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Afloat And Ashore by James Fenimore Cooper

Part 3 out of 10

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no very material change in his exterior. Perhaps, on the whole, he
was improved in appearance. I think both the girls fancied this,
though Grace did not say it, and Lucy only half admitted it, and that
with many reservations. As for myself, I was also full-grown, standing
exactly six feet in my stockings, which was pretty well for eighteen.
But I had also spread; a fact that is not common for lads at that
age. Grace said I had lost all delicacy of appearance; and as for
Lucy, though she laughed and blushed she protested I began to look
like a great bear. To confess the truth, I was well satisfied with my
own appearance, did not envy Rupert a jot, and knew I could toss him
over my shoulder whenever I chose. I stood the strictures on my
appearance, therefore, very well; and, though no one was so much
derided and laughed at as myself, in that critical discussion, no one
cared less for it all. Just as I was permitted to escape, Lucy said,
in an under tone--

"You should have staid at home, Miles, and then the changes would have
come so gradually, no one would have noticed them, and you would have
escaped being told how much you are altered, and that you are a
_bear_."

I looked eagerly round at the speaker, and eyed her intently. A look
of regret passed over the dear creature's face, her eyes looked as
penitent as they did soft, and the flush that suffused her countenance
rendered this last expression almost bewitching. At the same instant
she whispered--"I did not really mean _that_."

But it was Grace's turn, and my attention was drawn to my sister. A
year had made great improvements in Grace. Young as she was, she had
lost much of the girlish air, in the sedateness and propriety of the
young woman. Grace had always something more of these last than is
common; but they had now completely removed every appearance of
childish, I might almost say of girlish, frivolity. In person, her
improvement was great; though an air of exceeding delicacy rather left
an impression that such a being was more intended for another world,
than this. There was ever an air of fragility and of pure
intellectuality about my poor sister, that half disposed one to fancy
that she would one day be translated to a better sphere in the body,
precisely as she stood before human eyes. Lucy bore the examination
well. She was all woman, there being nothing about _her_ to
create any miraculous expectations, or fanciful pictures; but she was
evidently fast getting to be a very lovely woman. Honest, sincere,
full of heart, overflowing with the feelings of her sex, gentle yet
spirited, buoyant though melting with the charities; her changeful,
but natural and yet constant feelings in her, kept me incessantly in
pursuit of her playful mind and varying humours. Still, a more
high-principled being, a firmer or more consistent friend, or a more
accurate thinker on all subjects that suited her years and became her
situation, than Lucy Hardinge, never existed. Even Grace was
influenced by her judgment, though I did not then know how much my
sister's mind was guided by her simple and less pretending friend's
capacity to foresee things, and to reason on their consequences.

We were more than an hour uninterruptedly together, before we thought
of repairing to the house. Lucy then reminded Rupert that he had not
yet seen his father, whom she had just before observed alighting from
his horse at the door of his own study. That he had been apprised of
the return of the runaways, if not prodigals, was evident, she
thought, by his manner; and it was disrespectful to delay seeking his
forgiveness and blessing. Mr. Hardinge received us both without
surprise, and totally without any show of resentment. It was about the
time he expected our return, and no surprise was felt at finding this
expectation realized, as a matter of course, while resentment was
almost a stranger to his nature. We all shed tears, the girls sobbing
aloud; and we were both solemnly blessed. Nor am I ashamed to say I
knelt to receive that blessing, in an age when the cant of a
pretending irreligion--there is as much cant in self-sufficiency as in
hypocrisy, and they very often go together--is disposed to turn into
ridicule the humbling of the person, while asking for the blessing of
the Almighty through the ministers of his altars; for kneel I did, and
weep I did, and, I trust, the one in humility and the other in
contrition.

When we had all become a little calm, and a substantial meal was
placed before us adventurers, Mr. Hardinge demanded an account of all
that had passed. He applied to me to give it, and I was compelled to
discharge the office of an historian, somewhat against my
inclination. There was no remedy, however, and I told the story in my
own simple manner, and certainly in a way to leave very different
impressions from many of those made by the narrative of Rupert. I
thought once or twice, as I proceeded, that Lucy looked sorrowful, and
Grace looked surprised. I do not think I coloured in the least, as
regarded myself, and I know I did Neb no more than justice. My tale
was soon told, for I felt the whole time as if I were contradicting
Rupert, who, by the way, appeared perfectly unconcerned--perfectly
unconscious, indeed--on the subject of the discrepancies in the two
accounts. I have since met with men who did not know the truth when it
was even placed very fairly before their eyes.

Mr. Hardinge expressed his heartfelt happiness at having us back
again, and, soon after, he ventured to ask if we were satisfied with
what we had seen of the world. This was a home question, but I thought
it best to meet it manfully. So far from being satisfied, I told him
it was my ardent desire to get on board one of the letters-of-marque,
of which so many were then fitting out in the country, and to make a
voyage to Europe. Rupert, however, confessed he had mistaken his
vocation, and that he thought he could do no better than to enter a
lawyer's office. I was thunderstruck at this quiet admission of my
friend, of his incapacity to make a sailor, for it was the first
intimation I heard of his intention. I had remarked a certain want of
energy, in various situations that required action, in Rupert, but no
want of courage; and I had ascribed some portion of his lassitude to
the change of condition, and, possibly, of food; for, after all, that
godlike creature, man, is nothing but an animal, and is just as much
influenced by his stomach and digestion as a sheep, or a horse.

