaken; and that the familiar acquaintance that may be
gained by admission to the private thoughts and feelings of so good and
great a man as Sir Jahleel Brenton, may lead many a mind to adopt the
sentiments which are here recorded, and that many a high-spirited and
gallant youth may be induced by his example to follow the steps of one
who never forgot his God, while engaged in his country’s service; and was
as faithful to his Saviour as he was obedient to the call of duty.



Sir Jahleel Brenton was the eldest son of Rear Admiral Brenton, a native
of Rhode Island. The family appear to have emigrated to America in the
early part of the reign of Charles the First, probably from apprehension
of the coming troubles of the times. William Brenton, who settled as
a merchant at Boston, in Massachusets, about the year 1634, came from
Hammersmith, in England. He must have been a person of some wealth and
consideration, as he became a freeman, and a select man of the Colony,
the same year; and in the following year, 1635, was chosen a deputy
of the general court. He afterwards removed to Rhode Island, and then
returned to England, from whence he finally removed from Hammersmith,
with his whole family, consisting of three sons, Jahleel, William, and
John, and settled at Newport, in Rhode Island. In 1663 he became Deputy
Governor of the Colony of Rhode Island, and Providence Plantations in New
England, under the charter granted to that Colony by Charles the Second,
in the fourteenth year of his reign. In 1667-8 he became Governor of the
Colony, and died in the year 1674.

Jahleel, his eldest son, resided in Newport, Rhode Island. A great part
of his father’s property was bequeathed to him; and in the year 1691 he
was appointed by commission, in the second year of William and Mary,
Collector, Surveyor, and Searcher of the Customs within the Colonies of
New England.

William, the second son, great grandfather to the subject of the present
memoir, took up his residence either at Taunton in Massachusets, or at
Bristol in Rhode Island, though some doubts exist as to which of these
places became his home. He married Martha Church, by whom he had three
sons, Jahleel (grandfather to the Baronet), Ebenezer, and Benjamin.

Of John Brenton, the third son of William, nothing farther is known
except that he went to a settlement called Bellevoir, in New England; and
was not afterwards heard of.

Jahleel, the collector, died at Newport unmarried, about the year 1732,
and bequeathed the greater part of his large estates in New England
to his nephew Jahleel, who had married in the year 1714-15, Frances,
daughter of Samuel Cranstoun, who was Governor of the Colony, and who
died in 1727, aged 68 years. He was the son of John Cranstoun, the former
Governor of the Colony, who was lineally descended from the Scottish
Baron, James Lord Cranstoun, as appears by the inscription on his
tombstone in the churchyard at Newport, in Rhode Island.

Of the brothers of this Jahleel, Ebenezer and Benjamin, nothing has
been recorded, though Jahleel, the Collector above-mentioned, made
several bequests to them. Where they resided, or whether they left any
descendants does not appear. Jahleel, the grandfather of the Baronet,
had by his first wife, Frances Cranstoun, fifteen children—eight sons
and seven daughters. Jahleel, his fourth son, the father of our present
subject, was born October 22nd, (O.S.) 1729, died 29th January, 1802. He
married in December 29th, 1765, Henrietta Cowley, daughter and coheiress
of Joseph Cowley, Esq. formerly of Worcestershire, in England, and
Penelope his wife, who was the daughter of —— Pelham of Laughton, Esq.;
whose ancestors had removed to Rhode Island during the civil wars in the
reign of Charles the First.

Jahleel, the subject of this memoir, and the eldest son of Jahleel and
Henrietta, was born the 22nd of August, 1770. There were besides four
sons and five daughters; of the latter, all are still living; of the
former two died in their infancy; the other two, with their eldest
brother, followed the profession of their father, who had very early in
life entered the British Navy. Edward Pelham was born the 29th of July,
1774. Of his active and useful life a sketch has already been given to
the public, from the pen of his affectionate surviving brother. James
Wallis lived to be a Lieutenant in the British Navy, and was killed in
action when First Lieutenant of H.M.S. Peterel, in the command of a boat
expedition in chase of an enemy’s vessel near Barcelona.

The seven elder children, were born in America, on the patrimonial
property at Rhode Island; but the circumstance that the father of
Sir Jahleel belonged to the service of Great Britain obliged him to
relinquish his home, and the place of his nativity, at the time of the
civil war, which ended in the separation of the colonies from the mother
country. Urgent entreaties were used on the part of the Americans to
induce Mr. Brenton to join their cause. He was even offered the highest
naval rank which the Republic could bestow; though he was at that time
only a Lieutenant in His Majesty’s service; but that inflexible loyalty,
which was always a strong feature in his character, rendered him alike
insensible to bribery and persecution. That he might take an active
part in the cause of his king, he was obliged to escape clandestinely
from Rhode Island, where he left his wife and infant family, exposed to
considerable hardships and difficulties; from which they were however
soon happily relieved by the efforts of the British cruisers stationed on
the coast.

The whole family were removed to England in the year 1780, when the young
Jahleel was placed in a school at Enfield, in Middlesex. In the year
1781 he embarked as a Midshipman in the Queen, armed ship, commanded by
his father, who had been promoted to the rank of Commander; and whom he
shortly after followed into the Termagant, then a post ship; from which
it may be reasonably inferred that the additional rank of Post Captain
had been bestowed upon this loyal subject as soon as possible.

At the conclusion of the war in 1783, the young sailor had time to resume
his studies on shore, and for that purpose was sent to the maritime
school at Chelsea, where, for the space of two years, he successfully
pursued those branches of learning more particularly suited to the
profession he had chosen. He always retained a grateful recollection of
the advantages he had derived from this establishment, where the best
education was afforded on the most reasonable terms to the sons of naval
officers, who, from their limited income, might have found it impossible
to procure the same advantages for their children in any other academy.

In the year 1785 he was removed to France, where his family then resided,
as the acquisition of the French language was thought an important point.
He has left a remark upon record which will exhibit the state of his
mind at this time. “To shew,” he says, “what an important influence the
most trifling circumstances may have upon a man’s life, I may mention
that, whilst living at St. Omers, in 1786, I was considered to be in
very feeble health from the return of an ague, first experienced in the
preceding year at St. Vincents; and having at the drawing school evinced
a strong inclination for painting, my parents thought of sending me to
Italy, with a view of making that my profession, a plan which I eagerly
caught at for the moment; but thinking it over in my own room, where my
sword was suspended over the chimney, my eye no sooner rested upon it,
than old associations and prospects instantly crowded in upon me, and
induced me at once to reject the tempting offer of a journey to Rome, and
renewed my determination to go to sea.”

In 1787 his father returned with his family to England; and the Dutch
armament having taken place, Jahleel set off for Portsmouth to join the
Perseverance, commanded by Captain, afterwards Admiral, Sir William
Young, a valued friend of his father. This ship was however paid off soon
after his arrival, in consequence of the restoration of tranquillity;
and Jahleel embarked on board the Dido, Captain Sandys, who constantly
employed him in sounding and surveying different bays and harbours on
the coast of Nova Scotia. It was at this early age that his affections
were bestowed upon one, who was well worthy of them; and of the rise
and growth of this attachment, as romantic in its commencement as happy
in its results, he has left some touching and affecting records in
three manuscript volumes addressed to his children. A few extracts from
these, to exhibit the character of the writer, without encroaching on
the sacredness belonging to a domestic memorial of such a kind, will be
introduced in the present notice.

In the year 1789, the time then allotted for the service of a midshipman
having nearly expired, he returned to England, and joined the Bellona,
commanded by Captain, afterwards Sir Francis Hartwell. In the month of
March, 1790, he passed his examination for a Lieutenant; and foreseeing
no chance, either of promotion or active employment during the profound
peace, then subsisting between Great Britain and her neighbours,
he, with a view of gaining experience in his profession, accepted a
Lieutenant’s commission in the Swedish navy, then engaged in active
operations against the Russians in the gulf of Finland. Of his later
and better thoughts on this subject he has left a valuable record in
the manuscript before alluded to. He there says, speaking of the period
in question, “In after life, when better acquainted with my religious
duties, I have felt and acknowledged the guilt of this step, for such
it was; but I was led away by the idea of acquiring distinction and
eminence, so natural in youthful minds, and so powerfully excited by
the biography of those whom the world holds up to admiration for their
conduct in arms, without any reference to the cause which alone can
render war justifiable.”

Leaving England for this purpose, he did not reach Carlscrona until the
fleet had sailed; and before he could join them in the gulf of Finland,
it was already blocked up in the bay of Wyborg, by the Russians. The
vessel on board of which he was embarked was lying in the port of
Lowisa, when the action took place off its mouth on the 3rd of July,
which nearly annihilated the Swedish fleet, by depriving them of seven
sail of the line out of twenty-one, while the remainder with difficulty
reached Helsingfors. Hither Mr. Brenton proceeded, and undismayed by this
mortifying defeat of the power which he came to serve, presented his
commission to the Duke of Sudermania, then commander in chief; and was
immediately appointed Lieutenant of the Konig Adolf Frederic, bearing
the flag of Vice Admiral Modée. He, at the same time, received orders
to introduce the British system of discipline among the men, for which
purpose he was fully supported by the Vice Admiral and Captain.

Of this period the following record has been left in his own hand, “On
arriving at Gottenburg, I found a carriage there waiting for Sir Sidney
Smith, who had also volunteered his services in the same cause, and was
expected from England. It had been sent there by the Duke of Sudermania;
and as Sir Sidney was known to have taken another route, General Toll,
the governor of Gottenburg, offered it to me; and he, at the same time,
requested me to superintend a convoy of British sailors, provided it
would not delay me too much. The number of these men amounted to twenty
or thirty; each had a horse and cart for the conveyance of himself, and
chest, and hammock; and in each of these was a Swedish driver, in many
instances this was a female.

“This cavalcade had, previously to starting, been drawn up in a line
in the market-place; and this line the sailors had arranged in three
divisions, naming an admiral in each, and hoisting a handkerchief for a
flag. The procession was very orderly while passing through the streets;
but we had no sooner got upon the broad road than there were evident
attempts made to try the respective _rates of sailing_; and at length the
signal was made for a general chase. The Swedes, and particularly the
women, soon lost all controul; the most prudent jumped off; and in the
course of a short time many of the carts were upset, some in the ditches
on each side of the road, and there were but few to which some disaster
had not happened.

“But little progress was made in the course of this day; and fearing
I might not reach Carlscrona before the fleet should sail, I left my
countrymen to the Swedish officers, and proceeded without stopping day
and night. I was however too late. The fleet had sailed, and I was
obliged to wait for the Hecte, a Swedish frigate then preparing for sea;
and at length, with the English sailors who arrived in the course of a
week, I embarked in her, and proceeded to Helsingfors. Here I was put on
board the Hussar, a _two decked brig_ carrying twenty twelve-pounders on
the lower deck, and fourteen four-pounders on the upper; or as Johnny
facetiously said, ‘My eye, here is a craft; a two-decked brig, the
quarter deck got forward, and the captain’s cabin under the forecastle.’
The fact was, that the upper deck came no further aft than the mainmast,
and was rather a prolonged forecastle; the captain’s cabin was under the
deck, and next to the galley or cook’s room.”

On the 9th of July the battle of Swinkasund took place between the
Swedish and Russian Galley fleets, when the skill and gallantry of the
British officers serving in the latter made the fortune of the day for a
long time doubtful. That of Sir Sidney Smith and his followers however,
on the side of the Swedes, was more successful, by whose exertions a
brilliant victory was gained. This circumstance convinced his Majesty
Gustavus the Third, that none were so fit to oppose Englishmen as
Englishmen; and he accordingly directed that all the British officers
should be immediately sent from the grand to the galley fleet. They
arrived there a few days after the action, and were distributed amongst
the flat bottomed frigates. Mr. Brenton was appointed to the Sturkollen.
The following is the record he has left of some circumstances belonging
to this period.

“On reaching Swinkasund, the English officers were presented to the king
of Sweden, Gustavus the third, on board his yacht, the Amphisis, where
his Majesty’s flag was flying. Their reception was most cordial. I was
the only officer who spoke French, and therefore became the organ of
communication. The bay at this time was covered with the wreck of the
late battle. The wrecks of two fine frigates were lying on the beach,
besides those of other vessels. Three frigates, a fifty gun praam, and
innumerable gallies and gun boats had been sunk. The masts of the larger
vessels were out of the water; and many of those of the smaller ones,
according to the depth of water where they had sunk. All were abandoned
as irretrievably lost; whereas, had the victors been English instead of
Swedish, it is not too much to say that nearly all, if not the whole,
of these vessels would have been weighed. One frigate in particular
had received but little damage. She was on shore, and lying with her
starboard gunwale in the water; her masts had been cut away by the
Swedes, who never thought of attempting to get her off. The Englishmen
regretting to see so beautiful a vessel consigned to destruction, waited
upon the king, and volunteered to save her, at which he was greatly
pleased, and ordered every assistance and material they required to
be given to them. They accordingly set to work with all the ardour and
confidence of their profession; cleared the vessel of whatever could be
got at, and laid out anchors and purchases in such a manner as to give
every hope of success; expecting, on the following day, to have their
triumph. In the course of the night however, the gear they had prepared
was cut away, and carried off by boats sent from the Swedish ships; the
officers alleging that they were ordered to collect whatever blocks or
ropes could be found amongst the wrecked vessels; but there was reason
to ascribe this conduct to the jealousy of the Swedish officers; a
jealousy easier to be accounted for than excused. It must at the same
time be allowed that the king was imprudent in the partiality he evinced
towards foreign followers; and as those in question were all young and
thoughtless, and arrogant, neither concealing their fancied superiority
over the Swedes, nor using any endeavours to conciliate them, it is only
providential that more serious events did not occur. All hopes of getting
off the frigate were now abandoned, and the Englishmen were sent to their
respective ships.”

From this time there was no active service, peace being proclaimed in a
few weeks. His Swedish Majesty invited the British officers to continue
in his service; but as there was every probability of Great Britain
being involved in a war with Spain at that period, Mr. Brenton preferred
returning to England. Of this time he has also left a record. He says,
“In the month of August the peace was proclaimed at Kymena. The king
assembled the British officers on board his yacht, and addressed them
in the most flattering manner; telling them that he was well assured
how greatly they would have distinguished themselves had an opportunity
offered; and that if they would remain in his service he would insure
their advancement. Four out of the eight accepted his offer; but three
besides myself declared our intentions of returning to England, and
expressed our anxiety to have means provided for our return as soon as
possible; as we had every reason to believe that our country was upon
the eve of a war. The Spanish armament having taken place, the king
recommended us to the care of the Commander of the Galley fleet, with
directions that we should be immediately paid, and have a conveyance to
such place as might enable us to procure a passage to England.

“His Majesty had no sooner gone than the British officers were embarked
in a galley, with orders to proceed to Helsingfors, the great naval
seaport in the gulf of Finland, where we were told we should receive our
pay. On entering the bay, the galley hauled into the rocks; and having
landed the Englishmen upon them, proceeded in execution of other orders,
leaving us to get to Helsingfors as we best could.

“On reaching the town, we were told by the authorities that no order had
been received for our payment, but that we must proceed to Stockholm, a
journey of many miles, besides having to cross the gulf of Bothnia. One
of our party having a sum of money in hand, generously assisted us; we
must otherwise have been greatly delayed. We set out from Helsingfors
through Finland, in the common cart of the country, which consists merely
of a pair of wheels, and two small spars lashed to the axletree, forming
the shafts, and at the same time the only body of the carriage; upon
these the chest and cot of the travellers were secured, making a very
comfortable seat. We took our provisions for the journey, which consisted
of hard bread, a ham, and a bottle of spirits. We could depend upon no
supply on the road except a few eggs.

“In this manner we began our journey through Finland, not knowing a word
of the language: we at length reached Abo, and procured an open boat to
cross the gulf of Bothnia. The weather had become very tempestuous, and
we were obliged to take shelter for a day or two on a small island in the

“At length we reached Gustihamnan, and from thence proceeded to
Stockholm. Here we were obliged to wait for some days; the Swedish
ambassador in England, it was said, had sent no account of the terms on
which the British officers had been engaged. It was at length determined
to give them a sum on account, leaving the ambassador in England to make
a final settlement. The sum was twenty pounds to each; but one half of
this was given in a bill on Copenhagen, done evidently with a view of
getting the Englishmen out of the country as soon as possible, lest they
might appeal to the king. We accordingly sailed for Copenhagen in an
English merchant ship, landed at Elsineur, and had to proceed from thence
to Copenhagen, where we remained a week, and left it at that time with
but little more of the twenty pounds than would enable us to pay our
passage to England, where we arrived about the middle of November.

“By this time the Ambassador was changed, and his successor pleaded
ignorance of our concerns; nor was it till the year 1796 that any
settlement was made. This only amounted to twelve pounds, making in all
thirty-two pounds to each officer, instead of more than seventy-two
pounds which had been promised.”

On the 22nd of this month, Mr. Brenton was promoted to the rank of
Lieutenant in the British Navy, through the interest of Lord Hood. Of
this period he speaks thus:—“My first appointment of Lieutenant was
second of the ‘Assurance,’ a troop ship, ordered to take troops to
Halifax, a station of all others I should have chosen, having numerous
friends and relations at that place; but particularly, from having formed
an early attachment there. I was, however, destined not to perform
this voyage, nor to see the object of my affections for the next ten
years. I had been sent on shore at Rochester, in the pursuit of some
deserters from my ship, when I was surrounded by a mob, and arrested by
the civil power, on a charge of impressing within the limits of the city
of Rochester. The Mayor, upon this vague charge, and without taking any
evidence in support of it, committed me and four midshipmen to Bridewell.
It was pointed out to the Mayor that an infuriated mob was waiting at
the door, with the intention of attacking the officers on their way to
prison; regardless of the warning, he sent us under a few constables. I
was immediately knocked down, dragged through the streets, and narrowly
escaped with life, losing nearly all my clothes. We were liberated the
next morning, and a representation having been made at the Admiralty,
their Solicitor was ordered to enter a prosecution against the Mayor of
Rochester; and I was superseded from the Assurance, and appointed second
of the Speedy Sloop of fourteen guns, on the home station, that I might
be at hand to attend the trial. This did not take place till many months
afterwards, when it came on at Maidstone. The Mayor suffered judgment
to go against him by default, and in consequence paid the penalty of
seven hundred and fifty pounds, which sum no doubt was supplied by the
corporation. I continued for some time second of the Speedy, and was at
length made first Lieutenant. I was generally kept in the command of the
boats cruizing after smugglers. The Speedy was paid off in the autumn of

Having remained from this period till the summer of 1792 upon half-pay,
Mr. Brenton was then appointed to command the Trepassey, a small cutter
at Newfoundland. The only personal recollections which have been found of
Newfoundland, are contained in the following anecdote.—“In an excursion
made in the winter of 1792-3, from St. John’s to the Bay of Bulls,
Captain, the late General, Skinner forming one of our party, we had, on
our return, to cross a large lake over the ice, some miles in extent.
When about the middle, Captain Skinner informed me that he had long
been severely pinched by the cold, and found an irresistible drowsy fit
coming on. I urged him to exertion, representing the fatal consequences
of giving way to this feeling, and pointing out the state in which his
wife and family would be found, should the party arrive at St. John’s
without him. These thoughts roused him to exertion for some time; but
when we had reached the margin of the lake, he gave way, and declared
he was utterly unable to struggle farther, delivering at the same time
what he considered his dying message to his family. As there were some
bushes near the spot, I broke off a branch, and began to thrash my
fellow-traveller with it; at first without much apparent effect, but at
length I was delighted to find that my patient winced under my blows, and
at length grew angry. I continued the application of the stick, until he
made an effort to get up and retaliate. He was soon relieved from the
torpor; and as we were now but a few miles from St. John’s, I pushed on
before the party, leaving the captain under their especial care. I left
also the stick, with strong injunctions that it should be smartly applied
in the event of the drowsiness returning. I soon reached the town, and
having had some warm porter with spice prepared against the arrival of my
friends; with this and considerable friction he was enabled to proceed
home, where he arrived perfectly recovered. He himself related the story
at the Earl of St. Vincent’s table at Gibraltar, many years afterwards;
expressing, at the same time, much gratitude for the beating he had

In the early part of 1794 Mr. Brenton returned to England, and was
appointed second of the Sybil, of twenty-eight guns, in which situation
he remained for a few months and then became first lieutenant of that
ship; but with regard to the intermediate steps, by which he rose to
this command, his own pen must supply the narrative. He says, “I was
appointed, in the summer of 1792, to the command of the Trepassey
cutter, at Newfoundland, a very small vessel, and facetiously termed
by naval men, a machine for making officers. There were two cutters
built, it might be said for this very purpose, on an understanding that
a lieutenant should be made into each, every year; one from Admiralty
patronage, and the other by the commander in chief for the time being.
The first two were Lieutenants Rowley and Halket; the next pair Caithen
and Gilbert; then Herbert and Holme. I name these officers that the
regularity of the system may appear. The lieutenant at the end of the
year, or just previously to the sailing of the Admiral for England, (for
he never wintered on the station) went through a nominal invaliding; and
their successors were appointed from the cockpit of the Admiral’s ship.

“At length, in the year 1792, the Admiralty decided upon putting an end
to this certainly most exceptionable method of patronage, and ordered
two lieutenants out from England to command these cutters. I was one of
these, and arrived at Newfoundland in September. I found the Trepassey a
very extraordinary description of a man of war. She was only forty-two
tons; something about the size of one of the Gravesend boats, previously
to the adoption of steam vessels upon the Thames. Her crew consisted
of _five_ men, and a pilot, who performed the functions of every class
of officer below the commander. She had four swivels mounted; and
was employed in going along the coast to protect the fisheries, and
to enquire into abuses. On the last appointment the Admiral added two
midshipmen to each cutter, making the whole number of each complement
eight. These vessels lay in the harbour of St. John’s during the winter,
and were fitted out in the spring, to be in readiness to visit the
different ports on their station, as soon as the harbour was clear from

“In the month of March, 1793, a small vessel arrived under a flag of
truce from the island of St. Pierre, with a letter from the Governor,
requesting to know what news had arrived from Europe. It was addressed to
the Admiral, and contained evidently an indirect offer of surrender of
the islands to his Britannic Majesty, made with a view of putting them
under our protection, and of saving them from the sanguinary republicans,
who had begun to shew themselves amongst the population. The Admiral was
of course in England; and the question was, who should open the letter.
There was a military force of one company of the fourth regiment, and
another of artillery; and the naval force consisted of the two cutters,
Placentia and Trepassey, commanded by Lieutenant Tucker and myself. The
dispatches of course were received by Mr. Tucker, who forthwith called
upon the captains of the army to consult as to what steps should be taken.

“At this meeting the question arose as to who was the representative of
the Governor. The commission of the Governor stated, that in case of his
_death_, the government was to devolve upon the senior officer of the
navy; and it was maintained that the provision made against death, must
be equally applicable to his absence. This was denied on the part of
the military officers; and until this point was settled no consultation
could take place. Mr. Tucker acted for himself, and proceeded to collect
a body of volunteers on the island, with which he contemplated sailing
for St. Pierre, as soon as a sufficient number could be got together. In
the meantime he sent me in the Trepassey, with a flag of truce, to give
the information to the Governor of St. Pierre, and to prepare him for the
event, that he might be in readiness to act in concert.

“On my arrival I found that the island had been taken possession of the
day before, by a detachment from Halifax; and the Alligator frigate,
which had brought them, was then lying in the harbour. The Trepassey was
immediately dispatched to take possession of Miguelon. On the return
of the Trepassey to St. John’s I found the Pluto, sloop of war, had
arrived, having captured a French corvette from Martinique. News also
from Europe had reached us, with an account of the murder of the French
king, and the commencement of the war. The action of the Boston and the
Ambuscade soon after took place. The Admiral (Sir Richard King) reached
his station in July; and having received a letter which informed me,
that it was the wish of my friend, Captain E. Pakenham, to have me as
his first lieutenant in the Resistance, of forty-four guns, I procured
the Admiral’s permission to go to England, taking my passage in the
Cleopatra, with that most amiable and distinguished character, Sir
Alexander Ball; a circumstance invaluable to me from its being the means
of my acquiring the friendship of such a man.

“We took a convoy to Cadiz, and while waiting there to collect one for
England, it was understood that a Spanish seventy-four was upon the point
of sailing for Falmouth with money; as an indemnification of the Nootka
Sound affair, in 1790. I eagerly caught at the opportunity of seeing the
system of the Spanish navy; and my wish being made known to the Spanish
commander, he immediately invited me to take my passage to England with
him, in the St. Elmo, where I was treated with the greatest hospitality,
and marked attention. We sailed for Ferrol on the following day, and from
that port the 24th December, and arrived at Falmouth early in January.

“This ship had been selected as one in the best state of discipline
in the Spanish navy, to be sent to England. She was commanded by Don
Lorenzo Goycochca, a gallant seaman, who had commanded one of the junk
ships destroyed before Gibraltar, in 1781. I had during this voyage an
opportunity of appreciating Spanish management at sea. When the ship
was brought under double reefed topsails, it was considered superfluous
to lay the cloth for dinner; and when I remonstrated, I was told by the
captain, that not one officer would be able to sit at table, being all
sea-sick; but that he had directed dinner to be got in his own cabin for
himself and me. It was the custom in the Spanish navy for the captain and
all the officers to mess together in the wardroom, which was appropriated
to this purpose. We had henceforth a very comfortable meal together,
whenever the weather prevented a general meeting.

“As the safe arrival of this ship was deemed of great importance, an
English pilot from Falmouth was sent into Ferrol, for the purpose of
enabling her to approach the coast of England with safety. A few nights
before our arrival at Falmouth, the ship having whole sails and topping
sails, was taken aback in a heavy squall from the N.E. and I was awoke
by the English pilot knocking at my cabin door, calling out, ‘Mr.
Brenton, Mr. Brenton, rouse out, Sir; here is the ship running away with
these Spaniards.’ When I got upon deck, I found this was literally the
case. She was running away at the rate of twelve knots, and every thing
in confusion: she was indeed, to use the ludicrous simile of a naval
captain, ‘all adrift like a French post-chaise.’ It required some hours
to get things to rights, and the wind having moderated and become fair,
we then resumed our course, and safely reached Falmouth. The Spanish
Inns, (the Posadas) are proverbially bad, wretched in the extreme; and
great was the astonishment of the officers of the St. Elmo on reaching
Williams’s Hotel at Falmouth, by no means at that time a first rate
inn. Still, such was the effect produced by the carpet, the fire, and
the furniture in general, that it was some time before they could be
persuaded that I had not conducted them to some nobleman’s house, in
return for their hospitality to me; the _bill_ however dispelled this
pleasant delusion.”



Soon after his arrival in England, Mr. Brenton was appointed Second
Lieutenant to the Sybil; and while the ship was lying at Gravesend, and
previous to her quitting the river, an interesting little event occurred,
which is so descriptive of the warm-hearted and affectionate character
of the Irish, that it seems due to our countrymen of the sister isle to
mention it, as related in the journal.

“A boat full of men was seen proceeding to an East Indiaman, and I, who
was at the time walking the deck with the captain, was ordered to take a
boat and examine them. I found them sheltered under a regular protection
signed by the Lords of the Admiralty, and stated to be in force for three
days from its date. The date had been omitted, perhaps purposely; and the
paper had probably been procured by a crimp, in order to cover the men
he was in the habit of sending down to the ships at Gravesend. The boat
therefore was brought alongside the Sybil; and the captain, not finding
any prime seamen amongst them, was satisfied with taking two healthy
looking Irish lads, Mike and Pat Corfield by name, one about twenty years
old, and the other under nineteen. The lads were greatly distressed at
being put on board a man of war, of which they had undoubtedly heard many
terrible things. It was however past twelve o’clock when they arrived,
and the pipe had been just given for dinner. The young Irishmen were
accordingly supplied with their portion of bread, soup, and meat; when
Pat smiling through his tears said, “Mike, let us send for mother.”

This little speech, so original, and so full of affectionate expression,
was related to the amusement of the officers for the moment, and was soon
forgotten; but many weeks afterwards, when the ship was at Spithead; a
boat came off, in which were not only the mother but also the little
brother of the Corfields. Their meeting was, as may be supposed,
affecting in the extreme, and seemed to interest every one in their
favour. The whole family were of course to live, while they remained
together, upon the allowance of the two sailors; but the officers having
interceded with the captain; little Edmund, the younger brother, about
ten years of age, was put on the books, which gave a third allowance;
in the mean time the two elder had procured and slung a hammock for the
mother, and another for the little fellow, and every accommodation was
given them by their shipmates to whom this conduct had endeared them.
The mother by washing more than furnished her quota for the mess; and the
whole were kept by her care so clean and tidy that they were noticed for
their good appearance.”

In the course of the autumn of this year, 1794, the Sybil formed part of
the squadron under Rear Admiral Harvey, and was lying many weeks in the
Scheldt, for the protection of Flushing; the French being in possession
of the isle of Cadsand, and menacing that fortress. This service was at
once harassing and mortifying; having none of the excitement or prospect
of advantage which a cruize invariably holds out; while it was in no
ordinary degree exposed to anxiety and hardship.

The Sybil was at length ordered to cruize on the Flemish bank, between
the coast of Holland and the Goodwin Sands; and was kept on this duty
during the whole of that very severe winter of 1794-5, occasionally
calling at Sheerness, to refit and complete provisions. Mr. Brenton was
appointed First Lieutenant of the ship in the October of this year. In
the month of January, 1795, the ice extended far beyond the great Haze,
and the Sybil was for many days frozen in at the little Haze, without any
communication either with the shore or other ships. The squadron, under
Commodore Payne, consisting of the Jupiter, Royal Yacht, and other ships,
were lying at Sheerness at this time, waiting for the ice to break up,
that they might proceed to the Elbe, in order to bring over the Princess
Caroline, afterwards Princess of Wales, and of so much notoriety in this
country. Of this period of service the following notices are given:—

“In February the Sybil was sent to the Weser, to assist in bringing away
the British army, after their disastrous retreat through Holland in that
awful winter. The sufferings of the troops had been dreadful during
the march. They were embarked as they reached Bremer Lee, and sailed
in detachments for England. The Sybil and her convoy were to take off
the rear, and remained in consequence until the latter end of March.
Colonels Barnes and Boardman, the first of the Guards, and the latter
of the Oxford Blues, were embarked in the Sybil. About this time an
extraordinary species of disease had begun to manifest itself among the
marines of the Sybil; and as the discovery of its cause, and the means
of its cure, must be ascribed to the acuteness of the latter of these
two gentlemen, it may be regarded as a subject of thankfulness that they
were passengers. Many of the men were afflicted with an ossification, or
hardening of the knee joint; and this had proceeded to such an extent
in several cases, that the men were lame for life. The surgeon, who was
himself afflicted in the same way, and had been lame from childhood, was
at a loss as to the cause of the malady; but Colonel Boardman at once
threw a light upon the subject by a remark not unlikely to suggest itself
to the mind of a military man. He had observed that the marines, when
dressed, had thick woollen breeches, and long worsted stockings, so that
during the day time, when on their post, the men had the knees doubly
covered. After sunset, when off guard, the parade dress was laid aside,
and canvas trowsers substituted, leaving the knee with little protection
from the cold air of the night; and he inferred that the mischief in
the joint arose from the sudden and violent change in the temperature
maintained around it. The result proved the justness of his conjecture as
to the cause of the malady; for on taking proper precautions to maintain
the warmth by clothing, no further cases occurred; and the surgeon
himself recollected, what it is singular he should ever have forgotten,
that his own crippled state had been occasioned by exposure to cold.
Trifling as this matter may seem, it is not without use to point out the
benefit that may be derived from the observation of intelligent men, even
of a different profession.

“One amusing circumstance occurred also at this time aboard the Sybil,
which it may not be improper to add, as evincing great readiness of
resource in a sailor, though in a case of much less importance than the
preceding. One of the quarter-masters, familiarly called by everybody,
“Old John Iceberg, a Swede,” had a favourite cat, which, contrary to the
reputed character of those animals, evinced as much attachment to her
master as a dog is used to do. It slept in his hammock, and when he had
the watch on deck amused itself with playing in the rigging, leaping
from it to the spanker boom, and from thence to the boat which hung
over the stern. It happened one night that the boat having been kept on
shore by bad weather, and puss not being aware of its absence, in the
course of her gambols she went overboard, to the utter despair of poor
Iceberg. He however soon recollected himself; threw the captain’s dog
overboard, and reporting to the officer on watch that the dog was in the
water, volunteered his services to go after it. While in the boat it may
naturally be supposed that the first object of his care was the cat, and
having picked her up, he proceeded at his leisure to the relief of Echo.”

Ill health, the natural consequence of a service so fatiguing, and so
exposed to extremities of cold, rendered it necessary for Mr. Brenton
to come on shore, in the latter end of 1795. On his recovery, and
application to the Admiralty for employment, he found himself appointed
Second Lieutenant to the Alliance store ship, under orders for the
Mediterranean, a situation but ill according with the feelings of an
officer, ambitious of rising in the service, and who depended solely
on his own exertions, and the opportunities that might offer for
distinguishing himself. Of this illness, and the results to which it led,
Mr. Brenton speaks thus in his private memoranda, “I became very unwell,
and was recommended to go ashore for the winter of 1795-6, which I the
more regretted from the circumstance of Captain Douglas, now Admiral John
Erskine Douglas, having been appointed to command the Sybil, an officer
of distinguished merit, and great abilities, and from whom I felt that
I should learn much. I proceeded immediately to Edinburgh, where my
father was regulating captain. I was put under the care of Dr. Munro, by
whose judicious treatment I was soon in a state of convalescence. But
the idea of being out of employment during an active war, preyed upon
my mind. I wrote to the Admiralty in the middle of December, stating my
ability to serve again, and requesting an appointment. Not receiving
an early answer, my impatience to be afloat again induced me, contrary
to the advice of my physician, to set off for London. On my arrival I
had the mortification to find that I was appointed Second Lieutenant of
the Alliance store ship, a station that I at once considered disgraceful
and degrading to an officer, who had been for some time First Lieutenant
of a frigate. I went to the Admiralty, and laid my case before Admiral
Young, then one of the board, by whom I was kindly received. Having
heard my story, he acknowledged that the Admiralty had resolved to
discountenance any officer going to sick quarters. He admitted that in
many cases the innocent would suffer with the guilty; he believed my
case to be one of this description, and recommended me to join my ship,
in the expectation that I should soon receive something better. I went
away, deeply depressed by what I had heard. I felt that all my prospects
of promotion and distinction had vanished; and was only supported by
the conviction that the disgrace, for such I considered it to be, was
unjustly inflicted; that it was contrary to my wish that I had left my
ship, but that my physician had declared that my life was endangered by

In order to explain the violence of the feelings produced in Mr.
Brenton’s mind by this appointment, it may be necessary to state his own
remark. “It had been then for some time the practice, impolitic in every
point of view, to appoint officers who had fallen under the censure of a
court martial to these store ships. This had been done in forgetfulness
of the value of these vessels, of the very great importance of their
cargoes to the fleets and arsenals in foreign stations, and of the small
number of officers allowed to them; which seemed to require that the
few in command should be men of experience, and men on whose character
reliance might be placed. The officer who had been appointed first of
the Alliance refused to join her. One who had been just dismissed from
his ship, by a court martial, for intemperance, was appointed second;
and I was finally appointed first of this store ship. Captain Cumming
(late Rear Admiral) commanded her, and did me ample justice by bearing
testimony to my conduct, and giving full credit to my exertions under
circumstances so discouraging and humiliating.

“The ship was fitted out and sailed in the latter end of March, with a
convoy of more than 300 sail for different parts of the world, which were
to separate at Cape Finisterre for the several places to which they were

“When crossing the Bay of Biscay a letter was sent from the Admiral’s
ship, which had been probably forgotten in England, by which I was
informed that I was to be appointed First Lieutenant of the Diamond, of
thirty-eight guns, under the command of my friend, Sir Sidney Smith, who
had commenced his career in the navy under my father, in the Tortoise
store ship; and who, while we were together in Sweden had evinced much
regard for me. Hence this intended appointment.

“It is hardly necessary to add, that had this appointment taken place,
which but for the singular oversight that led to the delay of the
letter, most certainly would have been the case, I certainly should have
followed the fortunes of Sir Sidney Smith, and should probably have
shared his long and perilous captivity in France; while I must have
forfeited the benefits arising from the patronage of my constant friend,
Earl St. Vincent, who, from the moment he first became acquainted with
me, lost no opportunity of forwarding my interests, and of placing me in
important posts.”

On receiving the letter Mr. Brenton says, “I shewed it to my captain,
requesting permission to return to England, some vessel probably leaving
the fleet, being bound thither at the time. Captain Cumming kindly
appealed to me, whether, knowing the state of the ship, and the utter
incapacity of the other Lieutenant to do the duty, he could possibly
accede to my request. The argument was but too well grounded, and I was
under the necessity of submitting. And here we have a striking instance,
that the most gloomy and unpromising circumstances may eventually
lead to the completion of our most sanguine expectations; whilst the
gratification of our immediate wishes might only end in disappointment.
I have often felt that the hand of a kind providence was peculiarly
manifested in my favour upon this occasion. The Diamond was sent to
cruize off the coast of France, and Sir Sidney Smith soon after was taken
prisoner, having landed near Havre in an enterprize against the enemy.
He was confined for a long time in the Temple. If I had not accompanied
my chivalrous friend on this occasion, which it is not improbable might
have been the case, I should at all events have lost the benefit of
his influence, and have had very little chance of promotion; whereas by
proceeding to the Mediterranean in the Alliance, I was placed in the
way of success, and in a short time attained what I had hitherto hardly
ventured to hope.

“On the arrival of the Alliance at St. Fiorenzo I addressed a letter to
the Commander in chief, Sir John Jervis, detailing the circumstances of
my present appointment; and requesting that he would not attribute it to
misconduct on my part; referring him to the different captains with whom
I had sailed for my character and abilities. To my great delight, in a
short time I received an appointment to the Gibraltar, of eighty guns, a
situation most highly gratifying, and beyond my most sanguine wishes. The
Alliance being ordered with supplies of stores to the fleet off Toulon,
I had an immediate opportunity of joining the Gibraltar; having first
waited on the Commander in chief, to thank him for the appointment. Sir
John Jervis received me in the kindest manner, saying he considered the
sons of officers as children of the service, and that he felt it his duty
to provide for them.

“On joining the Gibraltar I found the ship had been in a most unpleasant
state in consequence of a litigious spirit, which had crept in among
the officers, and which had led to numerous courts martial; so that the
captain and officers were not upon friendly terms. Captain Pakenham
however came forward upon this occasion in the handsomest manner, saying
to the officers whom he assembled for the purpose, ‘Come, gentlemen, let
us now give the new First Lieutenant a fair chance. Let us bury the
hatchet and be friends.’ The greatest cordiality and comfort ensued; and
consequently the discipline of the ship was rapidly improved. This the
Admiral attributed to my exertions, while it was the natural result of
restored harmony between the Captain and those under his command.

“The summer was passed in blockading Toulon. In the course of this season
evident indications appeared of hostile intentions on the part of the
Spaniards, who had a very powerful fleet in the Mediterranean. Sir John
Jervis felt it necessary to concentrate his force as much as possible;
and for this purpose repaired with the fleet to Fiorenzo bay, in Corsica,
leaving a small but active force off Toulon, to watch the movements of
the French in that port.

“In the latter part of October, it was found necessary to evacuate
Corsica; and the Smyrna convoy having arrived there, the Admiral sailed
with fifteen sail of the line for Gibraltar, in the beginning of
November; each ship of the line with a Smyrna man in tow. The weather was
very bad, and the winds generally shifting, adverse, and squally, so as
to render the towing of the convoy a service of difficulty and danger;
two of them were lost in consequence, being run down. The fleet arrived
at Gibraltar early in December. The Spaniards had by that time declared
war; and there was no longer any impediment to their forming a junction
with the French fleet, which would make their force exceed forty-three
sail of the line. Sir John Jervis, that he might be in readiness to
sustain the attack of the enemy, moored his ships in the form of a
crescent, extending from the Ragged staff to Rosia bay; the sternmost
ship of the weather line lying off the former place; and the last of
the sea line, the Gibraltar, being off Rosia bay, in a most exposed
situation, with scarcely any hold for her anchors from the steepness of
the bank. Here, on the 10th of December, a most tremendous gale of wind
from the E.S.E. came on, at first in heavy squalls with long intervals.
The Gibraltar brought her anchors home, and great exertions were made
during the lulls to lay them out again. As the night approached the wind
increased to a hurricane. I stated my opinion to the captain that the
ship could not hold on during the night; he appeared to be of the same
opinion, and expressed his intention, should the ship drive, to cut, and
make sail at once, so as to keep the straits open. A very heavy sea was
at the time breaking round Europa point, and against the Spanish shore
on the lee side of the bay. The captain recommended me to retire to my
cot, and get a little repose, as I was evidently unwell. I had hardly
gone down, when a tremendous squall came on, and the ship began to
drive. I ran upon deck as soon as possible; but before I reached it, I
heard the sheet cable running out, the anchor having been let go by the
captain’s order. This change of mind is to be accounted for only by the
apprehension the captain was under of the Admiral’s displeasure; and the
hope he entertained, however feeble, that the ship might be brought up;
but of this it soon appeared there was no prospect. She was off the bank
in a few minutes, with her three anchors hanging to her bows.

“The cables were immediately cut, and sail made upon the ship; but as
the topsails had been furled double reefed, it became necessary to close
reef them before they could be set. The foresail was set at once, and
the main-tack got on board; but in hauling aft the sheet, it was found
to have got a round turn, round the main top gallant yard, in the lee
rigging; nor could any efforts clear it from the shaking of the sail,
the violence of the wind, and the darkness of the night. The yard was
cut away from the main chains, and flew out to leeward, still confined
by both parts of the sheet round it, and it was found impossible to get
the sheet aft for some time. In the meantime, the topsails split, as they
were loosed from the yards; the ship had now lost the shelter of the rock
of Gibraltar, and felt the full force of the heavy sea rolling into the
bay. It was also seen breaking to a fearful height over the Pearl rock
off Cabritta point, which was under our lee; and in order to run her out
clear of it, the jib was set; thus co-operating with a deep pitch in a
heavy sea, carried away the foretopmast. She now rapidly approached the
rock; was soon in the foam occasioned by the breakers; and in another
moment struck upon the rock with a dreadful crash, and was thrown nearly
on her beam ends; but most providentially this latter circumstance, by
decreasing for the moment her draught of water, was the means of carrying
her over the rock, when she righted without striking again.

“The panic was great as may easily be conceived, and a general cry of
‘Cut away the masts’ was heard from every part of the ship. The captain
having been carried into the cabin severely hurt from a fall, just
before the ship struck, the command had devolved upon me. I prevented
the masts from being cut away, not from any prospect of saving the ship,
but in the hope of being able to run her into a sandy bay, near Cabritta
point. The first order I gave was to sound the well; when, to my great
surprise, it was reported that there was no water in it. I therefore
ordered the ship to be kept away, under her tattered sail, so as to give
her fresh way, and hauling up, gradually succeeded in getting her into
the Gut, and free from any danger of the land; when we proceeded to clear
the wreck, to shift the sails, and to bend a cable to the spare anchor.
It happened providentially that there were on board two anchors belonging
to the Censeur, a French seventy-four, a prize which had been burnt by
accident in Fiorenzo bay, and which were to have been landed at Lisbon,
when the fleet should have arrived there. These anchors were immediately
got up from the main hatchway, where they had been stowed; and after
being stocked, had cables bent to them.

“The gale continued during the remainder of the night, and through the
following morning. In the afternoon it became quite moderate, and the
Zealous, commanded by Captain Hood, was seen standing out of Tangier bay,
and approaching the Gibraltar. A boat came on board, bringing information
to Captain Pakenham that Captain Hood had slipped the cable, by which
the Zealous was riding in Tangier bay, and had left a buoy on the cable,
with a boat fast to it, in order that the Gibraltar might run in and take
advantage of it, in the natural expectation that she must have lost her
anchors in driving out of the bay.

“This was a most judicious measure, and quite characteristic of the
excellent officer who suggested it. The Gibraltar availed herself of it;
and having got to snug anchorage in smooth water, was soon able to get
the anchors which had been stocked, over the bows; which it would not
only have been difficult, but dangerous to do while exposed to a heavy

The perilous situation of the Gibraltar, in this awful night, has
furnished an interesting subject for Captain Brenton’s pencil; when in a
leisure hour, many years afterwards, he made a drawing from recollection
of the ship during the most critical moment, and it may perhaps assist
the reader to form a notion of the extreme peril to which the ship was
exposed, when the circumstances are named, which, under providence, seem
to have been the means of her preservation.

The Gibraltar was a Spanish built ship, and on examining the injuries
done to the vessel, when docked for repairing; it was found that the
whole of the lower part of the ship was a solid mass of mahogany. No
other fabric could have stood the violence of the shock when she struck
on the reef; and enabled her to float after she was righted.

Captain Pakenham having spoken very highly to the Commander in chief
of Mr. Brenton’s conduct on this trying occasion, he was pleased to
express himself most favourably towards him; and as the Gibraltar, on
being surveyed at Lisbon, was found to have sustained so much damage
that it was necessary to send her to England; Sir John Jervis sent for
Lieutenant Brenton, and informing him of the Gibraltar’s destination,
asked him at the same time whether he had any objections to remaining
in the fleet; adding, that if such was his wish, he could give him the
choice of two ships, the Diadem, of sixty-four guns, or the Aigle frigate
of forty, to either of which he might be appointed First Lieutenant.
After some hesitation, and not a little reluctance to quit the Gibraltar,
to which ship he had become much attached; he chose the Aigle, in the
hope that in a cruizing ship, he might have the means of distinguishing
himself; and obtaining promotion; at least, greater means than could be
expected in a ship of the line. Sir John Jervis entirely approved of
his choice, and gave him a commission as First Lieutenant of the Aigle,
then up the Mediterranean; and placed him _pro tempore_ in the Barfleur,
at the request of Vice Admiral Waldegrave, whose flag was flying in
that ship. In this situation he was present at the battle of the 14th
of February, off Cape St. Vincent; but being now a junior officer, he
consequently derived no promotion from the circumstance.

The Aigle was about this time lost off Cape Farina; and Admiral
Waldegrave having shifted his flag from the Barfleur to take the command
at Newfoundland, Mr. Brenton, from seniority, became First Lieutenant
under the command of Captain Dacres. The events of this summer were
confined to the bombardment of Cadiz. At one of these attacks Mr.
Brenton volunteered his services, and was engaged in the command of the
Barfleur’s boats. In the month of August he was removed into the Ville
de Paris, bearing the flag of Earl St. Vincent; and the fleet soon after
sailed for Lisbon.

On the subject of this appointment the following particulars are
mentioned by Lieutenant Brenton, “In the month of August, Earl St.
Vincent sent for me, and informed me that it had long been his intention
to have taken me into the Ville de Paris, as one of his Lieutenants.
He said there was now a vacancy; but observed at the same time that
he scarcely thought it worth my while to quit the Barfleur (where he
understood I was very happy) for he was firmly convinced that peace
with France was at that moment signed; (this was the period of Lord
Malmesbury’s having been sent to Lille to negociate). In proof that he
held this opinion, his Lordship added that he had just laid a wager to
this effect with Sir James Saumarez of one hundred guineas. Under these
circumstances I declined the appointment, and returned to my ship.

“On communicating to my excellent friend, Captain Dacres, the result of
this interview with the Earl, I found him quite of a different opinion.
He expressed great regret at my decision, which he considered as ruinous
to my prospects, convinced as he was that there was no prospect of peace.

“Captain Dacres was to dine with the Admiral on that day, when he took an
opportunity of requesting him to renew the offer, pledging himself that
it would be accepted. The Earl, who had not yet filled up the vacancy,
ordered a commission to be made out, appointing me to the Ville de Paris,
which he gave to Captain Dacres, who, on coming on board presented it
to me, saying, ‘There, I have now turned you out of my ship, an act for
which you will undoubtedly thank me some of these days.’ I certainly
did leave the Barfleur with a heavy heart, for I highly respected and
loved my captain, and the regard was mutual. I was also much attached
to my brother officers, and had every reason to believe I carried with
me the good wishes of all the ship’s company. The Barfleur might have
emphatically been called a happy ship.”

During the winter of 1797-8 Mr. Brenton was employed by his lordship
in sounding the Tagus, between Lisbon and Salvatierra, for the purpose
of facilitating the passage of the transports up the river to procure
water. Mr. Brenton was also sent in the Thalia, commanded by Lord Harry
Paulet to survey Jeremie Bay, in order to ascertain whether there existed
any good anchorage for the fleet. In the following spring the fleet
resumed the blockade of Cadiz. The Vengeance, French frigate, was lying
there ready for sea, and was expected to take advantage of the first
opportunity which should offer of making her escape. In order to watch
her movements narrowly during the night, two boats belonging to each ship
were ordered to rendezvous every evening off the light house, under the
command of a Lieutenant of the Ville de Paris. This command was latterly
confined to two of the Lieutenants, of whom Mr. Brenton was one, and
Mr. Melhuish the other. The guard boats were frequently attacked by the
enemy’s gun boats; and upon one of these occasions Mr. Brenton had an
opportunity of distinguishing himself, so as to gain the approbation
of the Commander in chief, and to induce his lordship to promote him to
the command of the Speedy, the same in which he had already served as
a lieutenant. Adverting to this period, Mr. Brenton says, “This was a
service of much animation, and even of enjoyment. The officers in general
managed to carry with them some good things, of which the midshipmen were
invited to partake, nor were the boat’s crew forgotten. In calm weather
their voices and their mirth were distinctly heard by the Spanish troops
on the batteries; but the noble-minded Spaniard, who commanded in Cadiz,
would not on any account allow them to be fired at. He however requested
the Spanish Admiral to send off a flag of truce, informing the Earl how
completely his boats were exposed to destruction, and requesting that
they might not be permitted to persevere in behaviour, which the garrison
considered as insulting. The Commander in chief immediately made known
this communication to me, as it was my turn to command the boats that
night, desiring it might be attended to; but he did it in these words,
‘Allow no noise to be made, Sir, by your people; but go still nearer in.’”

Captain Brenton says, relative to his appointment to the Speedy, “It was
a singular circumstance that I had already served in the Speedy, both as
second and first lieutenant; and while talking over expected promotion
with my messmates, who were naming the favourite sloops to which they
should prefer being appointed, I always named the Speedy.”

Captain Brenton took his passage in the Blenheim, which was bound to
Lisbon; but the day after leaving the fleet, the Blenheim having put
into Lagos bay, he decided upon going to Lisbon by land, which he did,
accompanied by Mr. Jephson, Judge of the Admiralty, and afterwards Sir ——
Jephson, Bart. They had a most agreeable and interesting journey; and in
a few days after their arrival at Lisbon the Speedy entered the Tagus,
and her new commander joined her. From this period (the beginning of
September) until the month of February following, the sloop, of which he
had taken the command, was kept cruizing off Oporto, for the protection
of the wine trade.



In the month of February, 1799, Captain Brenton was charged with a
valuable convoy of victuallers from Lisbon, to supply the fleet off
Cadiz. The latter had by stress of weather been driven up the straits,
and great apprehensions were entertained for the safety of the convoy
under so weak an escort. They were attacked in the bay of Gibraltar,
by twenty-three gun boats, and Captain Brenton had the satisfaction of
receiving the thanks of the Earl of St. Vincent (who was an eye witness)
for the manner in which he had defended his charge. It is fit that on
this occasion he should be his own historian, and that the account of the
action should be given from his own pen.

“Early in February, I was sent with a convoy of victuallers to the fleet
blockading Cadiz; and on my approach towards San Lucar, not seeing any of
the look-out ships, which were usually stationed far to the westward,
I suspected that in the preceding very heavy gales from the westward,
the fleet might have been driven through the straits, and I felt a
considerable anxiety for the fate of my convoy. I in consequence made the
signal for them to make all sail for Cape Trafalgar, whilst I proceeded
towards Cadiz, taking my station on the foretop gallant yard, with my
spy glass, to be in readiness to communicate the earliest information of
danger to the convoy, which were not likely to be out of sight, before
I should have a full view of Cadiz. I found my expectations respecting
our fleet were realized, but the Spaniards were still in port. I then
rejoined my convoy, and made all sail for Gibraltar.

“By the repeated signals flying along the coast, I was well aware
that the Spanish gun boats were prepared to attack the convoy, and I
accordingly formed them into two very clear and compact lines, directing
them to preserve this order of sailing by every effort in their power.
On passing Cabritta point, I observed the whole of the Spanish gun boats
lying under it, evidently waiting for the convoy. They immediately pushed
out with sails and oars, and began the attack. The Speedy wore round
ahead of the convoy, in order to close up the lee line, which seemed
disposed to straggle; and then taking our station on their larboard
quarter, we brought to ahead of the gun boats, which immediately desisted
from their attack on the convoy, and seemed to unite their efforts upon
the Speedy. As soon however as the convoy was so far advanced as to
ensure their getting under the guns of Gibraltar, the Speedy followed
them. There was but one ship of war in the bay, which was the Montague,
with the flag of Lord St. Vincent; and a boat came off from her, with
orders for me to take my convoy over to Tetuan bay; where I was informed
the fleet was lying under the command of Lord Keith. I accordingly
proceeded thither, and found my arrival had been most anxiously looked
for; as the fleet had been on short allowance of some species of
provisions, and greatly in want of all to enable them to resume their
blockade off Cadiz.

“When the signals were made by the Spaniards, the garrison of Gibraltar,
to whom these signals were known, felt great uneasiness at the imminent
danger to which the supplies for the fleet were exposed, upon which so
much depended. This feeling was very strong in the breast of Lord St.
Vincent, who had no means of increasing the force of the convoy; and
he was in proportion relieved and gratified by the safe arrival of the
convoy. He expressed his warmest approbation to Captain Brenton on his
return from Tetuan, as did the Governor and principal officers of the
garrison. But little injury was done to the Speedy, or any of her convoy.”

It is a subject of regret that the official letter, giving the account of
this spirited, and well conducted action, does not appear in the public
records of the day.

Early in March Captain Brenton says, “The Speedy was ordered to cruize
off Penon de Velez; and my orders, when delivered by Earl St. Vincent
were accompanied by the following observation, ‘You are to understand
that the Spaniards have a garrison at Penon de Velez—that they have no
communication whatever with any part of the coast on which this place is
situated—that they get their food, their raiment, and even the water they
require, from Malaga, which are carried over to them by vessels under
convoy of two rascally brigs—just like your own. Now, Sir, be off; I hope
you will fall in with them.’”

Having returned from this duty (the wished-for rencounter, as it appears,
not having taken place); Captain Brenton continues, “The Speedy was
ordered to proceed to Oran, in order to bring down some prizes, which had
been taken in there to wait for a convoy to Gibraltar. The wind, during
March and April, blew almost a continued heavy gale from the westward.
I made various attempts to get down to Gibraltar with my convoy, but
without success, bearing up again for Oran.

“On one occasion, having been joined by the Espoir sloop of sixteen
guns, I had got as far as Cape de Gatte, and observing a very suspicious
looking brig come out from under the land, I made the signal for the
Espoir to chase. Both vessels made all the sail they could carry; and
towards evening a very heavy squall coming on with thick weather, the
chase and the chaser were both lost sight of. Towards evening the latter
came down, not having been able to keep sight of the stranger, and
apprehensive of losing the convoy. A heavy gale came on from the westward
in the course of the night; and on the following evening, as there was no
appearance of its abating, I made the signal to bear up for Oran, where
we arrived on the next day; but the gale continuing, no boat was sent
on shore. On the second day after we anchored in Oran, some seamen in
blue jackets were seen coming over the hills; and as no boats from any
of the convoy had reached the shore, I was anxious to know from whence
these seamen could have come, concluding some wreck had taken place upon
the coast. By great exertion a boat was got on shore, and soon returned
with the captain and five seamen of the brig which had been chased off
Cape de Gatte, by the Espoir; and which, as I have mentioned, was lost
sight of in the squall. The fact is, that in that squall the unfortunate
brig was upset; and as she went down, the captain, boatswain, and five
men jumped into the boat, and cutting the lashings, were left on the
surface as the vessel sank. There was neither oar nor rudder in the boat,
but providentially the rudder of the boat was found, amidst other things
washed out of the vessel, and a couple of oars. On the following morning,
in the height of the gale, the weather being clear, they distinctly saw
the convoy, and endeavoured to make signals to them, but without effect,
from the sea running so high. When the convoy bore up in the evening for
Oran, the captain, finding it impossible, from the direction of the wind,
to approach the Spanish shore, kept before the sea, spreading shirts
upon the oars for sails, and endeavoured to find shelter in some of the
bays of the coast of Africa. Providentially they reached a little cove
with a sandy beach, just to the westward of Oran; and having caught a
hawk’s bill turtle as they approached the shore, by devouring it raw,
they acquired sufficient strength to land in a heavy surf, and to beach
their boat. The boatswain, who was a strong powerful man, sank under
exhaustion before they reached the land. They were received on board the
Speedy; and by the judicious conduct of the surgeon, were soon restored
to perfect health.

“The vessel lost was an American brig from Baltimore. Her commander’s
name was Brand, and twelve men were lost in her. Mr. Brand’s escape was
the more providential, as he was asleep below when she upset; and being
thrown out of his bed, by the sudden movement, was enabled to get up the
ladder, before the hatchway was filled with water.”

A few days after the convoy had reached Oran, the gale continuing to
blow with great violence at times, but at others more moderately; the
Terpsichore frigate commanded by Captain Gage, entered the bay of Oran
with her convoy from Minorca, bound to Gibraltar also; and about a week
later, at the close of a day on which there had been almost a hurricane,
a Spanish line of battle ship, with only her foremast standing, and
her mainmast lying buried on the poop, came into the bay, and let go
her anchor about half a mile from the Speedy, which happened to be the
farthest out.

Captain Gage directed Captain B. to watch the motions of the Spaniard,
expressing his intentions to attack him, should he move beyond the limits
of neutrality. At daylight the Spaniard was seen to cut his cable, and
put to sea: the wind had greatly moderated, but a heavy sea continued.
The Terpsichore and Speedy slipped their cables, and were immediately in
pursuit. The Spanish ship was rolling her main deck ports in the water;
the weather was very thick; the Speedy had approached nearly within
gun-shot, and was preparing to open her fire, with her four pounders,
into the stern of the enemy, whilst the Terpsichore’s fire, which would
soon have followed, would, without doubt, have insured the surrender of
the helpless Spaniard; when at the moment, the fog cleared away, and
shewed the Spanish fleet of eighteen sail of the line in the offing, and
at a very short distance. The expected prize at once vanished, and it
became necessary for the English vessels to seek their own safety. The
Terpsichore returned to Oran, and the Speedy running close in shore got
to the westward of the bay.

Of the Spaniards six sail had lost their lower masts, and many their
topmasts. The Spaniards availing themselves of a strong S.W. wind shaped
their course for Carthagena. On the following morning, the Speedy fell
in with a British squadron of five sail of the line, under Admiral
Whitshed; who, on being informed by Captain Brenton of the crippled state
of the Spaniards, made sail in pursuit of them; and the Speedy returned
to Oran, where, having joined the two convoys, they proceeded together
to Gibraltar, where they arrived early in May. The Speedy was then sent
to resume her station off Oporto, but in the month of July was again
detached to take the English mail from Lisbon to Gibraltar. Here upon
examining her defects, she was found in such a state as to render it
necessary to heave her down.

Earl St. Vincent having given up the command of the fleet to Lord Keith,
was at this time at Gibraltar, with his flag in the Argo, waiting for
wind to sail to England. The Channel fleet, under Sir Alan Gardner, had
formed a junction with the Mediterranean fleet, and had gone up the
Mediterranean in pursuit of the combined fleets of France and Spain.

While the Speedy was undergoing repair, and was keel out; the combined
fleet was seen approaching the straits from the eastward; and a cutter
sent out to reconnoitre, was captured by them, in consequence of a
partial breeze favouring a Spanish frigate while the cutter was becalmed.
Earl St. Vincent ordered the Speedy to be immediately righted, and to
prepare for sea. Copper was nailed over the defective parts; and by
the assistance of the Argo, she was ready to proceed on the following
evening, with orders to look for Lord Keith, and to communicate to him
the information, that the enemy had left the Mediterranean. He fell
in with his lordship off Cabrera, in the course of a very few days,
after leaving Gibraltar. He had already received the intelligence from
some merchant vessel, that the combined fleet had been seen near the
straits, steering to the westward, and was in pursuit of them. The day
was beautiful when the Speedy fell in with the Admiral; and the immense
fleet of thirty-two sail of the line sailing in two divisions, formed a
most magnificent spectacle. Lord Keith sent the Speedy to Minorca with
dispatches, with orders to resume her station off Oporto on her return.
He continued his pursuit; but the enemy had got far too much start of
him, and reached Brest, long before the British fleet could get up with

The following letter from Captain Brenton to his father may here be
introduced as carrying on the narrative.

                       “SPEEDY, OFF CAPE DE GATTE, JULY 17th, 1799.


    “Since my last off Lisbon no opportunity whatever occurred
    for my writing, I had scarcely time to reach Oporto, Lisbon,
    and Gibraltar, before our quarantine expired; we were ordered
    instantly into the mole, to heave down. On Sunday, the 8th,
    the Speedy was keel out, having her copper repaired, and on
    Tuesday was at sea, on her passage to join Lord Keith, with
    the intelligence of the Spanish fleet, in conjunction with the
    French, having passed the straits of Gibraltar to the westward;
    the particulars you will have, long before you receive this, as
    the Haarlem, and other vessels, were instantly dispatched for

    “The Haarlem had but just time to clear the Gut, when the van
    of the enemy’s fleet appeared in sight, and the rear of them
    had only passed the rock, when the Speedy came out; but by
    favour of the night we escaped a rencounter with the gun boats,
    who were waiting behind Europa, to intercept any vessels going
    to the eastward. We fell in with Lord Keith yesterday, but have
    not yet spoke him; his lordship has, as yet, only received the
    intelligence of the enemy being off Gibraltar, and is in full
    cry with thirty-two sail of the line, we are however coming up
    hand over hand with him, owing to light winds and smooth water.
    I expect to be on board the Queen Charlotte in two hours; and
    as there is a strong probability of my being ordered to part
    company instantly, I shall have this letter ready to dispatch,
    and take another opportunity of being particular. I have the
    mail on board and passengers for Minorca, by which means I hope
    to see Wallace, who is in that neighbourhood.

    “Lord St. Vincent arrived at Gibraltar a few days before we
    left it. His lordship is not well. This unexpected event
    has been of no service to him. His behaviour to me, has
    (if possible) been kinder than ever; he appeared pleased
    with our exertions, and has, I believe, given me some good
    recommendations to his successor, Lord Keith. I believe I may
    deem his lordship one of the best friends I ever met with, and
    should he become premier at the Admiralty, which is by no means
    impossible, I hope we shall all feel the good effects of his

    “Remember me most affectionately to my mother; I will give her
    the earliest information of our destiny and late proceedings.
    If Captain Berkeley of the 90th regiment, should call upon
    you at Edinburgh, may I request you will deem him a welcome
    guest. I have much esteem for him, and he deserves it. He is
    but slowly recovering from a fit of illness, which had for some
    time deprived him of the use of one side. I was to have given
    him a letter, but was prevented by his sudden departure.

    “Adieu, my dear Sir; I beg my best love to the girls, and to be
    considered as your ever dutiful and affectionate son,

                                                      “J. BRENTON.”

    “7 P.M. Just spoke Lord Keith, and have received orders to
    proceed to Minorca.

                                         “JAHLEEL BRENTON, ESQ.
                                    REGULATING CAPTAIN, EDINBURGH.”

After remaining a few days at Port Mahon, the Speedy directed her course
for Gibraltar; and when off Cape de Gatte gave chase to three large armed
Xebecs, which ran in and anchored in a close line, in a sandy bay to the
westward of the cape. The Speedy immediately attacked them under sail,
and was joined by the Defender, a brig privateer, belonging to Gibraltar,
of twelve guns. Captain Brenton finding he could not keep up an effectual
fire under weigh, pushed in, in hopes of finding soundings, which he at
length did within pistol shot of the enemy, and let go his anchor. The
engagement continued for more than half an hour, when the Spaniards took
to their boats, and their vessels were captured and brought off by the
Speedy and Defender. The largest mounted twelve, the second ten, and the
third six guns; and in a few days with the Speedy arrived at Gibraltar.

The Speedy again visited Oporto, and was again dispatched from Lisbon to
Gibraltar with the mail. On her way back from the rock to Oporto, she
chased three Spanish vessels, and drove them on shore; but the surf was
so heavy they could not be got off.

The following official letters describe some of the actions in which the
Speedy was engaged, and the opinions pronounced on her commander by his

    From the Gazette, Admiralty Office, 21st September, 1799.

    Copy of a letter from Earl St. Vincent, K.B. Admiral of the
    White, &c. to Evan Nepean, Esq. dated 17th Sept. 1799.


    “I enclose for the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, a
    letter I have received from Captain Brenton, of His Majesty’s
    Sloop Speedy, giving an account of the capture of three Spanish
    armed vessels.

                                                     “ST. VINCENT.”

       *       *       *       *       *

                             “SPEEDY, GIBRALTAR, AUGUST 21st, 1799.

    “MY LORD,

    “I have the honour to inform your lordship, that on the 9th
    inst., in company with the Defender, British Privateer of
    Gibraltar, of fourteen guns, we captured the Spanish armed
    vessels, as per margin, after an action of two hours and a
    half. Upon seeing us they ran into a small sandy bay, five
    leagues to the eastward of Cape de Gatte, and moored in a close
    line, within a boat’s length of the beach; we engaged them
    an hour and three quarters under sail, before we could gain
    soundings, although not more than a cable’s length distant from
    the rocks; but finding the enemy had much the advantage, from
    our constant change of position, I determined to push for an
    anchorage, and was fortunate enough to effect one within pistol
    shot of the centre vessel. After three quarters of an hour
    close action, the Spaniards took to their boats, cutting the
    cables of two of the vessels which drove on shore; they were,
    however, all brought off by our boats, under a constant fire of
    musketry from the hills. The privateer, having but twenty-two
    men, was obliged to stand out, to procure assistance from a
    boat she had in the offing, and could not reach the anchorage,
    till the conclusion of the action. The conduct of her commander
    was highly meritorious throughout, and must have considerably
    accelerated the event. The officers and men under my command
    behaved in such a manner as would have ensured our success
    against a more formidable enemy. The Speedy had but two men
    wounded, the Defender one, neither dangerous. We found two men
    dead on board the Spaniards; the remainder of the crews escaped
    on shore.

                                                 “JAHLEEL BRENTON.”

    Ships mentioned in the margin:

    “Santo Christo de Garcia, eight guns, six and nine pounders.

    “Name unknown, ten guns, six and nine pounders.

    “Name unknown, four guns, sixes.”

       *       *       *       *       *

                               “ADMIRALTY OFFICE, OCTOBER 26, 1799.

    Copy of a letter from Rear Admiral Duckworth to Evan Nepean,
    Esq., dated Leviathan, off Lisbon, the 13th inst.


    “You will be pleased to lay before my Lords Commissioners of
    the Admiralty the copy of a letter from Captain Brenton, of the
    Speedy, relating the destruction of three Spanish vessels he
    chased on the 3rd inst.; it is but justice to this officer to
    observe, that his exertions and gallantry at all opportunities
    do him the highest honour.

    “I have the honour to be, &c.

                                                 “J. J. DUCKWORTH.”

       *       *       *       *       *

                                  “SPEEDY, AT SEA, OCTOBER 4, 1799.


    “I have the honour to inform you, that yesterday, whilst
    running through the gut of Gibraltar, in sight of the British
    convoy, I observed a number of small vessels, coming out
    of Algesiras, and concluded they were Spanish gun boats,
    endeavouring to cut off some of the merchant ships; I therefore
    steered for them, in order to keep them as far as possible from
    the body of the fleet; but upon our near approach, perceiving
    they were Spanish coasters, eight in number, under the
    protection of a cutter and schooner, made all sail in chase,
    and soon separated the two sternmost from the body; they ran
    under the guns of a castle, which opened a fire upon us, and
    prevented our bringing them off. We continued the pursuit of
    the others, passing under the shot from Tariffa castle; and at
    four p.m. came up with four more in a bay to the eastward of
    Cape Trafalgar: one immediately anchored near a fort, and the
    other three under a castle which had one gun mounted; as it
    blew very heavy from the eastward, and being on a lee shore,
    we could not go as near them as I could wish, but anchored
    within four cables’ length, and bringing our guns to bear upon
    the castle (which appeared to be in a very ruinous state, and
    did not return our fire,) and the vessels; we in a short time,
    compelled the Spaniards to abandon them all, first cutting
    their cables, by which means they drove on shore. I then sent
    Lieutenant Parker to endeavour to bring them off, and shortly
    after Mr. Marshall to assist; or if that was not practicable
    to set them on fire; neither of which could be effected from
    the heavy surf breaking entirely over them, and rendering our
    approach dangerous to the boats. They however boarded them,
    brought away some of their fire arms, threw the remainder
    overboard, leaving them full of water, and complete wrecks.
    One vessel was laden with brandy and paper; one with English
    manufacture (cutlery, hardware, &c.); and the third in ballast.
    I beg leave to express the high satisfaction I received from
    the conduct of Lieutenant Parker, in boarding the vessel under
    the walls of the castle, while exposed to musketry from the
    beach; also of Mr. Ricketts, the purser, who was a volunteer
    upon that service. The attention of Mr. Marshall, the master,
    to the anchoring his Majesty’s sloop, and the able assistance I
    have received from him on former occasions, renders him worthy
    of the fullest confidence.

    “I have the honour to be, &c.

                                                      “J. BRENTON.”


Early in November of this year, the Speedy was again sent from Lisbon,
with a convoy to Gibraltar; and on entering the bay was attacked by
twelve gun boats, and a ten gun French privateer. They came down in the
most determined manner; and surrounded the Speedy off Europa point, with
the intention of boarding; which Captain Brenton observing, directed the
guns to be loaded with grape as far as it could be done with safety; and
reserved the fire until the Spaniards rose to board, when the Speedy’s
fire was so destructive as to induce the Spaniards to sheer off, and run
to leeward with great precipitation. The convoy in the meantime got safe
into Gibraltar, and the Speedy was endeavouring to follow them; but it
was soon found she had received so much damage, below the water line on
the starboard side, from the enemy’s shot, that she was filled with water
to the lower deck. It became necessary immediately to veer her: and by
carrying as much sail as her wounded rigging would bear on the starboard
tack, the leak was got out of the water. But to keep her in this position
it became indispensible to stand across the straits, and run for shelter
into Tetuan bay; which they reached late in the evening; and having
repaired their damages, sailed early the next morning for Gibraltar. The
Speedy had two men killed upon this occasion.

It was a subject of universal astonishment, that the Spaniards should
have made so daring an attempt, as to attack the Speedy under the
batteries of Gibraltar, actually within hail, as conversation passed
between Captain Mottley (the resident agent for transports at Gibraltar)
and Captain Brenton before the Spaniards surrounded the Speedy.

Upon Captain Brenton’s return to Gibraltar, he received the thanks and
congratulations of Governor O’Hara, and the garrison. “Speedy” was given
out that evening for the parole, and “Brenton” for the countersign.
Perhaps the full force of this flattering testimony can only be felt by
those connected with the military profession.

On arriving at the rock, Captain Brenton waited upon the Governor, to
remonstrate upon so extraordinary a circumstance; but the Governor,
General O’Hara, anticipated his complaint, by explaining that in
consequence of the Spanish authorities having threatened to bombard
Gibraltar from Fort St. Phillip, on account of some fishing-boats having
been fired at from the batteries by mistake, having been taken for row
boat privateers, he (the Governor) had been obliged to prohibit all
discretional firing; directing that no gun should be fired without his
express permission. He added, however, that the events of the preceding
day convinced him that such a regulation could not be persevered in; that
he had that morning issued orders that a most vigilant look out should in
future be kept from the batteries; and a signal made when any privateer
was seen under weigh, when she was to be fired at on her approach.

Rear Admiral Duckworth was at this time lying in the bay of Gibraltar;
and reported Captain Brenton’s conduct to the Admiralty, in a manner most
flattering to his feelings, as did the Governor, and the Commissioner.
The Governor’s letter was addressed to Earl St. Vincent, then in
England; and his lordship happened to be with Sir Evan Nepean, at the
Admiralty, when it arrived. He had no sooner read the forcible appeal
made by General O’Hara in favour of Captain Brenton, than he went to
Lord Spencer, and laying the letter before him, said, “My lord, I will
not leave your room until the request contained in that letter is
complied with;” and Lord Spencer immediately wrote an order for Captain
Brenton to be put into the first Post vacancy, that should occur in the

It may perhaps be allowable to introduce here the description of this
gallant action as given in the Naval Chronicle; and to add the official
letter addressed to Admiral Duckworth.

“It is somewhat astonishing that the following remarkable instance of
naval gallantry should never yet have been published; we therefore
consider ourselves exceedingly obliged by being enabled to bring before
our readers such particulars, as must be read with the greatest
admiration of the distinguished prowess they describe, and which so
eminently redound to the credit of the officers and crews, who so ably
and bravely defended themselves against such a very superior force. We
have also subjoined the official letter sent by Captain Brenton[1] to
Admiral Duckworth, on the occasion; documents which will prove completely
illustrative of the whole transaction. The action certainly merits every
commemoration, and the annexed plate is taken from a drawing representing
the most interesting period of it.

“On the evening of the 6th of November, 1799, His Majesty’s sloop,
Speedy, commanded by Captain Jahleel Brenton, and her convoy, consisting
of a ship (transport) laden with wine for the fleet, and a merchant
brig bound to Trieste, were attacked upon their entering Gibraltar bay,
by twelve Spanish gun boats; two of which were schooners, carrying two
twenty-four pounders each, and fifty men; and the other, one twenty-four
pounder and forty men; besides a Xebec, French privateer of eight guns.
They first attempted the ship, and were prevented from carrying her by
the Speedy passing between them, which enabled her to reach her anchorage
in safety: their efforts were then united against the brig, when the
Speedy bore up through the centre of them, and in three quarters of an
hour obliged them to run for shelter under the guns of Fort Barbary.

“The crippled state of the Speedy’s rigging, masts, and hull, and
especially as the water was up to the lower deck, from shot received
below, prevented Captain Brenton from pursuing the advantage he had
gained. She had two men killed, and one wounded. The transport was most
ably managed by her master, and worked round Europa Point through a very
galling fire; the brig took advantage of a strong westerly wind, which
sprung up after dark, and continued her voyage to Trieste. The Speedy was
under the necessity of running for Tetuan bay, to stop the leaks; which
being done, she returned to Gibraltar the following day.

“The Spanish gun boats, after remaining under Fort Barbary for three
days, bore up for Malaga, and did not return to Algesiras for two months,
leaving the trade unmolested in the Gut of Gibraltar. The Spaniards
acknowledged they lost eleven men; four of their boats were seen to
strike to the Speedy during the contest, by the inhabitants of Gibraltar,
and the report was corroborated by a Danish brig from Malaga a few days

                             “SPEEDY, GIBRALTAR, NOVEMBER 21, 1799.


    “I have the honour to inform you, that on the 6th instant,
    coming into Gibraltar, with two vessels under convoy, a ship
    and a brig, we were attacked by twelve of the Spanish gun
    boats from Algesiras. Having a commanding breeze, we were
    soon enabled to rescue the ship. The gun boats then united
    their efforts upon the brig, but bearing up upon their line
    with a well directed fire, we in a short time obliged them
    to relinquish their design also; and take shelter under the
    guns of Fort Barbary. The situation of the Speedy prevented
    my pursuing the advantage we had gained, having most of our
    running rigging cut away, our main top sail yards shot
    through, and our fore rigging much cut, besides the water
    being up to the lower deck, from shot received below the water
    line. Not being able to carry sail upon the larboard tack, I
    was under the necessity of running for Tetuan Bay, to stop the
    leaks, and arrived here the day following. I cannot say too
    much in praise of Lieutenant Parker, Mr. Marshall, the master,
    and the remainder of the officers and men under my command,
    from their spirited exertions, and strict attention to their
    duty, we were enabled to save our convoy and His Majesty’s

    “I beg leave to enclose a return of our killed and wounded, and
    at the same time to add, that much praise is due to Mr. George
    Robinson, master of the transport Unity, for the manner he
    worked his ship during a very galling fire.

    “I have the honour to be, Sir,

                   “Your very obedient servant,

                                                      “J. BRENTON.”

    “Patrick Blake and Wm. Pring, seamen killed.

    “Thomas Riley, seaman wounded.”

    “TO ADMIRAL DUCKWORTH,” &c. &c. &c.

A few days after the action, Admiral Duckworth sent for Captain Brenton,
and gave him the painful intelligence, that his brother, Lieutenant
Brenton, of the Peterel, had been dangerously wounded in the boat of
that ship, in capturing a Spanish privateer, and had been taken to the
hospital at Port Mahon. He kindly ordered the Speedy to proceed thither
with dispatches; and held out the hope that the wound might not be
mortal. This flattering expectation was unhappily not realized, for upon
the arrival of the Speedy at Port Mahon, Captain Brenton found that his
brother had died a week previously, and had been buried with the honours
of war. The amiable character, and gallant conduct, of this promising
young man had excited an universal interest.

The letter which Sir Jahleel Brenton wrote to his father on this occasion
may be justly inserted, as exhibiting the simple and affectionate
feelings which lived within the breast of one so distinguished for daring
enterprise. In later years those feelings would have assumed a different
form, and been expressed in a different manner; but it is the object of
the memoir to present the man as he was, and the change that was effected
will be most completely understood, by comparing what he was at different
periods of his life.

    … “Accustomed hitherto to receive only the most pleasing
    accounts from your sons, I feel an additional pang at the
    cruel necessity I am under, of destroying that happiness I
    had long indulged the idea, would last the remainder of your
    days. You will naturally conceive the nature of this melancholy
    event; but will at the same time, I trust, derive comfort and
    consolation from the circumstances attending it, and assist my
    dear mother in bearing her loss with resignation. Poor Wallace
    is no more; he died of his wounds the 15th of last month. He
    died as he lived, a hero; and a pattern to every young man both
    in public and private life, universally regretted and esteemed.
    The loss is only on our side. His amiable conduct through life
    has ensured him felicity for ever: and as a time must arrive
    when we must quit all who are dear to us, I can conceive no
    greater alleviation to our grief, than the object having fallen
    in his country’s service, whilst nobly distinguishing himself,
    which was the case with my dear brother, who had already
    acquired a high reputation with his brother officers. I shall
    not attempt to offer consolation; besides feeling the want of
    it myself, I am convinced your own reflections will have more
    effect than all I could say on the subject.

    “I was in some measure prepared for the melancholy event.
    Admiral Duckworth’s account alarmed me, though it left me
    hopes which I suffered myself to indulge when I wrote you from
    Gibraltar. The Admiral with the goodness of heart for which
    he is distinguished, sent me here in hopes of our meeting; a
    circumstance I shall ever remember. But whilst I am on the
    subject of gratitude, let me take the earliest opportunity
    of saying, how much we are all indebted to Lieutenant W.
    Pemberton, and his amiable wife, for their unwearied care of
    the poor fellow during his illness. To them he owed much of the
    comfort of his last moments. Pemberton seldom left him; and his
    wife was ever studying what was most grateful to his taste,
    and that in a country where the common necessaries of life
    were scarcely to be procured. Through their friendship, and
    the general interest every one took in his welfare, he wanted
    for nothing. I have long been in habits of intimacy with this
    worthy couple; they are now endeared to me; and I trust, some
    day, to have it in my power to acknowledge their kindness.

    “I arrived here late last night, and shall sail immediately
    for Palermo, with dispatches for Lord Nelson. L’Alceste sails
    directly for England; by her you must receive the distressing
    intelligence. I shall avail myself of the same conveyance to
    suggest the steps which are likely to be of any service to
    Edward. Captain Western was promoted to Commander, from his
    brother having fallen, before Wallace did, and Edward has the
    same claim. I don’t see how Lord Spencer can refuse it, when
    you apply to him. Let me request, my dear Sir, that you will
    use all your interest in his favour with Admiral Young, Lord
    Hood, or any one you think can serve him. I have fortunately
    had opportunities of acquiring myself friends, who I hope will
    enable me to go on by myself, and in some measure compensate
    for your loss. I mean in taking care of my sisters; in other
    respects I never can. I have a power of attorney to receive my
    brother’s pay and prize money, which he wished to have laid
    out, either in an annuity for his sisters, or in a purchase,
    the interest of which might be for them, and the principal
    their property. I think it will be something considerable, and
    shall inform you as soon as possible, and request your advice
    upon the subject. In the meantime, my ever dear Sir, let me
    entreat you to remember, you have still two sons, whose only
    wishes are your happiness, and that of their dear mother and
    sisters. May my next be of a more cheerful nature, and that you
    may see many happy days, is the sincere wish of

    “Dear Sir,

             “Your ever dutiful and affectionate Son,

                                                  “JAHLEEL BRENTON.

    “JANUARY 19th, 1800.”

The Editor is happy in being allowed to add from the recently published
Nelson Dispatches, a letter from Lord Nelson, as characteristic of that
great and gallant man as it is honourable to the subject of this memoir.

                                      PALERMO, DECEMBER, 7TH, 1799.


    “Captain Brenton, of Her Majesty’s sloop the Speedy, having on
    the 6th of November, with a convoy from the coast of Portugal,
    when attacked in the Straits by twelve Spanish gun boats,
    displayed uncommon skill and gallantry, in saving the sloop
    under his command, and all his convoy; I beg leave to recommend
    him to their lordship’s notice; and if the merits of a Brother
    may be allowed to have any weight, I have the sorrow to tell
    you, that he (the brother James Wallace Brenton) lost his life,
    when Lieutenant of the Peterel, attempting, with great bravery,
    to bring off a vessel which the sloop had run ashore. He died
    of his wounds a few days ago at Minorca Hospital.

    “I have the honour to be, Sir,

                   “Your most obedient servant,

                                                   “BRONTE NELSON.”

The Speedy again returned to Gibraltar, and was immediately sent off
again with dispatches to the Commander in chief, then supposed to be off
Malta; but on her arrival at St. Paul’s bay, Captain Brenton found Nelson
with his flag in the Foudroyant, and a squadron, co-operating with the
land forces employed in the siege of Valetta. His lordship had recently
had the satisfaction of seeing another of the French fleet, which he had
so nearly annihilated in Aboukir bay, captured by the Northumberland and
Success frigate. This was the Genereux. She had been sent to Minorca; and
Lord Nelson, after warmly applauding Captain Brenton for his conduct, in
his late encounter with the gun boats at Gibraltar, congratulated him
upon his being made Post, from information which he had received from
Lord Keith. The arrangement, by which this promotion took place, was
that Captain Dixon, of the Lion, (the late Admiral Sir Manley Dixon)
should be removed to the Genereux; that Lord William Stuart commanding
the Souverein (the Sheer hulk at Gibraltar, which ship at the time was
commanded by a Post Captain, and had charge of the general duties of
the port of Gibraltar) should succeed to the Lion, and Captain Brenton
to take command of the Souverein, to be succeeded in the Speedy by Lord
Cochrane, who was made Commander.

The Speedy proceeded through the Phare of Messina on her way to Leghorn,
where Captain Brenton was informed he would find the Commander in chief.
He arrived there on the 18th of March, but saw no ship of war in the
road. He soon however received the melancholy information that the Queen
Charlotte, the flag ship, had taken fire on the preceding day, and had
blown up; scarcely two hundred men having been saved out of a complement
of nearly eight hundred. The cause of this dreadful event arose from a
quantity of hay being taken on board, and placed under the half deck, in
readiness to be pressed; an operation that was then generally performed
by having a strong wooden case placed in the after hatchway, to which
a screw was applied, and a bag fitted to receive the hay, when it was
brought into a portable compass. This was always a most dangerous
operation, and should never be permitted; as the hay when purchased might
be pressed on shore. In the present instance, the hay being brought on
board loose, was carelessly thrown under the half-deck, between the guns.
A match tub with a lighted match had been left there in readiness for a
signal gun, and being unobserved by the man who carried the first truss
of hay, it was covered over by it, and the whole space soon filled. The
hay must have been a long time ignited, but no one coming to it, the
fire did not shew itself until the moment when the ship getting under
weigh, the wind rushed in through the weather ports, and caused it to
break out in a fearful volume of flames, which catching the mainsail
was soon at the mast head. Captain Todd, who commanded the ship, with
admirable presence of mind, caused the anchors to be immediately let go,
which brought the ship head to wind, and gave all who could get forward,
a chance of saving their lives. Numerous boats pushed off from Leghorn,
as soon as the ship was discovered to be on fire, but as they approached
her, her guns becoming heated and being shotted, the Italians were
alarmed and could not be persuaded to approach her. Her own boats, such
as could be got into the water, or were already out, were soon filled;
and some from the English shipping in the harbour, getting under her
bows, enabled the few who escaped to save their lives. The ship at length
blew up. Captain Brenton met the few survivors of the officers at the
Admiral’s table at Leghorn on his arrival. It was a melancholy party,
where mixed feelings were evident, and highly contrasted; gratitude for
their own escape, being mingled with grief at the loss of so many friends
and companions.

Lord Keith presented Captain Brenton with his Post commission, and an
order to assume the temporary command of the Genereux at Port Mahon;
until Captain Dixon, then employed in the Lion, at the siege of Malta,
should be relieved by Lord William Stuart. The Speedy sailed immediately
for Minorca, and Captain Brenton took command of the Genereux on the 19th
April, 1800; giving up the Speedy to Lord Cochrane, who was in charge of
the Genereux, having brought her in after her capture.

The Genereux was lying at the dock yard dismantled, and with every thing
taken out of her, guns included. Her crew consisted of two men sent from
every ship in the fleet, of course not the best; and two hundred and
seventy Maltese; but the latter were invaluable; and by their steadiness
and exertion Captain Brenton was enabled to get the ship in readiness for
sea, and to join the Admiral off Genoa, in the month of May.

Genoa had been invested by the Austrian army for nearly six months, and
so closely blockaded by the British squadron, that very few vessels
could get into it. It was obstinately defended by Massena, but reduced
to the greatest extremities, for want of provisions. On the 4th of June
it capitulated; but such favourable terms were granted to it, by the
Austrian General, that the French were great gainers, by its surrender;
as it gave freedom to the army shut up within its walls, and enabled
them to contribute greatly to the issue of the battle of Marengo,
which occurred ten days afterwards. It has too often been the fate of
England to be involved in these short-sighted treaties, by which all the
advantage has been forfeited that valour and enterprize had gained.

By the terms of this capitulation British transports were to convey
the French troops to Nice, with all their military baggage; and while
receiving it on board, a bale, marked military clothing, burst while
hoisting in, and displayed some beautiful Genoa velvet. This occasioned
an examination of all the packages already on board, and led to the
discovery of an immense quantity of similar plunder. Massena was
exceedingly angry at this detection, and accused the English of a breach
in the terms of the capitulation, although it had been acted upon, up to
that moment to the very letter; but the fact was, that it deprived him of
much, which he had expected to carry off with impunity.

About 12 o’clock on the 4th of June the squadron entered the harbour of
Genoa, and at once fired a royal salute in honour of the birth-day of
their sovereign. The scene was truly beautiful; presenting as it did
that superb city, rising above the shores of the bay, and its harbour
covered with boats, with splendidly decorated flags, and filled with
gaily dressed people of both sexes. These boats thronged round the
British ships, and shewed but too plainly the misery that had been
endured by the wretched inhabitants. The countenances of the company,
ghastly with famine and disease, but ill accorded with their gay, and
often rich costume. Many were too feeble to mount the side of the ships;
and men as well as women were happy to have the aid of the chair for
that purpose. The declared object of the visit was to pay respect to
the British flag; but the real one was to obtain food at the earliest
possible period. They were gladly received. The cabin, the ward room, and
in short every part of the ship was filled by them, and a succession of
meals brought upon every table, as one party was succeeded by another.
But the most delightful circumstance connected with this day, was to
see the British seamen, handing out of the ports, their own rations of
provisions to the starving multitude who could not get on board. On their
landing, the English officers observed the streets on each side strewed
with the dead and dying; and although on the opening of the gates,
immediately after the surrender, an abundance of provisions was poured
in, it was long before the people again enjoyed the blessings of plenty;
disease invariably accompanying famine, and shortening life, when the
means of supporting it were restored.



On the 14th of June Captain Brenton being superseded by Captain Dixon,
left Genoa in the Culloden for Minorca, on his way to join his ship at
Gibraltar, and from Mahon proceeded to Gibraltar in the Mondovi. On his
arrival at Gibraltar he had the mortification to find the Souverein had
been paid off, in consequence of an altercation between Lord Wm. Stuart
and the Commissioner; and he received orders to return to England on
half pay. The disappointment was the more severe, as Captain Brenton had
been assured by Lord Keith, that the Souverein was to be considered as a
stepping stone to Post rank; and that every vacancy in a Post ship was to
be filled up from her, consequently that the last made Post Captain would
always have that appointment. He was also well aware of the difficulty
which existed in England of getting employed from half pay; that it
was only those that were in the stream that were carried along with it;
whilst many officers, who had gained their promotion by a succession of
gallant achievements, were passing their days in helpless indolence. They
had got into the eddy, and had the mortification of seeing those whom
they had left far behind, bringing up the breeze, and passing by them.

This was particularly the case with the greater part of the first
lieutenants of line of battle-ships, promoted after general actions. They
had received the rank of Commander with the delight so natural to the
attainment of such a step: but wanting interest to obtain a command, they
were soon forgotten; and many had to regret that they had gained their

Captain Brenton embarked in the Anson from Gibraltar, in July; and in
crossing the Bay of Biscay they fell in with the Louisa, armed brig,
on her way to join Earl St. Vincent, who had now the command of the
channel fleet, and was cruizing off Brest, with his flag in the Royal
George. Captain Brenton availed himself of this opportunity of seeing his
kind-hearted and noble chief again, to whom he was so truly indebted for
relieving him from a situation, in which he felt himself disgraced; and
for bringing him on, step by step, to that situation in his profession,
from which he could only rise farther by seniority. He accordingly
left the Anson, and in a few days after came in sight of the fleet. He
was received by Earl St. Vincent with the warmest regard, who not only
sincerely congratulated him upon his promotion, of which indeed he had
himself been the cause, but thanked him in the most flattering terms
for the conduct which had led to it. He then said, “I will now give you
a letter to Lord Spencer, requesting him to give you a ship, and should
he not do so immediately, I desire you to join me in Torbay without
loss of time. I shall be there in the course of a week, when I shall
expect to see you, unless you receive an appointment.” He then wrote to
Lord Spencer in the strongest terms, recommending Captain Brenton for
immediate employment; adverting to the circumstance of his having gained
both his Commander’s and his Post commission in action with the enemy.

Captain Brenton arrived the following day at Plymouth, and proceeded
to London, where he delivered his letter to Lord Spencer. His lordship
holding out no hopes of immediate employment, Captain Brenton set out
for Portsmouth, with the intention of proceeding to Torbay by the first
ship going thither. He accordingly went on board the Prince of Wales, Sir
Robert Calder’s flag ship; and soon found himself on board the Ville de
Paris, with his noble patron. His situation here was of an extraordinary
description, and not without some degree of unpleasantness. The officers
were, many of them, those who had been his messmates in the same ship,
previously to his being made a commander out of her into the Speedy. They
considered, and justly, that he had already had his share of promotion;
and were apprehensive that his coming back to serve as a volunteer, might
interfere with some vacancy to which they might be looking. This was a
feeling very naturally to be expected, and for which every allowance
should be made; whilst even as regarded the captain of the fleet, and
the captain of the ship, he did not feel quite certain that they might
approve a nondescript officer, although in their conduct they shewed only
the kindest attention.