Mr. Hardinge received his son's intimation of a preference of
intellectual labours to a more physical state of existence, with a
gratification my own wishes did not afford him. Still, he made no
particular remark to either at the time, permitting us both to enjoy
our return to Clawbonny, without any of the drawbacks of advice or
lectures. The evening passed delightfully, the girls beginning to
laugh heartily at our own ludicrous accounts of the mode of living on
board ship, and of our various scenes in China, the Isle of Bourbon,
and elsewhere. Rupert had a great deal of humour, and a very dry way
of exhibiting it; in short, he was almost a genius in the mere
superficialities of life; and even Grace rewarded his efforts to
entertain us, with laughter to tears. Neb was introduced after
supper, and the fellow was both censured and commended; censured for
having abandoned the household gods, and commended for not having
deserted their master. His droll descriptions of the Chinese, their
dress, pigtails, shoes and broken English, diverted even Mr.
Hardinge, who, I believe, felt as much like a boy on this occasion, as
any of the party. A happier evening than that which followed in the
little _tea_-parlour, as my dear mother used to call it, was
never passed in the century that the roof had covered the old walls of
Clawbonny.

Next day I had a private conversation with my guardian, who commenced
the discourse by rendering a sort of account of the proceeds of my
property during the past year. I listened respectfully, and with some
interest; for I saw the first gave Mr. Hardinge great satisfaction,
and I confess the last afforded some little pleasure to myself. I
found that things had gone on very prosperously. Ready money was
accumulating, and I saw that, by the time I came of age, sufficient
cash would be on hand to give me a ship of my own, should I choose to
purchase one. From that moment I was secretly determined to qualify
myself to command her in the intervening time. Little was said of the
future, beyond an expression of the hope, by my guardian, that I would
take time to reflect before I came to a final decision on the subject
of my profession. To this I said nothing beyond making a respectful
inclination of the head.

For the next month, Clawbonny was a scene of uninterrupted merriment
and delight. We had few families to visit in our immediate
neighbourhood, it is true; and Mr. Hardinge proposed an excursion to
the Springs--the country was then too new, and the roads too bad, to
think of Niagara--but to this I would not listen. I cared not for the
Springs--knew little of, and cared less for fashion--and loved
Clawbonny to its stocks and stones. We remained at home, then, living
principally for each other. Rupert read a good deal to the girls,
under the direction of his father; while I passed no small portion of
my time in athletic exercises. The Grace & Lucy made one or two
tolerably long cruises in the river, and at length I conceived the
idea of taking the party down to town in the Wallingford. Neither of
the girls had ever seen New York, or much of the Hudson; nor had
either ever seen a ship. The sloops that passed up and down the
Hudson, with an occasional schooner, were the extent of their
acquaintance with vessels; and I began to feel it to be matter of
reproach that those in whom I took so deep an interest, should be so
ignorant. As for the girls themselves, they both admitted, now I was a
sailor, that their desire to see a regular, three-masted, full-rigged
ship, was increased seven-fold.

Mr. Hardinge heard my proposition, at first, as a piece of pleasantry;
but Grace expressing a strong desire to see a large town, or what was
thought a large town in this country, in 1799, and Lucy looking
wistful, though she remained silent under an apprehension her father
could not afford the expense of such a journey, which her imagination
rendered a great deal more formidable than it actually proved to be,
the excellent divine finally acquiesced. The expense was disposed of
in a very simple manner. The journey, both ways, would be made in the
Wallingford; and Mr. Hardinge was not so unnecessarily scrupulous as
to refuse passages for himself and children in the sloop, which never
exacted passage-money from any who went to or from the farm. Food was
so cheap, too, as to be a matter of no consideration; and, being
entitled legally to receive that at Clawbonny, it made no great
difference whether it were taken on board the vessel, or in the
house. Then there was a Mrs. Bradfort in New York, a widow lady of
easy fortune, who was a cousin-german of Mr. Hardinge's--his father's
sister's daughter--and with her he always staid in his own annual
visits to attend the convention of the Church--I beg pardon, of the
Protestant Episcopal Church, as it is now _de rigueur_ to say; I
wonder some ultra does not introduce the manifest improvement into the
Apostles' Creed of saying, "I believe in the Holy Protestant Episcopal
Catholic Church, &c."--but, the excellent divine, in his annual
attendance on the convention, was accustomed to stay with his
kinswoman, who often pressed him to bring both Lucy and Grace to see
her; her house in Wall street being abundantly large enough to
accommodate a much more numerous party. "Yes," said Mr. Hardinge,
"that shall be the arrangement. The girls and I will stay with
Mrs. Bradfort, and the young men can live at a tavern. I dare say this
new City Hotel, which seems to be large enough to contain a regiment,
will hold even _them_. I will write this very evening to my
cousin, so as not to take her by surprise."

In less than a week after this determination, an answer was received
from Mrs. Bradfort; and, the very next day, the whole party, Neb
included, embarked in the Wallingford. Very different was this
passage down the Hudson from that which had preceded it. Then I had
the sense of error about me, while my heart yearned towards the two
dear girls we had left on the wharf; but now everything was
above-board sincere, and by permission. It is scarcely necessary to
say that Grace and Lucy were enchanted with everything they saw. The
Highlands, in particular, threw them both into ecstasies, though I
have since seen so much of the world as to understand, with nearly all
experienced tourists, that this is _relatively_ the worst part of
the scenery of this beautiful river. When I say _relatively_, I
mean as comparing the _bolder_ parts of our stream with those of
others--speaking of them as _high lands_--many other portions of
this good globe having a much superior _grandeur_, while very few
have so much lovely river scenery compressed into so small a space as
is to be found in the other parts of the Hudson.

In due time we arrived in New York, and I had the supreme happiness of
pointing out to the girls the State's Prison, the Bear Market, and the
steeples of St. Paul's and Trinity-_old_ Trinity, as it was so
lately the fashion to style a church that was built only a few years
before, and which, in my youth, was considered as magnificent as it
was venerable. That building has already disappeared; and another
edifice, which is now termed splendid, _vast_, and I know not
what, has been reared in its place. By the time this is gone, and one
or two generations of buildings have succeeded, each approaching
nearer to the high standard of church architecture in the old world,
the Manhattanese will get to understand something of the use of the
degrees of comparison on such subjects. When that day shall arrive,
they will cease to be provincial, and--not till then.