With these feelings upon his mind, Captain Brenton walking the deck one
morning with the Admiral, said to him, “My lord, I do not like this kind
of life; I have no business of my own to do.” His lordship answered, “I
have been thinking you would not—and it has struck me that I might give
you the Joseph cutter, commanded by Lieutenant Lapenotiere; that you
might visit the in-shore squadron; and so give you an introduction to Sir
James Saumarez, the commodore. You might there amuse yourself by making
observations on the French coast; and when tired of your excursion, you
may rejoin me either here or off Ushant, or in Torbay as it may be; as I
mean to bear up for that place, with the first westerly gale.”

Captain Brenton was delighted with the plan, and joyfully accepted it.
It was not only agreeable in every point of view at the time, but in the
end it led to the most beneficial results, as regarded his professional
life, by leading to his appointment as the flag captain of that great
and good man, the late Lord de Saumarez. He was received with the utmost
kindness by Sir James; and having passed some days in the squadron,
landing occasionally upon the islands off Brest; he returned to the Ville
de Paris, just as a gale of wind was springing up, and on the following
day the fleet anchored in Torbay.

Lord St. Vincent always resided while on shore at Torr Abbey, and
having introduced Captain Brenton to Mr. Carey, the hospitable master
of the mansion, he became one of the family for some weeks. A great
naval promotion being at this time expected, Lord St. Vincent made it a
particular request, that Sir James Saumarez should be included in it,
and have his flag flying in the Cæsar, as one of the junior admirals in
the channel fleet. He at the same time wrote to Sir James, informing him
of his having made this application; and requesting, in the event of its
being successful, that he would have Captain Brenton appointed as his
captain. This Sir James most kindly and readily granted; and on the 1st
January, 1800, Captain Brenton received his commission for the Cæsar, and
joined her at Spithead a few days after.

In February they proceeded to Torbay, and from thence Sir James resumed
his station off Brest. This was a most arduous service in winter time,
when the gales from the westward came on so suddenly, and with so
much violence, that it was scarcely possible to clear the land. The
Black Rocks however lost much of their terrors upon Sir James Saumarez
resorting to the anchorage in Douanenez bay, which he did in the
preceding November; convinced that the enemy would not dare to attack
him there, from the apprehension that the British fleet might come over
from the opposite coast, either during or after the attack; in which case
the whole of their attacking force, with whatever ships they might have
captured, would fall into our hands. It is true it required much nerve to
run for the Cul de Sac in a heavy gale, with mortar batteries crossing
each other from the Bec du Rez, and the Bec du Chevre; and with a shoal
in the centre of the entrance. The master of the Cæsar however was a
very skilful man, and an excellent pilot. He unhesitatingly took the
charge, and anchored the squadron in the eastern part of the bay, just
without the range of the shells from the batteries, and with only one
point of the compass open to the sea. Upon the last occasion the squadron
consisted of six sail of the line, and a frigate. The gale lasted three
days, and upon its subsiding, Sir James left his anchorage, and resumed
his station off the Black Rocks, having his ships and crews refreshed by
the repose he had procured them, instead of being crippled and exhausted
by being continually exposed to a heavy sea.

In the month of April a cutter joined the fleet, bringing a weekly
newspaper of extraordinary importance, in which was included Lord
Nelson’s destruction of the Danish block ships at Copenhagen, and the
landing of the British army in Egypt, with the subsequent victories. The
Admiral directed that it should be read to the ship’s company, who were
accordingly assembled for the purpose, and gave three hearty cheers on
hearing the news.

In the latter end of May Sir James was ordered into Plymouth, to take the
command of a squadron about to assemble there for a particular service;
to the great joy of every officer and man on board the Cæsar, who were
heartily tired of the blockade of Brest; and who were elated with the
hope, of at length seeing more active service. The squadron assembled in
Cawsand bay, consisting of the Cæsar and Pompée of eighty guns, with
the Hannibal, Audacious, and Spencer of seventy-four guns each. They
sailed from Plymouth on the 15th of June, and reached Lisbon four days
afterwards; and having sent in despatches to the British ambassador,
continued their course for Cadiz, where they arrived in the latter end
of June. On the 5th of July the first battle of Algesiras took place, as
detailed in the following official letter.

                                  London Gazette, August 1st, 1801.

    Copy of a letter from Rear Admiral Sir James Saumarez to Evan
    Nepean, Esq. dated on board H.M.S. Cæsar, at Gibraltar, 6th


    “I have to request you will be pleased to inform my Lords
    Commissioners of the Admiralty, that conformably to my letter
    of yesterday’s date, I stood through the straits, with his
    Majesty’s squadron under my orders, with the intention of
    attacking three French line of battle ships, and a frigate that
    I had received information of being at anchor off Algesiras. On
    opening Cabritta point, I found the ships lay at a considerable
    distance from the enemy’s batteries, and having a leading
    wind up to them, afforded every reasonable hope of success in
    the attack. I had previously directed Captain Hood, in the
    Venerable, from his experience, and knowledge of the anchorage,
    to lead the squadron, which he executed with his accustomed
    gallantry; and although it was not intended that he should
    anchor, he found himself under the necessity so to do, from
    the wind failing, (a circumstance so much to be apprehended in
    this country) to which circumstance, I have to regret the want
    of success, in this well intended enterprize. Captain Stirling
    anchored opposite to the inner ship of the enemy, and brought
    the Pompée to action, in the most spirited and gallant manner,
    which was followed by the commanders of every ship in the
    squadron. Captains Darby and Ferris, owing to light winds were
    prevented, for a considerable time from coming into action; at
    length, the Hannibal getting a breeze, Captain Ferris had the
    most favourable prospect of being alongside one of the enemy’s
    ships, when the Hannibal unfortunately took the ground, and
    I am extremely concerned to acquaint their Lordships, that,
    after having made every possible effort, with this ship and
    the Audacious, to cover her from the enemy, I was under the
    necessity to make sail, being at the time only three cables
    length from one of the enemy’s batteries.

    “My thanks are particularly due to all the captains, officers,
    and men under my orders; and although their endeavours have not
    been crowned with success, I trust the thousands of spectators
    from his Majesty’s garrison, and also the surrounding coast,
    will do justice to their valour and intrepidity, which were not
    to be checked from the numerous batteries (however formidable)
    that surround Algesiras.

    “I feel it incumbent on me to state to their Lordships the
    great merits of Captain Brenton of the Cæsar, whose cool
    judgment, and intrepid conduct, I will venture to pronounce
    were never surpassed. I also beg leave to recommend to their
    Lordships’ notice, my flag lieutenant, Mr. Phillip Dumaresq,
    who has served with me from the commencement of this war, and
    is a most deserving officer; Mr. Lansborne, and the other
    lieutenants, are also entitled to great praise; as well as
    Captain Maxwell, of the marines, and the officers of his corps,
    serving on board the Cæsar.

    “The enemy’s ships consisted of two of eighty-four guns, and
    one of seventy-four, with a large frigate; two of the former
    are aground, and the whole are rendered totally unserviceable.
    I cannot close this letter without rendering the most ample
    justice to the great bravery of Captain Ferris. The loss in
    his ship must have been very considerable, both in officers
    and men; but I have the satisfaction to be informed that his
    Majesty has not lost so valuable an officer.

    “I have the honour to be, &c. &c.

                                                   “JAMES SAUMAREZ.

    “P.S. The Honourable Captain Dundas, of his Majesty’s Polacre
    the Calpe, made his vessel as useful as possible, and kept up a
    spirited fire on one of the enemy’s batteries; I have also to
    express my approbation of Lieutenant Janverin, commander of the
    gun boats, who having joined me with intelligence, served as a
    volunteer on board the Cæsar.”

The manner in which the interval between this action and that which
succeeded it within a week’s distance, was passed, must be described by
the subject of this Memoir himself. He says, “On the Cæsar anchoring at
Gibraltar after this disastrous affair, the Admiral sent me on shore,
to communicate with the Governor, (General O’Hara), who expressed much
regret at the fate of the day, but was truly sensible of the efforts that
had been made to ensure success.

“Before my return on board, the Admiral had retired to his cot, and
in a state of mind which may be easily conceived by those to whom his
character was known; so sensitive, and at the same time so devoted, to
his country. He felt most keenly the apprehension that the important
service, for which he had been despatched from England, might be
frustrated by the unfortunate, and totally unexpected termination of the
attack. On the following morning, he sent me with a flag of truce to
the French Admiral at Algesiras, who on my boat coming within range of
his guns, threw a shot over us. I immediately laid upon my oars, as a
boat with a corresponding flag of truce was seen pulling towards me. On
coming within hail, the French officer demanded what was the object of my
mission; but I declined delivering it to any but Admiral Linois himself.
I was then requested to wait until the officer could obtain further
orders. He soon returned with directions for the Cæsar’s boat to follow
to the Formidable, the French flag ship. Here I was received by a guard,
forming a double line from the gangway to the cabin door; and when in the
cabin, I was enclosed in a circle of officers, in the centre of which
stood the Admiral. I then delivered my message from the British Admiral;
which was, that an exchange of prisoners might immediately take place,
which M. Linois declined; on the ground of requiring authority for such a
measure from the Minister of marine, at Paris. I then requested that the
officers of the Hannibal should be sent over on parole, which was acceded
to, and I withdrew; the French Admiral conducting me to the gangway, in
the same manner as I had entered the ship; begging that I would request
the Admiral, that on any further communication he might have to make to
him, it should not be by an officer of rank, but by a ‘petit midshipman.’
It was evident that M. Linois was unwilling that the crippled state of
his ship should be too minutely observed; and hence the arrangement of
the guard and officers, which effectually screened the internal state
of the ship from observation; but I was amply indemnified by seeing the
outward damages, which could not be concealed.

“On my return the Cæsar had warped into the Mole, and was proceeding to
strike the masts. Both mainmast and foremast had been severely wounded,
the former so much so, as to be unfit for service; and the foremast
required extensive fishing. All the wounded were sent to the hospital;
and the killed in the squadron sent on shore for burial. The funeral
of the officers—the masters of the Cæsar and Pompée, and a midshipman
of the latter, who were buried with the honours of war, formed a most
imposing and affecting spectacle, from the great number of troops drawn
out upon the occasion, and from the whole population of the rock being

On the 9th day of July, three days after the battle of Algesiras, the
Superb, and Thames, were seen under a crowd of sail, steering through
the straits of Gibraltar; and soon after the Spanish squadron of six
sail of the line, was observed in pursuit of them. The British ships
anchored in Gibraltar bay, and the enemy hauled their wind for Algesiras,
where they anchored with the French squadron, evidently with a view of
conveying them round to Cadiz. Sir James Saumarez convinced that such
was the intention, at once decided upon attacking them with four ships,
as it was considered utterly impossible for either the Pompée or Cæsar
to be in readiness. He sent for Captain Brenton into his cabin, and
informing him of the resolution he had come to, directed that his flag
should forthwith be shifted into the Audacious, and that the crews of the
Cæsar and Pompée should be distributed amongst the other ships. Captain
Brenton acknowledged the expediency of the flag being shifted, and the
probability that the Cæsar would not be refitted in time to receive it
again, before the enemy left Algesiras; but requested the Admiral to
permit him to make the effort, by keeping his people on board, until the
enemy were seen to be getting under sail, to which Sir James consented.

Captain Brenton turning the hands up, informed the crew of the Admiral’s
intention, and called upon them to use every exertion to put their ship
in a state to bear their Admiral’s flag again into battle, should the
enemy give them an opportunity. An universal cry was heard of all hands,
“All night and all day.” This however Captain Brenton would not permit;
but he employed the whole ship’s company, from four in the morning until
eight in the evening; of the remaining eight hours, each watch was
alternately allowed four of repose. He alone slept not, for his active
mind, and ardent disposition, were wound up to the highest pitch of
excitement; and he has been heard himself to describe, the overwhelming
sense of sleep and weariness, by which he was overcome, when these
exertions were happily terminated.

By the most strenuous efforts of every individual concerned, on the
morning of the 12th the new mainmast had been got in and rigged, and the
other damages in some measure repaired. We extract a few more particulars
from Captain Brenton’s note, “A great, though not a visible progress,”
he says, “was soon made; indeed the latter circumstance was avoided as
much as possible, in order to prevent the enemy supposing that any attack
was intended. The following day was an arduous one, and on Saturday the
11th, so much appeared yet to be done, that the Admiral, who had never
been very sanguine in the hope of having the Cæsar ready, again urged me
to send the people away, lest they should suffer so much from fatigue,
that they might become unfit for the exertions, they would be called upon
to make, in the action about to take place. He added, “you now have done
all in your power; you must make up your mind to the disappointment.” I
replied, “you are now going on shore to dine at the Governor’s; excuse my
attending you, and if, when you return on board in the evening, the ship
is not ready, I promise to have the people all ready for distribution,
when you give the orders.” To this the Admiral consented, and went on
shore. It became now necessary rather to shew progress, than to conceal
it; the top gallant yards were accordingly got up, and the yards crossed,
and sails bent, before the different parts of the rigging were in the
order necessary for getting under weigh. The Admiral on his return was
delighted at what he saw, and relinquished all idea of removing into the

The enemy at the same time were in movement in Algesiras bay. By two
o’clock p.m. the Cæsar warped out of the Mole, and was at the same time
employed in bending sails, setting up rigging, filling powder, receiving
stores of every description from boats alongside, and preparing for
battle; the band on the poop playing, “Cheer up my lads,” which was
answered by a regimental band on the Mole, with “Britons, strike home.”
The animation of this scene cannot be described, but the recollection of
it must have continued vivid in the breast of the chief mover of these
heroic exertions. The scene no doubt was peculiar, and the impressions
left by it can be more easily conceived than described, when the two
squadrons, occupying their respective sides of a small bay, separated
from each other by a distance of only four miles, were mutually engaged
in preparations for combat. Thousands of spectators, occupied the
surrounding hills and shores; the sea was covered with the numerous boats
employed by the ships of war. And the general excitement which every
where reigned, can only be imagined; as well as the feelings of Captain
Brenton, when he made the signal of being ready for service, and again
received the flag of his respected and gallant Admiral.

It was almost one of the latest efforts of Captain Brenton’s pencil to
recall the triumphant moment of the Cæsar warping out of the Mole, under
the circumstances which have been described. He has often expressed
the powerful excitement, which even the recollection of this period
occasioned; and he never could give the narrative, even to the latest
period of his life, without the most thrilling sensation. The particulars
of the action will be found in the following official dispatch, and the
results which followed these exertions must be given in the language of
the letter in which Sir James Saumarez communicated his victory.

                         “CÆSAR, OFF CAPE TRAFALGAR, JULY 13, 1801.


    “It has pleased the Almighty to crown the exertions of this
    squadron, with the most decisive success over the enemies of
    their country. The three French line of battle ships, disabled
    in the action of the 6th instant, off Algesiras, were on the
    8th reinforced by a squadron of five Spanish line of battle
    ships, under the command of Don Juan Joaquin de Marino, and
    a French ship of seventy-four guns, bearing a broad pendant,
    besides three frigates, and an incredible number of gun boats,
    and other vessels, and got under sail yesterday morning,
    together with his Majesty’s ship Hannibal, which they had
    succeeded in getting off the shoal on which she struck. I
    almost despaired of having a sufficient force in readiness to
    oppose such numbers, but through the great exertions of Captain
    Brenton, the officers, and men belonging to the Cæsar, the ship
    was in readiness to warp out of the Mole yesterday morning, and
    got under weigh immediately after with all the squadron, except
    the Pompée, which ship had not time to get in her masts.

    “Confiding in the zeal and intrepidity of the officers and
    the men I had the happiness to serve with, I determined, if
    possible, to obstruct the passage of this very powerful force
    to Cadiz. Late in the evening I observed the enemy’s ships to
    have cleared Cabritta point; and at eight I bore up with the
    squadron, to stand after them; his Majesty’s ship, Superb,
    being stationed ahead of the Cæsar. I directed Captain Keats to
    make sail, and attack the sternmost ships in the enemy’s rear,
    using his endeavours to keep in shore of them. At eleven the
    Superb opened her fire close to the enemy’s ships; and on the
    Cæsar coming up, and preparing to engage a three decker, that
    had hauled her wind, she was perceived to have taken fire, and
    the flames having communicated to a ship to leeward of her,
    both were seen in a blaze, and presented a most awful sight.
    No possibility existing of offering the least assistance in so
    distressing a situation; the Cæsar passed to close with the
    ship engaged by the Superb, but by the cool and determined fire
    kept upon her, which must ever reflect the highest credit on
    that ship, the enemy’s ship was completely silenced, and soon
    after hauled down her colours.

    “The Venerable and Spencer having at this time come up, I bore
    up after the enemy, who were carrying a press of sail, standing
    out of the straits, and lost sight of them during the night. It
    blew excessively hard until daylight; and in the morning the
    only ships in company were the Venerable and Thames, ahead of
    the Cæsar, and one of the French ships at some distance from
    them, standing towards the shoal of Conil, besides the Spencer
    astern, coming up.

    “All the ships immediately made sail, with a fresh breeze; but
    as we approached, the wind suddenly failing, the Venerable
    was alone able to bring her into action, which Captain Hood
    did in the most gallant manner, and had nearly silenced the
    French ship when his mainmast (which had been before wounded)
    was unfortunately shot away, and it coming nearly calm, the
    enemy’s ship was enabled to get off, without any possibility of
    following her.

    “The highest praise is due to Captain Hood, the officers, and
    men of the Venerable, for their spirit and gallantry in the
    action, which entitled them to better success. The French ship
    was an eighty-four, with additional guns on the gunwale.

    “This action was so near the shore that the Venerable struck
    on one of the shoals, but was soon after got off, and taken in
    tow by the Thames, but with the loss of her masts. The enemy’s
    ships are now in sight, to the westward, standing in for Cadiz.
    The Superb and Audacious, with the captured ship, are also in
    sight, with the Carlotta, Portuguese frigate, commanded by
    Captain Crawford Duncan, who very handsomely came out with the
    squadron, and has been of the greatest assistance to Captain
    Keats, in staying by the enemy’s ship, captured by the Superb.

    “I am proceeding with the squadron for Rosier bay, and
    shall proceed the moment the ships are refitted, to resume
    my station. No praises that I can bestow are adequate to
    the merits of the officers and ships’ companies of all the
    squadron; particularly for their unremitted exertions in
    refitting the ships at Gibraltar, to which, in a great degree,
    is to be ascribed the success of the squadron against the enemy.

    “Although the Spencer and Audacious had not the good fortune
    to partake of this action, I have no doubt of their exertions,
    had they come up in time, to close with the enemy’s ships. My
    thanks are also due to Captain Holles, of the Thames, and to
    the Honourable Captain Dundas, of the Calpe, whose assistance
    was particularly useful to Captain Keats, in securing the
    enemy’s ship, and enabling the Superb to stand after the
    squadron, in case of being able to renew the action.

    I have the honour to be, &c. &c.

                                                      “J. SAUMAREZ.


The following circumstances not being mentioned in the official dispatch
are taken from Captain Brenton’s notes. “At eight o’clock the Venerable
made the signal for being on a shoal, and her foremast was seen to go
over her side. Sir James ordered me to proceed to her in my gig; and
to give directions to Captain Hood, not to run any risk of losing his
men, but to abandon the ship, and burn her if necessary; as the whole
remaining ships of the enemy were approaching from the westward, whilst
the Superb, Spencer, and Audacious were still at a considerable distance
to the southward. The Thames frigate was at the same time ordered to
close with the Venerable, to be in readiness to receive her men. As I
approached, her mizen mast fell, and she was still striking hard upon
the shoal, completely dismasted. On reaching the quarter deck, I found
Captain Hood sitting upon a gun, surrounded by his little midshipmen,
who were looking earnestly at the gallant Captain, with a view of
ascertaining how he would act in the extremity in which he was placed.
Having heard my message, he said, ‘I hope the Venerable is not so far
gone yet, but we may save her; but tell the Admiral to let the Thames
stay by me, and I will take care she does not get into the enemy’s
hands.’ The Venerable was got off by the great exertions of Captain Hood.”

Captain Brenton again speaks for himself, he says, “The Admiral
informed me that it was his intention to commit the dispatches of this
glorious victory to my charge, to be conveyed to England, and directed
me to prepare for my immediate departure; but I was impressed with a
very strong expectation, that the struggle was not yet over, but that
Gantheaume might be hourly expected through the straits, and consequently
that another action might ensue. I therefore resisted the temptation,
which this most flattering mission held out to me, and requested that
I might be permitted to remain in charge of my ship. The Admiral in
consequence sent home his flag lieutenant with the account of the action,
and the squadron proceeded to Gibraltar to repair their damages, and to
be again in readiness for an action which few doubted would take place.”
The whole merit, and self denial, and patriotism of this decision, can
only be made evident when the fact is stated, that the object of Captain
Brenton’s early and constant affections, was at this precise time
expected in England with her brother. It is a singular circumstance that
the first news Miss Stewart heard upon her arrival in England related to
the battles of Algesiras.

Captain Brenton’s memoirs referring to this period, continues to be
full of interesting details. “The rock of Gibraltar had as picturesque
an appearance on the return of the little squadron, as it shewed on
the day of their departure. Every battery, or pinnacle of rock, which
overhung the bay, was crowded with spectators, all cheering and waving
hats and handkerchiefs. The acclamations mingled with a royal salute
from the batteries (congratulatory to majesty) re-echoed over the
bay, and the Admiral’s landing was most triumphant. He was received,
as was most justly his due, in the most distinguished, I may add,
the most affectionate manner. All who had witnessed his gallantry and
devoted conduct in the preceding week, and felt for his misfortune, now
sincerely rejoiced in the change. They considered that defeat had never
existed; but that the action began on the 6th, and had been kept up,
with inexhaustible energy through the week, terminating on the 13th with
complete success. The ships were soon refitted, as none but the Venerable
had received much damage.

“On visiting the hospital on my tour of duty a few days after the battle,
I observed a poor fellow, belonging to the Audacious, who had lost both
his arms, above the elbow. He was quite cheerful, and evidently rapidly
recovering. I asked what were his wishes for the future; whether to be
sent to Greenwich Hospital, or to have a pension for life, in the place
of his nativity. He replied, ‘I hope, your honour, it is not so bad with
me yet; I know the cook of the ——; he has lost both his arms; but there
is not a handier fellow in the fleet.’

“On the day on which the Cæsar left the Mole, as I have mentioned, for
the purpose of attacking the combined squadron, and while lying to, off
Europa point; a small boat was seen, with two men in white dresses,
pulling off to the ship; and on coming alongside they proved to be two
of the Cæsar’s crew, who had been wounded at Algesiras, and sent to the
hospital. Having applied to the surgeon for permission to return on
board; and being refused on account of their wounds being still under
cure, they actually ran away in their hospital garb, and finding a boat
on the beach, took possession, and pulled off to join their Commander.”

When a ship’s company was actuated by such a spirit, it was hardly
possible to doubt of the success that would attend them; but it may be
well to bear in mind, that the spirit which secured this victory was
formed previous to the crisis in which it was needed, and the hour of
action in which it was exhibited; and that attachment to the individuals
by whom they were led, and confidence in their commanders, added this
extraordinary character of vigor to the natural energy and courage of the

Officers who would wish to have around them, in the day of action, or in
the hour of great exertions, a crew like that of the Cæsar, must be known
among their people as Sir James De Saumarez and Captain Brenton were;
must secure affection by shewing it, and by kindness and attention must
win the hearts of those who are to be the means of their success, or the
instruments of their preservation.

In the latter end of August Sir James Saumarez resumed the blockade of
Cadiz, but was soon after superseded in his command by Vice Admiral Sir
Charles Pole, to whom he became second in command. Thus he remained until
the news arrived of the definitive treaty of peace having been signed;
when Sir Charles returned to England; and the squadron again under Sir
James Saumarez took up their anchorage for the winter at Gibraltar.
They had frequent intercourse with the Spaniards at this time, and
Captain Brenton took an early opportunity of enquiring after his gallant
antagonist, Captain Suadeville, who commanded the gun boats in their
attack upon the Speedy, in November, 1799, which, if his conduct had been
as faithfully supported by others as it shewed enterprize on his part,
might have been attended with other results. The Governor sent for him,
and a cordial meeting was the consequence.



Early in February Captain Brenton received an account of his father’s
death; and as peace had now taken place, he was urged to return to
England at the earliest opportunity. This, however, was a measure which
he could not reconcile himself to, until the definitive treaty had
been signed, or a general recall of the squadron had taken place. In
the beginning of March, orders arrived from England that a part of the
squadron, left under the command of Sir James Saumarez, should be sent
immediately to the West Indies, to watch the motions of a detachment of
French ships of the line, about to proceed to that part of the world,
with the expressed intention of recovering the island of St. Domingo
from the empire of the blacks. But under such a ruler as Buonaparte, the
French were not to be trusted with a very large force, in the immediate
vicinity of some of our richest possessions.

On the first arrival of the news of the preliminary treaty being signed,
the crews of the squadron off Cadiz testified the most extraordinary
manifestations of joy and delight. They flew to the rigging and cheered
loudly; many of them actually throwing their hats up in the air, to the
almost certainty of losing them, and even kicking their shoes overboard:
this was particularly the case in the St. George.

But when the order was given out for the detachment to proceed from
Gibraltar to the West Indies, a general murmur of disappointment and
discontent was heard throughout the ships selected; and the crews of
some actually refused to weigh the anchor. The Admiral with his Captain
went on board these ships; and it was only by his authority, backed by
the steadiness of the faithful marines, that the men could be induced
to return to their duty. Captain Brenton says, “This ill humour shewed
itself in other ships, and the cables were hove in with a very snail-like
movement, until all at once a French squadron of several sail of the
line appeared off Europa point under a crowd of sail, on their way from
Toulon to St. Domingo. No arguments were then needed. The capstans flew
round like lightning; all was alacrity and energy, and the British sailor
was himself again. Every ship was under weigh, and every sail spread,
before the French could get far off; and they proceeded in company to the
West Indies. There are fine traits in the character of the true British
seamen. They never fail in the time of need. Give them your confidence,
and depend upon them. Steadiness and consistency of discipline will
always control them. Irritated as they had been by the severity of their
disappointment, they now saw that there was a reason sufficient for it,
and obeyed with alacrity; and I have no doubt they secretly regretted the
pain they had given the Admiral, for want of knowing what, he could not,
consistently with his duty, communicate to them.”

In the middle of March, definitive arrangements having been made for the
reduction of the squadron, Captain Brenton, anxious to return to England,
requested Sir James Saumarez to permit him to exchange with Captain
Downman into the Santa Dorothea frigate, then under orders for England.
The Admiral having consented, the Captain quitted the Cæsar, but not
without great regret, from having enjoyed so much happiness in her, and
seen so much brilliant service under his warm friend, his kind-hearted
and gallant Admiral.

“Perhaps no ship in the British navy had ever enjoyed more comfort and
harmony than the Cæsar; and much of this was undoubtedly owing to the
conduct of the Chaplain, the Reverend Evan Holiday, who was indefatigable
in every part of his duty. And as it is important to shew, how far
benefit may arise to a ship’s company from the Chaplain’s influence,
independent of the weekly instruction, to which he is bound by the
articles of war on the Sabbath, it may not be amiss to describe Mr. H.’s
system. In the first place his conduct was so correct, and so accordant
with his sacred functions, in his intercourse with his messmates, that
the same guarded and decorous manners, were preserved by them, whilst
he was present in the ward-room, as though a lady had been present;
and that alone was a great point where so many young and high-spirited
men were collected together, in all the thoughtlessness and buoyancy
of early life; whilst at the same time he never assumed authority, or
discouraged innocent mirth; and on the contrary, was upon the kindest
and most intimate terms with all. His public duties were most carefully
and religiously performed. It was thought, and perhaps correctly, that
his preaching was too exclusively moral; but it was according to the
light he had acquired; and was most conscienciously given, as the best
instruction he had to impart. His sermons were generally, it might
almost be said always, applicable to existing circumstances, and had
reference to some event, or some person, which it seemed expedient to
advert to. He was most successful also in preventing the infliction of
punishment, as well as in preventing the crimes which called for it. No
sooner was a man put into the master at arms list as a culprit, than Mr.
H. was in communication with him; got at his character, his motives, and
the circumstances which had led him to commit the fault. It thus often
happened, that he found out such favourable points, as enabled him to
recommend the culprit to mercy, and to induce the Captain to pardon him,
on such recommendation coming from such a quarter; when otherwise he
could not have done it without wounding the feelings of the officer, who
had made the complaint; and doing injury to the discipline of the ship.
One very remarkable instance of the success of this benevolent exercise
of his duty may be named as an exhibition of his general practice.
One of the seamen of the Cæsar, who had been on shore on liberty at
Gibraltar, was brought off under a military guard, charged with robbing
his messmate in the guard house, whilst lying asleep there in the course
of the preceding night. Captain Brenton knowing the man accused, to be
one of the most correct characters in the ship, as well as one of the
best seamen, was greatly surprised at the charge; and expressed his
astonishment to the man himself, that he, of all others, should be so
inculpated. The man strenuously denied being guilty, but the evidence
against him was so clear and so consistent that it was not possible to
disregard it. Addressing the prisoner therefore he said, “Lewis, I cannot
think you guilty, nor will I take it upon my own responsibility to act
upon so awful an occasion: think well upon what has passed, for if you
adhere to the protestation of your innocence, I must write for a court
martial to be held upon you.” The accused replied, in the most respectful
manner, “Sir, I never can acknowledge being guilty of a crime, of which
you may well suppose me incapable; but as I have no witness to bring
forward in my own behalf, and that of the soldiers is so strong, and so
positive against me, I fear I must be condemned by a court martial; and
therefore I request you will cause me to be punished on board my own
ship; as I feel convinced my punishment will then be less severe, than
what would be awarded by a court martial.” The Captain replied, that he
would never take upon himself the risk of punishing an innocent man, and
again urged his confession of guilt; and then consigning him to an arrest
wrote the letter; and before presenting it to the Admiral, shewed it to
the accused, who however persisted in maintaining the charge to be false.
The chaplain who had attended this examination, requested to speak to
the captain in private; when he said, “Sir, there is something so very
extraordinary in this affair, particularly as it involves such a man as
Lewis, that I take the liberty of requesting that you will withhold the
letter for the court martial, until I can investigate the affair; and
if you will allow me, I will immediately go on shore for the purpose.”
He accordingly went, and came off the following day in triumph, having
detected a most abominable combination, amongst some of the soldiers
of the guard, by whom the charge had been fabricated, and who had
themselves robbed the sleeping sailor. This was clearly proved to the
entire satisfaction of the officers of the regiment. The real culprits
were punished, and poor Lewis resumed the high character he had formerly
borne, to the great joy of every one in the ship, and to none more than
to Mr. Holiday. Much has a really religious active minded chaplain in his

The Editor cannot but be reminded at this period in the memoir, of
frequent conversations which passed on the subject; and of the manner
in which the effects of Mr. Holiday’s ministrations were appreciated
by the captain of the Cæsar. It appeared as if the Chaplain in that
ship exercised a kind of moral influence, which formed by itself no
inefficient system of discipline; and certainly gave to the real and
proper discipline a correctness and precision which can be seldom
attained. The moral character of each delinquent was known, the degree
in which it might be safe to remit punishment was understood beforehand;
and it was seldom allowed to fall where any nobler principles existed,
on which it might be possible to work through other means. The benefit
of the system pursued was still more distinctly seen when the state of
things was altered. Mr. Holiday was succeeded by a man of a different
character, by one, who satisfied himself with the performance of duties
which were absolutely required, and aimed at nothing more. The change was
soon perceptible in the way in which discipline was maintained; and both
officers and crew felt the difference arising from the new chaplain’s
conduct. Hints were given, advice was tendered, but nothing produced
any effect; and the Chaplain contented with the formal discharge of his
Sunday’s duties, took no interest in the moral condition of the men, and
as he knew nothing about their state, was never able to advocate their
cause effectually or to befriend them.

On his leaving the ship, Captain Brenton entered into a long and faithful
exposition of the deficiencies in his conduct, and pointed out the
consequences which had ensued from the negligent mode in which he had
fulfilled his office. He stated to him again the course that had been
pursued by Mr. Holiday; and added his conviction, that three-fourths of
the punishments inflicted during the term of his chaplainship might have
been avoided, had the same paternal practice been maintained.

In the month of March Captain Brenton exchanged with Captain Downman
into the Santa Dorothea, and proceeded in that ship to England. The
definitive treaty having been signed, she was paid off upon her arrival,
and Captain Brenton was soon after married to the object of his early and
constant affections, Miss Isabella Stewart, daughter of Anthony Stewart,
Esq. of Maryland in Virginia, and sister to the Solicitor-General of
Nova Scotia, who, with his family was at this time in England. Of the
happiness of this union, the pen of the bereaved husband has left the
most affectionate testimony in the records which have been before
mentioned, and which he began to arrange after the death of his wife,
which took place in the year 1817.

It may perhaps be permitted to the Editor to mention here the occasion
which led to the commencement of these records, as it is from them the
principal materials of the present memoir has been drawn. Sir Jahleel
Brenton had found amongst the papers of his departed wife, notes and
memoranda written on particular occasions, which he felt a melancholy
pleasure in transcribing for the benefit of his surviving children. Death
had deprived him, by a most sudden and unexpected stroke of his eldest
son, within a very short time of the death of his wife. Neither mother
nor son were permitted to mourn for each other; and the sorrowing widower
and father was comforted by this thought, as will appear from many of his
reflections at the time. In alluding to the memoranda and papers he had
been copying, he says, “The employment of transcribing and collecting
them into one series, is to me, not only a source of comfort and
consolation, but of happiness. It appears to prolong to me the blessing
of her dear society; and I humbly trust it will excite me to follow her
delightful example; and to offer up my most sincere and fervent gratitude
for all the blessings which have been so bountifully bestowed upon me
in this world; above all, for that greatest of earthly blessings, a
virtuous and affectionate wife, who was not only a source of happiness
to me, whilst I was permitted to possess her; but whose bright example,
and endearing counsels, have been, by the mercy of God, instrumental in
enabling me to elevate my soul to that blessed hope of eternal life,
which He has given us in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; the sum of
all blessings and of all mercies. It is now a source of indescribable
comfort to me, that I have never been insensible of her value; nor have
I neglected for many years, night and morning, to offer up my sincere
thanks to Almighty God, for having blessed me with such a companion.

“When I first began to arrange these dear affecting notes, my intention
was only to copy them, according to their dates, and without comment,
leaving intervals between them, for such further fragments as I might
have the happiness of finding. This I accordingly did; but after
searching every place for papers, very few were to be found, so few
indeed as to occupy a very small portion of the space which had been
reserved for them. I then thought of filling up these spaces from
recollection, with a relation of such circumstances in our eventful
lives, as must be inexpressibly dear to our beloved children, when both
their parents shall have long quitted this stage; and how many a proof
of recorded love instantly suggests itself to my remembrance. I only
regret that this idea did not sooner occur to me, that I might have
begun at the very earliest period of our acquaintance. This I may yet
be enabled to do, should I be spared long enough. I shall, however, in
the first place, endeavour to fulfil my original intention of merely
connecting the dear journals; and of thus shewing you, my dear children,
how sincere, how tender, how increasing was the affection, which united
your parents; how earnestly they had devoted themselves to the happiness
and welfare of those, for whom all their solicitude was excited, both as
to their temporal and eternal welfare.

“I know that it had been, for many years previous to our marriage,
the practice of my beloved Isabella, to commit from time to time her
reflections to writing; but I have not been able to discover any of an
earlier date than that which begins this collection. You will, I am
certain, my darling children, be deeply impressed with the strain of
fervent gratitude, and humble trust in a continuance of the goodness
of God, which pervades it. It will I hope elevate your hearts to those
principles also, from which your inestimable mother derived her comfort
and support in all her trials.”

Towards the conclusion of these records we find the original intention
carried out. In the sketch of his first acquaintance with Miss Stewart,
he says, “In reviewing the events of my past life, I have long felt
a deep sense, and I hope a sincere gratitude, for the innumerable
blessings, which a most kind, bounteous, and merciful Creator has so
constantly showered down upon me; but there is none in this countless
catalogue, which appears to call so loudly for every effort by which
I can shew the sense of them, as the inestimable treasure which he
graciously vouchsafed to me in my beloved wife.

“The parents of your inestimable mother had long been settled in America,
and she was born at Annapolis in Maryland, the 22nd of February, 1771,
(on which day I was exactly six months old, being born the 22nd of
August, 1770). There was a considerable analogy in the fortunes of our
early days; her father as well as mine having lost the greater part of
his property in the American war, in consequence of his attachment and
loyalty to his sovereign, and being obliged to take refuge under the
protection of the British arms. Mr. Stewart went with a part of his
family to Nova Scotia. He had then recently lost a most amiable and
affectionate wife; one, whom your angelic mother was thought greatly to
resemble in person and mind. She accompanied her father, and was indeed
the solace of his sufferings (he had for some time been deprived of
the use of one side by a paralytic stroke). At the same time she was
the delight of all who knew her, from the peculiar sweetness of her
disposition, and the animated expression of her countenance; which though
by no means composed of what the world considers fine features, had in it
‘something than beauty dearer,’ indeed it was indescribably so.

“In the year 1787 I embarked on board the Dido as a midshipman; and early
in the following year went out in her to Halifax; an event that I shall
ever consider the most providential in my life, as it has had so strong
and so material an influence upon every succeeding part of it. I then
became acquainted with your inestimable mother. She had just completed
her seventeenth year, and I was still in my eighteenth. I felt from the
first day of our meeting a delight in her society, and a wish to be in
the constant enjoyment of it, to a degree which was quite unusual with
me. Our situations in life were too distant from each other for me to
form any hope of gaining her affections. Young women take their place
in society, so early in life, in comparison with what is customary with
the other sex, that I saw her placed in a situation far above mine.
She was already in the best society the place could afford; whilst I
was beginning the world, in the humble though honourable station of
a midshipman. She might have been justified in looking forward to an
alliance with the highest individual in the colony; whilst I had still
a long servitude to perform, and a very remote prospect of ever being
able to gain that rank in my profession, which could authorize me to
look up to the possession of her; even were it possible for me to gain
an interest in her heart. That I did love her is most certain; but (I
thought) it was a love arising from gratitude. I was naturally shy and
diffident in society. She seemed to pity me, and to endeavour by every
act of kind attention to give me comfort, and to promote my happiness.
That I did frequently indulge visionary schemes of future felicity,
in which she always occupied the front ground, is very true; but they
were views which I thought it impossible ever to be realized. She was
however, even at that early period, constantly associated with every
prospect that presented itself, as I looked forward to success in my
profession; and so powerful was the attraction which her sweetness of
disposition, and engaging kindness had over me, that although in the
midst of kind relations, I sought her house in preference to all others,
and passed every hour I could get on shore, either there, or where I knew
she was to be found. In the course of the next year, we were separated
by my going to Quebec with my ship; and on my return to Halifax in the
autumn I found, to my great disappointment, that Mr. Stewart had taken
his family back to Maryland. This prevented my feeling any regret from
my father’s recalling me from the station; which he did shortly after,
in order to have me in a ship where I could be rated midshipman; no
vacancy having occurred in the Dido. I carried home with me a sincere,
a tender, and an indelible recollection of the happiness I had enjoyed
in the society of my inestimable friend; an impression that no future
event, changes, or circumstances could ever efface or weaken; although
for many years I dared not indulge a hope of her ever becoming mine.
Indeed I considered it almost impossible, that with such a mind as she
possessed—so cherished as she was by all, who had the happiness of
knowing her, that she could long remain single; and when I had attained
to manhood, and had established in my mind the firm conviction, that
this beloved and amiable creature was of all others the most likely to
ensure my happiness; I did not allow myself to make an effort to obtain
her affections, lest I might never have it in my power to place her in
such a situation as might be worthy of her; and lest it might prevent her
acceptance of the offer of some person more capable of making her happy,
than myself.

“During the course of eleven years from this period of our separation,
in all the varieties of service, situation, and society, in which I was
placed, these sentiments never quitted me. It was not until I rose to the
rank of Commander, that I thought myself justified in looking to her, as
the object of my ambition. I had, during the course of this time, in a
correspondence with my dear cousin, made our mutual friend the subject of
the greater part of our letters; but with little hope or prospect that
my wishes could ever be realized. My beloved Isabella however became
acquainted, by means of these, with the steadiness of my attachment to
her; and it produced, as may be imagined, a reciprocal affection.

“After having been more than a year in the command of the Speedy, and
during that period having had the happiness to obtain, in several
instances, the approbation of my Commander in chief, my prospects in the
navy seemed so flattering, that although I had not been successful in
a pecuniary point of view, I felt myself justified in endeavouring to
excite an interest in the affections of her, who had so long possessed
mine; and wrote to her accordingly. But after writing the letter, in
order firmly to establish in my own mind, that I was acting from the
deliberate conviction that I was in search of real happiness; that I was
not carried away by such visionary schemes of felicity, as too often
haunt the imagination of those, who from the nature of their profession,
are debarred from general society; I kept the letter by me. I had given
my father a promise that I would never marry until I had attained the
rank of Post Captain, when I knew I should have his perfect consent and
approbation with regard to the object I had in view. I was therefore
resolved not to take so important a step, until I should feel perfectly
justified in doing so. I frequently read over the letter, and found
that my sentiments, instead of experiencing the slightest or the most
momentary change, were daily strengthened; that no alteration was made
either by increase of rank, which I soon after met with; by professional
success, which was the cause of it; or by my more intimate acquaintance
with the higher classes of society, to which, through the friendship
and kindness of my excellent friend and patron, Lord St. Vincent, I was
soon after introduced. On the contrary, the rank and honours acquired
an additional value from the hope that they would be acceptable to my
beloved Isabella; whilst her sweetness of disposition, and consistency
of character, constantly rose in my estimation, by contrasting them with
what I met with; however superior many of her sex might have been in
beauty of person, and in the advantages of rank and fortune.

“Upon my arrival in England, in September, 1800, having been made Post in
the preceding month of February; I dispatched the letter; and remained in
anxious expectation of the result for some weeks. At length the answer
arrived; and delightful as the contents were to me, in assuring me that I
had long been the object of her affections, the ideas of happiness which
it excited in my mind, were not to be compared to the real felicity which
I subsequently enjoyed, during the whole course of our union. At length,
after a separation of fourteen years, I met your beloved mother, and
found her all that my most sanguine imagination had painted.”

It is hardly necessary for the Editor to dwell on the exquisite delicacy
and self command exhibited in this touching and simple narrative of an
affection as romantic as it is reasonable. He would merely say, that
if ever the intrusion on private memorials is justifiable, it is when
features of character such as these, so peculiar and yet so beautiful,
are to be brought to light. In other cases, where the gratification of
curiosity is the chief end to be answered, doubts may be felt whether
the advantage gained is any compensation for the breach of confidence
that has been committed. But in this, it seems due to the subject of
the memoir to shew to the world what was not seen by the world; and to
exhibit the real value of his services by stating the sacrifices they
cost him. It is also due to those who may be benefited by his example, to
let them see the power which may be given to principle, when principle is
founded on religion; and the degree in which the tenderness of affection
may be combined with firmness, when the whole mind is brought under the
influence of the gospel.

The following extract from the pen of Mrs. Brenton, seems important as
illustrative of the domestic character of the husband, as well as the
wife. It is dated, Greenwich, January 1st, 1801. “To Thee, Almighty God,
I return my most hearty and humble thanks, for the blessings I have,
through Thy divine mercy, been permitted to enjoy during the past year,
and also for the prospect of happiness on my entrance into the coming
one. Grant, I beseech Thee, that I may so conduct myself as to merit a
continuance of Thy goodness; and that as a wife and mother I may render
myself worthy of Thy protection; and in the performance of my duty as
a Christian, become more deserving of Thy divine favour, through the
mediation of our blessed Saviour, Jesus Christ.”

The above prayer is inserted, not as being a model of what prayer should
be, for in that respect the discernment of a religious mind will see its
deficiency; but rather because it is considered valuable as exhibiting
the mild, gentle, and affectionate spirit from which it proceeded, and
as filling up the portraiture of her character. At the same time, and
to reply at once to similar remarks, the Editor would beg leave to say,
that if this prayer seems incorrect in expression, or in any sense to ask
amiss; it must not be forgotten that there are seasons and cases when the
heart anticipates the head, and when the warmth of feeling and simple
piety supply what is wanting in theological knowledge. At this period of
their lives, neither the subject of this memoir, nor his partner, saw
things as they saw them afterwards; but they were faithful to the light
they had, and they walked according to it; and though that light was as
yet but dim, it was sufficient to guide those into the way of truth who
were willing to be led. Thus proceeding, they saw more, they knew more,
as they went forward. Truth was revealed, in proportion as they advanced;
and in them both we may believe that the promise was verified which
says, “The path of the righteous is as the shining light, which shineth
more and more until the perfect day.”

To the wife’s memoranda the husband subsequently added; “This first year,
or rather part of it, had indeed been a period of happiness to us. In the
early part of April I returned from the Mediterranean. On the 14th I saw
my inestimable Isabella, after a separation of thirteen years. And on the
19th our union took place; in which I received the utmost reward to which
I had ever allowed myself to look forward—one that amply recompensed
me for all my exertions, or rather which appeared a blessing bestowed
upon me by my bountiful Creator, far beyond what I could have dared to
hope for. We enjoyed at Bath a few months of such happiness as seldom
falls to the lot of human nature; but I felt it my duty to follow up my
profession, and in the pursuance of that object we quitted our happy

In the autumn of 1800 the political horizon beginning to wear a lowering
aspect, Captain Brenton had solicited employment, and had obtained the
command of the Minerve, of thirty-eight guns; which at the date of the
previous extracts, he was fitting out at Greenwich. On the 19th of
January, 1801, he became a father, and gave to his first born son, whose
subsequent death has already been mentioned, the name he so justly loved
and respected of the Earl of St. Vincent, John Jervis.

In the month of March he sailed for Spithead, where he arrived on the
very day that orders were given to prepare for war; and on that same day
he met with a serious accident, by a block falling on his head, which
occasioned a severe wound, and a concussion of the brain. Of this event,
the following record has been found from the pen of Captain Brenton,
written a few days after this period; when his wife had mentioned the
christening of his son. “The ship being ready for sea, I was obliged to
leave my beloved Isabella and her darling infant, in order to proceed
to Portsmouth, to fit for foreign service. She was to join me there as
soon as she should be able to travel. The weather was extremely severe; a
succession of gales rendered our passage a very long one. It was the 12th
of March before I reached Spithead; and on that day a severe trial befel
my inestimable wife, by a wound which I received on the head, by a block
falling on me. The accident was considered so serious as to be reported
to the Admiralty by telegraph; and a Captain was immediately appointed
to act for me; the ship being required on the coast of Holland, in
consequence of an armament taking place in that quarter. To prevent any
alarming reports reaching my beloved Isabella, I sent off a midshipman to
give her an account of what had happened. Her feelings received a severe
shock, but her resolution was soon formed, and in a few hours she was
with me at Portsmouth,—my tender nurse—my inestimable companion—and this
she continued to be during the whole course of her invaluable life; the
soother of all my cares and sufferings; making adversity itself a period
marked by bright gleams of happiness. With her dear society, and that
of her sweet infant, my mind was soon at rest. The wound though severe,
and apparently dangerous, was soon in a favourable state; and every
serious symptom vanished, through the kind and protecting care of divine

“When I saw the Minerve get under weigh, it occurred to me that I should
derive great benefit, as well as happiness, by proceeding by easy stages
to Bath, and remaining quietly in my own house, until sufficiently
recovered to rejoin my ship. I had no sooner suggested the idea than my
darling Bella’s eyes sparkled with delight. That home had indeed been an
abode of real felicity to us; but which she had consented to quit from
the noblest principles, that of accompanying me to any part of the world,
to which my professional duties should lead me. She now enjoyed the
pleasing prospect of our remaining there for some time. All the comforts
of our home were doubly appreciated in her estimation, as they would so
materially contribute to my welfare; and immediate preparations were made
for our journey. Our sweet infant was by no means well, and his beloved
mother seriously ill, before we reached Southampton; but a great and
merciful God spared and protected us. We reached Bath on the third day,
all in a state of convalescence. The tranquility I enjoyed in my happy
home soon restored me to apparent health; my wound healed, and I thought
myself perfectly recovered.

“My ship was on the coast of Holland, one of a squadron under Admiral
Thornborough, watching an armament fitting out in the Texel and Scheldt.
War was considered to be inevitable, and I became restless, and impatient
to rejoin the Minerve. My inestimable friend saw the state of my mind;
and though deeply suffering from anxiety on account of my health,
added to the painful idea of separation, she piously acquiesced in the
necessity, and resigned herself and all dear to her to the will of heaven.

“I joined my ship on the coast of Holland, but I was soon convinced
that I was not fit for active service. I told the Admiral of my wish
to go on shore again. He kindly sent my ship in with me, and another
captain was appointed to act for me. I proceeded to London to consult Sir
Walter Farquhar; who, considering the wound to have occasioned a severe
concussion of the brain, recommended the utmost tranquility of body and
mind. Could I have remained undisturbed with the idea of approaching
hostilities, I had at Bath every requisite for the most perfect happiness.

“I reached Bath on the 13th of May: and on the 18th hostilities began
with France, my own ship having on that day made many captures in
the channel. It is needless to describe the state of my mind. It was
by no means such as to promise much benefit from remaining on shore.
Applications were also making for my ship, under the impression I should
not be able to join her. I immediately formed my resolution to return to
her; the exhilarating prospects of my profession bore me up.”

Captain Brenton preferred the certainty of suffering to the anxiety
attached to retirement, and again resumed the command of the Minerve,
employed in the blockade of Cherbourg; where several of the French
flotilla had been collected, and were watching an opportunity to proceed
to Boulogne. On the first of July a detachment succeeded in getting into
Barfleur, at an early hour in the morning, although chased by the Topaze
and Minerve. In order to prevent the escape of any more, Captain Brenton
determined to keep as near Cherbourg as possible. During the afternoon
of the second a thick fog obscured the harbour, but by standing in under
little sail, he succeeded in getting sight of what both the pilot and
himself supposed to be the Isle Pelée, at the eastern extremity of the
harbour, distant about a mile. The ship was then wore to stand off under
easy sail for a short time. She had scarcely come to the wind, when a
number of small vessels were discovered under the land, supposed to be
the flotilla; and the Minerve again wore immediately to pursue them. A
cast of the lead having been obtained, the pilot declared that the ship
might run into the centre of the flotilla without danger, which was
instantly done; and when in the moment of bringing the guns to bear upon
them, she grounded upon a shoal, and the tide ebbing fast, left no hopes
of her being extricated until its return. In less than half an hour the
fog dispersed, and the moon shewed them the perilous situation in which
they were placed. What they had imagined to be Isle Pelée was Fort de la
Liberté, at the western side of the harbour. The shoal upon which the
Minerve had grounded was no other than one of the cones by which the port
was formed; and the supposed flotilla, the small vessels employed in
carrying stones to those works. At the same time a heavy fire was opened
from Fort de la Liberté, and Isle Pelée, as well as from two intermediate
small batteries, and two gun brigs lying in the harbour.

Such a situation demanded the utmost energy from every one, and certainly
more could not have been shewn than was exhibited. The boats were
immediately hoisted out, and Mr. Walpole,[2] the third lieutenant, was
directed to proceed in the first that reached the water, to endeavour
to cut out from the interior of the harbour some vessel large enough
to carry out a bower anchor. As Captain Brenton foresaw that he should
require the launch, with her carronade to operate a diversion upon
the gun brigs; the barge was to have been sent to the assistance of
Lieutenant Walpole; but this gallant young officer pushed forward,
without waiting for reinforcements, and boarding a lugger under the
batteries, towed her out with his single boat, under a tremendous fire of
great guns, and musketry, alongside the ship. She was laden with stores
to the water’s edge, consequently was incapable of bearing any addition
to her burden. A new difficulty here occurred; to discharge her alongside
was to increase the shoal; it was therefore necessary to veer her astern
to the extent of a hawser, and to throw her cargo overboard, before she
could be of any service. The fire from the batteries was very galling,
and the ship began to suffer severely under it, both in her crew, and
her rigging, and hull. The launch was sent with the second lieutenant,
Mr. Fitzgerald, to call off the attention of the gun brigs, and had
the desired effect of slackening their fire upon the ship. At midnight
the lugger was hauled under the bows to receive the anchor, but was
repeatedly hulled by shot, so as to render it necessary for carpenters to
be continually repairing her. Whilst this tedious and laborious operation
was being performed the anchor was at last placed in her, but the hawser
from the kedge, which had been laid out for the purpose of warping the
lugger, being shot away, it became necessary to employ the boats in
towing her, a circumstance Captain Brenton would gladly have avoided,
as it exposed the boats’ crews, and took too many people from the ship.
The line of boats soon attracted the notice, and consequently the fire
of the batteries, and gun brigs, which now became tremendous; but every
discharge was answered by the most animated cheers from the boats’ crews,
who gallantly succeeded in placing the anchor in its destined direction.

Every exertion was in the mean time made on board to lighten the ship
abaft; as her stern hung upon a broken part of the cone, and there were
six fathoms under her bows. The guns, useless under such circumstances,
were all got under the forecastle, and every other weight from abaft;
the two forecastle guns alone being employed against the gun brigs. At
two o’clock the situation of the Minerve was so hopeless, from the wind
having died away entirely, and some rise having taken place in the tide,
that Captain Brenton had it in contemplation to burn the ship, taking
the crew away with the assistance of the lugger and the boats. For this
purpose the lugger was brought alongside; the wounded ordered to be
placed in her, and every preparation made to set fire to the ship, when
all other resources should fail. The capstan was however manned, and they
continued heaving as the tide rose.

The day broke at three o’clock, and the batteries increased their fire
with surer aim, whilst the gun brigs, finding themselves within range
of grape shot, annoyed the ship exceedingly. Many of the people at
the capstan were killed or wounded, but their places were immediately
supplied; and the men encouraged by their officers continued the most
persevering efforts. At half past four the ship floated; the cable was
cut, and such sail as could be made, trimmed amidst the cheers of the
ship’s company, who now considered their danger and labours at an end.
The wind however again failed them, and the ship was set by the last
drain of the tide upon another part of a broken cone, where she lay with
only two fathoms and a quarter under her main chains. The lugger, upon
which the crew depended for their escape was dismasted, and in a sinking
state; (the wounded had been returned to the cockpit, as the hopes of
getting the ship off had increased); she was also cut adrift, as was the
launch by the enemy’s shot; no boat remained, capable of carrying out an
anchor; and deprived of every hope of saving the ship; Captain Brenton to
prevent the further effusion of blood, at half-past five A.M. surrendered
her to the enemy, after a most anxious struggle of nine hours.

The Minerve had eleven killed and sixteen wounded. The prisoners were
landed at Cherbourg, to await orders from the First Consul, relative to
their future disposal. These arrived in a few days, and directed them
to be marched to Epinal, the capital of the department of the Vosges, a
distance of nearly five hundred miles: intelligence not very welcome to
the unfortunate captives, as they had flattered themselves with the hope
of being soon exchanged, and kept near the coast for that purpose. Of
this event Captain Brenton speaks thus, “This was one of the most trying
periods of my life, but one, in which I felt, in a peculiar degree, the
benefit of a reliance on Divine Providence. When fully aware of the
situation in which the ship was placed shortly after her taking the
ground, by the fog clearing away, and the batteries opening their fire
upon us, I remember walking aft, and leaning over the taffrail, I offered
a short and humble prayer to the Almighty for my beloved wife and child.
The effect appeared to be instantaneous. In no period of my life do I
remember to have ever been more composed than at that moment, nor did my
tranquility ever forsake me during the whole of that trying night.”

The concluding particulars of the loss of the Minerve, may be here
inserted as given by Captain Brenton. “At length I put the question to
my officers, whether any hope remained: all answered in the negative,
and recommended surrender. The painful alternative was adopted; and the
colours being hauled down, shouts of triumph resounded from the shore.
I then went into my cabin, and having destroyed my private signals,
proceeded to collect such things as might be most immediately necessary,
threw them into my cot, which, though unoccupied through the dreadful
night, was hanging up in my cabin. In this I had my plate, and such of
my clothes as I could the more easily get at, lashed up and given to my
servant. Whilst thus occupied, the master of the French vessel, which had
been taken in the preceding evening, and who had been kept below during
the night, hearing that the ship had surrendered, made the best of his
way to my cabin, and began to console me, ‘Songez mon brave Capitaine,
que vous êtes distingué; que vous vous êtes défendu en brave homme; que
vous avez seulement subis le sort de la guerre; que les Français sont
de braves gens.’ At this moment the batteries renewed their fire, and
the panegyrist immediately took to his heels for his place of security,
crying out, ‘O les coquins, les marauds,’ and such other terms as seemed
at the moment most appropriate for this attack upon a fallen enemy. I
then went on deck, and standing up upon the taffrail, waved a white flag,
calling out at the same time, ‘Nous, nous sommes rendus.’ The gun brigs
also repeated this information, ‘Ils se sont rendus.’

“It was some time before the firing ceased, but providentially no one
was hurt by it. The reason subsequently alleged for the continuance of
hostilities was, that the Minerve had not lowered her sails; but had
the Commandant known of how little importance this circumstance was
in our situation, he would not have incurred the risk of an useless
effusion of blood. Under existing circumstances, he only added to the
injury already done to a ship in his possession. A boat from the senior
officer of the gun brigs soon after came alongside; and after making
himself very certain that the ship had indeed surrendered, received my
sword, which he imagined he had gained by his own valour; and retained
it, notwithstanding the less doubtful claim of the military commander.
But the same idea, which this Commander of the gun brig had taken up,
was adopted by Buonaparte himself; who, having received the dispatch
announcing the capture of the Minerve, whilst in the theatre at Brussels,
immediately arose, and said, ‘Messieurs et Dames, la guerre navale a
commencée sous les plus heureuses auspices. Une superbe frégate de
l’ennemi, vient de se rendre à deux de nos bâtimens cannoniers,’ not
saying a word of the batteries, or the shoal.”



A circumstance occurred previous to the prisoners beginning their march,
which cannot be too generally known; as it does great honour to an
individual amongst our enemies, and is one of the many acts of kindness
shewn by the inhabitants of France, to the prisoners passing through the
country, where the general feeling was by no means so hostile to the
English, as is too frequently supposed. Hostility to this country was
almost entirely confined to the military in France.

The length of the journey they had to perform, rendered the prisoners
very solicitous about their pecuniary concerns, particularly as no person
at Cherbourg would discount their bills. Captain Brenton, in order to
increase his stock, offered his watch for sale at a watchmaker’s, who
would give him only five guineas for it, though the watch was made by a
first rate maker, and was of gold. He consequently left the spot with
some indignation. Whilst standing at the door of the Auberge a little
while after, he was addressed by a person who wished to know, if he had
not a watch to dispose of. Captain Brenton expecting a similar offer
to the last, answered, “Yes, but you will not buy it.” The stranger
replied, “That is more than you know, let me see it.” Upon examining
the watch, he asked the original price of it, and being told thirty-one
guineas; he said, “Were I to buy your watch, I would only give fifteen
guineas; but as I only mean to take it in pledge, I will let you have
twenty-five.” Captain Brenton, surprised at so novel a mode of making
a bargain, said laughing, “You are an honester fellow than I took you
for; give me the money, and take the watch.” The stranger’s name was M.
Dubois, a merchant of L’Orient. He came back in a few minutes, saying,
“Sir, I shall never forgive myself for having accepted a pledge from
an officer suffering from the fortune of war. Take back the watch and
give me your note of hand.” This being done with due acknowledgments on
the part of Captain Brenton, M. Dubois again left him, and in a short
time again returned with twenty-five louis more, saying, that he had
been examining his purse, and found that he had that sum more than was
necessary to carry him to L’Orient, and begging that he would accept of
that also. He then deposited it on the table, destroying the former note
of hand; and requesting that another might be made out to include both
sums. Captain Brenton in his additional remarks on the subject of the
watch, says, “Each time that M. Dubois, the kind merchant returned, he
exclaimed, “Monsieur, ma conscience me pique,” striking his breast; and
the last time exclaiming, “Ma conscience me pique encore.” I observed
that it must be a most unreasonable conscience, not to be satisfied with
what he had done; but he rejoined, “No, Sir, I ought not to have taken
any security from you.” Captain Brenton adds, “I am happy to say that in
the course of this war very many instances occurred of great benevolence
shewn towards the British prisoners in France; and in those cases where
they experienced harsh or cruel treatment, it almost always arose from
military power having been obtained by men, whose only recommendation
was their bravery, and who had no kind feelings to temper it; but these
instances were rare.”

It seems due to this excellent man, M. Dubois, whose singular kindness
and generosity alleviated the first bitternesses of captivity for the
captain and crew of the Minerve, to add a letter, which proves that
the act in question was not the sudden impulse of excited feeling on
contemplating their unhappy lot; but that it was part of a character in
which tenderness and sympathy with suffering predominated habitually.

                                     “L’ORIENT, 6 PLUVIOSE, AN. 12.
                                                  27 JANVIER, 1804.


    A mon retour d’une petite absence, on me remit votre lettre
    obligeante et amicale; et Je suis empressé d’y repondre. Il
    seroit en vain que j’entreprendrois de vous rendre le plaisir
    qu’elle m’a fait. Il n’y a, que des cœurs aimants capables de
    s’en faire une idée.

    “Je vous croyais depuis long temps échangé, et je vois avec
    peine qu’il n’en est rien. Combien je partage les chagrins que
    vous devez éprouver, de l’incertitude continuelle de votre
    sort, depuis votre départ de Cherbourg; c’est de mon avis la
    situation la plus pénible à supporter pour l’homme dont le
    caractère ferme et décidé, est au dessus de tous les événemens.

    “Vous êtes donc encore mon bien bon ami dans l’attente de votre
    échange, et vous me faites entendre que vous ne la prevoyez pas
    prochaine. Ah! Je sens combien votre situation est cruelle;
    vous êtes depuis long temps éloigné de parens et amis qui vous
    sont chers, et à qui sans doute vous l’êtes aussi, et c’est ce
    qui augmente vos peines. Combien je désirerois qu’ il fut en
    mon pouvoir de les alléger. Mais comment? nous sommes loin l’un
    de l’autre. Si du moins le lieu de votre exil étoit L’Orient,
    aidé par mon épouse et ma petite famille, nous vous offririons
    les consolations de la plus tendre amitié, et si nous ne
    parvenions pas à dissiper entièrement vos chagrins, au moins
    réunis nous les partagerions. N’en doutez pas mon bien bon ami,
    car nous sommes sincèrement affectés de vos peines, et mon
    épouse (qui brule d’envie de vous connoitre, sur tout depuis
    votre agréable lettre) sent aussi vivement que moi, les regrets
    cuisants que vous éprouvez à’ être aussi long temps privé du
    plaisir de revoir tout ce que vous aimez chez vous. Espérons
    ensemble que ce moment si naturellement désiré de vous, n’est
    pas éloigné, et qu’au premier instant vous jouirez enfin des
    tendres embrassemens de tout ce qui vous est cher.

    “Etes vous au moins à Verdun d’une manière agréable? Vous
    laisse t’on la liberté de former quelque société, qui pourrait
    vous distraire de vos ennuis? je le désire bien ardemment.
    Je ne connais personne dans cette ville, mais si vous aviez
    la faculté d’aller et venir dans son enceinte je ferais mes
    efforts pour me procurer de divers amis quelques lettres de
    recommendation pour vous.

    “Le Mandat que vous nous aviez remis á été parfaitement
    acquitté depuis plus de 3 mois; ainsi point d’inquiétude
    de votre part à ce sujet; et quand il ne l’eut pas été
    aussi promptement, ce n’aurait pas été un motif d’en avoir
    d’avantage; vous meritez à ce sujet que je vous gronde un
    peu; il ne devait plus être question entre nous de nouveaux
    remerciemens (m’en aviez vous pas deja trop fait?) c’était
    un arrêté pris avant mon départ, et vous y contrevenez; que
    ce soit au moins pour la dernière fois, car penseriez vous
    mon cher ami que le plaisir étoit pour vous seul? comptez
    au contraire pour beaucoup celui que j’ai en faisant la
    connoissance d’un galant homme comme vous, et de qui, je
    continue à recevoir des marques d’un obligeant attachement. Ne
    regardez point ceci comme un froid compliment, ma plume n’est
    jamais que l’interpréte de mon cœur.

    “Vous me faites l’offre obligeante de votre crédit pour moi,
    et mes amis, que le sort de la guerre rendrait malheureux en
    Angleterre. Je vous aime, et vous estime assez pour l’accepter
    avec franchise au besoin, mais toujours avec la circonspection
    que l’on doit au bon cœur d’un ami.

    “Vous dire mon cher Capitaine avec quel plaisir je recevrai de
    vos nouvelles toutes les fois que vous pourrez m’en donner, ne
    serait rien vous apprendre de nouveau; puisque vous ne doutez
    surement pas de l’attachement que je vous porte: ainsi obligez
    moi de m’en donner le plus souvent possible, et sur tout l’avis
    de votre échange quand il aura lieu.

    “Je crois mon cher ami n’ avoir pas besoin de vous rappeller
    que vous devez toujours librement et franchement disposer de
    moi dans toutes les occasions; faites moi le plaisir de vous en
    bien souvenir, et de croire de loin comme de pres, qui si les
    vœux que je formerai toujours pour votre bonheur sont exaucés,
    il ne vous restera rien a désirer.

    “Il faut que je finisse mon Epitre. On ne s’ennuye pas quand on
    cause avec de bons amis. Il ne faut cependant pas les fatiguer,
    vous ne m’accuserez pas J’espére de Laconisme. Je trouverais au
    surplus mon excuse dans le plaisir que j’ai á m’entretenir avec

    “Agréez par continuation mon cher ami l’assurance des sentimens
    d’estime et d’attachment avec lesquels je serai toujours votre
    tout dévoué bon ami,

                                                        “L. DUBOIS.

    “P. S. Rappeliez moi s’il vous plait au souvenir de Monsieur
    Fenwick et de vos autres officiers dont je me souviens toujours
    avec plaisir, et veuillez leur dire mille choses obligeantes de
    ma part; ainsi qu’au cher fier Docteur que Je salue par trois
    fois trois.

    “Je viens aussi de recevoir une lettre de Monsieur Black, il
    a fidélement rempli vos intentions près de moi, et je l’en
    remercierai par ma prémiére.”

The seamen and marines of the Minerve began their march for Epinal on the
8th of July; and the officers on the following day. The sufferings of
the former, unprotected by their officers during this long march, were
extreme; assailed as they were by fatigue, hunger, and every privation.
The officers upon leaving the coast were accompanied only by three gens
d’armes, who treated them with every respect. They received notice of
the place which should terminate the day’s march, and made parties for
performing the journey without any restraint from their guards. They,
at the same time, shewed themselves deserving of such confidence by the
strictest compliance with the directions they had received, and the
utmost regularity of conduct.

On the third day they reached St. Lo, a military arrondisement, commanded
by General Dellegorgue, an officer who had served in Egypt, and who fully
appreciated British valour and British honour. He treated the prisoners
with the most marked attention; and indeed the hospitality evinced by the
inhabitants of St. Lo was such as to merit particular notice.

Captain Brenton’s notes have left some further particulars of this
march, and of the two days at St. Lo. He says, “All was now preparation
for the march, which was to commence on the 8th of July. The youngsters
were all animation and glow; their spirits were buoyant; and feeling
convinced that their detention would be short, they had made up their
minds to enjoy the events of the day, without care and without regret.
They knew that their term of service would go on in the same manner as
though they were at sea; and they looked forward to the time, when they
might return to their profession with much to relate, and the advantage
of having acquired at least some portion of the French language. Early
on the ninth we left Cherbourg, and having ascended the hill, took our
last farewell of the poor old Minerve, lying dismantled in the harbour.
The first day’s march brought us to Valogne, a distance of fifteen miles.
The weather was beautiful, as was the scenery; and we quite enjoyed the
release from the confinement of the Auberge. The ship’s company had gone
on the preceding day; and subsequently during the whole course of the
march to our ulterior destination, the officers arrived in the evening at
the place which the seamen and marines had left in the morning. On the
second day we reached Carentan; and on the third came in sight of St. Lo,
a beautiful little town on the slope of a hill. This place, we had been
given to understand, was to be our residence, and we rejoiced to find it
possessed of so many advantages.

“On entering the town I was conducted by the gens d’armes to the General,
and was received by him with all the urbanity and kindness possible.
He invited me to dine with him, and to bring my first lieutenant. This
officer being unwell, the second took his place. We had an elegant little
repast, and every possible attention shewn us. At the commencement of
the dinner I observed my lieutenant to evince a slight sign of disgust.
I asked the reason; and he replied, ‘They are frogs, Sir.’ The General
asked what the officer said, and on being told, was much amused at the
idea so prevalent among Englishmen, and especially English sailors,
that much of the French diet consists of frogs. In the course of our
conversation, I expressed my gratification that St. Lo should have
been made the place of our confinement. The General replied, that he
regretted much that there should be any disappointment, but that he had
received orders for the prisoners to march on to Epinal; and that a
military escort had been sent to conduct them to Caen, the capital of
Calvados, the department we were then in: and that we were to proceed
on our route the next day but one. On the 14th of July the prisoners
were assembled, and consigned to the custody of an officer of cavalry.
General Dellegorgue was present on this occasion, and when the prisoners
were ready to march, he came up to me, and embraced me in the warmest
manner; wishing me a speedy release from this captivity, and health, and
happiness. This interview was highly amusing to the young midshipmen, who
had never before witnessed such a demonstration of cordiality. One of
them was heard to exclaim, ‘See, the French General kissing our skipper;’
the familiar name by which the Captain is designated when spoken of by
the youngsters.

“According to the regulations of the march, the prisoners were billeted
separately upon the houses of the inhabitants. Upon repairing thither to
their beds at night, they found a supper prepared, and the friends of
the family invited to assist in entertaining the captive guest: nor did
it end here. The following day was to be one of repose, and the march
was postponed until the next. A dinner and supper was provided in the
same manner; and on the morning of departure, at sunrise, breakfasts were
prepared; nor could these worthy people be prevailed upon to receive any
indemnification for the trouble and expence they had incurred. From St.
Lo the escort was strengthened by the addition of a party of cavalry, and
the prisoners were marched in ranks, from which none were suffered to
deviate; an inconvenience greatly felt, when compared with the indulgence
they had received at first; the more so, as it confined them to the
middle of the road, covered them with dust from the horses, and kept them
on too quick a pace for such a march, and in so sultry a season.”

On arriving at Caen, Captain Brenton complained to the General of such
restriction being imposed on officers, who had given their parole of
honour. This General was the very reverse of the last; and he replied
in a brutal manner, “Je me moque de votre parole d’honneur. Je ne sais
pas ce que c’est, moi.” Captain Brenton replied, “I will describe it
to you. It is (with a British officer) stronger than any prison you
have in France.” The General threatened to take from them their parole,
but he did not put his threat in execution. After leaving Caen the
restrictions gradually increased, and at length the prisoners, upon
arriving at Bernay, were shut up in one room, with sentinels at the door;
the commander of the escort, at the same time, offering to order every
accommodation the inn could afford to be brought to them; an offer which
was disclaimed with disdain, unless they should be treated differently.
The commanding officer of the party then shewed Captain Brenton his
instructions from General ——; which were to guard his prisoners with
the utmost severity and vigilance, as well on the march as in the towns
where they should stop; and to grant them no indulgences on his peril.
He however said he felt so strongly the injustice that had been done
them, that, if Captain Brenton would be responsible for their conduct,
they should enjoy the same indulgence as when they began their march.
This was a condition he gladly accepted, and which was productive of all
the comfort of which their situation was susceptible. The worthy man
who thus promoted the comfort of the poor prisoners is now no more, and
consequently is out of the reach of the resentment of his General. The
remainder of their journey was performed with ease; and they reached
Epinal on the 12th of August, where they found their unfortunate
shipmates, who had arrived the preceding day. Some were in the hospital,
and the remainder in rags, and starving from the small quantity and
bad quality of their provisions. It is due to the liberality of M. M.
Peregaux to observe here, that in reply to a letter from Captain Brenton,
written from Pontoise, requesting them to send his drafts, and those of
his officers, to England for acceptance, and when honoured to remit the
amount to Epinal; that those gentlemen sent three hundred louis d’or to
Captain Brenton at St. Denis, and an order for four hundred more upon
Epinal; with offers of as much as they wished to draw for under Captain
Brenton’s endorsement.

Some additional particulars of this journey may be given from Captain
Brenton’s private notes. “Having heard of an English lady residing at
Caen, I called upon her. She immediately offered me all the assistance in
her power, and amongst other acts of kindness, made me a tender of her
credit with a banker, which I thankfully accepted, and procured fifty
louis. This was a very timely supply, as the fifty louis of M. Dubois
were not expected to last long amongst so many.”

“We were just seated at dinner at St. Denis, when a gentleman from M.
Peregaux was announced, who brought me three hundred louis in gold, and
a letter of credit for four hundred more upon M. Doublat, at Epinal,
with an assurance that any bills endorsed by me should be immediately
honoured. This conduct was truly noble, and a high compliment to the
British navy. No sooner was this act of liberality made known, than
there was a general cheer amongst the midshipmen, and indeed amongst all
hands. ‘I will walk no more,’ cried one; and ‘I will have a carriage
and drive myself,’ said another. In short, each one had some scheme of
future proceeding, and all were determined to be indemnified for past
fatigue. On the following day every description of carriage was put in
requisition, and the whole of the prisoners were provided for; but when
they found that all the carriages must be kept together, and go ‘au pas,’
in order to keep with the infantry, a portion of which formed a part of
the escort; the luxury of being carried ceased to have its charms; and
nearly the whole body returned to marching on foot, to which they had got
so much accustomed.”

Of his own feelings during this journey Captain Brenton speaks thus in
his notes, “I performed nearly the whole of the march on foot, and in
the heat of summer; yet I never remember to have enjoyed better health.
Indeed, under all my trials, I have experienced the same mercy and
goodness from Divine providence; and this has convinced me, that under
all my depressions of spirits, and despondencies, from which I have so
often derived unhappiness, it has been from want of exertion, and from
gloomy forebodings, in which I was most culpably indulging.”

Those who best knew him, would consider this to be more the language of
humility than of truth; but they must also feel convinced that it was
dictated by sincere conviction, and self-abasement. Again, adverting to
the period immediately following his arrival at Epinal, he writes, “From
the time of our arriving here I had frequent communication with England
by letters; and our hopes were constantly excited, or depressed, by the
various and contradictory reports which reached us: but I had one source
of comfort which never failed me—it was the contemplation of the goodness
of God towards me. I often contrasted my situation at that time, trying
as it was, with what it would have been, had I been united to a woman,
who would not have shared in my lot, as my beloved Isabella did. Her fond
affection would have prompted her to have flown to me instantly, but for
the prospect of my being immediately released. What advantages of beauty,
or splendour of fortune, can be put in competition with such a heart as
she possessed? with what lustre did she shine in the hour of trial. It
was at this time also, whilst living in peaceful retirement at Epinal,
where we certainly enjoyed tranquility, and with very few exceptions
experienced the greatest kindness from the French; that I began to
consider more attentively the nature of the religion I professed; and
I soon found that I had hitherto been a nominal Christian only. Since
that period I humbly trust every succeeding year has brought some little
increase in the knowledge of my duty; although I am still at an awful
distance from what I ought to be. My subsequent life has however been
greatly influenced by the reflections I then made. Sweet are the uses of

He adds these remarks on his first arriving at Epinal. “The hopes of an
immediate exchange having now vanished, I considered it my duty to take
the most prompt measures to render our captivity as advantageous, and
as little galling as possible, particularly to the young people, and to
the ship’s company. My first care was to have the young people, who had
been placed under my particular charge, put _en pension_ with respectable
French families; where they might have the advantage of regular hours,
and be enabled to learn the language with greater facility; instead
of living together, where nothing but English would have been spoken,
and much of their time passed in idleness. Here they had the advantage
of such masters as the place afforded. The early hours of the French
families greatly contributed to the health and comfort of those intrusted
to their care; whilst the very moderate terms paid for their board and
lodging, as well as for their instruction, enabled them to obtain great
advantages at a very low price. In fact the misfortune of having fallen
into the enemy’s hand, bid fair to be of the most essential benefit
to some, who had been sent to sea very little advanced in education,
particularly as their time of servitude went on as well as their pay,
in the same manner, as though they had actually continued afloat. The
officers and myself had of course each our private lodgings in the town;
but we formed a mess at the principal inn, where we had an excellent
dinner and supper, with wine included, for the very small sum of fifty
francs each per month, less than one shilling and sixpence sterling per

“At (I believe) Gondrecourt, the march having been finished early in
the day, I had laid down, and had fallen asleep, when I was awakened by
English cheering under the windows; and looking out to ascertain the
cause of this unusual circumstance, was told that a courier from Paris
to Epinal had just passed, and had given the joyful information that
he was the bearer of orders for an exchange of prisoners, and that we
might expect to be marched back to the coast, even before we should
reach Epinal. This was so probable, that it was easily believed, and we
proceeded to Epinal, in the full persuasion that our stay there would be
very short. It is likely the report was well founded, for at this time
the British government had offered to exchange Captain Jurieu, taken in
the Franchise, for me; but it was refused by the first consul.”

Having thus seen the Captain and crew of the Minerve arrived at the end
of their journey; the Editor feels that he is justified in calling the
attention of his readers, to the circumstances under which the subject of
this memoir was then placed.

We have seen him in the previous narrative, slowly and gradually, amidst
various trials and disappointments, winning his way to that point in
his profession, which a just and reasonable ambition led him to desire.
We have seen him emerging out of difficulties which were likely to have
overwhelmed a man who was supported by no family or private interest,
and who was to rise, if he rose at all, by personal exertions. We
have seen him obtaining promotion, rank, and honour, and finally in
gaining the object of his early and persevering attachment, we have
seen him realizing all that he had hoped for or desired. And now at
the commencement of a new career, the career which to an ardent and
energetic spirit like his, must have seemed the most brilliant and full
of promise; in command of one of the finest frigates in the navy, at the
beginning of a war which seemed likely to be a struggle for life and
death between two mighty empires, when everything that his profession
could offer was before him; when rank and fortune, and what was dearer
than both to a mind like his, were apparently within his reach, and might
have been reasonably anticipated; he is doomed to open the campaign with
a disaster, which was not only in itself most afflicting, and likely
to affect his professional character; but which immediately involved
a captivity of interminable duration; a captivity to be rendered more
intolerable while it lasted, by hearing of what was done by others; and
which might be extended to such a length, as to mar all future prospect
of promotion or distinctions. It is only necessary for the reader to
place himself in such circumstances, and the imagination can easily
supply the pictures which might have presented themselves to Captain
Brenton’s mind on the occasion; and, notwithstanding this, we find him
in the hour of misfortune, calm if dejected; resigned to a lot which
seemed to involve the loss of all he had been seeking; and sustained
under defeat by the consciousness of having endeavoured to do his duty.
Something may be ascribed to temperament; something may be ascribed to
the buoyant character of a profession, which being cast in the midst of
dangers, lives by surmounting them, and grows habitually indifferent to
circumstances, by successfully struggling against them. But while we
cede much to causes like these, we need not cede more than is due. Many
officers no doubt shared the same hard destiny with him, and bore with
more or less equanimity the trial of captivity. No comparison is drawn,
nor attempted to be drawn, between their behaviour and his. Our object
is not to raise Captain Brenton on this occasion above others; but to
shew him as he was, and to describe how he felt and how he acted. It is
not essential that a model should be superior to every thing else of
the kind; but we feel that it is sufficient for the purpose, if it has
qualities that should be imitated, and that may be imitated; and we know
that that example is sometimes found to be the most beneficial, which
comes nearest to the level of him who is to be encouraged or directed by
its contemplation.

It is more than probable that Captain Brenton was but one of many in his
cheerful submission to his lot, as he was but one of many who experienced
the same misfortune during the war; and that the same discipline of
mind led to the same patience under trial in cases of which we know
nothing. But his circumstances it will be admitted were peculiar; and
it seems unquestionable that some higher influence than that of the
causes referred to, is necessary in order to account for the calmness of
mind he exhibited during the action, and for the cheerfulness which he
displayed at the commencement of his captivity. Temperament might have
done much, but in naming temperament, it seems fit to remind the reader
of the shock which his bodily system had experienced by the accident that
occurred, while the Minerve was fitting out. Concussion of the brain too
often leaves long and melancholy marks of the injury sustained by that
most delicate of all the elements which form the body. His professional
zeal we have seen had led him to anticipate the moment of recovery, and
to go to sea before he was capable of enduring the fatigues of service.
Reluctantly, and under a conviction of the absolute necessity of repose,
he had once left his ship and gone ashore; and when at last he resumed
his command, and sailed from Portsmouth for the coast of France, it is
obvious that he could hardly have been fit for service: and that it
was the spirit of the man which at that moment raised him above the
infirmities of the body. That in such a state of health he should have
undergone the trial of such a night, as that on which the Minerve was
lost; that he should have developed such a variety of resources for the
purpose of rescuing the ship from the position into which she had run;
that he should have met each crisis in the action, with such firmness and
self-possession, is sufficiently wonderful. It is equally surprising,
that after the excitement of the defence was over, he should have borne
the fatigues and humiliations of the march without sinking under them;
and I can not but think, that any one who takes all into consideration,
will come to the conclusion, that much which seems admirable, much of
that which seems surprising in his conduct; cannot be accounted for
through temperament or natural energy. I believe it must be referred
to that habitual reliance on God, which had been instilled into his
mind in childhood, which had been retained through all the trials of
his youth; which if it had not grown, as it might have done, had never
been obliterated or lost; but which lived to be called into activity
under peculiar circumstances; and which finally, through the mercy and
longsuffering of God, became that faith which works by love; and made him
capable of doing all things through Christ that strengthened him.

But the conclusion renders the example more valuable because it makes it
more accessible. If all was to be ascribed to natural causes, to firmness
of temperament and qualities peculiar to the individual, the portrait
might be admirable, but it could not be generally profitable. The many,
who make no pretence to such powers, would consider themselves released
from all duty of imitating an excellence which they could not attain to;
and all might feel that they were invited to follow a path, which it was
uncertain whether they should be able to accomplish. But when we not
only see an excellence described, which excites our admiration; but also
see the sources and springs from which it is derived laid open; when we
are allowed to feel, that many may attain to the eminence which is held
up as our example, if they will but follow the course, and adopt the
means that were made use of by those whom we admire; the advantage then
is multiplied, or rather an advantage is realised which before was little
more than problematical; and all will be encouraged to strive when there
is a hope that all may be successful.

The casual note in the private journal of the subject of this memoir
as to the uses of adversity, shews that he was conscious of the change
that was gradually moving forward within him, and of the need in which
he stood of strength and assistance from above. The life of excitement
which he had hitherto led, was not favourable to the developement or
growth of religious sentiment. The grace of God had kept alive the
spark, that early education had kindled; and He, who will not bruise
the broken reed, nor quench the smoking flax, had mercifully preserved
him from the grosser contagion of the world, through the influence of
that romantic attachment which added dignity to his youthful feelings,
and that thirst for glory which accompanied it. But the process which
protected him from what was evil, was not equally adapted to foster the
growth of what is good. The activity of service, the absorbing interest
connected with his profession in the time of war, saved him no doubt
from the evil inseparable from a life of ease; but his situation as an
officer offered no advantages of a religious kind, nothing to encourage
serious thought or reflection. In continual movement he had no leisure
for reading, no access to those means which are usually thought essential
to moral improvement; no opportunity of knowing how other men feel and
think on matters of a spiritual nature. In all these respects, repose
was necessary; and we may perhaps now be allowed to trace the hand of
providence in an event, which, afflictive as it was in itself, gave him
that interval of rest, which he never would have consented to seek, or to
accept if offered; and sent him for a time to meditate in the retirement
of captivity, on the state of his own soul, and the real end and object
of man’s being upon earth.

There can be no doubt that in a moral sense this calamity, for such it
seemed, and such it doubtless was for a time considered by himself, was
singularly beneficial. He then found leisure, and for the first time
probably in his life, to review his own principles, to consider his own
state, and to examine himself whether he was in the faith. It was a
blessed opportunity, but it was well that he was prepared to improve it.
Other men had it, but it is feared that few used it to the same purpose.
If the root of the matter had not been in him; if religion had not been
long known and truly honoured; if it had not already secured a hold on
his heart and affections; the leisure which was given would have been
employed as leisure too frequently is, by those who pass suddenly from
the excitement of active life, in indolence or folly. His time would in
that case have been wasted, the opportunity would have been lost, and the
gracious purpose of God would have been frustrated as to the effect it
seemed calculated to produce.

Happily for him, his mind was prepared for the trial. That habit of
realising God in everything that happened, and of cheerful submission to
his will, which formed a chief feature in his character, led in this case
to resignation. Conscious that as an officer he had done his duty, he
submitted to his lot with calmness; and instead of giving way to regret
and despondency as if all was lost because he had been once unfortunate;
he turned at once to the duties that were before him, and endeavoured
to be the protector and benefactor of those, whom he might have been
otherwise leading to victory as their commander. With this wholesome
occupation the mind had no leisure to prey upon itself, and to destroy
its own energies by comparing what might have been his state with that
which was. Captivity ceased to be irksome. The future was no longer
gloomy, while the present moment was profitably employed. The withdrawal
from the anxieties and fatigues of actual service was salutary, and he
felt its beneficial effects in mind as well as in body; and through
the influence of religious feelings on a mind prepared to admit them,
an interval which might have been past in murmurings and unprofitable
recollections, became, as we shall see in the subsequent pages of the
memoir, a season of calm enjoyment and of real permanent improvement.



The arrangements which have been mentioned, placed the officers and
midshipmen in a state of comparative comfort; but it was otherwise with
the crew. Upon the approach of winter, the seamen and marines being
unprovided with clothes or bedding, and placed upon very slender diet,
began to suffer severely. A little addition was made to their food by
subscription amongst the officers, when they met as they did every week,
at Captain Brenton’s lodgings, for divine service; and through the same
fund a quantity of old tapestry, from some of the ruined houses in the
neighbourhood, belonging to the ci-devant nobility, was purchased, as a
covering for them at night.

Again we have access to Captain Brenton’s journal. “In the middle of
November the negociation for an exchange of prisoners having failed,
we were ordered to march to Phalsburg, a small fortress in the Vosges
mountains, which was considered a more secure place for confining
the prisoners than the open town of Epinal. We had however scarcely
established ourselves in lodging there, before we were again removed,
and sent to Verdun, now established as a general depôt. As this place
appeared to be nearer the line of our probable march to the coast for
embarkation; we persuaded ourselves that this sudden removal certainly
indicated an approaching exchange; and our spirits were buoyed up with
the hopes, which cheered us under a very severe season. Upon our arrival,
however, every prospect of release seemed to have vanished, and the
dispositions that were made for the regulation of the prisoners, were
evidently such as foreboded the establishment being a permanent one. We
had however the comfort of a regular intercourse by letter with England;
and those which I received at this time were full of affection, of piety,
fortitude, and resignation. My captivity, your beloved mother viewed
as the greatest blessing. She had been greatly alarmed at the state of
my health, when I rejoined the Minerve the last time, and attributed
my recovery to my having quitted active service, which no other event
perhaps could have been the means of my doing. She also derived comfort
from the idea that I was sheltered from the dangers of my profession, and
from the hope of our being soon restored to each other.”

In describing the state of his sailors on this march to Phalsburg,
Captain Brenton says, “The weather was very severe, and numbers of the
poor destitute prisoners must have perished, but for the assistance
afforded to them by their officers, to which the captains of the merchant
vessels very liberally contributed.

“After marching during the whole of a tempestuous day, they reached Rem,
where they were to remain for the night, and were shut up in a ruined
roofless chapel. A small quantity of straw thrown upon a broken pavement,
was in a short time soaked with rain; and each man having received his
three sols, had no other means of procuring food than purchasing it
at the door, from persons who flocked there with wretched spirituous
liquors, and boiled liver. The spirits were of course preferred, and the
money intended for their supper was expended in the purchase, leaving
the wretched prisoners no other support than their allowance of bread.
To alleviate as much as possible this distress, on the following day,
I requested the officer of the escort to put into my hands the daily
allowance of three sols for each prisoner, to which I added a sum out of
the subscription purse; and giving it to one of the gens d’armes, he was
sent forward to Luneville, where it was laid out in meat and vegetables,
which were cooked in the house of a bourgeois; who, as well as the
messenger was remunerated for his trouble; and thus upon the arrival of
the prisoners, they found at least a comfortable meal; and being confined
in barracks had less cause to complain of their lodgings. So orderly
and well behaved were these poor fellows, and so obediently respectful
in their march, even to the youngest midshipman, as well as to their
conductors, that upon their arrival at Sarrebourg, they were allowed
to be billeted and quartered among the inhabitants in small parties,
taking with them their respective portions of meat and vegetables, the
inhabitants cheerfully finding them fire to cook it.

“At Phalsbourg the men had excellent barracks, but they were now in a
most deplorable state from want of clothes, and lame from performing such
a march barefoot. To supply the place of shoes, a number of sabots, or
wooden shoes, in value about three pence per pair were sent in; but it
was not until stern necessity rendered it necessary, that the sailors
could be induced to put them on. One, actually with tears in his eyes,
exclaimed with an expletive, ‘Who would have thought I should come to
this:’ so inseparable was the association between misery, slavery, and
wooden shoes in his mind. M. Parmentier, the Mayor, treated them with the
utmost humanity and benevolence. He filled the hospitals with them, that
they might enjoy the comfort of good beds, and nourishing food; and used
every exertion in his power to procure them supplies of clothing, but
without success. A slender provision of old blankets had been made, but
they were some that had been used by the army of the Meuse, and had been
kept in depôt since that time. I previously had written to the Admiralty,
stating the distresses of the prisoners, and requesting permission to
procure them necessaries, and advance to them a small daily sum, to
enable them to live. The answer reached me at Phalsbourg, approving of my
suggestion, and sending me a credit of £2000 for the purpose. It arrived
most opportunely, for the prisoners were again ordered to march. Verdun
was their destination, as the journal transcribed has already shewn. The
order to move was peremptory, although the commandant was unprovided
with funds to pay either the arrears due to the prisoners, or their daily
allowance of money; and but for the remittance above-mentioned, they
must have subsisted until their arrival at Nancy (three days) upon their
allowance of bread only. The prisoners now amounted to four hundred,
and were formed into three divisions, following each other on three
successive days. With the first were all the officers, and nearly one
hundred seamen. They began their march in the early part of December. On
their arrival at Sarrebourg, the people were again confined in a place
similar to that they had been put into at Rem; but such was the severity
of the weather that few of them could have survived the night had they
remained there. However, the commander of the escort declared he had
neither authority, or means, to give them any other accommodation. It was
in vain that I observed to him, that in that very town, only three weeks
before, the men had been billeted amongst the inhabitants, and had shewn
themselves worthy of such indulgence by their good conduct. I earnestly
requested that application might be made to the municipality for
permission for the people to be again billeted amongst the inhabitants;
but this was objected to, from there being no security against their

“However, on our way to consult a magistrate, I observed in the street
a house to let; and it occurred to me that this house, a capacious
one, might be hired for the night; and application being made to the
owner, he consented to my proposal for a very small sum, about fifty
francs. The officer of the escort also consented, on the condition of
a further sum being given for the soldiers, for the additional duty of
a night guard; I giving my parole at the same time for the prisoners
not attempting to escape. The number of people to be accommodated in
this house was about one hundred and fifty; two remaining divisions
being expected on the two following days. The supplies of food for the
people were immediately ordered to be got ready; and in the meantime a
quantity of firewood was sent in, and large fires made in every room.
Heaps of straw were also provided, and the meat and soup were brought
in in tubs, according to the number of inmates destined for each room.
By the time all was completely prepared, the prisoners arrived, and
were immediately distributed according to the previous arrangement. As
no communication had been made to them, from the time I left them in
their prison, their joy and delight at the sight of so much unexpected
comfort, may be better conceived than described; tired, and perishing
with cold and hunger, their food, their fire, and their straw, were
indeed luxuries, which it requires a person to be in their situation
thoroughly to appreciate. This they certainly did do, nor was their
loyalty to their beneficent sovereign and grateful country forgotten,
in their expressions of enjoyment. Fires under a proper watch were kept
throughout the night; and day-break found the poor men refreshed, and
grateful, ready to resume their march, in the most contented and willing
state of discipline. The good effect produced by this arrangement led
me to request of the magistrate, that the two following divisions might
have the benefit of the house in the same manner; to which he at once
assented. A sum was accordingly left in his hands for the payment of the
rent, and the provision of food and fuel; and each division enjoyed the
unexpected treat that awaited them. My officers and myself, with the
first division, marched on successively to Sarrebourg, Luneville, Nancy,
and St. Michel to Verdun, where we arrived on the 17th of December, and
were joined by the other two divisions. Here the people were allowed to
repose for some days, previous to their continuing their march to their
destined depôt, Givet, on the banks of the Meuse; and this time was taken
advantage of, in clothing the prisoners from head to foot, in a warm
substantial manner, and in providing them with blankets. In the course
of a week they proceeded on their route, but having none of the officers
to superintend their conduct, and watch over them; they were soon again
involved in misery; and a large part of their clothes were disposed of
for the merest trifle to provide for their wants. So true it is, that
seamen even of experience, and of sterling abilities in the exercise of
their profession, are but children of a larger growth when on shore; and
hence arises the necessity for that rigorous superintendence, so much
blamed by those who are ignorant of the sailor’s character. Hence also it
is that officers whilst their men are under their command on board ship,
are obliged to keep lists of every article of their clothing, and to call
them to a rigid account, when any of them are missing. The consequence
of the separation of those men from their officers in this case was,
that when they arrived at Givet, after a march of five or six days from
Verdun, they were again in a state of destitution. The barracks at Givet
not being in readiness to receive them; they were marched up to the
fortress of Charlemont, and there confined in a souterrain, with all the
old system of suttlers, and wet straw, and want of clothing renewed; and
this in the last days of December, in that inclement climate.”