What a different thing was Wall street, in 1799, from what it is
to-day? Then, where so many Grecian temples are now reared to Plutus,
were rows of modest provincial dwellings; not a tittle more
provincial, however, than the thousand meretricious houses of bricks
and marble that have since started up in their neighbourhood, but far
less pretending, and insomuch the more creditable. Mrs. Bradfort lived
in one of these respectable abodes, and thither Mr. Hardinge led the
way, with just as much confidence as one would now walk into Bleeker
street, or the Fifth Avenue. Money-changers were then unknown, or, if
known, were of so little account that they had not sufficient force to
form a colony and a league by themselves. Even the banks did not deem
it necessary to be within a stone's throw of each other--I believe
there were but two--as it might be in self-defence. We have seen all
sorts of expedients adopted, in this sainted street, to protect the
money-bags, from the little temple that was intended to be so small as
only to admit the dollars and those who were to take care of them, up
to the edifice that might contain so many rogues, as to render things
safe on the familiar principle of setting a thief to catch a thief.
All would not do. The difficulty has been found to be unconquerable,
except in those cases in which the homely and almost worn-out
expedient of employing honest men, has been resorted to. But, to
return from the gossipings of old age to an agreeable widow, who was
still under forty.

Mrs. Bradfort received Mr. Hardinge in a way to satisfy us all that
she was delighted to see him. She had prepared a room for Rupert and
myself, and no apologies or excuses would be received. We had to
consent to accept of her hospitalities. In an hour's time, all were
established, and I believe all were at home.

I shall not dwell on the happiness that succeeded. We were all too
young to go to parties, and, I might almost add, New York itself was
too young to have any; but in the last I should have been mistaken,
though there were not as many _children's_ balls in 1799,
perhaps, after allowing for the difference in population, as there are
to-day. If too young to be company, we were not too young to see
sights. I sometimes laugh as I remember what these were at that
time. There was such a museum as would now be thought lightly of in a
western city of fifteen or twenty years' growth--a circus kept by a
man of the name of Ricketts--the theatre in John street, a very modest
Thespian edifice--and a lion, I mean literally the beast, that was
kept in a cage quite out of town, that his roaring might not disturb
people, somewhere near the spot where the _triangle_ that is
called Franklin _Square_ now is. All these we saw, even to the
theatre; good, indulgent Mr. Hardinge seeing no harm in letting us go
thither under the charge of Mrs. Bradfort. I shall never forget the
ecstasy of that night! The novelty was quite as great to Rupert and
myself as it was to the girls; for, though we had been to China, we
had never been to the play.

Well was it said, "Vanity, vanity--all is vanity!" He that lives as
long as I have lived, will have seen most of his opinions, and I think
I may add, _all_ his tastes, change. Nothing short of revelation
has a stronger tendency to convince us of the temporary character of
our probationary state in this world, than to note for how short a
period, and for what imperfect ends, all our hopes and success in life
have been buoying us up, and occupying our minds. After fifty, the
delusion begins to give way; and, though we may continue to live, and
even to be happy, blind indeed must be he who does not see the end of
his road, and foresee some of the great results to which it is to
lead. But of all this, our quartette thought little in the year 1799.

CHAPTER VIII.

"Thou art the same, eternal sea!
The earth hath many shapes and forms
Of hill and valley, flower and tree;
Fields that the fervid noontide warms,
Or Winter's rugged grasp deforms,
Or bright with Autumn's golden store;
Thou coverest up thy face with storms,
Or smilest serene--but still thy roar
And dashing foam go up to vex the sea-beat shore."
LUNT.

I had a free conversation with my guardian, shortly after we reached
town, on the subject of my going to sea again. The whole country was
alive with the armament of the new marine; and cocked-hats, blue coats
and white lapels, began to appear in the streets, with a parade that
always marks the new officer and the new service. Now, one meets
distinguished naval men at every turn, and sees nothing about their
persons to denote the profession, unless in actual employment afloat,
even the cockade being laid aside; whereas in 1799 the harness was put
on as soon as the parchment was received, and only laid aside to turn
in. Ships were building or equipping in all parts of the country; and
it is matter of surprise to me that I escaped the fever, and did not
apply to be made a midshipman. Had I seen another captain who
interested me as much as Captain Dale, I make no doubt my career would
have been quite different: but, as things were, I had imbibed the
prejudice that Southey, in his very interesting, but, in a
professional sense, very worthless, life of Nelson, has attributed to
that hero--"aft, the more honour; forward, the better man." Thus far,
I had not got into the cabin-windows, and, like all youngsters who
fairly begin on the forecastle, felt proud of my own manhood and
disdain of hazards and toil. I determined, therefore, to pursue the
course I had originally pointed out to myself, and follow in the
footsteps of my father.

Privateers were out of the question in a war with a country that had
no commerce. Nor do I think I would have gone in a privateer under any
circumstances. The business of carrying on a warfare merely for gain,
has ever struck me as discreditable; though it must be admitted the
American system of private-armed cruisers has always been more
respectable and better conducted than that of most other nations. This
has been owing to the circumstance that men of a higher class than is
usual in Europe, have embarked in the enterprises. To a
letter-of-marque, however, there could be no objection; her regular
business is commerce; she arms only in self-defence, or, if she
capture anything, it is merely such enemies as cross her path, and who
would capture her if they could. I announced to Mr. Hardinge,
therefore, my determination not to return to Clawbonny, but to look
for a berth in some letter-of-marque, while then in town.

Neb had received private instructions, and my sea dunnage, as well as
his own, was on board the Wallingford--low enough the wreck had
reduced both to be--and money obtained from Mr. Hardinge was used to
purchase more. I now began to look about me for a ship, determined to
please my eye as to the vessel, and my judgment as to the voyage. Neb
had orders to follow the wharves on the same errand. I would sooner
trust Neb than Rupert on such a duty. The latter had no taste for
ships; felt no interest in them; and I have often wondered why he took
a fancy to go to sea at all. With Neb it was very different. He was
already an expert seaman; could hand, reef and steer, knot and splice,
and was as useful as nine men in ten on board a vessel. It is true, he
did not know when it became necessary to take in the last reef--had no
notion of stowing a cargo so as to favour the vessel, or help her
sailing; but he would break out a cask sooner than most men I ever met
with. There was too much "nigger" in him for head-work of that sort,
though he was ingenious and ready enough in his way. A sterling fellow
was Neb, and I got in time to love him very much as I can conceive one
would love a brother.

One day, after I had seen all the sights, and had begun to think
seriously of finding a ship, I was strolling along the wharves on the
latter errand, when I heard a voice I knew cry put, "There, Captain
Williams, there's just your chap; he'll make as good a third-mate as
can be found in all America." I had a sort of presentiment this
applied to me, though I could not, on the instant, recall the
speaker's name. Turning to look in the direction of the sounds, I saw
the hard countenance of Marble, alongside the weather-beaten face of a
middle-aged shipmaster, both of whom were examining me over the
nettings of a very promising-looking armed merchantman. I bowed to
Mr. Marble, who beckoned me to come on board, where I was regularly
introduced to the master.

This vessel was called the Crisis, a very capital name for a craft in
a country where crisises of one sort or another occur regularly as
often as once in six months. She was a tight little ship of about four
hundred tons, had hoop-pole bulwarks, as I afterwards learned, with
nettings for hammocks and old junk, principally the latter; and showed
ten nine-pounders, carriage-guns, in her batteries. I saw she was
loaded, and was soon given to understand that her shipping-articles
were then open, and the serious question was of procuring a
third-mate. Officers were scarce, so many young men were pressing into
the navy; and Mr. Marble ventured to recommend me, from near a
twelvemonth's knowledge of my character. I had not anticipated a berth
aft quite so soon, and yet I had a humble confidence in my own ability
to discharge the duty. Captain Williams questioned me for fifteen or
twenty minutes, had a short conversation with Mr. Marble alone, and
then frankly offered me the berth. The voyage was to be round the
world, and it took my fancy at the very sound. The ship was to take a
cargo of flour to England; there, she was to receive a small assorted
cargo for the North-West Coast, and some of the sandal-wood islands;
after disposing of her toys and manufactures in barter, she was to
sail for Canton, exchange her furs, wood and other articles for teas,
&c., and return home. To engage in this voyage, I was offered the
berth I have mentioned, and thirty dollars a-month. The wages were of
little moment to me, but the promotion and the voyage were of great
account. The ship, too, carried out letters-of-marque and reprisal
with her, and there were the chances of meeting some Frenchman in the
European waters, at least.

I examined the vessel, the berth I was to occupy, made a great many
shy glances at the captain, to ascertain his character by that
profound expedient, analyzing his looks, and finally determined to
ship, on condition Neb should be taken as an ordinary seaman. As soon
as Marble heard this last proposal, he explained the relation in which
the black stood to me, and earnestly advised his being received as a
seaman. The arrangement was made accordingly, and I went at once to
the notary and signed the articles. Neb was also found, and he was
shipped too; this time regularly, Mr. Hardinge attending and giving
his sanction to what was done. The worthy divine was in excellent
spirits, for that very day he had made an arrangement with a friend at
the bar to place Rupert in his office, Mrs. Bradfort insisting on
keeping her young kinsman in her house, as a regular inmate. This left
on the father no more charge than to furnish Rupert with clothes, and
a few dollars of pocket-money. But I knew Rupert too well to suppose
he would, or could, be content with the little he might expect from
the savings of Mr. Hardinge. I was not in want of money. My guardian
had supplied me so amply, that not only had I paid my debt to the
owners of the John, and fully equipped myself for the voyage, but I
actually possessed dollars enough to supply all my probable wants
during the expected absence. Many of the officers and men of the
Crisis left behind them orders with their wives and families to
receive their wages, in part, during their absence, as letters from
time to time apprised the owners that these people were on board, and
in discharge of their several duties. I determined on giving Rupert
the benefit of such an arrangement. First presenting him with twenty
dollars from my own little store, I took him with me to the
counting-house, and succeeded, though not without some difficulty, in
obtaining for my friend a credit of twenty dollars a-month, promising
faithfully to repay any balance that might arise against me in
consequence of the loss of the ship, or of any accident to
myself. This I was enabled to do on the strength of my credit as the
owner of Clawbonny; for, as is usual in these cases, I passed for
being much richer than I really was, though far from being poor.

I will acknowledge that, while I felt no reluctance at making this
arrangement in favour of Rupert, I felt mortified he should accept
it. There are certain acts we may all wish to perform, and, yet, which
bring regrets when successfully performed. I was sorry that _my_
friend, Lucy's brother, Grace's admirer--for I was quick enough in
perceiving that Rupert began to entertain fancies of that sort--had
not pride enough to cause him to decline receiving money which must be
earned by the sweat of my brow, and this, moreover, in a mode of life
he had not himself sufficient resolution to encounter a second
time. But he accepted the offer, and there was an end of it.

As everything was alive in 1798, the Crisis was ready to sail in three
days after I joined her. We hauled into the North river, as became the
dignity of our voyage, and got our crew on board. On the whole, we
mustered a pretty good body of men, ten of them being green; fellows
who had never seen the ocean, but who were young, healthy and
athletic, and who promised to be useful before a great while.
Including those aft, we counted thirty-eight souls on board. The ship
was got ready in hopes of being able to sail of a Thursday, for
Captain Williams was a thoughtful man, and was anxious to get the ship
fairly at sea, with the first work done, previously to the next
Sabbath. Some small matters, however, could not be got through with in
time; and, as for sailing of a Friday, that was out of the
question. No one did that in 1798, who could help it. This gave us a
holiday, and I got leave to pass the afternoon and evening ashore.