The officers in the mean time were permanently settled at Verdun, to
which place all the English detenus, from every part of France, were
assembled; forming perhaps one of the most extraordinary groupes of
character, that had ever been collected in the same spot. There were
many highly respectable, and exemplary persons; some of whom had been
travelling in France for their pleasure, some for the purpose of
educating their children, and some for economy. There were others, whose
sole object was curiosity, or dissipation. There were many skilful
artificers, who had brought their talent to a French market, and were
engaged in setting up manufactures, that might rival or surpass their
own country. There were many, who from seditious conduct, and republican
principles, had found it necessary to take shelter in France. There were
fraudulent bankrupts, and broken tradesmen. There were many who had fled
from their creditors, and even some who had fled from the gallows. With
this motley assemblage the prisoners of war were involved, enveloped in
one measure, subject to the same proscription, and the same parole. The
amalgamation was not very favourable to the latter, particularly the
younger branches of the service. Much good was done, and some striking
instances of conduct highly honourable to Great Britain occurred; but
all know the influence of bad example, and how easily it captivates the
unwary. This very soon became evident. Gaming houses were set up by the
French government’s authority, and a notice was stuck up against the
door, that “They were exclusively for the English; and that the French
were forbidden to frequent them.”

Captain Brenton received a letter early in January from one of the
prisoners at Charlemont, informing him of the situation to which they
were again reduced, and imploring him to visit them if possible. He
immediately waited upon the General commanding at Verdun, and requested
and obtained permission, on condition that he would take a gens d’armes
with him in the carriage, and consider himself for the time in his
custody. To this he readily agreed, and proceeded to Givet, through
Stenay, Sedan, Rocroy, and the Ardennes. On reaching the place he
immediately went to Charlemont, and found that the statement he had
received was not in the least exaggerated. It was a complete recurrence
of the worst days, and all was to be done over again. It is but justice
however to the French Military Authority to say, that every facility was
given to Captain Brenton for the purpose of carrying out the object of
his journey. The barracks, very spacious buildings on the banks of the
Meuse, were now ready. The rooms were large, and capable of containing
twenty men in each: and the following letter from Captain Brenton to the
Transport Board, will best explain the measures taken for the comfort of
the prisoners.

                                         “VERDUN, JANUARY 25, 1804.


    “The British seamen, prisoners of war, having been sent
    to Charlemont, in the department of Ardennes, I judged it
    necessary to apply to the French government for permission to
    go there, that I might see them properly clothed, and supplied
    with what might be indispensibly necessary for their comfort.
    This indulgence was instantly granted, and I have just returned
    from thence. I beg leave to lay before you an account of the
    measures, which I have thought proper to take for the present,
    until I receive your orders for my future guidance. The
    prisoners are allowed, by the French government, three sols per
    day, one pound and a half of bread, a bundle of straw, and a
    small quantity of wood. The latter is by no means sufficient to
    dress their victuals, and a part of it has always been stopped
    to pay for the hire of kettles to dress their meat, and earthen
    pans to put it in when cooked.

    “Upon my arrival at Charlemont, I found orders had been
    received there for the prisoners to be removed to the great
    barracks at Givet, upon the banks of the Meuse, in a healthy
    good situation. They are divided into rooms containing twenty
    men each, with brick floors. The rooms are however comfortable,
    spacious, well shaped, perfectly clean, with a good chimney in
    each. As no furniture of any kind is allowed them, I have hired
    ten bedsteads for each room. The bedstead with a palliasse
    is sufficient for two men. For the bedstead and palliasse
    I pay ten sols each per month. The prisoners are allowed a
    blanket by the French government, in addition to which I have
    furnished them with others, as I stated in my letter of the
    first. I considered this arrangement as better than purchasing
    bedding, which would create a great expense; and in the event
    of the depôt being changed, be impossible to carry. In order
    to prevent the stoppage taking place in the quantity of fuel,
    I have also hired a kettle, jug, and two earthen pans for
    each room, which costs thirty sols a month. Well aware that
    by putting any sum into the hands of the seamen, it might, in
    many instances, occasion intoxication and improper conduct;
    and that by supplying clothing only, without adding to their
    allowance of provisions, I should have defeated his Majesty’s
    most gracious intentions of succouring his distressed subjects,
    as their clothes would have been sold to supply their wants; I
    have judged it necessary, till I have received your directions,
    to continue their daily allowance, as mentioned in my last,
    viz. six sols to the people belonging to his Majesty’s vessels
    and packets; four sols to those belonging to merchants’
    service; and three sols to boys. I have contracted with a
    butcher at Givet, to supply them with half a pound of good meat
    a day, at two sous per pound below the market price, which is
    brought to them every morning at nine o’clock, and distributed
    to the several rooms. The chiefs of the several rooms
    receive the payment due to their companions, from the French
    government, a certain part of which is appropriated to the
    purchase of vegetables, and the remainder distributed for the
    purpose of supplying their inferior wants. I have directed that
    the care of their clothes should be indispensibly necessary to
    their receiving a continuation of indulgence; that they should
    be regularly mustered every week; and that whosoever shall
    be found deficient, his allowance shall be stopped until the
    article missing can be purchased and committed to his charge.

    “In order to insure obedience to these regulations, regularity
    in the payment, and good order in general, I have placed Mr.
    W. T. Bradshaw, acting clerk of the Minerve, a young man of
    excellent character, as superintendent, who will pay particular
    attention to the comfort and good order of the people, and
    have allowed him, until I can receive your directions on
    the subject, two shillings per day, and sixpence per league
    travelling expences from Verdun to Charlemont, as he belonged
    to this depôt, until removed by my application.

    “I feel it a pleasing duty to say, that the prisoners are
    treated with the utmost kindness and attention by the French
    officer, charged with their superintendence; from whom I have
    received every possible assistance, and indulgence, in the
    performance of my duty; and it is with the most heartfelt
    satisfaction, I can state, that his Majesty’s most gracious
    bounty has been attended with the happiest effects; and that I
    left my countrymen on the 16th instant, cheerful, contented,
    and grateful in the highest degree.

    “Upon my return to Verdun I found that Captain Gower and his
    officers had arrived there. Captain Gower, wishing to see the
    wants of his own ship’s company supplied, immediately set out
    for Valenciennes, where they are. I have in consequence given
    him a letter of credit on Messrs. Peregaux for £400 for the

    “We have a depôt here of nearly one hundred men, provided
    for, as those at Givet; there is also a depôt of prisoners
    at Bitche, who have as yet received very little assistance,
    for which purpose I mean to set out for that place on the
    30th instant, having procured permission. I have also clothed
    fifty men, left in the hospital at Phalsbourg, through the
    assistance of the municipality. The clothes are of a higher
    price than those I have purchased, but at the same time of a
    much better quality, as I have observed by some of the people
    passing through this place, on their way to Givet, the prices
    vary very much at the different places. I have endeavoured to
    unite comfort with economy. I beg leave to annex the different
    prices. There are here a few commissioned and petty officers,
    who have been passed from Toulon, and having had no opportunity
    of procuring supplies from England, are consequently for
    the moment in great distress. I flatter myself that I have
    only anticipated your wishes, in giving to each a small sum
    on account of their pay, viz. to a lieutenant £10, and to a
    midshipman £5. I must request you will be pleased to grant me
    a further supply of money, as what now remains, must in a few
    weeks be exhausted.

    “Having met with ten masters of merchantmen in the forest of
    Ardenne, on their way to Verdun, totally destitute of money,
    having only three sols a day, and in the most wretched apparel,
    I gave to each of them a small sum of money for their present
    necessities, amounting to forty-four livres and four sols;
    and since my return to Verdun, have extended the like aid to
    several other masters in the same predicament. There is a
    number of men to whom such assistance would be highly useful,
    and who I really believe do not possess the means of procuring
    relief for themselves; but as they are allowed twenty-nine
    livres per month by the French government, I could not take
    upon myself to act in their favour, without your instructions
    for that purpose.—I have, &c. &c.

                                        (SIGNED) “JAHLEEL BRENTON.”

Captain Brenton says, “On my return to Verdun, I found dissipation and
extravagance the order of the day. The gaming tables were in full career,
and frequented by the greater part of the prisoners, who could collect a
stake whereby to try their fortune. The result was, as might have been
expected, extensive misery and wretchedness, with many acts of gross
misconduct. The studies of the young people were greatly interrupted, and
a gloomy prospect presented itself for the remainder of the captivity.”
On another occasion, it appears to have been on a visit to the depôts
and hospitals of Bitche, Captain Brenton says, “I set off on the day
appointed, visiting on my way the hospitals of Metz, Nancy, Luneville,
Blemont and Phalsbourg, in each of which I found many English prisoners.
I was accompanied in this journey by the Rev. Lancelot Charles Lee, an
English Clergyman, who having been travelling in France, at the period
of the war breaking out, was included in the general arrest, and sent
to Verdun. This gentleman, who devoted all his time and property to
the relief of his fellow sufferers, volunteered accompanying me, in
the expectation of finding many of his fellow detenus in the different
prisons and hospitals, we were likely to visit; nor was he disappointed;
for many were found, and all were relieved to the utmost extent of his
power. The society of this amiable man was a source of much enjoyment
to me; and the foundation of a friendship was laid at this time, which
lasted during the remainder of Mr. Lee’s life.” He died at his living
near Oxford in the year 1842 or 1843. A singular instance of the ability
of the persons employed in the charge of prisoners, and their fitness
for the office they had to fill, occurred upon the occasion of their
journey. “The gens d’armes who had been sent with me to Givet, upon my
first visit there, appeared very anxious to learn English; enquiring the
name of every article which presented itself in that language, and making
awkward attempts to pronounce it. He at the same time gave some not
obscure hints, as to his feelings respecting the situation of prisoners;
shewing that he considered those who had left families at home, as almost
justified, in any effort they might make to effect their escape. This
at once put me on my guard, as to the treachery I might expect from my
companion, if I were to give him the slightest advantage, even in common
conversation; and I consequently avoided the subject of the prisoners
with the greatest care, keeping my escort at as great a distance as
circumstances would admit. But as it was customary for all prisoners who
were placed under the particular custody of gens d’armes to admit them
to their table; a custom I felt obliged to follow, as much of the good
I hoped to do for the prisoners, would depend on my being on friendly
terms with this man. This rendered my situation the more dangerous. The
journey however was performed, and no effort made by the gens d’armes at
mischief. On my next journey I was told that the same guard would attend
me. He persevered in his apparent efforts to pick up a little English.
Convinced as Mr. Lee and myself were of this man’s utter ignorance
of the English language, we felt under no restraint before him, but
indulged ourselves in talking freely upon every subject which presented
itself. The French Government, the first Consul, the treatment of the
prisoners, and even the conduct of this man himself, whose gluttony, and
egregious vanity, and boasting, made him a very prominent subject for
remark, and ridicule, were all very freely handled; but all this passed
before him without producing the slightest effect upon the muscles of his
countenance; and yet upon our return to Verdun, it was discovered that
this very man spoke English as well as French; and had been five years
in the Irish Brigade under General Stack, in the French service. This
information was given to me by the General himself. That no mischief was
done by this person, can only be accounted for, on the supposition, that
the object of his espionage was to detect, if possible, the existence of
any plan of importance, either respecting the escape of prisoners, or as
connected with some of the diplomatic secrets at that time carried on
by Mr. Drake, at Munich, whom Buonaparte considered as involved in the
conspiracies of Georges, and his accomplices. Nothing having transpired
that could have been brought to bear upon this subject, silence was
imposed upon the spy, on every other point, as no good could result from
the disclosure.

“Whilst changing horses on the road to Givet, a beggar came to the
carriage to whom I gave a sol; which my companion, the gens d’armes,
observing, said, ‘Monsieur, voila un de mes defants. Je suis trop
charitable. Je ne vois jamais la misère, sans que les larmes me viennent
aux yeux.’ None were however observable on this occasion, nor did he
give any other testimony of his being ‘trop charitable.’ On our arriving
in the evening at Rocroix, where we were to sleep, another gens d’armes
presented himself, who being a brother Brigadier to my escort, was
invited to join the dinner party; and the prowess of the French troops
became naturally a subject of conversation. The charitable gens d’armes
then observed to me, ‘Ah, Monsieur, voila un autre de mes defants.
Je suis, trop brave o si vous pourriez me voir marcher contre une
redonte—ah, vraiment c’est une chose a voir.’

“On our arrival at Phalsbourg we found nearly fifty men still in the
hospital, of those who had been left there on the breaking up of the
depôt in December; and it is but justice to that worthy man, Monsieur
Parmentier, the mayor, (whose kindness to the prisoners I before
mentioned) to say, that it is impossible any people could have been
treated with more kindness, and real benevolence, than these people were;
much praise is also due to M. Geville, the surgeon of the hospital. I
mentioned in my official letter to the Transport Board, the conduct of
M. Parmentier, and stated that he had a relation, M. Leopold Liot, who
had been taken prisoner at St. Domingo; and requested that he might be
liberated, as an expression of gratitude to M. Parmentier, and I have
the impression on my mind that this was granted. From Phalsbourg we
proceeded to Bitche, where we found forty men confined in a souterrain.
These were generally persons who had been detected in an attempt to make
their escape, and were sent here as a punishment, and at the same time
for greater security. On our return we visited Nancy and Metz, relieving
the prisoners in the hospitals at those places; and reached Verdun in the
early part of March.”

Soon after the prisoners had assembled at Verdun, the Rev. Robert B.
Wolfe, a Clergyman of the Church of England, who was a detenu, arrested
while living at Fontainbleau, made an offer of his services for the
performance of divine worship. Applications were in consequence made to
the General, for the use of a Government building, then vacant, which
had formerly been the chapel of a convent: and this being granted,
the service was regularly performed every Sunday, to a congregation
consisting of by far the greater part of the prisoners, and amounting to
more than one hundred persons. Mr. Wolfe received frequent assistance
from the Rev. W. Gordon, another very amiable young clergyman, amongst
the detenus. A school was at the same time established for the children
of the prisoners, and for the boys taken in the vessels of war, and
merchant vessels; all of whom under a certain age had been permitted
to remain at Verdun. These boys having been clothed uniformly in neat
jackets and trowsers, were marched to church on the Sunday, but the
display proved to be unwise. The French authorities took umbrage at
it, and an order was soon received from Paris, that the whole of these
children should be sent off to Sarrelibre, to a new depôt which had been
formed at that place, to the great detriment of these young people,
indeed it may be said, to the utter ruin of many.

In the course of the spring a very great increase had been made in the
number of prisoners. The officers of several ships of war, of Indiamen,
and other vessels, had arrived, as well as detenus from the more remote
parts of France. Verdun began to lose the appearance of a French town;
and many shops with English signs and English designations were seen,
such as “Anderson, grocer and tea dealer, from London; Stuckey, tailor
and ladies’ habit maker, from London, &c. &c.” The Rue Moselle, the
principal street in Verdun, got the nom de guerre of Bond Street, and
was often called by the French themselves, “Bon Street.” Races were
established, and a race course hired, and fitted up, near the village of
Charni, with distance posts, stewards’ box, &c. &c. A pack of beagles
was procured, which was hunted regularly three times a week, and became
a very favourite amusement. A motley groupe followed them, consisting
entirely of prisoners, with horses of every description; sometimes as
many as forty horsemen being seen in the field; but it was an amusement
eagerly followed up, and seemed to break the monotony of the prisoner’s
life, being something to look forward to.

The General in allowing the exercise of hunting, granted a Rayon of two
leagues on each side of Verdun; but this was qualified by the necessity
each prisoner was under of signing his name in a book kept for the
purpose in an office at Verdun, twice in the course of the day; viz.,
once between eight and ten in the morning, and again between two and four
in the afternoon. Those who wished to hunt therefore, took care to sign
as early as they could in the morning, and provided they could ensure
returning before four, they felt secure as to their last signature. It
was necessary in consequence that the hunt should begin early, and it
was seldom of long duration. This necessity of appearing twice a day was
felt by the superior officers, who had been taken in arms, as a great
indignity, and forcibly remonstrated against by them in the following


    “We feel it a duty we owe to ourselves, and the rank we hold
    in the British Navy, to remonstrate against the treatment
    we receive as prisoners of war. When under the necessity of
    surrendering the ships we commanded to the arms of the French
    republic, we considered ourselves under its protection. We were
    taken in the performance of our duty, which in all ages, and
    in every part of the world, has been considered as the most
    noble either in public or in private life; that of supporting
    the cause of our country in open and honourable warfare. No
    exertions could save us from captivity under the circumstances
    attending our ships; no honour was consequently lost, and
    misfortune ought to strengthen our claims to hospitality.
    The fate of war has placed us in the hands of the French
    republic, and from it, Sir, we have a right to demand that
    respect, which the customs of all civilized nations accord to
    officers of our rank, who have not forfeited their titles to
    it by improper conduct. Ours has been invariably regulated
    by a sacred attention to the word of honour exacted from us
    upon landing in France, nor can we recollect having given the
    slightest cause of complaint. We are now placed on a level with
    the lowest description of prisoner, and enjoy no distinction
    whatever above them. Notwithstanding we have pledged our honour
    not to leave Verdun without permission, we are ordered to
    present ourselves twice in each day, to verify our keeping it.
    The Captains of the French ships Carrieré, St. Nicholas, and
    Success, taken by the ships we commanded in the late war, can
    testify how differently they were treated whilst our prisoners.

    “You must naturally expect, Sir, that under such circumstances
    we should feel and act as we do in laying a statement of these
    facts before you.

    “We are, Sir, &c.

                                                  E. L. GOWER,
                                                  JAHLEEL BRENTON.”


No answer was returned to this letter; the cause probably was, that it
was referred to the Bureau of the Minister of war, who was charged with
the control of the prisoners, for from the invariable kindness of Mons.
Decrês, the Minister of Marine, there can be but little doubt of his
readiness to attend to so just a complaint. In the course of a few weeks,
however, an indulgence was granted to the officers of rank to sign only
every fifth day, and the same privilege was extended to the principal of
the detenus.

It is proper to mention here a fact, which occurred at this period of
Captain Brenton’s confinement, which is not only interesting in itself,
but which eventually may have led to some important consequences to
him and his associates in captivity. He was visiting at the house of a
French gentleman in Verdun, and was struck by a large picture hanging
up in the room, in which a person strikingly resembling the master of
the house was painted, in the act of giving charity to a ragged little
boy; and on enquiring what the picture was intended to represent, he
received the following affecting little narrative from M. Godard, the
gentleman himself. “During the reign of terror,” he stated that “both
Madame Godard and himself were arrested, and confined in prison, in the
hourly expectation of being sent to the guillotine; while their family,
consisting of six young children, were left totally unprotected. After
some days passed under the most dreadful anxiety, Robespierre having been
put to death, the prisoners were released, and flying to their home found
all their children but one; and after the most indefatigable search, they
could obtain no information respecting him. It was supposed that he must
have perished in some of the conflicts which were of daily occurrence in
Paris; and he was accordingly given up and mourned over as dead. Three
or four years afterwards M. Godard, having business in Holland, went to
Rotterdam, and was accosted in the streets by a boy in rags, begging. The
child’s accent was evidently French, and attracted M. Godard’s notice.
On asking his country, he said that it was France, and that his name
was Romain. And what besides, asked the gentleman with great agitation?
The boy replied, Romain Godard. In fact it was the missing child. The
father’s joy may be easily conceived. He found that the child expecting
to be put to death at Paris, had contrived to join a party going to
Holland, where he had long subsisted upon charity. He was of course soon
returned to the bosom of his family, and received as one from the dead by
his afflicted mother.”

On Captain Brenton’s continuing his enquiries respecting the youth, he
was told that he had been sent out to St. Domingo on employment; and on
that island being evacuated by General Rochambeau, in 1803, Romain had
embarked in a merchant vessel for France; but he was taken on the passage
by an English cruizer; and was at that time actually on board the Sultan,
prison ship, in Portsmouth harbour.

Captain Brenton immediately wrote to the Transport Board, stating all
the circumstances of this most affecting case, and suggesting that as
M. Godard was very much respected at Verdun, the indulgence of his
son’s release might have a happy effect upon the welfare of the British
prisoners in that depôt. The Transport Board immediately obtained the
sanction of the Admiralty to his being liberated; and in a few weeks he
arrived once more in the paternal dwelling.

No comment need be made on this simple but affecting story. It shews how
wonderfully, and yet how mysteriously, the purposes of Providence are
accomplished; but it also shews how various are the opportunities of
doing good, which are placed within the reach of those who are diligent
in seeking for them.

Much real good probably did arise from this conversation. The young
Godard was delivered from a very miserable and protracted captivity, and
his family were made happy by his restoration. But beyond this, we cannot
doubt that a kindly feeling was generated towards the English prisoners
by the interference which led to his release; the bitter feelings which
war has a tendency to produce in hostile nations were mitigated, and an
interchange of kindness must have reminded the parties concerned, that
the real happiness of man is the making others happy.

But while these were the apparent occupations of Captain Brenton, while
he was thus busily employed in relieving the distresses and promoting the
welfare of all around him, there was much passing within his own mind
of which the world knew nothing; and his labours for the good of others
were secretly promoting his own. Light broke in on his own mind, while
he was endeavouring to enlighten others. His work and labour of love
were made the means of awakening his mind to truths which had hitherto
been partially considered and imperfectly felt; and these benevolent
employments which withdrew him from the ordinary dissipations of the
world led him to meditate more deeply and seriously on the real interests
of man, on his own state before God, and his future final prospects.

“At this time,” his private journal says, “I began to reflect seriously
upon my religious opinions. I had indeed long been in the habit of
attending to the form of religion, particularly from the period of my
having served under that exemplary character, Sir James Saumarez. It had
been habitual to me on the approach of danger or battle, to offer up
a mental prayer for support; but upon a more deliberate examination I
came to the conclusion, that _christianity made no part of my religion_;
that it was almost entirely confined to the first sentence in the Prayer
book, ‘When the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness,’ &c. I
had always felt some indefinite purpose of doing this, and of amending
my life; but then it was only done in trying myself by the letter of
the commandment; and when there was not a decided breach of duty, I
felt perfectly satisfied. With regard to the New Testament, it hardly
appeared to me as of any importance; it was seldom read, and less
meditated upon. I was scrupulous in performing a certain round of duties,
in the cold and heartless manner which may be supposed; but they were all
tasks performed in fear, and none in love. The only light which seemed
to break through the thick mist of utter darkness, arose from occasional
glimpses of the working of Divine Providence. I had very long been in
the habit of attributing my successes, and my preservation from danger,
to Omnipotence, and not to second causes; but this is the utmost amount
of religious feeling to which at that period I could lay any claim. The
same merciful and long-suffering Being, who had spared and prospered me,
still continued his divine and wonderful forbearance; and I may have been
made, even under these appalling circumstances of ignorance and error, an
instrument in keeping up among those around me, some faint recollection
of spiritual things, so far at least as shewing the worship of God to be
a duty, if it were lost sight of as a privilege.”

It may be profitable that the reader’s attention should be drawn to
these expressions; and that he should trace the progress of light in
the mind of the subject of this memoir, by considering the way in which
he here viewed and judged himself. That the journal contains a simple
artless narrative of his own experience, must be evident to every one who
reads it. It was designed for the perusal of those who knew him best,
to whom his heart was always open with all its workings, and who were
in consequence capable of interpreting its language, and understanding
its meaning; and that the writer could have wished to impose on them a
notion which did not exist in his own mind, or in any degree to disguise
or exaggerate his own feelings, is impossible to be believed. Still we
must be surprised at hearing the language which he uses concerning his
own state, and in particular the description here given of his religious
feelings. At the period spoken of, he was not only a moral character, but
an exemplary man. The world had not only known him as a distinguished
officer, but had seen him discharging accurately and fully all the
relative duties of society, as a son, as a brother, as a husband, as a
friend. In the circle at Verdun, the humanity and kindness which he had
exhibited towards the poorer prisoners, and the exertions and self-denial
he was submitting to in their service, had probably caused him to be
considered as a model of benevolence and charity; while the regularity
with which he attended to his religious duties, and the efforts which he
made for the moral improvement of the people, led them to regard him as a
man of piety.

We cannot be surprised at this having been the conclusion which was drawn
by others from what was seen; but we may with reason be surprised at
the confession which we read, and at the acknowledgment thus recorded,
by the object of the world’s admiration, that he was at the moment so
far from what they thought him. Some allowance must be made for the
humility with which a man, once awakened to the real state of his heart,
will speak of his own attainments; some further allowance must be
made for the circumstances of dejection under which he first drew up
this memorial; but it still may be expedient to state the causes which
may have occasioned this remarkable difference between the apparent
character, and that which he considered to be the truth, and which
raised him in appearance, so high above that which he knew and felt
to be his real condition. Those who had the advantage of knowing Sir
Jahleel Brenton personally, can bear witness to what may be stated of
the singular amenity of his character. His natural affections were so
strong, his tastes so refined, his manners so gentle, his kindness so
consistent; that much of what the world calls goodness, seemed to grow
up in him spontaneously, and cost him nothing. He was amiable without
an effort, benevolent without reflection; and habitually thinking more
of others than himself, he exhibited from his earliest years much of
that love which is the fulfilling of the law, as a rule of life, without
feeling that love which supersedes the law as a ground of hope. The
active habits of his profession, a high sense of the character that he
was to maintain as a British officer, and that thirst for glory, but too
justly described as the last infirmity of noble minds; conspired to give
vigour and animation to his moral feelings, and to raise him above all
that was base or degrading. To these high toned principles of action,
his early and persevering attachment added delicacy and tenderness of
sentiment; and it is not impossible to trace the effect which these
united and combined circumstances must have had, in producing as fine a
substitute for that, which in reality is the work of grace on the heart,
as can well be conceived. Under the influence of these impressions he
was in the fullest sense what the world thought him. He was excellent in
all social relations; he was brave, kind, generous, and forgiving; but
he was not what he had flattered himself with being, a real Christian.
Acquaintance with himself, the result of leisure, meditation, trial, all
used by the Holy Spirit, and employed for the purpose of awakening his
conscience, and enlightening his mind, enabled him to see the source
from which these qualities proceeded, and thus to understand their real
nature. He then saw, that through life he had been striving to obtain
the favour of man rather than that of God. He saw that the love of men,
and the praise of men had been desired, and not the praise of God. He
felt that he had been touched by the love which his fellow creatures
bore to him, while strange to say, he had been indifferent to the love
which he believed that his Redeemer had evinced towards him. He saw that
his own glory, not the glory of God had been the object of his ambition;
and that though his life had been led in a very different way from that
in which it was spent by others, it had not been lived to God as in
duty it ought to have been. He thus learnt, that that which was highly
esteemed among men, might be an abomination to God; and the twilight of
his former state seemed nothing less than darkness, when compared with
the brightness of the truth which burst on his mind as revealed in the
Gospel. Those qualities which had won him the affections of his family
and his friends, that warm and disinterested benevolence which had made
him the instrument of mercy to so many in distress, were considered in a
very different way, when their principles were analysed, and their real
nature ascertained; and he no doubt was astonished at finding how far it
was possible to go in what seemed to be the ways of God, without having
really known the motives by which he was actuated. Other men less happily
constituted, would have been in less danger of self deception. The evil
that was in them, lay nearer to the surface, and would have germinated
and shewn itself sooner. His danger arose from that which seemed to be
his security; and the man whom all the world was agreeing to admire and
to love, was likely to be lost, because nothing occurred to awaken his
anxiety, or to lead him to suspect himself.

Adverting to the time that the British seamen remained at Epinal, during
the first months of their captivity, from August to the commencement of
December, Captain Brenton says, “Their conduct in general was such as to
procure them the respect of the inhabitants. Some of them remarked to me,
that their town had in the previous war, been made a general depôt for
prisoners; that they had had Austrians, Poles, Russians, and in short
men of all nations in Europe confined there; and that the consequence
was, that the whole district was infested by beggars; but that although
the British seamen were evidently worse off than any who had preceded
them, there was no instance of any of them being seen begging. Another
circumstance very creditable to the British sailor was, that the
inhabitants of Epinal were anxious to get the prisoners to do labouring
work for them; but none accepted this employment without my permission.
I gladly consented to their having such advantage, under one only
restriction, the necessity of which was obvious; that they should not
engage in any of the public works usually performed by French soldiers;
lest having taken the place of these men, the soldiers might be sent
to the army. To these conditions they invariably adhered, in spite of
threats and coercion.”

On the establishment of the depôt at Sarrelibre, Captain Brenton says, “I
applied for permission to visit the prisoners who were confined there,
but my request was refused. An evident feeling of jealousy began at
this time to manifest itself, with regard to the influence the British
officers exercised over their countrymen; and all communication was
forbidden between them. In the course of the autumn I obtained permission
to reside at Etain, a little village about twelve miles from Verdun.
General Abercrombie was my companion, he was the son of Sir Ralph, and
had been arrested at Calais, just as he was stepping into the packet
for England, previous to the commencement of the war. We were enjoying
with great relish this little change in our captivity, when a detenu
of rank thought proper to make his escape; and having succeeded, he
wrote to the French government, defending his conduct; and adding that
no detenu considered his promise to be binding. In consequence of this
conduct all the prisoners were instantly recalled to Verdun. The gates
were shut, and all passports taken away; nor could the prisoners under
such circumstances justly complain of the severity exercised towards
them. The officers taken in active service again remonstrated, but for a
time without effect. The measures of restraint however were soon again
relaxed, and they returned to their former state.”

Relative to this period the journal supplies the following entry, as
made from a paper left by Mrs. Brenton. July 3rd, 1804, she writes,
“Grant O most merciful God, that my beloved husband may this day be
reflecting with gratitude on his escape from the perils of this day year,
and returning humble thanks to Thee for his preservation. Continue to
protect him, O heavenly Father, and if it be according to Thy all wise
decree, grant that he may soon return in health and safety.” To this
simple and touching prayer the husband has subjoined, “I earnestly hope
that I did fulfil your beloved mother’s most pious wishes in offering
up on that day, my grateful recollection and praises to the Almighty,
for the protection He had been pleased to vouchsafe me on the day of my
capture.” I have for many years endeavoured to retain the impression upon
my mind, by making it a part of my daily prayer: “O Almighty God, father
of all mercies,” he adds, “from my earliest infancy Thou hast blessed
and protected me. Thou didst bless my dearest parents, and make us their
children, the instruments of their welfare. O Lord, in the hour of
danger, and in the day of battle, on the bed of sickness, how constantly
Thou hast protected me. O merciful Creator, Thou hast preserved unto me
for a series of years, the greatest of earthly blessings, a virtuous and
affectionate wife. Thou hast supported her in the hour of trial, Thou
hast enabled her to bear her afflictions. Thou hast softened the miseries
of my captivity, by the protection of my wife and child.” “Although (he
continues) we had not at this time been united much more than two years,
I considered that my wife had been preserved unto me, from the earliest
period of my fixing my affections upon her, more than thirteen years
previous to our marriage.” On Sunday, 29th July, 1804, Mrs. Brenton
writes again; “I have had the pleasure of conversing with Mr. Forbes and
his family about my invaluable husband, and listened with delight to the
praises bestowed upon him. Continue to preserve him, O merciful God, if
it be according to Thy divine will, and Thy all wise decrees. Grant that
he may soon return in health and safety: this I beg through Jesus Christ
our Lord.”

Captain Brenton remarks, “Mr. Forbes had been detained as a prisoner in
France, with many more of his countrymen, whilst on his travels; but he
was liberated at the instance of Sir Joseph Bankes, to whom he was known.
Buonaparte wishing to be considered the friend and patron of literary
men, and this gentleman being known to have collected materials for a
very considerable work upon India, which has since been published, he
was glad to take the opportunity of evincing his respect for science by
granting to Sir Joseph Bankes, and in favour of a man of letters, what he
would have yielded to no other application.

“Mr. Forbes was a worthy pious man, who took much delight in relieving
the sufferings of his poor countrymen, who were in captivity with him.
Upon his liberation, we formed the most sanguine hopes that our own
would speedily follow. He shewed great kindness in charging himself with
letters and presents for our dear friends in England: and promised to
deliver them in person; a promise which he most punctually performed. It
was indeed a great source of comfort to both of us, that this opportunity
of corresponding was granted. Under any other circumstances, I should be
guilty of unpardonable vanity, in transcribing the observations contained
in the memoranda of this day; but, you my beloved children will read
them, as coming warm from the heart of your angelic mother; dictated by
that ardent affection, which was, if possible, increasing in both of
us, during the whole of our union.” “A considerable period,” he adds,
“elapses from this time, in which I can find no journal. It may have
been lost, as in many other instances; or probably was not written, from
the state of suspense in which we were constantly kept on both sides
respecting an exchange. Alternate hopes and fears were excited by the
rumours of the day. I had carried on a correspondence upon the subject,
with the Minister of Marine, M. Decrés, who expressed in his letter a
wish for the establishment of a cartel, which seemed to be retarded, more
from punctilio than from any real obstacle. Buonaparte himself appeared
by this time to have considered the measure of making hostages of the
travellers, in a much less advantageous light than it had presented
itself to his mind at first.

“Under these impressions I indulged the hope that were any considerable
effort made in England, by persons in power, it might be attended with
success. I therefore urged my beloved Isabella to write to the first
Lord of the Admiralty in her own name, and her own words, and to urge a
further official application. This she did, doubtful, and as it appears
almost despairing of success, but anxious to leave nothing undone, which
it was in her power to do, particularly when it had been suggested by me.
But in this, as in every other act of her exemplary life, she recommended
her cause to the power and protection of the Almighty, and with the most
delightful resignation, placed all her hopes in him. The application was
unavailing. Buonaparte tenaciously insisted upon the Hanoverians, and
detenus being first exchanged, against the French prisoners taken in the
beginning of the war. This sacrifice we could not expect our country
to make, and the preservation of its dignity, even reconciled us to a
further captivity. We felt, and appreciated the motive.”

Referring to the memoranda of October the 29th, 1804, Captain Brenton
writes, “The apprehensions of our kind friends made them too solicitous
respecting the consequences, to allow them to excite any sanguine
hopes on either side. They rather seemed to recommend resignation, and
acquiescence in what seemed to be unavoidable; and my hopes by this
time had entirely vanished. From the tenor of my last letter from the
Minister of Marine, I had been convinced that all prospect of an exchange
of prisoners, had now become more remote than ever; and I immediately
turned my thoughts towards making my captivity as light as possible, by
associating with it what was dearest to me in the world. I determined
to call for my beloved wife and child, and to take advantage of those
blessings, which a most bountiful Providence had bestowed upon me; to
enjoy them with gratitude; to resign myself to the Divine will; and to
remain in peaceful expectation of the hour, when God might be pleased
to liberate me. This plan had often suggested itself to me, but I
deferred acting upon it, until I should be justified by having made
every effort to procure my liberty. Having failed in these, M. Decrés,
the Minister, had the kindness to forward my wishes to the utmost of
his power, by sending me not only a passport for my family, but letters
of recommendation for my beloved wife to wait her arrival at Rotterdam.
Having once allowed such a prospect of happiness to present itself to my
mind, I no longer gave captivity a moment’s consideration; but counted
the days to the return of spring, when I might recommend my darling
Isabella to begin her journey. I had travelled sufficiently as a prisoner
to know that there was neither risk nor difficulty in the undertaking;
and I depended upon that benignant and merciful Power, who had so often
supported us, to continue His gracious mercy and protection to my beloved
wife and child.”

That this meeting between the husband and the wife who came to share his
captivity, was happily effected, is recorded in the note, affixed to the
memoranda of New Year’s Day, 1806. “We were permitted to meet early in
this year; and to pass it, I may almost say, in perfect happiness. Such
at least it appears, although we had great trials in consequence of the
ill health of our darling child, as well as from my own indisposition.
I was attacked, in the course of the summer with a complaint upon the
lungs, which to me wore a most threatening aspect. I however concealed
from my dear suffering and anxious companion the most serious symptom,
which was spitting of blood; and I believe she never knew it for many
years afterwards, nor until I had regained perfect health, and till
her’s, still more valuable to me, was menaced by the same alarming
indication. I then gladly told my secret, as well to comfort my beloved
invalide, as to excite my own hopes. Our dear boy also was attacked,
whilst travelling with us towards Tours, with a dropsical complaint,
which for some time threatened his life. How little did I think that I
should have lived to weep over them both. In one short month they were
both taken from me.”

Captain Brenton has left some details of his wife’s journey, which
as being made through an enemy’s country, under such very peculiar
circumstances, are not without interest. He says, “The vigour and energy
of mind displayed by my angelic wife, were the theme of praise to all
who knew her. Naturally timid and fond of retirement, her habits of life
were but ill adapted to the exertion and resolution, which this journey,
performed under such formidable circumstances, required. But prompted by
her affection for me, and by a sense of duty, she placed herself under
the care of her Divine Protector, and was immovably fixed in her purpose,
incapable of being deterred by any consideration of personal risk or
suffering. Even in her anxiety for her beloved child, she was supported
by the same sense of piety, and confidence in the blessing of God upon
her virtuous efforts; and the blessing of God attended her through life
in all she did.

“My brother was at this time commanding the Amarantha, and most
providentially lying at the Nore. He had been alarmingly ill, and was
still in a state of great weakness; but he was all activity for the
comfort and assistance of my beloved Isabella; who with her boy, and your
dear aunt Mary, had embarked in a small Prussian vessel, which was hired
to take them to Rotterdam. There they were most kindly received by the
respectable persons to whom letters of credit and introduction had been
sent, and they there also received assurances of my welfare. In your
dear Aunt Mary your beloved mother had a most affectionate and active
companion, as her knowledge of the French language, and the energy of
her mind rendered her peculiarly well qualified for such a journey. The
fears that had been excited in England, at the necessity of travelling
through hostile armies, vanished entirely as the ladies proceeded; and
they found the road even better protected in consequence of the vicinity
of the great French army, and of the number of gens d’armes patrolling
in every direction to prevent desertion. Let this part of your beloved
mother’s character, which stimulated her to so much exertion, in what she
considered the cause of affection and duty, be treasured up, my darling
children, for your imitation. Pay a due regard to the advice of your
friends, but at the same time bring your own judgment into exercise.
Compare the probabilities which may threaten you, with the nature of the
duty you have to perform. Pray ardently to God that He would be pleased
to direct you in your decision; and then, should the object you have
in view appear to be sanctioned by duty, let no circumstance arising
from other considerations shake your resolution. ‘Reflect, ponder,
and resolve.’ Let this be your motto, and be inflexible in every good
purpose. How much happiness should we mutually have lost, had my beloved
companion been deviated from her purpose, by an apprehension of danger,
which she afterwards found did not exist, or had she possessed less
confidence in her Heavenly Protector. In reviewing the different events
of our lives, we shall always find cause to regret having allowed the
consideration of present convenience and comfort to preponderate, against
what conscience had placed before us, as a duty. The same principle of
resolution which your exemplary mother evinced, in the exercise of her
affection for me, would on greater occasions lead to the most heroic,
or the most splendid actions. These always, and only originate in right
motives, inflexibly acted upon, to the utter exclusion of all minor
considerations. But at the same time, you must never forget, that the
object thus unremittingly pursued, should be paramount to all others, and
be sanctioned by religious, as well as moral obligations.”

I regret that the only memoranda I have found of this interesting
journey, are merely the names of the places, with the period of arriving
at each. They are as follows:—

    “Thursday, April 16th, sailed from England for Holland.

    “18th, arrived at Rotterdam after a passage of fifty-two hours.

    “20th, left Rotterdam, took a carriage from thence to Antwerp,
    crossed to Williamstadt, slept at Breda.

    “21st, arrived at Antwerp.

    “22nd, arrived at Brussels.

    “23rd, left Brussels for Namur.

    “24th, arrived at Namur.

    “25th, left Dinant, passed through Givet, and the forest of
    Ardennes, and arrived at Mezieres. Friday, April 26th, hired
    another carriage to take us to Sedan, or to Verdun, in case
    of not meeting my beloved Brenton; but heaven allowed me to
    enjoy that supreme happiness, and I thought no more of the
    fatigues of the journey. Grant, O most merciful God, that I may
    never cease to feel a proper sense of Thy goodness, however
    impossible it must be for me to express half the gratitude I
    feel for Thy continued proofs of mercy, and favour, to myself
    and all dear to me.

    “Saturday, the 27th, slept at Stenay, and arrived at Verdun on
    Sunday the 28th.”

These memoranda may appear unimportant, and irrelevant to the subject
of our present biography; but yet they seem to justify Captain Brenton
in having planned a journey, which, by those less deeply interested,
might have been condemned as being too full of peril, and involving
too much hardship to the object of his affection. His wife’s example
may also serve to animate some drooping spirits placed under similar
circumstances; and if it be true, as no member of the Church of England
will deny, that matrimony was ordained for the mutual society, help, and
comfort, that the one ought to have of the other, both in prosperity
and adversity; we cannot but feel that the purposes of this merciful
ordinance were singularly realised in the case before us. His own
grateful reflections on the subject, are thus further expressed. “Our
meeting was indeed one of pure, and unmixed felicity. My beloved wife
forgot in a moment all her fatigue, and anxieties; and the recollection
of captivity itself was instantly banished from my thoughts, or if I
remembered it at all, it was as a blessing which brought me the happiness
I enjoyed. I had been long impatiently expecting this joyful event, and
the evening before had received a letter from my beloved wife, informing
me of her arrival at Rotterdam. I was then living in the little village
of Clermont, a few miles distant from Verdun. On this notice reaching
me, I requested permission of the General to go as far as Sedan, to meet
my family, which was kindly granted. On my road I was most anxiously
examining every carriage as it approached. At sunset I had got within
three miles of Sedan, and had begun to give up all hopes of seeing the
object of my wishes; when I espied a travelling carriage, I felt a
presentiment that it contained all I held most dear in the world, and was
soon convinced of it.

“We only stopped one day at Verdun, and then removed to Clermont, where
we passed some days in perfect happiness. The distance however from
Clermont to Verdun was too great for convenience, as the village afforded
but few requisites for a family, and I was also frequently called upon
in behalf of the prisoners. I therefore procured a lodging at Charni,
a little village on the Meuse, about two miles from Verdun, in a most
commodious house, with a very respectable family.” Of the events of
the following year, which was passed in captivity, we can only find
any account by referring to the memoranda and notes, out of which the
following extracts have been taken.

In reference to Charni, Captain Brenton says, “Our retreat here was a
most delightful one, in a spacious mansion belonging to Monsieur de
Beaumont, who was of an ancient and noble family. We had an excellent
suite of apartments, and the use of an extensive garden. The season of
the year was particularly delightful; and every thing for some time
conspired to make us enjoy as much felicity as human nature is capable of
doing. If I had not entirely forgotten that I was a prisoner, I ceased to
feel the pressure of captivity, and was resigned to my lot. An anxious
thought of being deprived of the active exercise of my profession would
now and then intrude, but it was soon dispelled in the recollection of
the happiness I enjoyed. This however received some interruption a short
time afterwards, from my health being seriously attacked. I had caught a
cold, which in the month of June brought on spitting of blood. I hope the
precaution I took of concealing this alarming symptom from my beloved
companion, rendered her apprehensions less dreadful to her; but I allowed
my own mind to be extremely depressed. I considered a rapid decline to
be the inevitable consequence; and the thoughts of my dear and helpless
family, left unprovided for, and unprotected, in a foreign land, and in
an enemy’s country, preyed upon my spirits with a force that I cannot
describe. It is unknown to all but myself, how many hours of dreadful
anxiety I suffered on this account, and indeed on my own; for these
very feelings prove that I was not prepared for death; that I was but a
nominal christian. So blind, and worldly minded I was, that I derived
no comfort from the assurances given in every part of scripture, of the
mercy and goodness of God. I could not then comfort myself by resigning
all I held dear into the hands of that Bountiful Creator, who gave them
to me. I felt as though their happiness depended upon my sole exertions;
and that without me they must be destitute. It is this way of thinking,
this practical want of faith, disguise it as we may, which is the cause
of all our anxiety, and even of all the misery we meet with. It could
not exist, were we as sensible, as we persuade ourselves we are, of the
Omnipotence, and the Omnipresence, and the merciful goodness of God.
Often have I tried to reason myself into this firm trust and confidence
in the Divine mercy, but the sick bed, the dear disconsolate widow, and
the unprotected infant were objects, which with all my efforts, I could
not look beyond; and yet, I should have thought the greatest injustice
had been done me, if any one at the time had called in question the
sincerity of my religious profession. I felt as though I were living
in a general, if not a constant practice of its duties. How little do
we know ourselves, till the day of trial comes. I could read treatises
upon patience and resignation with the most cordial concurrence in every
argument; and even wonder that they were not universally efficacious; but
when called upon to practice what they prescribed, I found I was indeed
living without God in the world. I did not dare to impart these wretched
feelings to my beloved and inestimable wife, in the apprehension of
affecting her, and thus I lost the balm of her affectionate counsels.

“The attack which I experienced, would, I am now convinced, have been of
little importance, but for the effect I allowed it to have upon my mind.
This aggravated its force, and it soon assumed so serious an appearance
as threatened to realize all my apprehensions. What a lesson is this for
you, my dear children, to teach you the folly as well as the wickedness
of worldly anxiety. How often do the evils we dread never reach us;
whilst the blow which humbles us comes from a quarter where we least
expected it. Even the events, which seem to menace us with some serious
calamity, frequently become instruments of good to us. Nearly thirteen
years have now elapsed since this period; and instead of the evil I
foreboded, my health has probably been strengthened and preserved, by the
care and precaution which that illness rendered necessary. It was the
cause of my removing from Verdun to the interior of France, to the most
delightful climate, where I soon nearly recovered. All my apprehensions
were groundless. I was mercifully preserved to those so justly dear to
me, and preserved by a gracious Providence to be the humble instrument of
their future welfare.

“It was impossible to enjoy greater advantages than we possessed, in the
retired village of Charni, during the summer months; and I avoided the
bustle and constant interruption, which I met with at Verdun from various
quarters. We had some excellent and valuable friends, in whose society we
found much gratification; their habits were similar to our own; with them
we lived on terms of the kindest intimacy, and avoided, by having this
residence, the necessity of keeping up an intercourse with others who
found enjoyment only in society of a very different description. As the
autumn however approached, we thought it necessary to remove into Verdun,
as Charni was too low for a winter residence. We continued to live in
retirement, as my health was too weak to admit of my entering into
evening parties, and it was with great difficulty that I could prevail
upon my beloved and excellent companion to leave me only for a few hours.
Even the change from Charni to Verdun was beneficial to me. The progress
I made towards recovery was very apparent, and my mind being consequently
relieved, I was in a great measure restored to happiness. The mercy and
goodness of God has visited me through life, in a very remarkable manner;
and this ought to excite the warmest gratitude, and the most entire
resignation to all He should in future require of me.

“One other circumstance at this period occurred most providentially,
which relieved me from much anxiety. My pecuniary circumstances had
always been far from affluent. The loss of my ship just fitted out; the
necessity of keeping two houses; and the other unavoidable expences of
my situation, had exhausted the little which I had made in the late war.
At this time I received two sums most opportunely, namely £468, prize
money from Genoa, of which I had given up all hopes; and nearly £400
as a remuneration from the Admiralty for the charge I had taken of the
prisoners. This materially increased our comforts; but the circumstance
derived its chief value in the estimation of my angelic wife, from the
effect it produced in tranquillizing my mind. To please and obey her God;
to share in, or contribute to the happiness of those dear to her, was the
great and invariable object of her life. She thus gave additional charms
to prosperity itself, by the delight she took in the joy of all around
her: but how often have I felt her sweet influence of still greater value
in cheering me under the pressure of adversity.

“In order to re-establish my health entirely, I was anxious to remove
into a milder climate; I was also very desirous of procuring a residence
for my family, at a distance from the general depôt, where much of the
society was very exceptionable, and where we were constantly unsettled,
by the multitude of reports daily in circulation, suggested without any
foundation by the hopes and fears of our fellow prisoners, or from mere
idleness. With this view I solicited permission to pass the winter at
Tours. The Minister of Marine, M. Decrés again stood my friend, and
after some delay, in consequence of Buonaparte being at Berlin, he at
length succeeded, and informed me in the kindest manner of my request
being granted. We made our preparations with almost as much pleasure, as
though it had been for a journey to England. I employed myself during the
remainder of our stay at Verdun, in concluding all my affairs relative
to the prisoners at that depôt. The French government had recently
forbidden any further supplies being given to the British prisoners, by
their own country; declaring that each nation should support its own
prisoners. The fact was, that whilst the Englishmen were so liberally
provided for by their own government, there was no hope of inducing
them to desert; and all intrigues carried on by the French to seduce
them from their allegiance proved fruitless. In consequence of this new
arrangement, my presence was no longer necessary at Verdun. I settled
all my affairs relative to the prisoners, and this was rendered less
complicated by an order recently issued by the French Government, that
all supplies sent from England to her people should cease, and each
nation support their own prisoners. I had nothing therefore now to do,
but to close my accounts previous to my departure. The situation of
the prisoners of inferior rank, became in consequence wretched in the
extreme. They were now deprived of the comforts to which they had been
accustomed; they neither saw nor heard of their officers; they knew
nothing of the continued solicitude of their truly paternal government,
and of the efforts it had made in their behalf. All hopes of exchange
had died away, and complete despair seemed to have taken possession
of the sufferers. Numbers attempted to make their escape, and some
few succeeded; but many were intercepted and cruelly treated; whilst
additional measures of severity were adopted to prevent further attempts
at desertion. All who were taken at this time, were sent off, as close
prisoners to the fortress of Bitche, and confined in the dark and
gloomy souterrain. It was at this time that Mr. Wolfe, finding that the
principal objects of his solicitude, the children, were all removed to
the distant depôts, and that none would be permitted to reside at Verdun,
came forward in a manner most creditable to himself, as a volunteer to
reside at Givet, a depôt in which there were twelve hundred prisoners,
but no officers. He was aware that he must deprive his family of all
the advantages they possessed of comfort and society at Verdun, and
subject them to many privations; but this excellent man did not hesitate,
whatever sufferings or inconveniences might await him, to put in
execution a resolution which was made in the hope of being instrumental
to the temporal and eternal welfare of his suffering countrymen.”



The name of Mr. Wolfe having been thus introduced, I feel it due to
the memory of that faithful and devoted man, to leave for a moment the
subject of the present memoir, in order to turn to the labours in which
he was associated, and to a work which he voluntarily undertook, in
conjunction with his friend, Captain Brenton. Mr. Wolfe, as has been
stated, was arrested at Fontainbleau, where he was making a short stay
in a tour subsequent to his marriage: and from thence was consigned with
the other detenus to the depôt at Verdun. His situation there admitted
many alleviations in the captivity to which he was doomed. He found
several valuable and agreeable men, the associates of his confinement.
He had, as we have seen, opportunities for exercising his ministry;
and he must have felt, that though the situation was not one which he
would have chosen, it was still one in which he perhaps had less to
regret, than the greater part of those around him. But while he was
thus residing at Verdun, the reports which he continually received of
the state of the British seamen who were confined at Givet, awoke such
feelings of pity in Mr. Wolfe’s mind, that he determined in a spirit of
self-devotion, as rare as it is admirable, to move with his family to
Givet, to take up his residence among them, and to try to forward the
means of their improvement by personal exertions. This sacrifice can
hardly be appreciated as it ought to be, by those who are ignorant of the
condition to which the men were reduced, through their own vices, and the
oppression to which they were at the time subjected. Mr. Wolfe’s friends
remonstrated with him seriously on the danger to which he was exposing
himself, and the partner of his exile, by taking up his permanent abode
among men, whom despair and suffering had rendered almost ferocious;
and whose sole relief seemed to be, making others more wretched than
themselves. But he had seen the need to which they were reduced. He had
counted the cost, and he decided on a step, which if it involved great
personal privation, and some personal danger, was followed by such an
amount of blessing as few have been permitted to witness.

On first removing to Givet, he found his countrymen sunk in every kind of
abomination, half starved by the dishonesty of the French Commissaries,
destitute of every comfort, and in a state of mind which aggravated all
their external sufferings. The cruel, and unfeeling policy of the French
government at the time, led them to make the condition of the prisoners
as wretched as possible, that they might be the more easily tempted, by
the agents employed to seduce them from their allegiance; and the evils
of captivity were studiously aggravated by the want of necessary food
and covering, that the seamen might be induced to enlist in the French
service. This species of treatment falling on minds ill prepared to
resist it, had led to a degree of frightful demoralization. Some few were
drawn away by the offers made to them, and justified their desertion by
the cold and hunger they had suffered. The rest seeing no prospect of
release, without employment, and without resource, sought for momentary
forgetfulness in intoxication, when liquor could be procured; and then
sunk into despondency, and sullen discontent. A more fearful exhibition
of human nature it is hardly possible to conceive; and yet into this
scene Mr. Wolfe resolved to throw himself; and among men, such as these,
he asked, and with some difficulty obtained permission to reside. The
result of this noble enterprise of Christian benevolence, of this work
and labour of love, should only be given in his own words, and having
asked, and obtained the kind permission of her who was his partner in
this act of self-devotion, to make this use of his publication, I do
not hesitate at borrowing from the work which Mr. Wolfe published in
1830, entitled the “British Prisoners in France,” the narrative of the
experiment he made, and which from that moment connected him, while life
lasted, in affectionate regard with the subject of the present memoir.

“On my arrival at Givet,” writes Mr. Wolfe, “I soon discovered that I had
undertaken a task of much more difficulty and danger, than I had at all
been willing to believe. I found the depôt in the most deplorable state.
Both in a moral and physical point of view, it would be difficult to
conceive anything more degraded and miserable. And as regards religion,
every appearance of it was confined to some twenty methodists, who were
the objects of the most painful persecution, and often the innocent cause
of the most dreadful blasphemies. For, not content with abusing, and
sometimes ill-treating them, the drunken and vicious, more effectually
to distress and grieve them, would blaspheme that sacred name by which
we are called, and utter their contempt in the most extravagant, and
offensive mockery. The bodily privations of the prisoners, and their want
of the comforts, and common necessaries of life was equally distressing.
The barracks were situated in a narrow pass, between the perpendicular
rock of the fortress of Charlemont on the one side, and the river Meuse
on the other; and all the space the men had for exercise, was between
the building itself and the river, along the side of which was a wall.
This slip of ground, not more than ten paces in width, and exposed to the
southern sun, was in the heat of summer a complete oven. Yet here they
were obliged to walk, except they should stay in a hot room, with sixteen
persons crowded into it all the day. In the hospital, the sick were mixed
with those of the prisoners of other nations, and were in a shocking
state of neglect, and covered with vermin. Not a single prisoner was
allowed to go out into the town; and even the interpreter was accompanied
by a gens d’armes. It was almost impossible for any of them to get any
thing from their friends, for there was no one to receive it for them;
and the little that did come, was subjected to a deduction of five per
cent by the marechal des logis. And so great was their distress at that
moment, that unable to satisfy the cravings of hunger, they were seen
to pick up the potato peelings that were thrown out into the court, and
devour them.

“It appears to be the natural tendency of misery and want, to foster
vice, and encourage the worst feelings of the human heart; and that
effect, in its fullest sense, was produced on this occasion. The little
money that was received by the prisoners, instead of being applied to
the relief of their wants, and to make them more comfortable in food
and clothing, was spent in riot and excess. On these occasions, sailors
are, of all other men, most ready to communicate, and never think of
to-morrow. And, left, as they were, entirely to themselves, no one caring
for their souls, no one having the desire, or the power to restrain them,
either by force or by persuasion, in the midst of the real distress which
they experienced, the depôt of Givet was, perhaps, at that moment, the
most reprobate spot that can be imagined.

“In addition to these discouragements, connected with the field of labour
which I had undertaken; I now found, that there were difficulties in
my own situation, which would probably involve me in personal danger,
of a very serious nature; or at least, cause me to be sent away to the
dungeons of Bitche.

“The Commandant, and those that were under his orders, from the time I
arrived at the depôt, viewed me with a very evil eye. They had all a
share in the spoil of the poor prisoners; and my interference on their
behalf, and the opportunities which I had of detecting their extortions,
enraged them exceedingly against me. Whenever I made an attempt, as I
frequently did, to put a stop to the exactions upon the money which was
sent in to the men; or when any complaint was made of the meat, or the
bread, these officers were loud in their threats of denunciations, and of
sending me off to Bitche. And for the first two years of my stay in that
place, I never went to bed, without the impression upon my mind, that,
ere the morning, I might probably be thus suddenly marched off.

“Before I left Verdun, I had been cautioned not to pay any money to the
prisoners, which might be remitted to me, either from their friends
in England, or from the charitable fund at Verdun, without express
permission from the Commandant, a caution which proved most salutary.
For, even though I obtained this permission, the marechal des logis
came to me the next morning, in a great rage, reproached me with taking
away his honest gains, and required me in future to send in the money
through him. I complained to the Commandant, who inveighed against the
avarice of this man; but I found that he was either unwilling, or afraid
to redress this shameful abuse. And, although I subsequently made many
attempts to pay the men their money without this abominable drawback, it
was always without effect, and at the risk of being denounced, and sent
away from the depôt.

“The exertions which were made, during the long-continued detention
of the English prisoners in France, for the relief of such among them
as were in want, are known to every one. The sums so raised were
contributed by benevolent individuals in London; to whom the collections
made throughout the country, for the same charitable purpose, were
also forwarded; and by them committed to the care of some of the most
respectable persons in the depôt of Verdun, who had formed themselves
into a committee for that effect. These gentlemen, who were themselves
liberal contributors, dispensed to the necessitous, and sent to the
different depôts such relief, as the exigencies of each required. And
sometimes, in the hope of more effectually relieving the sufferings of
those confined in distant places, individuals from this chief depôt, went
to visit them, and even took up their temporary or permanent abode among

“At the time these charitable contributions were received at Givet,
and the payment to each prisoner was small, though the whole amount
was considerable, I went to the commandant, and represented to him the
charitable object of the money that was to be distributed; and said, I
hoped he would not allow any deduction to be made from trifling sums,
arising from such a source. He said, it would be altogether shameful,
willingly gave me the permission to pay it, and granted my further
request, that a certain number of the prisoners should be permitted to
come into the town once a week, to lay out the money more advantageously,
in necessaries for themselves and their fellow prisoners. This was very
joyful to the poor men; but, unfortunately, they could not contain their
triumph, and boasted, in not very measured terms, that they had at length
overcome the marechal des logis. This was sufficient; the Commandant took
this excuse for withdrawing the permission; and, before the next weekly
pay-day arrived, I received a message from him, that he had a particular
reason for desiring that I would not again pay the money myself. I said,
that in that case, I would not pay it at all. And for a considerable time
I resisted. But surrounded as I was with spies, I could not explain what
I was doing to the men. And even if I had, the Commandant knew well,
they were too impatient to receive their money, not to submit to the
sacrifice, even of the half, if it were required, rather than wait.

“He, also, had his hired friends, not only among the gens d’armes, but
among the men themselves, who insinuated to them that it was all my
fault that it was not paid.[3] They sent in a specific message to the
Commandant, that they were willing to pay the deduction as usual; and
after resisting for, I think, two pay-days, I at length felt that it
was wrong any longer to deprive the poor men of a charitable relief so
necessary for them, and again submitted to this iniquitous tax.

“The great difficulty of my situation arose from hence. I knew that if
I were found, directly or indirectly, opposing, or interfering with
the business of the depôt, otherwise than with the consent of the
Commandant, and as I was able to work upon his moral feeling, or regard
to his character, I should be immediately sent away. I was permitted
to go there only as chaplain; and it was evident, from every one else,
who could have done anything for the prisoners, having been sent away,
that I should not be allowed to stay in any other capacity. Traps were
constantly laid for me,[4] and I knew, by examples before my eyes,
that if they could find any such interfering to allege against me,
they would say to me, as they always did, that the thing I complained
of was a shameful abuse. But they would have denounced me, as one of
the Commandants afterwards did, as having done something, which they
knew the minister of war, without any inquiry would punish by sending
me away from the depôt. And as they would be very angry, and their
accusation be of a kind which he would consider serious, an order would
come down, be put in execution, perhaps in the middle of the night; and
without any explanation, or, probably, any one knowing it, till the
following morning, I should have been marched from brigade to brigade,
to the fortress of Bitche, subject to join company with deserters and
criminals, and tied, it might be, hand to hand with them.[5] This might
have been risked; but in what state would the poor fellows have been
left? They would have been reduced to the same miserable condition in
which I found them, with the additional oppression which would arise
from the angry feeling left upon the minds of the officers who had
charge of them. And thus, sound policy, and a conscientious regard to
the object for which I was permitted to be at the depôt, the religious
instruction and consolation of the prisoners, perfectly coincided. Under
any circumstances, I could not have thought a disingenuous conduct right,
and must have given up any advantage, or even usefulness, rather than
resort to it. But I found that a plain and straightforward course enabled
me to be more serviceable to the prisoners. And though, sometimes, I
could not help making strong representations to the Commandant, I never
worked indirectly, or endeavoured to set the men’s minds against him. My
general resource was persuasion, and a direct appeal to his conscience,
and his _amour propre_, which was particularly his weak side. And with
the aid of a very kind and influential French officer in the Engineers,
who was always ready to assist me, and favour the prisoners, I was
enabled to accomplish more, by this open conduct, than I could have done
by means of a more indirect and inimical nature. But it will readily be
conceived, that circumstanced as I was, this would often subject me to
misrepresentation, and render extreme circumspection necessary.

“In the impossibility of knowing who were in the interest of the
Commandant, even among the men themselves, I had but one resource, I
suspected nobody, and I trusted nobody. I never explained my views or
intentions to any one, and said nothing that required the least secrecy.
At one time, therefore, the men, when they could not have what they
wished, suspected all was not right; at another when they complained
of tyranny and knavery, the agents and subalterns of the Commandant
declared, that I was at the bottom of it, and they would soon have me at
the dungeons of Bitche; and, at a third, the Commandant himself would be
influenced by his people, and suspect me of underhand dealing.[6]

“In the end, however, what was done spoke for itself. The men saw that
every means in the power of prisoners, like themselves, were used to
prevent them from being oppressed. The Commandant felt that my being
there was a great check upon the rapacity and avarice of his people; and
they, and often he himself, were excessively enraged. But the moral and
religious feeling which was manifested among the men, rendered them so
much more peaceful and sober, more satisfied, and even cheerful in their
conduct, and so much more faithful to their word and engagements, that I
really think he felt it a sort of personal security to himself, and upon
the whole, an advantage.

“Thus exposed to many difficulties and personal dangers, as to the
temporal wants of the poor men; in their spiritual concerns, and those
immediately connected with them, I had abundant cause of thankfulness.
On my first application for a place of worship, the Commandant expressed
his readiness to do every thing in his power. But he had no place at
his disposal larger than the ordinary sized room, which would not hold
more than two hundred persons. This I obtained for the moment. But the
Colonel-director of engineers was then with the army in Germany; and the
grenier, the only place sufficiently large for the purpose, could only be
obtained by a direct application to him. For the present, therefore, a
room perhaps a little larger than the others, where was an oven for the
purpose of baking bread for the barracks, was converted into a chapel.
A small plain desk was made by one of the men, which served also for a
pulpit; and the clerk made use of a common table and stool. What was
wanting however in accommodation, was abundantly made up by the spirit
which soon was manifested among the prisoners; and the Lord wrought
powerfully among them. The place was crowded to excess, and the oven,
which reached so near the top of the room, that the men could not sit
upright upon it, was always covered with them, lying in a most painful
position from want of room.

“The Schools were also immediately established; and though the funds
for all these objects were, at that early period of our captivity, but
scantily, and with great difficulty obtained, we were yet able to carry
on a system of education, which, for extent, usefulness, and the rapid
progress made by those that were instructed, has perhaps seldom been
equalled. It is indeed wonderful, at how small an expence, a number of
persons, generally amounting to between four and five hundred, were
taught to read, write, go through the highest rules in arithmetic,
navigation in all its most difficult branches, construct charts and maps,
and work at the practical part of their profession, as far as it can be
learned from the form of a vessel, which had been admirably rigged for
that purpose. Yet the small sums given to those among them, who were
capable of instructing their fellow prisoners, as masters or assistants,
were very useful.

“The immediate results arising from this employment of their time, were
beneficial, in a degree, at least equal to the professional advantages,
which they might hope to experience in their future prospects. While
they were thus receiving instruction and edification, their thoughts
were diverted from dwelling upon those misfortunes, which had the most
pernicious effect and influence upon their minds, not only in a moral
and religious point of view, but, often as it regarded their health and
spirits. And thus the fear of God, and the influence of moral duty and
instruction, even in those who were not decidedly religious, reciprocally
acted upon their minds; preserved them from that mental debasement, and
those habits of depravity and vice, which are ever contracted and induced
by ignorance and want of employment.

“And in the midst of these useful occupations, the Lord opened the hearts
of many, to receive that heavenly wisdom, the merchandize of which is
better than silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold; without which,
all our attainments are nothing worth, and with which all the things we
can desire, are not to be compared. The number of boys was comparatively
small; the greater number were men grown; and some of those that were
advanced in years, were anxious not to lose this opportunity of learning
to read, at least, their bibles; to be able to study for themselves
those oracles of eternal truth, which are ‘able to make men wise unto
salvation, through faith that is in Christ Jesus.’

“The hospital was another object of my immediate attention. It is
remarkable that this abode of sickness and misery, was also the most
abandoned portion of the depôt. In this respect, the remark which I have
before made is completely borne out. And here, where it might have been
hoped that the afflicting hand of God, and the constant view of death,
would have brought the most wicked to tremble at the thought of judgment,
hardened impenitence kept pace with outward misery. And even after their
wants were supplied, and every comfort was promised for them, which
affliction is susceptible of, the hospital continued to be, with some
exceptions, much less under the influence of religious improvement, than
any other part of the depôt.

“My first object was to obtain for my countrymen a ward to themselves,
separate from the prisoners of other nations. One of the prisoners had
already been employed in the joint capacity of interpreter and nurse. He
was by birth a Portuguese, but had been many years in the English navy,
and spoke English nearly as well as a native. He was however a person
in whom I had not the least confidence, was hardened in all the callous
and profligate practices of the French nurses, and was evidently in the
pay of the Commandant. For the same reason, however, I knew it would be
impossible for me to displace him. And, after a vain attempt to do so, I
endeavoured to make him as useful as possible; and contented myself with
employing another person, and a third, as they were wanted, whom I found
best suited to attend the sick, and administer to their comforts.

“It was my anxious wish to find a pious person, who was fit for this
affair, and was willing to take the charge, in which there were so many
opportunities of usefulness. And at length I succeeded in obtaining the
appointment of one, who would at all times be ready to speak a word in
season, to those who might be induced to hear. From this time the poor
men were as comfortable as in an English hospital. Extreme cleanliness
succeeded to the state of filth in which I had found them; and as wine,
and many other things of a cordial, or a nutritious nature, were there
abundant, and very reasonable, they had even greater comforts than would
have been provided for them at home. And the consequence was, that we
had a smaller proportion of deaths, compared with the number of persons
present, than is scarcely ever known.

“A better spirit also began to be manifested among the men. The absence
of the French nurses, hackneyed in every vice, and hardened amidst the
most appalling scenes of sickness, misery, and death, contributed to
prevent, in some measure, the abandoned carelessness and unconcern which
had been shewn, when those who perhaps had less reason to expect it than
themselves, were called before them, to give an account of the things
done in the body. At least, they whose sufferings God had sanctified,
were not interrupted, as they had been, by the riot and blasphemy of the
wicked and impenitent.

“In the mean time, a great sensation was created in the prison; and, as
in old time, some mocked, while others, for the first time, saw before
them an invisible and eternal world, compared with which all the things
they could desire were less than nothing and vanity, where were many
among them already, whose hearts the Lord opened, to attend to the things
which have been declared by prophets, and apostles, and confirmed by
God, manifest in the flesh. Many were enquiring into the things which
accompany salvation; and in many the word of truth took deep root, and
they continued seeking the grace of Christ. Nor have I the least reason
to doubt, that the Lord fulfilled to many his gracious promise, ‘Seek and
ye shall find,’ and that even now, some have entered into the rest that
remaineth for the people of God; and others are still so running that
they may obtain.

“The methodist congregation were regular attendants on the service of
the Church, and had their meetings night and morning.[7] They were very
useful in the work of God; and now their numbers increased. And soon
after my arrival another meeting was formed, of those who from time to
time were under the influence of conviction, arising out of, and more
immediately connected with the congregation of the Church. As my own
views, at the period of my arrival at Givet, were by no means clear, it
will readily be understood, that these persons did not see at once all
the riches of the grace of God. Still their hearts were opened, and they
‘followed on to know the Lord.’

“There were, as might be expected, discussions and disputes between the
two classes, and among each other. These I endeavoured to allay, and
encourage among them a single eye to Christ. The work of God proceeded
more rapidly than my most sanguine hopes could have anticipated. And
one or other of the men were frequently receiving letters from their
fellow-prisoners in other depôts, saying, that they heard the Lord was
among them, and expressing a hope that the influence might be felt
amongst themselves. The change was also soon visible in the lives and
moral conduct of the men; and was recognized, as I have observed, by the
Commandant and all who had to do with them. Formerly they could only be
restrained by force, and bolts and bars were the only means of keeping
them safely; and they constantly broke through them; but now, bolts and
bars were unnecessary. The Commandant was persuaded, and acted entirely
upon that persuasion, that the only thing that could bind them, was the
moral obligation of their word; which, whether given or implied, they
never broke, in any instance that came to my knowledge.

“Nor was this confined to them that feared God. The moral influence
of Christianity spread through the whole body, and the most striking
instances of faithfulness to their word, and a sense of the obligation
of it, were given by the prisoners. And it was not officers or people
of education who thus distinguished themselves; but common sailors, and
youngsters, who might have been expected to view the breach of their
parole only as a joke. So that it was considered as a national feeling,
and raised the character of the English in that country extremely.[8]

“This conduct had also the happiest effect upon the comfort of the
men. Previous to my arrival they had by degrees been all confined to
the prison; those who had been permitted to come out, having conducted
themselves ill, or run away. And at length, not one prisoner, without
excepting even the interpreter, was permitted to come out without a
guard, under any pretext.

“I began by getting one out, and then a second, and a third person, for
my own service, and as interpreter; then some others in whom I had most
confidence. The good behaviour of these men, encouraged the Commandant to
give liberty to others. The number of those who had permission to reside
in the town, or to work and walk out of the prison, increased daily; and
at length, so complete was his confidence in them, that he allowed many
of them to walk out into the country; and there were often as many as two
hundred out of the prison at a time.

“And now, the director of engineers, who had also the fortifications
under his direction, returned from the German campaign. I made immediate
application to him for what was wanted for the comfort and accommodation
of the depôt; and on this occasion, as on all others, he willingly
listened to our wishes, and did more than we asked.

“There was a part of the court which surrounded the barracks, about the
size of that which lay between the building and the river. This was on
the north side of the prison, and was comparatively cool, from the shade
afforded by the building; when, on the other side, the heat from the
southern sun, and the reflection from the walls, was almost intolerable.
But there was no palisade, on the side of the road to prevent the escape
of the prisoners. There was a sufficient number of these for the purpose,
among the stores belonging to the fortification; and I offered, out of
the funds sent me by the committee at Verdun, having previously consulted
them, to defray an expence so essential to the health and comfort of the
men, which was estimated at fifteen pounds.

“This proposal the director immediately forwarded to the Bureau de
la guerre, and received an immediate permission to grant us this
accommodation; which he lost no time in completing. But when I came
to pay the expence, I was agreeably surprised to find, that he had
represented to the minister the inconsistency that there would be in
allowing this expence to be borne by individuals; and he would not hear
of my paying a farthing. I then applied to him for a large grenier, which
was the only place sufficiently capacious for the purpose of divine
worship. This again required some expense, and was attended with some
difficulties. The colonel, however, made none. He gave immediate orders
to the person who supplied bread for the barracks, to whom he had given
this place as a storehouse, to empty it of the stores which he had laid
up in it, and give up the key. And now the only fault that we had to
find, was the reverse of that which we had before complained of. The
place would have held several thousand persons; and being very low and
unceiled, the heat in the summer was excessive, and the winter’s cold was
not less severe. The men, however, did not complain; they were seeking
the glory that shall be revealed, to which the light afflictions of the
present, which are but for a moment, are not to be compared.

“We were now enabled to meet together in as large numbers as would; and
as many as were so inclined, had full power of seeking, in the ordinances
of God, and the hearing of the word, the grace which bringeth salvation.
And they were not backward in availing themselves of the means which were
thus offered to them. I was very anxious that they should not come there
under any feeling of constraint, or for filthy lucre’s sake; that they
should understand that it would be no advantage to them, as to the loaves
and fishes. Yet the congregation increased; and there were few instances
of those that had begun to run well, looking back, or returning into the
way of carelessness and sin.

“Some of those who had never been received by baptism into the church
of Christ, were anxious to receive this pledge of their profession. It
was an affecting sight, to see the jetty natives of the East desiring,
like the Ethiopian convert of old, to profess their faith in a crucified
Saviour; and while they manifested already in their lives the grace
that sanctifieth, receiving with desire of heart, the outward sign
and pledge of the faith that was in them. But the Lord’s Supper was a
still more joyful proof and evidence of the work which He was carrying
on amongst these people. I shall never forget the first sacrament,
which I administered in the barracks. The number of communicants was
about fourteen, most of them old men. The greater part had never before
attended at the holy table. Some, perhaps, had never been in a place of
worship in their lives, until my arrival at the depôt. They could not
contain their feelings, and most of them were in tears the whole of the
time. It was a godly sorrow, working repentance unto salvation, not to be
repented of.

“But the number of communicants did not long continue so small. It
increased daily, as a sense of religion prevailed, and the seed of
grace took root in their hearts. The spirit of enquiry was general, and
hundreds were seeking. The table of the Lord was more numerously attended
every month; and I was enabled there to attend to the instructions of the
rubric in a way that is scarcely practicable in a large parish at home.
In cases of baptism the sponsors were persons of decided piety.

“The persons who attended the Lord’s table, in the latter part of my
stay at the depôt, amounted to above two hundred; and it cannot but be
supposed, that amongst so many, there were some who, to say the least of
it, must be considered very weak christians. But they were all professing
to be serious; and there were none among them, as I believed, of that
formal description so common among the communicants in England, who
attend this sacrament because they think it decent, or that they are
doing some good thing, that they may have everlasting life.

“Still there are, no doubt, those who have flying convictions, even of a
very lively description, for a moment; many of whom, when they have heard
the word, immediately receive it with gladness, and when temptation or
affliction cometh, are as immediately offended, and have no part nor lot
with them that shall be saved. I therefore required them to give in their
names beforehand, that I might enquire into the consistency of their
lives, if there were any whom I did not know; and exhort those whom I had
any doubt of, or refuse them, if I thought them altogether unfit.

“There was but a single instance of one coming, who had not given this
previous notice. I observed the man amongst the rest, and was surprised.
I had seen him very constant at church, but I had had no direct
intimation of his seriousness, and was in doubt of him: I therefore went
up to him, to ascertain, at least, whether he was prepared to receive the
sacrament with consciousness, of the body and blood of Christ. He was
a man of extreme simplicity of mind and manners; but answered in such
a way, as immediately to convince me, that he was not only desirous of
shewing the Lord’s death until he come, but instantly serving God day and
night. And from that time, I know not that he was ever absent from any of
the appointed means of grace, whether on the Lord’s day or any other; and
in life, as in profession, was a decided and consistent Christian.

“Such was the state of this Christian community, and so changed in a few
short months was this numerous depôt, in which there were, sometimes, as
many as 1500 prisoners. Formerly there was not a room, out of a number,
sometimes exceeding ninety, where a man could have gone down on his knees
to prayer. The consequences to him of such an attempt would have been
profane abuse, or even serious personal violence. Now there was not one
room, in which there were not pious men; and quiet and peace prevailed
towards them, even on the part of those who did not themselves profess
the truth.

“I remember an observation from Mr. Lee, when he went with me through the
barracks, and into all or most of the rooms. ‘This,’ said he, ‘is a most
extraordinary thing. I have been through a depôt of 1500 sailors, and not
seen one drunken man!’ And the influence of their example was felt more
or less, in a religious point of view, throughout all the depôts, in all
which one or other of them had friends, with whom they were in habits of

“But it may well be supposed that Satan did not view these things with
indifference. The tares were soon sown among the wheat, and in time
they grew up together. The first instrument in the hand of the enemy,
was a defection among the men, by going over to the French; in which,
however, those that professed religion distinguished themselves in a very
honourable manner. I had found, that on two or three occasions, an Irish
officer, who was in the French service, (whose name I do not mention,
in the hope that he may have repented of a course so disgraceful, and
that it may have been overlooked by a generous country,) had been in
the prison; and by bribery, and by giving them liquor, had each time
induced some of the men to go with him into the French service. To have
interfered personally in this matter, it may well be supposed, would have
been a sure way of my being removed from the depôt. I, however, spoke to
the Commandant on the subject of the youngsters; and, appealing to him as
a father, requested that he would not allow any of them to take a step
which would be their ruin; however much they might wish it, in order to
recover their liberty. And this he readily promised, and shewed indeed a
desire to do.

“Some time after this, I was preparing to go into the neighbourhood of
Sedan, where Colonel D’Ivory, who commanded the engineers in the English
army in Portugal, was then residing. I was very desirous of visiting
a congregation of French Protestants in that town; and accepted an
invitation from the Colonel to stay a few days with him. Before I set off
I found that the Franco Irish officer had again appeared at the depôt,
and prevailed upon two or three of the men to go with him. I, therefore,
went to the Commandant and said, that I waited upon him again, before
I set off, to remind him of his promise respecting the youngsters. He
assured me that none of them should go; and said, that there was not much
to be apprehended, for the men took his liquor and laughed at him.

“My journey was not satisfactory, except as regarded the extreme
hospitality and kindness of my host, and the pious and almost protestant
conversation of Madame D’Ivory. Her health was exceedingly delicate,
and she was unequal to exertion. And she spent her time in religious
exercises and prayer; while she administered to the wants, and her maid
even dressed the wounds of the poor around her. I could not but exclaim,
‘O si sic omnia!’ and lament the errors of her faith, and the almost
ridiculous, if they had not been destructive, superstitions of persons
about her.[9]

“How different was the case where I hoped to find religion in its purest
simplicity! At the protestant temple I found the scriptures being
read to literally empty benches; there was not one person present. At
length the congregation began to come in, and the clergyman arrived. He
preached a moral discourse; and seeing I was a stranger, and a minister,
he very kindly asked me to dinner. I accepted, in hope of hearing
something better in the evening. But the work of God was ended. I waited
impatiently for evening service, but at length I found, that that rich
and rather numerous congregation, was left to spend the rest of the
Lord’s day in eating, drinking, and being merry. And I returned much
disappointed and grieved.

“My kind host indeed had spoken slightly of this minister, and as the
day was extremely bad, and the rain incessant, earnestly dissuaded me
from riding four miles through very bad roads to Church. But I had
attributed this partly to prejudice, and was determined at least to judge
for myself. He however made particular enquiry, and afterwards wrote me
word, that he thought it necessary to caution me against this minister,
as he had had positive information, that he was deeply implicated in
the revolution. I am indeed compelled to confess, that more than one
of the protestant ministers whom I had met with, were not without some
imputation, from the part they acted during that unhappy period. And a
very general spirit of Socinianism, to say the least of it, prevailed
at that time among the protestants of France. I have heard with much
pleasure, that a great revival of religion has since taken place amongst
them; and have been rejoiced to hear the decided sentiments which have
been expressed by some of their ministers, at public meetings in this

“Returning to Givet, I was very much astonished to meet on the way, two
or three considerable parties of our men. They passed me with downcast
looks, and shame was strongly painted in their countenances; and I dared
not speak to them, not doubting of the fact, and knowing that the
consequence could only have been evil, without the least hope of good.
When I arrived, I found that the men were so bent upon going into the
French service, that it seemed as if a sort of infatuation had taken
possession of them. And although I was persuaded that the object of the
greater part of them was, to run away, and get home; yet they were in the
mean time becoming traitors to their country, and exposing themselves, if
they were taken, to capital punishment.

“In every point of view, therefore, it was most earnestly to be desired
that this might be put a stop to. But how it was to be done was a far
more difficult question. There were many reasons, both of right and
policy, which engaged me to look on, as if I were totally indifferent;
and the consequence of my not doing so, would probably have been, my
being sent away; as a clergyman had already been, from one of the depôts,
for only speaking to the men on the subject. I however thought that
this was a case in which every thing was to be risked. This officer, I
found, had taken lodgings in the town, had got many men every day, and
had declared, that Christmas was coming on, and he should then have
half the barracks. I went up, therefore, the next morning, to church as
usual; and after the service I spoke to the people on the subject. It
was a remarkable thing, that not one of those who professed religion had
thought of going, with the exception of one man; who, when I spoke to
him, said, ‘that he was not an Englishman but an American;’ and though he
would not do any thing inconsistent with his profession, he could not
think that he was bound to remain in prison, for a cause which was not
that of his country.

“I told them, therefore, that I had not the least apprehension of any of
them entering into the service of the enemy; but that they were called
to use their influence with their fellow prisoners, and it was their
duty to employ every possible means to prevent others from doing a thing
so wicked, and disgraceful to them as Englishmen. They said, that they
had not only used persuasion, but force; but that the madness was so
great, that whilst a party of them were standing at the gate to prevent
desertion, one at a time would take the opportunity, when any one was
coming in, and run past them, before they could stop them. They all,
however, set to work in earnest; and from this time there were not more
than one a day, for the two or three days before Christmas; and I believe
two or three of the loose ones on Christmas day; and immediately after
this the officer went away.[10]

“On this occasion, I ought to make honourable mention of the midshipmen
who were at the depôt. A number of them were sent thither some time
previous to this circumstance; and they shewed an extraordinary zeal to
prevent the men from betraying their country. Mr. B. then a youngster,
about seventeen, full of zeal for the service in which he was engaged,
copied, and put up in the prison, in spite of gens d’armes and spies, a
dialogue which I wrote out, shewing them in their own quaint expressions,
what they might expect from the enemy, into whose service they were
enlisting; and the rest were very active and useful in preventing this
defection. Of these young gentlemen I can say nothing in a religious
point of view; except it be of Mr. T., who was very peculiar in his
manner; but, I trusted, and yet believe, was decidedly serious. But their
conduct, as regarded their service and profession, was so distinguished,
and reflected so much credit upon them, that it ought not to pass

“They were so anxious to get home, and so ingenious and bold in facing
every danger and difficulty, which stood in their way, that every
expedient to prevent them was in vain. It was for this cause that some
of them were sent from Verdun to Givet; and the Commandant took every
precaution that he could think of, to inform himself of their plans, so
as to prevent their escape. Amongst other things, he opened all their
letters before he allowed them to be sent into the prison, where they
were closely confined; while numbers of the common men had the liberty of
the town. After eight of them had escaped, and been retaken; and at the
moment when he was most alarmed, and on the _qui vive_; a letter arrived
for Mr. B. from his mother. The Commandant had no doubt, from the natural
affection of a mother, that it was to urge him to get home; and perhaps
to point out and furnish him with the means, for himself at least, if not
for others also. But when it was read to him, he could not contain his
astonishment and admiration, and spoke of it to every body.

“Lady B., though I have not the honour of knowing her, and am ignorant
if she be in this militant state, I have some reason to believe, was
a person of decided piety. But however that be, for I did not myself
see her letter, it shewed a strength of mind and principle, not common
to the gentle nature and indulgent feelings of a mother. She had heard
that in some of the depôts, there had been midshipmen who had broken
their parole, and come home. And she entreated her son not to let any
personal suffering, or ill treatment, or example induce him to do what
would disgrace himself, distress his family beyond measure, and cast a
reflection upon his country. Young as he was however, no officer grown
old in the career of British service, had less need of the pious and
self-denying counsel of such a mother. He and some others afterwards
escaped, in the most honourable manner, after having been once re-taken;
though he himself might perhaps even then have succeeded, but that he
would not leave behind him, a brother midshipman, who had lamed himself
on the journey; and thus, after two attempts, and through dangers and
difficulties which might have overcome the courage even of a British
sailor, they arrived at home.

“But this letter, together with the strict observance of a given or even
implied parole, on the part of all the prisoners, even to the lowest
amongst them, so raised the character of the English at Givet, that the
Commandant was quite persuaded, that they were most in safety when they
were most in the enjoyment of liberty. Many of the men therefore were
permitted to work in the town, and were much sought after by those who
wanted workmen or servants; and a great number walked out into the town,
and even into the country every day. But though they were constantly
escaping from the prison, they never betrayed the confidence placed
in them. The midshipmen were now all allowed their parole; and shewed
themselves as worthy of it, as established officers.

“One circumstance, indeed, of a very lamentable description, ought not
perhaps to be passed over. Two of these young gentlemen, Mr. H. and
Mr. G. went out, accompanied by one of the gens d’armes, before they
obtained their parole; and while the soldier was occupied, they got
away and escaped. They were hid during the whole day in the souterrain
of a fortified mountain, on the other side of the river. In the evening
however they became alarmed. They thought they heard something like the
noise of a horse shaking himself; and immediately after the name of Mr.
H. called out loudly; and this repeated three times. They left the place,
and in their fears wished, perhaps, rather to be retaken than not. An
unhappy Englishman, in the pay of the Commandant, saw them coming down
the hill, and instantly informed the gens d’armes from whom they had
escaped. This man had been drinking all day; and setting out after them,
filled with rage, he soon overtook them, and cut down Mr. H. who died
immediately, and wounded Mr. G.

“This murder was savagely exulted in by the General, and shamelessly
excused by the Commandant. The latter, however, was there only for a
short time; but this circumstance, as may be supposed, made much ill
feeling in the depôt. The midshipmen wrote a spirited note to the
Commandant. The prisoners would have taken summary vengeance upon the
spy, had he not been taken out of their hands, and kept out of prison.
I thought it my duty to withhold from him every assistance given to the
rest of the prisoners. The Commandant insisted on its being paid, but I
refused. He then denounced me to the Minister of War, as assisting the
midshipmen to escape; but at that period, I was not unknown by character
to the Minister, and it happened providentially, that the former
Commandant, was at that moment in Paris, returning to Givet; and thought
it for his interest, knowing that I was now zealously supported by
Colonel Flayelle, and some other persons of influence, to assist me; and
our treacherous Commandant was, to our great gratification, soon removed.

“Even here there was no breach of parole. But shortly after the return of
the Commandant, three of the young gentlemen gave a proof of adherence
to that pledge, which would reflect credit upon officers even of rank
in the army or navy. Their friends had now been some time gone away, and
had arrived at home, and they began to regret that they had not gone
with them. They came to me, to ask me to give them money for their bills
upon their friends, which I did, asking them of course no questions. The
same evening they conducted themselves in such a manner, as, they were
persuaded, would cause the Commandant to take away their parole. But he
suspected what they were meditating, and refused to put them in prison.
The next night they made a more determined attempt; but still in vain,
he would not take away their parole. Precisely at that moment, as if to
try their faith to the utmost, an order arrived from the Minister of War
to send all the Midshipmen, under a double escort of gens d’armes, to
Verdun. But in spite of this positive order, the Commandant took upon
himself to send them upon their parole. And they walked all the day to
that place without the least idea of escaping; although all the soldiers
in France would scarcely have prevented them from making the attempt.

“We had now done with the midshipmen. On some occasions they gave us
considerable anxiety, as might readily be expected by those who know
what young persons of that age are, even under the restriction of a
school. They were ready on every occasion to crowd every sail, which
the ebullition of animal spirits, and elevated national feeling, and
exalted notions of the British navy could give them, without the ballast
of matured judgment and experience; when they felt that their enemies
exulted over them, or oppressed the poor fellows. And their interference
in behalf of the men was often calculated to do harm instead of good. But
I feel it incumbent upon me to give this testimony to the distinguished
conduct of these young persons in a point of view, in which they raised
the British character in that place; and that they did what they could,
to stir up in the minds of the men that sense of allegiance to their king
and country, which time and absence had begun to extinguish.

“The sufferings which some of the midshipmen endured in their successful
attempts to return and fight the battles of their country, have in some
instances been published; but in many they might almost seem incredible,
if we did not know what high professional feelings may effect, when
combined with the ardor and enterprize of youth.

“It would give me exquisite pleasure, if I should hear that any of these
young men who dared so much, and bore so much, to regain the opportunity
of distinguishing themselves in their country’s cause, are now fighting
with equal boldness the good fight of faith in the service of the Kings
of Kings. In that case they will not go without their reward.

“I would not forego the hope, that though little notion can be formed
on this side of the water of the situation of the prisoners in France;
particularly when their sufferings were embittered by the sense that they
were cut off from all opportunities of distinguishing themselves in their
country’s service; many may have received marks of favor, specially on
account of what they had to bear in their captivity. Of this however I
am ignorant, as with the exception of a short letter of greeting from Mr.
B. some time ago, and one from Mr. H. after his return, I have lost sight
of these young men ever since they left the depôt.”



I feel that no apology need be made to the readers of this Memoir for the
length of the digression which occupied the last Chapter. The history
of Sir Jahleel Brenton is identified with the service of his country;
and a very inadequate idea would be formed of the perils undergone, and
the hardships endured in that service, if the storm and the battle were
the only circumstances recounted; and the sickening length of a dreary
captivity, embittered by ill treatment, and hardly cheered by hope, was
not to be named among the evils that were braved and borne by the navy
during the last war.

Had the excellent friend, from whose deeply interesting narrative I have
extracted this notice of the state of things at Givet, been spared; I
might have calculated with equal confidence on his indulgence, when the
character of Sir Jahleel Brenton, and the interests of his family were
to be asserted; and it is a source of satisfaction to myself to be able
to draw attention to one of the most touching and affecting memorials of
God’s mercy to men, which have been recently published.

From causes which it is not easy to explain, the narrative which bears
the title of the “British Prisoners in France,” never seems to have met
with the acceptance which it deserves; for of all the cases where the
grace of God has been exhibited in a large and general measure, where it
seems to have descended as in showers, none seem to have exceeded this
in the simplicity of the means used, and in the extent of the blessing
vouchsafed. The depôt which Mr. Wolfe found like a howling wilderness,
he left like a garden of the Lord; but few persons can conceive the
difficulties with which he had to struggle, or the value of the
assistance which he derived from Sir Jahleel Brenton’s co-operation.

The object which he had in view was accomplished. His labour was not
in vain in the Lord; but it is painful and yet salutary to hear of
the way in which these disinterested exertions and self devotion were
acknowledged at home. The moral influence which was exercised on the
people at Givet prevented desertion, and probably preserved hundreds of
valuable seamen for the service of their country. The schools, which
were established at the same time for the boys, rescued them from the
evils of ignorance, and prepared them to resume their place in the navy,
instructed in the theory and practice of navigation. Had this not been
done, all the prisoners, both old and young, would have returned from
their captivity unfit for employment, and burdens to the country which
received them; and the nation owed to Mr. Wolfe and his companion in
labour, a debt which might have justified any mark of public gratitude.
An effort was made to obtain for him the amount of a chaplain’s pay
during the period of his residence at Givet; and after long delay and
many applications this was granted. It is happy for those who labour for
the public good, to look to a different remuneration than that which man
affords. There is one Master who knows what his servants do, and who
never allowed the least or lowest effort to go without its reward; and
he who labours in faith feels it his privilege to think little of the
recompense he may receive from men.

The Memoir may now be continued in Sir Jahleel’s own words, and he thus
describes the journey to Tours. “On the 31st of October we began our
journey, having our route marked out upon my passport, by which we were
prohibited from passing through Paris, but ordered to turn off to the
left at Meaux, and to proceed by Melun, and Fontainebleau, thence on the
right bank of the Loire from Orleans to Tours.”

At Melun it appears that Captain Brenton met Lord Elgin, to whose
character he gives the following pleasing tribute. “It is but justice
to Lord Elgin to mention in this place, that during the whole of
his captivity he was most liberal and active in relieving his poor
countrymen, as they passed near the places of his residence, and by
sending sums of money to Verdun for their use. Whilst he was at Orleans,
numbers of seamen on their way from the coast to the interior, passed
through; in particular the officers and crew of the Wolverine, who all
spoke in the highest terms of his Lordship’s humanity and benevolence.”

It was from Lord Elgin at Melun that Captain Brenton had the
gratification of receiving confirmed and authentic accounts of the battle
of Trafalgar. At Orleans, November, 1805, Sir Jahleel has preserved the
following recollections of his journey. “This was one of the finest and
most charming days we had experienced; the country gradually improving
in fertility, and cultivation, as we approached the Loire, which in its
passage by Orleans, with the numerous villas on its banks as far as the
eye could reach, formed as fine a picture as can be imagined. At Epernay,
the chief depôt for the wine of Champagne, I called upon Mons. Moet, the
great proprietor of this wine. We were all most hospitably received and
entertained by this gentleman. In conversation at table respecting the
use of Champagne in cookery, Madame Moet observed, that she believed
there was not a dish in the first course, in which this wine was not an
ingredient, that the ham was boiled in it, and every other dish had its
portion. At breakfast the following morning I observed that Champagne
was not forgotten even in this meal. The Lady replied that she believed
it was in every thing but the coffee. This was of course a Déjeuner a la
fourchette, and a very sumptuous one. By the time breakfast was over,
the carriage was at the door for us to resume our journey; but M. Moet
requested me to pay a visit to his cellar, before I left Epernay; and the
sight amply rewarded me for the detention. It was of immense extent, the
wine entirely in bottle, to the amount I believe of some hundreds of
thousands, beautifully arranged in tiers, with marble conductors, leading
to reservoirs of the same material, to carry off and receive the wine
from the bottles which burst, a circumstance of very frequent recurrence.
On returning from the cellar I found the ladies were already in the
carriage, and it was with difficulty I could find a place for myself, in
consequence of the packages of the very best champagne which M. Moet had
caused to be placed there. We left Epernay with a very strong impression
of the kindness and hospitality we had received. In the afternoon we
reached Meaux, where we were to pass the night; and on going down to
order dinner, my host received me with a broad grin, and the following
sentence: “Ah monsieur, vous venez de nous rosser un peu sur mer, d’après
les nouvelles.” Captain—“Cela se peut bien.” Landlord—“Oui, mais vous
nous avez pris 21 Vaisseaux de ligne.” Captain—“Bah! vous voulez dire
21 bâtimens marchands.” Landlord—“Non Monsieur. Vingt et un vaisseaux
de ligne, bien comptés—mais vous avez perdu Nelson. Il est tué.” This
was the first intelligence I had received of the battle of Trafalgar,
which however had taken place only on the 21st of October, and this was
on the 4th of November. I did not altogether credit mine host’s news,
and left Meaux the following morning. On my arriving at Melun, about two
o’clock, I met Lord Elgin, who was then residing there as a detenu, who
confirmed the news of a great naval victory having been gained, and the
report that Lord Nelson had fallen; “but,” added his lordship, “I am
in hourly expectation of news from Paris, and as you only go as far as
Fontainebleau to night; I will, as soon as I get my letter, ride over,
and dine with you;” an offer that I gladly accepted. Accordingly his
lordship came by five o’clock, with every particular of the action, at
least as far as the French account went, which was surprisingly accurate.
It was an account sent by merchants at Cadiz, through Bourdeaux to Paris.
A very different statement was soon after concocted for the information
of the French nation, in the columns of the Moniteur. One of Mr. Moet’s
best bottles was opened for Lord Elgin upon this occasion, and our
spirits felt all the triumph of our country. I copied an account of this
battle from the Journal de Paris 16 Frimaire An. xiv. 7 Dec. 1805, which
my brother has inserted in his naval history.

“From Fontainebleau we proceeded through Pithivier to Orleans. At this
place I was amused at the inscription over the inn where we alighted;


and it was at this inn that I determined to give up a practice, which
every Frenchman, and by far the greater part of the English travellers
considered as indispensable; that of making a bargain with the landlord
previous to getting out of the carriage. The instant the question was
put to mine host at Pithivier, his manners changed at once, and he
sulkily replied, “c’est suivant comme vous voulez être servis.” A hard
bargain was made accordingly, for the dinner, ‘la chambre,’ the beds,
the fuel, and the wine. The treaty being concluded, we took possession
of our apartments. A fire was made of light brushwood, which was soon
consumed, and on application for more, we were told that they had given
the stipulated allowance. The dinner was bad, scanty, and ill dressed,
the bed rooms were uncomfortable, and the wine of the most indifferent
description, but there was no redress. We arrived early on the following
day at Orleans, and having no preliminary discussion we were cordially
received, had the best accommodation, and fare in abundance, and of the
best quality; while the difference in the bill the following morning was
only six francs amongst four people.

“We remained here during Sunday, and met some of our fellow prisoners
from Verdun, the family of Mr. Aufrere. From this gentleman I procured
further details of the battle of Trafalgar, even to a list of the
killed and wounded on both sides. The intelligence had been brought
from Cadiz, through Madrid and Bayonne, in a mercantile correspondence,
but was carefully concealed from the public in general. It is certain
that the respectable classes of people in France, by no means took that
lively degree of interest in their national successes, or felt that
mortification for the unsuccessful results of their engagements with the
enemy, which have been ascribed to them at this period; and the reason
is, that under so ambitious a leader, they were aware that every victory
excited some new object for achievement, in consequence of which new
conscriptions were called out, as well to supply recent losses, as to
form additional corps. They consoled themselves under a defeat, in the
hope that it might lead to a peace.”

Among his recollections of Tours, Captain Brenton says, “we here found an
excellent and worthy friend and physician, in Dr. Morgan, who had been
our fellow prisoner at Verdun. He with his amiable wife and little boy,
had been permitted to reside here. From his skill, and the kindness and
attention of his family we derived the greatest comfort and benefit. The
illness of our darling boy (he had been taken ill on the road) continued
for some days to be very alarming; but was at length permitted by a
merciful Providence to give way to the remedies which were administered
to him, and he began to shew symptoms of returning health.”

In addition to the services of Dr. Morgan, it appears that Captain
Brenton had also great advantages in the skill of Dr. now Sir Thomas
Grey. “Under his tender care,” he says, “I had been while at Verdun, and
this gentleman, with his wife and daughter, were amongst the number of
the detenus, and whilst at Verdun our families had become much attached
to each other. I candidly detailed these circumstances in a letter to
the Minister of Marine, expressing how much I should feel gratified, if
this family might also be permitted to reside at Tours; as I knew this to
be their wish. This request was kindly and readily granted, and in the
course of a few weeks our two families were again united at Tours, and no
day passed, without our enjoying each other’s society.

“An occasional gloom would sometimes take possession of me, as I
considered myself shut out from my profession, for which, ever since my
first entrance into it, I had felt an inexpressible ardour. One evening,
when walking the room with Dr. Grey, I said, I felt a conviction that I
was a prisoner for the remainder of the war, and that my naval career
was at an end. He replied, ‘Don’t give way to such feelings; how do you
know, but that you may be exchanged, have the command of a fine frigate,
and take a prize before another year is over.’ I answered smiling, ‘if
that should be the case, Doctor, I promise to give you the Encyclopedia
Britannica.’ And impossible as it seemed to be at the moment, the Doctor
did get that work upon these conditions before the year expired.

“We had procured most comfortable lodgings in the principal street of
Tours, and began to enjoy the happiness we had promised ourselves. We had
perfect tranquillity, no annoyance from the police, or the department
for the controul of prisoners of war. I was only expected to present
myself before the General once in three weeks, and had unrestrained
access to every part of the province. Another attack, however, similar to
what I had experienced at Charni, again filled me with anxiety, and by
having recourse to low diet, I became extremely reduced. The mercy and
forbearance of God, notwithstanding my ungrateful repining, nevertheless
brought me through this illness also. How often have my apprehensions
thus proved vain; and, in how many instances had perfect happiness been
my lot, but for my own groundless fears, which prevented my enjoyment
of it. What a lesson for the remainder of my days! May they at least be
devoted unreservedly, and with the most entire and perfect confidence to
God, in resignation to the Divine will; and let us, my darling children,
in all our worldly anxieties, remember the following beautiful lines in

    ‘What can preserve my life, or what destroy?
    An angel’s arm can’t snatch me from the grave,
    Legions of angels can’t confine me there.’

O, that this blessed, this most inestimable truth, could but be for
ever on our minds! To what state of happiness should we be instantly
transported, and upon how sure a foundation it would stand! We should
smile at the worst efforts of the world, and we should weep with delight,
as well as grief, at the translation of those dear to us, to a region
of everlasting happiness. The measure of human faith is probably seldom
suffered to arrive at such a height, lest it should deprive us of all
interest in the world, and fill us with impatience for the next.”

On the 16th of January, 1806, Mrs. Brenton gave birth to a daughter,
the one who is so constantly addressed in these notes. Of this period
the following record is preserved. “By the blessing of God, my beloved
companion’s health was soon restored, and the sweet addition to our
little family, was a new source of gratitude, and happiness. How
familiar to my recollection are the scenes of that delightful period. My
own anxieties were now fast wearing away, or only intruded themselves as
the unfavourable symptoms of ill health recurred, which was very seldom.
The confirmed health of our darling boy was more apparent every day,
and he now became peculiarly engaging, and interesting. Although but
three years old, he gave evident signs of great capacity, and we rather
checked, than stimulated the inclination towards learning, which he very
decidedly possessed even at that early age.

“Tours lying on the great road from Bordeaux, Passage, and Rochefort,
to the depôt of the prisoners, we had frequent detachments of our
unfortunate countrymen marching through. Early in the year the officers
and crews of H. M. ships the Calcutta, and Ranger, together with those
of the Belle Packet, which had been captured by the Rochefort squadron,
under Admiral Allemande, arrived at Tours, on their march to the depôt
of Verdun and Arras, to which they were destined. They were all confined
in the common prison, as they had been indiscriminately marched under
the same escort, without any respect being paid to the rank of the
officers, however high. The landlord of the principal inn at Tours,
called upon me late in the evening, to inform me they had just reached
the prison, concluding that I would make an application for the officers
to be liberated on their parole. That _mon hôte_ was not entirely
disinterested, came out, upon our way to the General’s house together.
‘Monsieur,’ said he, ‘il ne faut pas seulement penser a soi. Il y’a
d’autres Aubergistes à Tours, qui voudroient avoir de vos Messieurs chez
eux. Je vous prie donc de me consigner _vingt des_ plus riches, et que
les autres soient partagés parmi mes confrères.’ The General immediately
at my request gave an order to liberate the officers on parole. Joy
resounded at once through the prison, nor were the seamen and marines
without their share of it, as they were immediately supplied with a hot
supper, and had their regular meals during the remainder of their stay
at Tours. Although relief could not be officially given, in consequence
of the prohibition of the French government, this was done by private
contribution, and the expence attending it was subsequently defrayed by
the Admiralty; and the liberality of their country by the remittances
made for their relief, enabled us to procure for them many comforts
at this dreary season of the year, during a winter that was felt very
severely, even in that mild region. This was an additional alleviation to
the sense of our captivity.”

On the 9th of April, 1806, Captain Brenton and his family removed to a
country house near Tours, of which he thus speaks. “This was, indeed a
little paradise to us; a most beautiful situation, on the right bank
of the Loire, very near the bridge of Tours. The house was, in fact,
an excavation made in the solid rock, upon a considerable elevation,
the face and roof only being built with masonry. The approach to it was
by a long flight of steps, ascending through four terraces, on each of
which was a beautiful garden, and on the uppermost level, contiguous to
the house, a delightful grove of trees; surrounding a spacious saloon
distinct from the house. This singular and delightful retreat was
called ‘Les petits Capucins.’ Nothing but the idea of captivity, and
that restless anxiety for worldly prosperity, or to speak more plainly,
that forgetfulness of the inexhaustible goodness of Divine Providence,
and want of confidence in our Heavenly Father, could have prevented my
enjoying perfect felicity there. But ungrateful, and impatient as I
was, I can now recollect with feelings bordering on delight, the many
instances in which I acknowledged my sense of the happiness I enjoyed.
We were now most comfortably fixed in our delightful habitation, but our
peaceful enjoyment was soon unsettled by the prospect of an exchange of
prisoners. The death of Mr. Pitt, which had taken place in January, and
the coalition of parties which had been the consequence, now excited
in the breast of Buonaparte sanguine hopes of being able to negociate
a peace, through the influence of Mr. Fox. For notwithstanding his
rancorous hostility against Great Britain, this had long been his
most anxious wish. England was the only enemy he dreaded. In order to
conciliate Mr. Fox, such of _his_ friends as were prisoners in France,
were immediately released, as well as those, whose liberation was thought
likely to be agreeable to him. Of this number were Lord Elgin, General
Abercrombie, Captain Gower, and some others; and at the same time I
received a letter from Captain Jurieu, a French captain in the navy, who
had been sent over from England, three years before, in exchange for
me, recommending me to make every possible effort to get this exchange
ratified, which he had been unable to do, nor could he procure permission
to return to his captivity in England agreeable to the pledge he had
given. I of course followed his advice, but without success.” On the
11th of June, Captain Coote quitted Tours for England, and “this event,”
Captain Brenton says, “we considered of very great importance. Captain
Coote being a commander, and recently captured, I had every reason to
be sanguine, in the hope that my own liberty was at hand.” On the 23rd
of July, he says, “The fluctuations of hope and fear respecting our
liberation from captivity, had now in a great measure subsided. The
departure of Captain Coote, for England, who had so recently been made
a prisoner, convinced me that the measure was not meant to be general,
for had that been the case, priority of capture would have given me the
preference.” Captain Brenton says, “It was even reported that Buonaparte
had declared he would not consent to my exchange, which was probably the
case. The people of France were as clamorous for peace as they dared
to be, and when the municipality, in grand costume, were parading the
streets, with military music, to announce some of the great victories
gained in Germany, they would exclaim, ‘Eh! voila une autre victoire,
et cela nous donnera une autre conscription.’ When the news of Lord
Lauderdale’s departure from France reached Tours, it was announced in the
theatre; when a person was heard distinctly to say, ‘Cette maudite guerre
done ne finira jamais.’ Such, I believe, was a very general feeling
amongst the inhabitants of France. An increased degree of economy was
manifested by the French Government. The Milan and Berlin decrees were
issued for the prohibition of all trade with Great Britain, and bankers
were even forbidden to discount the prisoners’ bills. Messrs. Peregaux
wrote to me with their usual liberality, informing me of this inhuman
order; but they added, that although they could no longer discount my
bills, yet they begged I would not scruple to draw upon them for whatever
money I might require; and that they should be quite satisfied, that
their account should be settled at the end of the war. The victory gained
by Sir John Duckworth off San Domingo, in which he captured and destroyed
the whole of the French squadron, did not at all contribute to allay the
irritable feelings of the Emperor.

“I therefore felt convinced, from the selection that had been made of
prisoners to be liberated, that Buonaparte had a particular object in
view; that he was courting a party, instead of endeavouring to conciliate
the British Government. This soon proved to be the case. The negociation
was broken off, and the acrimony shewn towards the British prisoners was
greater than ever; all communication with England, even the transfer
of bills, was positively forbidden.” These restrictions do not seem to
have extended to the prisoners at Tours, for, on the 6th of September
Captain Brenton says, “This day was passed in great delight in rambling
over the beautiful grounds of Chanteloup, and visiting the castle of
Amboise. Our darling children were in high health, and my own health in
a great measure restored. We were in possession of every thing to make
us happy and grateful. The autumn was delightful, and we were under no
restraint as prisoners, but permitted to make excursions to every part
of the district. Our society was small but friendly. We had an addition
to our friends by the arrival of Mr. Forbes (probably brother to the
one before mentioned) and Sir H. Titchbourne, with their families, and
had established a social intercourse, which was productive of much
comfort and cheerfulness. In the beginning of November the approach of
winter induced us to change our residence, from the beautiful place we
inhabited, to a more commodious house in the city of Tours, where we
had made up our minds to pass the winter contentedly. All hopes of an
exchange had now subsided; mine were now directed towards a continuance
of the indulgence of being allowed to live at a distance from a depôt;
and from the increased ill humour of Buonaparte towards England, I
had serious apprehensions of more vigorous measures being resorted to
respecting the prisoners. I was under the influence of these feelings,
when one morning returning home I found my beloved Isabella in tears,
and much agitated; she told me a gens d’armes had been in pursuit of
me, requiring my immediate attendance before the General. The visit of
a gens d’armes rarely boded any thing favourable towards a prisoner. I
however endeavoured to preserve my tranquillity, and soothe the anxiety
of your dear mother. I hastened to the General expecting some unpleasant
communication, but to my great surprize and joy, was received with great
cordiality, and these unexpected words, ‘Monsieur, vous n’êtes plus
prisonnier—Je vous en félicite.’ You may easily imagine the effect this
information produced upon me. I ran home in an ecstacy of joy, which
I concluded would have been equally great on the part of my darling
companion. Joy did for a moment glisten in her eyes, for she always
shared in my feelings. She felt a gleam of happiness because she saw me
happy; but a moment’s reflection shewed her the certainty of our being
separated upon our reaching England, by my being employed afloat. She
immediately contrasted the felicity she had enjoyed in France, with
the probability of a long absence from each other, and all its fertile
sources of anxiety and misery. But she was too good and too grateful
to our merciful Benefactor to indulge these feelings long. She soon
became herself again, and sympathized sincerely in my joy. Of her own
feelings on this occasion, the record left by her own pen seems worthy of

“Monday, 25th December, 1806, Morlaix. Left Tours after a truly happy
residence of twelve months. In the course of that time I had the
satisfaction to observe the restoration of the health of two of the
objects dearest to me in the world, and we have been surrounded with
every comfort and blessing but liberty. I failed not to offer up my
thanks to Almighty God daily, for the mercies he so bountifully bestowed
upon me; and now, O heavenly Father, Thou hast called forth my gratitude
on a new subject, by thy merciful goodness, for all good belongeth unto
Thee alone. We have at length obtained the object we so much wished
for. Our captivity has ceased, and through Thy mercy and protection, we
have been enabled to perform a journey of upwards of two hundred miles,
without the smallest accident or delay. My beloved husband and children
have arrived in perfect health, and for myself I can truly say, that I
never enjoyed a greater share. Now, then, O great and merciful Father, I
implore again Thy protection, in the voyage we are about to take at the
present season of the year. Great must be the perils and dangers, but
under Thy Almighty care, I humbly hope and trust we shall be preserved
from them all, and be enabled to reach our own country in health and
safety, and once more enjoy the blessing of finding our friends in health
and happiness. This I beg through Jesus Christ our blessed Lord and
Saviour. Amen.” To this memorandum, Sir Jahleel Brenton subjoins, “Here
my beloved children, is an example of pious gratitude and firm confidence
in the protection of the same Almighty Being, who had always watched
over us. To a common mind the idea of crossing the channel under all the
circumstances in which she was placed, would have been full of terror, a
few weeks only before your birth my dear Charles, in the depth of winter,
and in a small French vessel of only eighty tons. But your mother never
forgot in whose care she was placed. We had a most favourable journey
from Tours to Morlaix, a constant succession of fine weather, and every
comfort in our own possession to make up for the inconveniences on the
road, which were sometimes very great. On our arrival at Morlaix we
hired a small French brig for sixty louis d’ors to take us over. Many
delays and difficulties occurred before we could embark, and when this
point was gained, and we had reached the mouth of the Port, six miles
from Morlaix, a foul wind was likely to detain us. But what seemed to
promise an additional vexation, was a French privateer lying in readiness
to take advantage of the first change; and had she sailed, we should
not have been permitted to follow for the next twenty-four hours, lest
we might convey intelligence respecting her. This circumstance gave me
much anxiety, which I now feel to have been inexcusable considering the
blessings I enjoyed. It kept me frequently on deck during the night; the
wind having suddenly changed, we weighed at dawn of day, and were at sea
before the privateer made any movement. I then considered myself out of
captivity, and I humbly hope I felt the gratitude I so deeply owed to the
Almighty, for His merciful protection of me and mine, during that part
of my life, particularly when I was a prisoner; ‘Let them give thanks
whom the Lord hath redeemed, and delivered them out of the hands of the
enemy.’ Ps. cvii. I felt it worthy of recollection in every subsequent
year, that this delightful Psalm should have been the first which I was
called upon to read to my ship’s company, a very few weeks after my
release, on the first Sunday after my appointment to the Spartan.”

Further particulars of the journey to Morlaix from Captain Brenton’s
notes may here be added.

“Dr. and Mrs. Grey, and their daughter, were included with my own
family in my passport (see the annexed letter from M. Decrés).[11] This
most peculiar instance of kind attention and good feeling, was procured
through the indulgence of the Minister of Marine: through whose kindness
Dr. Grey’s family had been permitted to join us at Tours. Messrs.
Peregaux also availed themselves of this opportunity, to shew that the
kindness and liberality which had been so strikingly evinced at the early
part of my captivity, were unabated. With my passport came a letter from
those gentlemen, containing their warmest congratulations; and stating
that in order to prevent any possibility of delay, they had sent me
one hundred pounds for the expences of my journey, and wishing me all
happiness and success.

“On the 20th December our two happy and united families left Tours
for Morlaix, which we reached on the 27th, passing through La Fleche,
Rennes, Lamballe and St. Brieux. At Lamballe, which we reached late in
the evening, I was informed that a detachment of English prisoners
had arrived, and were in the prison, and that I might see them, if I
went early in the morning, when they were to resume their march for
the interior. At the dawn of day, I was at the prison door, and as the
sailor was opening it, called out in the professional phrase, ‘Yo ho!
shipmates.’ No sooner was the well known expression heard, than one
of the unfortunate inmates exclaimed, ‘If I did not dream I was just
drinking a pot of porter!’ This of course he considered prophetic of his
obtaining some relief; nor was he disappointed, for the hundred pounds
sent by the kind M. Peregaux enabled me to give to each a sum which might
have been a source of comfort for some days; but it is probable, that it
was soon swallowed up by extortion and excess. The money was of course
given on government account.

“On leaving Lamballe, on the road to St. Brieux, I had got out of the
carriage for the purpose of walking up a very steep hill, and on reaching
the top I had lost sight of the carriage, owing to the winding of the
road; I here saw another detachment of unfortunate blue jackets, under
the escort of gens d’armes marching for Lamballe. I hailed them, and
having ascertained to what ship they belonged, I gave to each man the
sum of money I thought I could spare; the escort all this time preserved
rather an unaccountable silence, but when the distribution was over,
accosted me with, ‘A present Monsieur, il faut savoir qui vous êtes; ou
est votre passport?’ This had soon occurred to me, and I recollected
that it was not about me, but in the carriage, which now appeared on the
summit of the hill. This however set all to rights, and the poor sailors
gave three cheers to their countrymen, and pursued their melancholy

“In the course of a few hours, as we approached St. Brieux, we had from
the top of a very high hill, a view of the deep blue sea, of the English
channel. The effect of this sight upon persons in our situation may be
easier conceived than described; after being shut up for three years
and a half in the interior of France, a far longer period than I had
ever before been separated from my favourite element. Cheers from each
denoted the general joy of the little party at again beholding what we
all regarded as our country’s own domain. On our arrival at St. Brieux,
we met another detachment of English prisoners, but they were officers on
parole. The two parties, the one on their way home, the other beginning
captivity, met together at the table d’hôte; and notwithstanding these
adverse circumstances on the one side, the meeting was gratifying to
both. I was again enabled through Messrs. Peregaux to supply each officer
with the means of performing his long journey with comparative comfort.

“As we left the land the wind freshened, and a heavy sea got up. The
French sailors who had been very earnest in offering their services to
the ladies, and had even given their respective names, that they might be
called upon when wanted, were the first to be prostrated by sea sickness,
the whole eleven men without exception. The Captain alone was unaffected
by the motion of his vessel; and on my suggesting to him the necessity
of the topsail being reefed, as the wind increased, he shrugged his
shoulders with the usual phrase of ‘impossible.’ He however admitted the
necessity of something being done, and having requested me to take the
helm, he managed to lower the topsails on the cap, and as the wind was
well aft, the vessel was able to bear it, and we two shared the helm
between us for that day. In the middle of the ensuing night we had got
over under the Start point, and the wind having got more to the westward,
we found shelter there until daylight; when a beautiful day broke upon
us, and enabled us to reach Dartmouth by eight o’clock in the morning.
Thus ended our captivity on the 29th of December, 1806, having commenced
on the 3rd July, 1803.

“The retrospect gave me much thankfulness in every point of view. It was
a singular circumstance, that on my journey from Bath to Portsmouth, in
June, 1803, one of my companions on the coach was the late Sir Matthew
Blakiston, who mentioned a report (an unfounded one) that the Hazard
Sloop of war, commanded by Captain Neave, had been taken, and carried
into a French Port. I immediately expressed my opinion, that I could
hardly conceive a greater misfortune befalling a professional man; and
that it would be one of the most difficult to support. In less than a
month from that time, I was actually in the very dreaded situation; and
lost by it the command of one of the finest frigates in the Navy, with
all the bright prospects attendant upon such a position, at the first
breaking out of a war, when the ocean is covered by the enemy’s vessels,
and few Captains with such commands fail in making fortunes. But the
wind is tempered to the shorn lamb—the blow to me was, indeed, a severe
one, but I was enabled to support it; and I have since been led to
reflect upon the merciful dispensation which attended the event. It is
very possible, that the effect of the concussion of the brain, which I
had so recently received in the Minerve previously to her capture, might
have disabled me, for the arduous duty attending on the command of a
cruising frigate; and as I had already been indulged by having two acting
Captains appointed to my ship, I could not have expected that a third
would have been allowed; and had I been obliged then to retire on half
pay, with the little interest I possessed, and the deeds of the new war,
throwing into shade the achievements of the last; it is very probable
that I might never have succeeded in getting a ship; but must have
remained, like many of my brother officers, on half pay for the remainder
of my days. I landed as a prisoner in France with the comforting
recollection that no honour had been lost with my ship; that it was one
of the unavoidable occurrences to which all are exposed in the profession
of arms. With these feelings, and gratitude for my protection, under a
fire of such duration, and of so complicated a nature, my mind was kept
in perfect peace.”

At this point of the narrative it may not be irrelevant to introduce some
remarks, which occur in the private memoir, on the state of the British
prisoners in France; in order to place, in its proper point of view,
the general situation of the prisoners, and to consider how far the
charges against the French Government for neglect and cruelty are made
out. “It is an accusation which has been frequently made, and as I have
often given my opinion, not only in conversation, but officially upon the
subject, and as the latter stands upon record, it may be right in this
place to give the sentiments, which I have frequently and deliberately
expressed. But to do complete justice to this subject, and indeed to the
French nation, it is necessary to distinguish between the conduct of
individuals, and the official measures of the French government. In doing
this—under the first head we have a most gratifying task, so numerous
are the instances of benevolence, kindness, and the best of feelings,
manifested towards our suffering countrymen.

“I have already adverted to the singularly generous conduct of M. Dubois
at Cherbourg, of Messrs Perregaux, the bankers, to the benevolence of
Monsieur Parmentier, the Mayor of Phalsbourg, and the kindness and ready
assistance of the French military authorities, at the different depôts;
and I am decidedly of opinion, that had such conduct been sanctioned
and encouraged by the Government itself, there is little doubt but the
situation of the prisoners would have been very different from what
they experienced during the greater part of the war. It will hence be
seen that the French people as a people, were by no means implicated in
the sufferings of our countrymen; but on the contrary, there are very
many instances in which they shewed the kindest feelings towards them;
received them into their houses, when found lame or sick on the road,
and incapable of continuing their march; and when they informed the
nearest brigade of gens d’armes of the circumstance, at once to vindicate
themselves from the charge of harbouring deserters, and to procure
permission for the sufferer to remain undisturbed, until able to continue
his journey. This is the bright side of the picture. The other is of a
very different description. It will be seen that the government allowance
for the support of a prisoner was quite inadequate to the purpose—and
that when administered as it was to them individually in prison, with
no means of purchasing food, but through the abominable suttler,
famine and disease were the unavoidable consequences. Then again, the
arrangement made by the minister of war for the supply of clothes, shoes,
and bedding, were tardy, neglectful, and insufficient; and but for the
exertions of their own officers, many of the prisoners would undoubtedly
have perished in the course of the winter. The places also allotted for
their confinement, were, as has been shewn, quite unfit for the purpose;
often without roofs, containing mud and pools of water, where their straw
was to be deposited for their beds; and with additional abuse attending
the straw, which instead of being delivered fresh from the sheaf, was in
some instances only fit for the dunghill.

“The manner in which prisoners were also marched from the most distant
parts, such as Toulon, and Bourdeaux, and even in many instances from
Genoa, and the ports of the Adriatic, was highly reprehensible in the
government of a civilized country. It is known that the whole of France,
during the late wars, and I believe its dependencies in Europe, were
divided into squares about two leagues each way; and at the intersection
of all the lines forming these squares, or as nearly as possible,
a brigade of gens d’armes was stationed. If a small detachment of
prisoners, not exceeding eight or ten, were to be sent from Toulon for
instance, to Givet in the Ardennes, they were put under escort of two
mounted gens d’armes; were generally handcuffed in pairs, and sometimes
in addition were made fast to each other by a rope, and conducted to
the nearest brigade, in the line of the destined march; and by this
forwarded to the next, in the same manner. At whatever town or village
they were to pass the night, they were generally locked up in the common
prison; from whence they continued the route with the next brigade the
following morning. Left solely to the gens d’armes, it may naturally be
supposed, that the treatment was not always the most humane; although as
has been shewn in the course of these pages, there were many instances
of real kindness and feeling, evinced by these men. But it was too often
the case, that the prisoners being without shoes became so lame as to
be incapable of marching; they were then for some time driven on at
the point of the sabre; sometimes dragged along by being attached to
the horse; and at length, when utterly incapable of proceeding, they
were deposited in the next prison until able to march. These instances,
unhappily, were but too numerous, as the straggling parties of a few
individuals were, from time to time, passed on from the coast to the
interior. One consisting of a Captain in the navy, an officer of marines,
and a private gentleman, who had been taken, coming home passengers
from America, is too remarkable to be passed over. Their names are,
Captain Lyall of the navy, Major Stanser of the marines, and Mr. Palmer,
a private gentleman of Bermuda. They were landed at one of the ports of
the western coast of France; and notwithstanding their rank in life, were
marched in the same manner as common seamen, from brigade to brigade, and
like them confined in the common prison of the place, where they halted
for the night; and upon one occasion, after being placed in the Cachot,
and shewn the straw upon which they had to pass the night, a fierce
mastiff was brought into the place, and the prisoners were told that if
they lay perfectly quiet during the night they would not be molested; but
if they attempted to get up the dog would seize them; and as a proof of
this not being only mentioned to alarm them, whenever they rustled the
straw, the dog began to growl. The situation of the prisoners, during
the long night, may be imagined. Complaint was made of this treatment by
these gentlemen on their arrival at Verdun, but no redress was granted

“No sooner had the prisoners in general been deprived of the assistance
and countenance of their officers, than the old system of suttlers
and wretchedness was renewed, and this state of things, aggravated by
hopelessness, was the lot of the increasing numbers added to the depôts
by successive captures, from 1805 to the end of the war in 1814.”

In committing this record to paper, Captain Brenton states that he
considered he was in the performance of an imperative duty; and, whilst
he expressed the grateful sense of the many acts of kindness, received
from individuals, he felt called upon to substantiate the statement he
has already made, respecting the sufferings of the prisoners, from the
inadequacy of the supplies granted, and the measures adopted by the
French government for the maintenance of those whom the fate of war had
thrown into their hands. It is also much to be wished, that if there were
any just causes of complaint with regard to the treatment experienced
by the French prisoners in England, the charges should be brought
forward in a tangible shape, that they also might be enquired into, and
a remedy applied when necessary. But these must not be such wretched
garbled statements as those of General Pillet, to whose own countrymen
an appeal might be safely made, with the most perfect assurance of their
pronouncing the whole work to be totally untrue. I have endeavoured to
view the question in such a manner, that a judgment might be formed,
as to all its bearings, and I now leave it, in the sanguine hope that
many, many years may elapse, before the two nations are again placed in
relations of hostility against each other; and that should such an event
unhappily recur, they both may have a watchful eye over their prisoners,
considering their honour as well as their conscience pledged to protect
those who can have no other protection.

Captain Brenton, as to the particular cause of his own unexpected
release from captivity, gives in his private memoranda the following
account. “A nephew of Marshal Massena, Captain L’Infernet, had been
taken in the battle of Trafalgar, in the command of the French ship of
the line, L’Intrepide. Massena had been making great efforts to procure
his exchange; but the Admiralty, whilst they expressed their readiness
to accede to this exchange, stated their determination to accept of no
other officer but myself, whom they considered from the priority of my
capture, to be unjustifiably detained in France, whilst other officers
had been liberated, and that without any reason having been assigned for
it. Buonaparte having no reason to believe that our government would
relax from this determination, ordered my passport to be sent to me. It
soon appeared by letters from France, that I had had a very narrow escape
of being detained even at Morlaix. A small package containing copies
of official correspondence, which I had with me in the carriage, and
which was kept uppermost in order to prevent any suspicion, that they
were intended to be concealed; was by accident either dropped from the
carriage, or left at some inn on the road. It was found and forwarded
to the Capital of the Department; where the principal authority, as a
provisional measure, sent off an express to Morlaix to detain me; whilst
the papers were forwarded to the Bureau de la guerre at Paris, where the
order for detention was confirmed. We had however got beyond the Castle
of Morlaix before the order arrived, and had no sooner passed it, than we
felt ourselves safe within the limits of the British Empire.”

This period of the narrative then which includes his captivity in France
is thus closed, and if some details which seem irrelevant, and some
particulars which seem trivial have been introduced, the Editor still
feels that their insertion is justified by the degree in which they
exhibit the character of the subject of the memoir, or unfold the process
by which that character was formed. There can be no doubt, that both to
mind and body, this period of detention was eminently useful; and this
recollection may have a tendency to reconcile others, who, in the course
of war, may be exposed to a similar calamity, to the present privations
of their lot, by considering its general consequences, and its final
effects. In the case of Sir Jahleel Brenton it is but too probable, that
if this long interval of forced repose had not occurred, his constitution
would never have recovered from the effects of the accident he suffered,
while fitting out the Minerve; and that the excitement of active service
would have destroyed a system so shattered as his was. It is still more
probable, that active employment in his profession, whether successful or
unsuccessful, would have prevented much of that moral improvement, that
growth in grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus, which we have seen going
on silently and gradually in the retirement of his captivity.

That he would have been under other circumstances, a man whom the world
would have admired, a noble minded, liberal, benevolent and gallant
officer, is certain; but that he would have grown into the reality of
the Christian character, that he would have learnt the state of his own
heart, and his need of a Saviour; that he would have felt the real value
of the Gospel, and known it to be the power of God unto salvation in them
that believe, is more than questionable. We may therefore admit, that
God in mercy withdrew him from labours for which he was unfit, and from
delusions which could not have been resisted; and placed him for a time
in a situation, where body and mind were to regain their healthy tone;
and where the means for more extensive usefulness were to be acquired.

But captivity is a bitter trial to an ardent and ambitious spirit; and
we cannot doubt that there were moments, when the iron entered into his
soul, and the necessity of submitting to a lot which extinguished all his
hopes, was a severe burden to a faith as yet but imperfectly developed.
In many instances likewise we have seen that the bitterness of captivity
was aggravated by the treatment the prisoners were exposed to, and the
oppression they suffered; and each of these cases must have provoked
the indignant feelings of officers, who were conscious of deserving the
respect even of their enemies.

There were however bright exceptions, and these exceptions deserve the
more notice as they occurred in decided opposition to the spirit of the
government, and probably would have provoked the displeasure of the
Emperor, if he had become acquainted with them; and his displeasure
generally found prompt and ample means for exhibiting itself.

Among the individuals to be named with respect on this account is M.
Decrés, the Minister of Marine. Intimately associated as he was with
the government, he always seems to have attended to the representations
made by Captain Brenton, and to have made every exertion in his favour
that could have been expected. M. Decrés at the moment probably
yielded to the sympathy which one brave man has for another, and gladly
alleviated, according to his opportunities, the sufferings of an officer
whose gallantry entitled him to respect; but he did not foresee that
the kindness he shewed to a British officer, was to be the occasion of
multiplied kindnesses to his own countrymen; and that many a French heart
was to be gladdened by the consolations he procured for a single English

The Editor therefore feels great pleasure in inserting here extracts
from some familiar letters written at a later period, which shew how the
circumstances of this captivity were remembered, and the way in which the
courtesies of M. Decrés were requited.

                                “SPARTAN, OFF TOULON, NOV. 3, 1807.

    “… You may remember how determined I was to wreak my vengeance
    upon the whole nation. At Malta I was senior officer, and I
    found a number of French prisoners. I did not exactly order
    them to the Appel twice a day, as used to be the case with
    us at Verdun. A colonel had been taken with all his family a
    few days before, and had lost his wife at sea, leaving him
    with three dear little infants. You may stare, but I gave him
    leave to return to France with his family and his physician.
    This I meant as a small token of remembrance to M. Decrés,
    but firmly resolved that all the others should remain until
    all our friends at Verdun were liberated; but like other good
    resolutions this was not a lasting one. A deputation of captive
    ladies waited upon me. ‘Messieurs les Anglais, sont des gens
    pleins d’honneur, qui ne font jamais la guerre aux femmes
    ni aux enfans.’ ‘Eh de grace, Mesdames retournez dens votre
    patrie, je ne vous empêche pas.’ ‘Hélas, mon Commandant, sans
    mon Mari? Le deserterai je dans le malheur? Que deviendrai’
    je, s’il succombe sous le poids de l’adversité? Sa Santé est
    chancelante, et Monsieur n’ignore pas la douceur d’être dans
    le sein de sa famille.’ ‘Madame, je me rends, a vos raisons,
    partez vous et votre mari.’ ‘Et le mien aussi Monsieur? Vite,
    vite; allez, allez!’ In this manner I was coaxed out of a
    dozen; they all set out vowing eternal gratitude,” &c.

       *       *       *       *       *

                                    “SPARTAN, OFF TOULON, AUGUST 8.

    “… On Friday we had one of the prettiest sporting days I ever
    remember. A frigate came out of Toulon with a convoy, and we
    gave chase to her. She ran between the Hieres Islands, round
    Cape Taillet, and into the gulf of Grimaud, where she anchored
    under the citadel of St. Tropez, and escaped. We however cut
    off two of her convoy, and were very near getting hold of
    a man of war brig, but the breezes failed us. I landed all
    my prisoners with their property, charmed as they said, ‘De
    l’honnêteté de M. le Commandant de la frégate, et qu’ils ne
    manqueroient pas d’en faire une mention honourable au préfet
    maritime de l’arrondissement.’ I told them they might thank M.
    Decrés for it, for his attention to me, and I hope he will hear
    of it, as I shall never forget his kindness.”

War no doubt is a great evil, but when war is carried on in this spirit
it loses something of its sufferings, and much of its horrors; and one
may be forgiven for dwelling with pleasure on those gleams of light which
kindness of heart and liberality cast across the dark and melancholy
period of those protracted hostilities.



“The day after our arrival at Dartmouth, as my beloved Isabella required
repose, after the fatigue and anxiety she had so long been exposed to,
I left her at Upton, near Brixham, with our kind and hospitable friend,
Mrs. Cutler;[12] and proceeded to London, in order to make my appearance
at the Admiralty as soon as possible. Mr. Thomas Grenville, then first
Lord, received me in the most cordial manner, and asked me under existing
circumstances how the Admiralty could best shew their sympathy for my
misfortunes, and their approbation of my conduct. I replied that I was
not aware of any thing their Lordships could do, until my court martial
for the loss of the Minerve, should have taken place. Mr. Grenville
replied, this had also been his apprehension, but he was at a loss to
know how the court martial could be held, since the officers being all
prisoners in France, no adequate witnesses could be found. I observed,
that I knew many of the seamen and marines had made their escape, and
might probably be found serving in some of His Majesty’s ships. A doubt
still remained, whether the evidence of these men without that of any
officer, would be deemed sufficient. Mr. Grenville however placed me
in the hands of the clerk of the Record office, desiring I should have
access to any documents I might wish to examine. After travelling through
many folios, I discovered the case of Captain Craycroft, who in the
preceding war had been captured by the French, and whose witnesses upon
his court martial were, the surgeon and a midshipman. I immediately
communicated this, by a message, to Mr. Grenville. His answer was, ‘Good,
try again:’ and soon after, the case of Captain Brey, of the Hound,
on whose trial a midshipman and a boatswain’s mate only appeared, was
deemed conclusive by Mr. Grenville. An order was immediately issued by
the Admiralty to all the commanders in chief on the home stations for
an enquiry to be made in the ships under their respective commands, for
any men who had been captured in the Minerve, and might have made their
escape from France; and that in the event of any such being found, they
should be immediately sent to the flag ship, at Portsmouth, and their
names be reported to the Admiralty. In the course of a few days, six were
reported, two boatswain’s mates, and four seamen, and marines.” The order
was immediately issued for the court martial on Captain Brenton, to be
held on board the Gladiator, in Portsmouth Harbour; and it is hardly
necessary to add, that the sentence of the court was the honourable
acquittal of the Captain of the Minerve.

Immediately after the conclusion of the court martial, Captain Brenton
having obtained a copy of the sentence, proceeded forthwith to London,
and waited upon Mr. Grenville, who most kindly said, “We have been
quite prepared for the nature of the sentence, and I have been only
waiting to receive it officially, before I should attend to rather an
extraordinary request, made by a brother officer of yours, who has begged
that he may be permitted to resign the command of a fine frigate, just
built and fitted out, and full manned. I can now grant his request, and
make you the offer of becoming his successor.” Captain Brenton’s joy
may be imagined at this most gratifying instance of the First Lord’s
approbation. He certainly did look forward to employment, at no very
distant period; but the utmost he could expect was to have a frigate to
fit out. Here was one of a superior description, all ready for immediate
service. He lost no time in taking command, having joined her on the 10th
February; the Spartan being then under orders to sail the moment the wind
would permit, with the East India convoy.

In his private journal he says, “I left my beloved Isabella only five
days before your birth, my dear Charles. I should most gladly have waited
till that anxious period was over; but my ship was under sailing orders,
and I left your mother under the care of the merciful Providence of Him,
who never deserted her while on earth, and to whom we may now humbly
and firmly hope she has gone. I had soon the happiness of knowing she
was well, and thankful for this additional blessing bestowed upon us, I
sailed to the Mediterranean, without one legitimate subject of anxiety;
on the contrary, nothing but happiness in the retrospect, and the most
cheerful prospects before me.” He adds; “A few days after I joined the
Spartan, my convoy was transferred to the charge of another Captain; and
the Commissioner’s yacht came alongside my ship with £700,000 in cash;
and orders for me to take it immediately to Malta. Here was another act
of kindness on the part of Mr. Grenville. He found in this commission
an opportunity of indemnifying me for my losses and expenses in France,
of which he immediately availed himself. For some time all payments to
the Captains of ships of war for carrying cash had been discontinued,
but it was thought proper to resume it at this period; and the Admiralty
recommended to the Treasurer, this as a fit occasion. The sum of half per
cent. was in consequence allowed for the future, and this gave me £1100.”

Contrary winds detained Captain Brenton at Spithead till the 2nd of
March, when he sailed with a strong N.E. wind, in company with Sir
Thomas Lavie, in the Blanche. The latter, being under orders to cruize
on the coast of France, kept close in with the French shore, and was
unfortunately wrecked the same night in the bight of Abervrach. Sir
Thomas was a member of Captain Brenton’s court martial, and little
thought at that time, how soon it would be his turn to succeed him as a
prisoner in France. The Spartan necessarily keeping the channel course,
was not exposed to this danger. She was off Lisbon on the 7th day,
having orders to call off that place, but having carried away her main
yard in a heavy squall, off the bar, bore up for Lisbon, sending the
Lively, Captain Mackinlay, who was cruising off the coast of Portugal,
to communicate with the British Minister. The Spartan had under convoy
one transport laden with arms and ammunition for Sicily; the master of
which, notwithstanding the most positive orders not to part company with
the Spartan, bore up in the night, whilst they were laying to, waiting
for daylight, off the mouth of the Tagus, and on the following night
ran on shore off San Lucar, near Cadiz, although having a fair wind for
Gibraltar, which was the place of rendezvous, in case of parting company
by accident. The ship was soon taken possession of by the Spaniards; but
before they could get even a small portion of her cargo out of her, she
was boarded by the boats of the Malta, commanded by Captain Buller, and
burnt. The Spartan arrived in two days after at Gibraltar, and having got
a new main yard, and taken on board a small additional sum of money for
Malta, proceeded to Messina, where she arrived about the middle of March.
From thence she proceeded to Malta to deliver the money destined for that
place, but did not go into the harbour, remaining off only a few hours,
and then made sail for Palermo. At the very moment of her departure an
awful event occurred at Malta. A corps, which had been raised in the
Morea, and generally called the Spartan corps (the coincidence was much
remarked upon as very singular) mutinied; and having got possession of
the Fort Ricasoli, determined upon resistance, until such time as what
they called their grievances were redressed. These were that they should
be allowed to retain the lower part of their Greek dress, instead of
wearing the tight trowsers so abhorrent to a Greek. They had no objection
to the jacket, but they could not endure the labour of cleaning their
arms, or pipe-claying their belts, &c. A Greek will be as active as any
one while on actual duty, but when that is over, he considers the time
his own, and is more disposed to pass it sleeping in the sun than in any
other manner. These men, having seized the Fort Ricasoli, were not only
determined to defend themselves, but became the assailants, and turning
the mortars of the fortress towards La Valette, began throwing shells
into it. Providentially having no knowledge themselves of this branch of
warfare, they were obliged to compel some artillery officers whom they
had made prisoners in the fortress to direct the bombardment; and these
officers under the pretence of intimidation, gladly availed themselves of
the opportunity of throwing the shells over the city into the quarantine
harbour, which from the knowledge of the scale of the fortifications they
were enabled to do with great accuracy. The shells consequently fell
harmless. When the mutineers saw that such measures were taken by the
General, as must insure the reduction of the fortress in a few hours,
they came to the desperate resolution of drawing lots who should blow up
the magazine, and who should stand at the entrance, to convey the last
signal of the explosion, both of whom must necessarily perish. Those who
drew the lots took their stations accordingly, and the remainder of the
Greeks having taken such measures as they deemed best to enable them to
get over the wall; the signal was given, and a most tremendous explosion
took place, doing considerable damage to the dockyard, and parts
adjacent. In the confusion occasioned by this unexpected event, nearly
the whole of the mutineers succeeded in getting out of the fortress,
and dispersed themselves over the island, in the hope of being able to
procure boats and to escape; but precautions had been too effectually
taken to allow of this; every point was guarded, and in the course of a
few hours every man was taken. A court martial was instantly assembled,
and a great number were condemned to death; many were executed, and the
remainder sent back to the Morea. It is much to be lamented that the
national feelings of these people had been so unnecessarily outraged.
They maintained to the last that they enlisted under the express
condition, that their costume should not be interfered with, and that
they should not be obliged to clean and polish accoutrements. When
however the usual manœuvres of a recruiting serjeant are taken into
consideration, it is not improbable that even greater exemptions than
these might have been promised; but a Greek is not a man to be tampered
with any more than a Malay.

The Spartan found a squadron lying at Palermo, consisting of the
Windsor Castle, and four other ships of the line, which had been sent
there at the request of the king of Sicily, and were under the command
of Captain, afterwards Rear Admiral Boyle. A gale of wind of most
extraordinary violence came on, whilst the Spartan was with them. The
wind was from the southward, and therefore directly off the land, from
which the squadron were not a mile distant. In consequence of this, the
sea had no space to get up in; but notwithstanding that a dense spray
was lifted up from the water, called by seamen, “a spoon drift,” which
lay along the surface as even as though it were a sheet of snow. Whilst
walking the deck Captain Brenton was surprised by a sharp sound like
a mast going, and looking forward, saw the jib fly up the stay like
lightning, and immediately shiver to atoms. By some accident the down
haul had not been made fast in the forecastle, and the wind getting
into the head of the jib, carried it up like lightning. No other damage
however was done, although the Eagle was for some time in danger, having
been close under Monte Pelegrino. The gale was of short duration, and in
a few hours was succeeded by fine weather.

On the 16th of April the Spartan sailed for Toulon, where she was
ordered to watch the motions of the French fleet; and the wind being
from the westward Captain Brenton ran along the coast of Italy. When
just between the east coast of Corsica and the Italian shore, he fell in
with an American ship, the Urania, Hector Coffin, master, and Greene of
Rhode Island supercargo. Captain Brenton, on sending a boat to examine
this neutral ship, gave particular directions to the lieutenant charged
with this duty, to pay every possible attention to the feelings of the
people, and to avoid giving offence to the master or crew. The search
took place, and as there was some deviation from the regulations laid
down for the conduct of Neutrals by his Majesty’s orders in council,
Captain Brenton sent for the master on board the Spartan, requesting he
would bring his log book with him. On his coming on board Captain Brenton
explained to him the necessity of this measure; with which the master and
supercargo expressed themselves perfectly satisfied, as well as with the
kindness and delicacy with which they had been treated by the visiting
officer. It was at this time nearly calm, so that no detention took
place; and when the breeze sprang up, the American voluntarily steered
for some time the same course with the Spartan. This was on the 27th of

On the 8th of May the Spartan again fell in with the same ship, between
Sardinia and the Island of Ponza; and her being so near the spot where
she had been eleven days before having excited surprise, she was again
examined; and on looking over her log book to ascertain the cause of her
having made so little progress, being hardly forty leagues from where
she had been first seen, Captain Brenton was surprised to find a detail
of her having been boarded, on the 27th of April, by the Spartan, worked
up to the most rancorous pitch of exaggeration; stating that on that day
they were boarded by the English frigate Spartan, had been forced out of
their course, that the master was dragged on board with his papers, and
that the hatches were broken open, &c. On Captain Brenton remonstrating
with the master and supercargo, upon the unmanliness of inserting
such falsehoods in the ship’s book, for no other purpose than that of
exciting enmity between the two countries, whose mutual interests led
them to the cultivation of peace; and reminding them of the declaration
they had both made in the cabin of the Spartan on the day alluded to,
as to the kindness and civility with which they had been treated by
the lieutenant of that ship, who had boarded them; they both appeared
overwhelmed with confusion, acknowledged the justice of Captain Brenton’s
observation, laid the blame upon the mate, whom they charged with having
inserted the offensive passage without their knowledge, and promised
that it should not be made public in America. It is not likely that a
Neutral trading amongst belligerents should pay so little attention to a
document of such vital importance as the log; and that neither master nor
supercargo should inspect it. This affair was the subject of an official
communication from Captain Brenton to his senior officer, and of another
to the Secretary of Lloyd’s Coffee house.

On the 23rd of April the Spartan captured a small French xebec, on the
coast of Italy. The year had not expired since the conversation which has
been related took place between Captain Brenton and Dr. Grey, at Tours.
Dr. Grey had been appointed surgeon of the Spartan, at Captain Brenton’s
request, and he received in consequence the promised Encyclopedia.
Captain Brenton says, “Shortly after this I was again preserved from
captivity by a merciful Providence, which rescued us from the enemy’s
squadron, when every hope of success seemed to have left us.” The
particulars of this escape are contained in the following letter.

                                   “SPARTAN, OFF TOULON, MAY, 1807.


    “I have the honour to inform you, that at noon on the 27th
    ultimo, the westward end of Elba, bearing N.E. we made sail in
    chase of four vessels to the southward, which at half-past five
    we observed to be ships of war, and made the private signal,
    which was not answered; and wishing to ascertain exactly what
    they were, I continued standing towards them until half-past
    six, when they bore up by signal in chase of us. We could at
    this time see their hulls from the deck, and perceived one to
    be of the line, two frigates, and a corvette. We tacked, and
    stood from them, but they gained fast upon us, as they had
    a fresh breeze from the westward: at eight, it fell nearly
    calm, and continued so all night. At day-break we saw the
    enemy bearing W. by N. about six miles. The south end of
    Capraia being at the same time W.S.W. about four miles. Upon
    a light breeze, springing up from the eastward, I made sail
    to the northward, in the hope of being able to escape round
    the island, which the frigates and corvette endeavoured to
    prevent, by running to leeward of Capraia, whilst the ship of
    the line hauled round the south end in chase of us. We had
    light and partial breezes until noon, when one frigate and
    the corvette bore west, about two miles from us, with a fresh
    breeze from the southward; the other frigate further off in
    the S.W. and the line of battle ship off the south end of
    Capraia, bringing up the rear. She had a very light air from
    the southward, but I saw the necessity of making every effort
    to get to the westward, as the only chance of escaping, and
    hauled immediately athwart the headmost frigate: upon our near
    approach the breeze appeared to fail her.

    “At twenty minutes after twelve she opened her fire, and
    continued it for an hour and ten minutes. As I observed that
    the light breeze she had was destroyed by her firing, we did
    not return a gun,[13] but kept a steady course until we had
    brought the enemy to bear south, when we bore up north, leaving
    him the choice of yawing to continue his fire, or to confine
    it to his bow guns. He preferred the former, by which means he
    lost so much way, that we were soon out of gun shot; the other
    frigate could not approach, and the corvette avoided us.

    “Providentially we received no damage, although exposed for a
    considerable time to a point blank fire, scarcely going two
    knots; but few shot struck us. I have the greatest reason to be
    pleased with the steadiness and good conduct of the officers
    and people under my command.

    “At half-past five, having a fresh breeze from the S.W. we
    had gained so far upon the enemy that they left off chase by
    signal; the Commodore shortening sail, and hauling round the
    north end of Capraia.

    “From a Neapolitan pilot I had on board I learn that this is a
    French squadron from Genoa, as he says, he knows of ships of
    this description, viz. one of the line, two frigates, and four
    corvettes, being fitted out there. We chased one corvette off
    the island of Piglio, on the 26th ultimo; and the other two, I
    was informed by an American, are employed with convoys between
    Genoa and Toulon.

    “I have the honour to be, &c.

                                                 “JAHLEEL BRENTON.”


On the return of the French squadron to Toulon the Captain of one of the
frigates was broke for his conduct; but it is not known whether this was
the Captain of the Pomone, who lost the opportunity of bringing the
British frigate to close action, or the Commander of the Incorruptible
for not joining in the attack upon her.

After this narrow escape, the Spartan proceeded off Toulon in pursuance
of her orders. Captain Brenton’s object was to have reconnoitred that
port, in order to ascertain correctly the enemy’s force, ready for sea,
or under equipment; but he was chased off by a French line of battle
ship. He returned the next day, and made out that there were only four
ships of war in the outer road, two of which were of the line, with
several fitting in the inner road. He considered it of importance that
the senior officer at Palermo should be informed of the state of the
enemy’s squadron in Toulon; and therefore availing himself of a strong
westerly wind bore up for that place, running through the straits of
Bonifacio, where he fell in with the Sirius. Captain Prouse proceeded
to Palermo with the information, and the Spartan directed her course to
Ponza, with an account of the French squadron being at sea; in order
to put the garrison on that island, and the island of Capri, on their
guard. Captain Brenton says, “The Spartan now proceeded on her return
to Toulon; but on the following day met with a disaster, which, in my
estimation, far exceeded in severity any that had ever befallen me,
in the whole course of my professional career. When off Nice, in the
morning of the 14th of May, we gave chase to a polacre ship, which we
continued with light and variable winds until near sunset, when it became
perfectly calm; the chase being still at the distance of six or seven
miles, but the weather so clear that she was distinctly made out to be a
merchant vessel. The officers entreated me to send the boats, which I
was unwilling to do, in consequence of a recent order from the Commander
in chief, not to send any boats where they could not be protected by
their ship; an order that was clearly pointed as an injurious practice,
which had crept in amongst the cruisers, of sending away boats to a
considerable distance, to conceal themselves on points of the coast,
in order to capture the trading vessels, whilst their own ships were
out of sight of the land. Upon this occasion the distance of the chase
was not an hour’s pulling; and I determined to send such a force as I
considered would put all resistance out of the question, and ensure the
return of the boats early in the morning. I accordingly ordered out the
barge, launch, and two other boats under the command of first and second
lieutenants, and manned by volunteers, consequently by the best men in
the ship. A light breeze having sprung up before the boats came up with
the polacre, she had availed herself of it, to get close in with the land
near Nice; and upon approaching they discovered that she had a tier of
guns. I had given the most positive orders to the first lieutenant not to
attack her, should she prove a vessel of force; but this gallant young
man, considering she could not be viewed in this light, when the number
of his men and boats was calculated, at once decided upon making a dash,
and ordering the second lieutenant with one boat to board on the larboard
side, he, with the others, immediately pulled up on the starboard, and
commenced the attack. They were received with the utmost coolness by
the enemy, who poured such a destructive fire into the boats, that
crowded as they were, it produced a most disastrous effect, and prevented
them effectually from boarding. Both the lieutenants fell at the first
fire, covered with wounds; the second, with his midshipman and many of
the boat’s crew, were killed upon the spot, as were many in the first
lieutenant’s division, and indeed each boat was filled with killed and
wounded. The survivors made a gallant but ineffectual attempt to board;
but they were too much reduced in number to succeed; and the boats on
both sides letting go their hold, the polacre passed on a-head with a
light breeze, keeping up a continued fire of musketry while within reach.

“From the very heavy fire which was opened upon the boats on their
getting alongside, and laying their oars in, for the purpose of boarding;
a fire, which had been judiciously reserved for that critical moment; it
was concluded that assistance must have been sent to them from the coast,
as it was scarcely possible that the crew of a merchant vessel could
have composed such an effective volley. The vessel was some months after
captured by Lord Cochrane, in the Imperieuse. The people denied having
received any assistance on this occasion; and we are therefore bound to
give them full credit for their most gallant defence.

“All eyes from the Spartan were of course directed to the quarter in
which the boats were chasing; and it was not until one minute past ten
that a slight scintillation of firing was observed, without any report.
This soon after ceased, and not a doubt existed in the mind of any one
on board the Spartan, that the attack had been successful. We had now
got the breeze, and were steering for the scene of action, every one
expecting to see the polacre approaching with the boats accompanying
her, but a most melancholy disappointment awaited us. The oars of a boat
were at length heard. When within reach of the boat she was hailed; and
the answer told the melancholy tale of their defeat, and that the boats
were all on their return filled with the dead and dying. The following
was the sad list of sufferers:—Killed, one lieutenant, two midshipmen,
twenty-four seamen: wounded, one lieutenant (mortally), and thirty-seven
seamen; scarcely ten men out of about seventy being untouched. The dead
were laid side by side on the main deck, in order to be prepared for
burial, being sewed up in hammocks. The wounded were carried into my
cabin, the only part of the ship where there was sufficient space for
their accommodation in dressing their wounds; and while this was doing,
which took up the greater part of the night, the lower deck was prepared
for their reception; all the hammocks, mess tables, and chests being
removed for the purpose; a measure which became absolutely necessary in
that warm climate, lest the air below, infected by the numbers wounded,
should have generated disease amongst the healthy part of the ship’s
company. The number of these was so much diminished by this fatal event,
that there was little difficulty in finding accommodation for them under
the half deck and forecastle; so that the whole extent of the Spartan’s
’tween decks became a most convenient and well ventilated hospital. On
the following morning the dead were brought up for burial, and arranged
along the starboard waste hammocks, with a man to each, for the purpose
of launching the body overboard at the proper time; the bodies of the
second lieutenant and his midshipman were in coffins at the gangway. I
could with difficulty get through the mournful service, and at the words
‘commit their bodies to the deep,’ when the whole were launched into the
ocean, an universal sensation was experienced by the ship’s company.
The effect may be imagined, but it cannot be described. Four and twenty
active young men in the prime of life, in all the energy of the seaman’s
character, buoyant with spirits and health only a few hours before, now
gone to their awful account. This was indeed an awakening scene, and
undoubtedly left a deep, although perhaps but a transitory impression on
all who witnessed it.”

To keep the sea under such circumstances was out of the question. Captain
Brenton, however, did not quit his station until he had made another
effort to get off Toulon, where he hoped to have fallen in with the
British squadron under Captain Rowley, and also that he might carry the
latest intelligence of the state of the enemy’s ships in that part. But
on the 17th the Spartan was again chased off from Cape Sicie by a French
ship of the line, and two frigates, but as she considerably out-sailed
them, they hauled their wind in for the land; and Captain Brenton made
the best of his way for Malta, where he arrived on the 24th, having
providentially very fine weather, smooth water, and light breezes, so
that the wounded were under as favourable circumstances as possible. They
were enabled to keep the scuttles on the lower deck constantly open; and
the value of this ventilation may be estimated when it is stated, that
such were the effluvia coming from the lower deck in consequence of the
wounds, that it was found most unpleasant to all who were looking over
the gangway.

“The severe fatigue and anxiety experienced by Dr. Grey, the surgeon,
upon this occasion, had such an effect upon his health, that he was under
the necessity of leaving the Spartan, and retiring from the navy.”

There are two circumstances connected with this melancholy catastrophe,
which are too interesting to be passed over in silence. One relates to
the midshipman who was killed in the boat, with the Second Lieutenant,
(Mr. Williams.) He was the son of Admiral Christie, and had been placed
under the particular care of Captain Brenton. On the 23rd of April, when
the boats were sent in, to cut out a vessel, young Christie requested he
might be of the party, to which Captain Brenton readily assented, as it
was his practice to give every youngster, however young, an opportunity
of shewing what he was made of, (according to the professional phrase);
and having done this, he seldom allowed them to be exposed in the boats
again, until they had attained the age of sixteen, when they took their
turn with the others. Christie conducted himself upon this occasion
like a fine gallant boy, and gave great promise of future distinction.
On his coming on board the Captain expressed himself well satisfied
with his conduct, and said, “Now Christie, as you have established
your character, do not ask me again to let you go on any more boat
expeditions, until you are more than sixteen; for I shall certainly
refuse you.” Notwithstanding this warning, when the boats were preparing
to go after the polacre, Christie came up, and begged he might be of
the party; but was decidedly refused. It appeared afterwards that the
Second Lieutenant, (Mr. Williams) an officer of great merit, and for whom
Captain Brenton entertained the highest regard, thoughtlessly suggested
to the poor boy that he should run forward, and get into the boat unseen
by the Captain, under the bows; promising to receive him into his own
boat, and accordingly he did so. The consequence was, that the Lieutenant
and his young friend both fell together at the first fire from the
polacre. Captain Brenton suffered great affliction upon this occasion,
but thoughtless and inexcusable as poor Williams’s conduct was, it never
weakened his regard for his memory; attributing it to the motive by which
he was undoubtedly influenced, a warm admiration for the display of
gallantry in one so young, and the feeling that this very gallantry would
be the boy’s apology for disobedience.

The other circumstance is of a very romantic description, and is given in
Captain Brenton’s own words. “The coxswain of the barge, reported among
the killed and wounded, was a very fine active young man, and had been
indulged with the permission to bring his wife on board the ship. She was
very young at this period, and the attachment between the couple was very
remarkable, as well as the respect they obtained from all on board from
the correctness of their conduct, which was in every respect exemplary.
On the boats returning, and the report of Bodie’s death, (for such was
his name,) his poor little wife was frantic with grief, and flew from one
part of the ship to another, with the most agonizing shrieks. When the
dead were placed on the main deck, she flew to them, uncovering their
faces, and calling out for her husband. She then ran up, and took her
seat on the coxswain’s box, in the barge, which had now been hoisted in,
calling for her husband; and from thence to the Captain on the quarter
deck, imploring him to let her see the body. Calling for some of the
people who were in the barge, upon whom the greatest dependence could be
placed, I desired to know how Bodie had been killed; when one of them
said, ‘Sir, we were boarding the vessel together on the starboard side,
and were getting into the main chains, when I was wounded and fell into
the boat, and Bodie at the same time was killed, and fell between the
boat and the ship.’” The wife was present at this detail, and at length
seemed convinced of her dreadful loss. The greatest attention was paid
to her by all on board, to alleviate as much as possible her sufferings;
and on the arrival of the Spartan at Malta she was received, by Captain
Brenton’s recommendation, into the protection of a very respectable
family. Her situation excited the most lively interest at Malta; a
subscription amounting to £80, was made for her; and she soon after
sailed for England in a Transport, with a letter to Mrs. Brenton at Bath,
by whom she was received, and remained with her for some time, previous
to her departure for Ireland, where her mother was living. Captain
Brenton also gave her a recommendation to the Committee of the Patriotic
fund, which obtained for her £50.

“The Spartan having landed her wounded, and refitted, proceeded to
Messina, in the hopes of procuring a few men from the Trade and
Transports there. She then continued her course for Toulon; and on
approaching the Hieres Islands, in the middle of June, we boarded
a merchant vessel from Genoa, from which we received the following
intelligence. “A polacre, it was said, had arrived there some weeks
previous, which had been attacked by the boats of an English frigate, and
had succeeded in beating them off. When the firing had ceased, the cries
of a man were heard under the stern, and an English sailor was found
hanging on by the rudder chains, and wounded. On taking him on board
he proved to be the coxswain of the frigate’s barge; he stated that he
had been severely wounded in endeavouring to board the polacre, and had
fallen between the ship and the boat, but as he passed a-stern he had
caught hold of the rudder chains, and hung on until the action was over.
The story added, that on the vessel’s arrival at Genoa, the man was sent
to the hospital; and on his wound being cured, had been marched into
France.” No doubt now existed as to the correctness of this statement,
and I immediately wrote to Verdun, requesting my friends would make
enquiries as to the depôt to which Bodie was sent; and on ascertaining
his safety, that information might be immediately sent to Mrs. Brenton,
at Bath, in order to her communicating the joyful news to the supposed
widow. In a very few weeks a letter reached Mrs. Brenton from the Rev.
L. C. Lee, at Verdun, informing her that Bodie had reached that depôt,
and was no sooner known to have been Captain Brenton’s coxswain, than the
greatest interest was manifest in his behalf, and permission was procured
for him to remain there, where every care would be taken of him, and that
he had quite recovered from his wounds. These joyful tidings were soon in
the hands of Mrs. Bodie, at Cork, whose happiness may be easily imagined.”

On the 18th of June the Spartan resumed her station off Toulon, and
found the enemy’s force considerably increased since that port was last
reconnoitred; when four sail of the line were ready for sea, but this
force was now rapidly augmenting. The Spartan was for some time the
only ship employed in watching the movements of this squadron, and was
frequently chased off the land by them; but as the French were uncertain
as to the position of the British Squadron, and concluded they were
cruizing out of sight of the coast, they seldom ran farther than six or
eight leagues from Cape Sicie.

On the commander in chief, Lord Collingwood, having received Captain
Brenton’s account of the disastrous attack upon the polacre, he gave
directions for a court of enquiry to be held upon Captain Brenton for
this affair, consisting of Captains Boyle, Rowley, and Fayerman; he
directed them also to enquire into the circumstances attending the loss
of the Transport, which came out of England under convoy of the Spartan,
and which as has been stated, parted company with, that ship off Lisbon,
and ran on shore near San Lucar, where she was taken possession of by the
Spaniards, but burnt by the boats of the Malta. The following are the
reports made by the Courts of Enquiry—“Present,

       ”    CHARLES ROWLEY.

“The Court, pursuant to an order from Edward Thornborough, Esq., Vice
Admiral of the Blue, &c. dated the 6th day of October, 1807, repaired
on board H.M.S. Spartan, and there made a strict enquiry into the
unfortunate result of an attack made by the boats of the said ship on
a Polacre ship, on the night of the 14th of May, and the Court is of
opinion that the Commander in chief’s order of the 16th of June, 1806, on
the subject of sending armed boats from the ships, has not been deviated
from in this instance; as far as their judgment is capable of forming
an opinion, from the narrative received from Captain Jahleel Brenton,
and corroborated by the examination of the officers that were called
before them; who had heard the orders given to the officer commanding the
detached boats, and who assert that the chase appeared to be a merchant
vessel, quite becalmed, about five or six miles distant, and not near any

    Signed, C. BOYLES,
       ”    F. FAYERMAN,
       ”    C. ROWLEY.”

Then follows the enquiry respecting the Transport—

“At a Court of enquiry held on board H.M.S. Spartan, in Palermo Bay,
Wednesday, 7th of October, 1807,—Present,

       ”    F. FAYERMAN,
       ”    C. ROWLEY.

“The Court, pursuant to an order from Edward Thornborough, Esq., Vice
Admiral of the Blue, &c. dated 6th October, 1807, being in pursuance of
an order from the Right Honourable Cuthbert Lord Collingwood, dated 29th
of May last, repaired on board H.M.S. Spartan, and calling before the
Court the commander and officers of the said ship, made a strict enquiry
and investigation into the cause and circumstances of the Mary, Ordnance
Transport Ship, parting company with the Spartan, when the Captain
was charged with her safety, and taking into consideration the great
value, and still greater importance of the vessel’s cargo. The Court
is of opinion, from the examination and strict enquiry made of Captain
Jahleel Brenton, the master, master’s mate, the boatswain and gunner, the
only officers called, two of the Lieutenants being dead, and the other
Lieutenant at the time in his bed, where he had been for some time; that
every thing was done on the part of Captain Jahleel Brenton to insure the
safety of the Mary Ordnance Transport; and the circumstance of the said
Transport separating from the Spartan, was caused by the carelessness,
negligence, and bad conduct of the Master of the Mary, Ordnance Transport

    Signed, C. BOYLES,
       ”    F. FAYERMAN,
       ”    C. ROWLEY.”

This affair being thus settled the Spartan resumed her station off
Toulon, and soon after the fleet, under the Commander in chief, Lord
Collingwood, arrived off that port. On Captain Brenton’s going on board
the Ocean, his lordship received him very coolly, and said, “Sir, I am
not at all satisfied with the report of the Captains who composed the
Court of Enquiry into your conduct.” Captain Brenton replied, “and I, my
Lord, am not satisfied with the nature of the tribunal, before which it
took place, as I should have preferred a court martial; and I have to
request you will be pleased to order one to assemble now for the purpose
of trying me.” His Lordship replied, “No Sir, that is discretional with
me, and enough has already been said upon the subject of both; but,”
continued he, “I have another cause of complaint to bring against you.
How came you, while senior officer at Malta, to permit a French Colonel,
a prisoner of war, to return to France on his parole:” adding, “they did
not treat you so when you were a prisoner.” Captain Brenton could not
help being amused with the gravity of the charge, and the commentary upon
it. He explained that the Colonel in question was taken by His Majesty’s
sloop the Weazle, on his passage from the coast of Italy for Corfu in
a small trabacolo; that the colonel’s wife, then on the point of being
confined, and two very young children were with him; that on the Weazle
firing to bring the vessel to, the lady was so much alarmed, that she
was taken in labour, and after giving birth to an infant, died: that
the three children were with the colonel at Malta, and that on a strong
recommendation from Sir Alexander Ball, the civil commissioner, he,
Captain Brenton, had taken upon himself to allow the colonel to go to
Naples on parole, on condition that having placed his children in safety,
he should return, unless exchanged. “Such were my reasons,” added Captain
Brenton, “and in acting as I did, I thought I was only doing, what I am
convinced your Lordship would have done, had you been there.” This could
not draw from his Lordship any sign of approbation, although it was
perfectly true; for his Lordship, with all his dryness of manner, and
roughness of exterior, had a kind and feeling heart, and was a warm and
sincere friend. His prejudices, it is true, were strong, and not easily
subdued. He was notwithstanding accessible to conviction, and ready to
acknowledge the efforts of those officers, whom he knew to have the good
of the service at heart, however he might differ with them on some points.

As the editor feels that he has undertaken a narrative of trials and
struggles, which, generally speaking, pass unobserved and unnoticed by
the world, he does not deem it irrelevant to call the attention of his
readers to the peculiar trials which were included in the first periods
of this service in the mediterranean. Of Lord Collingwood it is hardly
possible to say too much, whether he be considered as an officer or as
a man; and the very circumstance, that differing as he did so widely
from Lord Nelson in qualities and character, he succeeded in securing
to so high a degree the regard and confidence of that distinguished
commander, proves what the opinion must have been which Lord Nelson
formed of his talents and courage. But the character of Lord Collingwood
as an admiral was just that which must have led him to pass a severe
judgment on this unfortunate affair with the Polacre. His courage was
that of a firm well disciplined mind, which had been accustomed to view
danger with indifference, when it came in the way of duty, but which saw
no necessity to go out and brave it, when there was no adequate cause.
His professional life had been chiefly passed in ships of the line, as
forming parts of great fleets, and engaged in great movements; and he had
therefore less sympathy with that spirit of adventurous daring, which
suited the commander of a cruising frigate; and he was disposed to look
with jealousy, if not disapprobation, at the risks which were continually
run for the sake of captures of very little intrinsic value. At this
period also, age had added something of severity to his judgment, and he
was not likely to admit any extenuation of an error, which had cost the
lives of so many valuable men, and which seemed to have been incurred by
acting in opposition to an express order of his own.

The former disaster in Captain Brenton’s naval career might also have
existed some prejudice against him in the mind of the Admiral. The
unfortunate are seldom regarded as wholly clear of blame. The loss of
the Minerve had been justified by the sentence of a Court Martial; but
an old and cautious commander might have suspected that the commander of
the frigate had been rash and indiscreet, if not absolutely in fault;
and might have thought that this unhappy attack on the Polacre was part
of the same conduct, another act of a daring, but inconsiderate and
injudicious officer.

The Captain of the Spartan had therefore to support a prejudice existing
against the Captain of the Minerve, and had much to bear and much to do,
before he overcame the impression which this untoward attack had made
on Lord Collingwood’s mind. That he did succeed in removing it; that he
did succeed in satisfying his Admiral’s judgment, and did conciliate his
good will and approbation, may be an encouragement to others, who under
similar circumstances, think all is lost because a single error has
been committed; and give up and cease to strive to please, because they
feel that they have to work against a strong and perhaps unreasonable
prejudice in a Commander.

The private memoranda afford no information as to the struggles which
this afflicting circumstance must have occasioned; but the reader has
already seen and known enough of the mind and feelings of the subject of
this memoir, to doubt what must have been his resource. We cannot doubt,
that the defeat he had sustained, and the sad and sorrowful tokens of it
in the loss of his gallant people, sent him in tears and humiliation to
the throne of grace; that he there mourned deeply and sincerely over the
rashness of the attempt, and his own imprudence in permitting it; that he
considered himself as guilty in some degree of the deaths of those, whom
he had allowed to expose themselves; and that many and earnest were his
supplications for mercy and forgiveness.

But it may also be certain that this humiliation before God—this severity
of self-enquiry and self-condemnation, prepared him in a peculiar
manner for the trial, he was to meet from men. The Admiral, naturally,
reasonably offended at this, which seemed a wanton waste of life, found
him so humbled, that his resentment was disarmed. The censure that he
might have felt himself bound to pass, on the point of discipline, was,
he saw, anticipated. He could not strike one who was down. He could not
reprove one whose self-reproof was manifest. He was obliged to feel for
the man, whose own feelings had been so acute; and he saw that it was
unnecessary for the interests of the service, to say anything where so
much had been already done within. “Blessed are the meek, for they shall
inherit the earth;” and many are the causes of offence in every service,
which would come to nothing, if they were not raised into importance
by the pride of those who endeavour to defend their error, instead of
acknowledging and condemning it themselves.

We shall have occasion to remark a similar trial in the following
Chapter, where an accident occurred, which appeared to arise from want
of care in the management of the ship; and which for a moment again put
the character of the Captain of the Spartan in jeopardy with an Admiral
of such correctness as Lord Collingwood. The affair in that case was
capable of explanation, and the circumstances under which it happened,
exonerated the Commander of the ship from blame; but those, whose daily
lives are not exposed to such contingencies as belong to active service,
will do well to remember how trifling are the causes which may lead to
consequences so serious, and in this way learn to feel for those whose
forgetfulness or momentary inattention may be visited with such severity.



The Spartan was employed for the remainder of the year in watching
the port of Toulon. The service was at first very arduous, and one of
constant anxiety, and solicitude, especially as the French squadron
in the outer roads had increased greatly, and it became necessary to
reconnoitre them with increased vigilance. Lord Collingwood returned to
his station off Cadiz; and the duty of watching Toulon devolved upon two
frigates, the Sirius and Spartan in the first instance. On the former
being called away, she was relieved by the Apollo; but there was seldom
more than one of these frigates off Toulon at a time, the other being
absent for the purpose of refitting, or procuring water and provisions.
Early in January, 1808, the Spartan went to Malta, to refit, having
suffered much from the constant gales off Cape Scicie, and from the
necessity of carrying sail to keep in with the land against the heavy
N.W. winds, which blow so frequently, and with so much violence on that
part of the coast. And as it was with this wind that the enemy would
leave their port it became an indispensable necessity that the frigates
employed in watching them, should keep as close to the land as possible,
that they might have a look out upon them night and day.

On the wind increasing from that quarter, it was therefore imperative
upon the frigates to carry as much low sail as possible, and they were
obliged to set their courses with close reefed topsails, as long as they
could be borne in safety; by this means, they generally managed to keep
in smooth water, under the land; but the greatest vigilance was required,
lest in some of the heavy squalls coming down through the valleys, the
lower yards might be carried away, and the ship crippled in sight of
a powerful enemy, who would only have to slip, and take possession of
the disabled ship. Admiral Thornborough who commanded the squadron,
which in the latter part of the Spartan’s station off Toulon, remained
cruizing from fifteen to twenty leagues off the coast, was full of
anxiety respecting the frigates; and on Captain Brenton going on board
the Royal Sovereign bearing his flag, to make his report of the ships in
Toulon, he said to him, “My dear Brenton, I expected to have seen you
worne to a skeleton from anxiety; I can scarcely sleep for thinking of
you. I dread particularly the treacherous calms off Cape Sicie, whilst
the ships in the outer roads of Toulon have a fresh breeze off the land,
which might bring them alongside of you in a few minutes.” This indeed
was a source of very serious apprehension, and the Spartan was more
than once placed in a situation of great danger from it; the line of
calm was however generally visible upon the water, and it was important
to observe great caution in not approaching too near this line. There
are few circumstances however which do not lose their power to alarm by
familiarity with the danger connected with them, and so it proved in this
case. On his being first employed in the service, Captain Brenton felt
the full amount of his responsibility, and the danger to which he was
exposed; but after being frequently chased off the land by squadrons of
ships of the line, and finding that they invariably left off chase by the
time they had got seven or eight leagues from the port; and finding also
that they seldom gained much if any thing upon the Spartan during that
run; he became so accustomed to being chased, that it was considered a
matter of common occurrence, and was unaccompanied by any anxiety. Upon
one occasion, when about four miles from Cape Sepet, the entrance to the
inner road of Toulon, blowing fresh from the N.W. several ships of the
line were seen coming out, and the Spartan of course bore up; at this
time, an unfortunate boy fell overboard, and it became necessary to lower
a boat down to endeavour to save him, and the time thus occupied was one
of the greatest possible anxiety, it was however employed in letting out
reefs, and in every preparation to make sail. The boy had sunk, and by
the time the boat had returned, the enemy were out of the roads, clear
of Cape Sepet, and steering for the Spartan, scarcely more than a league
distant; but no sooner was the boat out of the water, than the helm was
up, and the ship under a cloud of sail; from this moment all anxiety
vanished, and the enemy having run to the length of their tether, hauled
their wind as usual.

It was upon one of these occasions that Captain Brenton, sitting in
his cabin, watching the enemy in chase of him with his spy glass, was
informed by the first Lieutenant that a strange sail was seen on the
starboard bow. “Steer for her,” said the Captain, “these fellows will
leave off chase before we get up with her, and we may as well chase in
our turn.” As he expected, the enemy gave up the pursuit, and the Spartan
continuing her course for the stranger, came up with her in the course of
the afternoon, and took her; she proved to be a very good prize.

The Spartan having refitted in January at Malta, was returning to her
station off Toulon, and the wind being strong from the westward, the
Commander as usual ran to the eastward of Sardinia and Corsica. When on
the east side of Corsica, the weather being remarkably fine and clear,
they were keeping as close to the shore as possible, in order to have the
advantage of smooth water, and Captain Brenton and his First Lieutenant,
both very unwell, were sitting together over the stove in the Captain’s
cabin. The people were at dinner, when in a moment a heavy squall came
on. The ship was taken aback, and was laid over with her guns in the
water, and before the sail could be taken in, the fore yard was gone,
and the ship on a dead lee shore. The Captain and First Lieutenant were
soon on deck, and every exertion made to get the ship into safety; but
the proximity of the land rendered her situation for many hours one of
extreme peril. She was got under a snug sail, and a maintopsail yard
was substituted for a fore yard. The wind however continued to increase
after the sun went down, and blew with great violence, whilst a heavy
sea got up. The ship was wore, as the wind veered a point or two each
way, but at ten o’clock it was evident that they could not be far from
the S.E. coast of Corsica. Captain Brenton’s chief object in wearing as
he did, was to keep the Straits of Bonifacio open; but even this was a
most forlorn hope, for the innumerable rocks which abound in every part
of these straits, render it a most dangerous passage. His intention was
only to avail himself of it, in the event of being so near the coast
as to leave no alternative but either going on shore, or attempting to
run through the straits; in the latter case their safety depended on
steering by the breakers—a fearful resource when the sea was running
so high, that the whole surface of the water was broken. Every eye was
directed to leeward, and every moment the order was expected to put the
helm up; when by the interposition of a kind providence, the wind which
had been nearly at east, flew round six points, and enabled the ship
to clear the land, and by daylight she had such an offing as enabled
the Captain to keep her away for Palermo, where the Spartan arrived on
the following day, and to the great surprise of all on board, found Sir
Richard Strahan with his squadron lying in the bay, having run up the
Mediterranean in chase of the Rochefort squadron. It became necessary
that the Spartan should proceed with the utmost dispatch off Toulon, and
application having been made to the Sicilian Commodore for assistance, he
was pleased to supply the ship with a fore yard from one of his frigates,
and the Lavinia, one of Sir Richard Strahan’s squadron, having been put
under Captain Brenton’s orders, they made sail for their destination.
The wind being perseveringly from the west and north westward, the ships
endeavoured to beat up under the lee of Sardinia, but gained but little
ground. At length, the wind getting round to the N.E., and blowing
very hard, Captain Brenton determined upon bearing up, and running
along the south coast of Sardinia, to endeavour to get to Toulon by a
western route. On arriving, however, off Cagliari, he spoke an English
Privateer, from which he obtained the information, that on the 1st of
March, a frigate which had been cruising off Toulon, had arrived in the
road of Pulla, near Cagliari, with an account of the French squadron,
having got out of Toulon; and from the cross examination which Captain
Brenton entered into, he felt convinced that this frigate must be his
consort, the Apollo, which he had left off Toulon. The privateer captain
further added, that on the following day he was boarded by the Wizard,
sloop of war, and had the same intelligence from her, with the additional
news that five French sail of the line, and a frigate had lately entered
the Mediterranean. This was the squadron which Sir Richard Strahan had
pursued. With such important information, Captain Brenton felt himself
justified in dispatching Captain Hancock in the Lavinia to Admiral
Thornborough at Palermo; and he then stood with the Spartan into the bay
of Cagliari, which he reached on the 4th of March, and received from
the British Minister a confirmation of the report respecting the French
squadron. He proceeded in search of Vice-Admiral Thornborough, but fell
in with Lord Collingwood and the fleet off Maretimo; who having heard
of the movements of the enemy, was in pursuit of them. All the other
frigates and small vessels having been detained in different directions
in quest of the enemy, the Spartan was kept with the fleet, and every
morning, as soon as a flag could be distinguished, was ordered to look
out in a given direction, as far as signals could be made out; and was
recalled in the evening.

It seemed as though a fatality attended Captain Brenton, and that some
circumstance or another should always arise to prevent his acquiring
the approbation of the Commander in chief. Having been thus employed in
looking out till the morning of the 13th of March, when particularly
anxious to be in readiness to take his station on the look out, he was
up at three o’clock, and as soon as daylight appeared, made sail in
the quarter pointed out, and was as usual recalled in the evening. In
the course of the first watch the wind had become very light, and the
Spartan, at ten o’clock, was yet at a very considerable distance from
the body of the fleet, which was on the Spartan’s lee bow; he therefore
directed the officer of the watch to let him know when he should
approach within a couple of miles of the fleet, and lest there might be
any misunderstanding, he also gave this order in writing. The Spartan
at this time had all sail set on the starboard tack; Captain Brenton
soon fell asleep, and to his utter astonishment and dismay, was awoke by
hearing a crash, and running on deck, found the ship had run on board the
Malta of 80 guns, and that the Spartan’s main yard was carried away. This
indeed was a most serious disaster, his ship being the only frigate in
the fleet, and at such a juncture. However as there was no sea running,
the ships instantly separated, and the Spartan having got round on the
other tack, kept her main-top-sails set by bringing the sheets below; and
keeping her royals set, was enabled to get up into her station on the
weather beam of the Commander in chief, to whom Captain Brenton sent an
officer informing him of the accident, and expressing his hope that the
ship would be effective again in a few hours. His Lordship’s feelings
may be easily imagined by those who knew him. He instantly sent his
carpenter on board, with armourers and every other assistance that could
be devised, but before these artificers were in readiness to work, there
was but little left for them to do, the main yard was down and fished,
and the hoops only remained to be put down, which were then preparing
at the forge; and before eleven o’clock the yard was again up, and the
Spartan as efficient as she had been the preceding day. The Admiral was
appeased, and the affair had no other consequence than that of an order
to try the unfortunate Lieutenant by a Court martial. It may not be
useless to explain how this neglect happened, as it may prove a warning
to thoughtless young men, who in every other respect are most anxious
and zealous to do their duty to the utmost. It is well known to be the
custom of the service for an officer coming up to take charge of the
deck, to be accosted by his messmates in the following manner, “Here you
have her,” describing the sail she is under, and repeating any orders
he may have received from the Captain. Upon this occasion, to the “Here
you have her,” was added, “and you will find the captain’s order in the
order book in the Binnacle drawer.” The young officer, who took charge
of the deck, probably intended looking into the book for these orders,
but forgot it. He now approached the fleet, and all at once alarmed for
his responsibility, and hesitating on which side of the ship approaching
him he should go, it ended as all these cases of indecision generally
do, by running on board of her. The Commander in chief soon after this,
having gained intelligence that the enemy had been seen off the mouth of
the Adriatic, made all sail in pursuit of them, dispatching the Spartan
to Rear Admiral Martin, at Palermo, with the information; and the Rear
Admiral immediately directed Captain Brenton to proceed without loss of
time to the Bay of Tunis, and not gaining any tidings of the enemy there,
to cruize between the south coast of Sardinia and the coast of Africa, in
order to prevent if possible the enemy passing to the westward, from the
Adriatic, without being seen.

The Spartan had not been long on this service, when on the 1st of April,
1808, the weather being hazy, and a fresh breeze from the north west, a
fleet was descried to the southward, amounting to ten sail of the line,
and four frigates. Captain Brenton felt so certain that this was Lord
Collingwood, not having heard of the junction of the French squadrons,
that he did not at first even make the private signals, but was satisfied
with shewing his number. As they ran down under their topsails, the
Captain, and the first Lieutenant, looking at them through their glasses,
the former said, “Who is that old fashioned fellow who carries his
mizen topmast stay-sail, _under_ the main top?” The first Lieutenant
immediately replied, “There are three of them that have it.” Then said
the Captain, “It is the enemy’s fleet. Haul your wind at once.” They
did so, and then made the private signal, and no sooner had the Spartan
made this change in her course, than every ship to leeward made all the
sail she could carry upon a wind. The Spartan set her coursers, jib, and
driver, and Captain Brenton, finding the enemy did not gain much ground
upon him, felt satisfied with this addition, and was rather desirous
that they should get a little nearer to him before night, when he felt
that he could always get from them. Captain Brenton was now anxious to
communicate the position of the French squadron to Rear Admiral Martin,
at Palermo, and also to Sir Alexander Ball, at Malta; but he felt it to
be his imperative duty to remain with the French fleet himself, and to
dog them wherever they might be bound. He at once decided upon putting a
canvass deck upon the launch; and applying for beams the rough pieces,
which at that time it was the custom to issue from the dock-yard for
boat oars, to be made up on board when required; the launch being thus
provided with a deck, and being furnished with a carronade, signal
flags, ammunition, provisions, and water, became a very serviceable,
and efficient dispatch boat. When it became quite dark the launch was
hoisted out and equipped, but some delay in sending her away occurred, in
consequence of the French squadron having gone on the larboard tack, by
which means they were exactly in her track for Trapani. The Lieutenant
was directed to proceed by land to Palermo, with his dispatches for Rear
Admiral Martin; and the Master’s mate, who accompanied him in the launch,
was to proceed with her to Malta with the same intelligence for Rear
Admiral, Sir Alexander Ball.

                     “SPARTAN, CAPE TOLAZO, 5 p.m. APRIL 1st, 1808.


    “We are now in company with the enemy’s squadron, consisting
    of ten sail of the line (two of which are three deckers), four
    frigates and a brig. We fell in with them this morning at ten
    o’clock, Galita then bearing S.S.E. distant thirty-eight
    miles; they were then steering about West, with the wind
    apparently at E.N.E. (we had it all North). I immediately bore
    up to reconnoitre them; upon the wind drawing round to the
    westward, and blowing fresh (which it did shortly after) they
    wore by signal, and hauled their wind on the larboard tack.
    When near enough to distinguish flags, I made the private
    signal, which was not answered, and we have since been keeping
    a station about six or seven miles in the wind’s eye of them.
    At dark I mean to send away the launch, having fitted her up
    with a temporary deck for the occasion, and put her under the
    command of Lieutenant Coffin, third Lieutenant, to whom I beg
    leave to refer you for particulars. He is a most excellent
    young officer, and has in my opinion added to his merit,
    by the very handsome manner in which he has volunteered his
    services on this occasion. It is my intention to use every
    endeavour to keep sight of the enemy, and having ascertained
    their destination, to take the earliest opportunity of sending
    information of it; watching them myself till I have reason to
    believe the Commander in chief, or some of his squadrons are
    acquainted with their situation.