Rupert, Grace, Lucy and I took a long walk into the country that
evening; that is, we went into the fields, and along the lanes, for
some distance above the present site of Canal street. Lucy and I
walked together, most of the time, and we both felt sad at the idea of
so long a separation as was now before us. The voyage might last three
years; and I should be legally a man, my own master, and Lucy a young
woman of near nineteen, by that time. Terrible ages in perspective
were these, and which seemed to us pregnant with as many changes as
the life of a man.

"Rupert will be admitted to the bar, when I get back," I casually
remarked, as we talked the matter over.

"He will, indeed," the dear girl answered. "Now you _are_ to go,
Miles, I almost regret my brother is not to be in the ship; you have
known each other so long, love each other so much, and have already
gone through such frightful trials in company."

"Oh! I shall do well enough--there'll be Neb; and as for Rupert, I
think he will be better satisfied ashore than at sea. Rupert is a sort
of a natural lawyer."

By this I merely meant he was good at a subterfuge, and could tell his
own story.

"Yes, but Neb is not Rupert, Miles," Lucy answered, quick as thought,
and, I fancied, a little reproachfully.

"Very true--no doubt I shall miss your brother, and that, too, very
much, at times; but all I meant in speaking of Neb was, as you know,
that he and I like each other, too, and have been through just the
same trials together, you understand, and have known each other as
long as I can remember."

Lucy was silent, and I felt embarrassed, and a little at a loss what
to say next. But a girl approaching sixteen, and who is with a youth
who possesses her entire confidence, is not apt to be long
silent. Something she will say; and how often is that something warm
with natural feeling, instinct with truth, and touching from its
confiding simplicity!

"You will sometimes think of us, Miles?" was Lucy's next remark, and
it was said in a tone that induced me to look her full in the face,
when I discovered that her eyes were suffused with tears.

"Of that you may be _very_ certain, and I hope to be rewarded in
kind. But, now I think of it, Lucy, I have a debt to pay you, and, at
the same time, a little interest. Here are the half-joes you forced me
to take last year, when we parted at Clawbonny. See, they are exactly
the same pieces; for I would as soon have parted with a finger, as
with one of them."

"I had hoped they might have been of use to you, and had quite
forgotten them. You have destroyed an agreeable illusion."

"Is it not quite as agreeable to know we had no occasion for them? No,
here they are; and, now I go with Mr. Hardinge's full approbation,
you very well know I can be in no want of money. So, there is your
gold; and here, Lucy, is some interest for the use of it."

I made an effort to put something into the dear girl's hand as I
spoke, but all the strength I could properly apply was not equal to
the purpose. So tightly did she keep her little fingers compressed,
that I could not succeed without a downright effort at force.

"No--no--Miles," she said hurriedly--almost huskily; "that will never
do! I am not Rupert--you may prevail with him; never with _me_!"

"Rupert! What can Rupert have to do with such a thing as this locket?
Youngsters don't wear lockets."

Lucy's fingers separated as easily as an infant's, and I put my little
offering into her hand without any more resistance. I was sorry,
however, to discover that, by some means unknown to me, she had become
acquainted with the arrangement I had made as respected the twenty
dollars a month. I afterwards ascertained that this secret had leaked
out through Neb, who had it from one of the clerks of the
counting-house who had visited the ship, and repeated it to
Mrs. Bradfort's black maid, in one of his frequent visits to the
house. This is a common channel of information, though it seldom
proves as true as it did in this instance.

I could see that Lucy was delighted with her locket. It was a very
pretty ornament, in the first place, and it had her own hair, that of
Grace, Rupert, and my own, very prettily braided together, so as to
form a wreath, made like a rope, or a grummet, encircling a
combination of letters that included all our initials. In this there
was nothing that was particular, while there was much that was
affectionate. Had I not consulted Grace on the subject, it is
possible I should have been less cautious, though I declare I had no
thought of making love. All this time I fancied I felt for, and
trusted Lucy as another sister. I was shrewd enough to detect Rupert's
manner and feeling towards my own sister, and I felt afraid it was, or
soon would be, fully reciprocated; but as to imagining myself in love
with Lucy Hardinge, or any one else, the thought never crossed my
mind, though the dear girl herself so often did!

I saw Lucy's smile, and I could not avoid noticing the manner in
which, once or twice, unconsciously to herself, I do believe, this
simple-minded, sincere creature, pressed the hand which retained the
locket to her heart; and yet it made no very lively impression on my
imagination at the time. The conversation soon changed, and we began
to converse of other things. I have since fancied that Grace had left
us alone in order that I might return the half-joes to Lucy, and offer
the locket; for, looking round and seeing the latter in its new
owner's hand, while Lucy was bestowing on it one of the hundred
glances of grateful pleasure it received that afternoon, she waited
until we came up, when she took my arm, remarking, as this was to be
our last evening together, she must come in for her share of the
conversation. Now, I solemnly affirm that this was the nearest
approach to anything like a love-scene that had ever passed between
Lucy Hardinge and myself.

I would gladly pass over the leave-taking, and shall say but little
about it. Mr. Hardinge called me into his room, when we got back to
the house. He spoke earnestly and solemnly to me, recalling to my mind
many of his early and most useful precepts. He then kissed me, gave me
his blessing, and promised to remember me in his prayers. As I left
him, and I believe he went on his knees as soon as my back was turned,
Lucy was waiting for me in the passage. She was in tears, and paler
than common, but her mind seemed made up to sustain a great sacrifice
like a woman. She put a small, but exceedingly neat copy of the Bible
into my hand, and uttered, as well as emotion would permit--"There,
Miles; _that_ is _my_ keepsake. I do not ask you to think of
_me_ when you read; but think of _God_." She then snatched a
kiss, and flew into her room and locked the door. Grace was below,
and she wept on my neck like a child, kissing me again and again, and
calling me "her brother--her dear, her _only_ brother." I was
obliged actually to tear myself away from Grace. Rupert went with me
to the ship, and passed an hour or two on board. As we crossed the
threshold, I heard a window open above my head, and, looking up, I saw
Lucy, with streaming eyes, leaning forward to say, "Write,
Miles--write as often as you possibly can."