    “I have the honour to be, &c.

                                                 “JAHLEEL BRENTON.”


When the French fleet had got sufficiently to the northward, to offer a
prospect of the launch pursuing her course unobserved, she was ordered
to shove off; but she had scarcely got a mile from the ship, when, to
Captain Brenton’s great dismay, the enemy were seen on the starboard
tack, and there was the greatest probability that the poor launch
would have fallen into their hands. The officer however on seeing them
approach, most judiciously lowered his sails; by which means, they passed
without seeing him, although as he said, one of the ships was so near
him, that he thought his capture inevitable. He was most providentially
preserved, and the Spartan kept her station on the weather beam of the
French Admiral during the night, and as day approached made sail on
the opposite tack, by which she was soon out of danger of pursuit, and
preserved that distance until the evening, when she again bore down and
took her station for the night. On the morning of the 2nd, just before
daylight, the enemy were still on the starboard tack, on which they had
been the whole night. The Spartan was put about, and Captain Brenton,
who had been on deck nearly the whole night, left orders to stand on
the larboard tack, until the topsails only of the French squadron could
be seen from the deck, when the ship was again to be put in stays, and
bear the same tack with the enemy. He had not long however been asleep,
when he was called by the officer of the watch, and informed that the
French squadron had tacked and lay up for the Spartan; that they had a
fresh breeze whilst the Spartan was nearly becalmed. The enemy approached
rapidly, and had got within four or five miles, when their wind also
failed them, and a most anxious day was passed by all on board the
Spartan. The sails were sometimes trimmed for one tack, and sometimes for
the other, and their steering sails, a-low and a-loft, and all in the
course of an hour or two, as the wind veered round the compass. In the
afternoon the wind set in again, and blew steady from its old quarter,
the N.W.; and the French Admiral determined to avail himself of every
change, in the hope of catching the British frigate, divided his squadron
into two parts, and put one on each tack; but the Spartan having the
breeze strong and steady had the heels of them, and had got so far to
windward before dark, that when the squadron again united, and got upon
the starboard tack, which they always did at night, she was again under
the necessity of bearing down, in order to ensure keeping sight of them
during the night. On the evening of the 3rd the wind having got round to
the Northward, the French Admiral was observed to keep away, (about west)
and a frigate went along the line, apparently speaking every ship; which
movement Captain Brenton interpreted in the following manner. “The French
Admiral finding he cannot shake off the British frigate, or get hold of
her, is determined to pursue his course to the westward; it may be for
the straits of Gibraltar, on his way to Cadiz; or it may be, that with
the expectation of the wind getting into its prevailing quarter, S.W.,
he wishes to take advantage of it to get to Toulon, and probably taking
Minorca in his way, and joining the Spanish squadron of six sail of the
line known to be there. At all events,” said Captain Brenton to his
officers, “we must endeavour to accompany him;” and in his turn, in order
to puzzle the French Admiral with regard to the Spartan’s movements, he
continued close hauled until he had lost sight of the French squadron,
then keeping away upon the same course, they were last seen steering, and
setting the courses, he expected soon to be again abreast of them, and to
resume his position for watching them on the following day. Gantheaume,
who commanded the French squadron, evidently had laid a trap for him,
and expected this movement, for after dark he must have hauled his wind
expecting to get to windward of the Spartan. As the night was dark, great
anxiety was felt to get sight of the enemy again, and an eager look out
kept on the lee bow. All at once the junior marine officer who was on
the lee gangway called out, “here they are Sir, close to us on the lee
quarter;” and there indeed they were, not much more than a mile distant.
As the Spartan was off the wind and going at a great rate, with all
hands on deck, Captain Brenton decided upon at once wearing her, and
getting on the other tack, as far preferable to keeping his enemy astern,
and so near him, or running the risk of any accident which might happen
in the stays. He accordingly ordered the helm to be immediately put up,
and the ship flew round with rapidity, and was round on the other tack
under the mainsail in a few moments. She was evidently within gun shot of
the leading ship of the French squadron, but only for a very few minutes,
and they were probably deterred from firing, lest it might attract the
attention of other cruizers. The French squadron soon after wore, which
they did very deliberately; the signal having been first made by the
Admiral, and when repeated by his second astern, hauled down in his ship,
and so on throughout the line, only one ship having the signal up at a
time, and no guns being fired upon any occasion; this clearly betrayed a
desire not to attract notice. The Spartan continued carrying a press of
sail all night, and soon got over on the coast of Sardinia; when she went
again upon the starboard tack, and at daylight saw the enemy’s squadron
upon the larboard tack, broad on her lee bow. On the evening of this
day the weather was very squally, and wind so variable, as sometimes to
bring the enemy to windward, a position most unfavourable to the Spartan,
though there was no apprehension whatever of any ship of the enemy
gaining upon her on a wind, although many might have done so while going
large. Captain Brenton, to avoid these disadvantageous circumstances,
stood well over to the coast of Sardinia, in the expectation of again
crossing upon the French squadron in the morning, but he saw no more of
them. They had undoubtedly availed themselves of the changes of wind,
favourable to their getting to the N.N.W. as they were known to have
reached Toulon in a few days after.

Captain Brenton was now under considerable anxiety, as to the steps
he should next take. From the conduct of the enemy during four days,
there was every reason to believe that their object was to get to the
westward, but whether to the straits of Gibraltar, or Minorca, or Toulon,
he could not determine. Depending upon his launch having carried all
the information to Sicily and Malta, he resolved to steer for Minorca,
under the probability that M. Gantheaume might have gone thither for the
Spanish ships, as has already been suggested. He also thought, that on
this course with the perpetual changes of wind so frequently experienced
in the spring in the Mediterranean, he might again fall in with them,
whether their destination was to either of the places above mentioned.

From the evening of the 5th to the morning of the 7th, the Spartan was
nearly becalmed the whole time, but a fresh breeze then springing up from
the S.W. the Spartan stretched over for Minorca, and made that island on
the evening of the 8th. Captain Brenton was in the hope of being able to
reconnoitre port Mahon in the morning, but in the course of the night it
came on to blow very hard from the northward; and to have attempted to
have worked up to the island would have expended too much valuable time.
All that remained in his power now was to endeavour to secure Admiral
Purvis, who commanded the British squadron off Cadiz, against surprise.
He accordingly made all sail for Gibraltar; he arrived off the rock on
the evening of the 10th, and brought to off Cabrita, whilst he sent a
boat on shore for intelligence; and on its return proceeded through the
straits under bare poles, in order not to miss the squadron under Admiral
Purvis, which he saw at day-light, and communicated his intelligence by

The Admiral immediately made the signal for his squadron to clear and
prepare for battle. He gave Captain Brenton great credit for his conduct
upon this occasion, as did Lord Collingwood on his rejoining him. Having
remained with the squadron off Cadiz, as long as any probability remained
of the French squadron coming down, the Spartan was again ordered to
Palermo, to rejoin Rear Admiral Martin; and on his arrival there, Captain
Brenton was directed to resume his station off Toulon; where he was
informed he should find the Commander in chief, which was the case. Lord
Collingwood expressed himself highly pleased with all the measures he had
pursued under these trying and difficult circumstances; and said he had
been greatly relieved, on hearing of the Spartan’s safety, as a report
had reached him, that the French squadron was seen going into Toulon,
with an English frigate their prize; and little doubt was entertained in
the fleet, as to the correctness of the report, or, as to the Spartan
being the ship taken. His Lordship was heard to exclaim when he heard the
news, “That poor Brenton was the child of misfortune.” Captain Brenton
was now again upon his old post, but had the comfort of another frigate,
the Lavinia, being put under his orders. There were at this time six sail
of the line in Toulon, and four frigates ready for sea; and six men of
war, with two frigates refitting. The enemy frequently came out as usual,
chasing off our frigates and returning into port again.

On the 1st of August, Captain Brenton having observed a frigate and
convoy getting under weigh in Toulon, and suspecting they were destined
for Corsica with troops, where he had been informed some disturbances had
taken place, recalled the Lavinia by signal from Cape de L’Aigle; and
directing Captain Hancock to occupy the Spartan’s post off Toulon, made
sail himself in chase of the frigate, and gained very fast upon her, in
consequence of which she hauled into the bay of St. Tropaz, and anchored
under the citadel. The Spartan succeeded in taking two of her convoy,
and was very near taking a man of war brig, having got within gun shot
of her; but being becalmed, the Frenchman got away with his sweeps. The
Spartan had three men wounded by a shot from one of the batteries, but
only slightly.

In the beginning of September, the Spartan was ordered to cruize in the
gulf of Rosas, to prevent the enemy’s vessels from collecting on the
coast between Cape Creux and Cape Couronne. On the 7th, Captain Brenton
fell in with the Imperieuse, commanded by Lord Cochrane, and joined him
in an attack he was making upon some merchant vessels near Cape Mejean;
one of which they burned, and captured two, which not being worth sending
into port for adjudication, they destroyed. The Imperieuse had one man
killed upon this occasion, and the Spartan one wounded.

On the 8th, the boats from the two ships landed and destroyed the
signal post and telegraph in the bay of Saintes Maries; from thence
they proceeded to attack three batteries upon the Isthmus of Leucate,
where a number of vessels were lying hauled up on the beach. Lord
Cochrane had reconnoitred this part of the coast some days previously,
and had landed and spiked one of the guns on the southern battery. On
the 10th, at daylight, the boats landed and completed the destruction
of that battery; whilst the ships protected them by their fire, from
the troops which were assembled. At one p.m. the boats were formed in
two divisions, the first made a feint of landing near the village of
Caunet, by which means the troops were all drawn to that point, and the
ships running in attacked the centre battery near the village of St.
Lauren, and the second division of boats proceeded under cover of the
Imperieuse, and carried the northernmost battery. A beautiful instance
of ready seamanship was displayed by Lord Cochrane upon this occasion.
Having already reconnoitred the coast, he requested he might be permitted
to lead upon the occasion. The Spartan was following the Imperieuse, at
less than a cable’s length distance, the ships going about three knots;
when the Imperieuse was observed suddenly to swing round, with much more
rapidity than any action of the helm could have produced. The fact was,
that Lord Cochrane from the mast head saw a squadron of the enemy’s
cavalry galloping towards a gorge on the coast, which had they passed,
they would have cut off the retreat of our people, who were employed in
spiking the guns. His Lordship immediately ordered the ship’s anchor to
be let go, and the swinging round brought her starboard broadside to
enfilade this gorge, by which the cavalry were instantly turned. The
boats were then again landed, when one vessel was blown up, and another
burnt, the others considerably injured by the fire from the frigates; but
the enemy having collected in considerable force with field pieces, the
boats were recalled. The Spartan had two wounded upon the occasion, and
the Imperieuse one.

On the following day the two ships anchored off Cette, and endeavoured to
burn the shipping in the harbour, by throwing congreve rockets amongst
them; but without effect, probably owing to the defective state of the

On the 12th they again landed, burnt a custom-house, near Mont Julien,
two pontons on the canal, and some guard houses, bringing away a number
of small arms.

On the 13th they chased nine sail of merchant vessels off Point de Tigne,
and captured six of them, viz., one ship, three brigs, a xebec, and a
bombard; these vessels had run on shore, with the wind blowing hard from
the N.W. The Spartan and the Imperieuse anchoring near them, and heaving
them off, they were no sooner afloat and anchored near the frigates, than
a gale of wind came on, directly on shore, which obliged the ships to
remain there till the 16th, in hourly expectation of the enemy bringing
down guns, as they were within shot of the beach. Captain Brenton in
his official letters states the conduct of Lord Cochrane to have been
above all praise; and that it was throughout an animating example of
intrepidity, zeal, professional skill, and resources which he trusted
would be treasured up in the memory of all who witnessed it.

The Editor may be allowed to add as a tribute due to the distinguished
officer thus casually introduced to notice from connection with the
subject of the Memoir, that he has frequently heard Sir Jahleel Brenton
mention, that he admired nothing more in Lord Cochrane, than the care he
took of the preservation of his people. Bold and adventurous as he was,
no unnecessary exposure of life was ever permitted under his command.
Every circumstance was anticipated, every precaution against surprise
was taken, every provision for success was made; and in this way he was
enabled to accomplish the most daring enterprises, with comparatively
little danger, and still less of actual loss.

The public who heard of his unceasing activity and dauntless courage,
regarded him as one only ambitious of the character of a successful
commander, and little knew that he never risked an attack of which he
had not calculated all the probable contingencies, and compared most
jealously the loss he might himself sustain, with the injury to be done
to the enemy.

Lord Collingwood in acknowledging Captain Brenton’s official account
of these affairs expressed much approbation. The service performed
was in itself trivial, but the effect upon the enemy important; as
these perpetual attacks made on different parts of the coast were very
harrassing to them, and kept their cavalry, as well as other descriptions
of force, constantly in motion; whilst they at the same time paralyzed
their trade, which at this period of the war was confined entirely to
the coasting department. It became necessary also for the enemy to keep
a much larger military force in their maritime departments, than they
would otherwise have done, and the amount of troops sent to the army was
consequently diminished.

The coasters were at length so apprehensive of falling into the hands
of the English cruizers, that they seldom dared to quit the shelter of
a port, until signals had been made from the different stations on the
coast, that no enemy was near.

While such was the perilous and anxious tenor of Captain Brenton’s days,
some light may be reflected on his personal character, by introducing
a short extract from that domestic memoir, to which reference has
previously been made, as exhibiting the feelings that were passing in his
mind, while occupied in this active service. The thread of the narrative,
it is true, will be broken; the thrilling interest connected with these
critical moments must be suspended; but it is well that the reader should
see the character of the man in whose dangers he is led to share, and
should learn even through the interruption of the story, that the duties
of the service may be discharged in the most exemplary manner, whilst the
heart retains all the warmth and tenderness of well regulated affection.
Speaking of this period of his life to his children, he says, “This was
a time of great anxiety, which to a heart formed like your dear mother’s,
was perhaps rendered more severe, by the struggle between her religious
convictions and her worldly affections, between her wish to repose entire
confidence in God, and those feelings, which although given us for our
happiness, we are not able to controul, when we have reason to fear
that those we love are suffering, or in danger. The enemy’s squadron
had escaped from Rochefort, and got into the Mediterranean, where they
formed a junction with that of Toulon, and an action with our fleet
was consequently expected. My beloved Isabella knew I was cruizing off
Toulon, and was naturally full of apprehension. I had been relieved in
the early part of the year, in order that I might go to Malta and refit,
and upon my return having fallen in with Lord Collingwood, I was detached
in quest of the enemy, which I fell in with, the beginning of April, off
Sardinia. I lost sight of them on the fourth day, and concluding from the
course they had steered, whilst I was with them, that they were going
either to Minorca or Cadiz, I went successively to those places, giving
the alarm to our Commander in chief, who was blockading the latter. I had
the satisfaction of receiving Lord Collingwood’s entire approbation of my
conduct; and what was not less gratifying, a letter, whilst off Cadiz,
from your beloved mother, which had been written but little more than a
fortnight. I was also enabled to send her accounts of my welfare, which
from the nature of the service upon which I had been engaged, she could
not otherwise have received for a considerable time; whilst reports of
our having fallen into the hands of the enemy were circulated throughout
the Mediterranean, and generally believed.” This circumstance seems to
have called forth the following expression of gratitude from the anxious

Bath 1808.—“Just received letters from my beloved Brenton, which have
more than ever given me cause for gratitude to the All wise disposer
of events. Oh! merciful God, how is it possible for me to express the
gratitude due to Thee, upon this occasion particularly whilst every hour
of my life is marked by some of thy bountiful mercies. But thy late
preservation of my husband, both from the enemy, and the perils and
dangers of the sea, call for more than usual gratitude.” Captain Brenton
adds, “Whilst so many are habitually congratulating themselves upon the
instances of what they call ‘good fortune,’ or their ‘lucky escapes,’ or
pluming themselves upon their own success as the necessary consequences
of their own judgment or merit; let us, my darling children, follow
the example of your angelic mother, and refer all we meet with to the
merciful and watchful care of a benign and superintending Providence—let
us pay our gratitude where it is due; and in all our trials remember
what He has done for us. Let us resign ourselves to His divine will, and
assure ourselves that were it not good for us to be afflicted, adversity
would never reach us.”



The Spartan having resumed her station off Toulon, discovered on the
morning of the 2nd of October, that five frigates and a store ship had
got out during the preceding night in a heavy gale from the N.W. Captain
Brenton concluded they were gone to Corsica, as the store ship was
constantly employed in bringing timber from that Island.

The Spartan was now released from this arduous duty by the Proserpine,
and Captain Brenton was ordered to put himself under the orders of Rear
Admiral Martin, on the coast of Sicily, and to cruize between the Faro
of Messina, and the entrance of the Adriatic. On this head, Captain
Brenton’s own notes may be used.

“Upon my arrival in the Mediterranean in the spring of 1807, I had been
stationed to watch the enemy’s fleet in Toulon, and I was continued in
that arduous service till the latter end of 1808, when I was relieved at
the joint intercession of the junior flag officers, who had represented
to the Commander in chief (though unsolicited by me) the hardship of
one person being confined to such severe service, for so long a period.
My stay there had, I believe, been protracted in the first instance,
by a little prejudice on the part of the Admiral, in consequence of my
having lost so many men, on the unfortunate occasion of the expedition
of the boats; and latterly from the expediency of keeping an officer on
so important a station, who had the advantage of local knowledge, gained
by the experience of so many months, as well of the coasts, as of the
operations of the enemy.

“I was at length removed to the coast of Calabria, and stationed between
the Island of Sicily, and the mouth of the Adriatic, with a gratifying
acknowledgement from Lord Collingwood of my having fulfilled the duties
of my last post to his satisfaction. I had still less chance of success
on this coast, than in the neighbourhood of Toulon, but the duty was not
so harassing, or the responsibility so great, and I looked for something

“In the spring of 1809 I was sent to cruize on the coast of Syria and
Egypt, when I took two prizes, only one of which, however, got into port.
On my return to Malta, my excellent and warm friend, Sir Alexander Ball,
sent me to take the command of the little squadron in the Adriatic.
No situation in the Navy could have been more agreeable to my wishes,
particularly with such officers and friends under my command, as Captains
Hoste, Duncan and Waldegrave.”

Early in January, 1809, intelligence had been received that Murat, then
king of Naples, had resolved upon making a descent upon Sicily in the
month of February. Great vigilance was consequently required to prevent
any collection of troops or vessels on any point of the coast. The
Spartan was kept upon the service during the greater part of 1808-9.
Captain Brenton received a letter from Rear Admiral Martin, dated 19th
January, 1809, informing him that an attack was confidently expected to
be made by Murat, in the course of a short time, and that it was possible
the Russian squadron at Trieste would co-operate in it, recommending the
utmost vigilance for the protection of the eastern coast. He received at
the same time another letter from General Sir John Stuart, confirming the
expectation of Murat’s intended invasion.

Early in February the Commander in chief (then at Malta) having reason to
believe that no attack was likely to be made upon Sicily, ordered Captain
Brenton to join him there in the Spartan, where he arrived on the 6th.
An incident occurred at this time, which shews in a strong point of view
the superstition of the British sailors. When the Spartan was at Malta in
the early part of January, a corporal of marines had been sent on shore
to bring off one of his party, who had gone on shore without leave. A
scuffle ensued with some drunken men, and the corporal in self-defence
having drawn his bayonet, the marine was killed. The parties were
immediately taken up, and the following day after a minute examination
into all circumstances by the magistrates, the corporal was acquitted
of all blame, and sent off to his ship, which sailed in the course of
a day or two. The weather became very boisterous, a succession of gales
of wind was experienced, and not one prize taken during the cruize. All
this bad luck as it was called, was visited upon the corporal, who was
supposed to be the Jonas, having been guilty of murder; and it was an
opinion frequently expressed by the people, that no more good fortune
would attend the ship, as long as corporal Mantle was in her. This was
frequently mentioned to the Captain, who paid no attention to it. But on
his arrival at Malta he mentioned the circumstance to Lord Collingwood,
suggesting that the man should be tried by a court martial, as his
acquittal was certain, and would be the means of whitewashing him in the
eyes of his shipmates. His Lordship quite approved of this. The court
was ordered and assembled accordingly, and the corporal fully acquitted.
The spell was then broken—fine weather ensued—a prize was taken, and the
corporal was himself again. On relating this story a few days afterwards
to Captain Stewart of the Seahorse, he assured Captain Brenton that the
early part of his last cruize had been particularly unsuccessful; but
that while on the coast of Italy, it was discovered that a black cat
was on board, which at once accounted for fortune having deserted the
Seahorse. What was to be done? To throw the cat overboard was increasing
the bad omen, and aggravating the case. Captain Stewart decided at once
that he would run over to the coast of Sardinia, where pussy was landed
with every proper respect and attention, and a prize soon after set the
question at rest. The Captain was a wise man, he took the only method of
restoring good humour to his people, and was rewarded for it. It often
requires as much judgment to deal with the weaknesses as with the vices
of mankind.

In the early part of February Lord Collingwood told Captain Brenton,
that in consequence of the length of time the Spartan had been kept off
Toulon, it was his intention to give him a cruize off Egypt and Syria;
where he forthwith proceeded, remaining about six weeks, and returning
at the end of that time, having taken one prize, and lost another of
considerable value on the rocks on the east end of Candia. As there was
something singular attending the capture of both these vessels, it may
not be amiss to mention it in a few words. When the Spartan was in chase
of the first off Cape Derne, night came on, when the chase was still
seven or eight miles from the Spartan, and she was lost sight of. Captain
Brenton said to his officers, “if I were now master of that vessel, I
should keep away two points for some time, and then two more, and in the
course of three or four hours, I would then bear up before the wind, and
run for eight or ten leagues, and I think he will do so. I mean therefore
to bear up at once, and run ten leagues to leeward, and then haul to the
wind, as the best chance of seeing him in the morning”; he did so, and
the following day at noon, when standing in for the African shore, the
identical vessel was discovered coming out from the land, and by five
o’clock was in possession of the Spartan. The master acknowledged that he
had done just as Captain Brenton had imagined.

A few days afterwards a similar chase took place off the south coast of
Candia, and the vessel being lost sight of at dark, the Spartan ran 10
leagues to leeward again, and furling all her sails waited for daylight,
when the unfortunate Frenchman was seen coming down before the wind, and
on seeing the Spartan, hauled round the S.E. point of the island. A long
chase ensued; at length, the chase ran in near some broken rocks, and let
go her anchor. She was immediately boarded by the Spartan’s boats, while
driving among the breakers; and delay having taken place in cutting the
cable, she struck upon the point of a rock, and instantly sunk in deep
water, giving the boats’ crews barely time to escape. This was a serious
loss, as the vessel had a valuable cargo from Marseilles to the Levant,
and it was owing to the neglect of the boarding officer, who was ordered
to take with him a _carpenter’s_ axe, to cut the cable with, as the
sharpest; but he forgot to take _any_, and whilst hacking at the cable
with a cutlass, the vessel struck, and was lost. The accident suggested
to Captain Brenton the idea of having a chest fitted up for every boat in
the ship, which should contain all things that might be required, in case
of being separated from the ship; pistols, ammunition, carpenter’s tools,
provisions, candles, matches, sail needles, twine, compasses, &c., &c.

On the return of the Spartan to Malta, she was necessarily placed under
quarantine; and Sir Alexander Ball, the port Admiral, having directed
Captain Brenton to meet him at the quarantine office, asked him “how
long he required to be ready for sea.” The answer was, “Not an hour,
after provisions and water were sent on board.” These were ordered
immediately, and in the course of the day, the baggage of the British
Ambassador, (the unfortunate Mr. Bathurst who was afterwards supposed
to have been murdered near Ratisbon,) and that of Don L. Bardaxi, the
Spanish Ambassador both going to the Court of Vienna, were sent on board.
The Spanish Ambassador was accompanied by his lady, and a numerous suite;
with these the Spartan sailed on the following day, and reached Trieste
on the 18th of April, where the Ambassadors were landed; and Captain
Brenton, in pursuance of the orders he had received, took the squadron
consisting of the Amphion, Captain Hoste (afterwards Sir William); the
Mercury, Captain The Honourable Henry Duncan (afterwards Sir Henry); and
the Thames, Captain The Honourable W. Waldegrave, now Lord Radstock,
under his orders.

From Captain Hoste who had recently reconnoitred the enemy’s ports on
the coast of Italy, Captain Brenton received much valuable information.
At Ancona there were two French, and one Venetian frigates; at Venice,
one frigate ready for sea, and another which had just hauled out of
the basin, with three brigs; the object of this force when united was
supposed to relieve Marmont, at this time shut up in Dalmatia, and whose
view was suspected to be to make his escape to Ancona. On the 23rd April,
observing a number of vessels collected together in the port of Pesaro,
he resolved to attack them; and the following is a copy of his official
letter upon this occasion.

                                     “SPARTAN, TRIESTE, 27th APRIL.

    “MY LORD,

    “I have the honour to inform your Lordship, that being with
    the Amphion and Mercury off the town of Pesaro, on the 23rd
    instant, I observed a number of vessels lying in the mole,
    and thought it practicable to take possession of them; for
    which purpose, the ships were anchored with springs upon their
    cables, within half a mile of the town. The boats formed in two
    divisions, the first consisting of launches with carronades,
    and other boats carrying field pieces, under the orders of
    Lieutenant Phillott, first of the Amphion, took a station to
    the northward of the town; and the second division consisting
    of rocket boats, under the orders of lieutenant Baumgardt,
    second of the Spartan; both divisions being commanded by
    Lieutenant George Willes, first of the Spartan. As soon as
    these arrangements were made, I sent a flag of truce on shore
    to demand the surrender of all the vessels, adding, that should
    any resistance be made, the Governor must be answerable for the
    consequences, and I gave him half an hour to deliberate.

    “At half-past eleven, a.m. the officer returned with a message
    that in half an hour I should receive his answer. I waited
    thirty-five minutes, from the time the boat came alongside,
    when observing a flag of truce on shore, but that troops
    were assembling in considerable numbers in the streets, and
    on the quays, and that the inhabitants were busily employed
    in dismantling the vessels; I hauled down the flag of truce,
    and fired one shot over the town to give warning to the women
    and children; and shortly after made the signal to commence
    firing, which was instantly obeyed by the ships and boats. At
    thirty-two minutes after twelve, observing several flags of
    truce hung out in the town, I made the signal to cease firing,
    and Lieutenant Willes pushed into the harbour with the boats,
    when he was informed that the Commander had made his escape
    with all the military.

    “I considered the place as surrendered at discretion, and
    gave orders for the boats to be employed in bringing out
    the vessels, and the marines to be landed to protect them.
    Lieutenant Willes made the most judicious arrangements to
    carry this into execution. The marines were drawn up under
    Lieutenant Moore, senior Lieutenant of Marines of the Amphion;
    the launches stationed in such a manner as to enfilade the
    principal streets; and the other boats’ crews were employed
    in rigging the vessels, and laying out warps to haul them
    off with, as soon as the tide should flow. About two, p.m. I
    received a letter from the Commandant, dated half-past one,
    demanding another hour for deliberation. I refused him another
    moment, and told him that in case of resistance, I should
    destroy the town. By half-past six thirteen vessels deeply
    laden as per enclosed list were brought off; several others had
    been scuttled by the inhabitants, and sunk; some were still
    aground dismantled, there were besides a few in ballast, and a
    number of fishing vessels. I should have burned the merchant
    vessels but for the apprehension of setting fire to the
    town, and destroying the fishing boats. I therefore directed
    Lieutenant Willes to blow up the castle at the entrance of the
    harbour, and to bring off his people; this he did at seven

    “I am happy to say we did not hear of any lives being lost in
    the town, although many of the houses were much damaged. One
    man was killed by the explosion of the castle. After the match
    had been lighted, and our people had retreated, he approached
    it; a musket was fired over him to drive him away, but he
    sought refuge under the castle, and was buried in its ruins.
    As the enemy made no active resistance, I can only express
    my admiration at the zeal and promptitude with which Captain
    Hoste, and the Honourable Henry Duncan executed the orders
    which they received, and the manner in which they placed
    their ships. Lieutenant Willes upon this, as upon every other
    occasion, displayed the greatest energy, skill, and judgment;
    the arrangements he made for the defence of his party whilst
    in the harbour, and the expedition in sending out the prizes,
    do him the highest credit. Lieutenant Phillott and Lieutenant
    Baumgardt in the command of their respective divisions, and
    Lieutenant Moore in that of the Marines, were also exemplary.

    “I have, &c.

                                                      “J. BRENTON.”



    San Nicholas           38 tons Cargo, Oil and Almonds.
    San Pratico            90   ”    ”    Oil.
    L’azzardo fortunato    54   ”    ”    Oil.
    Name unknown          130   ”    ”    Hides, oil and almonds.
    Ditto, ditto           90   ”    ”    Oil and hemp.
    San Antonio           120   ”    ”    Oil.
    San Antonio           100   ”    ”    Plank and spars.
    San Nio                56   ”    ”    Morocco leather, hides,
                                            bees’ wax, &c.
    Name unknown           30   ”    ”    Oil and hides.
    Carlotta fortunata     56   ”    ”    Oil.
    Name unknown           50   ”    ”    Oil.
    Ditto, ditto           60   ”    ”    Oil, almonds, figs,
                                            candles, &c.
    Providenza             30   ”    ”    Oil.
        Total             904 tons.

As the oil was all sweet oil for Gallipoli, these cargoes were very
valuable, and could not be worth less than £10,000, the value put upon
them by Sir W. Hoste in his letter to his father.—See Hoste’s Memoirs,
vol. 1. p. 340.

In consequence of intelligence received from Trieste, and the urgent
demands of the Austrian Commander in chief for the co-operation of a
frigate, Captain Brenton was under the necessity of detaching the Amphion
to the gulf of Fiume, a measure that he regretted the necessity for
extremely; as he depended much upon the assistance he should receive from
such an officer, as Captain Hoste, in his intended operations on the
coast of Italy, which he hoped to keep in a perpetual state of alarm, and
thus to prevent as much as possible any troops being detached to the army
opposed to the Arch-duke John. Captain Duncan was however still with
him, and was also a most valuable coadjutor.

On the 2nd of May, the Spartan and Mercury attacked the port of
Cesenatico, as detailed in the following letter.

                              “SPARTAN, OFF ROVIGNO, 5th MAY, 1809.

    “MY LORD,

    “On the 2nd instant, the Spartan and Mercury chased two vessels
    into the port of Cesenatico, the entrance to which is very
    narrow, and defended by a battery of two guns (twenty-four
    pounders) and a castle. Observing at the same time several
    other vessels laying there, I determined to take possession
    of them if possible. The coast is so shoal that we had only
    five fathoms, considerably out of gun shot of the town; I was
    therefore under the necessity of sending the boats a-head, and
    on each bow, with directions to make a signal when in three

    “We were by these means enabled to anchor by noon in a quarter
    three within range of grape of the battery, and very soon
    silenced it, when Lieutenant Willes, first of the Spartan,
    pushed in and took possession of it, turning the guns upon the
    castle and town, which were soon after deserted. We captured
    in the port twelve vessels, some laden with corn for Venice,
    and the others being in ballast, we filled them with iron and
    hemp out of the magazines for these articles, which were upon
    the quay, and in which the sails and rudders of some of their
    vessels were concealed. Another large vessel laden with iron,
    which lay at the entrance of the harbour, scuttled, we burned;
    and after blowing up the castle and magazine, destroying the
    battery and spiking the guns, we came off, I am happy to
    say, without the loss of a man, or any person being wounded,
    although much exposed to the fire of the battery, as well as
    musketry; nor was any damage done to the ships.

    “The Mercury, from Captain Duncan’s anxiety to place her
    as near the town as possible, took the ground, but in so
    favourable a position, as gave the fullest effect to her fire.
    She was however, hove off by 5 p.m. without having sustained
    any damage.

    “I never witnessed more zeal and energy than was evinced by
    Captain Duncan upon this occasion. Lieutenant Willes displayed
    great gallantry in taking possession of the battery the moment
    the ships had ceased firing, and in the expedition with which
    he turned the guns against the place; his exertion also in
    bringing out the vessels was very great. Much credit is also
    due to the officers and men of both ships for their activity.

    “I have, &c.

                                                      “J. BRENTON.”


Captain Brenton dispatched the Mercury to convey the prizes to Trieste,
and on the following day came up with them off Rovigno. But having been
joined by the Thames, with orders for the Mercury to be sent to Trieste,
and from thence with the British Minister’s dispatches to Malta, he was
under the necessity of sending the captured vessels into Rovigno, a port
on the coast of Istria. The following letter to Lord Collingwood will
shew the state of affairs at this time in the upper part of the Adriatic,
and of the necessity for every exertion being made by the little squadron.

                              “SPARTAN, OFF ROVIGNO, 5th MAY, 1809.

    “MY LORD,

    “The Thames joined us last night, and I shall in consequence
    dispatch the Mercury immediately to Trieste for Mr. Stuart’s
    dispatches, and direct her Captain to proceed to Malta with

    “I trust your Lordship will approve of my having kept that
    ship hitherto, as it was necessary to watch both sides of the
    Adriatic, as well to prevent the evacuation of Dalmatia by
    General Marmont’s corps—as to prevent supplies getting into
    Venice; both of which purposes I hope have in a great measure
    been effected.

    “I have sent the Amphion to watch the motions of the French
    army in Dalmatia, and to co-operate with the Austrians under
    General Strokowitz. With the Spartan and Mercury I have
    been on the coast of Romagna, at the express desire of His
    Imperial highness the Arch-duke John, in order to cut off the
    communication between its forts and Venice. I beg leave to
    refer your Lordship to my letter of this day for a detail of
    our proceedings on the 2nd instant, and enclose a duplicate of
    that of the 27th ultimo.

    “I have this moment received a letter from General L’Epine, in
    which is the following passage. ‘General Marmont has given very
    severe orders to arm the inhabitants of Veglia and Pago, under
    the direction of some of his troops, which are expected there,
    in order to oppose the Austrians; the whole population of these
    islands are very averse to the project, and have the most eager
    desire to see our troops take possession of their country,
    therefore I have given orders immediately that a couple of
    companies should be embarked in the neighbourhood from Fiume to
    attack these islands, and take possession of them before the
    arrival of the French. I advise you of that disposition, that
    you may be in the case to assist our troops in the enterprize,
    and I have no doubt that you will be disposed to do it.’

    “This letter was addressed to Captain Hoste, in consequence of
    my having sent him off Zara; but in order to effect the object
    of it, I shall proceed instantly off those islands in the
    Spartan, adding our force to that of the Amphion, and I shall
    send the Thames to blockade Venice.

    “I have, &c.

                                                      “J. BRENTON.”


A letter of the 29th April had been sent from Mr. Baird, the British
Agent at Fiume, to Mr. Jackson, the Charge’ des affaires at Trieste,
requesting he would inform the British Commander, by the earliest
opportunity, that the Austrians had entered Trau, on the coast of
Dalmatia, without finding any French there; that eighteen vessels had
gone from Zara to Pago with troops, and that it was believed General
Marmont and his staff were with them, and that his intention was probably
to get to Ancona.

About the same time, the following letter reached Captain Brenton, from
Mr. Bathurst, the British Ambassador, whom he had brought to Trieste in
the Spartan, dated Vienna, 27th April, 1809.

    “I have been unable from illness to apply to any business
    whatever since my arrival here, you must therefore not be
    surprised at my silence.

    “The turn which the war has taken upon the Danube is not
    altogether favourable. The enclosed bulletin will put you
    _au fait_ of the operations of the two armies. The Arch-duke
    Charles has since been separated from General Hiller, and has
    fallen back to the frontiers of Bohemia. General Hiller was
    expected at Braunau yesterday, and will probably retire towards
    Saltzburg, and the Tyrol. In this situation the Capital is
    left open, but it is not imagined that the French will risk
    advancing with an Austrian army on each flank.

    “The Emperor is still in the vicinity of Enns.

    “In every other direction the war has taken a favourable turn,
    and the dispositions of the different powers of Europe seem
    favourable to the Austrian cause; even Russia indicates no
    desire of becoming hostile.

    “The firmness of the government is not shaken, though the first
    opening of the campaign has not answered their expectation.
    Pray let me recommend to you the most cordial co-operation with
    the Austrian army in Italy. It is probable the Arch-duke John
    will for the present remain upon the defensive in the Venetian
    States, your station will therefore become of the greatest

    “Believe me, &c.

                                                     “R. BATHURST.”

On the 7th of May, General L’Epine writes from Trieste as follows:—


    “Captain Flanegan, who will deliver this letter, is appointed
    to have the command of the various Austrian armed vessels,
    which are employed in the blockade of Venice, and is ordered to
    follow your directions, as long as you intend to remain before
    that place. I beg therefore you may be so good as to concert
    with him such dispositions as you may think most proper to
    attain the intended purpose, which is to prevent the enemy from
    receiving supplies.

    “By the same opportunity I have the honour to acquaint you
    that I have received a dispatch from the Arch-duke John, in
    which he mentions his most earnest desire, that the whole force
    under your command should go as soon as possible to the coast
    of Dalmatia, and particularly towards Zara, where he wishes
    that an attempt might be made by the British men of war, firing
    against that place, or in any other way, that might draw the
    attention of the enemy, and operate a diversion, giving at the
    same time a signal for the insurrection of the inhabitants to
    break out, who expect nothing else than the occasion; whilst
    our troops will make a resolute attack against the province on
    the other side. I lose no time to let you know this intention
    of the Arch-duke, being persuaded, after the disposition you
    have been pleased to exert, and which are used to direct your
    motions, that every exertion will be employed from your part to
    answer the above proposition.

    “I have the honour, &c.

                                          “L’EPINE, MAJOR GENERAL.”


This letter was accompanied by another, containing a list of the
Austrian flotilla, with which Captain Brenton was desired to co-operate,
consisting of two brigs of war, and a tartane stationed between Goro
and Malamoco, with three gun boats, and five patrolling boats in the
neighbourhood of Cortelazzo. The vessels were especially intended to
prevent any supplies getting into Venice coastwise. It then added,

    “In Venice the enemy have at this time 7800 men: French,
    Italian, and militia. They have also

    In the Lagune   4 gun boats, and 3 floating batteries.
    At Malamoco     3 brigs, 3 gun boats, 3 floating batteries.
    ”  Lido         2 brigs, 2  ”
    ”  Treporte     1 gun boat, 1 gun pirogue.
    ”  Venice       1 forty gun frigate, loaded with arms and
                      ammunition, not intended to go out,

    and fifty-nine gun pirogues disposed in the remainder of the
    Lagune. The Arch-duke John had got as far as Verona, but will
    not probably advance further till the Arch-duke Charles shall
    again take the offensive.


                                          “L’EPINE, MAJOR GENERAL.”

    “COMMODORE BRENTON, &c. &c.”

In consequence of the state of things as detailed in the preceding
correspondence, Captain Brenton felt much solicitude to comply, as far as
his very limited means would enable him, with the wishes of the Arch-duke
John, both as regarded the preventing supplies reaching Venice from the
coast of Romagna, as well as to give every possible annoyance to the
French army in Dalmatia. In order to effect the latter object he had
detached the Amphion to cruize between Zara and Fiume, and the Thames
was ordered to proceed off Punto Maestro, to stop all vessels attempting
to get into Venice. And as the French had seized a number of fishing
boats on the coast of Romagna, which they had laden with provisions,
with a view of their not being examined by the British cruizers; Captain
Waldegrave was directed to take all vessels of that description, and to
destroy all such as were so employed, and to warn all fishermen against
such acts of hostility, lest they should forfeit the indulgence they had
hitherto received as peaceable industrious people. Captain Waldegrave
was also ordered to take the Austrian flotilla off Cortelazzo under his

Having made these arrangements, Captain Brenton proceeded in the Spartan
to the gulf of Fiume, with the intention of protecting the islands on the
coast of Croatia, still under the Austrian government, and driving the
French out of the others. The following letter to Lord Collingwood will
at once give the official detail of his operations to the 12th of May:—

                      “SPARTAN, OFF LUSSIN PICCOLO, 12th MAY, 1809.

    “MY LORD,

    “In my letter of the 6th instant I had the honour to inform
    your Lordship of my intention to assist the Austrians in
    getting possession of the islands on the coast of Croatia.
    On approaching Veglia on the 7th, I was told that it had
    surrendered the day before, and that the Austrians had gone
    on to Cherso. I received at the same time information of
    a French garrison consisting of 200 men, having fortified
    the Island of Lussin, with a determination to hold out till
    relieved. I proceeded directly for the port of Cherso, where
    the imperial troops arrived a few hours before us. I proposed
    to their Commandant, Lieutenant Colonel Baron Peharnick, that
    a detachment should be embarked on board the Spartan, and an
    attack be immediately made upon Lussin, to which he assented,
    and came on board with one hundred and eighty men. We sailed
    from Cherso at daylight, on the 9th, accompanied by three
    trabacolos for the purpose of landing the troops. At two p.m.
    we arrived off the port of Lussin, and found the enemy prepared
    to receive us, having a battery on each side of the entrance of
    the bay, which is not more than two cables length across. From
    thence the bay runs to the S.E. about three miles in length,
    and in no part more than a quarter of a mile over. The shore
    on both sides high and rocky. At the extremity of the bay, the
    town is situated, and immediately above it, the citadel, a
    large stone building defended by eleven pieces of cannon.

    “Our dispositions for the attack were immediately made, Baron
    Peharnick with fifty men in the boats of the Spartan, under
    the command of Lieutenant Willes, was to land to the southward
    of the western battery. Lieutenant Fagan commanding the royal
    marines of this ship, with his own party, and a detachment of
    Austrians embarked in two of the trabacolos for the purpose of
    attacking the eastern battery, whilst the ship was to run in
    and engage both of them.

    “This plan was put in execution at three p.m. and both
    batteries carried after a very short resistance, the enemy
    retreating to the citadel.

    “Baron Peharnick and myself having reconnoitred the town from
    an eminence, we were of opinion that the place might be taken
    by an immediate attack. Accordingly the imperial troops which
    were landed on the peninsula moved forward. Lieutenant Willes
    in the boats, accompanied by Lieutenant Fagan’s detachment
    in the trabacolos, ran up the bay accompanied by the ship.
    Upon approaching the town I sent a flag of truce forward, to
    summon it to surrender, but it was fired upon from the quay
    and houses. Lieutenant Willes instantly pushed forward in the
    most gallant manner with his boats, and found an anchorage for
    the ship, within pistol shot of the town, of which I availed
    myself immediately. One of the trabacolos with the marines
    and imperialists was at this moment sunk by the fire from the
    citadel, happily no lives were lost, and the troops landed to
    the left of the town, from whence they dislodged a party of the
    enemy that opposed them, the ship opening her fire upon the

    “At twenty-two minutes past five a flag of truce was hoisted
    at the citadel, and the firing ceased. An officer came off to
    apologize for the flag of truce being fired at by mistake, and
    to know what terms we would grant. Our answer was, that the
    garrison should surrender at discretion, and an hour given for
    deliberation; at the expiration of which time a peremptory
    refusal was returned, and the firing recommenced on both sides;
    the remainder of the troops were landed, and the heights
    occupied to the right and left of the town. At half-past
    eight, finding the citadel silenced, I ceased firing, to give
    the troops an opportunity of advancing to surround it, or to
    storm it if practicable, and sent a field piece to Lieutenant
    Willes to cover them. At eleven, a sharp fire of musketry took
    place between the advance posts and the enemy. I immediately
    ordered Lieutenant Baumgardt to move forward with a twelve
    pounder carronade, and place it on an eminence to the right
    of the citadel. I sent another to Lieutenant Willes on the
    left, with directions for the troops to fall back upon their
    guns, that the ship might renew her fire. By three a.m. the
    batteries were erected within three hundred yards to the right
    and left of the citadel, and Baron Peharnick sent me word that
    the troops had retreated into the rear of them. A heavy fire
    commenced immediately, which was returned from the citadel. At
    four, a flag of truce came off with proposals to surrender,
    on condition of the garrison being sent to Italy: this I
    positively refused, and continued firing till five minutes
    after six, when they surrendered at discretion.

    “I feel particularly grateful to Lieutenant Colonel Baron
    Peharnick for his active and cordial co-operation; the ability
    with which he posted his troops during the night, and his
    unwearied exertions do him the greatest honour. He speaks in
    high terms of the officers and men belonging to H.M.S. under
    my command. It is with much satisfaction I corroborate his
    testimony, and add mine to the good conduct of the Imperial
    officers and troops. The Chasseurs particularly distinguished

    “I have had frequent opportunities to observe the merit of
    Lieutenant Willes first of the Spartan, and I do assure
    your Lordship, that in every part of his duty it is truly
    conspicuous. I am at a loss which to admire most, his
    intrepidity, zeal, or judgment.

    “The conduct of Lieutenant Baumgardt, second lieutenant, is
    equally meritorious upon this occasion; both these officers had
    very considerable difficulties to encounter in getting their
    guns upon the height, and the activity with which this service
    was performed was a subject of admiration to our allies, and of
    surprise to our enemies, who deemed it impracticable.

    “From Mr. Slinner, the master, I experienced the greatest
    assistance, as well in working and placing the ship, as in
    directing the guns, having given him the command of the main
    deck in the absence of the other officers.

    “The Royal Marines under Lieutenants Fagan and Fotterell
    distinguished themselves so much by their steadiness and
    gallantry, that Baron Peharnick gave them the advanced post
    during the night within pistol shot of the enemy. It is but
    just to the petty officers and ship’s company to say, that
    their coolness and cheerful exertions during such a variety of
    service, entitle them to my warmest approbation. They seemed to
    vie with each other in supporting the honour of their country,
    and fully succeeded.

    “I am happy to say that we have lost no one, only two
    Imperialists and one English wounded. The ship has suffered
    very little, having taken such a position as to be below the
    range of the enemy’s guns, while the citadel was exposed to our
    fire, and nearly destroyed. The enemy had two killed and one

    “A number of merchant vessels were found in the port, but as it
    did not appear that they had ever navigated under the enemy’s
    flag, and are in general the property of the inhabitants, we
    have given them up; two only, being Italians, were made prize

    “The prisoners are to proceed to Fiume, under the escort of the
    Imperial troops, excepting the officers, who are on board the
    Spartan to be landed at Trieste.

    “I have the honour to enclose a list of the garrison, guns, &c.
    and of the killed and wounded.

    “I have, &c.

                                                      “J. BRENTON.”


        _List of Garrison, guns, military stores, &c. found in the
        Citadel and Batteries of Lussin, 10th May, 1809._


         1 Captain
         1 Lieutenant
         1 2nd ditto
         5 Serjeants
         7 Corporals
         2 Drummers
        90 Rank and File

        _Rifle Corps._

         1 Captain
         1 2nd Lieutenant
         2 Serjeants
         2 Corporals
        41 Rank and File


         1 Captain
         1 Serjeant Major
         1 Serjeant
         1 Bombardier
         1 Corporal
        14 Artillery men


        Iron Guns 24 pounders    6
                   6    ”        7
                   4    ”        2
                   2    ”        1
        Brass Guns 4    ”        2
            Total               18

        Muskets          568
        Blunderbusses      3
        Powder            30 barrels.

        A quantity of shot of every description.
        Forge for heating shot apparatus complete.
        Provisions for garrison for 3 months.

        Killed and wounded—

        British wounded  2
        Austrian         1

        French killed—

        2 Rank and File.
        1 Ditto Wounded.

                                                      “J. BRENTON.”

The nature and variety of the service in getting possession of Lussin,
and the imperative duty of giving due credit to the Austrians for the
share they had in the affair, unavoidably extended this letter to a great
length. It may now, in justice to the officers and men engaged in the
expeditions, which followed each other with so much rapidity between
the 23rd of April and the 9th of May, be considered excusable to lay
before the reader, Lord Collingwood’s letter acknowledging the official

                      “VILLE DE PARIS, OFF TOULON, 10th JUNE, 1809.


    “I have received your letter of the 27th April, and two of
    the 5th May. The first informing me of an attack made by the
    Spartan, Amphion, and Mercury, upon the town of Pesaro, on
    the 23rd April, and the capture of all the vessels in that
    port; the latter describing your operations which were equally
    successful at the port of Cesenatico on the 2nd May.

    “The dexterity and skill with which these two important
    services were performed, are exceedingly satisfactory to me;
    and the success with which they were attended, is an ample
    proof of the judicious arrangements made, and the ability with
    which the whole was conducted, and terminated without injury
    to the assailants. In Captains Hoste and Duncan you had able
    assistants, and the judicious conduct of Lieutenant Willes
    deserves the highest commendation.

    “I recommend you to have made a number of small iron wedges,
    about three inches long, for the purpose of bursting guns which
    you wish to destroy. Those spiked are soon restored to service
    again; the wedge seldom fails to disable them entirely. The gun
    must be fired with a bit of slow match, to give time to remove
    out of the reach of explosion.

    “I am, &c.

                                             “Signed, COLLINGWOOD.”

On the 4th of July his Lordship gives the following answer to the
official account of the capture of Lussin.

                       “VILLE DE PARIS, OFF TOULON, 4th JULY, 1809.


    “I have received your letter of the 12th May, informing me of
    your having attacked and taken the citadel and defences of the
    Island of Lussin, in which service Lieutenant Colonel Baron
    Peharnick and one hundred and eighty Austrians had co-operated.

    “The testimony you give of the zeal, enterprize, and good
    judgment of Lieutenant Willes on the occasion, and the
    meritorious exertions of the other officers and men of the
    Spartan employed on this service, is exceedingly gratifying to

    “Could anything add to the satisfaction at the annoyance which
    you have given to the enemy, and the credit which has attached
    to His Majesty’s arms, in the present instance, it would be
    the assurance you give of the active and cordial co-operation
    afforded by the Commander and troops of His Imperial Majesty.

    “I am, &c.


In a letter from his Lordship to Lord Mulgrave, then First Lord of the
Admiralty, he thus adverts to this affair. “I cannot say too much to your
Lordship of the zeal and talent of Captain Brenton; of these he gives
proof whenever he is employed, and he seems to be everywhere. At Lussin
he undertook and accomplished a service which would have established a
reputation, had he never had another opportunity; and now at Cerigo his
conduct has not been less distinguished.”[14]

From Lussino the Spartan being joined by the Amphion, Captain Brenton
pushed for Trieste, and on his reaching the bay, received intelligence
that the French army having crossed the Lizonzo, on the 13th, were in
possession of the heights of Optehina, commanding Trieste; and while off
Peran, on the 18th, they had the mortification to see them enter Trieste.
The prizes which the little squadron had taken at Pesaro, were all in
that port, about six of the most valuable were seen coming out, and by
the greatest exertion of the young midshipmen who had the charge of them,
succeeded in getting under the guns of their own ships; the others of
course fell into the hands of the French, as did all those which had
been taken at Cesenatico, and had been sent into Rovigno. As the vessels
which escaped were not in a state to be sent to Malta, the two captains
with the consent of their officers and people chartered two Greek polacre
ships, on board of which they shipped their cargoes, and sent them to
Malta; whilst they remained on the coast of Istria in readiness to act
in any manner in which they could best afford assistance to the Austrian
towns, now rapidly falling into the hands of the French. The following
letter to Captain Brisbane, off Corfu, contains a detail of affairs at
the time in the Adriatic.

                               “SPARTAN, OFF PERAN, 19th MAY, 1809.


    “A corps of the French army, under General Miolis, passed the
    Lizonzo on the 13th; and on the 17th, occupied the heights of
    Optehina, when a skirmish took place between the advanced posts
    and the Austrians.

    “It was reported that the enemy were prevented from entering
    Trieste by the vicinity of the Austrian General Giulai, who
    was at Laybach with 15,000 men, whilst General Zach, with a
    detachment was in possession of the pass of Prevolt. Yesterday,
    however, the enemy entered Trieste at ten a.m. from which
    circumstance I fear they are no longer under apprehensions of
    being attacked by the Austrian army, and that they will form
    their junction with General Marmont in Dalmatia. They have also
    sent another corps to take possession of Fiume.

    “I think it of the highest importance that this intelligence
    should reach you as soon as possible, that you may forward it
    to Malta; and at the same time stop any vessels that may be on
    their way to Trieste or Fiume. I cannot spare a ship, having
    only the Amphion with me. I therefore send this by a trabacolo.

    “The Thames is off Venice, I have sent a vessel to recall her,
    and upon her joining, I trust we shall be able to prevent the
    Russians[15] from going to Ancona, which (in the event of the
    French having only taken possession of this country for the
    purpose of pillage, and with the intention of falling back
    again) I think it likely they may be obliged to attempt.

    “If there are only the two French frigates at Corfu, and you
    have received no further information, since your last by the
    Thames, you will immediately send what sloops of war you may
    have under your orders to join me between Lussino and Ancona.

    “The Island of Lussin, captured by His Majesty’s ship under
    my command, and two companies of Imperial troops, on the
    10th instant, proves to be at this moment a most valuable
    acquisition. Thither all the vessels and merchants from Istria
    have repaired, and it affords a port for the Austrian flotilla.
    Should there be no hopes of the Austrians regaining possession
    of the coast, they will all proceed to Malta, or Sicily, for
    which purpose I am particularly anxious to have some disposable
    vessels of war.

    “I am, &c.

                                                      “J. BRENTON.”

    “TO CAPTAIN BRISBANE, (Or the Captain of any of H.M.S. off

Captain Brenton was fully aware of his very great responsibility in thus
continuing in the Adriatic, notwithstanding the order he had received
from Lord Collingwood, to leave that station; and he also well knew how
rigid his Lordship was in exacting the most implicit obedience to his
commands. He felt however that an imperative duty called upon him to give
all the aid in his power to the Austrians, with whose precise situation
the Admiral could not be acquainted. He therefore wrote the following
letter to account for his conduct.

                              “SPARTAN, OFF LUSSIN, 26th MAY, 1809.

    “MY LORD,

    “The Redwing has just joined me with your Lordship’s orders
    of the 18th April, which I should have put into immediate
    execution, but from the important and unexpected events which
    have taken place in the vicinity, since they were written.

    “The success of the Arch-duke Charles on the 21st ult. was
    followed by a reverse; the left wing of the Austrian army being
    defeated. The Arch-duke was in consequence obliged to retreat
    towards Vienna, and the Arch-duke John, who had advanced as
    far as Verona, was under the necessity of falling back first
    to Cornegliano, and afterwards to Villach. The French under
    General Miolis, taking advantage of this movement, passed the
    Lizonzo on the 13th with the intention of taking possession of
    Trieste, which occasioned a general panic in that city, and
    induced many of the merchants and inhabitants to fly with their
    property on board of such vessels as they could procure in the

    “The capture made by H.M.S. under my command, assisted by two
    companies of Croatian troops, on the 10th instant, off the
    Island of Lussin, (a detail of which I have the honour to
    enclose for your Lordship’s information) has become of much
    importance in affording them a safe harbour.

    “The Spartan and Amphion arrived off Trieste on the 16th,
    and found the heights of Optehina occupied by the enemy. The
    Austrian flotilla consisting of two brigs, and nine gun boats
    under sail in the bay, and a number of vessels of every
    description in a state of utmost distress and confusion from
    the precipitate departure.

    “The Russian squadron was at the same time ready for sea. The
    Imperial vessels anchored on the 17th in the bay of Peran in
    order to complete their equipment. The French marched into
    Trieste on the same day. On the 18th the Spartan and Amphion
    anchored in Peran. I had dispatched the Imperial brig to recall
    the Thames, which arrived on the 19th. The Imperial convoy
    sailed on the 20th for Lussin, and on the 21st His Majesty’s
    ships left the bay.

    “Under the idea that a junction might be formed between the
    Russian squadron, and that of the French in Ancona, it was my
    intention to have endeavoured to burn the latter with rockets,
    and accordingly directed our course towards the latter place,
    but calms prevented our getting further than Rimini before
    last night, when anxious lest H. M. ships might be wanted on
    the coast of Dalmatia, and the wind coming to the southward,
    I pushed for the place where we have just arrived, the convoy
    having anchored only a few hours before us.

    “The latest accounts we can procure are as follow, that
    the French still occupy Trieste, and that they are hourly
    expected at Fiume, which the Austrian troops and gun vessels
    have quitted and gone to Segna: that General Meydick is still
    successful in Dalmatia, and that General Marmont is shut up in
    Zara, from whence it is probable he will, (if not relieved by
    the army from Istria,) endeavour to make his escape. Colonel
    Meydick commanding the Imperial flotilla at Segna, is very
    urgent for the co-operation of the British frigates.

    “The vessels which have taken refuge in Lussin, as well as
    the island itself, are in great distress from the want of
    provisions, &c. and from the state in which we left them, the
    batteries are very defenceless.

    “Having seriously considered all these circumstances, and the
    effect which might at such a moment be produced upon the mind
    of the inhabitants by that force being weakened, which they
    are so accustomed to look up to for protection; I trust I
    shall only anticipate your Lordship’s wishes by remaining on
    the coast, until the senior officer off Corfu can be informed
    of the situation of affairs.

    “I wrote to Captain Brisbane on the subject, on the 19th, by
    an Austrian brig, but am informed that she has only sailed for
    Corfu this morning. I shall therefore dispatch the Redwing with
    this, and with the Amphion and Thames use our utmost efforts
    in assisting the Austrian army in fortifying the island, and
    facilitating (if necessary) the evacuation of Fiume and Segna.

    “Several reports corresponding in general with each other,
    particularly as to dates, have lately reached us of a battle
    having taken place near Schoenbrun, and that the Imperialists
    had beaten the French, but little confidence is placed in
    them. The pass of Prevalt is however believed to be still in
    possession of General Giulai with 15,000 Croatians, which
    accounts for the French not having advanced more rapidly in
    that quarter.

    “I have, &c.

                                                      “J. BRENTON.”


On the 28th May, while off Lussin with the Spartan and Amphion, Captain
Brenton fell in with a squadron of line of battle ships under Captain
Hargood, consisting of the Northumberland, Excellent, and Montagu; and
no sooner had the Commander received Captain Brenton’s report of the
state of Trieste, than he decided upon making an immediate attack upon
the Russian squadron in that port, and made all sail for it, sending the
Spartan and Amphion a-head. The squadron got into the bay at day-light on
the 29th, and had the wind continued, would undoubtedly have succeeded
in their object without much loss; but the line of battle ships were
first becalmed on the south shore, and afterwards involved in one of
those extraordinary currents so common in the Adriatic, that although
apparently having sufficient way for steerage, yet with every sail full,
neither helm or sails had any power over the ships, which were to use the
common phrase among seamen, completely in irons; whilst at the same time,
the Spartan and Amphion, not a league to the northward, were perfectly

This most mortifying detention continued until five o’clock in the
evening, when the sea breeze set in, and the influence of the current
was no longer felt; but the Russians and the French had made good use of
their time. They had from four o’clock in the morning a conviction that
an attack was intended; and the Russian ships were hauled close into
shore, and moored head and stern with their broadsides commanding the
entrance of the harbour. Their inside guns were landed, and batteries
made with them all along the Eastern, and Northern shores of the bay,
manned with French troops; they had also forges for heating shot, and
every preparation for a vigorous defence, which fourteen hours could
give them, assisted as they were by several thousands of French troops.
These preparations passed under the immediate notice of Captain Brenton
and Captain Hoste, who were together the whole day, and could see all
the operations of the enemy through their spy-glasses, frequently going
together on board the Commodore to make their report during the day. Both
agreed that in the early part of the day, success to the British Squadron
might be considered as certain; but they were also both of opinion that
as the day declined, the prospect was clouded over; and long before six
o’clock they had expressed their conviction to the Commodore that an
attack would be hopeless. At this hour when the sea breeze set in, the
Commodore taking Captain Brenton into his cabin, requested he would give
a decided official opinion as to the expediency of making an attempt upon
the Russian ships. To which Captain Brenton answered, “Were I in your
place commanding this squadron, I certainly would not make the attempt;
the enemy are now too strong, and the hazard to the British squadron
would be too great.” The Commodore requested the first Lieutenant might
be sent for to hear this opinion, when Captain Brenton said, “If you
will turn the hands up on the quarter deck, I will repeat what I have
said, before the whole ship’s company.” This was deemed conclusive, and
the signal was made immediately for the squadron to haul their wind.
Some dissatisfaction was manifested at this decision, and expressed to
the great annoyance of the Commodore; but a moment’s consideration would
have convinced the most ardent and intrepid officer in the navy, that not
only all chance of success was out of the question, but that the retreat
of the British Squadron from the port would have been very doubtful, if
possible. The sea breeze had set in fresh at six o’clock, and would, in
all probability, have lasted till midnight. Under such circumstances how
was a crippled ship to have made her retreat? and what must have been the
situation of the squadron, exposed to the fire of three line of battle
ships, converted into floating batteries, their guns from the side next
the shore all landed and become heavy batteries, manned with French
troops, and at least 5000 of these occupying Trieste? Captain Brenton
and Captain Hoste never ceased to congratulate themselves as having been
the means of saving the squadron from the most severe loss, if not from

The Squadron now proceeded to the coast of Romagna, and another attack
was made upon the town of Pesaro. Captains Brenton and Hoste landed in
the command of the Marines, but troops arriving from all parts, the
Commodore found it expedient to call off the attacking party. (Note in
the Life of Sir Wm. Hoste, Vol. 1. p. 341.)

On the 5th of June the Spartan was ordered to proceed to Malta to refit,
and complete her stores and provisions, and from thence to go to Messina,
and form a part of Rear Admiral Martin’s squadron for the defence of
Sicily. In the latter end of June she left Malta; proceeded to Messina,
and was from thence ordered off Naples to join the Squadron employed
under Rear Admiral Martin, in co-operating with the British forces under
Major General Stuart, which had taken possession of the Islands of Ischia
and Procida.

Captain Brenton shortly after received the following letter from Lord
Collingwood, dated,—

                      “VILLE DE PARIS, OFF TOULON, 30th JULY, 1809.


    “I have received your letter of the 26th May, stating to
    me your reasons for remaining in the Adriatic, after the
    receipt of my order of the 18th of April, and detailing your
    proceedings. Under the circumstances you have represented,
    I fully approve of your having continued in that sea, until
    Captain Harwood joined, and I feel much satisfaction, Sir, in
    this opportunity of signifying the high sense I entertain of
    your judicious measures, and active services, both in aid of
    the Austrians, and for the annoyance of the enemy, while you
    were in the Adriatic sea; but there were more ships in that
    quarter, than the state of the fleet would admit of, which
    obliged me to recall the Spartan.

    “I am, Sir, &c.



Captain Brenton’s mind was completely set at rest by this letter, which
not only conveyed approbation of the responsibility he had incurred,
but expressed high commendation for his conduct, and even as it were
apologized for recalling him from the Adriatic, which to those who know
Lord Collingwood, will appear as a very strong testimony of his approval.
This testimony was subsequently confirmed by the following letter.

                           “VILLE DE PARIS, AT SEA, 5th NOV., 1809.


    “Having transmitted to the Secretary of the Admiralty your
    letter describing the particulars of the attack made on
    the fort, and defences of the Island of Lussin, and of the
    surrounding Islands, I am commanded by their Lordships to
    convey their sentiments of admiration at the intrepidity, zeal,
    and judgment so eminently displayed on that occasion, and I
    beg you will please to communicate the same to the officers,
    seamen, and marines, employed under your orders on that service.

    “I am, &c.





After the evacuation of these Islands, the Spartan was sent to convey
the Sicilian troops to Palermo, and from thence was ordered to Messina.
It was at this time that her Captain first heard, in a conversation with
the Commander of the Forces, Sir John Stuart, and Captain Spranger,
the senior Captain of that Port, of an intended attack upon the Ionian
Islands, when Captain Spranger mentioned that the Spartan was to be one
of the squadron for that expedition. The ship however having been ordered
subsequently to Malta to refit, was sent from thence to Palermo; but
having met with bad weather off Pantellaria, and received much injury
in the foremast, they were under the necessity of bearing up again for
Malta, and the ship was hauled under the shear for the purpose of having
the mast taken out. Whilst undergoing this repair in the latter end of
September, Captain Brenton was dining with Sir Alexander Ball, the Port
Admiral at Sant Antonio, and after dinner Sir Alexander took him aside,
and communicated to him a letter which he had just received from Captain
Spranger at Messina, informing him that the expedition against the Ionian
Islands was on the point of sailing, but no mention was made of the
Spartan, as that ship was considered as detached, or on other service.
Captain Brenton repeated to Sir Alexander the conversation above alluded
to with Captain Spranger respecting the expedition; and requested, as the
service upon which he had been recently employed, was not of very great
importance, that he might be dispatched to Zante, the first Island to
be attacked, where he might yet be in time. Sir Alexander expressed his
apprehension that from the state in which the Spartan then was, she could
not be ready for some days, and that it would be consequently too late.
Captain Brenton urged that he might be permitted to make the trial; and
having received the sanction of his kind friend, immediately set off for
Valletta. By the time he could get on board the ship at the dock yard it
was nearly nine o’clock, and the people were all in their hammocks; but
the hands were at once turned up, and no sooner was the cause known, than
all was joy and alacrity. The foremast had been got in that evening, but
the rigging was on shore. The keys of the dock-yard, with the attendance
of the officers was forthwith procured; the spars for making the topsail
yards were got upon the quarter-deck, and the carpenters of the ship
employed in making them. Before daylight great progress was made in
rigging the ship. The artificers of the dock-yard now came on board,
and caulking and other repairs went on rapidly. By five o’clock in the
evening the ship began to warp down to the entrance of the harbour, and
as no powder could be received on board while in the dockyard, the launch
was sent to receive it at the magazine; and to wait in Bizzy Bay for the
ship. At six o’clock the artificers were put into their boats, leaving
much of their work undone, and even the caulking stages hanging over the
side. The ship made sail with a fair wind out of the harbour, and picking
up the launch, ran clear of the port, when the powder was taken on board,
the boats hoisted in, and all sail made for Zante, where they arrived on
the morning of the 8th, but no ships were seen there. Captain Brenton
immediately proceeded to make his observations as to the batteries and
landing, with whatever other remarks which might be useful in making the
attack; and having passed the day in this service, the next morning when
running round the N.E. end of the Island, he had the pleasure of seeing
the Warrior, Belle Poule, Philomel, and transports. He was on board the
Warrior at seven, to the great surprize of Captain Spranger, who was much
gratified by the information Captain Brenton had brought him, and on
which the General (Oswald) and the Commander immediately began to form
the plan of attack. The troops landed the following morning under cover
of the Spartan and Belle Poule’s guns, and after a very little resistance
a flag of truce was hung out from the fortress, and in the course of the
evening the Island surrendered.

On the 10th the Commodore proceeded next to attack Cephalonia, the
Commandant of which surrendered without resistance, on the squadron
entering the bay; and as soon as it was taken possession of, Captain
Spranger detached Captain Brenton in the Spartan, with two companies of
the 35th regiment to attack Cerigo; permitting him to call on his way
off Zante, and to take one of the prizes captured there with the Island,
a beautiful brigantine, which he was to man from the Spartan, and with
a portion of the 35th to accompany him in attacking Cerigo. The Spartan
arrived off Cerigo, and as Captain Spranger’s orders were positive as to
running no risk of losing men, in the event of the enemy being found in
force, and as a large body of troops were seen in the castle of Capsali,
a very strong fortress, and a detachment at the port in the Bay of
Capsali; some doubt was entertained by Captain Brenton and Major Clarke
commanding the detachment of the 35th, as to the propriety of making the
attack. Captain Brenton quoted Lord Nelson’s sentiments upon such a case.
“Whenever there is a doubt,” said the hero, “always fight; the public
will bear you out, whatever may be the consequences;” and this at once
decided the question.—The following letter gives the particulars of the
result of this conclusion.

                                “SPARTAN, OFF THE ISLAND OF CERIGO,
                                                13th OCTOBER, 1809.


    “In my last from Zante I expressed a hope that we might be
    able to reduce the Island of Cerigo, without any further
    reinforcement; this idea was strengthened by papers found upon
    the Governor of the Island, made prisoner at Zante.

    “Major Clarke and myself decided upon making the first attack
    upon the forts and harbour of Arlemmino, in order to prevent
    the escape of any vessels which might be there. The forts are
    those of San Nicholas and San Joaquim. The first is a stone
    building mounting nine guns, the latter an embrasure battery of
    four guns. At four p.m. on the 9th, we ran into the bay, the
    forts opened upon us, but were both silenced in a few minutes
    by the ship and tender, whilst the troops under Major Clarke
    landing, made several prisoners; the enemy had one killed and
    one wounded upon this occasion; one man of the 35th was wounded
    on our side.

    “At day-light on the 10th, we weighed with the intention of
    immediately attacking the castle of Capsali, in the bay of
    Cerigo; but variable winds prevented our getting round.

    “At two p.m. the troops and marines were landed in a small cove
    in the bay of San Nicholas, and marched forward towards the
    castle, one watch of the Spartan following with three field

    “I landed with the troops that I might be enabled to command
    the resources of the ship by signal, without the delay of
    sending messages; foreseeing that she could not be brought to
    act against the castle, while the wind continued southerly.

    “The nature of the country rendered our approach to the castle
    extremely difficult, particularly for the guns which did not
    arrive till ten o’clock on the 11th instant, at the position
    which the troops occupied; a height on a level with the castle
    and within four hundred yards of it. A fire commenced on both
    sides with guns and musketry, which continued the greater part
    of the day. In the evening some rockets were landed from the
    ship, and in the course of the night some of them were thrown
    at the citadel. At daylight I ordered two twelve pounders to be
    landed from the ship, but before they could be got on shore, a
    flag of truce came out, with an offer of surrendering, provided
    the garrison were allowed to retire to Corfu. This was refused,
    and after some deliberation, the Commandant surrendered on the
    same terms as were granted to Zante and Cephalonia.

    “At ten o’clock our troops took possession of the castle.

    “It is to the zeal and ability of Major Clarke, and the
    judicious arrangements he made of the force under his command,
    that the speedy reduction of this strong fort is to be
    attributed. The enemy were cut off from any prospect of relief
    or escape, and were convinced that our means of offence were
    hourly increasing.

    “I cannot speak too highly of the officers and men of both
    services, as well in respect to their cheerful perseverance
    under fatigue, as to their gallantry when opposed to the enemy.

    “I am happy to say that our loss has been much less than might
    have been expected; one bombardier of the Royal Artillery
    killed, two privates of the 35th wounded.

    “I cannot in justice to Lieutenant Willes, first of the
    Spartan, close this letter without saying, that fort San
    Joaquim of two eighteen, and two nine pounders, was completely
    silenced by the gallant manner in which he attacked it in the
    tender, with a party of the 35th Regiment on board.

    “The inhabitants of the island received us with demonstrations
    of joy. I have sent Lieutenant Willes in the tender with the
    dispatches, and I shall remain off this place till I receive
    your further directions.

    “I enclose for your information the articles of capitulation,
    together with a list of artillery, &c. &c. found on the island.

    “I have, &c.

                                                      “J. BRENTON.”



        Officers                        9
        Non-commissioned ditto          6
        Rank and file                  89

        _Guns taken._

        Twenty-four pounders            1
        Eighteen ditto                  3
        Fifteen ditto                   1
        Fourteen ditto                  4
        Nine ditto                     21
        Six ditto                       4
        Two ditto                       2
        One ditto                       1
        Eighteen ditto Carronades       2

It is stated in the official letter respecting the capture of Cerigo,
that the Governor of this Island was made a prisoner on the taking of
Zante, and that papers containing much useful information had been
found upon him. Amongst others, was the copy of a letter from him to
the Governor of Corfu, stating that some Mainotes (natives of the
Morea) having landed on the Island of Cerigo, he had endeavoured in
vain to drive them off again, but not succeeding by his arguments—he
added,—“Enfin je me suis avise de leur fair empoisoner les eaux, et
par ce moyen quelques uns de ces misérables ont péri, et les autres
s’enfuirent.” Appalling as such an acknowledgment may be, and evidently
given to the Governor of Corfu as a happy stratagem, for which the
abominable perpetrator took credit, it had quite escaped the recollection
of Captain Brenton; and his whole party might have become the victims
of this unheard of system of treachery, but for the advice of a Greek
Priest, who came to the British officers in the night, whilst on their
march to attack the Castle of Capsali, and recommended that they should
immediately place sentinels on the stream from which they took their
water, and accurately examine it, if possible, to its source. He then
repeated the story of poisoning the Mainotes, and explained how it
had been done. A vast quantity of arsenic had been put into the body
of a dead hog, and placed in the stream, above the spot where these
people had encamped, and the water filtering through it became a deadly
poison. On taking possession of the castle, Captain Brenton asked the
Governor’s housekeeper whether the story was true; her answer was quite
in character with the establishment to which she belonged, “E vero,” said
she, “ma non cattivo.”

After the capture of the Ionian Islands, the squadron under Captain
Spranger with the troops returned to Sicily, and Captain Brenton was
left to cruize off the Islands, in order to be in readiness to give any
assistance that might be required.

The following are Captain Brenton’s own reflections at this period of his

“After the capture of Cerigo all active service ceased for the remainder
of the year. I had the gratifying experience of having entirely gained
the good opinion and confidence of the Commander in Chief. You will not
fail, my darling children, to observe, and I hope with sincere gratitude,
the blessings bestowed upon your father by a kind providence, which
made the most untoward and unpromising circumstances turn out to his
advantage; which preserved his life from the violence of the enemy, and
the danger of the seas; and strengthened his health under every trial.
‘O! that men would therefore praise the Lord for his goodness, and the
wonders that he doth to the children of men.’ This delightful verse ought
never to be absent from our minds, when we contemplate the numerous
blessings we have received.”

While thus employed, he was naturally anxious to become acquainted with
the resources of these Islands, and to learn the dispositions of the
inhabitants towards their new allies; for in that light only could the
English be considered; as they had, on hauling down the French flag, not
hoisted their own, but that of the Septinsular Republic. The following
letter to Lord Collingwood, will give in a condensed form, the substance
of the information he had obtained.

                                               17th NOVEMBER, 1809.

    “MY LORD,

    “I beg leave to enclose for your Lordship’s information a
    statistical account of this Island which Colonel Lowe[16]
    of the Corsican Rangers, Commandant of the Island, has had
    the goodness to procure for me, with the addition of his own
    remarks. I also enclose a table of the exports as well as the
    imports of the years 1793, 1800, and 1808.

    “I selected these periods in order to ascertain the comparative
    state of commerce under the Venetians, Russians, and French. I
    send also a list of the shipping belonging to Cephalonia for
    this year. I am under great obligations to Colonel Lowe for
    obtaining every part of this information for me.

    “The inhabitants seem very solicitous to enter into commercial
    speculations, but appear at the same time to be restrained
    by timidity, and want of confidence in themselves, from
    prosecuting them to any great extent. This I conclude will soon
    wear off.

    “They have applied for permission to navigate under the British
    flag, but as that could not be granted, they have requested
    to be allowed a convoy to Malta. I have assured them of your
    Lordship’s wish to promote as much as possible the prosperity
    of the Island, and have directed them to get their vessels in
    readiness for any convoy that might offer. Several have already
    arrived here from Zante in consequence.

    “The Spider has arrived here from Messina with two transports,
    and with orders to take back five others to that place, which
    are required for the service of the army in Sicily: she will at
    the same time escort the prisoners taken at Cerigo. I shall
    direct her commander to give protection to such Septinsular
    vessels, as their owners may think proper to send, and having
    seen the transports safe into Messina, to convoy the trade to
    Malta, to which place he is directed to return by his original

    “Should your Lordship think proper to allow this port to be
    a rendezvous for the convoy hitherto sent to Patras, it is
    admirably situated for the purpose; and by this island becoming
    a depôt for British manufactures and colonial produce, it would
    insure not only to Cephalonia, but to Zante also, abundant
    supplies of corn and cattle by the vessels coming from the
    Morea, and the Islands of the Archipelago. The want of corn
    begins to be already felt, so much so that speculations are
    talked of, for procuring it even from Malta.

    “From what I can judge of the island, by the little I have had
    an opportunity of seeing, it appears to me, that by industry
    and confidence, its produce in most instances would be greatly
    augmented in a very short time. The soil is excellent, and
    scarcely a tenth part of the island is cultivated.

    “I went a few miles inland with Colonel Lowe, in order to
    examine the nature of the forest, but was prevented by the
    weather from effecting my intentions. From all I can learn,
    many valuable spars may be procured here, and some timber at a
    cheap rate. The woods are all in the hands of the government,
    which would gladly enter into a contract to bring the timber
    to the water side. Colonel Lowe is endeavouring to procure
    an exact description of the trees, and the price they would
    probably fetch when ready for embarkation, which I shall
    forward to your Lordship by the earliest conveyance. I enclose
    also a survey of this harbour taken by Mr. Glen, the master of
    the Warrior.

    “I have, &c.

                                                      “J. BRENTON.”


Captain Brenton soon after received the following gratifying letter from
the Commander in chief upon the subject of the attack upon Cerigo.

                            “VILLE DE PARIS, AT SEA, 1st NOV. 1809.


    “I have received from Rear Admiral Martin your letter of the
    13th ult. with its enclosures directed to Captain Spranger of
    the Warrior, detailing your proceedings in the Spartan with a
    detachment of troops in the reduction of the island of Cerigo.

    “It affords me great satisfaction in having again to express
    my warmest approbation of that zeal and ability, which have so
    eminently distinguished your services, particularly within the
    last six months, to the great annoyance of the enemy. And the
    speedy reduction of so strong a fort as Cerigo, with so small a
    loss, bespeaks that judicious management which commands success.

    “Your report of the gallantry and good conduct of Lieutenant
    Willes is highly creditable to that officer, and I have not
    failed to point out his merits in this and former cases to the
    Lords of the Admiralty.

    “I am, &c.



This letter was followed by another in the month of January, 1810.

                           “VILLE DE PARIS, AT SEA, 16th JAN. 1810.


    “Having communicated to the Lords Commissioners of the
    Admiralty your proceedings at Cerigo when that island was
    reduced, I have great pleasure in informing you, Sir, that
    their Lordships have been pleased to express their great
    satisfaction at the ability with which you conducted that
    service, and the spirit with which it was executed by the
    officers and ship’s company of the Spartan.

    “I am, Sir, &c.



Early in December the Spartan was ordered to proceed to Malta and refit,
and in the beginning of January she sailed for Messina, and resumed her
station under the command of Rear Admiral Martin, by whom Captain Brenton
was sent off to Naples, in order to watch the movements of Murat, and
his army intended for the invasion of Sicily. During the month of March
he remained by the Rear Admiral’s directions in the port of Messina, to
direct the movements of the frigates and small vessels under the Rear
Admiral’s command, and to render all the assistance in his power to the
British army charged with the defence of Sicily. Early in April he sailed
for Naples, and continued cruising between that place, and the Island of
Sicily, but without any material circumstance occurring until the 25th;
when on that morning, being off Terracina with the Success and Espoir in
company, several vessels were observed coming along shore, to which the
British squadron immediately gave chase. The enemy ran for Terracina, and
anchored in a small bay near the town, defended by two batteries, the
following is Captain Brenton’s official letter to Rear Admiral Martin.

                         “SPARTAN, GULF OF GAETA, 25th APRIL, 1810.


    “This morning, at nine a.m. we observed several sail of
    merchant vessels between Monte Circello and Terracina, and
    immediately gave chase to them in company with the Success and
    Espoir. The enemy reached Terracina, and anchored in a small
    bay within pistol shot of the town, under the protection of two
    batteries and a number of troops which occupied an extensive
    range of buildings. The crews of the vessels, one of which had
    guns, remaining on board for the purpose of defending them;
    the vessels were moored to the shore. I made the signal to
    prepare for anchoring, directing the Espoir to stand in and
    sound. She found twelve fathoms within half a mile of the
    batteries, a position which the Spartan and Success immediately
    occupied, and opened their fire upon the batteries; the armed
    boats of the two frigates covered by the Espoir then pushed
    in, boarded the ships (as per margin) and brought them out
    under an incessant fire of musketry from the store houses; the
    batteries being nearly silenced by the ships and sloop. Four or
    five small vessels had taken refuge under the town, but were
    hauled so near the shore, that I would not run the risk of
    exposing the people to a destructive fire, for an object of no
    importance, and made the signal to weigh.

    “The firing began at thirty-six minutes past twelve, and
    continued till twenty minutes past one. I am happy to say we
    had a very small loss. I feel much indebted to Captain Ayscough
    of the Success, for the assistance received from him, and
    particularly to Captain Milford of the Espoir. From the light
    draught of water of the brig, I directed her to cover the
    boats, which was done in a most gallant and judicious manner,
    running close in shore and annoying the enemy with grape.

    “The armed boats were under the command of Lieutenant
    Baumgardt, second of the Spartan, and the manner in which he
    led them to the attack was such, as to gain the admiration of
    all who witnessed it. He speaks in high terms of Lieutenant
    Sartorious, commanding the boats of the Success. Lieutenant
    Willes, first of the Spartan, of whose gallant conduct, I have
    had such frequent occasion to speak, was prevented by illness
    from taking this service upon himself as usual, but gave every
    possible assistance on board.

    “Captain George Hoste of the Royal Engineers, accompanied me
    on this cruize, for the purpose of reconnoitring the enemy’s
    batteries on the coast; his exertions were extremely useful in
    supplying the place of the absent officers at the guns.

    “I never witnessed more zeal and good conduct than was
    displayed by all classes upon this occasion.


        1 Santa Rosalia  ship    six guns  wine, lead and ore
        2 Name unknown   barque     ”      lead ore
        3      ”           ”        ”      lead ore
        4      ”           ”        ”      lead ore

    “I have the honour to be, &c.

                                                      “J. BRENTON.”

    “REAR ADMIRAL MARTIN, &c. &c. &c.”

The little squadron continued cruizing off the bay of Naples until the
30th of April, when the Espoir was detached with the usual report of the
enemy’s vessels to the Rear Admiral.

In the midst of this trying, stirring, anxious life, it may be well to
introduce an extract from a letter written home at this period, which
shews that the energy and firmness of professional character were not
incompatible with those softer feelings which form the happiness of
domestic life; but that one principle suggested and supplied the elements
of each.

                           “SPARTAN, OFF TREPANI, 12th APRIL, 1810.

    “Four years from this time, if my memory is correct, we had
    just taken up our residence at that earthly paradise, the
    Petits Capucins; and how little did we then think, that in the
    course of such a period as has elapsed, so many events would
    have occurred; that I should have had my liberty, and have
    passed three years on a foreign station.

    “I know not what at this moment gave rise to these reflections;
    but this I know, that the retrospect excites gratitude, and
    that I feel the fullest confidence for the future. From the
    same causes, perhaps at the end of the next four years, we may
    all be assembled, and offering up together our thanks for the
    innumerable blessings we have received. —— will perhaps say I
    am psalm-singing again; but be it so; I take peculiar pleasure
    in recurring to the past, and often think there are very few
    who have had so much prosperity with so little ground to hope
    for it.

    “Many have been more fortunate, but multitudes less so; and
    as to my captivity; I would not part with the remembrance of
    it for five thousand pounds. It was the happiest part of my
    life, and is always present to my recollection. The test of
    real happiness is to be sensible of it at the time; and that I
    recollect was my case, particularly when walking in the little
    avenue above the alcove. A fine moonlight evening, and having
    nothing to do, have turned my thoughts that way, and I felt
    inclined to put them on paper for your benefit.”

On the 1st of May, the Spartan and Success having been a little to the
northward of Ischia, Captain Brenton on re-entering the bay of Naples in
the afternoon of that day, was not a little surprised to find the enemy’s
squadron so far out in the bay, as to give him a very reasonable prospect
of bringing them to action, before they could regain the mole; and every
sail was instantly set, and every effort made by both ships for this
purpose; but the unsteadiness of the wind favoured them, and they were
under shelter of the guns of Naples, before the two frigates could get
within gun shot. This was felt by every one as a severe disappointment,
and particularly by Captain Brenton, to whom this appeared as a golden
opportunity snatched from him. The two frigates remained in the bay all
the following day, the weather being squally, and the wind all round
the compass. Captain Brenton having given up all hopes that the enemy
would venture out, as long as the Success was in company, made the signal
for her Captain, and gave him orders to proceed ten leagues S.W. of the
Island of Capri, thinking it probable that if only one frigate were in
sight of the signal posts in the morning, the enemy would not hesitate
with their superior force, consisting of a frigate of forty guns, a
corvette of twenty-eight, a cutter of ten, and eight heavy gun boats,
to attack her; especially should she be near their own batteries, under
which they might retreat in case of being crippled.

In this he was not disappointed, for at six o’clock in the morning the
whole squadron was seen coming out of the mole, and steering directly
for the Spartan. The following is the official account of this, the last
action in which Captain Brenton was engaged; as the wound received upon
this occasion prevented his serving afloat for any length of time.

                    “SPARTAN, OFF THE BAY OF NAPLES, 3rd MAY, 1810.


    “On the 1st instant, His Majesty’s ships Spartan and Success
    chased the French squadron, consisting of one frigate of
    forty-two guns and three hundred and fifty men, one corvette
    of twenty-eight guns and two hundred and sixty men, one brig
    of eight guns and ninety-eight men, one cutter of ten guns and
    eighty men. They succeeded in getting into the mole of Naples,
    favoured by light and partial breezes.

    “As I was sensible they would never leave that place of refuge,
    while two British frigates were in the bay, I directed Captain
    Ayscough to remain in the Success on my rendezvous, from five
    to ten leagues S.W. of the island of Capri, continuing with the
    Spartan in the bay of Naples.

    “At day-light this morning we had the pleasure of seeing the
    enemy’s squadron as before mentioned, reinforced by eight gun
    boats, standing towards us in close line. The action began
    at fifty-six minutes after seven, exchanging broadsides when
    within pistol shot, passing along their line, and cutting off
    the cutter and gun boats. The enemy were under the necessity of
    wearing to renew their junction with them; but were prevented
    by the Spartan taking her station on their weather beam. A
    close and obstinate contest ensued; light and variable winds
    led us near the batteries of Baia, the enemy’s frigate making
    all sail, to take advantage of their shelter. The crippled
    state of the Spartan not allowing her to follow, we bore
    up raking the frigate and corvette as we passed them, and
    succeeded in cutting off the brig. The corvette having lost her
    foretopmast effected her escape with the assistance of the gun
    boats. The latter had during the action galled us excessively,
    by laying on our quarter, and the severity of our loss, ten
    killed and twenty wounded, may in some measure be attributed to
    this circumstance.

    “I was wounded myself about the middle of the action, which
    lasted two hours, but my place was most ably supplied by
    Mr. Willes, the first Lieutenant, whose merit becomes more
    brilliant by every opportunity he has of shewing it. He is
    without exception one of the best and most gallant officers
    I ever met with. To Lieutenants Baumgardt and Bourne I feel
    equally indebted for their exemplary conduct and gallantry.

    “Captain Hoste, of the Royal Engineers, had been sent with
    me for the purpose of reconnoitring the enemy’s position on
    the coast. Upon this occasion I requested him to take the
    command of the quarter deck guns, foreseeing that the whole
    attention of the first Lieutenant and myself would be required
    in manœuvering the ship, during the variety of service we
    were likely to expect. His conduct was truly worthy of the
    relationship he bears to my distinguished friend Captain Hoste
    of the Amphion.

    “The intrepidity and zeal of Mr. Slenner, the master, was very
    conspicuous; nor must I forget Mr. Dunn, the purser, who took
    charge of a division of guns on the main deck in place of their
    officer, absent in a prize with eighteen men, (which reduced
    our number to two hundred and fifty eight at the commencement
    of the action) he displayed the greatest gallantry. Much praise
    is also due to Lieutenants Fegan and Fotterell, of the Royal
    Marines, whose conduct was truly deserving of admiration.

    “The Warrant, petty officers, and ship’s company evinced a
    degree of enthusiasm that assured me of success at the earliest
    period of the action.

    “To the light and fluctuating winds, to the enemy’s being so
    near their own shores which are lined with batteries, they are
    indebted for the safety of their whole squadron, which at a
    greater distance from the shore, I do not hesitate to say, must
    have fallen into our hands.

    “Among the killed we have to regret the loss of Mr. Robson, the
    master’s mate, a young man of great promise.

    “I enclose a list of killed and wounded, with the damage we
    have otherwise sustained.

    “I have, &c.

                                                      “J. BRENTON.”



        Ceres, frigate    42 guns          350 men, severely crippled,
                                             escaped under the batteries

        Fama, corvette    28 guns          260 men, lost her foretopmast,
                                             do. do.

        Sparviere, brig    8 guns          98 men taken

        Hannibal, cutter  10 guns          80 men, escaped

        Eight gun boats    1 twenty-four   40 men each, escaped.
                             pounder each

        Total, 96 guns, and 1108 men.

                                                            “J. B.”

In addition to these, it was afterwards known that Murat had in the
morning embarked four hundred Swiss troops in the different vessels, in
order to make sure of carrying the Spartan by boarding. They were dressed
in red like English marines, and extended the whole length of the vessels
in which they were embarked, with their muskets; a dreadful carnage must
have been made amongst them.

Captain Brenton was wounded whilst standing on the capstan, the only
place from whence he could see his numerous opponents. It was by a grape
shot striking him on the left hip bone. As he did not at first feel the
blow to be very severe, he concluded it to have been given by some of the
ropes, which were falling in great numbers from aloft, as cut away by the
shot. He jumped from the capstan, and came down on his right leg, but the
left could not support him, and he fell; and then blood was seen to issue
from his back. He instantly thought of Lord Nelson’s wound in the spine,
and concluded from the little pain experienced, that his must have been
the same. He was carried below, and on cutting out the shot, the surgeon
discovered that the wound was not mortal.

When the action was over, the brig that had been captured was taken in
tow, and proved to be Murat’s royal yacht, sent out for the purpose of
strengthening the squadron. On the sea breeze setting in, Mr. Willes, the
first Lieutenant, who had also been wounded, paraded the prize before
the mole of Naples, and then made sail out of the bay. On the following
morning the Success and Espoir joined, and their surgeons were found
most welcome assistants to the surgeon of the Spartan, who had none of
his own. His conduct indeed was most meritorious, and for the first
week he was continually, night and day, passing from the sick bay to the
Captain’s cabin, hardly known to take either rest or food.

The Spartan proceeded to Palermo, on her way to Malta; and the prize
under Lieutenant Baumgardt was sent to Messina, in order to take Captain
Hoste to head quarters, and from thence to proceed to Malta.

On the arrival of the Spartan at Palermo, an extraordinary order had
been given that all vessels, from whatever place, should be put under
quarantine, until liberated by order of the prime minister. This was the
first instance since the Spartan had been upon the station. No sooner was
the Admiral informed of the circumstance, than he sent off an express to
the court, then at some distance in the country.