Man must be a stern being by nature, to be able to tear himself from
such friends, in order to encounter enemies, hardships, dangers and
toil, and all without any visible motive. Such was my case, however,
for I wanted not for a competency, or for most of those advantages
which might tempt one to abandon the voyage. Of such a measure, the
possibility never crossed my mind. I believed that it was just as
necessary for me to remain third-mate of the Crisis, and to stick by
the ship while she would float, as Mr. Adams thinks it necessary for
him to present abolition petitions to a congress, which will not
receive them. We both of us, doubtless, believed ourselves the victims
of fate.

We sailed at sun-rise, wind and tide favouring. We had anchored off
Courtlandt street, and as the ship swept past the Battery I saw
Rupert, who had only gone ashore in the pilot's boat at day-light,
with two females, watching our movements. The girls did not dare to
wave their handkerchiefs; but what cared I for that--I knew that their
good wishes, kind wishes, tender wishes, went with me; and this little
touch of affection, which woman knows so well how to manifest, made me
both happy and sad for the remainder of the day.

The Crisis was an unusually fast ship, faster even than the Tigris;
coppered to the bends, copper-fastened, and with a live-oak frame. No
better craft sailed out of the republic. Uncle Sam had tried to
purchase her for one of his new navy; but the owners, having this
voyage in view, refused his tempting offers. She was no sooner under
her canvass, than all hands of us perceived we were in a traveller;
and glad enough were we to be certain of the fact, for we had a long
road before us. This, too, was with the wind free, and in smooth
water; whereas those who knew the vessel asserted her _forte_ was
on a bowline and in a sea-that is to say, she would sail relatively
faster than most other craft, under the latter circumstances.

There was a strange pleasure to me, notwithstanding all I had suffered
previously, all the risks I had run, and all I had left behind me, in
finding myself once more on the broad ocean. As for Neb, the fellow
was fairly enraptured. So quickly and intelligently did he obey his
orders, that he won a reputation before we crossed the bar. The smell
of the ocean seemed to imbue him with a species of nautical
inspiration, and even I was astonished with his readiness and
activity. As for myself, I was every way at home. Very different was
this exit from the port, from that of the previous year. Then
everything was novel, and not a little disgusting. Now I had little,
almost nothing, to learn--literally nothing, I might have said, were
it not that every ship-master has certain _ways_ of his own, that
it behooves all his subordinates to learn as quickly as possible. Then
I lived aft, where we not only had plates, and table-cloths, and
tumblers, and knives and forks; but comparatively _clean_
articles of the sort. I say comparatively, the two other degrees being
usually wanting in north-west traders.

The Crisis went to sea with a lively breeze at south-west, the wind
shifting after she had got into the lower bay. There were a dozen sail
of us altogether, and in our little fleet were two of Uncle Sam's men,
who felt disposed to try their hands with us. We crossed the bar, all
three of us, within a cable's length of each other, and made sail in
company, with the wind a trifle abaft the beam. Just as Navesink
disappeared, our two men-of-war, merchantmen altered, hauled up on
bowlines, and jogged off towards the West Indies, being at the time
about a league astern of us. This success put us all in high
good-humour, and had such an effect on Marble in particular, that he
began to give it as his opinion that our only superiority over them
would not be found confined to sailing, on an experiment. It is very
convenient to think favourably of one's self, and it is certainly
comfortable to entertain the same notion as respects one's ship.

I confess to a little awkwardness at first, in acting as an officer. I
was young, and commanded men old enough to be my father--regular
sea-dogs, who were as critical in all that related to the niceties of
the calling, as the journalist who is unable to appreciate the higher
qualities of a book, is hypercritical on its minor faults. But a few
days gave me confidence, and I soon found I was obeyed as readily as
the first-mate. A squall struck the ship in my watch, about a
fortnight out, and I succeeded in getting in sail, and saving
everything, canvass and spars, in a way that did me infinite service
aft. Captain Williams spoke to me on the subject, commending the
orders I had given, and the coolness with which they had been issued;
for, as I afterwards understood, he remained some time in the
companion-way, keeping the other two mates back, though all hands had
been called, in order to see how I could get along by myself in such a
strait. On this occasion, I never saw a human being exert himself like
Neb. He felt that my honour was concerned. I do really think the
fellow did two men's duty, the whole time the squall lasted. Until
this little incident occurred, Captain Williams was in the habit of
coming on deck to examine the heavens, and see how things were getting
on, in my night-watches; but, after this, he paid no more visits of
this sort to me, than he paid to Mr. Marble. I had been gratified by
his praises; but this quiet mode of showing confidence, gave me more
happiness than I can express.

We had a long passage out, the wind hanging to the eastward near three
weeks. At length we got moderate southerly breezes, and began to
travel on our course. Twenty-four hours after we had got the fair
wind, I had the morning watch, and made, as the day dawned, a sail
directly abeam of us, to windward, about three leagues distant, or
just hull down. I went into the main-top, and examined her with a
glass. She was a ship, seemingly of about our own size, and carrying
everything that would draw. I did not send word below until it was
broad daylight, or for near half an hour; and in all that time her
bearings did not vary any perceptible distance.

Just as the sun rose, the captain and chief-mate made their appearance
on deck. At first they agreed in supposing the stranger a stray
English West-Indiaman, bound home; for, at that time, few merchant
vessels were met at sea that were not English or American. The former
usually sailed in convoys, however; and the captain accounted for the
circumstance that this was not thus protected, by the fact of her
sailing so fast. She might be a letter-of-marque, like ourselves, and
vessels of that character did not take convoy. As the two vessels lay
exactly abeam of each other, with square yards, it was not easy to
judge of the sparring of the stranger, except by means of his
masts. Marble, judging by the appearance of his topsails, began to
think our neighbour might be a Frenchman, he had so much hoist to the
sails. After some conversation on the subject, the captain ordered me
to brace forward the yards, as far as our studding-sails would allow,
and to luff nearer to the stranger. While the ship was thus changing
her course, the day advanced, and our crew got their breakfast.