In the mean time Lord Amherst, the British Ambassador, embarked with
the Admiral in his barge, and came off to the Spartan; and as they were
prevented by the quarantine laws from coming on board, they both mounted
the stern ladders as high as the cabin windows, where Captain Brenton
having ordered his cot to be hung near them, had an opportunity of
conversing with his kind friends. Such an instance as an Ambassador and
an Admiral suspended on two rope ladders, hanging over the stern of a
ship, was probably never seen before, nor is it likely to recur. It is
only mentioned here, to shew their kind solicitude to afford comfort to
their suffering countrymen, for this was their object; and as soon as
they knew what means were the most likely to supply this, they returned
on shore, and boats were sent off, not only with fresh meat, fruit,
and vegetables, but with every delicacy from the Ambassador’s splendid
table, for the use of the wounded. No pratique having been obtained that
evening, Captain Brenton directed the first Lieutenant to weigh before
day-light the following morning, and on the 10th they reached Malta, and
were received in the most enthusiastic manner by all classes of persons,
who seemed to vie with each other in testifying every possible act of

Captain Brenton was immediately taken on shore, to the house of his
kind friend, Dr. Allen, the surgeon of the naval hospital, from whom,
and his amiable family, he received the most unwearied attention. But
as the situation of Dr. Allen’s house had not the advantage of air and
space which the Admiralty house possessed, the Commander in chief of
the forces, Sir Hildebrand Oakes, in whose charge the house then was,
requested Captain Brenton might be carried thither, and here he remained
whilst his ship was refitting, with every possible advantage that the
island or climate could offer. The wounded of the ship having of course
been sent to the naval hospital; Mr. Williamson, the surgeon of the
Spartan, most kindly and most affectionately devoted himself to his
Captain, whom he seldom quitted but to procure accounts from his wounded
shipmates, or to obtain for him some luxury which he thought might be
acceptable. Of these there was no want, for the General, and indeed
almost all the principal families were continually sending whatever they
thought might afford nutriment in the feeble state of the patient.

Soon after his arrival at Malta, Captain Brenton received the following
letter from his excellent friend the Rear Admiral.

                                 “CANOPUS, PALERMO, 10th MAY, 1810.


    “I have great pleasure in sending to you the order of St.
    Ferdinand and of Merit, which I have this day received from His
    Majesty the King of the two Sicilies for that purpose, together
    with a copy of the letter that accompanied it.

    “You are already, Sir, so fully acquainted with my sentiments,
    both public and private as far as relate to you, that I have
    only to say, that I hope you will soon be in a situation to
    serve your country with the same zeal, gallantry and judgment,
    which have marked your conduct.

    “I have, &c.

                                                    “GEORGE MARTIN,
                                                    “REAR ADMIRAL.”


    Copy of a letter from Marquis Circello, inclosed in the above
    to Admiral Martin.

                                          “PALERMO, 10th MAI, 1810.


    “Le Roi mon auguste maître vous a exprimé de vive voix, ses
    sensible regrets sur la situation du brave Capitaine Brenton,
    qui dans une des actions les plus glorieuses á la marine de
    la Grande Bretagne a été si dangereusement blesse. Mais sa
    Majesté toujours occupé de ce brave homme m’ordonne de vous
    parler encore, et de vous dire combien elle est affectée de la
    circonstance, et d’attribuer a’ une ordre générale existante et
    à l’absence de sa Majesté de Palermo, qui a retardé l’ordre
    d’admettre sans délai á la pratique la frégate le Spartan.
    Que sa Majesté aime a se flatter, que le Capitaine Brenton
    guérira de sa blessure; qu’un tel héros sera conservé a’ la
    marine anglaise, et a’ la bonne cause; et que sa Majesté aura
    la satisfaction de le voir décoré de la croix de Commandeur
    de son Ordre de Mérité, que J’ai l’honneur de vous envoyer
    jointe a cette lettre, avec prière de la faire passer a ce
    brave Capitaine avec la plus grande promptitude; vu qu’il tarde
    a sa Majesté qu’il reçoive ce témoignage des sentimens, que
    lui inspire son incomparable conduite; et que le publique y
    voit l’empressement de sa Majesté a reconnoitre le mérité des
    brave officiers de son auguste et fidèle allié, qui exposent si
    courageusement leurs vies pour les intérêts communs, autant que
    pour ceux que sont personnels à sa Majesté.

    “Le Roi ne doute pas, qu’en envoyant l’ordre au Capitaine
    Brenton, vous lui donnerez connaissance de cette lettre. Ainsi
    il ne me reste Mons. L’Amiral, que de vous réitérer l’assurance
    de la haute considération avec laquelle J’ai l’honneur d’être.

    “MONS. L’AMIRAL, &c. &c. &c.

                                             “MARQUIS DE CIRCELLO.”


The Rear Admiral had, indeed, as he observes in his letter, most fully
expressed his sentiments, public and private, as far as related to
Captain Brenton, in his interview with him at the cabin windows of the
Spartan, and they were of the most flattering, the most gratifying,
and the most affectionate description. He said upon that occasion,
“My dear Brenton, this is a bad climate for wounds, I am anxious you
should be at home. If you wish it, I will take the responsibility upon
myself, and order the Spartan to England. I am sure the Commander in
chief will approve of my doing so. A frigate will be required to take
Mr. Arbuthnot, our minister, from Constantinople to England, and I will
appoint the Spartan for that purpose. He may be expected at Malta every
day.” This Captain Brenton joyfully accepted, as he felt that a long time
must elapse before he could again be fit for active service; and his only
wish now was to be restored as soon as possible to his family, where he
knew happiness awaited him, if any where in this world.

His friend, for well he might call him so, Lord Collingwood, was now no
more, having sunk under the disease, against which he had long struggled.
For the last year of his life his feeling and his regard for Captain
Brenton had become very warm, as may be seen by his official letters;
and he undoubtedly left a strong recommendation of him to his successor,
as one of the first acts of Sir Charles Cotton was to appoint Captain
Brenton to the command of the squadron in the Adriatic, a situation which
had long been the object of his wishes. It now however came when he
could no longer avail himself of it. It reached him the day after he was

The last letter he received from Lord Collingwood was one so peculiarly
his own, and so comprehensive in a short space, that it may not be amiss
to insert it.

                               “VILLE DE PARIS, JANUARY 30th, 1810.


    “I have received your letter of November, and am very much
    obliged to you for the statistical account of Cephalonia, and
    other returns shewing the strength and ability of that Island,
    and the plans of the excellent ports in it.

    “The population of the country is not great, but by the
    adoption of wise measures it may rapidly increase. The
    republican spirits in Corfu may seek a refuge there from the
    oppression they suffer under the French. One, and perhaps the
    first object of the government ought to be, to increase the
    means of subsistence of the inhabitants, and attend to foreign
    commerce no further, than, as it is necessary to take off those
    articles which are exceeding the consumption of the Island;
    but I fear that foreign commerce will be too attractive not to
    engage them more deeply in it, than its profits will maintain
    protection for; and although it may enrich individuals, it
    will confine wealth to a few, and will prevent the increase of
    population; so that upon this principle I would not encourage
    them in the beginning of their independence to send many ships
    to sea, but rather to cultivate the land, and to prepare at
    home a commerce for foreigners who will come to them.

    “The woods may become of considerable importance. They were
    represented to me two years since to contain much fine timber,
    both fir and oak, which the French cut down, and shipped at an
    anchorage on the S.E. point of the island.

    “I have ordered that convoys shall occasionally be sent for the
    protection of the trade from Argostoli, but it cannot be done
    at regular stated periods, as General Oswald requests; nor is
    the trade of that extent that would make it necessary.

    “I have received from Malta the copy of a letter, which you
    wrote to Sir Alexander Ball from Cerigo, in which is related
    the circumstance of the former Governor of that place, having
    removed his apprehensions of some people who passed over from
    the continent, by poisoning the waters where they inhabited,
    and by that means putting many of them to death. In that letter
    there are extracts from two of the Frenchman’s letters, but his
    name is not mentioned. I would be glad if you would furnish me
    with copies of these two letters, with the address they bore,
    (viz.) that which informs his chief of the Albanians coming to
    the island, and that which relates to the means by which he got
    rid of them.

    “If any of his letters give any account of Crete, the port,
    or fortification, I would beg the favour of you to inform me
    what he says of them. In one of his letters he says, he has
    been over to Candia, and that he has not been idle. A Frenchman
    seldom is, where any mischief is to be done.

    “As to the Cephalonians navigating under the British flag, it
    cannot be done, but by an authority from His Majesty; but I
    have written to the Consuls of Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli, to
    inform them, that these islands being under the protection of
    England, it is expected their flag will be respected.

    “It would be very convenient for the convoys to assemble there,
    but I apprehend that the vessels to come from Patrass, would
    require a convoy to the place of assembling, and Cephalonia
    being neutral, there must always be a certain force for their
    protection while assembling, so that two convoys would always
    be requisite instead of one.

    “I am, &c.



Further accounts of the 3rd May from Captain Brenton’s notes to his

    “In the beginning of the year 1810, I was sent to resume
    my station on the coast of Italy. Naples was now made the
    principal point of my observation, in consequence of the
    enemy having increased their little squadron, by the addition
    of numerous gun boats, and threatening Sicily with invasion
    by crossing the straits of Messina. As it was of the utmost
    importance to keep this squadron blockaded up in Naples, I was
    ordered on this service, and on the 3rd of May, the action
    took place in which I was wounded; the details of which you
    will find in their place in my letter book. There are some
    however that I could only communicate to those as nearly
    interested in them, as you are my dear children; and even to
    you, perhaps, I should not have mentioned them, but to shew
    you the efficacy and comfort of a humble trust in God. I know
    you will be deeply interested in everything I write, and as
    this book is only intended for your perusal, I shall not risk
    censure for egotism. In going down to the enemy I put up a
    short but fervent prayer to the Almighty, that he would receive
    your beloved mother and yourselves under his holy protection,
    and bless you, and that he would enable me to do my duty to
    my country. At no one period of my life do I ever remember
    to have been more serene and tranquil; and when my excellent
    friend Williamson, the surgeon, as he left the deck to go to
    his station, said in a low voice, as I shook him by the hand,
    “Now sir, here is victory or Westminster Abbey for you,” I
    experienced a feeling of animation which is not usual with me
    on common occasions.[17] As I have in this book given you many
    instances in which your beloved mother derived strength and
    comfort under trials, by her trust and confidence in God; I
    wish to shew you how much in unison our feelings were, on this,
    as on all other subjects; and I am most anxious to impress upon
    your minds, my darling children, a habit of putting your cause
    into the hands of your Creator, in every event of your lives.
    He will be a tower of strength to you, and whether you fail
    in your worldly expectations, or that they are crowned with
    success, it will equally tend to your ultimate and your eternal

    With the action of the 3rd of May, Captain Brenton’s service
    in the Mediterranean concluded. “The day after the action,” he
    adds, “I received dispatches from Admiral Martin, containing
    my orders to proceed to the Adriatic, for the purpose of
    taking the command of the squadron there, but I was no longer
    in a situation to avail myself of it. On the following day
    we arrived at Palermo, but were put under quarantine. The
    Ambassador and the Admiral kindly came off to see me, but
    could not come on board. The Admiral was anxious to know
    my wishes, and instantly complied with my request, that the
    Spartan might be sent to England. It appeared to be the only
    means of giving me a chance of recovery. I was accordingly
    ordered to Malta to refit, and to take home Mr. Adair, the
    British minister, from Constantinople. We had a most favourable
    passage to Malta, to the great comfort and advantage of the
    wounded. Should it ever be in your power, my dear children, to
    shew kindness to the family of my excellent friend, Dr. Allen,
    do not neglect to do it. To his kindness and hospitality I am
    greatly indebted, under Providence, for my life. I was for
    some time so extremely exhausted in consequence of my wound,
    that my recovery was almost despaired of. I seldom felt any
    great apprehensions myself, with the exception of one day, when
    from extreme pain and languor, I had reason to suppose my end
    approaching. I remember with humble gratitude the tranquil and
    resigned feeling I experienced, and the comfort I enjoyed from
    a recollection of the indescribable affection which had united
    your beloved mother and myself. The dangerous symptoms however
    soon abated. I was carried to my ship, and sailed on the 10th
    June with a convoy for England.”



“The manner in which the intelligence of my being wounded reached your
beloved mother was peculiarly trying to her affectionate heart. That
excellent and amiable character, the Earl of Dartmouth, then Lord
Lewisham, was at Malta when I was landed there. He paid me frequent
visits; and particularly on the eve of his departure for England, that
he might carry the latest intelligence respecting me. Upon his arrival,
he hastened to Bath, that he might be himself the bearer of what he
considered the most favourable accounts. He accordingly called upon your
dear mother, and concluding that she must long have been in possession
of the news of the action, proceeded to tell her that my wound was
doing well. This was the first intimation she had received of the event,
and it was too much for her agitated feelings. She fainted, and Lord
Lewisham was in the greatest distress, at having been the innocent cause
of her suffering. Her peculiar strength of mind however soon enabled
her to depend upon that power for support which had never deserted her.
Lord Lewisham knowing I had written by the same ship in which he had
been a passenger, flew to the post office, and did not quit it, till
the expected letter was put into his hands, and ran with the utmost
eagerness to deliver it. I had taken the precaution of sending home a
minute surgical description of the wound, which being shewn to a medical
friend at Bath, he pronounced to my dear suffering companion that the
wound was not a dangerous one. This tranquillized her, and enabled her to
look forward with hope to the period of our meeting. At the latter end
of the month my letter from Gibraltar arrived with further encouraging
accounts. Your mother with her three darlings flew to Portsmouth, and
extraordinary as it may appear, almost at the same moment that she
alighted at the inn, I anchored at the Motherbank. As she travelled from
Southampton to Portsmouth, the Spartan was running through the Needles,
and must have been an attractive object to the dear travellers, who
little thought we were so near each other. It is customary for ships from
the Mediterranean to be kept in quarantine till the return of the post,
which communicates their arrival; but the Lords of the Admiralty in kind
consideration of my state, ordered the ship to be released by telegraph,
and I landed the following morning, experiencing in the meeting with all
I held dearest to me in the world, sensations of delight which amply
repaid me for all the sufferings and fatigue, both of body and mind, to
which I had been exposed since my separation from them. It is scarcely
possible for me to look back upon this period, which was one of pure, and
almost unmixed felicity. Of pain I was no longer sensible, acute as it
had been during the passage. My sufferings had indeed been so great till
this period, that the latter hours of the day were passed in looking at
the movements of my watch, impatiently waiting for the appointed hour,
when I was to receive my accustomed dose of laudanum, from which I could
expect a temporary suspension of pain. Now I no longer required laudanum;
my spirits were composed and happy, and although incapable of moving, I
was insensible of confinement. Fearful of agitating me too much in my
weak state, your mother had come into my room alone, but she was soon
followed by my sweet cherubs, full of health and joy. We had the comfort
of procuring the same house at Alverstoke, near Haslar hospital, where
we had formerly lived; and happy as those early days of our marriage had
been, they were not so much so, as the time which we now passed there;
although I was so weak as to be confined to my bed, or my chair, walking
a few steps occasionally with my crutches. Whenever I look back upon the
past events of my life, this period always starts forward as pre-eminent
in happiness. My mind was entirely free from care; all was peace, and
I hope gratitude. I had received the most flattering testimonies of
the approbation of the Admiralty, particularly in that most delightful
instance of it, the appointment of my brother to succeed me in the
command of the Spartan. The joy and affection which beamed from the eyes
of my beloved Isabella, during her unremitting attendance upon me, would
in itself have been a source of the most perfect happiness. She felt,
as she has since informed me, the deepest anxiety from my dangerous
situation, but she never allowed me to perceive it. To her tenderness and
care, under the blessing of Providence, I owe my recovery. Her society
had before changed captivity into happiness; she now dispelled all the
weariness attendant upon languor and confinement.”[18]

Captain Brenton remained with his family at Alverstoke till the beginning
of October, when having gained sufficient strength to be moved, he
proceeded to London, which he reached in two days. He received from the
Admiralty an assurance of His Majesty’s approbation of his conduct,
and a promise that in due time his name should be added to the list of
Baronets; in the mean time a pension was granted him of £300 per annum,
his wound being considered by the members of the college of physicians
equivalent to the loss of a limb. This proved a very welcome addition
to his income, and he considered it a most providential circumstance;
for he had been but a few months in England, when he was informed by
his agents that they had failed, with all the prize money belonging to
the Spartan in their hands. This circumstance was the more unexpected,
and the more inexcusable, as Captain Brenton had given them positive
orders, when the proceeds of neutral vessels were remitted to them from
abroad, to cause the money to be immediately funded, in order to await
the result of any appeal that might be made, but this was not done. As
misfortunes are said seldom to come alone, so it was on this occasion.
The Spartan had taken two American ships in 1807, bound from Sicily to
Copenhagen, laden with sulphur; but captured, actually running into
Marseilles; and one of the Captains confessed that the destination in
the papers was a false one. Captain Brenton under these circumstances,
and from a conviction that the sulphur was intended to make gunpowder
for the fleet at Toulon, did not hesitate to send them for adjudication
to Malta; where they were condemned as the most flagrant breaches of
neutrality that had ever come before that court. The proceeds were
accordingly remitted, with the positive injunction before mentioned; but
being retained by the agents, were involved in their bankruptcy, and by
the same post, which informed him of the failure of his agents, Captain
Brenton received information, that the appeal for these ships having at
length come on, the sentence was reversed, and that he was called upon to
pay the amount, a sum of £3000. This was indeed a heavy blow, and one for
which he was not prepared either in mind or purse. He says, “the failure
of my agents was the more unexpected, as upon my arrival in England,
the agents had immediately written to say, that they had a considerable
sum of prize money in their hands; and actually did pay a share a short
time before their failure, which took place in the spring of the year
1811. With respect to the result of the appeal, this was a matter of
still greater astonishment to me, considering the nature of the cases,
the acknowledgment of the American masters, and the opinion given by
the judge who tried the vessels at Malta. But the Admiralty Court is a
political one, and is often governed by expediency, as well as maritime
law and usages.”

Government was at this time very anxious to ward off a war with America,
and in order to conciliate that jealous power as far as possible, many
of the sentences of condemnation, even in the strongest cases were set
aside, and the vessels returned, to the great injury of the captors; who
were as much bound by duty to capture these vessels, as they were to take
those of the enemy. It may well be supposed that this severe blow did not
tend to accelerate Captain Brenton’s recovery. He was at once obliged to
give up his comfortable house at Bath; to sell off his furniture, and to
remove to the vicinity of London; not only for the purposes of economy,
but to attend to the intricate and perplexing business arising from the
bankruptcy. The following are his remarks upon this period, in his notes
to his children.

“This was one of those events which are peculiarly trying, but are often
most salutary in awakening us from a state of dangerous security and
worldly mindedness; and which also shew in its true light the value
of attachments founded upon virtue, and the inestimable blessing of
a mutual, cordial, and sincere affection, enabling us to support the
pressure of misfortune. By the failure of my agents, the whole of the
little property I had collected during the war, was swept away; and I
was, in addition, called upon to refund £3000 for the American sulphur
vessels. I now consider these two seeming misfortunes coming together,
a most providential circumstance; as it enabled me to meet all my
difficulties at once, and with the blessing of God to subdue them. The
distress in which we were involved was great, but a kind Providence
supported us under it. Could you have been sensible of the conduct of
your beloved mother upon this occasion, you would have pronounced her
an angel indeed. She suffered it is true, but not on her own account,
or from any undue anxiety on yours; for she depended upon a bountiful
Creator supplying all your wants, as he had ever done. Her affliction was
on my account. She knew how deeply I felt the loss of all I had to depend
upon for the support of my darling family, particularly at a period
when I was precluded from active exertion, by the effects of my wound;
and the almost hopeless prospect of my being able to procure so large a
sum as that which was demanded of me. But here my dear children let us
pause, and view with gratitude, with fervent and sincere gratitude, the
dispensations of a benign Providence in our favour. A few weeks before
the event, His Majesty had been pleased to bestow upon me a pension
of £300 per annum, in consequence of my wound; this, with my pay, now
became our support; and a most kind friend (Mr. Henry Abbott) generously
stepped forward, and supplied the sum necessary to pay off the claims
of the neutrals; taking his chance of remuneration from the produce of
the bankrupts’ estates. I hope through life you will preserve a grateful
recollection of this friendship. Even here (in a small lodging at
Paddington) we passed a cheerful and tranquil season. It was the piety,
and resignation, and sweetness, that beamed from your dear mother’s
expressive features, which, under the blessing of heaven, shed this
felicity over our little society; and rendered this period of trial one
of those, that in the retrospect of my life presents itself also as a
period of peculiar happiness.

“In the course of the year my wound began to make a visible progress
towards recovery, under the kind and skilful care of Mr. Cline. During
the period of our stay at Paddington, we had indeed much to be grateful
for. My mother’s health which had been very precarious, appeared
entirely re-established, and she evidently derived much happiness from
our being so near her. Your uncle Edward arrived at Portsmouth in June
in the Spartan, and I could not resist the inclination to visit my old
shipmates. I was accompanied of course by your mother; our reception was
not only gratifying but affecting; to the expressions of attachment from
the officers and ship’s company, was added the affectionate kindness
of your dear uncle. He caused the colours to be hoisted under which we
had fought on the 3rd May, and by every possible arrangement studied to
gratify my feelings. This little narrative is intended for you alone my
dear children, and you can appreciate my reasons for writing it. Your
dear uncle requires no additional claim to your affection, but I know
this trait of his character will delight you.”

Soon after this visit to Portsmouth, Jervis, the eldest son, was attacked
by scarlet fever; his recovery occasioned the following reflections
recorded by his father. “A kind and merciful Providence soon restored
your dear brother to health. These trials which so frequently occur in
the course of even the most prosperous life, ought to teach us to repose
more upon God, and to indulge less in anxiety, which generally results
from a forgetfulness of His divine providence. How often does it happen
that when bereft of hope, and abandoned to despair, a sudden change has
dispelled the gloom, and restored us to happiness; whilst at others, when
we have been indulging in the most flattering prospects, when every thing
seemed to smile around us, when to-morrow promised to be in joy, ‘as this
day, and more abundant;’ a blow from an unexpected quarter comes, and
lays us prostrate. These circumstances and experiences should teach us
temperance in the enjoyment of the blessings of this world, and in the
measure of our attachment to them; should teach us to form no long view
of such short lived felicity; to receive with gratitude that share which
is so abundantly bestowed upon us; and when we are threatened with the
loss of what we consider so essential to our happiness, to consider that
we are in the hands of Him who has our eternal interests in view, and
who knows what is good for us, better than we do ourselves. This is true
philosophy, but what is still more, this is true religion.”

It has been the wish of the Editor to allow the narrative to proceed with
as little interruption as possible from himself, and chiefly in the words
supplied by the subject of the memoir himself. The language made use
of being sometimes that of a report of his own actions, and sometimes a
comment upon them addressed to his children, sometimes drawn up in the
third person, sometimes in the first, has involved a variety of manner
which may probably have given offence to readers; but which it still
seemed desirable to retain, as conveying the words and expressions of
the individual mind, which it is the object of the memoir to present to
public observation. Unwilling to do more than was absolutely necessary,
and being chiefly anxious that the portrait exhibited might be as true
to life as possible, he has risked the consequences of substituting a
broken and disjointed narrative, for one more continuous and regular,
that he might allow his readers to see for themselves and to judge for
themselves, a character which is calculated to be beneficial to all.
Instead of assuming the office of biographer, he has wished that the
subject of the memoir should be made to tell his own story; and he has
chiefly limited his own endeavours to pointing out traits of character
brought to light by the circumstances in which the man was placed, and
which it was desirable that his readers should notice. From time to time
he has ventured to do this, and in gratifying his own feelings by thus
dwelling on the features of a friend whom he never recollects without
admiration, he hopes that he may have been useful in directing the
attention of others to qualities which might have escaped observation,
from the simplicity of mind with which the trials that draw them forth
are related. On this account he must trespass for a moment on the
patience of his readers, and call their attention to the peculiar trial
which awaited Sir Jahleel Brenton at this period of his career.

His character as an officer was now completely established. The prejudice
entertained against him by Lord Collingwood had been overcome, and
converted into confidence and regard. His services in the Mediterranean
had secured the admiration of the navy; and the brilliant valour and
good conduct exhibited in the action off Naples, had placed him on a
pinnacle of glory, which few perhaps can at present appreciate, who do
not remember the enthusiastic spirit of that period of the war, and the
excitement which pervaded every rank of society on the subject of naval

At that period, and under those circumstances; with the consciousness of
having served his country with a fidelity and earnestness beyond what is
due to any human tie; with the shouts and triumphs of a Mediterranean
population still ringing in his ears, and with a spirit raised above the
excruciating torture of his wound by a sense of the glory he had won;
this intoxicating dream is dissipated by the intelligence of pecuniary
losses, which threaten destitution to his family, and by the notice of a
prosecution on the part of the neutrals, whom he had felt it his duty to
detain; which might have consigned him to a debtor’s prison for the rest
of his days.

Life, if considered as a state of discipline, must be a state of trial.
Character is to be developed by circumstances; and God is to be glorified
by the evidence thus given by his servants of their adoption and renewal.
Under this conviction we acquiesce in the assertion that, “whom the Lord
loveth He chasteneth;” and can see the purpose for which the affliction
is sent in the character which is gradually evolved; but the fulness of
this assurance does not invalidate the severity of the trial, and we must
feel for man while he is in the crucible, though we may be confident as
to the effect that it will finally produce.

I feel it, therefore, due to the character of Sir Jahleel Brenton, to
dwell on this point of his story, because it includes circumstances of
trial which cannot be generally appreciated, and because it involves that
species of trial which has been commonly found the hardest to endure.
Oppression, we are told, maketh a wise man mad. Ingratitude, man’s
ingratitude is continually named as the bitterness of life. The great
men of heathen times are found quitting their country in the decline of
life, disgusted at the treatment they met with; and we cannot wonder if
self-love on one side was dissatisfied with that return, which self-love
expected or self-love offered on the other.

The shock which was inflicted on Sir Jahleel Brenton by this sudden
change of circumstances must have been most severe. To have a triumph
succeeded by poverty; the glory of successful command by the prospect of
a jail; and to feel that his country’s courts crushed him, for having
done what his country’s interests required, and his country’s voice had
commanded; and that thus having risked life and incurred sufferings in
its service, he was now to be made a victim of political expediency,
and to be sacrificed to the jealousy of a hostile state; this was, to
say the least a sharp trial for man to bear, and a trial which few
have borne with so much calmness. In truth if heroism is to be tested
by what a man bears rather than by what a man does, and a very brief
consideration may lead us to adopt this view, we may venture to say
that Sir Jahleel Brenton may be contemplated with more admiration while
reconciling himself to poverty and sufferings, in the testimony of a good
conscience and in submission to the will of God; than while directing the
movements of his frigate through the fleet which enveloped him, while
Murat and his court were watching the defeat of their little armada by
the energies of his single ship.

Let the reader of these pages then dwell most on that which most deserves
consideration. He may learn from the narrative, what vicissitudes of
trial life may include; and he may distrust the exultation inseparable
from moments of success by calling to mind its uncertain tenure, and
the reverse that may be immediately at hand. But above all let him
remember, that he who labours for man, must be prepared to meet with
ingratitude, or at least neglect; and that from the very nature of
society, the sacrifices that are made for the public good can seldom
be properly appreciated, or justly recompensed by the public, for whom
they are performed. A higher principle must be infused into the heart of
him who wishes to serve his country, than was found among the heroes of
antiquity; or self-devotion and patriotism will be doomed to experience
the same melancholy disappointment that they did in their cases. God must
be honoured; his favour, his blessing must be the objects of pursuit; if
man wishes to be certain of obtaining a just recompense of reward; and
sad and bitter will be the result of dangers braved and labours borne,
if the favour of a fickle world has been the object of ambition, and the
only return looked for has been that which men can give.

“A haughty spirit,” it is said, “goeth before a fall.” Had such been
the spirit of Sir Jahleel Brenton, it is easy to imagine how it would
have been inflated and increased by the admiration and excitement
occasioned by his victory; and it is as easy to conceive, that on a mind
in such a state, the sudden shock of adversity would have come with an
overwhelming force. Happily for him, he had long before learned in a
better school than that of the world, the nature of the things by which
he was surrounded. He knew what he was justified in seeking, but he also
knew the limits under which it was to be sought. Thankful for what God
had been pleased to give, he was ready to resign what God was pleased
to recall; and while the hand of God was seen in everything, he saw no
injustice in the treatment he was exposed to, no public ingratitude in
the circumstances which marred his prospects; but only behold another
trial in a change of condition; and blessed God for the consolations with
which that trial was to be accompanied.

The narrative may be resumed from Sir Jahleel’s own notes. He says, “my
wound now continued to make a gradual progress, and at the end of the
year (1811) Mr. Clive considered all exfoliation at an end. I had now
put aside my crutches, and could walk with tolerable facility with two
sticks. I therefore began to look forward once more to active service.
Your dear mother used all the arguments which tenderness and affection
could suggest to dissuade me from it; but the same feeling towards her,
and my beloved children, stimulated me to exertion, and would have
deprived me of my own approbation and peace of mind, had I remained in a
state of inactivity longer than was absolutely necessary. I accordingly
applied for a ship. Mr. Yorke, then first Lord of the Admiralty, in
the most friendly and earnest terms, requested me not to run the risk
of a relapse, by going again to sea; having however persisted in my
application, he appointed me to the Stirling Castle, a new ship of
seventy-four guns, then at Chatham, intended at my own request to be sent
to the Mediterranean. In the middle of March 1812, I took command of this
ship, and removed with my family to Brompton, near Chatham, and here
another period of happiness occurs, which will frequently present itself
to my recollection, unsolicited from the association with my professional
duties. My profession had ever been my delight from the very early period
of my life at which I entered it, and no circumstance, however happy, had
as yet possessed the power to tranquillize my mind on shore, whilst I
considered myself capable of active service.”

As Captain Brenton had reason to suppose that his ship would at least
for some time be attached to the channel fleet, he removed his family
to Plymouth, and took this opportunity of initiating his eldest son
into the profession, which it was at that time supposed he would have
chosen. He says, “As our dear boy had from his infancy expressed a wish
to follow my profession, and had appeared confirmed in the resolution,
upon my return home in the Spartan, your mother and myself considering
the advantages which might attend from his constitution being early
inured to the profession, decided upon his going with me. It was rather
intended at the same time, as giving him an opportunity of judging for
himself, whether under all circumstances, his preference for the navy
might continue, and as I was informed of the appointment of an exemplary
clergyman to the ship, who had been head usher at Hertford school, and
who was to superintend the education of the youngsters on board, we had
less hesitation in taking your brother from the school at which he had
been nearly a year, (Dr. Crombie’s, at Greenwich.) Our kind friend Mr.
Williamson, whom I was again happy in having with me as surgeon, kindly
went for him in a tender, which I sent for the purpose.

“June 6th, we arrived in Cawsand Bay; the weather in the preceding night
had become thick and squally, but we reached our port with great ease by

Thursday the 11th, Mrs. Brenton mentions having passed a delightful day
on board the Stirling Castle. Captain Brenton adds, “This was I believe
the last visit your mother ever paid to the Stirling Castle, where from
the sweetness of her disposition, and the kindness of her manner, she had
gained the regard of all on board. On this occasion we were accompanied
by one of my best and earliest friends. Mr. Tucker and myself became
acquainted in the year 1792, when he was purser of the Assistance, and
when I commanded the Trepassey on the Newfoundland station, in the year
1799. He had, after progressive elevation, acquired through his own
conduct and talents, become Secretary to the Earl of St. Vincent, with
whom I had recently served as Lieutenant, and who had promoted me to the
command of the Speedy. Mr. Tucker and myself then renewed our former
intimacy, he had power to shew the strength of his regard, and exerted it
to the utmost. I had little in my power but the expressions of gratitude,
and the feelings of friendship. Whenever an opportunity offered of
forwarding my interests, he never lost sight of it, and proved himself a
most steady friend. It is to his active zeal we are indebted for much of
the comfort our family received after the death of my father. Lord St.
Vincent was under Providence the instrument of their welfare; Mr. Tucker,
the kind and judicious friend, who pointed out the most effectual means
of serving them. Upon all the subsequent trials and events which have
befallen me, he has been invariably the same, always identifying himself
with my interests, and those of all my family; and I feel delighted
in having it in my power to record such instances of disinterested
attachment, as an object for your future gratitude and regard. Lose no
opportunity, my dearest children, in shewing your sense of his kindness
to me, whenever it may be in your power, either towards himself or any of
his family.”[19]

Referring to a memorandum written on the 23rd of September, 1812,
Captain Brenton says, “I had sometime before this period experienced an
attack of inflammation in the wound, but I had now recovered from it,
and it remained in the same state as when I came to sea. As the winter
approached, I felt this inconvenience of being lame more sensibly, as it
increased my anxiety respecting the duty of the ship, from a conviction
that I could not use the same activity I had formerly possessed; and I
began to feel the conviction that some employment on shore, was better
suited to the actual state of my health.

“I thought seriously of endeavouring to gain some appointment on shore.
I had in the Spring been offered the Commissionership of Bombay, but
declined from preference to active service. I therefore wrote to Lord
Melville (then First Lord of the Admiralty,) and told him the state of my
health, requesting to be remembered in the event of a vacancy happening;
this he promised to do, and conceiving I wished immediately to come on
shore, he appointed Captain Brine to succeed me in the Stirling Castle.
Those alone whose minds are ardently devoted to the sea service, can
enter into my feelings after dispatching my letter to Lord Melville. It
appeared to me as soon as it was gone beyond recall, that the sacrifice
was unnecessary, that the pain and inflammation of the wound had ceased,
and that with a little patience I might have weathered the winter, and
have had another summer before me, in which I might have recruited. I
felt my attachment to the ship, and everything connected with active
service increase, as I was on the point of being removed from it. These,
however, were but temporary feelings; the wound soon resumed a very
serious character, and I had no sooner joined my family at Plymouth on
the 26th of October, than I felt I had much reason to rejoice in my
decision. As soon as I was superseded by Captain Brine, I proceeded to my
favourite residence at Bath. Here I had the advantage of one of the most
skilful surgeons, the late Mr. Grant. I had several very severe attacks
of inflammation, attended by exfoliation, which must have rendered it
impossible for me to have remained afloat. I was, however, evidently
regaining my health, and having my mind at ease from the conviction that
I had not willingly relinquished employment afloat.”

Early in November Captain Brenton received an official communication from
the Admiralty, notifying his having been created a Baronet. In the year
1813, Sir Jahleel writes, “It was in this year that my darling Jervis
formed that choice of a profession, to which it was ever our wish he
should be devoted, but which we did not press upon him, lest we should
put a restraint upon his inclinations. He had from his infancy expressed
a wish for the navy, and the preference was natural, and likely to
strengthen with his years. It was therefore encouraged; and I considered
him so decided in his choice, that I should have taken him with me in
the Stirling Castle. Whilst instructing him in the rudiments of astronomy
and navigation, I took every opportunity of associating in his mind the
truths of revealed religion, with the wonders of creation. His mind was
sufficiently enlarged to admit and combine them with facility, even at
this early age; though he had not completed his tenth year, when we
were at sea together. His memory was very retentive, our conversation
frequently turned upon Religion, and the duty of its ministers; and I
endeavoured to describe to him, the character and conduct requisite for
the sacred office, as well as the influence each would have upon the
happiness, not only of this life, but of the next. These delightful
conversations (for such they were to this dear boy, as well as to myself,
for he frequently began them) insensibly gave a change to his ideas, and
induced him to prefer the tranquillity and retirement of a clerical life,
to the more brilliant prospects which the navy might have held out to
him. What a claim for the most fervent gratitude has this circumstance
upon my heart at this moment, and what a source of comfort and
consolation under the loss of such a child. I have now the blessed and
well founded hope, that he is in the enjoyment of everlasting felicity.

“At the close of this year, Lord Melville, who had been long anxious to
serve me, but unable from the want of a vacancy, at last found the means
by the establishment of a resident Commissioner at Minorca. He made me
the offer of the appointment. I accepted it with alacrity, and prepared
for our immediate departure. I was at the time of receiving it, confined
to my bed, by the opening of my wound; but was soon in a situation
to travel, and by the unremitted care and energy of my affectionate
companion, every fatigue and exertion was spared me. We left our
delightful abode at Bath on the 10th January, and embarked on board the
Blenheim for Minorca on the 20th. We had been exposed during the greater
part of our voyage, till we reached Cape St. Vincent, to a continual gale
from the S.W., but at this period the weather was remarkably fine, and
you may easily imagine the interest with which your mother viewed the
theatre of the great action, fought by our noble friend, and the first in
which I had been engaged.

“As we proceeded, every point we passed excited some recollection of
strong interest, but particularly Gibraltar Bay. These feelings I hope
were not unaccompanied, by sincere and ardent gratitude to the Almighty,
for the merciful preservation which I had so often experienced. On the
3rd of February we passed along the coasts of Andalusia and Grenada,
mountains covered with snow, with the town of Malaga below them. Our
voyage was at this period delightful, and had all the appearance of
being a very short one. We were most happily situated with the best
and kindest friend in the Captain of the ship, Captain Samuel Warren,
with every attention and accommodation we could possibly desire, but
a voyage to passengers must ever be tedious. The wind now changed and
blew constantly from the eastward, making our passage longer between
Ivica and Minorca, than from England to Ivica. On the 19th, Majorca
was in view, the weather extremely cold, and the hills covered with
snow. Nothing could be more wretched than the sight which Cabrera
offered to us through our glasses: we could see hundreds of naked and
starving French prisoners, crawling about the rocks, without any other
habitation, than the caverns they found amongst them, and we heard they
were almost without food. When however, the wanton atrocities committed
by the French in Spain are taken into consideration, we cannot wonder
at the conduct of the Spaniards in this instance, however inexcuseable
it may seem. We reached Port Mahon on the 25th of February, and had
some difficulty in procuring lodgings. Many wretched habitations were
offered to us, but we were soon provided with an excellent house, in a
delightful situation, though it afterwards proved damp, from having been
recently built. For some time my health was in an alarming state, whilst
that of my beloved Isabella appeared to be perfectly restored, with the
exception of a little hoarseness, which then gave us no uneasiness, as I
only considered it as the continuation of a cold, caught in England; but
which was disease silently working on the lungs. The climate, although
very changeable, appeared to agree remarkably well with every one of the
family except myself; and my own health experienced a rapid improvement
with the return of the warm weather. We began to enjoy happiness, and to
be reconciled to the Island, forming plans for a long residence on it.
At this time we had the gratification of having the Duchess of Orleans,
mother of Louis Phillippe, as our occasional guest. She was dining with
us on the day that the first report reached Minorca, that the white flag
had been hoisted in France. The news was not credited at first, but I was
convinced in my own mind that it was true, and therefore communicated
it to my royal guest, who was quite overwhelmed with the intelligence.
The following morning I had the pleasure of carrying the confirmation
of this joyful intelligence to the Duchess. This excellent Lady soon
resumed her place at Paris, at the head of a splendid establishment,
and was unremitting in her efforts to testify her gratitude to every
English person who approached her; for the hospitality she acknowledged
to have received from their country. In the course of the month of May
your beloved mother’s cough had increased, and in June she broke a blood
vessel. We were advised to try country air, and M. Mercudel, a Minorquine
gentleman, had the goodness to lend us his house at Bingot, pleasantly
situated on the road to Alegero. The air of this place appeared for
some time to have the most salutary effect; thus the summer passed away
with no other occurrence than my having been brought into intimate
communication and friendship with that best of sea officers, Sir Benjamin
Hallowell, afterwards Carew, who was left in command of the squadron
in the Mediterranean, and who took his station at Minorca, in order to
superintend the disposal of the stores, &c. The peace taking place early
in Autumn, the fleet was ordered home, and consequently there no longer
existed the necessity for a dockyard at Mahon. I was directed to send all
the stores to England, and to return home; Lord Melville in the mean
time having most kindly appointed me to the Dorset Yacht. Your mother’s
health was so precarious, that it became necessary for us to accept the
kind offer of my friend, Captain Bathurst,[20] to take home my family in
the Fame, and to his care I consigned them, under the protection of that
benign Providence which never forsook us. I was unable to accompany them
from the remaining duties I had to perform. They embarked on the 7th of
August. A few days after they had sailed, I left Minorca in the Castor,
for Marseilles, and from thence proceeded to Paris. There I enjoyed the
kind hospitality of the Duchess of Orleans for a few days, returning to
England early in October. Your mother and yourselves had arrived a few
days before me.

“Before I left Minorca I received a second letter from Lord Melville,
informing me of my appointment as Commissioner at the Cape of Good
Hope, the former Commissioner being just dead; an appointment which was
very agreeable to me. On my return to England, I found your dear mother
apparently much recovered, but the fatal cough still continued. This
was the only alloy to my happiness, but still I fondly cherished the
hope that it was in some measure subdued, and that the climate of the
Cape of Good Hope would entirely restore her. How easily can we flatter
ourselves with prospects of happiness. How earnestly do we cling to
remote possibilities for comfort; and most merciful is the dispensation
which affords us this relief. How gloomy and dismal would many parts of
our lives otherwise be. Our dear boys were now of an age when it became
necessary that every effort should be made to give them a substantial
education, and for this purpose we decided upon leaving them at
Winchester, under the care and protection of their uncles. This was the
greatest trial we had to experience; but what must the pang of separation
have been to your mother, who although she concealed as much as possible
her real state from us, must have felt the most serious apprehension,
that she was no more to meet these darling children in this world. With
what exemplary fortitude did she conduct herself under circumstances
so agonizing! On the 1st day of January, 1815, we sailed for the Cape
of Good Hope, on board H.M.S. Niger, commanded by Captain Rainier. We
had much to be grateful for, to our all merciful Protector, for the
comfort we enjoyed throughout this voyage, which ended by our arrival
in Simon’s Bay on the 12th of March. Your mother felt much weakness and
indisposition in crossing the tropical latitudes, owing to the great
heats, but she was nevertheless invariably cheerful, and apparently



Three years had elapsed after the last capture of the Cape of Good Hope,
before it was considered necessary to have a resident Commissioner
there. Captain Shield was selected for this purpose, and a fitter, or
more efficient man could not have been found. With a sound judgment,
and the utmost integrity, and undeviating correctness; he possessed an
activity of mind, and indefatigable perseverance that never perhaps was
exceeded. His official correspondence, which Sir Jahleel Brenton found
in the office, was invaluable to him, and rendered his way clear under
all the complexity in which he was involved by the transactions, which in
the ultimate establishment of the dock-yard he was engaged in with the
military and civil branches of the Government.

The Dutch, while masters of the Cape, aware of the insecurity of Table
Bay during the winter months, when it is exposed to the fury of the whole
Southern Atlantic, had been in the habit of sending their ships for
shelter to Saldahna Bay; overlooking, or perhaps purposely concealing
the value of Simon’s Bay; lest it might afford to an enemy the facility
of landing and attacking the colony. Commissioner Shield viewed this bay
with a seaman’s eye, and at once pronounced it to be the only place on
the coast for a Naval Arsenal, and gave this opinion to the Navy Board,
as soon after his arrival as he could obtain the means of forming it.

The Dutch had a few storehouses there for the use of their Batavia ships,
but everything was upon the smallest scale, and the Admiralty on being
convinced by the representation of Commissioner Shield of the fitness
of Simon’s Bay for the establishment of a dock-yard, directed the Naval
Establishment to be removed there, which was accordingly done in 1814;
a Naval Hospital being previously built, and plans agreed upon for the
extension of other Naval buildings.

Commissioner Shield being called to the Navy Board in 1813, was succeeded
by Commissioner Dundas, from Bombay, who retained the situation but a
short time, as he died at Simon’s Town in August, 1814.

Sir Jahleel Brenton, on inspecting the two bays, Table Bay and Simon’s
Bay, entirely concurred with Commissioner Shield upon the expediency of
giving up the former altogether; but recommended, that on surrendering
the buildings there to the Colonial Government it should be with the
understanding, that if required at any future period of war, they should
be again restored to the Naval Department.

Whilst the dock-yard was in Table Bay, no ship could venture to strip her
lower masts, or heave down, from the uncertainty of the weather and the
rapidity with which a gale succeeds a calm, and the glassy surface is
changed into a tremendous sea rolling in upon a dead lee shore. The loss
of the Sceptre there in 1795, and of several large merchant vessels in
the course of the seven years which Sir Jahleel Brenton passed there, are
evident proofs of the dangers incurred almost at all seasons of the year
in this bay; whereas in Simon’s Bay, scarcely an instance occurred during
the whole of that time of a vessel driving from her anchors. Indeed the
one only case was that of the Revolutionaire, parting a cable that had
rotted in India, and falling on board the Zebra, carrying her adrift,
with the wind immediately off one part of the bay, and driving on shore
on the opposite side in a sandy cove under the block house, from whence
they were both got off, the Revolutionaire much damaged from having
passed over a ledge of rocks. But soon after the moorings were laid
down for two ships of the line, and as many frigates, and no accidents
afterwards occurred. It was found, however, that these were inconvenient,
as they occupied too large a portion of the bay, which is not very
extensive, and on that account they have since been removed.

When it was decided that the only Naval Establishment at the Cape should
be in Simon’s Bay, the new buildings were carried on with great energy,
and it soon became a place of considerable importance. A jetty was formed
in the dock-yard: a spacious mast house erected, with a working sail
loft over it, and a very ornamental range of houses for the officers of
the yard constructed upon a terrace overlooking the bay, and the whole
yard enclosed with a wall, forming a remarkably neat and compact arsenal.

Soon after the arrival of Sir Jahleel Brenton as Commissioner of the
dock-yard at the Cape of Good Hope, a vessel arrived with the account of
Buonaparte having escaped from Elba, and of war being revived in Europe.
The consequences of this short war had a very material influence upon the
colony of the Cape, as the transfer of the great prisoner to St. Helena
caused a great demand upon the Cape for supplies of all descriptions, and
excited amongst the wine growers and farmers a degree of energy quite
foreign to the habits of the Dutch colonists, and to which nothing but
English capital, and English example could probably ever have stimulated

St. Helena, of course, became the head quarters of the squadron, from
whence they were sent in succession to Simon’s Bay to refit, and complete
their stores. Large contracts were entered into for wine and flour, as
well as for bread, cattle, and hay, &c. The cattle hitherto killed for
the Cape market were of the most inferior description. They had been
driven from the great cattle farms, in the eastern districts of the
colony, through a long sandy desert, where little was to be found for
their support but the acrid Hottentot fig and other similar plants; and
after a journey of nearly a week, sometimes much more, they were, upon
their arrival either in Cape Town or Simon’s Town, immediately sent to
the slaughter house. The meat, as may be expected, was of the worst kind;
and of the cattle embarked in the wretched state we have described, but
few could be expected to reach St. Helena.

To remedy this, a Cattle yard was constructed in Simon’s Bay, where they
were kept and dry fed for several weeks, and then shipped on board the
transports; and the wind being almost always fair, and the water smooth,
they continued to improve even on the passage, and arrived at St. Helena
in high condition. Sheep were still more improved, and the quick demand
for all the articles of supply, gave great animation to the boors; while
it rendered the Naval Establishment at the Cape of very great importance,
and shewed particularly how sound was the judgment which had induced
Commissioner Shield to remove it from Table Bay to Simon’s Bay, as
there was scarcely an instance during the period of nearly seven years
that Sir Jahleel Brenton was there, in which a cargo might not have
been shipped on board the men of war, and transports. Indeed in a very
heavy gale, blowing directly into the bay, an anchor for a very large
frigate was sent off with very little difficulty; whilst in Table Bay all
communication with the ships is cut off for many days together, and much
longer in the winter months.

More than thirty vessels, some of them of great value were lost in Table
Bay during this period, and only one in Simon’s Bay; and this, for want
of a good look out, running on shore in the night under Musenburg with
all sails set.

The Revolutionaire and Zebra it is true had been driven on shore, but it
was in a species of hurricane off the land, as has been already observed,
and owing entirely to the Revolutionaire’s cable being defective.

Upon this occasion, or rather in consequence of it, when the
Revolutionaire was heaving down to be repaired, Sir Jahleel Brenton had
a most providential escape from losing his life. The ship was keel out
(and it is well known with what difficulty the long legged French built
ships are hove down.) The Commissioner was in the boat examining the
damages the ship had received, and not four feet from the keel of the
Revolutionaire, when the purchase gave way, and she righted with the
greatest violence, throwing the greatest part of the people who were on
the decks overboard, killing one shipwright, and wounding the master
builder of the yard seriously. The column of water between the ship’s
bottom and the Commissioner’s boat was sufficient to act as a fender,
and prevent her being struck by the ship; she was thrown off with great
violence by the broken water, but without shipping any. The boats crew,
all black fellows, seeing the confusion with which they were surrounded,
immediately jumped overboard, and dived to be out of the way of mischief,
and the first that rose finding that order was not quite restored, again
sought for safety at the bottom. They were soon however all in the boat
again, but evidently thought their conduct too natural to require either
explanation or excuse; for they gave neither to the Commissioner, whom
they had thus left alone in the boat, and who was too much amused at
their resource to be angry with them.

In the course of this year, Rear Admiral Sir George Cockburne having
seen his important prisoner settled at St. Helena, was succeeded in
his command by Rear Admiral Sir Pulteney Malcolm, who arrived at the
Cape of Good Hope, which he was desirous of visiting previous to his
taking up his residence at St. Helena; and having brought Lady Malcolm
with him, the circumstance was the cause of much gratification to the
Commissioner’s family, and to Sir Jahleel Brenton particularly; as it
enabled him to act in concert with the Commander in chief, in laying down
plans for the regular supply of St. Helena, and in making the necessary
contracts for that purpose. Sir Pulteney was also enabled to judge
for himself of the capabilities of the Cape, and the character of its
farmers, which rendered the subsequent correspondence between the Admiral
and the Commissioner a very easy one; both were acquainted with each
other’s objects and measures, and the greatest cordiality in consequence
subsisted between them.

With regard to some of the Commissioner’s plans, it is fit that his own
language should be quoted.

“One of the most important subjects that engaged my attention, after
my arrival in the colony, was the situation of the negro labourers in
the dock-yard. These people had been with hundreds of others of their
countrymen captured by His Majesty’s ships, in vessels carrying on that
abominable traffic, after it had been rendered illegal by the laws of
the countries to which these vessels belonged. Some of these negroes,
as many as were required, were assigned to the government departments,
colonial, military, and naval, as labourers; and others were distributed
among the inhabitants of the colony as servants or agricultural
labourers. Those, whose unhappy fate it was to be of the latter class,
were indeed much to be pitied. The tender mercies of the original Dutch
Boor in this colony are but too well known, and the unfortunate black,
not called a slave but an apprentice, lost all the benefit which he would
have derived from being a slave, when being a marketable commodity, his
health was taken care of, and like other animals belonging to the farm he
was well fed, and kept in good condition that he might fetch the better
price, if it seemed expedient to sell him. But the Boor having only a
life interest, (for such indeed it became in many instances where the
negro did not outlive his apprenticeship) tasked him to the utmost; and
as he had been in the habit of acting towards the unhappy Hottentot,
the more the man’s health was impaired, made the greater efforts to get
work out of him, before he died. That this is in no way exaggerated will
be evident to those who read the statements made by Dr. Philip, in the
course of his struggles in favour of the Aboriginal people of the colony.

“Those who were employed in the public departments, as well as such as
fell into the hands of respectable individuals were of course much less
to be pitied. Some apprenticeship, however, was necessary, especially to
the new negro, who would for some years be incapable of earning his own

“Commissioner Shield had in 1810, with that humanity and judgment for
which he was remarkable, suggested to the Navy Board, that the negroes
employed in the dock-yard should be put on the same footing as landsmen
on board His Majesty’s ships, having the same allowance of provision, and
the same pay; the latter amounting to £14 per annum, the balance of which
after the deduction made for their clothes (as in the case of seamen)
should be carried to their credit, and kept until they were out of their
time, as a means of future provision. After the departure of Commissioner
Shield this salutary arrangement had been lost sight of, in consequence
of which Sir Jahleel Brenton wrote the following letter to the Navy
Board; which as it describes the useful services of these men, and led to
advantageous results in their behalf, it may not be amiss to introduce.

                                      “SIMON’S BAY, 31st MAY, 1815.


    “I beg leave to lay before you an account of the black men
    now belonging to this establishment, with a few observations
    respecting them.

    “By your letter to Commissioner Shield, 13th September, 1810,
    you were pleased to approve of his suggestions of these black
    people being borne as landsmen, and those who had acquired
    the ability to work as caulkers being allowed such further
    encouragement as he thought proper. Accordingly the men then in
    the yard were so regulated; but those who arrived subsequently
    to that period have only been put upon the footing of boys of
    the third class, and continued as such till the time of my
    arrival here. Upon enquiry I have found that the labour of
    this latter description is equally valuable and hard with that
    of the former, and I in consequence directed them to be put
    on the same footing, and submit to you the propriety of their
    being allowed the arrears of pay which would have been their
    due, had they received the benefit of your order on their first

    “It was I believe the intention of Commissioner Shield to have
    given them that advantage, had they arrived from Plettenburg
    Bay, previous to his departure from this country; they were all
    grown men upon their first arrival.

    “Several of the most intelligent of the black men have been
    placed under the direction of the different artificers, and
    some by assiduity and good conduct have acquired such a degree
    of skill in their craft, as to enable His Majesty’s service to
    derive a considerable benefit from their work.

    “I have thought it my duty to extend to these the indulgence
    granted by Commissioner Shield to the caulkers, viz. ordinary
    seamen’s pay, which I hope you will approve of, as it will be a
    spur to their companions.…

    “By their assistance the buildings (in the dock-yard, &c.)
    will be erected at much less expense than by any other mode of
    procuring labourers. They have the benefit of the school, and I
    am sanguine in the hope of their deriving great benefit from it.

    “As I am upon the subject of the negroes, I must request your
    indulgence to a few remarks which a daily observation of their
    situation, docility and general usefulness, constantly suggests
    to me.

    “These unfortunate people at the period of their arrival in the
    colony are in general from twenty to thirty years of age, many
    of them older, and by the present regulations of Government,
    they are to serve fourteen years, before they can obtain their

    “The negroes seldom attain an advanced age, the generality of
    them are past their strength at a much earlier period than the
    white people, and consequently at the end of their servitude,
    may have no other prospect than a helpless old age before them,
    at a time when they must depend upon their own labour for
    their support.

    “I am aware that their servitude can only be shortened by the
    interference of His Majesty’s ministers; but my object in
    addressing you upon the subject is, that you would be pleased
    to take the case into consideration, and to allow such as are
    really valuable to Government in different branches, to receive
    an allowance bearing some proportion to their earnings. I
    should say, half-a crown a day, including their provisions.

    “I should not allow this indulgence to be extended to them
    without long and ample experience of its being duly earned,
    to be certified by the respective officers. By these means a
    provision might be laid up for them, and so much energy exerted
    as to produce the most salutary results.

    “Many of the blacks have made a considerable progress in
    learning, but those landed from the ships are only beginning.

    “I have, &c.

                                                      “J. BRENTON.”


As the subject of these letters may be useful in directing the public
attention to the means of employing a portion of the immense population
placed under the control of this country, it is hoped that no other
excuse need be assigned for the introduction of one or two more letters
respecting the negroes. The next letter is dated, Simon’s Bay, 2nd July,


    “In my letter of the 31st May, I took the liberty of offering
    a few remarks upon the situation of the black labourers, and
    requested permission to extend the indulgence to the deserving
    as occasion might require. The experience of every day teaches
    me that much good may result to His Majesty’s service, as well
    as to these people by a constant attention to putting them
    forward in such branches as they may be best calculated for.

    “I have already given my opinion on the encouragement which
    appears due to those, who have become useful as artificers. I
    have since found that many of them are likely to become expert
    seamen, from the activity and intelligence they evince in boats
    employed on various services, and I am anxious to encourage
    them, by an addition to their pay, and making them leading men.
    Sixpence a day will I think be ample in the present instance to
    four of them, and this may stimulate the others to obtain the
    same advantage.

    “As there are two seamen allowed on the establishment of
    the yard, and none borne on the list, which would have been
    absolutely necessary but for the exertions of these black men;
    I propose forming a fund for their encouragement, from the
    amount of the seamen’s wages, by which the estimate for the
    expense of the yard will not be exceeded. I hope to obtain your
    sanction to the measure.

    “I have, &c.

                                                      “J. BRENTON.”


The Navy Board approved of all the suggestions contained in these
letters, with the exception of paying the arrears to those blacks who had
not received the advantage of being rated according to these orders; a
measure bearing very hard upon these people, and for which no adequate
reason is assigned.

Some months afterwards, when the black men from the squadron were
discharged into the dock-yard, previous to its departure for England, the
Commissioner on mustering them found to his great surprise, that some of
these people had been long at sea, serving as part of the complement of
His Majesty’s ships, and doing all the duty of seamen. That these people
should after such service be consigned again to slavery, (mitigated
it is true, but nevertheless, as the labour was compulsory, it was
still slavery for the time it was to last) seemed a hardship not to
be permitted. It was true he felt that it might be said, that in the
dock-yard they had the pay and allowances of seamen. This was admitted;
but it was the principle against which he felt it his duty to contend.
On the mere supposition that the dock-yard establishment was complete,
and that in consequence these negroes had been like other apprentices
distributed among the Boors, the consequence would have been obvious and
most painful, and it would have involved a flagrant act of injustice
towards the helpless blacks, thus reduced without any fault of their own,
from the condition of seamen, serving in His Majesty’s navy, to that of
prædial slaves in a colony, noted for the severity with which such slaves
are treated. Sir Jahleel Brenton in consequence wrote to the Navy Board
upon the subject, and the following is an extract from his letter of the
13th Feb., 1816, immediately bearing upon this subject.

    “I feel it incumbent upon me to state the cases of three of
    these men, (viz.) Frank, Tom, and Robin, who appear to me to be
    entitled to their liberty, in consequence of their having been
    in England. They went home in H.M.S. Thais, and returned in
    H.M.S. Curacoa, since which period they have served either in
    the dockyard, or in the squadron.

    “Frank has acquired some knowledge as a mason, and might be
    employed as such, at an inferior rate of pay, in the dock-yard.
    The others are only labourers, and probably would have no
    objection to remain; but as I understand so many decisions
    have lately taken place respecting the freedom of slaves being
    established, by their having been either in England, or in the
    Colonies where slavery does not exist, that I consider it my
    duty to make this claim in their favour.

    “I have, &c.

                                                      “J. BRENTON.”


The Navy Board having laid the above letter before their solicitor,
transmitted to the Commissioner the opinion of this law officer, but
without any comment or direction of their own, leaving the responsibility
of any measure Sir Jahleel Brenton might in consequence adopt, entirely
upon himself. The opinion was as follows:—

    “I am humbly of opinion, that if these men have been received
    on board His Majesty’s ships to serve as seamen in the navy,
    they cannot be now legally detained as slaves; but this right
    which, as against the crown, I think they have to their freedom
    from slavery, will not annul any contract or engagement, by
    which they may have bound themselves to serve the king or any
    other master, for any specific period, either in the navy, or
    in any other manner; and if no such engagement exist, they are
    entitled to their discharge, if they require it, in the same
    manner as any seaman in the navy, or workman in the yard may be
    entitled to it.

                         “Signed by the COMMISSIONERS OF THE NAVY.”


In consequence of receiving this opinion, and so authenticated by the
Board, Sir Jahleel Brenton immediately decided upon giving these three
men their freedom, should they wish it, and having put the question
to them, they earnestly requested their liberty. They had each a
considerable sum due to them, amounting to some hundreds of rix dollars
to each man, which the Commissioner recommended them to leave, or at
least a portion of it, in the hands of the storekeeper, from whom they
might draw it as they wanted; a precaution very necessary to prevent
their being robbed of it. But the temptation to get the whole into their
own hands was too powerful to be resisted. Amongst other arguments used
by the Commissioner to induce them to adopt this prudent precaution, he
stated their ignorance of the value of the notes; all money at the Cape
at this time being in paper; and holding up a fifty dollar note to one
of them, asked him its value, to which the man unhesitatingly answered,
“ten,” and another of five being shewn, the answer was, “twenty.” But
even this proof failed to persuade them. They took their money and in
a few days came to the Commissioner lamenting that it was all gone.
This circumstance convinced the latter, that unless some precautionary
measures were adopted with regard to the poor blacks, no fund that could
be laid up for them would be available, and under this impression he
wrote to the Navy Board again.

In order to dispose of the question relative to the black labourers, one
more letter from the Commissioner upon the subject to the Navy Board may
be introduced, in the confidence that the plan suggested in it, will
appear at once economical and practical, and that if steadily followed
up, it must have been effectual for their provision and future comfort,
and the probable result that of making these men a valuable portion of
the population.

                                     “SIMON’S BAY, 24th SEPT. 1817.


    “As the works of this yard are now nearly completed, I beg
    leave to offer a few observations which have occurred to me,
    upon the subject of the black labourers belonging to the
    establishment. Many of these people have been in His Majesty’s
    service since 1808; and consequently have, according to the
    present arrangement for recaptured slaves, only five years
    to serve; but from the opinion given by your solicitor,
    transmitted in your letter of the 28th May, 1816, they are even
    at this time susceptible of liberation.

    “It becomes a matter of serious importance to provide for these
    people the means of obtaining an honest livelihood, and of
    making them useful members of society, when they shall be no
    longer under control. And it appears to me that so desirable an
    end may be effected, without putting His Majesty’s government
    to any expense, by the means which I take the liberty of
    submitting for your consideration.

    “We find from experience, that the lower classes of all
    descriptions of men who have been long accustomed to restraint
    and dependence, no sooner find themselves their own masters,
    and in possession of a considerable sum of money, arising
    perhaps from a long course of industry, than they are
    involved in great danger, and generally become entangled
    in difficulties, for want of some decided line of conduct
    to pursue. The blacks would be particularly liable to this
    exposure, unless care be taken to prepare them for liberty by a
    superintendence of their concerns, and by introducing them to
    it gradually.

    “There are amongst our labourers several who have become good
    masons, brickmakers, blacksmiths, excellent caulkers, tolerable
    carpenters, and expert boatmen, and who consequently, if kept
    in industrious habits, are well calculated to provide for

    “There are belonging to the Naval department, by right of
    purchase, and totally independent of the Colonial Government,
    pieces of ground, not required for any purposes connected with
    the dockyard, nor likely to be required however extensive that
    establishment may become, from their situation; a part lying
    behind the Commissioner’s garden, and part beyond the Naval
    Hospital at the south of the town.

    “I should propose that a part of this ground should be laid out
    in small lots, say twenty feet by sixty, contiguous to each
    other, and appropriated to as many individuals as the Board
    might contemplate the discharge of. Upon each lot a small house
    should be built by the black artificers themselves, to whom two
    days in the week should be given up for that purpose. The stone
    and the clay are on the spot; the roofing would be the only
    expensive part, which being furnished out of the refuse wood in
    the yard, useless for any other purpose, might be paid for by
    the smallest annual sum by the occupant, say one rix dollar[21]
    per month.

    “As soon as six of these houses are finished, as many of the
    most deserving men should be put into possession of them; not
    discharged altogether from the service, but bound to work in
    the yard whenever called upon; and of the expediency of this
    the Commissioner should be the judge. The Commissioner would
    make this of course dependent entirely upon their good conduct,
    in their new situation. When he found them persevering and
    industrious, he would naturally leave them in the uninterrupted
    exercise of their employment; those on the contrary who were
    disposed to be idle, he would call more frequently to the task
    work in the yard, and to such as proved incorrigible, he would
    revoke the indulgence altogether, putting the more deserving
    into their room.

    “The days on which they were permitted to work for themselves
    they would of course receive neither pay nor provisions from
    the yard. Thus by degrees a most useful and industrious body
    of men may be comfortably settled beyond the reach of want,
    in the exercise of habits of industry, immediately under the
    protection as well as the control of their officers. The
    ground-rent of these buildings would be a retaining fee, by
    which their services could be called for upon any emergency,
    such as a fire, or ships driving on shore, and for which they
    might receive a stipulated sum. They would continue to receive
    the same religious instruction from the chaplain of the yard,
    and from the schoolmaster, as when actually belonging to His
    Majesty’s service.

    “I have, &c.

                                                      “J. BRENTON.”


The Navy Board expressed their approbation of the plan above proposed in
the following letter, dated 10th January, 1818.


    “In reply to your letter of the 24th September we acquaint
    you that we entirely concur with you in the propriety
    and importance of giving to the black labourers of your
    establishment, at the expiration of their apprenticeship or
    legal servitude, all the assistance in our power towards
    obtaining an honest livelihood, and at the same time keeping
    them within reach of the moral and religious instruction of the
    chaplain of the yard, and we are glad to hear the men are so
    well qualified in their respective trades, as to obtain work
    when set free.

    “We have therefore no hesitation in assenting to your
    proposition of appropriating ground to them for erecting
    dwellings upon in the way you have mentioned; if upon further
    consideration you are fully satisfied that such an indulgence
    to the black people, will not afford any just ground of
    dissatisfaction and complaint to the European artificers; and
    provided an absolute power is reserved to the Commissioner
    for the time being, to deprive the people of their houses
    and grounds in case of misbehaviour, or if required for the
    public convenience; giving them in either case such reasonable
    compensation for their labour and expenses as he may think
    equitable; and no man to have more than a life interest in the
    property; but as deaths occur, you will in giving the houses
    to others, make it a condition that the family of the deceased
    shall have some small sum paid by the new occupant.


                                                  H. B. MARTIN
                                                  H. LEGGE
                                                  R. G. MIDDLETON.”


About the year 1819 the Commissioner proceeded to carry this plan into
effect, having selected four of the most meritorious blacks, and giving
them in the first instance one day in the week to prepare the ground,
and to collect materials for their buildings, at the same time laying
out their gardens. When the houses were so far in progress for laying
on the roofs, the materials were given to them from the dock-yard;
which from being unfit for any important purposes, were valued at a
very insignificant price; and in the course of the following year, four
very respectable cottages were completed, and put into the hands of the
blacks, who immediately began working for the public in their respective
trades, and when there was no pressure of work in the dock-yard, and
employment was offered to them by the inhabitants of Simon’s Town, they
were allowed to take it without any interruption. But if out of work,
they were always received and paid by the dock-yard, whether absolutely
required or not. They were thus secure of employment, and conducted
themselves so much to the satisfaction of the Commissioner and officers
of the yard, as fully to answer the hopes which had been formed of the
efficacy of the plan. Had the establishment of the dock-yard remained a
few years longer, there is little doubt but that the great majority of
these negroes would have been effectually provided for. There were, it
is true, among these as well as in every other class of human beings,
incorrigible characters, whom no system or measure could reform; and
these, but these only, would have become the burden of the colony: but
then, even in this case, it must be remembered that the colony or the
mother country had had the benefit of their labours during their best

Upon the breaking up of the dock-yard establishment at the Cape of Good
Hope in 1821, the greater part of the blacks were discharged, and set at
liberty; but no previous arrangement being made, it is to be feared that
the large sums due to them were soon dissipated, and they were ultimately
obliged to place themselves in voluntary bondage—not the less galling or
binding from being voluntary. For by the laws of the colony, the servant,
if in debt to his master, must continue to work for him until the debt
is paid; and how easy it is for the master to bring his black labourer
into debt to him, and how difficult for the poor black to avoid or free
himself from that debt, need not be adverted to.

The description of this plan of the Commissioner’s for the benefit of the
negroes, has been given at greater length, as the question of providing
for the great mass of their emancipated brethren in the West Indies, is
not, nor is likely to be soon settled; and some hints for the disposal
of them may here be found, which may be reduced to useful practice there.
The Editor is happy to be able to add, that from very recent information,
it appears that the benefits contemplated, have been in a great degree

Sir Jahleel’s domestic narrative continues, “As our house required
considerable alteration in order to make it comfortable, General Baird
kindly lent us the Government quarters near Simon’s Town, which was a
most valuable acquisition, as it kept your mother from the noise and
confusion, which necessarily attended the fitting up and furnishing our
own house.” Lady Brenton’s health in the course of the summer, rendered
a change of air necessary, and she was removed to the house of Mr.
Colyn, at Constantia, where Sir Jahleel says, “We were most kindly and
hospitably received by these excellent people, who used every effort in
the power of friendship and goodness of heart to afford relief to my
dear suffering companion. For some time the change of air seemed to have
been instrumental to her receiving great benefit. This called forth our
warmest gratitude to the merciful Providence which had directed us to
the means; and painful as the recollection of these disappointed hopes
may be, my beloved children, the retrospect of this period must fill
our hearts with thankfulness to Him who bestowed such an alleviation of
suffering upon her, such a suspension of anxiety and affliction upon
ourselves. When we consider the duration of life in general, and how
small a portion of it is passed in happiness, or in entire freedom from
solicitude, our hearts must expand with thankfulness for the share of
enjoyment which has been bestowed upon us; and the sanguine hopes which
we were induced to indulge at this period, must make it appear as one of
almost unmixed happiness. A habit of viewing and feeling the events of
life, and referring them to their great first cause, may be considered
as an additional faculty bestowed on the sincere, the patient, and
faithful servants of God; to contribute to their comfort, to ensure their
enjoyment of that which is good in this world; to support them under its
trials, to reconcile them to the state of life to which they are called,
and finally to lead them to that everlasting happiness prepared for them
by the inconceivable mercy and goodness of God.”

Lady Brenton’s health continued in a most precarious and fluctuating
state for some time, rendering frequent removals to Constantia necessary.
She had a very severe relapse on the 26th of January, after which Sir
Jahleel says, “the Almighty was pleased to bestow a considerable period
of relief and comfort.”

On the 29th of January the wind blew with greater violence than it had
ever been known to do in this place, and throughout the whole shore of
the bay on which it acted, there was but one space where a vessel could
have been driven, without being irrevocably lost, although without much
danger to lives. Upon this small space both the Revolutionaire and Zebra
were driven, and by the wind shifting suddenly to the southward, which
brought a heavy sea into the bay, they were both in imminent danger for
some time, but on the 31st were got off without any loss of life.

On the 4th of February Sir Jahleel says, “every day now grew more
alarming, and our situation more awfully afflicting. The dreadful
disorder had assumed a more fearful appearance. Our short excursion to
Constantia had as usual cheered and enlivened the dear sufferer, but we
did not dare to form any sanguine hopes of a residence there. Our kind
and hospitable friends would most willingly have received us for any
period, but anxious to save them the inconvenience, we preferred hiring a
cottage, which at last we succeeded in finding at Mr. Fersfeld’s. Thither
we prepared to remove, but it was with heavy hearts, for we had little
hopes of bringing the dear object of our affection back with us. She was
as usual all piety and resignation; all cheerfulness when not immediately
suffering, and a model of exemplary patience and fortitude, when in
pain and sickness. You and I my dear girl can never forget this bright
example. May it influence our conduct, my beloved children, and when the
day comes, and come it must, when all that we cling to here, when all
who are dear to us, and all to whom we are dear, are on the eve of being
finally separated, at least as far as relates to this world; and may our
last days be like her’s. We went to our retired and comfortable residence
near Wynberg on the 10th of February. The change of air at first excited
a temporary feeling of improvement, but it was not of an encouraging
nature. A settled and increasing debility had evidently taken place,
with loss of appetite, and cough and oppression. Still the sweet sufferer
appeared to enjoy the change, and to delight in the drives which this
part of the country afforded.”

Lady Brenton’s journal, dated 29th March says, “on Tuesday, through the
mercy of Divine Providence, we were permitted to reach home in safety.”

June 3rd, Sir Jahleel says, “my much respected friend, the amiable Lord
Amherst, had just arrived from his unsuccessful mission to China, after
his disastrous shipwreck. Your mother was at this time extremely weak and
suffering, but she assured me that our evening society, at which time
alone she joined us, amused her, and such appeared to be the case. Our
letters which arrived at this period from England were indeed delightful.
Those from my darling Jervis gave me the most sanguine hopes of his being
all I could wish him to be. I felt that I could now correspond with him
as a friend notwithstanding his youth; he was scarcely fourteen at the
time these letters were written. These were the last his mother was
capable of enjoying; how little did she then think she was so soon to
meet this darling child in the realms of everlasting happiness, and how
merciful was the dispensation of our heavenly Father, which prevented
her last days from being agonized by the account of his unexpected
departure; for with whatever resignation the purest heart may bear its
own sufferings, the feelings implanted in our nature render the strongest
mind accessible to the most sincere affliction, at the awful separation
from those we love.

“The 5th of June, 1817. This, my beloved children, was the last day
in which your mother ever took a pen in her hand, unless it were to
endorse her papers, which she requested me to destroy after reading
them; but that became impossible until I had transcribed them for
you. I come now to that period, which awful and affecting as it was,
was full of mercy, full of goodness, and full of the most salutary
influence to us. May we, my dearest children, ever keep it before us,
and cherish it in our hearts, for our affectionate remembrance, our
admiration, and our imitation. From the day on which the last memorandum
was written, until that on which Lord Amherst sailed, the 11th, the
angelic sufferer, though weak and frequently in pain (indeed I fear
constantly) was still cheerful, and appeared to enjoy the society with
which we were surrounded, in consequence of the Ambassador being with us,
who was waiting for a wind. We also felt cheered and comforted at the
observations which were made by some, that her health did not appear in
a worse state than when they saw her the preceding year. On the 13th she
went out with me in the phaeton, but I had not gone many yards before
I felt convinced that her nerves were not equal to the fatigue, that
everything alarmed her, and I proposed returning, to which she gladly
consented. She soon after went to her room; never again to leave it
alive. On the following day I became alarmed, and sent for Dr. Barry.
This extraordinary young man, at the age of fourteen, had undergone
a most rigid examination before the College of Physicians, and had,
by the correctness of his answers, and the extent of his abilities,
extorted from them his diploma, with which he had practised with the most
extraordinary success. Had not a firm conviction taken place in my mind,
that the nature of my beloved Isabella’s disorder, was beyond the reach
of human skill, I should have derived the most sanguine hopes from his
advice; but with such an impression upon my mind, I knew that Omnipotence
alone could restore her; and although I never had the presumption to
hope that a miracle would be performed in my favour, yet to the last
hours of her life, the faint glimmering hope of her being spared to me,
never wholly abandoned me. On this day he pronounced the case to be
very alarming, and declared strong measures to be necessary. Her state
was soon pronounced hopeless. To me she did not appear sensible of her
danger; but I have since found that she knew it, and had cheerfully
resigned herself to it. She did not hesitate to converse upon it with my
sister, but could not bring herself to give me the afflicting tidings.
I became very anxious that she should receive the sacrament, but was
fearful of exciting alarm by my mentioning my wishes. This was a state
of mind which can easily be imagined, but which it is difficult to
describe. This complicated anxiety dwelt very strongly upon my mind, and
gave rise to a circumstance, which I shall ever consider a dispensation
of Divine Providence. I was lying on the sofa in her room, and dreamed
that I was receiving the sacrament with her. I awoke with a very strong
impression of the dream upon my mind, but soon after fell asleep again,
and the dream was renewed. I considered this as an imperative warning,
which I dared no longer slight, and seating myself by her side, I took
the earliest opportunity of speaking upon religious subjects. I then
mentioned my dream and consequent anxiety. She heard me, not with dismay,
but with delight; assured me she had long wished for it, and expressed
her earnest desire that it should be administered. She regretted the
absence of Mr. Hough, the clergyman, with whom we had long been on the
most friendly terms. His worthy successor she had only had an opportunity
of seeing, the preference was consequently natural. Providentially Mr.
Hough came down that very morning; and as far as I can now recollect he
was quite unexpected. I lost no time in calling upon him to administer
the sacred rite, which he immediately did, going through the Service
for the Visitation of the Sick. With what calmness and resignation, and
at the same time with what angelic fervour, did she make her responses
to the questions which he put to her upon the state of her mind and
conscience. Her eyes alone were dry upon this trying occasion; they were
lifted up in humble and holy confidence to her Creator and Redeemer.
Never will the remembrance of this scene be erased from my mind. She
appeared as tranquil and collected as though in perfect health. Mr. Hough
called upon us the two succeeding days, and upon each occasion we had
in her presence a most interesting and most comforting conversation, in
which the dear sufferer frequently joined; but our sentiments were so
entirely in unison upon every subject, that I can now remember with a
feeling not to be expressed, how her eyes glistened with delight, as I
suggested, from time to time, those sources of consolation to which we
had ever looked, during the whole of our happy union, and which had now
become our sole support in this trying hour. After the holy sacrament had
thus been administered, I felt no longer any restraint upon religious
subjects, and thenceforth they occupied nearly all our conversation.
I read to her every day one of the chapters of St. John’s Gospel, so
admirably calculated to quicken faith, and to render real and sensible
the hidden things of the world to come. I also frequently read over to
her the 23rd, 34th, 46th, 103rd, and 107th Psalms, with all of which she
was greatly delighted, but more particularly with the 23rd, verses of
which she frequently repeated. On the 13th of July she had become so weak
as to cease to be able to walk; previous to this she had had intervals
of ease, and had even been removed into another room, for change of air
and scene. She now wished to receive the sacrament again, and it was
administered by Mr. Dennis. From this time a lively faith seems to have
taken an entire possession of this angelic mind. The words of our blessed
Lord and Saviour, ‘Whosoever cometh unto me, I will in nowise cast out,’
were constantly upon her lips. Thursday night previous to her departure,
upon going into her room, I found her in a state of delirium; she knew no
one, but repeated with a voice perfectly distinct, and with the harmony
of a seraph, the Lord’s Prayer, and the 23rd Psalm. She soon after
recovered her recollection. A paroxysm came on which threatened instant
suffocation. As soon as she could speak, she requested Dr. Duke and Mr.
Dennis might be sent for. In the course of a short time she was quite
composed, and at three in the morning received the sacrament, with the
same calmness and enchanting resignation she had manifested upon previous
occasions. She appeared to be greatly comforted, and soon after fell
into a peaceful slumber, which continued without interruption for nearly
twelve hours; but previous to falling asleep, and immediately after
receiving the sacrament, she said, ‘Remove that light,’ (a candle being
placed in such a manner as to incommode her) ‘I shall soon see a much
brighter.’ ‘Do you feel that, Lady Brenton?’ said Mr. Dennis. ‘Yes, I do,
indeed,’ she rejoined, ‘but I hope I am not presumptuous. I am going to
sleep; I think I shall awake in a celestial light.’ She dozed a little;
then opening her eyes exclaimed to my sister, ‘O! Mary, am I still here!
The hope of meeting my Saviour face to face—I trust I am not impatient.’
She then slept again in the most perfect composure. She continued in the
last state of languor until Sunday night, which she passed in constant
pain, with extreme difficulty of breathing, and on Monday the fatal
symptoms became very apparent, in reduction of the pulse, and coldness of
the extremities. At two o’clock on Tuesday morning the paroxysms became
so quick and so severe as to threaten instant dissolution. We surrounded
her bed, in momentary expectations of her being delivered from her
sufferings. At nine she was most severely convulsed, but her countenance
instantly resuming that angelic sweetness, which it had ever worne
through life, she resigned her soul (spotless through His blood) into the
hands of her Redeemer!

“I have thus, my darling children, gone through the painful task of
recording the last sufferings of your inestimable mother. Let us
endeavour to resign ourselves to the Divine Will, under the truly awful
dispensations which befell us in the course of that year. Let us remember
that all our trials are sent in mercy; and I fervently and sincerely
assure myself, that at some future period (perhaps the close of our
lives) we shall look back to these afflicting scenes, with heartfelt
gratitude and adoration, for having lifted our hearts above the things
of this world, and for having furnished us with so bright an example in
the object of our fondest affection, to stimulate us in the practice
of piety, gratitude, and peaceful resignation; for all which she was
so truly eminent. Let it be the study of our lives to contemplate her
virtues, whilst we most affectionately cherish her memory. It will
evermore prevent our looking with idolatrous fondness on the things of
this world, and keep our hearts fixed on Him, in whose presence is the
fulness of joy.

“There is no work of human composition, which has afforded me more
comfort under this trying affliction, or seemed more applicable than
‘Young’s Night Thoughts.’ I have frequently quoted to you such passages
as have from time made the most forcible impression. The following
possesses great force, beauty, and consolation.

    ‘But why more woe? more comfort let it be,
    Nothing is dead, but that which wished to die;
    Nothing is dead, but wretchedness and pain;
    Nothing is dead, but what incumbered, galled,
    Blocked up the pass and barred from real life!’”

                                                _Page 94._

Lady Brenton we have seen had been in the habit of making copious
extracts from her favourite authors; no doubt for the future benefit of
her children; in allusion to one of these taken from Wilberforce’s work
on Practical Christianity, Sir Jahleel makes the following remark.

“However deeply you may be struck with the sentiments of the great and
pious character, who has been himself so eminent an example of piety and
virtue, who has so truly adorned that gospel which he professed, who has
so strenuously endeavoured to shew his love to God, by his affection for
his fellow creatures; however impressive you may, at a future period
of your lives consider these arguments; they will to you, my darling
children, appear with an additional force and value, thus treasured up
for your attention, and guidance, by your beloved mother—by her, who
first taught your infant lips to lisp the sacred name of God in prayer,
and who enjoined you to place your trust, your hopes and your happiness
in Him. How much do I owe to her, whom the Almighty, in His abundant
mercy, was, pleased to bestow upon me.

“Well indeed do I remember that upon our first meeting after that long
separation, of which I have already told you, and previous to our
marriage; with what sweetness, what meekness, but with what dignified
judgment, and true piety, did she instil similar sentiments into my mind;
and shew me what erroneous views I had formed of the requisitions of
Christianity. I was indeed a nominal Christian; my chief apprehension was
of being righteous over much, and I felt as though a general compliance
with the letter of the commandments was all that was required of me;
and even in the neglect of many of these, I comforted myself with the
reflection that the Lord would not be ‘extreme to mark what was done
amiss.’ I was even in the constant habit of committing a breach of the
third commandment without being sensible of it, and allowed myself to
use the sacred name of God, in common and trivial conversation, without
feeling the wickedness of such profanation. For this she instantly but
gently reproved me. On the very first day of our meeting she entreated
me to conquer the habit, with so much earnestness of affection, and
described the nature of it in such just terms, that the effect was
instantaneous, and I can hardly remember having been afterwards guilty
of it, never certainly without strong reproaches of conscience; and for
many years it has given me a feeling of pain when I have heard others
guilty of it, similar to what my beloved Isabella experienced for me.
Having been sent into the world at an early age, and not having had
the advantage in any ship to which I belonged in early life, of ever
hearing religion mentioned; it had certainly not been cultivated in my
mind; and but for the pains taken by my beloved mother in my childhood,
which the Almighty had been pleased to enable me to retain, amidst all
the trials, temptations, and bad examples, to which I was so frequently
exposed, and which I now deeply deplore, as having sometimes had dominion
over me; but for these seeds thus preserved, I should indeed have been
‘without God in the world.’ But blessed be God, the inestimable treasure
which he bestowed upon me in his mercy, soon opened my eyes, and taught
me to see the difference between a nominal and a real Christian. All my
future hopes, all my present consolation arises from this source. It
was from her ardent piety that I was taught to distrust the bare forms
of religion, as utterly inadequate to the fulfilment of its duties; and
learnt that our best efforts are imperfect, and can only be accepted
through the atonement of our blessed Lord and Saviour.”

In reference to some extracts from Buchanan’s Christian Researches Sir
Jahleel says, “to those who have not the same reason to cherish the
remembrance of the beloved object who made the above extracts, they will
naturally appear inconsequent and uninteresting, but to us, my beloved
children, to whom every recollection of her is dear, they will appear
and prove far different; they will excite in us a lively interest in
the work to which they refer, we shall read it with more attention, we
shall feel as though her dear eyes were still perusing those pages, and
the subjects of them will make a deeper impression upon us. I already
feel the force of this association, and am convinced that it will be
an additional stimulus to me to exert myself in the object I now have
in view; that of procuring the extension of the Church of England over
this colony, by every effort in my feeble power. Should I succeed to
become, under Providence, the humble instrument towards forming even
one establishment, and should I see it flourish, with what delight will
you my darling children, at some distant period, when I also shall have
left you, praise these memorials of your dear and affectionate parents;
with what feeling will you contemplate our mutual love and respect for
each other’s sentiments, which will so often and so forcibly appear to
you, as you read over these remarks, and behold them in this instance
producing upon my mind the same powerful effect, as though my beloved
and inestimable companion were still present with me, assisting me in
my efforts, by her piety and judgment. It is time that I should inform
you, that for many months I have made it my practice before I open these
invaluable extracts, to offer up the following humble prayer to the
Almighty. ‘O! Almighty God, give me grace, I beseech Thee, most sincerely
and affectionately to cherish the memory of my beloved wife, to imitate
her piety and gratitude to Thee, to teach them to my beloved children,
and may we at last all meet in Thy everlasting kingdom; through Jesus
Christ, our Blessed Lord and Saviour. Amen.’”

In reference to an extract from the life of Sir William Jones, on the
subject of the slave trade, he adds; “what a variety of feelings will
the few lines thus rendered dear to us, my darling children, by the hand
which treasured them up for us, excite in our minds. Every circumstance
connected with this dreadful trade, every instance which has fallen
under our own experience, the gratitude and reverence due to the noble
and undaunted mind, which could first contemplate the plan, and finally
obtain the splendid feat of emancipation, strengthen the conviction.
On what a proud eminence has the consistent and persevering piety of
Wilberforce placed him! How far above the most successful hero that ever
became the idol of a nation! Here indeed we see the precepts of our
Blessed Saviour brought into practice. Here we see a fellow creature
‘so letting his light shine before men,’ that we are naturally inclined
with one voice to ‘glorify our Father which is in heaven.’ We must, if
we steadily contemplate the life and actions of this most exemplary of
our countrymen, feel a desire to imitate him. His actions have given
such irresistible strength and persuasion to his writings, that we must
be influenced by them. He has indeed built his house upon a rock; the
rain may descend and the floods come; the winds may blow and beat upon
that house, but it will not fall. From this delightful contemplation we
must, however reluctantly, turn our eyes to that great portion of the
human race still in bondage, whom the energy of our beloved country has
not yet been permitted to reach, blessed as it has been with the Divine
Protection; their hour is not yet come, but it may be reserved for us
as the humble instruments of the mercy of our Creator and Redeemer to
soothe, and alleviate the sufferings of numbers now in misery; and we may
hope that at some future period, perhaps not very distant, we may be the
means under a kind Providence of liberating not only their bodies, but
their minds from the cruel captivity under which they are now suffering.
The serious reflections which this subject must necessarily excite in our
minds, will also produce another blessed effect. They will incline us
to be kind and charitable to our poor fellow creatures, who although in
the enjoyment of comparative liberty, are from adverse circumstances of
poverty, sickness, and affliction, placed in a state of almost the same
dependence upon us, as though they were our own property. The mind of
your angelic mother was peculiarly alive to feelings of this description.
The kindness, the mildness, the sweetness of her disposition, was as
conspicuous towards her servants as towards her children. The natural
consequence was, that they loved as well as respected her; her house was
not only well regulated, but the abode of happiness to all who dwelt in

In reference to extracts from a sermon on the 19th Psalm, 1-3, author not
known—“Let us endeavour to render these remarks valuable in directing our
reflections, and in giving an habitual turn to our minds, by which the
sublime scenery in the midst of which we dwell, may have an increasing
influence in keeping alive our piety and gratitude to our Maker. If, as
the excellent author of the above extracts observes, we contemplate the
works of creation in both the points of view which he suggests, we shall
have abundant employment for our thoughts, and they will insensibly rise
from earth to heaven. Gratitude if really felt, will produce love and
adoration, and as we daily endeavour to strive at that perfection of
character, which although beyond our reach, is held out to our view,
in order to stimulate and purify us; we shall meet with a most gracious
and inestimable reward, by the peace and comfort it will procure for us
in this life, and the bright prospect of never ending joy in the life to

“In tracing the various phœnomena of nature back to their first causes,
we are not only delighted with the employment, and instructed by the
intelligence that daily breaks in upon us from every direction; but
when our finite reason arrives at the end of her career, and refuses to
conduct us further, we find ourselves at once in the presence of the
Deity, the author of all things, who has been graciously pleased to
reveal to us a part of the mysteries of creation, reserving the remainder
to the future period of our interminable existence.”

Extract from Lord Chatham’s letters to his nephew.—“Behaviour is of
infinite advantage to a man, as he happens to have formed it, to a
noble, graceful, engaging and proper manner, or to a vulgar, coarse, and
ill-bred, an awkward and ungenteel one.”

Remarks by Sir Jahleel Brenton.—“I remember your mother taking great
delight in the letters from which the foregoing is copied; and that she
drew from them many of the ideas she had formed for the guidance and
counsel of her own darling children, had it pleased the Almighty to have
permitted them to enjoy for a longer period the blessing of such an
instruction. Let us imagine to ourselves all she intended, and all she
wished for you, and endeavour by a tender and affectionate recollection
of her statements to fulfil the object nearest to her heart. You, my
sweet I——, will never forget the impressive manner in which your beloved
mother inculcated the various instructions you received from her, or with
what judgment she distinguished between those acquisitions which were
to have an influence upon your comfort and prosperity through life, and
such as were only likely to procure for you an ephemeral admiration. That
you should gain entire possession of the former, was the object of her
constant solicitude, of her unwearied endeavours, because she felt that
real happiness even in this world, is not to be attained without piety
and virtue; whereas experience had taught her, that the glare of shining
accomplishments was often seen in characters devoid of both. With this
impression upon your mind, it is probable that you may not be able to
account for the importance attached to the carriage of your person by
your inestimable mother; but I can in a few words explain the difficulty,
which, under almost every similar circumstance, I feel the comfort of
being able to do, from the perfect harmony of all our sentiments and
opinions. Our Christian profession not only prescribes that we should
individually perform our duty to our Maker, and our fellow creature,
in such a manner as to fulfil the intention of our heavenly Father in
creating us; but he has expressly ordered us to let our light so shine
before men, that they may glorify our Father which is in heaven; and
consequently that we may lead all who may be within the sphere of our
influence to follow the example. You have already seen enough of human
nature to be convinced that much depends upon the manner of conveying
instruction, and that we are frequently influenced by the association
of ideas, in themselves totally distinct. A person, for instance, may
utter the soundest doctrine, with the most sublime eloquence, yet should
there be at the same time a distortion of countenance, any disgusting or
repulsive peculiarity of action, or any moroseness or severity in his
manner, the effect which such a discourse might have produced, would be
very much lessened, and to many would be entirely lost, from the medium
through which it had reached them. Let us follow up the reflection, and
suppose a person making profession of strict attention to his religious
duties, and not only professing, but really, as far as is consistent
with human weakness, acting up to them. Let us suppose that he should
be constant and regular in his devotions both public and private; that
the whole tenor of his conduct in the state of life in which he might be
placed, should be upright, full of integrity, and unimpeachable; that he
should be indefatigable in doing good, and that his charity should be
unbounded; but also, that with all these mental qualifications he should
be awkward in his gait, careless and slovenly in his person, coarse and
ill-bred in his manners, mean and idiotical in his appearance, (for these
blemishes and virtues are by no means incompatible,) what would be the
effect produced upon those with whom he associated? Would the influence
of his good qualities be sufficiently strong to cover his defects? Would
those who were offended by his manner, and disgusted with his appearance,
forget these feelings in the contemplation of the bright parts of his
character, of which they could only judge perhaps from the report of
others? Or would there not arise on the contrary a general indisposition
towards him? Some might even go so far as to attribute his failings to
religion itself, and ascribe to this sublime principle the greater part
of his faults, as the offspring of self-righteousness and contempt of the

“Let us on the other hand draw the delightful picture of the sincere and
faithful servant of God, adorning his faith by his practice, resolute and
full of energy in the performance of his duties; but at the same time,
mild and amiable and graceful in his manners; if called upon to preach
the word of God, his eloquence might be rendered still more persuasive,
by the sweetness and dignity of his expression and gestures. In the daily
intercourse with society, he might, by gentle, unassuming, and graceful
manners, continue to enforce his doctrine, which would be rendered more
attractive by the conviction, that it was not hostile to the elegance and
refined enjoyments of life. Here my children, you may see the propriety,
and even the necessity of attending to that correctness of conduct and
gracefulness of manner, which is called politeness.”

As the extracts terminate here, it appears but justice to the husband to
insert the following from the pen and the heart of his wife.