As a matter of course, the strange ship, which kept on the same line
of sailing as before, drew ahead of us a little, while we neared her
sensibly. In the course of three hours we were within a league of her,
but well on her lee-quarter. Marble now unhesitatingly pronounced her
to be a Frenchman, there being no such thing as mistaking the
sails. To suppose an Englishman would go to sea with such triangles of
royals, he held to be entirely out of the question; and then he
referred to me to know if I did not remember the brig "we had licked
in the West Indies, last v'y'ge, which had just such r'yals as the
chap up there to windward?" I could see the resemblance, certainly,
and had remarked the same peculiarity in the few French vessels I had
seen.

Under all the circumstances, Captain Williams determined to get on the
weather-quarter of our neighbour, and take a still nearer look at
him. That he was armed, we could see already; and, as near as we could
make out, he carried twelve guns, or just two more than we did
ourselves. All this was encouraging; sufficiently so, at least, to
induce us to make a much closer examination than we had yet done.

It took two more hours to bring the Crisis, fast as she sailed, on the
weather-quarter of her neighbour, distant about a mile. Here our
observations were much more to the purpose, and even Captain Williams
pronounced the stranger to be a Frenchman, "and, no doubt, a
letter-of-marque, like ourselves." He had just uttered these words,
when we saw the other vessel's studding-sails coming down her royals
and top-gallant-sails clewing up, and all the usual signs of her
stripping for a fight. We had set our ensign early in the day, but, as
yet, had got no answering symbol of nationality from the chase. As
soon as she had taken in all her light canvass, however, she clewed up
her courses, fired a gun to windward, and hoisted the French
_tri-color_, the most graceful flag among the emblems of
Christendom, but one that has been as remarkably unsuccessful in the
deeds it has witnessed on the high seas, as it has been remarkable for
the reverse on land. The French have not been wanting in excellent
sailors--gallant seamen, too; but the results of their exploits afloat
have ever borne a singular disproportion to the means employed--a few
occasional exceptions just going to prove that the causes have been of
a character as peculiar, as these results have, in nearly all ages,
been uniform. I have heard the want of success in maritime exploits,
among the French, attributed to a want of sympathy, in the nation,
with maritime things. Others, again, have supposed that the narrow
system of preferring birth to merit, which pervaded the whole economy
of the French marine, as well as of its army, previously to the
revolution, could not fail to destroy the former, inasmuch as a man of
family would not consent to undergo the toil and hardships that are
unavoidable to the training of the true seaman. This last reason,
however, can scarcely be the true one, as the young English noble has
often made the most successful naval officer; and the marine of
France, in 1798, had surely every opportunity of perfecting itself, by
downright practice, uninjured by favouritism, as that of America. For
myself, though I have now reflected on the subject for years, I can
come to no other conclusion than that national character has some very
important agency--or, perhaps, it might be safer to say, _has_
had some very important agency--through some cause or other, in
disqualifying France from becoming a great naval power, in the sense
of skill; in that of mere force, so great a nation must always be
formidable. Now she sends her princes to sea, however, we may look for
different results. Notwithstanding the fact that an Englishman, or an
American, rarely went alongside of a Frenchman, in 1798, without a
strong moral assurance of victory, he was sometimes disappointed.
There was no lack of courage in their enemies, and it occasionally
happened that there was no lack of skill. Every manifestation that the
experience of our captain could detect, went to show that we had
fallen in with one of these exceptions. As we drew nearer to our
enemy, we perceived that he was acting like a seaman. His sails had
been furled without haste or confusion; an infallible evidence of
coolness and discipline when done on the eve of battle, and signs that
the watchful seaman, on such occasions, usually notes as unerring
indications of the sort of struggle that awaits him. It was
consequently understood, among us on the quarter-deck, that we were
likely to have a warm day's work of it. Nevertheless, we had gone too
far to retreat without an effort, and we began, in our turn, to
shorten sail, in readiness for the combat. Marble was a prince of a
fellow, when it came to anything serious. I never saw him shorten sail
as coolly and readily as he did that very day. We had everything ready
in ten minutes after we began.

It was rare, indeed, to see two letters-of-marque set-to as coolly,
and as scientifically as were the facts with the Crisis and _la Dame
de Nantes;_ for so, as we afterwards ascertained, was our
antagonist called. Neither party aimed at any great advantage by
manoeuvring; but we came up alongside of "The Lady," as our men
subsequently nick-named the Frenchman, the two vessels delivering
their broadsides nearly at the same instant. I was stationed on the
forecastle, in charge of the head-sheets, with orders to attend
generally to the braces and the rigging, using a musket in moments
that were not otherwise employed. Away went both my jib-sheet blocks
at the beginning, giving me a very pretty job from the outset. This
was but the commencement of trouble; for, during the two hours and a
half that we lay battering _la Dame de Nantes_, and she lay
battering us, I had really so much to attend to in the way of reeving,
knotting, splicing, and turning in afresh, that I had scarcely a
minute to look about me, in order to ascertain how the day was
going. I fired my musket but twice. The glimpses I did manage to take
were far from satisfactory, however; several of our people being
killed or wounded, one gun fairly crippled by a shot, and our rigging
in a sad plight. The only thing encourag'ng was Neb's shout, the
fellow making it a point to roar almost as loud as his gun, at each
discharge.