    Extract from Lady Brenton’s journal, Simon’s Town, April 19th,

    “This day thirteen years I became the wife of my beloved
    Brenton; and most truly can I say, that never was woman blessed
    with a superior, or more exalted character in a husband than
    myself. When I say that I found him possessed of every virtue
    that can adorn or dignify human nature, I think I do not
    exaggerate, for I am not singular in my opinion: grateful
    indeed then do I feel to the all-wise disposer of events, that
    it pleased Him to vouchsafe me such a blessing, frail and
    erring mortal that I am. Our lives since our marriage have been
    chequered with a variety of scenes, but thanks be to Almighty
    God we have not met with any real misfortune; and the blessings
    we have received have preponderated so much, when weighed
    against the scale of disappointments, annoying circumstances,
    and pecuniary losses; that we can only have one feeling, when
    we view our situation in its true and proper light, and that
    is, most unbounded gratitude to the Father of all mercies.”



Lady Brenton’s death took place on July 29, 1817. A letter addressed to
his mother, dated Simon’s Bay, Sept. 17, 1817, will shew more clearly
than any attempt at description, the feelings with which her attached and
devoted husband contemplated his loss.

                                 “SIMON’S BAY, SEPTEMBER 17th, 1817


    “I have been long intending to write to you, but from the
    nature of the melancholy communication you will have received
    long before this reaches you, I could with difficulty bring
    myself to the exertion necessary.

    “The Almighty is indeed merciful to us, and tempers the wind to
    our situation. You will scarcely believe, my dear Madam, that
    it should be possible for me to say that for some weeks past I
    have enjoyed more real tranquillity of mind than I have ever
    before known. It is nevertheless absolutely true. My happiest
    days were never unattended with anxiety. They were attended at
    the same time with a most inadequate idea of the value of the
    blessings I possessed. That none ever lost a more inestimable
    treasure, all who knew her are deeply sensible. But I humbly
    hope that she has shewn me how to live and how to die. I
    once thought that I was leading a harmless and a blameless
    life, that I had a right to the rewards of another world.
    How different are my present sentiments, and how immediately
    did they change in this last hour of trial. I felt and feel
    so far from having fulfilled the duties of my station, that
    every recollection excites remorse by shewing me cause for it.
    When I thought I was living in the exercise of the fondest
    affection, how much neglect was admitted, and when I try my
    religious duties by the same standard, the effect is much more
    humiliating and awful, but yet the effect is peace. I no longer
    consider my own merit as the means of my ever rejoining my
    beloved B.; but the mercy and goodness of God and the atonement
    made by our blessed Redeemer. This is a foundation which
    nothing can shake, and this makes me view her as only preceding
    me for a short time. This consideration, my dear madam, is
    not a gloomy one. It has not put me out of conceit of this
    life. That would be impious and ungrateful. I shall enjoy with
    thankfulness, I hope, the years which a kind Providence may
    permit me to remain in this world, and endeavour to devote them
    to the duties of my station, to the education and happiness of
    my children; but it has taken the sting from death. I think I
    shall feel no longer any solicitude on that account, and that
    when called for I shall be able to go through my task with
    the same serenity that my beloved wife evinced. Had she been
    preparing for her journey to England, she could not have been
    more calm and collected. May my last end, may all our last ends
    be like hers.

    “Your most dutiful and affectionate

                                                            “J. B.”

He was at the moment unconscious that another loss had occurred, which
was to form a fresh trial for his faith, and was to search still more
deeply the foundation of that peace on which he had been resting. His son
Jervis, the boy to whom reference has been so often made, and in whose
opening qualities the fond parents had delighted to trace the seeds of
much of mental and of moral promise, was carried off by a sudden attack
of fever and sore throat, while at school at Winchester, on August 27,
1817, just one month after his mother’s decease. A letter written to his
brother on this occasion, may with propriety be subjoined, as exhibiting
the spirit of calm Christian submission with which Sir Jahleel resigned
these objects of his tenderest affection.

                                   “SIMONS BAY, JANUARY 16th, 1818.

    “MY DEAR E.

    “Your kind and affectionate letter I found upon my arrival
    from the eastward. The melancholy intelligence contained had
    already reached me, having been most considerately sent by ——
    to prevent my receiving too sudden a blow upon my return home.
    It was indeed severe, but tempered with mercy by that benign
    Being, who has granted me a far greater share of blessing
    than afflictions, and whose present awful dispensation I
    feel every day more and more to be intended for my ultimate
    happiness. I was indeed, my dear E. too much absorbed in my
    worldly possessions, from my earliest infancy. I had attached
    the highest value to domestic felicity, and I need not tell
    you to what an extent I was permitted to enjoy it: instead of
    finding it like all other worldly objects, greater in prospect
    than when present, I experienced that it was more solid and
    real than my most sanguine expectations had ever pictured it,
    and that my home became every day dearer to me. I almost lost
    sight of the hand which bestowed my blessings in the enjoyment
    of them, and in my anxiety for their future welfare. I can
    now see the wickedness of such feelings. When my beloved wife
    was called away from me, the world appeared to have totally
    changed its aspect to me, and lost every source of comfort.
    Although I neither repined at the divine dispensation, nor gave
    myself up to despair, yet there was indifference as to this
    life, which I hoped was not culpable, but could not approve. I
    almost forgot the blessings which were still left me, and the
    necessity for strong exertion to fulfil my duty to them. The
    last calamity I now feel to have been sent to awaken me from
    so criminal a lethargy, and I hope it has effectually done so.
    The first consolatory reflection which came to my assistance,
    and it was immediate, was that my darling B. had been spared
    the agony which I felt; that her gentle spirit had been placed
    beyond the reach of affliction, had been permitted, during
    the last weeks of its continuance here, to devote itself to
    its Creator without one anxious thought either for itself
    or for those dear to it. How dreadfully would this angelic
    tranquillity have been disturbed had she heard of the illness
    and loss of her darling child. This idea never deserts me,
    and has comforted me more than I can describe. I can hardly
    persuade myself I have met with a second loss in so short a
    time, indeed I have almost lost sight of my own affliction in
    the contemplation of their happiness.

    “Your affectionate

                                                            “J. B.”

The circumstances under which Sir Jahleel received the intelligence
of his son’s death were peculiarly touching. He had been induced to
undertake a journey into the interior, for the double purpose of
exploring the resources which those parts of the country offered for
the naval arsenal, and for ascertaining the possibility of establishing
a coasting trade along the eastern line of coast; and had reached the
town of George, on his return from the mouth of the Knyzna, the proposed
limit of his tour; when he and his companions saw from the house where
they were resting, the postman from Cape Town entering the village by a
bridge. Struck with the coincidence of the scene, Sir Jahleel was on the
point of repeating to his friends the well known lines in which Cowper
contemplates the varied contents of the postman’s bag when arriving in
Olney; when he was compelled to feel the reality of the description by
the letters which he had to open. They contained the intelligence of his
son’s death; whom letters received but a week before had represented
as being in the full enjoyment of health; and the deep and affecting
regret with which the head master announced the loss of his promising and
cherished pupil, must have added to the sadness with which the father
learnt the fact that this treasured tie, to which he had turned with so
much fondness in the first bitterness of his loss, was thus suddenly
taken from him.

The journal from which so much has been drawn on previous occasions,
contains frequent references to this severe and complicated trial. I
merely select a few passages as sufficient to indicate the general
character of his remarks, and as being most contiguous in point of time.

“July 29th, 1818. This, my darling children, is the first anniversary
which has come round of our irreparable loss. It has indeed been a year
of affliction to us, for much as we were prepared for the inevitable
blow as regarded your dear mother, still the awful reality was severely
felt. This was soon followed by another as severe, and unexpected. Your
dear brother was called in a few days after the departure of his angelic
mother to follow her to the grave; but that is not the view in which
we should contemplate our dear departed saints. They were mercifully
called to meet each other in heaven. How benignly does the Almighty
temper our afflictions, that we may be enabled to support our trials.
Had there been an apprehension of such a calamity befalling us, as the
loss we experienced in the course of one short month, we should have
doubted our power to sustain it; but when the last afflicting tidings
came, they found us already prostrate before the throne of mercy, humbly
endeavouring to resign ourselves to the Divine Will, and in such a frame
more able to support the pressure of adversity, than if it had visited
us during some of those periods of indescribable happiness, which our
bountiful and merciful Creator has so frequently been pleased to bestow
upon us. When the loss of your dear brother was announced to me, bitter
as the affliction was, it came accompanied with a source of consolation
of which the effect was instantaneous. The idea that his mother had been
spared the misery of such a loss, that they had met in heaven, that
their sufferings were at an end; that they had been mutually spared the
wretchedness of mourning for each other; these comforting reflections
instantly crowded into my mind, and saved me from much of the anguish
which I must have endured at any other period.

“A whole year has now elapsed, and the retrospect, affecting as it is,
nevertheless abounds in comfort. We have that feeling that the world is
not our all. If it had been, what would have been our situation now?
From my own experience I deeply feel the chastening, but merciful hand
of God in these awful dispensations. They have awakened me to a true
sense of my situation, and have shewn me, that whilst happy here, my
eternal felicity was at stake; for I was guilty of gross idolatry, by
allowing every thought to centre in the blessings bestowed upon me, with
little more than a nominal reference to the all-merciful Providence
from whom I received them. This is the first year of my life in which
I can conscientiously claim to have made any progress in religious
attainments; for greatly defective as I must still allow myself to be, I
feel that I have a deeper sense of the divine presence constantly upon
my mind; that I have less of that dreadful repugnance to the service of
my Maker, and more energy in the performance of it; and I can feel that
in all my pursuits, whether professional or otherwise, I am constantly
influenced by a sense of their being religious duties. The memory of
what I have lost has scarcely ever been absent from my mind, indeed
every thing recalls it, but my tranquillity and even cheerfulness has
been greater than at almost any period of my life, for I have lost all
cause of anxiety. Formerly I was wretched on account of my own health,
about my circumstances and worldly successes, unmindful of the Divine
protection who had never deserted me. Now I learn to resign myself to
His Divine will; to entrust you, my darling children, to his care; and
I have also acquired the conviction that there is no situation in life,
however successful we may be in all our pursuits, capable of conferring
real and permanent happiness; for had I been placed on the pinnacle of
human glory—the admiration, the idol, and the envy of all around me—this
blow would have humbled me to the dust, for I can with sincerity say that
all my successes in life have derived their chief value from your mother
having participated in them.

                      ‘How I dreamt,
    Of things impossible! Could sleep do more?
    Of joys perpetual, in perpetual change,
    Of stable pleasures on the tossing wave,
    Perpetual sunshine in the storms of life;
    How richly were my noontide trances hung
    With gorgeous tapestries of pictured joys,
    Joy behind joy, in endless perspective!’

“My whole life had been almost such a dream, mixed, it is true, with many
causeless and culpable anxieties. Blessed with all that could render
life a state of happiness, the most perfect description of it, domestic
happiness, I never once considered the certainty that a few years must
end it, but allowed myself to be as much absorbed in the contemplation
of it as though this life were all in all. With a full and perfect
conviction upon my mind of the truths of our holy religion, of the
promises of the gospel, still I found the charms of this world capable
of taking entire possession of me. How differently do I now view it.
Affliction only can clear away the mist from before our eyes, and enable
us to distinguish the fleeting and chequered enjoyments of this world,
from the real and never ending felicity which can only be attained in
that which is to come.

“26th September, 1818.—Nearly fourteen months have now elapsed since the
departure of your beloved mother, and eight since the tidings reached me
of our dear Jervis having followed her to the realms of bliss. During
the whole period of my life I do not remember any to have passed with
more entire tranquillity than this season of affliction, or with more
consistency of reflection.

“When I am suffering most from depression of mind, and the mournful
contemplation of my widowed state, I can readily trace these gloomy
feelings to their source; and find them to have taken possession of me,
as the world renews its cares and influence, and renders the view of
eternity less distinct than when seen through that pass by which your
beloved mother and brother have entered into it.

“24th September, 1820.—A long interruption has here occurred, my darling
children, and prevented for many months the continuance of an employment,
which had not only become most deeply interesting, but in a manner
sacred; as its intention was to keep alive in your minds the remembrance
of your mother’s virtues, and to lead you to cherish them in your hearts,
as so many delightful and irresistible examples for your own conduct.
The interruption has not only been long, but very nearly final, from
the severe illness by which it was occasioned; but a kind and merciful
Providence has, in addition to innumerable mercies and blessings, brought
me through this trial, and restored me, if not to health, at least to the
capability of resuming my former occupations.

“It has often occurred to me whilst lying on the bed of sickness, that
the reflections necessarily suggested by such a state, if accurately
recorded, would not only be of the greatest value to the sufferer,
should he be permitted to recover, but also of inestimable benefit to
many who might have escaped such experience; and it most forcibly struck
me, as a most appropriate subject for this journal, in which I hope, my
dear children, you will continue to derive religious instructions from
your affectionate parents, long after the period in which they will
have been called away from you. Here under the influence of the most
tender associations and recollections, you will find yourselves assured
that the hour of affliction is rarely, if ever, without its sources of
alleviation; to the sincere Christian, I may add with confidence, never.

“My illness was occasioned by cold, and violent inflammation in my
wound, which had been closed for upwards of four years. This led to the
formation of an extensive abscess, which for some days kept me in a very
dangerous state; it confined me to my bed for several weeks, and for six
months has reduced me to the state of a cripple, in which I must expect
to remain for some time longer. I do not remember during any period of my
illness to have considered the danger imminent, but I feel a comfort in
the recollection that I had no considerable anxiety, or any afflicting
thoughts, even in the most alarming moments. But I had many serious
and salutary reflections, for which I hope to be the better during the
remainder of my days. The retrospect of the last years of my life did
not afford me the consolation and confidence which I had so often and
so presumptuously flattered myself it would have done. On the contrary,
it brought the most unanswerable evidence that I had been living in
error and vanity, in a system of Christianity very different from that
laid down by our blessed Saviour. This was the light in which I began
to view the last, and what I had arrogantly considered the meritorious
part of my conduct; but how innumerable were the instances, or rather
how constant was the practice of my ‘living without God in the world.’
How entirely did I find that I had devoted myself to this life, and
how faint were the impressions of the life to come. And yet I had been
in the habit of considering myself so certain of salvation, as to look
forward to death as the only source of consolation for the affliction
I had experienced in the loss of your sainted parent and brother. Such
a confidence is indeed a delightful one if it be properly and rightly
sustained; and if it can be rationally indulged, is certain of being
efficacious under the heaviest pressure of worldly misery. But it is
not to be attained so easily as we are frequently induced to imagine,
by dividing our affections between this world and the world to come;
or rather by paying a formal heartless worship to God, whilst all our
thoughts are occupied in our worldly treasures, in those we have lost, or
in those we still possess or fear to lose. Could we bring ourselves to
say with real sincerity of heart and perfect resignation, ‘Thy holy will
be done;’ could we devote the remainder of our lives to Him, who gives
and takes away, as infinite wisdom suggests; could we enjoy the blessings
of this life with gratitude, but look forward with hope, delight, and
confidence to the divine promises for eternal happiness, then indeed we
might say, ‘O! death where is thy sting, O! grave where is thy victory!’
We might then say with the excellent and pious Doddridge, that ‘the cords
of affection which would have tied us to the earth, and have added new
pangs to our removal from it, are become as a golden chain to draw us
upward, and add one further charm and joy to even paradise itself.’ This
most desirable, most pleasant state of mind can never be gained by our
own unassisted exertions. This is a truth which cannot be too frequently
repeated to us. Thousands have sought for it in vain. To obtain it, we
must unreservedly give ourselves to our blessed Redeemer, and seek for
comfort through His divine atonement. My frame of mind previous to this
illness had been very different. I thought less of the awful deficiency,
which must appear when I should be called upon to render an account of
the talent which had been committed to my charge, than of my fancied
superiority over such of my fellow creatures as were openly disobeying
the commandments of God; and like the self-righteous Pharisee, I felt, if
I did not express, my self-gratulation in not being as the ‘Publican;’
little reflecting, that he might be inwardly struggling against an evil
nature, performing acts of virtue unknown to all but his Creator, and
depending solely for help and pardon on Him, who says, ‘whosoever cometh
unto me I will in no ways cast out.’ Reflections such as these could
have no effect in inspiring confidence or hope, when on the confines of
death, or in bearing up the spirit to sustain its infirmities; they were
consequently rejected as productive rather of despair than consolation. I
am happy to say, they were as transitory as useless, and that I turned
at once to Him, who alone could give me peace, to our blessed Saviour and
Redeemer. His words appeared to be instantly verified. I felt the burden
with which I was ‘weary and heavy laden,’ at once removed, and that I
could cast my care on Him. I prayed for strength of mind to conquer my
worldly feelings and propensities; for gratitude for all the blessings
vouchsafed to me, but above all for that most stupendous sacrifice, by
which I was redeemed from sin and misery; that it might bring forth in me
the most perfect resignation to the Divine Will, the most perfect trust
and confidence in God; the most unbounded and indefatigable charity to
my fellow creatures. If I am still without the object of this prayer,
yet I have the comfort of knowing, that I am much more sensible of my
deficiencies; and that I do daily and constantly indulge the humble
hope, that I shall be graciously assisted in conquering the remaining
depravities and corruptions of my nature.

“Blessed with all that could render life a state of happiness, the most
perfect description of it, domestic happiness; I never once considered
the certainty that a few years must end it, but allowed myself to be as
much absorbed in the contemplation of it as though this life were all
in all. With a full and perfect conviction upon my mind of the truths
of our Holy Religion, and of the promises of the gospel, still I found
the charms of this world capable of taking entire possession of me. How
differently do I now view it. Affliction only can clear away the mist
from our eyes, and enable us to distinguish the fleeting and chequered
enjoyments of this world, from the real and never ending felicity which
can only be attained in that which is to come.”

In allusion to the death of his wife and his son—“Those events which in
the course of my life have appeared the most unpromising, and have been
attended with the most anxiety, have frequently and generally proved the
sources of comfort and happiness. The two heavy dispensations, which have
lately befallen me, cannot have such consequences in this world; but I
fervently and humbly trust they may be the means of preparing me for
eternal happiness in the next, by awakening me from an attachment to the
things of this life, which almost exclusively occupied my thoughts. The
more innocent the affections, the more we are inclined to indulge them,
and the less do we perceive our danger of being drawn away from God. But
the Almighty in his wisdom and mercy knew what was best for me. He has
afflicted me, and I humbly implore his Holy Spirit to give me perfect
resignation to his Divine will. How keen would have been my grief for
the loss of so promising a child as your brother Jervis, at such an age,
and whom I had fondly contemplated as my successor and representative,
if I had only thought of him in a worldly point of view. But seeing him
as I do, disposed of by Divine wisdom, I resign him into the hands of
his Maker. It is true, he will never more come to me, but I humbly trust
I shall go to him. May worldly wisdom grow every day more insignificant
in your eyes, my dear children; at least such wisdom as is so generally
sought for. You will soon attain the delightful experience, that even for
success, prosperity, and happiness in this world, Divine Wisdom is all
in all.”

“October the 12th.—The frequent menacing appearances which my health
and wound assume, form a constant source of serious reflection, and I
feel that it may be neither unimportant, nor a waste of time, to note
these thoughts down as they occur. They may be of infinite benefit to
you, my dear children, in influencing your conduct on similar occasions,
should you be visited by them; and the experience of those we love has
a powerful effect in fixing our resolutions, and dictating our line of
conduct. In the first place then, I am more than ever convinced that
trials and afflictions are sent for our good, sent in kindness and in
mercy; and that so far from repining under them, we incur an awful
responsibility, if we do not turn them to good account, by taking them
as warnings against our worldly attachments, and by listening to the
voice with which they so earnestly direct us towards eternity. This duty
is obvious and imperative, however hard to fulfil. It is now the chief
object of my solicitude; and I feel that I can only appropriate to myself
the blessed hope of immortality, in proportion to the measure in which
I can resign myself to the Divine will, and preserve my mind unshaken
by the cares and anxieties of life. So happy a frame of mind is neither
easily to be acquired, nor long preserved, amidst the shocks to which we
are exposed, and the conflicting passions of our nature. I hope, however,
I have succeeded, my dearest my beloved children, in resigning you into
the hands of a merciful, and an omnipotent Protector; and I humbly
trust that you will ever remain under his paternal care, receiving with
gratitude the blessings He bestows, and seeking the Divine approbation as
your only object.”

The narrative has perhaps been suspended too long, while the private
meditations and recollections of this excellent man have been thus
brought before the reader. But the Editor feels no apology due for the
delay. It has been said already, and said more than once, that the object
of the present volume was to present to the public the picture, not
of the seaman, or the officer, but of the man; and the portrait would
have been incomplete, it would have been deficient in that which like
expression in painting, gives the chief value to the representation,
if dwelling on features of general interest, and which must arrest
universal attention, it had neglected or omitted others more adapted to
private life, and suited to personal application. The world have long
known what Sir Jahleel Brenton was on the deck, in the hour of action,
or the storm. It is the object of the present memoir to shew what he
was in the retirement of his home, as a husband, a father, and a man;
and with this in view, the Editor trusts that he has not trespassed too
largely, either on the patience of his readers, or on the sacredness of
private memorials, by shewing how Sir Jahleel Brenton bore the trials
to which he was subjected in private life, and the exemplary manner in
which he discharged the several relations in which he stood. It need
not be doubted that the service included officers, whose courage, whose
zeal, whose intelligence and self-possession were equal to his; and it
is possible that there were some who might have been compared to him in
other respects; but it is the combination of qualities which gives to
character its peculiarity; and it is the peculiarity of character which
renders its example profitable. The earlier portion of the narrative
exhibited its subject in the form which appeared most consistent with his
excellence as an officer; but justice seems to require, that he who was
as admirable for the gentler qualities of his nature, as for those which
were suited to arrest the world’s notice, should be presented to the
reader in other scenes, and under other trials; as occupying the painful
post of observation, while watching the sick-bed of that wife, for whom
he had entertained an attachment as romantic as it was reasonable; as
subsequently cherishing and educating the children, whom her lengthened
sickness and early removal had devolved on his care; as exercising all
the graces of Christian benevolence in his intercourse with his fellow
creatures, wherever his lot was cast; and as engaged in seeking comfort
for himself, under a loss that seemed to be irreparable, by meditating on
the promises of scripture.

The character of the remainder of his life was to be essentially
different from that of its commencement. The excitement of hope, the
energy of enterprize, the exultation of triumph were to be exchanged
for calmer feelings, adapted to the circumstances in which he was to be
placed. But a surer test of excellence can hardly be conceived, than to
see it uniformly exhibited under every variety of position; exposed to
trial in different ways, and superior to trial in all; and the principle
which supports men under successive forms of temptation, which overcomes
the weaknesses of age as well as the weaknesses of youth, and gives to
every part of life the same characteristic tone of goodness, is the most
entitled to admiration, as it proves most effectively the purity of its

From the date of Lady Brenton’s death, Sir Jahleel’s residence at the
Cape did not include any event which calls for particular notice. The
stirring interests of a time of war had been succeeded by a peace, which
seemed more likely to be durable, from the exhaustion to which the
contending powers had been reduced by the length of the previous contest.
The duties of his office occupied his day; the care of his children
occupied his earlier and later hours; and few men were better qualified
by talent, taste, and habitual gentleness of mind for the discharge of
this last—this anxious and delicate duty. Having the singular advantage
of a sister residing with him, and of a sister who sympathised with all
his feelings, and entered into all his views, he was able to pursue with
less uneasiness the labours which his public employment occasioned,
even when they rendered absence from home necessary; and shortly after
the event which left him a widower, he felt it his duty to undertake a
journey of considerable extent, along the Eastern coast as far as the
mouth of the Knyzna; in order to ascertain, by personal observation,
some points of considerable importance for the public service. Of these
the chief were to investigate the facilities for establishing a coasting
trade along the shores of the colony, and to examine resources which the
mouth of the river Knyzna offered as a harbour for the shipping employed
for this purpose; and connected with this, to get some information as
to the quality of the timber produced in the forests, and its fitness
for the purposes of the dock-yard. He has left a detailed narrative of
this journey, which amply deserves publication, and which accordingly
is printed as it is found. It contains an interesting description of
the scenery through which he passed—a country which even at present is
comparatively unknown; but it is still more valuable as exhibiting the
character of the mind with which he viewed it. The journey was undertaken
very shortly after the loss which seemed to him so irreparable; and yet
we meet with no querulous expressions of grief, no idle recollections
of past happiness. He had resigned the being whom he loved above all
earthly things to the will of Him, from whom he had first received her;
and conscious that the best resource for his own weakness was employment;
and trusting that the discharge of duty would bring consolation with it,
he seems to have looked round for opportunities of usefulness, and to
have sought comfort for himself in endeavouring to do good to others.
Gifted as he was with a taste for scenery, and capable of viewing every
combination in nature with an artist’s eye, the remarks with which his
journal are filled, are chiefly characterized by benevolence and zeal
for his country’s service. In every place he visits, the welfare of
the people, and the means of public improvement, are the objects that
principally attract his attention; and while every thing is noted, and
noted in a way which shews how fully it was appreciated, an universal
desire to do good predominates in the observations which he makes, and
marks what was passing in the heart of the writer.

The narrative concludes abruptly, and the reader who has accompanied him
in his wanderings through that beautiful, and at that time unexplored
region, will hear with pain that the cause, which terminated the journey,
and closed the narrative so suddenly, was the arrival of a letter which
reached him on his way back from the mouth of the Knyzna, and which
announced the death of his son Jervis. This boy, to whom such frequent
reference has been made in the Journal, and whose character seemed to
justify all that was felt towards him, died at Winchester School, after
a very short illness, and within a few days of that which closed Lady
Brenton’s life. His fond mother was spared the pang of hearing of that
event, and he was spared the pain with which he must have heard of her
release; but Sir Jahleel, through this singular concurrence of trials,
merely passed from one affliction to meet the shock of the other; and
perhaps was thus to learn that no earthly comfort was to be made use of
as a resting place for the soul, or to occupy affections which were due
to God alone.



“The result of all the information obtained respecting the Knyzna, and
the report of its being admirably adapted as a shipping place for the
timber required for the use of the dock yard, as well as for cargoes to
send to England, induced me to form the resolution of visiting it, for
the purpose of ascertaining how far it might be made to realize the idea
which I had formed of its being made useful on a large scale, not only
to the naval department but to the colony. It was not until the month of
November, 1817, that I was enabled to fulfil my intentions.

“On the 24th of that month I left Sans Souci, the residence of my
talented and well informed friend, Colonel Warre,[22] the Deputy Quarter
Master General, accompanied by him and Colonel Graham, the Commandant of
Simon’s Town. This officer had long commanded the Hottentot or Kaffer
corps, on the eastern frontier, by whom, and by all the inhabitants
of every part of the colony where he was known, he was universally
respected and beloved, as a gallant soldier and a most amiable man.
His knowledge of the colony was perhaps greater than that of any other
individual who had held military employment in it; and his knowledge
of the character of the Dutch colonists and Hottentots, as well as his
judgment in his intercourse with them was such, that a more valuable or
more agreeable companion could not have been selected. His skill in field
sports especially rendered him the idol of the Hottentots, who looked up
to him as something more than mortal.

“For our convenience in travelling, the governor lent us one of the
colonial wagons, admirably qualified by its strength, and as much
lightness as such a vehicle is susceptible of possessing, for the
purpose. In this we carried our baggage, and were enabled to take shelter
from the weather, either from rain or heat. We had also our saddle horses
and servants, and were supplied with such articles as we were not likely
to find in the interior of the colony. Little however was needful, for
we were assured of meeting with the most unbounded hospitality, wherever
we might stop; nor were we disappointed in any one instance that I can
recollect; and the only recompense that would ever be accepted, almost by
the very poorest families, was the game that might have been killed by my
two companions in the course of the day’s journey.

“We passed the first night in the hospitable and comfortable mansion of
Mr. Lawrence Cloett, at Sandvliet; whose estate was daily increasing in
value from the improvements he was making. His breed of horses bids fair
to be very valuable to the colony, and was very numerous. He spared no
pains or expence in procuring thorough-bred stallions, and the colts were
in consequence in great demand.

“Mr. Cloett also paid great attention to his vineyards, from which
he made annually 1000 leaguers of wine upon an average. Limestone is
another very profitable production of this estate, which is sent in large
quantities to Cape town; as well as many loads of hay. This hay is made
from oats sown for the purpose, and cut in time to prevent the grain from
being easily separated from the stem. It is mown while green, and treated
in the same manner as grass in England. This is considered to be the very
best forage that can be given to horses; such at least was the opinion of
Lord Charles Somerset, who would be considered as good authority on such
a subject.

“Mr. Cloett, aware of the object of my journey as regarding the timber of
the colony, directed my notice to the durability of the different kinds
of wood according to the season in which it was cut. Comparing the timber
felled in midwinter, when the sap was down, with that which had been
promiscuously cut at all seasons, he had found that the former lasted for
many years, the other being of a very short duration. This information
was of great importance, as the yellow wood is almost universally
employed for house carpenters’ work where deal is used in Europe, but we
had found it would not bear exposure to wet or damp.

“On the 25th, at 8 o’clock, our party left Sandvliet, and crossing the
Erste river, the horse of Colonel Warre got into one of the quicksands,
which are very frequent on all the beaches along this coast; but he was
soon extricated, and we found a fine hard sand, on which we galloped
to Gordon’s Bay. This little bay, which is completely sheltered from
the prevailing south-east wind, the only wind to be much dreaded in
False bay, lies immediately under Hottentots Holland Kloof; and offers
to the resident, means of transporting the corn and produce of the
eastern districts to Simon’s bay. But the Dutch always appear to have
had a decided aversion to a coasting trade; and when I was endeavouring
to persuade a farmer (and one of a description that might be called
educated) of the great advantage of having a schooner of seventy tons,
which would take seventy loads of corn to the Cape Town market; while, if
carried by land, it would be the work of 980 oxen, 140 slaves, with 70
wagons; he replied, ‘True, Commissioner, but then you see, mine fader and
mine grandfader always send his corn mid de bullock vagen; and why not
I?’ This argument is rarely to be got over.

“Were a mole carried out in Gordon’s bay, it would be attended with
immense advantages, not only to the Naval and Victuallers’ Establishments
in Simon’s bay, but to Cape Town also; to which wagons drawn by fourteen
and often by sixteen oxen, laden with only one ton of farm produce, are
dragged, through a deep sand for at least thirty miles, out of the whole
distance, which is forty. The coasting vessels would then be in perfect
security with all winds, and only leave the port when there was a moral
certainty of a quick passage. A moderate S.E. wind, the prevailing wind
nine months out of twelve, would carry them to Simon’s bay in less than
six hours, and in twelve or fourteen to Table bay. No coaster should be
employed in False bay of a greater burthen than 100 tons, as a light
draught of water would enable them to get close in shore for loading and
unloading, not only in Gordon’s, but in Simon’s bay and Table bay.

“The road over the western extremity of the great branch of the
Swartberg, or mountains which run parallel with the south-east coast,
which is called Hottentots Hollands Kloof, commences at Gordon’s bay,
and was at this time so steep and rugged, as to be attended with much
difficulty, especially to the heavy wagons of the country. Our party
however having their saddle horses with them, found great enjoyment in
ascending it, as in the frequent halts which it was necessary to make,
they had a most splendid view of the Cape Flat, as the level or the
isthmus is called, which stretches between the Table mountain and those
of the Blueberg.

“From the summit of Hottentots Holland Kloof the view towards the north
and the west is sublime and magnificent beyond description, and can
scarcely be surpassed. The Table mountain, which forms a striking feature
on the western side of the isthmus, appears from the height on which the
spectator stands, diminished to a small island; whilst the Cape Flat,
as the isthmus is called, which connects it with the range of mountains
skirting the eastern side of it, is dotted with farms and vineyards,
especially near the Table mountain, where the two Constantias, Newlands
Wynburg, and Rendelins look like clusters of ornamental cottages; and
even the tracts of bare white sand, which are interspersed amidst the
colouring of every hue, from that of the dark cypress to the brightest
green of spring, produced by the innumerable shrubs which clothe the
plain and the sides of the mountains, become features of extraordinary
beauty, lighting up the landscape with the most forcible touches.

“The view on the S.E. side of this range of mountains is far less
interesting. A wide extent of barren and broken ground, offering to
the eye a fatiguing monotony without any grand or striking features as
in Scotland or Wales; and wanting the little pan of cultivated land
occasionally seen in the vallies bordering the silver stream.

“We at last surmounted this pass, which could only be effected by putting
oxen to the wagon, which being trained to the task, and by nature more
patient than the horse, slowly but certainly get up the mountain with
the heaviest load. Where one span, or team, is found insufficient, it
is frequently the case that two are put on, and as many as thirty-two
oxen may be seen crawling up the mountain, at a distance resembling an
immense caterpillar. The road from Hottentots Holland to the Palmut river
is broken and irregular. The river which we had now to ford was but of
little depth. The greater part of the summer it is nearly dry, but in the
winter it is frequently impassable from the violence and depth of the
torrents. This circumstance occasions great impediments in travelling
through the colony; a delay of many days is frequently experienced,
and even whole families, who have left their homes for the purpose of
going to a Church only a few miles distant, have been detained many
days on the banks of one of these torrents, without the possibility of
getting across: at the same time no house being near, they have been
under the necessity of making their bivouac, in and under the wagon; the
boor furnishing them with provisions by means of his gun, from which he
is seldom separated, and which is his never failing companion in his

“A most remarkable circumstance grew out of this uncertainty, as to
passing the rivers, while I was a resident in the colony. Some farmers,
residing within a few miles of Stellenbosch, were in the habit of going
thither to church on the Sunday, and having to pass a river on the way,
were frequently detained in the manner above mentioned. In consequence
of this inconvenience, they determined to purchase a piece of land, on
which they might, as they could collect the means, build a church for
their own immediate neighbourhood; accordingly they collected amongst
themselves 23,000 guilders—at that time about £330 sterling—and bought
a considerable piece of ground with it. Having apportioned as much of
this as they judged necessary for the church, the parsonage house, glebe,
&c., &c., they divided the remainder into lots, for dwelling houses and
gardens, and put them up to auction with a view of getting back some of
the purchase money. Extraordinary as it may appear, it is nevertheless a
fact, that the remnant of a piece of land, the whole of which had been
purchased for 23,000 guilders, thus divided into small lots, fetched
by auction the enormous sum of 163,000 guilders. It was of course the
vicinity of the intended church, and the prospect of a town rising round
it, which gave this immense increase of value to the land; and what
encouragement does this hold out, even to worldly speculators, as to
the expediency of building churches. We have heard it stated that the
million sterling, which some years since, was appropriated by parliament
for building churches, has brought in an immense interest in the shape
of taxes of various descriptions levied upon the houses which have been
built, and the population which has been collected round them; and if to
these are added the produce of the excise, the gain must be very great—no
money whatever, perhaps, ever brought in so large a return as this did.

“But the circumstance becomes deeply interesting in a much higher point
of view. It shews the earnest desire even of the Cape Boor for religious
instruction—and ‘that the fields are indeed white unto harvest while the
labourers are few.’

“The Palmut river was not at this time very deep, but the water came up
nearly to the bottom of the wagon. The dogs which accompanied the party
had in consequence a very narrow escape from being drowned. In order to
prevent their feet from being cut by the rough roads, and to keep them
fresh against the time when their services might be called for, they
were generally put in baskets in which their beds were made, and hung
under the wagon, but so close to the bottom of it, as to prevent their
jumping out. Upon this occasion they had been forgotten, and on passing
through the river there was barely space between the surface of the
water and the bottom of the wagon, to enable them to keep their noses out
of it. Three inches more and they must have been lost. Towards evening
the windings of the Palmut River, and the fine outline of the Swartberg
mountains—the one contrasted with the deep shade thrown over the land,
and the others with the bright blue sky, formed a magnificent picture.

“We passed the night at the house of a Dutch farmer, named Uric, where we
were most comfortably accommodated. He was a very industrious man, and
although a cripple from rheumatism, and only assisted by two slaves, had
succeeded in the course of two years in building a house, in planting a
large vineyard, and providing for his children and grand-children.

“On the 26th, having procured oxen for the purpose, we began to ascend
the great Hac-hoek (or the great high corner) the road passing over a
range of mountains diverging from the great chain of the Swartberg, and
running towards the sea near Cape Lagullos. The view from the summit of
this pass was highly picturesque. On the left, the grand chain of the
Swartberg which runs along the coast from False Cape to Algoa bay was
seen receding and losing itself in a vivid blue distance. At the foot
of the Hac-hoek, on the eastern side, runs the Both Riviere, which in
the summer like almost all the smaller Cape rivers, is little more than
the bed of a winter torrent. Here we found again a labourious settler,
living on a farm on the left bank of this river, in which but a very
few years before he had considered himself with his large family as in
a state of independence. He had built a mill just below his house, and
by a lateral cut he had brought the water to turn it. This had cost
him infinite labour to effect, but it answered admirably. His garden,
containing abundance of fruit trees, and about two thousand vines, was
contiguous to the mill, and was watered by the stream that turned it.
But the river increased in the course of one night to a fearful torrent,
which destroyed his garden and vineyard, ruined his mill, and covered the
soil near his house with such a deluge of sand and rocks as to render it
almost unfit for future cultivation. The worthy man was for some time in
a state of despair, declared himself ruined, and saw nothing before him
but a miserable old age. He however exerted himself with renewed energy,
selected another spot for a mill and garden on the opposite side of the
river, and his efforts have been crowned with success: only a very few
years had elapsed when we saw him, with his mill restored and in use, and
an extensive garden with a vineyard of twenty thousand vines. We found
him in the full enjoyment of his well merited prosperity, an example of
patience and industry to all his neighbours.

“After passing the Both Riviere the country lost its precipitous
character, but was intersected by deep ravines extending from the base of
the mountains to the sea on the S.E. coast, the hills sloping gradually
into them, their sides abounding in verdure, but with few trees. The
vallies were in general well supplied with water, and consequently
fertile, better calculated for vines than corn, although the latter grows
in abundance where there is moisture.

“We arrived in the middle of the day at Caledon, a town which may be
supposed by its name to have had its origin under the British Government.
It is situated in the Brandt valley, and near the hot baths. It was
founded in 1810, and had at this period a very imposing appearance, with
its church, town house, and magistrates’ houses; the other dwellings have
also a pretty appearance, being white-washed and neatly painted. There is
but little taste displayed in point of architecture, in which the Dutch
taste is not only prevalent but exclusive.

“We here were most hospitably received and entertained by the chief
magistrate, Mr. Frawenfeller, and passed a day with him in viewing the
baths, the hospital, and the leper establishment. This hideous disease
of leprosy is held perhaps in greater horror by the Dutch than by other
nations, who are careful to keep those affected by it as separate as
possible from the population; in which they are undoubtedly right,
provided the afflicted are not made to suffer from these restrictions,
which, from the information obtained here, was not suspected to be the

“From Caledon I proceeded with my friends to Bavian’s Kloof, as we were
very desirous of seeing the Moravian establishment in that neighbourhood,
called by them Genadendahl, or the vale of grace. The road on leaving
Caledon, and until near Bavian’s Kloof, was very bad, winding round
the sides of the mountain. The country had much of the same undulating
appearance as that between the Hac-hoek and Caledon, but on approaching
Bavian’s Kloof it became level and good. The morning had been wet,
but clearing up as we approached the Moravian settlement, we saw it
to great advantage. The Swartberg mountains, elevated, bleak, and
bare, formed the back ground of the view, and appeared to overhang
Genadendahl. The road ran between two moderately elevated hills on each
hand, with a fertile and well cultivated valley between them, and led
winding through extensive corn grounds, and large tracts of heath to the
Moravian establishment. These corn grounds are in general the property
of the Hottentots, who have sought refuge among the Moravians from the
persecution of the boors, and many of them evince great proofs of skill
and industry; others again shew that their owners had not entirely
conquered that aversion to labour, which is so strikingly manifested by
that people. The first view of Bavian’s Kloof and the vallies surrounding
the missionary establishment is very striking, and reminded us forcibly
of those affecting descriptions of the pastor and his flock in the wild
and mountainous parts of Scotland, to which the Presbyterians had been
driven in that country, in the days of persecution. The church, a modest
but spacious building, with its roof of thatch, rose to a considerable
height amidst the cottages of the Hottentots, which surrounded it in
every direction, and in every variety of form and grade of civilization.
They appeared to have sought and to have obtained protection under the
shadow of the house of God, and the valley appeared to be at once the
vale of grace, and the vale of peace. It was truly delightful to observe
the gradual, but in many instances the very high degree of improvement,
which had taken place in the habits of this most interesting race, and
the reverence, and gratitude, and love many of them shewed towards their
kind and single-hearted protectors.

“The establishment was originally founded in 1733, by the Moravian
Smyth, but in consequence of the hostility of the Dutch colonists it was
broken up in 1742. A pear tree planted by Mr. Smyth during the period,
now remained in the garden, as a monument of the first existence of
the retreat. It was re-established in 1792; but during the government
of Sir James Craddock, a conspiracy was formed by the Boors to murder
the Moravians, and to seize upon the defenceless Hottentots. Timely
information having however been sent to the Governor, due precaution was
taken, and the conspirators dispersed.[23] Since that time the inmates
have been suffered to remain in peace, although hated by the neighbouring
Boors, as they prevent their exercising upon the Hottentots, the fraud
and oppression which these people formerly suffered from them.

“The church, although a heavy unsightly building, with its very deep
thatched roof and sharp gables, becomes deeply interesting, when filled
with its attentive congregation. It is not possible to conceive more
genuine and artless devotion than that which is manifested externally
by the Hottentots; and we are justified in the hope, that a very large
portion of them are deeply impressed with the blessed truths, which they
hear from their truly pious instructors. We cannot guess the heart,
but if consistency of character, and a life evidently formed on true
Christian principles will entitle people to be considered as genuine
followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, that title may safely be conferred
upon them. They themselves will never claim it, but they pursue the
peaceful tenor of their way, through good report, and through evil
report, having apparently only one object in view, which is the faithful
fulfilment of their duty to their God, and to their fellow creatures. And
what but the divine blessing upon their sincere and humble endeavours
to promote the happiness of their fellow creature, could give that
power, authority, and stability to their society, which they evidently
possess? Neither having, nor wishing for the means of coercion, their
influence over their flock is founded on love; and the fear of that
love being withdrawn, is the only but effectual restraint by which the
Hottentot is kept from infringing the rules of the society. It would be
impossible on a hasty visit to form a just estimate of these most useful
missionaries. We passed some days with them, and were delighted with
their truly consistent method of civilizing the Hottentots. It seemed
to be their object to make them feel that they were not only rational
but immortal beings; and to guide them not only to improve the blessings
which God had bestowed upon them for their advantage in this world, but
also to use these blessings in such a manner as might prepare them for
the everlasting happiness of heaven. In this system, the first use that
man is taught to make of his reasoning powers is to learn that he is a
sinner, as helpless with regard to the renovation of his soul from the
state of corruption, into which for the first time he was made sensible
that he had fallen, as he was in the state of savage nature, in which
he had hitherto lived, to obtain the comforts and advantages possessed
by the more enlightened European. In this way religion and civilization
went hand in hand, and it was very remarkable that on observing a
particularly neat cottage, and a well kept garden, it was almost always
found to belong to the most advanced Christian; and this may in a great
measure be accounted for by the unwearied patience observed by the
Moravians over their charge. They are so far from being precipitate in
making the Hottentots nominal Christians by the external rite of baptism,
that it is possible they err on the other hand, and exact too much.
If this be an error however, it is one on the safe side. But a long
series of good conduct, an evident reformation from old habits, and a
considerable acquirement of knowledge of the New Testament are considered
indispensable before they can be baptized; and a much greater advance in
Christianity is required before they can be admitted to the sacrament of
the Lord’s Supper.

“In conversing with Mr. Lestner, the chief of the Missionary
establishment, upon this subject, I learnt that even the qualifications
last mentioned of an exemplary life of piety were not all that was
expected from the candidate for the sacrament; but that he must,
notwithstanding the most spotless character, be exposed to the lot—his
name being put to into one vase, and when drawn out, a paper was drawn
out of another vase, containing either an affirmative or a negative. I
put a case to Mr. Lestner, in which I supposed the candidate to have been
educated under his own eye, and personally known to him; to have been
from infancy most exemplary, as a child to his parents, as a servant to
his master, as a companion to those around him, and, I asked, would he
still be subjected to the lot? The answer was, ‘Most certainly,’ and the
precedent of Matthias was given as a reason. It consequently happened
that in some instances several negatives followed each other, but at
length the affirmative came, and the candidate became a communicant.
Whatever opinion may be formed of the apparently unnecessary strictness,
it produced the very best effects in many instances; and could not well
be abused, as the testimony of good character was necessary before the
experiment of the lot could be tried, and there were therefore very few
instances of unworthy members being admitted.

“The assistance and countenance the Hottentots received from the
Missionaries depended much upon the grade the latter had taken as
constituting the Christian, and this will readily account for the
superior appearance of their dwellings.

“The service in the church was short, and very impressive, consisting of
prayers, exhortations, hymns, and a sermon; and the greatest attention
was observable in the congregation. Some manifested a most ardent
devotion; and many undoubtedly felt it. The singing of the female
Hottentots was delightful, and added powerfully to the effect produced by
this view of the worship of God in the wilderness.

“The same gradation of improvement was observed in the dress of the
Hottentots as was apparent in their dwellings. In the rows nearest
the reading desk the females were clad in European manufactures, and
displayed great neatness and cleanliness; some indeed went further, and
had added what might be termed finery; but this was much discouraged by
the Moravian ladies, who, while employing them in the beautiful work so
well known and appreciated in Europe, taught them to consider that it
should form no part of their own attire.

“On the middle benches there were mingled with an approach to the costume
of the white inhabitant some remains of the sheep’s skin covering of
their early state, and less of cleanliness might be remarked; and on
those most remote, the genuine Hottentot was seen in the habiliments of
his early days.

“On the first arrival of the Hottentot at the establishment, he is
provided with a piece of ground, his only claim being the recommendation
of one of his countrymen; and on this spot he is left to act at perfect
liberty, without either direction or restraint. He is required, as the
only tenure by which he holds the property, to attend the church at
stated periods, and to receive religious instruction. The Missionaries
are too wise to expect that these people should instantaneously throw
off their habits of indolence; they are generally certain that these
will disappear, as well as the sheep’s skin and the kraal, with the
moral darkness which the light of the gospel will dispel; and leave them
to experience gradually the change of disposition and habits which is
likely to result from the change in the mode of life. Their education
is powerfully advanced and accelerated by observation, which with all
savages is very acute. Man is an imitative animal, and easily induced
to follow that which he sees in the conduct of those whom he is led to
respect or love. Here every effort is made to give the mind a right bias;
and there is no doubt that the fervent humble prayer, which is daily
offered up for them by these single hearted Moravians, is accepted, and
brings down many a blessing upon the early convert, who as yet is only
capable of seeing the source of his progress in second causes. Habits
of industry thus acquired are likely to become fixed and progressive,
and are associated with all the instruction they receive, as effects
proceeding from one first cause, and that cause Christianity.

“There is service in the church every evening, at which above 200 attend,
but on the sabbath nearly 1200 assemble. The whole number under the care
of Moravians at this time was rather more than 1300. On Mondays and
Fridays they were instructed in singing. The catechism was the course of
instruction for the adults. A school room had been built for the daily
instruction of the children. The girls are received into this school in
the morning, and the boys in the evening; they are educated upon Dr.
Bell’s system, and many have made very considerable progress, reading the
Bible in Dutch with great fluency.

“The Missionaries are naturally very anxious that the children thus
educated should settle amongst them, and see them go away with great
reluctance. They however seldom migrate, but marry at an early age, and
settle under the immediate protection of their kind friends. We visited
several of the cottages, which would have been admired for their neatness
and cleanliness in any part of England.

“The Moravians receive all Hottentots from whatever part of the colony
they may come, but admit with some jealousy such as have been long
inhabitants of Cape Town; and this for a very obvious reason, as they
have but too probably acquired habits of intemperance and profligacy,
from which these were perhaps free in their savage state.

“The Boors make great complaints against the Moravians for encouraging
the Hottentots in their disinclination to work, and in the preference
they give to remaining in wretchedness and want in the neighbourhood of
Genadendahl, to what they consider more useful labour upon the farms of
the colony. The charge of indolence made against the Hottentots while in
the service of the Boor may be admitted to a certain degree; but this
must in a great measure be attributed to the treatment they receive from
the Boor—where they are invariably overworked, wretchedly clad, and
cruelly punished for the slightest offence, and even for no offence at
all. This is a fearful weight in the scale, when the only counterpoise
is a sufficiency of food. The wages rarely exceeded five rix dollars
a month, and this payment was often withheld on the plea of a debt,
for clothes, tobacco, or spirituous liquors; by which means from utter
inability to pay what is demanded, the poor Hottentot became to all
intents and purposes a slave for life; but even should he by the utmost
exertion and frugality, succeed in getting rid of this debt, he might be
involved in others, being accused of having lost an ox by carelessness,
or by breaking a wagon by an accident over which he could have no
control. Conviction soon followed accusation at the field Cornet’s
tribunal, and unless rescued by remonstrances from influential persons,
there was little hope of their ever obtaining freedom. Dr. Philip by
his arduous exertions, at length broke the neck of this most odious
system of tyranny, and succeeded in placing the Hottentot in a situation
nearer to that of the white colonist. But among the Boors of the Cape
there are many who have dealt very differently with the Hottentot; who
have been just and humane towards them, and who in consequence have
had occasion to speak of them in a very different manner. Instead of
denouncing the whole race as indolent, dishonest, and treacherous,
they have found them active, industrious, faithful, and attached in an
extraordinary degree, not only to the master and his family, but to his
interest, which they hazarded their lives in defence of; as has been
frequently evinced by the conduct of these people in defending their
master’s property or cattle from wild beasts, or from Kaffer invaders.
In truth perhaps there is no description of person who has evinced more
ardent gratitude and self-devotion than the Hottentot has done when under
kind treatment; there was also one trait of character in itself most
honourable, which was so frequently manifested as to place them very high
in moral eminence, and that was their determined adherence to truth.
Colonel Graham, our companion on this occasion, assured me, that during
the whole time he commanded the Hottentot corps, which was some years,
he remembered very few instances in which these people had recourse to
falsehood; and that even in cases, when the offence from having been
often repeated, must necessarily meet with punishment, it was confessed
by the culprit with the same frankness as though it had been the first
offence, and the confession pleaded in the hope of forgiveness. It is
painful to think how much of this native morality of character has been
lost, by communication with civilized Europeans.

“I confidently believe, that were the Hottentot always treated with
kindness and paid his just due, his labour would far exceed the work
assigned him, and that he would be, when uncorrupted by bad example, a
most valuable and attached servant. Of this there are many instances, not
only in the memory, but in the actual experience of respectable persons
at the Cape.

“The Hottentots are in general remarkably intelligent, and are very quick
sighted in discovering the track or footsteps of wild animals; they will
even trace the steps of man over wild and extensive heaths, so covered
with a stunted vegetation as to leave no apparent traces. Their vision is
also particularly correct and clear. These last mentioned faculties seem
to be possessed in a high degree by all savages, a circumstance easily
accounted for by the supposition that their faculties are sharpened by
the necessity of exerting them to the utmost, in the absence of those
aids, which invention in civilized states has rendered so universal, and
so indispensable.

“A Hottentot delights in the chase, a pursuit he was born to; and he is
admirably adapted to it from his almost intuitive knowledge of the haunts
and habits of wild animals, to whom he is a most formidable enemy.

“We have already adverted to the corps formed entirely of Hottentots,
and in justice to them we should give the opinion formed of these people
by General Sir James Craig, by whom they were embodied. It has already
been given in the excellent and accurate work of Mr. now Sir John Barrow,
but it should, whenever the Hottentot character is brought before the
public, be referred to. ‘Never were people more contented, or more
grateful, for the treatment they now receive. We have upwards of three
hundred, who have been with us nearly nine months. It is therefore with
the opportunity of knowing them well that I venture to pronounce them an
intelligent race of men. All who bear arms exercise well, and understand
immediately and perfectly whatever they are taught to perform. Many of
them speak English tolerably well. We were told that so great was their
propensity to drunkenness, we should never be able to reduce them to
order or discipline; and that the habit of roving was so rooted in their
disposition, we must expect the whole corps would desert the moment they
had received their clothing. With respect to the first, I do not find
they are more given to the vice of drinking than our own people; and as
to their pretended propensity to roving, that charge is fully confuted
by the circumstance of only one man having left us, since I first
adopted the measure of assembling them, and he was urged to this step by
having lost his firelock. Of all the qualities that can be ascribed to a
Hottentot, it will be little expected that I should expatiate upon their
cleanliness, and yet it is certain, that at this moment our Hottentot
parade would not suffer in comparison with that of some of our regular
regiments. The clothing perhaps may have suffered more than it ought to
have done, in the time since it was issued to them, from their ignorance
of the means of preserving it; but those articles which are capable of
being kept clean by washing, together with their arms and accoutrements,
which they have been taught to keep bright, are always in good order.
They are now likewise cleanly in their persons; the practice of smearing
themselves with grease being entirely left off. I have frequently seen
them washing themselves in a rivulet when they could have in view no
other object but cleanliness.’[24]

“The Missionaries having received many who had belonged to the corps, are
very rigid in prohibiting the use of fire arms amongst the people, lest
they should be led away from the habits of industry they are anxious to
bring them to, by their pursuit of game.

“Besides the schools there are two workshops in which the young
Hottentots learn the useful craft of the blacksmith, and the carpenter.
The work done here is highly creditable to them, and were there a great
demand for their labour, they would soon equal the European artificers.
Chairs, tables, bureaus, and other cabinet work, as well as cutlery of
every common description is the produce of these workshops. They also
build excellent wagons, and are accounted capital wheelwrights. The
smith’s house (a Hottentot) was in remarkable good order. They have
also among them many respectable masons and thatchers. Their houses
produce a very picturesque effect, as seen under the mountains, neatly
white-washed. The white-wash is made by pouring boiling water upon bran,
and then letting it run off upon lime.

“A very considerable business is carried on by the Missionaries, in the
produce of their handicrafts, by trafficking with the interior. All
implements for farm purposes are supplied by them of a good quality,
and moderate prices; and the Boors of Graaf Reynet deal largely in the
purchase of these articles in exchange for cattle.

“The produce of the girl’s workroom is too well known and estimated in
Europe to require any account of it; but the neat, cleanly, and cheerful
appearance of the young female Hottentots assembled is very striking to
the strangers who visit the establishment, and offers a very convincing
proof of the success of the Moravians in this most benevolent undertaking.

“The Hottentots express themselves surprisingly well upon the subject of
religion, and are evidently capable of much serious reflection; this the
Missionaries confirmed by quoting many instances.

“The holy sacrament is administered every month; there were generally
about 400 communicants, and an individual examination takes place
previously to their receiving it. The females are all dressed in white
when they approach the holy table. If any of the Hottentots are known to
have quarrelled, they are not permitted to communicate until they are
reconciled to each other; or rather they are enjoined to stay away, which
in general produces the same effect.

“It is not to be expected that these people should be without their share
of vices, which are so common among all communities of their fellow
creatures, and amongst others that of drunkenness has been especially
charged against them, but perhaps unjustly; for what Sir James Craig
says of them as a military corps, may be urged in their favour in every
other situation of life in which they are found, that they are not more
given to drinking than Europeans. They are in addition surrounded by
temptations, as the Boors in the neighbourhood are always pressing upon
them wine and brandy of a most wretched description, in payment for
any service they may render them; or if by sale, at a very low price.
The Hottentots have also a great temptation from the abundance of a
plant called the Daka, or wild hemp, which they smoke, and which has as
intoxicating an effect as ardent spirits, and may even be considered as
having more deleterious effects.

“The Moravians are not only anxious to avoid the exercise of any coercion
or restraint over these Hottentots, but to remove all suspicion from
the minds of the Boors that the establishment derives any interest or
advantage from their labour. For this reason, they are particularly
careful never to employ them, without coming to an immediate settlement,
as soon as the work is performed; and they make it a rule, never to
accept any presents from them, however disposed from gratitude these
people might be to offer them.

“A stream winds its way through the valley in which the settlement is
situated, and the Hottentots having built their houses on the higher part
of the ground allotted them, carried their gardens to the banks with
the view of facilitating the watering of them; but two years before our
visit, a torrent from the neighbouring mountains swept away the greater
part of the gardens, and their labours have since been confined to the
more elevated parts of these grounds.

“The Missionaries have tried the cultivation of flax in Genadendahl, but
without success. They were in hopes to have produced the material for an
useful employment to the Hottentots, and there is no good reason assigned
for the failure. As the Commissioner I was so convinced of the advantage
which might be derived to the Naval department from the growth of hemp,
that I twice imported seed from England in the hope of establishing
its culture; but in both instances the seed never germinated, which I
attributed to the vital principle having been destroyed in the heated
hold of the vessel in which it was brought out; and before I could make a
third effort, the establishment was broken up. It is very probable that
further endeavours may have been subsequently made, and it is to be hoped
that they have been more fortunate.

“On the 29th of November we continued our journey to the Moful Bay, the
road lay through a country wild and broken, but highly picturesque; the
Swartberg and Hottentots Kloof on the left, and the valleys interspersed
with numerous patches of fertile corn ground. We had to cross the river
Sender End (without end) twice in the course of the day, but this is
attended with no difficulty in the summer season. In the winter it is
generally a furious torrent, and opportunities must be diligently sought,
and readily made use of for getting over it. This river Sender End
terminates among the sand-hills, through which it discharges itself into
the sea.

“We arrived at six in the evening at the beautiful farm of Mr. —— in
the Soctindals valley, and we were most hospitably received by that
gentleman, who is highly respected throughout every part of the colony.
He has brought up a large family, and his children are now settled round
him, not only in comfort, but in opulence, promising him a happy old age.
His house, which was originally a hospital, is still called Sicken Huis,
and stands on the right bank of the Sender End river.

“It is generally observed that hospitality is the virtue most
practised in the earliest stage of society, and that it declines as
the conveniences of life multiply, and accommodations are provided for
travellers on the road, by persons who look to them as the means of
acquiring property. This is undoubtedly true, but it appears in the
colony to have out-lived its term, and to continue to flourish where the
absolute necessity for it has passed away; for such are the arrangements
made for travelling by means of tents and beds fitted to wagons, and the
custom of making a bivouac on the open heath, that no person undertakes a
journey without the means of being independent in the course of it; and
should there be an invincible repugnance to passing the night without the
shelter of a roof, and a sure defence against wild beasts, there are farm
houses of an inferior description, where admittance might be obtained on
the payment of a small sum. It is true there are not many of them, for
the principle of hospitality descends to the lowest class of farmers.
Arrangements however may be made of this description, so as to prevent
the necessity of intruding upon the domestic privacy of respectable
families. Notwithstanding this, the master of the house near which
respectable travellers should find themselves, expects that they would
unhesitatingly come to him; and on their doing so, evinces the utmost
readiness to accommodate them. Every effort is made by the whole family
to shew that their hospitality comes from the heart; and the traveller,
his servants, and his horses, are liberally provided for. No matter at
what hour he arrives, a sumptuous, or at least an abundant repast is
prepared for him, with the best of everything the house affords, and
the best bed-room for his accommodation. At whatever hour the traveller
proposes to continue his journey, he is sure to find his horses and his
breakfast ready for him, with warm demonstrations of friendship and
invitations to come again, should he return by the same road. This was
the reception and hospitality that we met with, not only from Mr. ——,
but in almost every part of the country; not always upon the scale of
comfort which we experienced here, but with the warmest welcome according
to the means possessed of offering it.

“On the 29th we continued our route, and as the day’s journey was to be
a very long one, Mr. —— kindly supplied us with a span of oxen to take
the wagon as far as the Zout kraal, by which our horses were greatly
spared. We arrived about two o’clock on the banks of the Salt lake, and
dined on its banks. The water in this lake is too salt for use; and that
which we procured from an adjacent farm was so brackish as to be scarcely
drinkable; but this quality in water is by no means objectionable to
those who are accustomed to it; on the contrary, persons visiting Cape
Town from these districts have been known to put salt to the water to
render it palatable before they could drink it.

“We traversed extensive plains this day, and saw abundance of game,
consisting of stein bocks, riebocks, partridges, pavus, koar hens, &c.
the two last a species of the bustard, and very good eating, resembling
the Turkey in size, but of a fine wild flavour. We arrived in the evening
at the extensive farm of Mr. Odendals, a most respectable and hospitable
gentleman, whose estate lies on the western side of the Potteberg, a
minor range of hills diverging from the Swartberg, and terminating near
the S.E. coast.

“We were here received with the utmost hospitality, and every provision
made for our comfort, not only for the night, but for the day and night
following, as the day of our arrival was Saturday. We were delighted
with the manner in which the family passed the sabbath, no church being
within many miles of them. Mr. Odendals read the service to his household
in the great hall, which appeared to be the constant practice. He had
five children who bid fair to be a comfort to him.

“The farm was a very extensive and most productive one, and had it been
cultivated to its full extent, would have yielded a very large supply
of grain for the colonial market; but the want of vent for the produce
prevented this being done. The distance from the farm to Cape Town
required four days to perform it, and a wagon with two men, or a man and
a boy, with sixteen oxen, could only take one load of corn, which taking
the average prices of grain whilst I was residing at the Cape, may be
taken at about sixty rix dollars, or £6 sterling, by far too small a sum
to remunerate the farmer for his seed, his labour, the rent of his land,
and the absence of his people, oxen and wagon nine days, independent of
the probable loss of one or more oxen on the road, and the wear and tear
of the wagon. It is true they brought back from Cape Town the articles of
European produce required for the consumption of the family, but this was
to a very small amount.

“What renders this want of a market more surprising is, that on the
other side of the Potteberg, at a distance of only a few hours from this
farm, was a river, with a safe port at its entrance, into which vessels
of from 70 to 100 tons might enter with safety, and receive cargoes of
grain, or other rural produce, lying in perfect security during the
whole of the summer, and within two days’ sail of Simon’s Bay or Table
Bay. Had a coasting trade existed, and a magazine been erected at the
mouth of the Bride River, this district might have furnished a very
large supply of grain; and had similar measures been adopted in other
parts of the colony where the same advantages existed, not only would
this valuable possession of Great Britain have abounded with corn for
its own consumption, but it might have had a valuable article of export
even to the mother country. It is to be hoped that British enterprize may
before this time have laid the foundation of a very extensive coasting
trade, which shall at once be the means of bringing into cultivation much
valuable land now entirely neglected; whilst it supplies the interior
of the colony with every article of European manufacture, of which it
stands in need, at a moderate price. It may not be amiss to give here,
by anticipation, a calculation which I made some weeks afterwards at
George, when conversing with the leading inhabitants upon the subject of
a coasting trade as indispensable to the prosperity of this new town.

“A merchant of George is supposed to order a ton of goods, either
Manchester, or Birmingham, or Sheffield, (as it may be) from England, for
the purpose of supplying the wants of his neighbourhood. These goods are
accordingly shipped to his consignment in London, and arrive at the Cape
in the course of ten or twelve weeks afterwards, paying a freight to the
Cape of £l 10s. per ton. These goods have now to be carried by land to
the town of George, a distance of scarcely two hundred miles from Cape
Town, and for the freight for this distance, not less than the sum of £9
sterling must be paid, and enormous as this sum must appear, it cannot be
done for less, as the following calculation will shew.

“To bring one ton of goods from Cape Town to George would require one
man, one boy, one wagon, and sixteen oxen, and the freight charged by the
farmer, is five rix dollars per cwt., or one hundred rix dollars for the

“A whole month is required for the journey, including the days of
departure and arrival, and one day loading the wagon, in Cape Town, at
little more than three rix dollars per day.

“But under the supposition that he might carry a load of the produce of
his farm, say corn to Cape Town, the highest price of which in the market
would be one hundred rix dollars, he could only estimate the freight at
ten rix dollars at the utmost, making one hundred and ten rix dollars for
freight going and returning.

“The least which can be set off against this profit would be—

                                                                R. d.

    The wages of the man and boy during the month               20 0 0

    The repairs of the wagon after the journey                  20 0 0

    The loss of one ox—but this is a very low average, as
        they frequently lose many                               30 0 0
                                                                70 0 0

    Leaving a balance to the farmer, without any mention
        being made for the loss of the labour of his oxen on
        the farm                                                30 0 0
                                                               100 0 0

or about 2s. sterling per day.

“Mr. Odendals assured me that he could afford to deliver 7000 muids of
grain to a vessel at the mouth of the Bride River, at thirty rix dollars
per load under the current price in Cape Town; and that were the means
of exportation furnished to him by the river, the quantity of grain
might be increased to a very great amount. Here would be a freight for a
schooner, a small vessel of seventy tons, of £210 sterling, to be divided
as profit between the merchant and the owner of the vessel, for a voyage
that might be performed in a week, but which upon a fair average of
winter and summer, might be certainly done eight times in the year; but
in all probability twice that number of voyages might be performed. In
addition to this freight, another sum might be added for that of European
manufactures carried back, in exchange for the corn, and nearly equal in
amount to the former. Iron, cutlery of all sorts, agricultural tools,
brandy, tea, coffee, sugar, &c. &c. are in great demand in the interior,
and having to pay the heavy land carriage already mentioned, reach the
inland consumer at an enormous price.

“Mr. Odendals appeared to be very happy in his family, and much respected
and beloved by his slaves. A very pleasing practice was observed in his
house, which was, that of all the servants, slaves as well as others,
coming in, in succession in the morning, to wish their master a good day.
This was considered as a family muster.

“The garden here would probably have been very productive, had it been
more sheltered from the S.E. winds, which might easily have been done,
many shrubs such as the Rhinoceros bush, and many Proteas, braving its
violence; under the lee of which the stunted oak, such as many of the
vineyards in the Cape district are sheltered by, might be made to grow.
The water is generally brackish through the extensive plains at the
foot of the Potteberg; a quality for which it is not disrelished by the
inhabitants, however objectionable to strangers. A beautiful specimen of
the wild Jessamine was seen here, armed with thorns as sharp as those of
the Mimosa.

“The roads in the neighbourhood are generally good, that from Sickenhuis
to this place was excellent, running over level ironstone; and but for
the ravines by which it was so frequently intercepted, might have been
travelled upon at as great a rate as the best roads in England; and being
formed on a hard surface, never wanted repair, in fact the only labour
required in making them was to clear away the heath.

“On Monday, Dec. 1st, it rained too hard during the early part of the day
for our party to begin their journey; but in the afternoon the weather
clearing, our kind host insisted upon driving us in his wagon to Cape
Lagullos. The road lay over a very extensive plain, capable of being
made very productive in corn. In the neighbourhood of the Recty Lake the
ground is so frequently flooded, that it produces only a rank coarse
grass. There are many pools in the course of the Kleine River, called
by the inhabitants “Sea cow holes,” from the resemblance to the haunts
of these animals in the eastern parts of the colony, and probably from
their having been found here in the earlier part of the settlement;
tradition being very common here of the country having been infested with
all descriptions of wild animals, and particularly lions and buffalos,
which are now rarely seen to the westward of the Gauritz River.

“From the Recty Lake a quantity of salt is collected every year, as
much as 3000 muids. The plain formerly afforded excellent pasturage for
horses, but the grass having become coarse, and rank, the value of the
property has much diminished. The Boors on the small farms which are
dispersed about this extensive tract of land, are of an athletic make,
but of most indolent habits, as is evident from the wretched appearance
of their farms and all around them. Their chief occupation is hunting,
and here, and here only, their energies seem to be aroused; but the
neglect of their farms has already been accounted for, in the want of a
market for their produce. A little corn is sufficient for the consumption
of their families, and as they have abundance of sheep, and plenty of
game at hand, they want but little besides clothing and brandy, which
they procure from Cape Town in exchange for what they send thither.

“On the evening of this day we reached Recty, a small horse farm,
situated on the eastern side of a Lake, about seven miles from Cape
Lagullos, a wretched hovel in a most dilapidated state, and bearing
evident marks of the absence of its master. From the failure of the grass
already alluded to, but few horses are used here. We passed the night
with as much comfort as the means offered us would admit of; but to
travellers of cheerful disposition, good health and appetite, with wagons
so provided, as to set scarcity at defiance, we did not suffer much;
there was during the night a severe storm of thunder and lightning.

“On the following day we set out for Cape Lagullos, but found the Boor
who conducted us, entirely mistaken as to the point they called the
Cape; upon reaching it, another was seen bearing S.W. by W. from it,
consequently further to the southward; and having got to this point,
another appeared, at the distance of five or six miles, bearing W.S.W.,
which was probably the real Cape. The wrecks of many vessels were lying
on the part of the shore we visited, which had been lost in the course
of the preceding thirty years. One of the ships lost here a few years
before, had a cargo of slaves, who having gained their liberty, marched
up the country in a body, but they were too dangerous at liberty, and
too useful in bondage, to be allowed to enjoy their freedom any length
of time. An old woman then living in the house now occupied by Mr.
Odendal’s, took great credit to herself, for having defended it against
these invaders, and for being the cause of their being finally secured.

“At four p.m. on the 2nd, we continued our journey, crossing the Carse
River, on our way to Morkels, a farm on the River, called a horse farm:
there is another near it, but both evincing at this period a want of
capital. Morkels is a valuable property, a good dwelling house, spacious
out-buildings, capacious stables and barns, but in a ruinous state for
want of repair, the water here is excessively brackish, so much so, as
to be scarcely drinkable to an European.

“We met here at dinner with young Schwartz, the person who first
discovered the wreck of the unfortunate Arniston, a large East Indiaman,
which was lost upon Cape Lagullos in June, 1815. He gave us a very
interesting and most affecting account of the awful scene, which came
suddenly before him as he rode down to the beach. The shore was covered
with wreck of every description, masts, sails, timber, and planks, hove
high upon the beach, which was strewed with dead bodies. The fatal event
had taken place some days, as he learnt from the survivors. Six men whom
he found in a small cavern on the coast, impressed with the idea that the
ship had passed the Cape of Good Hope, and that she had been wrecked to
the westward of it, had walked along the beach for two days, expecting
every moment to see the Table Mountain, but at the end of that time were
stopped by the Bride River, which convinced them of their error, and
they had to retrace their steps to the wreck, which they reached at the
end of the fourth day, worn out with fatigue and hunger, having only
subsisted upon the shell fish they found on the coast. Their first object
was to bury as many of their dead as they could, during the two days
previously to their being discovered by Mr. Schwartz; they pointed out to
him particularly the spot in which they had laid the _four children_ of
Colonel Giels, of the 72nd Regiment, who had been sent home as passengers
in the Arniston, under the care of Lord and Lady Molesworth, who also
perished in her. These poor fellows had evidently taken a very deep
interest in the fate of these children, as it was the only grave which
they distinctly marked. They had of course procured some salt provisions
from the wreck, which had been washed ashore, but every thing else was
spoiled by the salt water. They were also enabled to clothe themselves
from the raiment of their unfortunate shipmates. They were afterwards
most hospitably and kindly treated by the farmer, and having been sent to
the nearest Magistrate, gave the deposition of which the following is a
copy, and which was forwarded to the Commissioner of His Majesty’s Dock
Yard, a few days afterwards.

    “‘A narrative from the surviving crew, relating to the loss of
    the Arniston, Transport, wrecked near Cape Lagullos, on the
    evening of the 30th of May, 1815.

    “‘Charles Stewart Scott, late carpenter’s mate of the
    Arniston, Transport, and others, assert to the best of their
    knowledge, that she sailed from Point de Galle on or about
    the 4th of April, under convoy of H.M.S. Africaine, and the
    Victor Brig, with six Indiamen. About the 26th of May parted
    company from the convoy, owing to stress of weather, having
    blown away most of her sails; other sails were then bent, but
    the weather continued very squally, with a heavy sea. On the
    29th, about seven a.m. the land was discovered right ahead,
    bearing about N. by W. a long distance off, the wind then
    S.S.E. about half-past four p.m. still blowing very strong,
    hauled to the wind on the larboard tack, under a close reefed
    maintopsail, and stood on till half-past two a.m. on the 30th;
    then supposing the land seen was near Table bay, the hands
    were turned up, bore up steering N.W. and set the foresail,
    intending to run for St. Helena; continued on till 10 a.m.
    when the land was again discovered nearly ahead, turned the
    hands up, and hauled the ship close to the wind on the larboard
    tack, still blowing very hard, made all sail, having topsails
    and courses set, stood on till near noon, when breakers were
    discovered on the lee-bow, wore ship and hauled to the wind
    on the other tack; stood on till 2 p.m. then wore, and hauled
    to the wind on the larboard tack, continuing on till near 4
    o’clock, when breakers were seen, called Lagullos Reef, which
    we could not weather on either tack, being completely embayed;
    clewed up the sails and cut away three anchors, the two bower
    cables parted shortly after, when Lieutenant Brice, agent for
    transports, recommended the captain to cut the sheet cable,
    and run the ship on shore, as the only chance of saving the
    people’s lives. The cable was then cut, and the ship put before
    the wind, in about eight minutes after she struck forward,
    the ship heeling to windward; cut away the guns in order to
    heel her the other way, but which could not be effected, and
    she soon began to break up. About eight o’clock the masts
    went, and the ship in a very short time was quite in pieces;
    many people were drowned below in consequence of her heeling
    to windward, and others clung to the wreck, endeavouring to
    reach the shore about half a mile distant. Out of the whole
    crew, consisting of near 350 persons, only six men reached the
    shore with great difficulty upon planks, being much bruised
    by the wreck and surf, which was very high. At daylight the
    next morning the stern post was the only part of the ship to
    be seen, the beach was covered with wreck, stores, &c. and a
    number of dead bodies, which were buried by the survivors.
    Amongst these were Lord and Lady Molesworth, the agent, the
    captain, and some children. On the next day, the 1st of June,
    considering ourselves to the westward of Cape Point, it was
    agreed to coast the beach to the eastward, which we continued
    to do for four days and a half, subsisting on shell fish from
    off the rocks, but fearing we had taken a wrong direction, we
    returned to the wreck, and accomplished it in three days and a
    half, where we remained six days subsisting chiefly on a cask
    of oatmeal, which had been driven on shore; by drying it in
    the sun, we experienced great relief. The pinnace having been
    driven on shore bilged, we proposed to repair it in the best
    manner circumstances would allow, and coast along shore. At
    that time, the 14th of June, being at work on the boat, we were
    fortunately discovered by a farmer’s son, John Schwartz, who
    was out shooting, and humanely carried by him to his father’s
    house, where we remained with every comfort he could afford us
    for a week, and then set off for Cape town, where we arrived on
    Monday evening, the 26th of June.

    “‘Before we left the country we were informed that three
    hundred and thirty-one bodies thrown on shore, had been
    interred near the beach.


                               “‘CHARLES STEWART SCOTT, and party.’

    “This declaration was made before me this day at Cape Town,
    the 27th day of June, 1815, of which this is a copy.

                                    “J. MERES,
                   “Lieutenant R.N. Resident Agent for Transports.”

        _A List of Officers and Passengers, as far as can be collected
        from the survivors, who perished on board the Arniston
        Transport, the 30th of May, 1815._

        Lieutenant Brice, R.N. Agent.
        Captain George Simpson.
        1st Mate, Thomas Hall.
        2nd Mate, William Young.
        3rd Mate, William Gibbs.
        4th Mate, —— Robinson.
        Doctor, —— Gunter.
        Boatswain, John Barrett.
        Carpenter, John Finley.
        Gunner, Thomas Gowan.


        Charles Stewart Scott, (Captain’s Mate).
        Philip Shea,
        Wm. Drummond,
        Wm. Fish,
        Thos. Mansfield,
        John Lewis, Seamen.


        Lord and Lady Molesworth, with a boy aged 7 years old under
          their care.
        Four children—boys belonging to an officer of the 73 Regt.
          at Columbo.
        Captain Stoddart, (Royal Scots).
        Mrs. James, with two children, belonging to Point de Galle.
        Mrs. Taylor, Officer’s Widow.
        Miss Twisleton, daughter of the Clergyman at Columbo.
        Mr. Gordon, Commissary, and son, about five years old.
        Lieutenant Callender, 19th Regiment.

        Invalids from the 19th, 22nd, 56th, 69th, 84th, and Royal
        Scots Regiments; and near 100 seamen from the different men
        of war in India, with 14 women, including passengers, and
        25 children, in the whole about 350 people.

        N.B. Captain Whyms of the army died on board six weeks
        after leaving Ceylon.

“On the morning of the 3rd December, anxious to visit the spot become
so deeply interesting, from the preceding melancholy history, our party
proceeded to the place, and arrived there at half-past nine, a.m. It was
indeed an awful scene, although much of the horror had been removed by
the burial of the dead. Every object was calculated to throw a deep and
solemn gloom over the mind. The wreck of the ship lay scattered in great
fragments in every direction on the beach, and the remains of the unhappy
sufferers were indicated by pieces of plank and timber, which had been
placed in an upright position over them; 350 bodies had been washed on

“It may be easier to conceive than to describe the feelings excited in
our minds at the awful scene which here presented itself. The coast and
surrounding country was desolate in the extreme. The day being cloudy,
not a sunbeam gleamed over it; there was little wind, and the surf rolled
sullenly along the shore, with a hollow and lugubrious roar, whilst every
object told the tale of woe. A monument had been raised by the direction
of Colonel Giels over the grave where his children were deposited, by an
artificer sent from Cape Town; its bright white appearance contrasted
with the dark clouds, and the still darker tablet on which the fatal
event was recorded, produced an indescribable effect upon the eye,
unprepared for such an object.

“Having remained some time meditating upon this mournful scene, our party
pursued their journey over a wide sandy plain towards the Hope, an Estate
belonging to Mr. Lawrence Cloete, and appropriated to the breeding of
sheep. In crossing these plains, and far distant from the coast, even
many miles, we observed pieces of the wreck of the Arniston, which had
been evidently dropped from wagons employed in carrying away timber
from the beach, and it did at the moment occur to me, that the notions
respecting the receding of the ocean which has occupied so many pens, and
so many pages, and concerning which so much has been written in reference
to this part of the world in particular, might have been accounted for
by the object before us. Had a strong S.E. wind taken place subsequent
to these remarkable pieces being dropped from the wagons, (they were
shot-racks), they would have been forthwith covered deep in sand; and had
they been found a century afterwards they would have excited the same
suggestion, that the sea had formerly covered this place also.

“From an attentive observation of every part of the coast of this colony,
I am much more inclined to adopt Sir John Barrow’s theory of the sea
gaining, rather than of its receding; and the observations he makes upon
the subject, (vol. i. p. 6,) appear very satisfactory; but I felt at the
same time convinced, that the Cape flat, now an immense sandy plain,
covered with shrubs and heath was, perhaps ever since the commencement of
the Christian era, a channel between the Table mountain, then an Island,
and the main land. Sir John Barrow grounds his opinion upon the effects
produced by the accumulation of sand, during the period of nearly seven
years that he was in the country, of which some very striking instances
will be given in the course of this narrative. But lest the assertion may
appear a startling one, it may be as well even in this place to shew on
what grounds he founded the supposition.

“It is well known that the S.E. winds blow during a great part of the
year, and sometimes with great violence for many days together. A heavy
sea consequently rolls in upon every part of the southern coast, bringing
with it an immense quantity of sand, which may have been forming a ridge
of considerable elevation above high water mark. As the tide recedes,
the sand dries, and is taken up by the wind, and carried in a continued
and dense stream into the interior, where it is deposited among the
shrubs, and soon covers them. A reference to those who have land near the
coast, and even at some miles distant from it, will give a melancholy
confirmation of this fact, and shew that much of their land has been
entirely ruined by the accumulation of sand. During the winter months
when the N.W. winds prevail they are in general accompanied by rain, and
the sand when wet is not liable to be taken up by the wind and carried
back again: and this shews how the sand hills accumulate, and how soon
not only shrubs, but trees may be overwhelmed with sand.

“Our party arrived at the Hope in the afternoon of the 3rd. The house is
small but very commodious, and fitted up with every attention to comfort
and even luxury. It is situated on the eastern bank of an extensive salt
lake, into which the little salt river carries its waters; there is no
visible outlet, but they doubtless pass through the surrounding sands.

“Great quantities of game abound in this neighbourhood, and several
ostriches were seen in the day’s journey, rising from the heath on the
approach of the wagons, and striding towards the interior with most
extraordinary velocity.

“Immense quantities of corn were once grown in this neighbourhood, but
a decided and very reasonable preference was given by our host to sheep
and horses. Of the former he has a very large flock, with a valuable
collection of merinos. It is considered that the wool of the fourth cross
is nearly equal to the Spanish original. It is surprising, considering
the number of hyenas and wolves, with which this part of the colony
abounds, that so little injury is experienced in the sheep-folds, but the
hyena and the wolf seldom attack cattle or sheep in an enclosure, however
simple and defenceless it may be.

“There are no trees near the house, but several beautifully wooded glens
or ravines running down to the lake.

“On the 5th December, at six, a.m. we left the Hope having been
furnished with a span of oxen to ascend the Potteberg, a steep and rugged
road, but one which might with care be greatly improved. From the summit
of the hill we had a splendid view of the Sout valley, and the adjacent
plains, with an extensive line of sea coast, terminating at Cape Lagullos
to the S.W. The country although wild and uncultivated, was picturesque,
and much enlivened, by the profusion and variety of the shrubs and heaths
with which it was covered in all the brilliancy of flower. Many Piebocks
were seen on ascending the Potteberg, and some Partridges. We stopped
in the course of the morning at the house of the field Cornet; it lies
in the descent of the Potteberg, and he is a most respectable man, with
a large family, cultivating an extensive corn farm. He was suffering
severely from a whitloe, which had begun on the finger, but its effects
threatened the loss of his arm. The greatest inconvenience experienced by
the colonists in the interior is the want of surgical assistance; though
they are sufficiently well instructed in medical remedies, to apply them
with tolerable success.

“After some repose at this place, we proceeded on our way to the Bride
River, but having mistaken the road we had a long and very fatiguing
journey, and having reached a part of the river where no means existed
for crossing, we had to retrace our steps nearly half way over a hilly
rugged road, and did not arrive at the ferry at Guillenpuis until
nearly sunset. The country we had passed through this day was of an
extraordinary description. The prospect before us as we left the
Potteberg was that of a gently undulating surface, covered with a great
variety of shrubs and aloes; but as we proceeded we found it frequently
intersected by deep and precipitous ravines, and which could only be
passed by means of very winding roads down the steep slaty sides. The
ascent from these occasioned great labour to the cattle. The Bride
River as seen from the heights on its right bank had a most picturesque
appearance from its windings, making a distance between two places along
its banks of two hours, when a straight road between them, had such
existed, would not have required more than half an hour. Corn might be
grown to an immense amount near this river, as was evident by what was
seen growing on the few spots which were cultivated, but the population
is very scanty, and labour very difficult to procure. It was said that
black cattle would thrive greatly on these plains, but that there was
something in the pasturage generally destructive to sheep, of which
the inhabitants complained of having lost great numbers, and no longer
ventured to keep more than they required for their immediate consumption.

“As it was too late to get the wagons over that evening, which requires
a tedious process, they were unloaded and the baggage taken over in a
small boat, which landed us at a small but commodious farm house on the
opposite bank, where we received a most hospitable welcome; and the
inmates, though very limited in their circumstances, made every effort
to accommodate us, giving up the best part of the house to our use, and
supplying us with fish, fowls, and fresh eggs, for which they positively
refused to receive payment.

“The small boat, not more than twelve feet in length, returned for the
horses, which swam over, having their heads tied up to the gunwale of the
boat, two at each side. It consequently required three trips to get over
the eight wagon and four saddle horses. Much difficulty was experienced,
and time lost in getting them all to take the water. Some of them having
been accustomed to it, took their stations on each side of the boat
at once, whilst others could scarcely be brought to the water’s edge;
but example here, as in most other cases, had at length its influence,
they reached the other side in safety and ease, and were comfortably
accommodated in the farm stables. At daylight in the morning we rose, in
order to see the process of getting the wagon over. The river at this
place might be about one hundred and fifty yards across, and perhaps two
fathoms deep, the depth however was of no consequence. A large empty
leaguer well bunged up, was placed in the wagon, and lashed to the
framework at the bottom, a line was then brought from the opposite shore,
and made fast to it, it was then pushed into the water, and hauled over
to the other side without any difficulty, by two or three men; when a
pair of horses were ready to receive it, and draw it out of the stream.

“The Bride River is navigable from this place to its mouth, for vessels
of thirty or forty tons. The face of the country to the eastward, is wild
and precipitous to a degree surpassing what we have hitherto seen; so
much so as to wear the appearance of having been convulsed by earthquake.
It is at the same time very fertile, even to the summit of the hills,
being covered with corn wherever the cultivator thought proper to sow it.

“The scenery amidst the windings of the Bride River was most strikingly
picturesque; the various tints which the mimosa, the aloe, the milkwood,
and the protea, gave to the landscape, produced a very splendid effect.

“At eleven, on the 8th December, we arrived at Rhinoster Fonteyne, a
grazing and breeding farm (for horses) on the banks of the Bride River,
near its mouth. The view to the westward was superb. We rode down to the
entrance of the river, and found a capacious harbour for small craft,
formed by a spit of sand running out from the eastern shore. The harbour
here formed is very capacious, its breadth securing the vessels which
might be lying there in the winter, against the effect of the torrents
rushing from the mountains. Here a depôt should be made of corn, wine,
flax, linseed, and oil, in readiness to ship for the capital, on board
any vessels which might be sent for the purpose. They might also take on
board large quantities of thorn bark for tanning; the gana, a shrub used
in making soap; tobacco; wool of an excellent quality from the Merino
sheep; the inspissated juice of the aloe, which may be had in large
quantities; and many articles of traffic, not only for home consumption
in the Cape district, but also as articles for exportation, the want of
which was so severely felt, that the exchange for bills upon England,
which were considered at par at 125, rose in the year 1822 to more than

“A constant trade might thus be carried on, and if the resources of the
colony were by such means brought into action, there is little doubt but
the export trade would be very considerable, even in corn.

“Mr. Van Rennen, the owner of this farm, having purchased the famous
English stallion, Euryalus, had greatly improved his breed of horses,
which rose in value, and were generally sold at high prices from 500 to
1000 rix dollars. There were upon the farm 300 cows, and yet neither
butter nor cheese were made, beyond what was required for the use of the
family, and this for want of an outlet. It was stated that 1500 sheep
were shorn annually upon this farm; that the wool was sold in Cape Town
for two rix dollars the pound, and that the fleeces average two pounds
each. Mr. Van Rennen has taken the precaution of enclosing and covering
in a pool, or rather an extensive well in his grazing ground, by which he
ensures a constant supply of water in the hottest seasons. It not only
prevents the rapid evaporation, which would be caused by the heat of
the sun, but also prevents the cattle from wallowing and trampling upon
the borders of the pool. The want of water is the cause of the greatest
suffering in every part of the colony. Great improvidence has been
manifested in the distribution of the different farms by the Government,
and this shews the expediency of being liberal in the remuneration of
talented and upright Surveyors in all new settlements, and in preventing
a monopoly of the streams; from which single cause it frequently happens
that extensive tracts of valuable land may be thrown out of cultivation.
From the steep descent of the beds of the rivers the waters soon run
off; but much might, nevertheless, be done by irrigation and by lateral
cuts. The country however must become much more populous before such
improvements can be looked for.

“On the 8th, we left Rhinoster Fonteyne in Mr. Van Rennen’s wagon,
which he had kindly lent us in order that we might send off our own,
and the saddle horses at a very early hour; and that the horses might
be refreshed before they were required for the remainder of the day’s
journey, which was to be a very long one. We traversed an immense plain
near fifteen miles in breadth, cultivated in patches which produced corn
in abundance, and stretching to a great extent from the sea to the foot
of the Swartberg. The mountains had continued to bound the prospect upon
the left, from the time we had passed Hottentot Holland’s Kloof, and were
seen running on to the north-east, lost in the most remote distance.
The vallies and ravines, were generally dark with the woods springing
up in the dark alluvial soil which was washed down by the wintry rains.
In the course of this day, we arrived at Duivenhock, where the scenery
was truly beautiful; and here we found a most respectable and hospitable
family, in a substantial and commodious cottage, with every thing wearing
the appearance of industry and gradual improvement. After receiving
refreshment here, we proceeded over an open and generally level country
to the Kaffer Kuyl River; we saw abundance of game in crossing it. The
Kaffer Kuyl is a considerable stream running with rapidity from the
mountains towards the sea. Much corn is grown near to its banks, and two
respectable looking farms lie at a small distance from each other. This
river is not capable of being made navigable, having an irregular and
rocky bed, and in the rainy seasons it becomes an impetuous torrent. In
the evening, we arrived at a farm belonging to Mr. La Grange, on the high
road from Cape Town to Mossul Bay; it is situated on a level plateau at
a considerable height above the level of the sea. The country about it
is generally undulating, except in the immediate neighbourhood of the
river, the banks of which are very steep and rugged. The Soetmelks River
runs very near this farm; a great number of horses are bred here and some

“Having passed the night with great comfort here, we pursued our journey
towards the Gauritz River, over a beautifully variegated country. The
mimosa of the most lively and refreshing green was strikingly contrasted
with the generally parched and arid appearance of the soil, but this was
also frequently relieved by the brilliancy of patches of flowering shrubs
of the most lively hues, approaching even to gaudiness, if such a term
can be applied to the objects of creation; while the aloes, scattered
over the country in boundless profusion, gave finishing touches to the
landscape, and produced the happiest effect. The whole of the tract we
passed over this day appeared to be fit for cultivation, capable of
producing in abundance all the necessaries of life, and wherever industry
had been employed, it was apparently crowned with success.

“This day, the 9th day of December, was the hottest we had experienced,
the thermometer was at 99 in the interior of the wagon. The wind from the
north felt as though it came from a furnace; not a cloud was to be seen,
except a few of a white and fleecy description, which were gathering
over the summit of the Swartberg; and from their appearance, Colonel
Graham, who had been long an observer of the changes of the weather in
this country, at once predicted a thunder storm; and his conjectures were
accurate, for in less than three hours a most violent storm of wind and
rain, with tremendous thunder and vivid lightning, came on, and lasted
about two hours. We had, providentially, reached the Gauritz River, and
crossed it before the storm came on, and were comfortably sheltered at
the house of Esaias Miers, on the left bank. He was a kind and hospitable
man; and, with his excellent wife, gave every accommodation in their
power to offer. With their assistance, and that of our own cook, we soon
procured an excellent dinner. In about two hours the weather cleared up,
and gave us a delightful evening for pursuing our journey.

“The banks of the Gauritz are extremely precipitate, and scarcely less
than two hundred feet in height; the road, as may be supposed, is very
steep, but with the precaution of locking both the hind wheels of the
wagon, is not dangerous. The difficulty of ascending is very great. The
country people in general travel with two or three wagons in company,
for the purpose of assisting each other in getting over these places,
which to one team of oxen would be insurmountable. This forms one of the
most animating and picturesque scenes imaginable. I have already adverted
to it, but to see the wagons ascending from the bed of Gauritz, up a
broken road which in other countries would be deemed impracticable, with
a long line of, in some instances, thirty-six oxen, through the wildest
scenery imaginable, the shouting of the drivers, the echoes occasioned by
the cracking of their huge whips, and the passengers in every direction
climbing amongst the rocks in pursuit of the nearest way to the summit of
the ridge, altogether produces an effect which is indescribable, and of a
peculiarly animating character.

“We had in this place an additional proof of what industry and
perseverance can perform in overcoming existing difficulties, but
it is certainly ‘taking the bull by the horns.’ A small portion of
labour applied by legislative investments would soon render these
roads practicable for the wagon and its own team, without any of the
detention and risk of loss of oxen, and damage to the vehicle which is
now constantly experienced; and this being the great road to immense
forests in Uitenhage, and to the district of George, it seems the more
extraordinary that some exertion had not long before been made by the
Colonial Government. In many cases we observed that the road might have
been rendered much easier, and consequently safer, and more expeditious,
by a little more detour being made in it; but when even it was at all
possible, the straight line was most inflexibly adhered to. It was
frequently seen that the ruts of wheels were passing over a stone of two
or three feet in height, where a deviation of as many yards would have
avoided it. But it was a road which the grandfather had gone, and was
therefore most dutifully followed by his descendants.

“The Gauritz is frequently in the rainy season a formidable torrent,
and impassable for days together, at which time a most singular and
picturesque scene presents itself, from the groups of wagons and
travellers collected on each bank, forming as it were extensive
encampments, their numerous spans of horses and oxen grazing on the
steep declivities of the bank, where any food can be found for them, or
outspanned on the heights for the purpose of grazing. To these are added
on the left bank very large droves of cattle and flocks of sheep, waiting
for the water to subside, that they may continue their way to the Cape
Town market. The Boors and their Hottentots enjoy these bivouacs much, as
they pass the time of their detention in shooting, and the neighbourhood
is well supplied with game; nor are the females of the party without
their share in the general excitement, as they have the enjoyment of
society from which they are precluded in their solitary farms; and as
their wagons form very commodious tents, they experience but little
more discomfort than in their cots at home, where in many cases the
accommodations are hardly superior. To add to the animation of the scene,
their little fires blazing in all directions, and the column of blue
smoke ascending along the hills, and taking from them the monotony of
feature by giving an appearance of distance to those parts dimly seen,
increases the general effect of the picture.

“The Gauritz is in no part navigable, from the broken and rocky nature
of its bed, and no boats are consequently to be found upon it. Beneath
the cliff on the right bank was a remarkable plateau, enclosed in a bend
of the winding of the banks, quite level, and of considerable extent,
and about twenty feet above the bed of the river. At the first view it
appeared well calculated for the site of a village, but in winter it is
frequently laid under water; and logs of timber and drift wood scattered
over it shewed this to have been recently the case.

“Several wagons laden with timber were met with in the course of this
day, on their way to Cape Town, carrying many large yellow-wood beams for
building, and logs for converting into planks, also fellies for wheels,
and treenails for the repair of ships. It may easily be conceived under
what amazing disadvantages this traffic is carried on between the forest
and the capital, a distance little short of two hundred miles, and the
road lying nearly along the coast. It can be shewn that plank from Norway
and from America may be brought into the market at a rate which competes
with this which is grown in the colony; but the injury is not confined to
the high price of this indispensable commodity. These journeys for the
conveyance of timber depopulate the whole country in the neighbourhood
of the forest. The labourers and the cattle are constantly on the road;
and not unfrequently the farmer and his family seize the opportunity,
in order to have their frolic, leaving the cows, the young stock, and
the crops to the care of an aged female Hottentot, while every other
part of the establishment follows the wagon. Should the scanty portion
of grain which he has sown fail, in consequence of his absence, the
family have a resource; they can live entirely upon mutton, and game, and
tea, and brandy; the two latter articles being never forgotten in the
return cargo. The want of hands in the different farms is an universal
complaint; and is the only cause that can be assigned, why the immense
tracts of fertile land are uncultivated; but the reason is here at once
given. The whole population is employed in taking materials for building
to Cape Town; while a few hundred hands employed in conducting a coasting
trade would effect more completely all that is to be done; and leave the
farmers and the farm servants, undisturbed in their rural occupations;
ensuring to the former a most liberal return of whatever the ground
would produce, while industrious habits would take the place of that
wandering, unsettled, and indolent disposition for which the Cape Boor is
so remarkable.

“The abundance of all the essentials of life which a kind Providence has
showered down on this favoured country, is another great cause of the
little advance its inhabitants make in improvement, which is so obvious
in most parts of the interior. The want of food is unknown amongst them,
either for man or beast; and other wants are easily provided for. Houses
built of clay and thatched with reeds are readily constructed; the wood
work necessary for doors, windows, and rafters, is easily obtained from
the nearest Bosch, as the forest is called; and converted by the roughest
tools in such a way as may answer the purpose. The furniture of many of
the houses is confined to the frames of a bedstead or two, (the sacking
for which is formed of thongs of raw hide) and a large chest serving at
once for a store closet and a table. Clothing is easily made from the
sheep-skin tanned or untanned; and a few loads of wood or aloes carried
to Cape Town market, will procure them brandy and tea, their principal
luxuries, and such European manufactures as they may be tempted to
indulge in, such as printed calicos, and linen. These journies, as we
have shewn, are attended with no other expense or loss than the neglect
of their farms. The covered wagon is their dwelling house, and the
sleeping apartment for the master and mistress; the children and slaves
sleeping under them in dry weather. The journey is divided into schoffs,
or distances, calculated from one grazing place to another, called
“Out-span” places; these are six, eight, or ten hours from each other,
as they happen to be. In the more sandy and arid parts of the colony the
schoffs are regulated by the springs of water. The march is generally
performed by night in summer, in order to avoid the heat of the sun. As
soon as they reach the out-span place, the oxen are unyoked, and turned
out to graze. If they have horses, they are knee haltered, by the halter
being tied to the fore leg, and so short that when the head of the animal
is elevated, his leg is lifted from the ground, and he can only go upon
three legs, which ensures his being caught when wanted. In these wild
parts of the colony there is little fear of the cattle straying, for they
are too much in fear of wild beasts to wander far from protection; and
it was very remarkable that saddle horses, which if turned out near the
Cape, would be very difficult to catch, will, in the interior, when far
from any inhabited place, keep close to the owner, when leading them by
the bridle, or if left to themselves.

“As soon as the horses and oxen are turned out, the domestic arrangements
begin; fires are lighted, sheep or fowls are killed, and cooking proceeds
with great energy. It may be that a buck is brought in, which makes
the feast a sumptuous one, in which all are equally interested. The
driver and leaders of the oxen are no sooner off duty than they betake
themselves to sleep, and only awake for their food, and then sleep
again. After the meal, the Siesta becomes general, and lasts till the
preparation signal is given for resuming the journey, when all again is
bustle; the cattle are yoked, the wagons packed, and the cracking of the
huge whips again announces that they are in motion. Such is nearly the
history of every day, and of the whole journey, until they reach the
immediate vicinity of the capital, when they become restrained by the
usages of more civilized life, a fetter which is severely felt by all,
bipeds as well as quadrupeds. There are few instances of these travellers
being attacked in their night marches by the wild beasts, which infest
so many parts of the interior of the colony. The feline species are in
general as cowardly as ferocious, and are scared by the noise and the
number of the caravans, which of course is not diminished on this account.

“If stationary, in the night the cattle are kept tied to the wagons, and
large fires kept burning round the little encampment. In the preceding
year, while the Governor, Lord Charles Somerset, was on his journey to
the Fish river with his family, having stopped for the night on one of
the extensive plains over which they had to pass, a little Hottentot
boy, the leader of one of the teams, having laid down to sleep at a
little distance from the wagons, was seized by a lion. His screams having
aroused the people who had not yet gone to sleep, the noise they made in
pursuing the animal, induced it to drop its prey, and the child was found
at a few yards distance, very little injured by the jaws of the beast.

“At three p.m. we proceeded on our journey towards Mossel Bay, which I
was very anxious to visit, that I might form my own judgment as to its
fitness as a resort for the coasting trade. The accounts published by the
Dutch authorities of every part of the coast, threw great discouragement
over every prospect of such a trade being ever established; but they were
evidently influenced by consideration of the inexpediency of the coast
being known to foreigners, which would render it necessary to defend many
parts hitherto avoided as dangerous.

“We soon reached the farm of Thunis Meyer, lying in a beautiful, fertile,
and tolerably well cultivated valley. The land was evidently good, and
immense quantities of grain might have been grown here, in the immediate
vicinity of Mossel Bay, where the anchorage might be deemed as safe as
that of Table Bay, and from whence it might be shipped either for the
capital or the foreign market. Between this place and Mossel Bay lies
another extensive farm, belonging to Mr. Muller, also abounding in
grain, and in which a number of horses and black cattle are annually
reared. The farm lies at the eastern extremity of the Kleine Riverberg,
and has a distant view of the sea, near Mossel Bay and the mouth of
the Kayman, or ‘Crocodile’s Gut.’ There are some deep and well wooded
glens and precipitous ravines in the immediate neighbourhood of this
farm, beautifully wild and picturesque. The aloe, the mimosa, with every
description and size of shrubs, and an immense variety of blooming and
curious heaths, and other flowering plants, give a richness and beauty to
the scene of which neither the pen nor the pencil could give any adequate
idea. We remained at Mr Muller’s, and were as usual kindly and hospitably
treated. It was here we remarked the apparently improvident and wasteful
manner in which the Dutch colonial system of farming was carried on. A
thrashing floor is built on the summit of an elevation commanded by the
prevailing S.E. wind, and here the corn is trodden out by the hoofs of
horses driven round the enclosure at a quick pace; after which it is
turned up to the breeze, and the chaff and the straw are carried far
away, being considered of no value here, as it was supposed the cattle
would not feed upon it. This might certainly be true when they had
abundance of green food at command, but could not be the case in the hot
summer months, when the country was parched up in all directions. We had
an opportunity of shewing the error of this system, for when dry feeding
cattle for St. Helena was practised at Simon’s Town, the straw formed a
very principal part of their food.

“On the following morning a thick haze covered the face of the country, a
sure indication that the day would be sultry, and we had every reason to
respect the prediction. We left Mr. Muller’s at eight in the morning of
the 10th December, and traversed an extensive plain, on our way to Mossel
Bay. We at length reached an eminence, from which a most magnificent view
of the bay and eastern coast presented itself. Cape St. Blaize, which
when originally discovered, gave its name to the bay, since altered by
the former to the more familiar one, taken from the immense number of
the shell-fish, to Mossel (or Muscle) Bay lay on our right. The little
village or depôt formed by the Dutch for collecting corn on government
account was immediately below our feet, with the receding range of the
Swartberg mountains, and the indented line of sea coast, terminating the
prospect on the left and in front.

“On our arrival in Mossel Bay, we were most kindly and hospitably
welcomed by Mr. Obeen, a worthy Dane, long settled here, and whose name
has been frequently and respectfully mentioned by travellers who have
visited this place. He gave me some interesting information upon a
subject I had much at heart, and assured me that he did not consider this
bay as a dangerous anchorage, although exposed to the S.E. winds, which
in the offing blew with much violence, but seldom, to use the seamen’s
phrase, ‘blew hard.’ During the period of his residence here, more than
thirty years, he could remember more than one hundred vessels having
anchored here, not one of which ever met with an accident whilst riding
in it. An Englishman, named Murray, traded here ten years; though his
vessel was at last stranded on its passage round Cape Lagullos, which I
apprehend to be one of the greatest dangers on this part of the colony,
and should be accordingly avoided, not only by coasters, but by all
vessels. There is no reason why any should approach this dangerous point;
on the contrary, they may generally insure a quicker passage by keeping
a good offing; and as the coast, and the set of the currents are better
known, the danger will vanish in a great measure.

“We were so much struck with the situation of this bay, as an outlet for
the produce of the most valuable part of the colony, that we employed
ourselves on each day that we remained here in making such observations,
and obtaining such information as might direct our judgment in forming a
correct opinion as to the possibility of its being adopted as a depôt.
From the soundings we took, we became convinced that a mole carried out
about one hundred yards to the N.E. from a point running off from the
spot where the magazine is built, would give effectual shelter to as many
coasting vessels as might be employed in taking off the produce, not only
of the immediate neighbourhood, but of the Large Kloof. From two and a
half fathom to three and a half might be found the whole length of the
mole, and this might easily be formed by rolling masses of rock from the
elevated ground into the water without any artificer’s work. Such a mole
might be increased to any extent, that the trade might demand. Such moles
are formed in every part of the Mediterranean—witness Palermo, Messina,
Naples, Civita Vecchia, &c. &c., and particularly Gibraltar, where a mole
for refitting ships of the line is formed in seven fathoms water, exposed
to the whole fury of a western gale. Hence it is evident that a mole in
Mossel Bay of such immense value to the surrounding country, would be no
idle or useless speculation.

“Thirty labourers under an active superintendant would perform a
considerable part of this work in the course of a year; and the blocks of
stone, lying at hand on the shore, would soon form the foundation.

“I believe that the opinion I have ventured to offer respecting the
general fertility of the soil, and its adaptation to the growth of corn,
throughout the whole extensive tract comprehended between the Swartberg
and the sea, from the Gauritz to the Kayman on which the Capital of the
district of George is situated, will be confirmed by the general voice
of the inhabitants. It requires only an industrious and an increased
population, with an outlet for the produce, to bring it into the most
extensive and successful cultivation; for even the sour grass so
destructive to sheep and cattle, I was every where assured disappears
from the soil, when the plough comes upon it. With respect to manure,
let those who have travelled into the interior of the country say, what
immense heaps are collected in the immediate vicinity of the houses on
all the farms, especially on the cattle farms; of which no use whatever
is made; as the farmer prefers breaking up new land, which he is always
enabled to do from the improvident system of granting farms of such an
immense size. The consequence is, that the heaps of manure annually
accumulate, and the heavy rains falling upon them, bring away noxious
streams; which, where the ground is level, form into stagnant and fetid
pools, to the great danger of the health, if not of annoyance to the eyes
and noses of the inhabitants, accustomed to such objects.

“A considerable and a valuable fishery might also be carried on in
Mossel Bay. There is a great demand for salted fish in every part of
the interior for food for the slaves, and the Mahometans; and a very
profitable traffic might be carried on in this article, and be the means
of removing another great hindrance to agricultural progress; for the
division of labour, which does so much in all other countries, by leaving
to those who have been brought up to any particular calling the exercise
of the skill and talents they have acquired in it, is almost lost sight
of in this colony. The farmer, instead of devoting all his energies, his
people, his capital, and his time, to the improvement of his estate,
becomes his own carrier to a distant market, his own wood cutter,
carpenter, wheelwright, fisherman, &c., and makes but a very indifferent
figure in each capacity, when compared to those who confine themselves to
one distinct branch. Fishing is another very great source of temptation
to the Boor, and suits well with his restless and migratory habits.
Those even at a very considerable distance from the coast, will embark
their whole family, labourers, slaves and all in their wagons, provided
with seines, and other fishing gear, and salt; and proceed to the coast
in the larder[25] season, where they will encamp and remain for weeks
catching and curing fish, and at the same time enjoying all the pleasures
of the chase where game abounds. This recreation and enjoyment is only
censurable when the more important concerns of the farm and its produce
are neglected, and the public interest consequently suffers from the high
price of the necessaries of life, or what amounts to the same thing,
from the very high rate of exchange on remittance bills to the mother
country for want of the means of carrying on an expert trade. But upon
this subject the Dutch farmer has views and ways of thinking peculiarly
his own. In conversation with one of them upon the subject of the high
price of grain, he said, ‘Why Commissioner, I would rather it even were
at one hundred rix dollars a load than at fifty, although the high price
might arise from a scanty crop, on my own farm, as well as on those of
my neighbours; for in the former case, one wagon would take one hundred
dollars worth to market, and in the latter case it would require two.’
This hereditary calculator never had taken it into consideration, that by
superior talent and energy his farm might have produced its full amount,
and that he would have shared in the high prices caused by the neglect of

“A few days before our arrival in Mossel Bay, a schooner belonging to
Mr. Van Rienan had come in there, and he had disposed of a considerable
quantity of iron, tea, sugar, wine, brandy, coffee, together with a
large stock of European manufactures, by auction, for money only, at
six months’ credit. A most ruinous system, holding out the strongest
incentive to extravagance and intemperance. The profits upon these
cargoes, or rather the difference between the original and the last
prices paid upon them, were stated by the purchasers to be 100 per
cent. and they were probably not above the fact in their estimate.
The temptation of long credit alone induced them to buy under such
circumstances, and the prices were farther supported by a monopoly in the
trade, arising from a want of competition, leaving the whole in the hands
of one enterprizing man.

“On the 11th of December we quitted Mossel Bay, at three p.m., on our
way to the Gulbecks River, on the banks of which we were to halt for the
night. The road winding round the N.W. shore of Mossel Bay, although
very rugged and difficult in many places, might with a little exertion
be rendered tolerable, if not good. Having ascended a gradual acclivity
of about five miles from the Bay, we had a most magnificent view of
the windings of the Hartebest River, through a beautifully diversified
valley, with the Swartbergs in the back ground, their summits illuminated
by and sparkling with the rays of the setting sun, catching upon the
broken crags by which many of the heights were terminated. The house
of Mr. Mayers, who was to be our host for the night, stood upon a
gentle eminence, sloping down from the mountain towards the sea, and
commanded a splendid view of the valley, the river, and the sea, with
the whole range of coast from Mossel Bay to the Kayman. Mr. Mayers is
an example of what may be done by industry and exertion. His family
and his house were highly creditable. Hospitality, neatness, and every
appearance of domestic felicity, gave a relish to this scene which is not
easily forgotten, and would have been a subject for admiration in any
part of the world. All that struck the eye conveyed an idea of comfort
and respectability, and shewed the effect of habitual attention to
arrangement and cleanliness. A group of beautiful and orderly children
gave promise that this valley would flourish in future generations.

“Mr. Mayers had long been afflicted with rheumatism, and had almost
become a cripple, he still walked with a crutch, but was recovering. He
appeared to have lost neither energy or cheerfulness. When one of our
party remarked to him how fine a family he had, his answer seemed to come
warm from his heart, and his feelings glistened in his eyes, while he
said, ‘Yes, and that was the reason why I was so anxious to recover my
health, that I might see them respectably brought up.’

“The most serious of all wants experienced by the colonial farmers in
general, is the great distance from all means of religious instruction. I
have already shewn how much property increases in value by lying in the
neighbourhood of a church; and the people are generally willing to make
sacrifices, in order to have places of worship amongst them. From Caledon
to George, a distance of a hundred miles, there is no church; and all the
families in the intermediate space are obliged to go either to the one or
to the other town for marriages or christenings; indeed they often, if
not generally, availed themselves of their occasional journies to Cape
Town with the produce of their farms, for these purposes. Impressed with
the deplorable state of ignorance, and in too many cases of vice, in
which some of the Boors’ families were living, for want of the care of
a pastor, I subsequently wrote to the Bishop of London, and stating the
effects produced by the exertions of the Moravians as an encouragement,
I ventured to suggest that Ministers of the Church of England should
be sent out, and located in different parts of the colony, where they
might live comfortably and respectably, on a very moderate income,
assisted by a certain portion of land; and I added, that were a clerk to
accompany the minister, a man of well known good character, and skilful
as a mechanic, particularly as a carpenter, mason, or blacksmith, it was
certain that a village would rise up in a very short space of time, and
that the religion as well as the language of England would rapidly spread
throughout the colony.

“The scene round the country churches on sacrament Sundays, which occur
about four times in the year, resembles a large fair, from the wagons
coming from every part of the country within a day’s journey of the
church, and sometimes even from a much greater distance. They remain the
whole day, and not unfrequently for several days together in the rainy
season, from the country being flooded. The people upon these occasions
also, as well as upon their more distant journeys, inhabit their wagons,
with the exception perhaps of a few, who may find accommodation with
friends residing near the church; but this general and periodical
assemblage too often leads to conviviality and intemperance, which
entirely defeat the religious intention of the journey, and render the
sacred rite which was intended for their benefit an additional cause
of iniquity. That there are many striking exceptions to this line of
conduct, I have already endeavoured to shew; but the effect of such a
state of things upon the great mass of uneducated people, must be evident
to every one who knows the propensities of mankind. It does then become a
most imperative duty on the mother country to administer to the spiritual
wants of her distant population, and neither labour nor expense should
be spared; though in this case, but little of either is required. The
bare selection of fit persons as pastors, with a very moderate income,
say £300 per annum, with a grant of land and proper encouragement to a
pious and skilful mechanic, as a clerk, would be all that is required,
for a considerable extent of this fertile wilderness, for such it may be
well termed, both in a moral and an agricultural sense. The respectable
character of Mr. Meyers, will at the same time account for and justify
this digression.

“This is a considerable corn farm, called Hartenbosh Kraal. In tolerable
years the return is about twenty bushels for one, which although it falls
far below the produce of many other parts of the colony, especially
where new lands are brought under cultivation, is nevertheless a fair
average, but here again the great want is a market. Mr. Meyers assured
me, that could he procure forty rix dollars the load for his corn at
Mossel Bay, he would employ every one of his people in cultivating his
land, but that he could not afford to send it to the Cape. He had three
hundred head of cattle, forty horses, and a large flock of sheep; the
latter, however, were very subject to the rot, in consequence of the sour
grass. The large cattle were in excellent order.

“On the 12th December we left this interesting family, deeply impressed
with their kindness, and with all we had seen there. We were obliged to
wait till ten o’clock, before we could proceed on our journey, in order
that the tide might be out in the rivers we had to pass, and enable us to
ford them; these were the Grilbeck, and the great and little Braake. The
Grilbeck is a tributary stream to the little Braake. We crossed them both
near the confluence, the first about fifty yards in breadth, but at the
time not more than two feet deep; the latter is a considerable stream,
and in some parts of our passage nearly five feet in depth. The country
between these rivers is irregular, and sometimes precipitous. The valley
between the great and little Braake had the appearance of much fertility.
The road winds round the southern slope of a range of hills diverging
from the great chain of mountains, which runs parallel with the coast,
and stretches towards the sea. We crossed the great Braake about a mile
from its mouth, where it was lost at this period in a high ridge of sand
stretching across it, but which of course gives way to the winter’s
torrents. This blockade is of such constant occurrence, as to deprive the
great Braake of all prospect of being made navigable. This river was not
broader where we crossed it than the little Braake, but its banks were
steeper, and the depth much the same. In winter it must be a tremendous
torrent, from the great declivity of its bed, and the steep and
precipitous ravines running into it. From the summit of a high hill on
the eastern side of the great Braake we had one of the finest prospects
we had as yet enjoyed. It comprehended a most magnificent combination
of mountain, plain, deep wooded dells, the windings of the rivers, and
a most extensive line of the sea coast, including the whole of Mossel
Bay and Cape St. Blaize, the view extending and losing itself in the far
western distance. This spot called forth a rapturous description and
admiration from Lichtenstein, and well deserves both.

“We now approached the great forest of Uitenhage land, and already saw
fine timber trees skirting the southern slope of the Swartberg, and
flourishing in increased luxuriance in the deep ravines, where they
derived nourishment from the alluvial soil continually carried down by
the rains. The vegetation of these dells is rank and productive beyond
expectation, especially when contrasted with the stunted production of
the plains we had been so long traversing.

“From the great Braake to the Mudzikammer we crossed an elevated plateau,
well cultivated in many parts. The grass however is sour, and unfit
for grazing; but this pernicious quality wears off after having been
turned up by the plough. Here we had the first view of the rising city of
George, the chief town of the district; also the new road into the Lange
Kloof, made in the pass of a mountain called Craddock’s hing, after the
Governor in whose time it was begun, Lord Howden.

“The traveller is greatly deceived in his estimate of the distance from
his first sight of George, after having ascended the heights on the left
bank of the great Braake; to all appearance he thinks he could ride it
with ease to himself and his horse in an hour and a half; but the road is
so crossed by deep ravines, no appearance of which present themselves,
that we spent more than four hours in reaching that place.

“The banks of the Mudzikammer are most formidably precipitous, and here
was the steepest pass we had met with over any river. On reaching it
we found a wagon stuck in the bottom of the only narrow road which led
across the river, and in such a manner as precluded all possibility
of our getting over until it was removed. This is a circumstance that
frequently occurs, and the driver of the arrested wagon bears his
detention with the utmost degree of philosophy. He proceeds to light his
fire, and cook his meals, and then goes quietly to sleep, well knowing
that he is the master of the pass, and that none can proceed either east
or west until he is extricated; he is sure therefore of the assistance
of the first span of oxen or horses which may come. This extrication
must have fallen to our lot, had we not preceded our wagon on horseback
and found a person waiting for us at this place, with information that a
relay of horses had been sent for us to the pass of the Palmiet River,
about a mile higher up the ravine. We accordingly turned off in that
direction, and passed the Palmiet River, or more properly speaking the
Palmiet bog, for no water was visible. This was not effected without
great difficulty, even with fresh and vigorous horses, which had been
kindly sent by Mr. Van Kemper, the Landroost of George. It is a deep
slough, formed by the decayed roots of the Palmieto; and the waters
oozing from the surrounding ravines, in dry weather not being in a
sufficient quantity to form a stream, stagnate among the roots. The wagon
sunk into the floating mass up to the axle-trees; but what increased the
difficulty was the very steep height of the opposite bank, which was
to be ascended after getting over. The ground is so unequal that it is
almost impossible for the horses to draw together; but every effort is
made by the whip and the voice to urge them to simultaneous exertion,
and is generally successful. It was at length overcome, and we proceeded
gaily on the road to George, where we arrived at half-past five o’clock,
and were most cordially received and welcomed by our excellent friend the

“The town of George is increasing rapidly under the animating and
paternal direction of their excellent and amiable Landroost, Mr. Van
Kemper. The streets cross each other at right angles, and the houses
are built at such a distance from each other, as to place each in the
midst of a garden. The principal street is nearly a mile in length, and
is terminated on one side by the Landroost’s house, a comfortable and
substantial residence. There is a neat little church, also a court house,
surgeon’s house, and a gaol.

“The inhabitants of George at the time of our visit did not exceed six
hundred. Their chief employment when not engaged in building, was in
cutting wood in the forest of Uitenhage land, to send to Cape Town; some
of them were engaged in cutting wood near Plattenberg Bay for the naval

“The expediency of Mossel Bay being made a port for the shipment of the
produce of this district was the universal theme of conversation at
George. It was justly considered that inestimable advantages would result
from such a measure being adopted, not only to this part of the country,
but to the Lange Kloof, and the whole eastern portion of the colony. All
concurred in opinion that corn and every other essential of life could be
raised to any extent were but the means of export open to them.

“The complaint of wanting manure was heard of for the first time at
George, and this may be accounted for by the very few cattle which are
kept in the vicinity on account of the sour grass; but the immediate
neighbourhood of the forest offers a never failing resource from the
abundance of vegetable matter in a state of decomposition and full of
fertility. The sour grass also, as has already been observed, will
disappear with cultivation.

“The church is a heavy building in the Dutch taste, but sufficiently
large to contain the population of the town and immediate neighbourhood.
It is kept in the neatest order internally and externally, and
notwithstanding its grotesque architecture, forms a fine feature when
relieved by the dark foliage of the forest in the back ground, with the
Swartberg receding in the distance. The ground on each side the streets
is marked out in building lots, ready for sale. A given time is allowed
for building a house on an established plan, and after the period is
expired, the owner is made to pay fifty rix dollars per annum until it is
finished. The place is remarkably well supplied with water from springs
rising at the foot of the Swartberg, and which is led in channels through
every street and into every garden.

“The town of George was began in 1812, under the government of Sir John
Craddock. Considerable progress had been made during the five years which
had elapsed. Artificers of all descriptions find abundant employment.
Carpenters, masons, blacksmiths gain from one and a half to two rix
dollars a day, a much lower price than what is paid at the Cape, nor
is the difference in the price of provisions such as to justify the
reduction. Consequently none but people of a very common skill in their
employments will remain there, as every thing finds its own level in this
colony as elsewhere, employment only is wanting.

“No medical man had yet offered for the town of George, notwithstanding
a house was provided for him. This was severely felt; a child was
dangerously ill without the possibility of medical advice being obtained;
we ventured to prescribe such treatment as would have been adopted in
our own families under similar circumstances, which was providentially

“Amongst the new inhabitants of George, the saddler appears to be the
most industrious, and deservedly the most flourishing. He not only
carried on an extensive business in his own line throughout the Lang
Kloof and the eastern parts of the colony, but was also a principal
builder at George, and an improver of land. He had formed a large
reservoir of nearly one hundred feet square, in the neighbourhood of his
house, by which he is enabled to keep all his grounds under cultivation
in the dry season.

“On the 14th December we went to visit a missionary establishment at
Hoet Kraal, where we found a solitary missionary of the Presbyterian
persuasion, who had been settled there several years before. His progress
among the poorer classes and the Hottentots had not been rapid, nor with
his limited means and unassisted efforts could it have been expected.
He has by his own labour erected a building, which answers at once for
a chapel and school house, and may contain from two to three hundred
people. He has built a small cottage for his own dwelling, and has also
a large and very productive garden, with abundance of vegetables. Nearly
three hundred Hottentots with their families have settled near him, and
many of them manifest much intelligence and industry; are increasing in
comforts; and are following the example of their brethren in Genadendahl
in their advance towards civilization; although they are in want of many
useful articles which these obtain from the Moravians.

“Mr. Pachault, the missionary here, has the character of being a most
worthy, pious, and consistent man; he devotes himself entirely to the
performance of the duty he has undertaken, and appears to derive great
happiness from the employment. His flock seem to reverence him with
filial affection, and what is a still more striking proof of the mildness
and the usefulness of his conduct, the inhabitants of the district are
all loud in his praise. We attended divine service, which consisted of
a hymn sung by the Hottentots, whose wild and untaught notes were still
more delightful, or at least affecting, than those at the Moravian
establishment. This was followed by a sermon in Dutch, which was received
with very marked attention; and he then expounded the seventh chapter of
St. Matthew, verse by verse, in a manner which appeared to my companions
who were acquainted with the language, calculated to leave the most
salutary impression upon the minds of his hearers.

“A Hottentot boy of twelve years old is Mr. Pachault’s assistant, and
acts as schoolmaster. His scholars are said to make a great proficiency.
This boy has an additional finger on each hand.

“From Hoot Kraal we visited Wyt Fonteyne, a beautiful spot upon the
skirts of the forest, near the town of George, belonging to Mr. Van
Kervel. He is building a house of some magnitude there, delightfully
situated, and in the neighbourhood of the finest forest scenery in
the world. A great variety of stately trees abound there, and a most
extraordinary creeper, the wild vine, called by the natives the Bavian’s
tew (or the baboon’s rope, as these animals climb the trees by them,)
which having crept up the trunk, and over-run all the branches, hang down
in all directions in a most extraordinary and picturesque manner, having
sometimes the appearance of a large ship coming out of a severe action.

“We were delighted with our Sunday at George; the day was remarkably
fine, and the inhabitants of the district had assembled from great
distances to attend the service of the church. They arrived in numerous
wagons, which were collected round the church. The clergyman, Mr. Harold,
is a very respectable man, his congregation is always numerous, but
particularly on sacrament days, which are once in a month; when all
who can attend, make a point of doing so; a convincing proof of their
favourable disposition towards religion. That there are many lamentable
instances of this being confined to the mere external ceremony must
be acknowledged and deplored, but the charge is not to be confined to
the Boor. It is but too common under infinitely superior advantages
of light, and knowledge, and education. The evil which appears most
generally prevalent amongst this class of people arises from the want of
education, and were this removed, they would stand high in their claim to
the respect of their brethren. The fault I allude to is cruelty to their
slaves; but this is the unavoidable consequence of slavery itself, which
debases the mind of the master, whilst it lies like a deadly incubus
upon that of the wretched bondman; too often extinguishing every spark
of good feeling in each towards the other, less frequently however in
the latter than in the former. The children of the Boor have in general
been taught to consider the slaves as brute beasts, without souls, and to
treat them accordingly; and hence comes the opposition so often made to
every effort for instructing them, or for civilizing the Hottentot. Still
we may hope that these feelings and these prejudices are fast wearing
away, and that the intelligence of the rising generation both of blacks
and people of colour, will shew the blessings of liberty upon the human
mind, a liberty which will lead him to that state in which all shall be
free indeed, to pure and life-growing Christianity, a state in which the
labourer will work for love, and the master rule in kindness, and with a
sincere desire that all around him shall be happy. This digression arises
more from a desire to vindicate than to condemn the Boor, for it is too
much the fashion to deny him any good quality.

“The benevolent and exemplary conduct of the Landroost, Mr. Van Kervel,
is producing the happiest results as regards the situation of the slaves
and Hottentots. It was delightful when driving through the town in his
wagon, to see the slave children running after it, and climbing into
it, some of them even accompanying him in his airing, uninvited, and
unrebuked. The good man quite enjoyed their happiness.

“The country produces all the necessaries of life in abundance, but they
must import their luxuries. The grapes will not ripen sufficiently to
make wine, and this is brought in general from Cape Town, at the rate of
forty rix dollars the pipe; thus adding greatly to the price; whilst the
value of the wine must be greatly lessened by being shaken in a wagon for
two hundred miles over the roughest roads than any wine ever travelled

“Several large ponds are made in the neighbourhood of the town, in the
centre of which are placed little islands for breeding rabbits and
poultry, and for securing them from the devastation made among them when
not so protected, by jackals and mooshunts, (the latter is a species
of weazle.) The enclosures to the gardens are made of large blocks of
blue clay, which becoming indurated by exposure to the sun, are very
substantial and durable.

“We here saw the slave who had been discovered by Colonel Collins in a
residence which he had made for himself in the heart of the Zitzakamma
forest; and I give the story of this extraordinary man in the words of
Colonel Collins, an officer who had been employed in ascertaining the
resources of the Colony, and from whose most valuable reports, (copies of
which I found in the Commissioner’s office in the dock yard,) much useful
information had been gained respecting the forests. Colonel Collins
says—‘Soon after we passed the Doll River, we found the former residence
of a Maroon slave, a native of Malabar, who had been brought from it
(the hut) a few weeks before in the hope of reward by the Kaffers, whom
we had been in search of. The poor fellow had been six years in this
unfrequented spot. A companion, whose grave we perceived at the distance
of several miles beyond his habitation, for the first four months cheered
his retreat, but he passed the remainder of his time without the company
of a human being.

“‘The first hut he had constructed was concealed in the woods; the second
shewed that he had built it with more confidence, for it was placed
outside the forest, and an undisturbed residence of several years having
given him reason to suppose that he might end his days in that peaceful
abode, he had begun to build on a larger scale, but had only completed
half his new mansion, when he was deprived of his possession. Whether
he supposed the land under the large wood, better than that naturally
without any, I cannot say, but he had cleared at least two acres, which
he had converted into an excellent garden, containing vegetables,
tobacco, and fruit trees, which his labour had appropriated to his own
particular use. The dung of the Elephants and Buffaloes, which are both
exceedingly numerous in that quarter, had served him for manure, a heap
of their bones, and those of Elands, Boshbocks, and other antelopes,
of whose skins he had manufactured good clothing, cut according to the
European fashion, manifested his success in the chase, or rather his
ingenuity in contriving pits and snares to catch these animals. His
industry had even extended to the baking of earthenware; and this new
Robinson Crusoe had contrived by his own exertion, to unite in his
solitude all the comforts that are enjoyed in civilized life. Indolence
had certainly no share in prompting his flight, nor had the fear of
punishment been the cause of it, for he had never committed any crime.

“‘Desirous to obtain some information respecting the country I was about
to enter, I sent for this extraordinary man. The fear of his escape,
and the weight of his fetters, had made it necessary to bring him in a
wagon thus chained. It was his master’s intention to avail himself of
his future services, but observing to him that it was possible he might
frustrate his vigilance, and draw other Maroons to the distant country he
had lately inhabited, I directed that he should be immediately taken to
the Cape, and there charged or otherwise disposed of.’

“In conversing with this energetic and interesting being, he confirmed
all that Colonel Collins had stated, and gave us many additional
particulars; amongst others, that he was frequently pursued by the
Buffaloes, which often broke down his enclosure; and that his house
was only saved by being built against a tree, and under the shelter of
its low and protecting branches. He had carried with him a quantity of
garden seeds, which produced all he required. After having been brought
to Colonel Collins by the Kaffers as before stated, and sent by that
officer to Cape Town, he received his freedom from the liberality of the
Colonial Government, who directed that it should be purchased for him,
and he became a resident at George. He appeared to be about forty years
of age, stout and muscular, full of animation, and every way answering to
the idea which would be formed of one capable of putting such a plan in
execution as he carried through.

“On the 17th December we left George on our road to the Knysna. The
scenery on the left was extremely beautiful and picturesque, from the
truly Alpine appearance of the Swartberg, the base of which is richly
clothed with a superb forest stretching in the plain, and exhausting
itself in scattered clumps, which gave the front ground a very park
like appearance. The yellow-wood tree rising to a great height without
a branch, and covered to its summit with a light green moss was
particularly conspicuous; and from its branches the Bavian’s tew hung in
the wildest profusion, giving to the tree a most fantastic form.

“On the right, the plain stretched away to the southward as far as the
eye could reach, sometimes varied with a gentle acclivity, or intersected
with a deep ravine; though but little wood is to be seen in this
direction. The grass is sour and hurtful to the cattle which graze upon
it. The Swart River skirts the lower extremity of the forest, a small but
beautifully transparent stream; a variety of trees grow so close to its
banks as nearly to cross each other, and form by their reclining position
the appearance of a rustic bridge. The foliage was broken into large
masses of deep green, relieved by the brightest tints, and these with the
catching lights as the sun emerged from flying clouds, presented one of
the most captivating prospects I had ever beheld.

“Immediately after crossing this stream we ascended a steep hill,
and found ourselves on a small level plain, on which was formerly a
Hottentot station, called Pampoo’s Kraal. It is now occupied by wood
cutters, who are employed in preparing loads of timber, plank, fellies
and naves for wheels, and all kinds of materials for wagon work, to be
in readiness to load the wagons for the Cape Town market. Many, and
these chiefly Hottentots, were busied in preparing thongs cut from hides
for the purpose of making harness. This is done by cutting the whole
hide into one circular strip about an inch in breadth. A frame is then
raised on two very strong posts, with a cross piece communicating one to
the other in the form of a gallows; the thong is then passed over and
over, in bites, until it nearly reaches the ground; when a heavy weight
is attached to it, and by means of a lever the whole turned round and
twisted, until the weight nearly reaches the cross piece, when the lever
being withdrawn, the hide untwists itself with great velocity; this
process frequently repeated stretches the hide to its proper length for
use, and gives it the proper degree of flexibility. The harness made
in this manner is very durable; and smaller strips treated in the same
manner, are used for every purpose where small ropes would be employed in

“On our approach to Kayman River the country assumes features entirely
new to us, and most strikingly picturesque and bold. The pencil and not
the pen should be used to describe it. The river runs through deep and
tortuous ravines, the sides of which sometimes awfully precipitous, are
composed of strata of sand stone, on which the aloe and other plants are
seen growing from the fissures, in which a sufficiency of rich soil has
been carried by the rains to afford them ample nourishment. Other parts
of the banks sloped down to the river with a very steep descent, and the
road by which the wagons descended to the ford, was seen winding in every
direction, in order to render the descent as practicable as possible. I
could with pleasure have devoted many days to sketching this bewitching
scenery. Every step we made seemed to bring forth fresh beauties, and
solicited a fresh application to the portfolio. The difficulties and
even the dangers of the road were forgotten or unheeded. I had been left
a little way behind in taking a sketch, when turning an angle in the
road on my pursuit after the wagon, I saw it some yards beneath me with
the wheels uppermost, having overset and fallen over a descent of some
feet, where it was arrested by some shrubs and rocks. The oxen had been
liberated, and formed a picturesque group round the wreck of the wagon,
while the drivers and attendant Hottentots, as well as the servants who
had been employed in leading our saddle horses, completed the picture, as
they were endeavouring to collect the scattered cargo; a more animated,
and at the same time, a more romantic scene never presented itself to an

“Our vehicle had received but little damage, being constructed of a very
hard and durable wood; but our baggage suffered greatly, especially the
more fragile parts, such as bottles and glasses. Providentially we were
in the land of hospitality, and were well assured that we should want
but little, at whatever place we might arrive for our night’s lodging.
This event therefore was considered of very little moment, being of very
frequent occurrence, and it in no ways interrupted our pursuits, or our
enjoyment of the sublime scenery around us, where every feature was of
the grandest description. The contrast of form and colour in the several
objects was striking to a degree; and the whole seemed at the same time
to be so delightfully harmonized, shade softening into shade, that our
admiration was unbounded. The view from the western summit included the
ford and the Kayman’s Gut, as the dark precipitous and very narrow mouth
of the river is called, into which a heavy surf was rolling and expending
its fury upon the cliffs on each side in clouds of foam; while only a few
hundred yards higher up, the water was of a glassy smoothness, reflecting
the deep green tint of the foliage on its banks. The coast here is of
very considerable elevation, perhaps more than six hundred feet, and the
chasm through which this little stream finds its way to the sea is but
a few yards in breadth, whilst the sides rising abruptly to this great
height form an object of indescribable interest. The distant blue horizon
of the sea viewed from the elevation on which we were placed, cut the
cliffs nearly two-thirds of the way up, and rendered our altitude more

“The wagon having been put to rights, and all damages repaired by the
never failing thongs of hide, we proceeded on our way down to the ford;
but to prevent a recurrence of disaster, it was carefully supported
on each side by the whole party, and reached the stream in safety. The
stream was just fordable by raising the baggage from the floor of the
wagon; it was rapid, but smooth. If the view from the summit of the hills
which overhang the banks of the Kayman was magnificent, that from the
river was hardly less striking; we stood there surrounded on all sides
by precipices and steep acclivities, with deep woods of every hue, and
no apparent outlet, except the chasm in which the waters of the river
met the roaring surf; the whole combined in forming a scene, beyond
description grand and interesting.

“In ascending the opposite hills, the view, on looking back, was equally
magnificent with that which we had previously enjoyed, although of a
different kind. The Swartberg now formed the back ground, and was seen
towering in great sublimity over those ravines, and the extensive plains
by which they were separated; and the road by which we had travelled,
winding in a most remarkable manner round the apparently precipitous
sides of the hills, excited our wonder that wheels could ever have passed
through such a country. The occasional view of a wagon crawling along,
with its enormous length of train, and its white canvass top, gave great
life to the picture. In the course of three hours after leaving the
Kayman’s Gut, we came to another pass equally celebrated by travellers
in this country, called the Fraka de Vrow, or the Maiden’s Ford. It was
not quite so steep as the Kayman’s Gut, but, if possible, more striking,
from the circumstance of the road descending into the depth of a forest
of almost midnight darkness, in which the road wound for a considerable
distance, shut out from the light of the sun. On approaching the bottom,
gleams of light were seen lighting up here and there a broken rock, or
the moss-grown trunk of a tree, and sparkling in the ripple and foam of
the brawling torrent of deep green water, which formed the little river
running through it. Near the ford the river expanded into a small lake,
in the centre of which appeared a little verdant island, with cattle
apparently grazing upon it; but this, on our approach, was found to be
only a shoal left dry by the diminution of the waters; and the cattle
belonged to a wagon, probably waiting for assistance to mount the hill.
The effect, however, of these objects, with the chequered light playing
upon them through the broken mass of rock and foliage, was extremely

“The weather now suddenly changed from excessive heat to extreme cold, so
that I could hardly stop to make a sketch of this romantic spot. Having
ascended the eastern bank we came upon an excellent road, but intersected
with many deep ravines. We reached Neepoth’s farm at half-past three,
where we dined; and proceeded through a country almost as picturesque
as that which we had passed, but not possessing the same grandeur of
scenery. The weather too was unfavourable to it. On approaching the widow
Wren’s, whose farm is situated in a valley near the Swartz River, we had
a fine view of a magnificent forest, with a lake in front. The forest
seemed to stretch to the sea coast on our right. We found the Swartz
River too deep to ford, and had again to unload our wagon and float it
over, crossing ourselves in a boat.

“We slept here, and found it a most miserable abode. The night was very
cold with rain, and there was no glass to the windows; still every effort
was made for our comfort by the kind hearted inhabitants of this wretched
dwelling. They soon procured us a meal of salt mutton and salad, with
tea; and we managed to get through the night very tolerably. There was a
very fine group of children, and we much regretted to see the family in
such abject poverty. I sincerely hope the younger part have grown up to
better fortune than that which seemed likely to await them.

“In the course of our journey, when employing oxen for getting over the
steep passes which our horses were unequal to effect, I had often been
struck by the manner in which the oxen were stimulated by being spoken
to by name; and I had at this place an opportunity of witnessing the
manner in which they are taught to know it. There were two enclosures,
surrounded by fences adjoining to each other, with a small wicket gate
communicating between them. In one the cows are all arranged, tied to
the fence at a few feet distance from each other, and into the other the
calves are driven. A Hottentot stands at the wicket gate, and calls for a
calf by a name which has frequently been repeated to him while sucking;
and if he comes at the call, he is immediately rewarded by being taken to
his mother. Should a wrong calf approach the wicket, he is beaten away.
They soon learn to know when the voice is addressed to them, as becomes
evident when the voice of the driver is heard; and Boschman, or Dunker,
or Engeland, &c., no sooner hear themselves addressed, than their efforts
are very visible, as they know that inattention to the sound is always
followed by the whip or goad.

“At seven a.m. we proceeded on our journey, and soon crossed the Ruchti
River, a few miles beyond which we came to the farm of Mr. Meeding, a
most respectable, industrious man, whose wife, children, and house were
all neat and cleanly. He was at this time building a new house, the frame
of which only was up, and being prepared like those intended in England
for what is called ‘brick nogging’ very much resembled a huge bird-cage.

“In the preceding night they had caught a wild dog in a wolf trap. This
is one of the most fearfully destructive animals in the country. They
generally hunt in packs, spreading over a great breadth of ground, and
having both scent and speed, it is very difficult for the object of their
pursuit to escape them. In some districts they have almost exterminated
the antelope tribe. The trap is a very simple contrivance, being a strong
frame of about eight feet long, and four broad, and four or five in
height, fixed firmly on the ground, and boarded over; a hole for entering
is left at one end, and a live sheep is tied at the further end. The wolf
in trying to reach it unavoidably passes over a board, with which is
connected a rope suspending a sliding door; the least touch is sufficient
to cast it loose, and the door falling, the wolf is enclosed, without
the possibility of escape, and is shot.

“The farmers have also traps with spring guns, by which they kill many
of these dangerous enemies of different descriptions. Colonel Graham had
been sometime before at the house of a Boor, farther to the eastward, in
a place much infested by lions, when he received the following detail of
a circumstance which had recently taken place. The farmer, assisted by
his Hottentot, had in the evening set one of these traps, and early the
following morning he went to see if any animal had been taken in it. He
used the precaution most providentially of taking his gun with him, and
coming to the place, observed that the trap had been sprung, and as a
quantity of blood was on the ground near it, and traces of the same were
seen leading to an adjoining thicket, he followed the track, looking
cautiously before him, with his gun cocked, expecting to find the wounded
animal. Instead of that, to his great horror, he saw his unhappy servant
actually lying under the paw of a huge lion, who was playing with him in
the same manner that a cat acts with a mouse it has taken, previously
to putting it to death. The farmer took a deliberate aim, and shot the
lion through the head; his death was instantaneous, and the Hottentot was
rescued from his apparently inevitable fate, very little injured by the
teeth of the lion, in being dragged from the trap to the wood. The poor
fellow it seems had been beforehand with his master in visiting the trap,
but had not thought it necessary to arm himself. The blood on the ground
was from the lion, which had been caught in the trap, and was supposed
to have extricated himself by a sudden exertion on the approach of the

“Soon after leaving Mr. Meeding’s, we reached the Gowkamma, another
stream, having its source in the Swartberg, and finding its way through
broken crags and ravines, to the shores of the Knysna. Here we had a view
of a little hamlet, delightfully situated in a valley at the foot of a
gentle slope, covered with wood, with an extensive range of corn fields
on each side, and in front. On a nearer approach the forest lost much of
its imposing appearance, being composed chiefly of the milk-wood, and
other stunted and insignificant trees. There was also an extensive marsh,
which at first sight we took for pasturage; but although the hamlet lost
much of its importance on our reaching it, the scene was full of beauty.
The banks of the Gowkamma were less steep than those of the Kayman, but
at the same time highly picturesque. We were now approaching the country
of the elephants and buffaloes; both of these are dangerous at times,
but the buffalo is always so. Some time before, the horse of a Boor had
been killed by one of these ferocious animals, whilst he providentially
escaped, I believe, by taking to a tree. The event took place close to
the house we were approaching,—Turnbull’s.

“From a hill which we ascended on the left bank of the Gowkamma, we got
our first view of the Knysna, and splendid indeed was the prospect;
this beautiful harbour, for such it has proved to be, appearing like a
large lake, with a very narrow entrance from the sea, enclosed on each
side by high and rocky cliffs; the eastern side of the lake clothed
with magnificent forests to the water’s edge, green and level islands
dispersed in various parts of the harbour, offering secure pasturage to
herds of cattle. The western side of the Knysna is as bare and apparently
barren as the opposite is fertile. Those who have only seen the Knysna
from this spot would be justified in supposing that all entrance to it
from the sea was impracticable. A range of breakers is seen apparently
stretching quite across the mouth; but this arises from rocky points
running out from each shore, intersecting each other in the direction in
which they are viewed.

“On the left of the entrance, and on a gentle declivity sloping down to
the water, stands the house of the principal proprietor of this part of
the country, Mr. Rex. It is called Milkwood Kraal. The grounds round
this delightful spot had all the appearance of a park, from the clumps
of large trees dispersed over a wide extent of grass land. The house
is beautifully situated, the high hills in the back ground are clothed
with timber to the very summit; it commands in front a view of the whole
estuary of the Knysna, from the nearest part of which it is not half a
mile distant. The water in the harbour is in general smooth as a small

“We reached the banks of this beautiful river at a place called the west
ford, the only spot were it can be crossed in safety, and this only
after half ebb. On the right bank is a small plain abounding in good
pasturage for cattle, and it is accordingly reserved for an out-span
place. It is enclosed between an abrupt turn of the river and a range
of hills to the northward, finely wooded. There is a farm on the rising
ground overhanging a part of the stream, in a most romantic situation,
surrounded by the most delightful scenery imaginable, in which every
feature of the picturesque is combined; mountain and stream, cascade and
still water, precipices, over-hanging rocks, and gentle declivities,
all are included in the view, but so mingled as to excite universal

“The water at the time of our reaching the ford being too high to enable
us to pass on horseback, we availed ourselves of some wood wagons laden
with planks, which were crossing, on which we got over dry, unloading
our wagon and taking our baggage with us. From the left bank our road
lay over a high hill, from which we had a prospect of the same character
with those which had kept our admiration on the stretch for the last
two days. On descending from this hill we had to cross a small stream
running into the Knysna, from the eastward, called the east ford. From
this place the river becomes navigable for small vessels, and a road runs
along the banks of the Knysna for wagons up to Milkwood Kraal. It was at
this time very bad, but capable of being made tolerable by carrying it
further back, out of the reach of the high tides. A quantity of underwood
skirting the forest must first be cleared away, after which the road
might be made good with little labour.

“We arrived at Mr. Rex’s at three o’clock, and were received with the
utmost hospitality. The arrival of the Cornelia Arnoldina, a small
schooner belonging to Mr. Van Rienan, the following morning, was a
remarkable coincidence. The moment we heard that she was in the offing,
we mounted our horses and galloped to the eastern head, nearly two miles,
where we had a fine view of her, entering with a light breeze, and the
disadvantage of a heavy swell, occasioning a tremendous surf on the
shore. She was loudly cheered by all our party, now tolerably numerous,
as every one from Milkwood Kraal had collected to see her. The master had
never been in before, nor had any one on board. He followed the direction
of Mr. Walker, the master of the Dispatch, and found no difficulty. The
appearance of this narrow inlet is certainly alarming. It is not nearly
as wide as the entrance to St. John’s Harbour, Newfoundland, which it
much resembles; and the projecting rocks on each side throwing back
the breakers, spread the foam a great way over, and render the passage
still more awful. But the vessel had no sooner entered the narrows than
the tide sent her through with great velocity. The wreck of the Emu was
lying under the eastern head, on the bank to which she had drifted after
striking on the rock.

“We next proceeded to inspect that part of the forest lying between the
Poort and the sea. The Poort is a pass through the great forest, running
over a very steep ridge, on each side of which are deep ravines, and
others branching out from them in various directions into the depth
of the forest, all thickly wooded, and in some instances filled with
very large timber trees. The slope from the ridge to the right is
more gradual than that on the other side, and leads to the forest of
Springfield, where the greater part of the timber for the Dutch and
English governments has been cut from the earliest period. On the left
a part of the forest overhangs some tremendous ravines, from whence
it had hitherto been deemed impossible to get out the noble timber
which is growing in them. In the present state of abundance, it is not
necessary perhaps to make the effort, but should a scarcity of valuable
timber ever be felt, there is little doubt of the energy of the Dutch
settlers procuring it from situations even still more difficult. We
were accompanied in this inspection by Mr. Rex and Mr. Squire, the
naval Resident and Inspector, and by several active and intelligent
wood-cutters, and were highly gratified with the opportunity thus
afforded us, of forming a judgment respecting the means which this part
of the forest held out, for a supply of timber and plank, for naval,
colonial, and commercial purposes.

“We returned to Mr. Rex’s with the intention of setting out early on
the following day, on a visit to that part of the great forest lying
between the Knysna and the Gawkamma, called the Levenbosch. Mr. Rex had
recommended this place as best calculated to supply the demands made by
the Navy, now that the entrance of the Knysna had been found practicable,
as the timber might be brought down to the west ford with ease.

“This part of the forest lies upon the western slope of the range of
hills, and there are none of those precipitous ravines which intersect
the country in almost all other directions; so that an admirable timber
road would soon be formed from thence to the river; even by dragging the
logs as they were cut over the hard soil of which the surface of the
intervening ground is formed, the distance from the Knysna being only
five miles. We accordingly began our excursion on the morning of the
18th. We found in the forest timber of every size and description, but
particularly the Stink wood so much required for naval purposes. I shall
reserve what we have to say on the subject of timber in general for a
chapter intended to be devoted to that purpose, confining myself for the
present to a brief account of our journey, and to a description of the
impressions made upon us by the first view of this extraordinary country.
I quite concurred with Mr. Rex in the opinion that whatever establishment
I might be permitted to form, for the purpose of procuring timber for the
Navy, should be in the Levenbosch; and I decided accordingly upon placing
it there; having the timber carried to the west ford, and from thence
floated down to the east ford, the place intended to embark it from;
where also I proposed to have a depôt of timber, and a slip for building

“We found here a few wood-cutters with their huts on the skirts of
the wood; they were employed in sawing planks and cutting beams for
household purposes. It is impossible to conceive a more wretched degree
of mismanagement and want of energy than this little settlement offered
to our observation. In the first place it was made at an unnecessary
distance from the forest, in consequence of which, the trees when
felled, were brought to the pit with much more labour and expence than
was needful. In the next place, in order to procure a beam of nine inches
square, a tree of eighteen inches diameter when stripped of its bark was
taken and lined out, leaving the beam required in the very heart of the
tree, and cutting off all the strength in the side slabs. These again
became offal wood, in consequence of the manner in which they were taken
off; not being sawn, but chopped as Robinson Crusoe is described to have
prepared his plank.

“One of the Boors who had set up his party here, had come unprovided
with the means of supporting them; depending as he said upon finding a
supply of corn in the neighbourhood; although he must have known, that
the inhabitants never grew sufficient for their own use. He was obliged
in consequence to take his slaves, his wagon, and his oxen a journey of
five days to procure what he wanted; and at the end of this period he was
equally unsuccessful; for without any previous enquiry he proceeded to
the Gauritz River, in order to get a load of corn from a relative, which
he expected to have at a low price. The relative had none to spare, and
with great difficulty he got a supply elsewhere. To this expedition of
ten days in time, was to be added the injury done to his cattle and wagon
in passing such formidable places as the Traka de Vrow, the Kayman’s Gut,
&c. He acknowledged to have lost two of his oxen. Such improvidence was
but too frequent among the Boors.

“On our way to the woods I observed two small patches of wheat,
apparently in excellent order, but lying at a great distance from each
other. On enquiry I found that they both produced a fair amount of crop;
that the spots had not been selected on account of any particular quality
in the soil; but that the whole of the plains over which we were passing
to the forest was of the same description, and might with a very little
trouble be made equally productive; and yet there was neither energy
nor judgment sufficient among these people to induce them to devote the
labour of their slaves and cattle, for one week in the year, to growing
corn here, instead of passing many weeks on the road in search of it.

“In passing the Knysna this day, both Colonel Warre and his Hottentot
had a narrow escape. We were fording the river on horseback, and the
Colonel and his man having diverged a little from the direction in which
the others of the party were following the steps of their guide, both
disappeared; the top of the Colonel’s hat, and the floating carcase of
his attendant only appearing above water. We had scarcely time to feel
alarmed, when they were seen to emerge from the river, and to gain the
bank. They had fallen into a deep hole, of which many exist in the bed
of the river, and render it very dangerous to strangers. A smart gallop
of some miles soon dried their clothes again, and restored the Colonel
at least to comfort; that of the Hottentot probably had never been

The narrative of the journey closes here, and though that journey
terminated, as has been already stated, under circumstances so
distressing to a parent’s mind, the observations which were made during
its progress, and the information which was gained, were not lost sight
of afterwards or neglected. Sir Jahleel brought back with him strong
convictions of the importance of the Cape as a Colony; while at the
same time the misery which he had seen in some of the settlers, and
the general want of that, without which earthly prosperity is but a
very doubtful advantage, led to long and reiterated efforts for the
improvement of the Colony, both in a religious and commercial view. And
these efforts might have been attended with the happiest effects, had
they been appreciated and received as they ought to have been.

Perhaps it is not saying more than is due to the profession to which he
belonged, that if ever patriotic feelings were really and effectively
developed, it was among the officers of the Navy at the close of the
last war. Accustomed to traverse the whole surface of the globe in
their country’s cause; conscious that the character, the interests,
the security of their country were entrusted to them individually;
they looked at every thing in this connection, and considered how it
might be turned towards the public good. The dream of universal empire
never crossed their minds, but the hope of universal influence was
unquestionably theirs; and while the liberties of the world seemed to
find their best defence from the flag of Britain, it was not unnatural
that men thus formed, and educated in their country’s service, should
identify the world’s welfare with the extension of their country’s power,
and think that every increase of British influence was a fresh security
for the happiness of mankind.

The Journal which has been just presented to the Reader is no inadequate
exhibition of the spirit which was at that time so characteristic of
the British Navy, and which made every officer alive to the means of
enlarging or strengthening the resources of his country.

Sir Jahleel perhaps may be thought to have had an official duty to
perform; and to have been required as Naval Commissioner to remark on the
resources which the colony included, and which might be called for by the
Arsenal at Simon’s Town. But it is evident that his views were extended
beyond any such temporary advantage; and that he delighted in describing
the resources of the colony, while regarding it as a constituent part
of the empire, as offering fresh fields for the diffusion of the
power and influence of Great Britain, and of the numberless blessings
connected with the principles which seem belonging to that influence. He
anticipated the moment when the varied surface of its territory might
be brought into cultivation by the energy and intelligence of British
settlers, and a fresh field for the manufacturing industry of the mother
country might be opened in the prosperity of the colony. He saw what the
country was, its natural advantages and capabilities; and he wished to
see those advantages improved, and those capabilities employed, by the
introduction of an active, intelligent, and well principled population.
Above all he looked forward to a time, when under the influence of the
gospel, and through its stated ministrations, that wilderness might
be made to blossom as a rose, and the desert be like the garden of the
Lord. He saw that the settlers scattered as they were along the line of
coast, and surrounded as they were with a redundancy of the means of
subsistence, were still, if contemplated in a higher sense, like sheep
scattered in a wilderness, cut off by distance from all opportunity of
religious observances, and separated from every influence that could
restrain or regulate their inclinations. The occasional insight that
he had gained into their domestic arrangements, supplied a painful
contrast with the external welfare of their condition; and he brought
back with him the conviction, that no real improvement of the Colony
could be effected, unless something was done for the moral and religious
improvement of the people. His feelings naturally led him to look to
the Church of England, as the agency by which this good work should be
undertaken; and it would have been well for the Colony, if the Church
of England had had the power of extending its influence so far; or if
the Government of the mother country would at once have given to the
church, the power of amalgamating and uniting to herself, the distant
dependencies of the Empire. Had the suggestions which Sir Jahleel Brenton
then addressed to the Bishop of London been adopted, had some large and
comprehensive scheme for the religious organization of the Colony been
introduced, it is hardly necessary to say, that the affairs of the Cape
of Good Hope would have stood on a very different footing from that which
they occupy now; and that the painful and insurrectionary movements which
have retarded its advance, and which have sown widely and deeply the
seeds of future trouble, might have probably been avoided. Had schools
and churches been generally built, and provided for at the time of which
we write, the population of the country would by this time have assumed
a more stable and advanced character. Settlers of a superior quality,
and in larger numbers would have been attracted to the Colony. The old
inhabitants would have been more attached to the British Government,
and the Hottentot population would have been reclaimed. The transition
from slavery to freedom in their case would have been more completely
accomplished, and with less disturbance to the prejudice of the Boors.
The influence of law would have been generally felt throughout the
province, and civilization would have proceeded more rapidly, while it
was pressed on principles which all could recognize, and which all felt
to be beneficial to themselves.

But it was not likely that a man situated as Sir Jahleel Brenton was,
should know the difficulties which beset every endeavour to do good,
and the obstacles which in every old and remote government retard or
hinder the efforts of benevolent individuals. He did however what he
ought, for he did what he could. He addressed to the one Bishop, who by
a strange legal fiction was supposed to be charged with the spiritual
care of the Colonies, a letter on the subject; pointing out what he had
seen, and suggesting the steps which he thought it would be desirable
to take. That the letter was read and acknowledged by the venerable
individual to whom it was addressed, there can be no doubt; though no
copy of the Bishop’s answer remains. That it excited in his mind a deep
and painful feeling, by the mention of a destitution which he could not
relieve, and of opportunities which he could not improve, may be assumed
as equally certain; and though no result followed; and though this was
to be numbered among the many efforts which it would seem must in every
case be made, before any thing of real importance is to be accomplished;
it still is due to the subject of this memoir, that this instance of his
zeal should meet with a record here, if it has obtained no better record
in the effects which it produced.


                                “CAPE OF GOOD HOPE, 24 MARCH, 1818.

    “MY LORD,

    “My professional duty as Commissioner of His Majesty’s Navy
    resident in this Colony, lately induced me to take a journey
    through the south eastern parts of it, in order to visit a
    port recently discovered at the mouth of the river Knysna;
    and in the course of it, I have made such observations upon
    the state of the country, through which I have passed, with
    respect to its inhabitants, as appear to be deserving of your
    Lordship’s notice. Under such an impression I take the liberty
    of offering them, in the conviction that should they open any
    means of extending the influence of the Church of England, and
    consequently of diffusing the knowledge of the gospel, your
    Lordship will excuse the intrusion.

    “Throughout the whole extent of country between Hottentots
    Holland and Plattenberg Bay, there are but three clergymen,
    viz. one at Caledon, one at Georges, and the third at
    Zwellendam. The population exceeds seven thousand, and is
    constantly increasing. The dwellings of the inhabitants,
    generally speaking, are scattered through these districts at
    such a distance from the places above mentioned, that very
    few can form a part of the weekly congregation. The farmers
    have no means of instruction within themselves; in some few
    instances a schoolmaster is kept in the family, or rather a
    person, who can barely read and write, of low origin, and often
    of vicious habits. Books of any description except the Bible
    (and not always that) are seldom to be seen in their houses.
    The Boors of this colony are by no means deficient in capacity,
    or good dispositions; on the contrary, I have generally
    remarked amongst them great intelligence, much frankness, and
    disinterestedness; and their hospitality is a theme of praise
    with all who have had recourse to it.

    “Their defects and privations arise from inveterate prejudices,
    inherited from the early colonists, and fostered by the state
    of gross ignorance, in which they have been brought up.

    “No amelioration can take place whilst these obstacles exist;
    and I feel convinced they can only be removed by religious
    instruction. No legislative measures for the improvement
    of the country (of which it is greatly susceptible) can be
    efficacious, until the understandings of these people are made
    parties in the cause. At present, they are in direct hostility
    to any change however advantageous. The radical evil, I
    consider to be the state of slavery in this country, or rather
    the manner in which this wretched class of men are viewed
    by the colonists. The slaves here labour under disabilities
    which I believe are peculiar to this country. They are, by
    the existing laws of the colony, prohibited from becoming
    Christians and from marrying.

    “The first of these cruel restrictions has in a few instances
    been dispensed with, but the latter never. On the contrary it
    is most pertinaciously adhered to. The effect of such laws is
    but too evident, not only to the judgment, but to experience.
    The first gives the utmost facility to the diffusion of
    the Mahometan tenets, whilst it impedes the progress of
    Christianity; and the most immoral and pernicious consequences
    inevitably result from the latter. These are too obvious and
    too well known to admit of their being dwelt upon. I will only
    observe that the youth of some of the most opulent families,
    are, in consequence of such a system brought up, in total
    abandonment of those principles, from which alone they can
    ever be expected to become worthy and exemplary fathers of
    families. The most unquestionable authority may be referred to
    in support of these observations. Many of the principal slave
    proprietors, it is notorious, give a preference to their slaves
    being Mahometans instead of Christians; in the first place,
    because they conceive that it induces sobriety; and in the
    next, as it gives them a power over their female slaves which
    is incompatible with Christianity. These practices, which in
    the educated colonists are to be viewed with just abhorrence,
    must amongst the illiterate Boors be deplored as the effect
    of dark ignorance. A total reformation of the former class I
    consider as almost hopeless. They may be awed by the expression
    of public reproach, but the inclination will remain, and
    every means will be resorted to, to retain their power. With
    the latter class (the great majority) it is very different.
    They err from want of knowing better, and I am convinced
    possess feelings which, if properly directed, would glorify
    their God, and bring down his blessings upon their country.
    The disposition of the present government of this colony to
    annihilate these evils, is all that can be wished. Repeated
    efforts have been made by his Excellency the Governor, to
    ameliorate the situation of the slaves, and lower classes; but
    his power is not sufficient to produce the desired effect. The
    persons of influence amongst the colonists are too jealous of
    the articles of capitulation to hear of the smallest alteration
    being made in these laws; they instantly take the alarm, and
    join unanimously to reject every idea of improvement, which
    they suspect may in any way, however remote, interfere with
    their interests; and their slaves are considered as the most
    valuable part of their property. All hopes of reform must be
    derived from the exertions of the mother country; not by an
    infringement of its engagements with the colonists, but by
    earnest recommendations and persevering efforts to increase
    the Christian population; by the instruction of the Hottentots
    and Negroes, as well slaves as free. I am prepared to find
    that the first endeavours may not be greatly successful, but
    they will gradually increase in influence, and the public
    mind, may in the meantime be improved and enlightened by
    religious instruction. The success of the Moravians at their
    establishment, for the conversion and civilization of the
    Hottentots at Bavian’s Kloof, which I visited on my journey,
    affords the strongest encouragement to similar efforts being
    made by the Church of England. The contemplation of the truly
    benign effects, resulting from the mild and patient conduct of
    these excellent people—the rapid progress their converts were
    making in religion, and in the acquisition of the comforts of
    life, first excited in me the wish to address your Lordship,
    firmly impressed with the conviction, that one amiable,
    benevolent, and consistent clergyman of the Church of England,
    would in the course of a very short time, produce effects
    equally salutary not only on the poor and destitute inhabitants
    of the colony; but that his influence would extend to the
    wealthy farmer, and his dependents. The expence of such an
    undertaking need not be great. A certain extent of land given,
    in the first instance, by the Crown, for a Church and Glebe,
    and another for distribution amongst free persons of every
    description, whether Europeans, Hottentots, Negroes, or Malays,
    might be granted whenever required. These settlers should be
    assisted in the infancy of the institution with a small—but a
    very small—portion of capital, so as to enable them to provide
    articles of the first necessity, such as clothes, furniture,
    implements for building, cattle, and corn for the first
    year, the amount of which might be paid off by very moderate

    “I am firmly convinced, my Lord, that the happiest effects
    would very soon result from such an undertaking. It would be no
    wild speculation, but one that must be of essential benefit to
    the colony, and thence to the mother country, for the expences
    would in a short time be defrayed by increase of trade, and
    national property. I beg leave to give your Lordship an
    instance of the value that becomes immediately attached to land
    in this colony, when put under cultivation, or rather when it
    is only in contemplation to cultivate it.

    “The proprietors of different estates in Hottentots Holland,
    about thirty miles from the Cape, were desirous of building a
    church to which their families might resort on the Sabbath,
    instead of having a journey of twelve miles to perform, in
    going to the church at Stellenbosch. A piece of ground was
    selected for the purpose, and purchased by subscription for
    23,000 guilders; a portion of it was marked out for the
    church, another for the clergyman’s house and garden, and
    as there remained a considerable quantity beyond what was
    required for these purposes, it was sold by auction in small
    lots, for building houses near the church, and brought the
    extraordinary price of 161,000 guilders. A similar effect,
    although probably not so great in degree, will result whenever
    a Government establishment may take place. By building and
    endowing a church, Government would be enabled to sell the
    contiguous ground so advantageously, as to remunerate them for
    all the expences; and by sending inhabitants from England for
    these new settlements, the chief want of the colony would be
    supplied, that of population; whilst numbers now starving and
    destitute in the mother country would be provided for, and the
    poor rates relieved in proportion. But what is of still greater
    importance, the Christian religion would be promoted in every
    part of this extensive colony. An establishment of this kind
    would be particularly desirable in the vicinity of the Knysna,
    of Mossel Bay, and the Brede River. The Knysna and the Brede
    River are secure and valuable ports, only ascertained to be
    such within the last two years, and Mossel Bay, may at a very
    trifling expence become such in a very short time. They are
    all situated in fertile corn countries. The Knysna has the
    additional advantage of being in the immediate vicinity of an
    extensive and valuable forest, where timber for building the
    largest ships is to be had in abundance and with facility.

    “Upon an attentive consideration of all these circumstances,
    I cannot resist the impulse I feel to entreat your Lordship’s
    notice of them, and that you would be pleased to recommend
    the measure of even one Clergyman of the Church of England
    being sent out, and established in either of the places above
    mentioned, with a very limited number of poor families from
    England, by way of an experiment, upon the success of which
    may depend the extension of the plan.

    “The sum required for such a beginning as might settle twenty
    families in comfort, need not exceed one thousand pounds
    sterling, including their passage out to this country. The
    materials for building, if in the neighbourhood of the Knysna,
    are to be had, as well as fuel, without any other expence than
    that of labour; the soil is excellent, easily cultivated, and
    may provide for any number of inhabitants after the first
    year. Meat is at two pence half-penny sterling the pound, and
    would be considerably cheaper, were the families sufficiently
    numerous to share an ox among them. The whole of their labour
    will be necessarily required during the first year of their
    establishment to provide for their immediate wants; but in the
    second, many may begin to pay off the sums which have been
    advanced to them, by cutting timber for Government, or in any
    other way in which their industry may turn to account.

    “I have the honour to be, &c.

                                                 “JAHLEEL BRENTON.”


But if these efforts for public improvement were unsuccessful, a mind
like that of Sir Jahleel Brenton did not suffer the disappointment to
cool his ardour, or to check similar endeavours. He had done what he
could in that direction, and when he failed there, he did what he could
in another. Some men offended at the indifference with which these
representations were received, might have given up all attempt at doing
good; and considered themselves as justified in their inactivity by the
treatment they had met with. But the religion by which he lived, had
taught him patience, and the spirit of the profession he belonged to had
given him perseverance. His desire to do good remained unbroken, and
the failure of one scheme, merely turned his attention to others, which
seemed more within his reach, and less dependent on the support to be
derived from distant friends; for while there was no object so great,
which he would not have endeavoured to grasp for the sake of doing good
to others, there was no evil so trifling which his sensibility was not
ready to notice. It may easily be supposed then, that the black servants
of such a family would not be neglected; but that they would be carefully
taught the principles of that religion, the fruits of which they saw
exhibited in their master’s daily practice. The observance of the sabbath
naturally became more strict as the importance of its employments was
more distinctly understood; and though the kindness of Sir Jahleel’s
character, as well as the simplicity of his religious views, saved the
sabbath from all appearance of rigour, and rendered it in the fullest
sense of the word a delight to every one within his influence; he could
not but see more clearly the necessity of a strict observance of the
institution, as he felt the difficulty of inculcating the knowledge of
religion on the uneducated and half civilized natives. Men of various
countries and of different dispositions were here placed under his
charge; either as domestic servants, or as labourers in the Dockyard.
Each, according to the opportunity which their situation offered, were
made the objects of his Christian kindness and care; and many it is hoped
carried into other services, or into other lands, the seed which had
been sown through his instruction, and the impression that had been made
on their hearts by his example. Of all these, the most singular, and
perhaps at one time the most hopeful, was a lad belonging to that strange
and degraded tribe called the Bushmen, to whom the name of Hermes had
been given, and who was well known among the friends of Sir Jahleel in
England by this significant denomination. Dr. Barry, the talented young
Physician who was mentioned above, as having attended Lady Brenton during
her last illness, had rescued this boy, when a mere child, from the
tyranny of a Dutch woman, his mistress, who abusing the power which the
law gave her over a slave, was about to commit him to prison on account
of some trifling theft, which he had been guilty of. Dr. Barry, touched
with compassion at the boy’s appearance, ransomed him from slavery, and
was then glad to consign his purchase to the care of his benevolent
patron. The boy thus admitted into Sir Jahleel’s family, gave remarkable
evidences of intelligence and quickness. Irritable and revengeful when
wronged, he was in no ordinary degree attached and grateful when treated
kindly; and his readiness of answer, and activity, made him a general
favourite in the house; while his docility, and rapidity of comprehension
encouraged hopes, that this child of the wilderness might be sent back
as a messenger of peace, and a herald of mercy to his persecuted and
benighted countrymen.

With Sir Jahleel this boy came to England, where the peculiarity of his
appearance (for of all the sections of the human race, the Bushman most
nearly resembles the monkey) attracted general observation; and in his
family he remained discharging with correctness the several duties of
a domestic servant; subject to no other interruption than that which
his vivacity and quickness of temper contrived to draw from the common
occurrences of the day. One of these may be mentioned, as exhibiting the
character of the boy’s mind, and the strength of feeling which may exist
even in the most uncouth representation of our nature. A Lady of rank
who had heard of Hermes, expressed so strong a wish to see him, that
he was sent to her house; and under the directions that had been left,
was turned into the drawing room, where the lady intended to meet him.
Poor Hermes who had never been in such a place before, looked round with
wonder on articles of luxury, of which he hardly knew the use; and at
last, when his mind was bewildered by the splendour of the scene, turning
suddenly round he beheld an object still more astonishing than sofas,
and tables, and porcelain vases, a Bushboy of his own height and colour,
looking at him with features of surprise. To dart towards his brother,
and to rush into his embraces, was the act of a moment. A loud crash was
heard, the servants hurried into the room; a large pier glass was found
shivered, and Hermes lying stunned with the blow, and senseless on the
floor. It is hardly necessary to say, that the bushboy was the figure
of Hermes reflected in a glass which reached to the ground, and that
the illusion arose from the fact, that he had never before seen his own
figure exhibited in such a manner.

It is satisfactory to know that the hopes entertained concerning this lad
have not been entirely frustrated. After having remained some time in
England, after having acquired and adopted all the usages of civilized
life, and apparently overcome his earlier propensities; the irritability
of his temper and restlessness rendered it inconvenient to retain him in
the family; and as his health was suffering from the climate of England,
it was thought expedient to send him back to the Cape, and to place
him in such a situation there, as might maintain the influence of his
new habits, and prepare him for future usefulness in the country. It
was reported that the original nature of the boy had resumed its sway,
when he was placed in his original situation. It was said that he had
disappeared from the Colony, plunged again into the bush, and become
the wild timid wanderer that he had been; but the Editor is happy to
add, that recent information received from the Cape, describes Hermes
as settled in a respectable situation there, and as retaining a lively
and grateful recollection of the kindness he experienced from his former

In these benevolent employments Sir Jahleel formed the acquaintance of
the Rev. Dr. Philip, who has long filled the important situation of
Missionary to the Cape, in connexion with the London Missionary Society,
and whose name is well known to every one acquainted with the progress
of missions in Africa, and as generally and deservedly respected.
His acquaintance with Dr. Philip does not appear to have taken place
before Lady Brenton’s death; but the common interest they took in all
measures for the improvement of mankind, soon after that time produced
an intimacy, which led to much and confidential correspondence; and
this correspondence was probably very beneficial to Sir Jahleel at
this period in his life. His religious convictions had been gradually
gaining strength, and his religious views acquiring maturity. He had
seen the insufficiency of that formal religion, which, at first, had
been contemplated as the end and object to be aimed at; and the regular
study of the Scriptures, combined with other books, and particularly
that of Mr. Wilberforce’s Essay on Practical Christianity, had enabled
him to take a wider and a juster view of the privileges and requirements
of the gospel, than he at first possessed. Trials, repeated trials, had
been the blessed means by which these clearer views of truth were made
matters of experience. He knew in whom he had believed. He had felt that
there was a power in the gospel, by which he had been enabled to overcome
the world, and to realize in himself a change, which, at an earlier
period of his life, he might have thought visionary, or improbable.
He had resigned to the God who gave it, the blessing which up to that
moment had seemed to be the substance of happiness, the object on which
the warmest feelings of his heart had been centered; and in which he
had experienced as much of earthly comfort as usually falls to the lot
of man; and he had found that he could resign it, and still have such
comfort within his reach, as enabled him cheerfully to fulfil the duties
of his office, and to go on rejoicing in the hope of a more perfect rest,
a more abiding happiness hereafter. To a mind thus constituted, and thus
prepared, led by a gradual process to the knowledge of the truth as it is
in Jesus, and having had that knowledge proved by trial, and confirmed
by experience, the intercourse of one like Dr. Philip, a man advanced
in spiritual things, and familiarized with the difficulties which beset
the believer’s path, must have been welcome, if not necessary; and it was
natural, therefore, that under the circumstances in which Sir Jahleel
was placed, the society and counsel of Dr. Philip should be sought with
that peculiar eagerness with which an awakened mind, and a wounded
spirit are apt to seek the only consolations that meet their wants. On
the other hand it was equally natural that Dr. Philip should be struck
by the characteristic openness and integrity of the Commissioner, and
that he should be drawn towards him by that irresistible charm, which
the sweetness of his temper threw over his conversation and address. He
must likewise have felt, that in the position which he himself occupied
at the Cape, where he was viewed with coldness by the Government, and
with jealousy and hatred by the Boors, who suspected the effect that his
missionary efforts would have on the Hottentot population, and imagined
that every attempt to raise that degraded race was a wrong to themselves,
and an injury to their interests; the friendship and patronage of a man
of high professional character, and holding a distinguished government
office, was a help of no ordinary magnitude, and might have been
regarded, at the time, as a support vouchsafed by providence. But it is
certain that he must soon have found, in the state of Sir Jahleel’s mind,
in the anxiety of his enquiries, and in the sincerity of his pursuit
of truth, the grounds for a deeper and more abiding feeling; and he
must have rejoiced, that in a country where there was much to sadden a
Christian’s heart, there was one case before him, where the grace of
God was so manifestly working, and where the fruits of the Spirit were
so largely brought forth. Acquaintance under such circumstances soon
ripened into friendship. They found themselves, in many cases, united in
one common work; and still more frequently, the only two who felt alike
on the subjects that came before them; and each had reason to rejoice
in the associate thus unexpectedly discovered. A long correspondence on
religious questions is still preserved; but as the letters are chiefly
occupied in the discussion of books, which had then recently appeared,
but are now generally known, it does not seem necessary to repeat remarks
or arguments, which must be familiar to most, and which do not tend
directly to illustrate the character of the writers.

Of these, Dr. Chalmers’ address to the inhabitants of Kilmaney seems
to have engaged a large share of their attention; and there can be
little doubt that the intercourse which was thus maintained, and the
free discussion of the great and momentous truths which were involved
in these subjects, tended to clear Sir Jahleel’s views on the essential
doctrines of the gospel, and to give the same correctness to his theory
of religion, which had long been exhibited in its practical application.

The Works of John Newton had been a favourite study with him. To them he
owed much of what he had learned; in them he met with the breathings of
a heart, congenial to his own, and the records of an experience which
might have reminded him of his own trials; and in Dr. Philip he not
only found a man of a kindred spirit with Newton; but one who had had
the advantage of personal knowledge, and easy confidential intercourse
with him. One letter of Dr. Philip’s, therefore, it seems allowable to
introduce, not merely as exhibiting the tone of correspondence between
him and the subject of this memoir, but also on account of the original
and characteristic sketch which it gives of the venerable old man whose
writings they are discussing.


    “I am ashamed when I look at the date of your last kind letter;
    you must think me a very poor correspondent, I scarcely know
    what apology to make. I cannot altogether begin with the old
    stale excuse ‘I have been so busy that I could attend to
    nothing but what forced itself upon me,’ for there have been
    several days in which I have done nothing, if I except the
    ordinary routine of business in the way of writing. The truth
    is, I have lately been under the necessity of writing so much,
    that I have contracted such an aversion to writing, such a
    horror of mental exertion, that the very thought of doing
    anything which requires application of mind is ready almost to
    turn me sick. I do not know whether you can sympathize with
    me in this, shall I call it loathing of exertion, this mental

    “Accept of my best thanks for your introductory letter to
    the Admiral; it was very gratifying to my worthy friend, and
    after what Admiral Lambert has heard from Captain Vernon and
    others, he will be pleased to see our African traveller and his
    curiosities. I mentioned to Mr. Campbell, that if Buonaparte
    had heard of him and his horn, they might be sent for to
    Longwood. He was flattered by the joke.

    “In my former letter I believe I informed you, that I was busy
    correcting Mr. Campbell’s Journal. My labours have been more
    connected with blotting, than with filling up; but if I have
    not added much to its beauty, I have pared off things, which
    might have offended—deformities; and reduced it to a more
    reasonable size than my worthy friend would have been disposed
    to confine it to, had he been left to follow his own judgment.
    Mr. Campbell is a man of sterling principle, he lives with God,
    and he would not for the world do what he might consider as
    an unjust, or a dishonourable thing: but when we can say all
    this for him, as a man, and as a Christian, we must confess we
    cannot say so much for him as a writer of Travels.

    “I am not at present in possession of Newton’s Works, and
    the passage respecting which you ask my opinion, I do not
    recollect; but I perfectly agree with him, that a continuance
    in sin is inconsistent with assurance. But it must be wilful
    transgression which Mr. Newton intends in this passage. I have
    known few men more sensible of the depravity of human nature
    than Mr. Newton was. The language he used respecting himself
    was always expressive of the deepest abasement and humility.
    Complaining to him one day of the badness of my own heart, he
    comforted me rather in a singular way, by assuring me that if
    I had lived as long as he had done, I should feel ten times
    more of it. ‘I know,’ said he, ‘more evil of my own heart in
    one day, than I know of the greatest profligate I have ever
    known.’ I think he was seventy-two years of age when he used
    this language, and yet while he had those views of himself, he
    had the firmest assurance. It was the same morning he expressed
    himself in this manner, that he observed to me, ‘I am like a
    ship waiting the first fair wind to carry her out of port; I
    have everything on board, I am quite ready for sea. I never lay
    my head down at night, but I feel it matter of indifference
    whether I awake in this world or the next.’

    “I must confess, though I have failed to make the matter
    so intelligible as I could have wished, that there is to
    my apprehension some difference between Mr. Newton and Dr.
    Chalmers, in the Kilmaney address on this point. The one
    requires certain things should be done to prepare us for the
    consolations of the Gospel, the other brings us to the Saviour
    for those consolations, as necessary to enable us to do those
    things. The difference is most visible in the first approaches
    of the penitent to the Saviour for consolation; although all
    through Mr. Newton’s writings it appears to me, the amiable
    saint was more intimately, and experimentally acquainted with
    the way of access to God, and the grounds of a sinner’s peace
    with God, than Dr. Chalmers was, when he wrote the address in

    “If a man oppresses the fatherless and the widow, if he
    accumulates a fortune by unrighteousness, or if he has done
    these things, or things of a similar nature without repentance
    and restitution as far as in his power, he can have no claim to
    the consolations of the Gospel; but a man may feel a constant
    invasion of vain thoughts, the burden of a worldly spirit, evil
    passions occasionally struggling for the mastery; and still
    have the comfort of assurance. If sin is the cause of grief, if
    it is resisted, it is not inconsistent with a lively hope in
    the mercy of God. The sin which grieves us, and is resisted,
    says an old writer, will not condemn us. I frequently feel
    these evils. I feel that in my flesh dwelleth no good thing.
    I frequently feel cold and formal in my devotions, and these
    feelings occasionally disturb my peace; but I invariably feel
    my consolations restored by a renewed application to the blood
    of Christ. If any man confess his sin, God is faithful and just
    to forgive him his sin, and to cleanse him from all iniquity.
    I believe we are both travelling in the same road: that we are
    both minding the same things: and if we are not exactly of the
    same opinion in all things, the things in which we are not
    quite agreed are minor points, and God according to his promise
    will eventually reveal those things unto us.

    “There is an excellent Sermon among Mr. Newton’s Discourses on
    the doctrine of Assurance. I do not know whether you noticed
    that sermon; if you have not seen it, I would recommend it to
    your attention. It is many years since I read it, and I cannot
    state in a particular manner, but I derived much advantage from
    it, at the time I read it, and the impression made upon my mind
    by it remains fresh even now. I shall be glad to see the volume
    you mention, but you need not be in any hurry sending it; I may
    perhaps see you before I can read much of it.

    “With best respects to Miss Brenton, and Miss Isabella, in
    which Mrs. P. desires to unite with me.

    “I am, my dear Sir Jahleel,

        “With unabated affection and esteem,

                        “Your’s sincerely,

                                                     “JOHN PHILIP.”

    “CAPE TOWN, FEBRUARY 27, 1821.”



The letter with which the last chapter was closed, is one of many that
remain, and which might have been inserted in this Memoir with advantage,
if it had not been desirable to restrain the size of a volume, which
already exceeds its proposed dimensions; and if enough had not been
already said, to answer the purpose for which their insertion might
be desirable, the completion of the portraiture of the subject. The
reader therefore is at liberty to infer from the tone of one letter, the
character of the correspondence in general; and he may perhaps admit
that it is one of the felicities of the age to see such a correspondence
existing in such a quarter of the world. While men whose lot is cast in
the extreme corner of Africa; that portion of our world, which has seemed
throughout the history of man to have been resigned to barbarism; are
found discussing such topics, and in such a spirit, the wilderness may
indeed be said to blossom as a rose, and the desert is like the garden of
the Lord.

But interesting and profitable as such communications must have been to
both parties concerned, they were neither of them men likely to leave
their talents unimproved, or to allow religious conviction to evaporate
in religious discussions. They felt that the light they had received
was to shine before men; and the love of Christ, the principle on which
their whole mutual scheme of belief centred and moved, constrained them
to live, not for themselves, but for others; and to evince the gratitude
they felt for the mercy that had visited them, and the love which burnt
within their own breasts towards Him who had made them what they were, by
acts of kindness and benevolence to all around them.

We find Sir Jahleel accordingly at one time warmly interested in the case
of the captured Negroes, who had been set at liberty in the Cape, and
were employed in the Government works and dockyard. An Act of Parliament
had rescued these poor creatures from slavery, but the boon of freedom
had been bestowed in a manner which rendered it a slight, or at least
a questionable blessing; and such was the condition in which they were
left in the colony, that some doubts might have been felt, whether their
happiness would not have been consulted, if the ship which conveyed them
from Africa, had been allowed to complete its course, and to discharge
its cargo in the West Indies. The men were captured, and were in
consequence declared free by law; but they were set free in a country
where they were strangers and destitute of all means of subsistence;
and where the means of support were not provided for them at first, nor
always attainable by any efforts of their own. The consideration of the
Colonial Government had gone so far, as to have assigned them employment
in the dockyards; but it was not easy to persuade an emancipated Negro,
that it was necessary to work; nor was it easier to teach him how to work
so as to make him useful. On this account it seemed necessary to treat
them like children, to convert their slavery into a servitude, limited in
time and measure; and to consider them as apprentices, that some kind of
restraint might thus be exercised over those, who were in point of fact
made free, but who seemed hardly capable of making a proper use of their
freedom. The form of apprenticeship assimilated their condition in the
colonial law to that of the Hottentot; but in doing this, it exposed them
to all the injuries under which that injured race of men were groaning,
through the system which the Dutch laws had established; and which left
them too much at the mercy of the Boors to be regarded as independent or

We have seen in an earlier part of the memoir how earnestly Sir Jahleel
strove to obtain protection for these people; and we cannot be surprised
if his efforts, extended to the Government at home, as well as to that of
the colony, should have brought him into connection with that individual,
who filled at the moment the glorious, though unsolicited office of being
the advocate of the oppressed throughout the world. While resident at
the Cape, Sir Jahleel was induced to address himself to Mr. Wilberforce,
and not only to call his attention to the stealthy modes in which the
trade in slaves was carried on through the channel of Mozambique, and
to the danger of the Cape becoming a depôt for that nefarious traffic;
but likewise to the state of the emancipated Negroes, and the native
population of the colony. Mr. Wilberforce, whose ear was ever open to the
cry of distress, felt at once the value of his new correspondent, and
the importance of the appeal. The case of the Cape colony was included
in the succeeding measures for the abolition of the slave trade. Public
attention was drawn to the existence of the traffic on the eastern coast
of Africa, and in the Indian Ocean; and that quarter of the world was
protected from the encroachment of the evil, which has blighted the
prosperity of the west.

Sir Jahleel Brenton’s zeal in behalf of the emancipated Negroes led him
likewise to consider the state of the Hottentot population at the Cape;
and here he found Dr. Philip engaged in a long, and almost hopeless
contest with the Colonial Government, in behalf of that despised and
injured people. The original natives of the country, they had been
reduced by the Dutch settlers to a state of servitude, in some degree
worse than slavery; as the master felt, that while both slave and servant
were equally at his disposal and equally under his control, the slave
had been purchased, and had cost him something; and the servant had come
under his dominion for nothing. Both therefore were to all intents
bondmen; for the servant had no power of changing his master, at least
no power which he dared to exercise; and the circumstance of his having
been born to nominal freedom, availed nothing, where the law was framed
for the sole purpose of securing the master’s rights; and where distance
from the seat of Government, and the wild independence of the Boor’s
life, made an appeal to justice all but impossible. The character of the
Dutch settlers likewise, sordid and covetous on principle, and at that
time filled with hatred of the British influence, as being the dominion
of a conqueror; and of British intercourse as likely to introduce a rival
and encroaching population; placed them in an attitude of suspicion
and defiance. Every attempt made by the Government to ameliorate the
condition of the Hottentots was viewed with jealousy by the Boors, as an
abridgement of their own rights; and every disposition in the Hottentots
to complain was crushed by increased severity, as if it were an act of
insurrection. The very efforts of the missionaries to convey to that
benighted race the knowledge of the gospel, were contemplated with
prejudice and ill-will by the colonists. In consequence every obstacle
was thrown in their way. The attendance of the servants was forbidden
at all occasions of social worship, or religious instruction. The wish
for instruction was considered a crime in the Hottentot; and all that
the fierce violence of a brutal mind could suggest, was too often done
by the farmers, to subdue the rising spirit of religion, whenever it had
been excited by the preaching of the missionaries in their neighbourhood.
It is a painful and humiliating fact that the local regulations of
Protestant colonies have been uniformly less favourable to the spiritual
improvement of the natives, than those established in Roman Catholic
colonies. Not that Protestantism is less lenient in its character, or
less congenial with liberty than Romanism, for it is confessedly more
so; but the Protestant colonies having been formed in later times, and
at times when the church had lost that influence with the state, which
it once possessed; the colonial legislation in all the later European
settlements was constructed on purely secular grounds, and religion had
no voice, because the church had no power.

The Dutch system of Government at the Cape had in other respects much
to recommend it. The established religion of the mother country had
been introduced in the colony, and been endowed. The character of the
settlers, at least of those in the town, would have borne comparison with
that of any colony belonging to other European nations; and the Boors
themselves, when political or personal jealousies did not intervene, were
found hospitable, kind, and correct in general behaviour. The misfortune
of the colony arose from the degree of power which was possessed by