It was evident from the first that the Frenchman had nearly twice as
many men as we carried. This rendered any attempt at boarding
imprudent, and, in the way of pounding, our prospects were by no means
flattering. At length I heard a rushing sound over my head, and,
looking up, I saw that the main-top-mast, with the yards and sails,
had come down on the fore-braces, and might shortly be expected on
deck. At this point, Captain Williams ordered all hands from the guns
to clear the wreck. At the same instant, our antagonist, with a degree
of complaisance that I could have hugged him for, ceased firing
also. Both sides seemed to think it was very foolish for two
merchantmen to lie within a cable's length of each other, trying which
could do the other the most harm; and both sides set about the, by
this time, very necessary duty of repairing damages. While this was
going on, the men at the wheel, by a species of instinctive caution,
did their whole duty. The Crisis luffed all she was able, while _la
Dame de Nantes_ edged away all she very conveniently could, placing
more than a mile of blue water between the two vessels, before we, who
were at work aloft, were aware they were so decidedly running on
diverging lines.

It was night before we got our wreck clear; and then we had to look
about us, to get out spare spars, fit them, rig them, point them, and
sway them aloft. The last operation, however, was deferred until
morning. As it was, the day's work had been hard, and the people
really wanted rest. Rest was granted them at eight o'clock; at which
hour, our late antagonist was visible about a league distant, the
darkness beginning to envelope her. In the morning the horizon was
clear, owing to the repulsion which existed in so much force between
the two vessels. It was not our business to trouble ourselves about
the fate of our adversary, but to take heed of our own. That morning
we go' up our spars, crossed the yards, and made sail again. We had
several days' work in repairing all our damages; but, happening to be
found for a long voyage, and well found, too, by the end of a week the
Crisis was in as good order as if we had not fought a battle. As for
the combat, it was one of those in which either side might claim the
victory, or not, as it suited tastes. We had very ingenious excuses
for our failure, however; and I make no doubt the French were just as
ready, in this way, as we were ourselves.

Our loss in this engagement amounted to two men killed outright, and
to seven wounded, two of whom died within a few days. The remaining
wounded all recovered, though the second-mate, who was one of them, I
believe never got to be again the man he had been. A canister-shot
lodged near his hip, and the creature we had on board as a surgeon was
not the hero to extract it. In that day, the country was not so very
well provided with medical men on the land, as to spare many good ones
to the sea. In the new navy, it was much the fashion to say, "if you
want a leg amputated, send for the carpenter; he _does_ know how
to use a saw, while it is questionable whether the doctor knows how to
use anything." Times, however, are greatly altered in this respect;
the gentlemen who now compose this branch of the service being not
only worthy of commendation for their skill and services, but worthy
of the graduated rank which I see they are just now asking of the
justice of their country, and which, as that country ordinarily
administers justice, I am much afraid they will ask in vain.

CHAPTER IX.

"If we
Cannot defend our own door from the dog,
Let us be worried; and our nation lose
The name of hardiness, and policy."
_Henry V._

The combat between the Crisis and _la Dame de Nantes_ took place
in 42.37'.12" north latitude, and 34.16'.43" west longitude, from
Greenwich. This was very near the centre of the northern Atlantic, and
gave us ample time to get our ship in good condition before we drew in
with the land. Shortly after the affair, the wind came out light at
northeast, forcing us down nearer to the Bay of Biscay than was at all
convenient, when bound to London. The weather grew foggy, too, which
is not usual on the coast of Europe, with the wind at east, and the
nights dark. Just a fortnight after the action, I was awakened early
one morning by a rough shake of the shoulder from Marble, who had the
watch, but who was calling me at least an hour before the time. "Bear
a hand and turn out," he said; "I want you on deck, Mr. Wallingford."
I obeyed, of course, and soon stood in the presence of the chief-mate,
rubbing my eyes diligently, as if they had to be opened by friction.

It was just six bells, or seven o'clock, and one of the watch was on
the point of making the bell proclaim as much, when Mr. Marble ordered
him not to strike the hour. The weather was thick, or rather foggy,
and the wind light, with very little sea going. All this I had time to
notice, to listen to the unusual order about the bell, and to gape
twice, before the male turned to me. He seized my arm, carried me on
the lee side of the quarter-deck, shook his finger at a vacant spot in
the fog, and said--

"Miles, my boy, down yonder, within half a mile of this very spot, is
our friend the Frenchman!"

"How is it possible you can know that, Mr. Marble?" I demanded in
surprise.

"Because I have seen him, with these two good-looking eyes of
mine. This fog opens and shuts like a playhouse-curtain, and I got a
peep at the chap, about ten minutes since. It was a short look, but it
was a sure one; I would swear to the fellow in any admiralty court in
Christendom."

"And what do you intend to do, Mr. Marble? We found him a hard subject
in clear weather; what can we do with him in thick?"

"That depends on the old man; his very natur' is overlaid by what has
happened already, and I rather think he will be for a fresh
skrimmage"--Marble was an uneducated Kennebunk man, and by no means
particular about his English. "There'll be good picking in that French
gentleman, Master Miles, for those who come in at the beginning of the
plunder!"

The chief-mate then told me to go below and turn up all hands, making
as little rumpus about it as possible. This I did; and when I returned
to the deck, I found the fingers of Marble going again, with Captain
Williams for his auditor, just as they had gone to me, a few minutes
earlier. Being an officer, I made no scruples about joining the
party. Marble was giving his account of the manner in which he had
momentarily seen the enemy, the canvass he was under, the course he
was steering, and the air of security that prevailed about him. So
much, he insisted he had noted, though he saw the ship for about
twenty seconds only. All this, however, might be true, for a seaman's
eye is quick, and he has modes of his own for seeing a great deal in a
brief space of time. Marble now proposed that we should go to
quarters, run alongside of the Frenchman, pour in a broadside, and
board him in the smoke. Our success would be certain, could we close
with him without being seen; and it would be almost as certain, could
we engage him with our guns by surprise. The chief-mate was of opinion
we had dosed him in the other affair, in a way to sicken him; this
time we should bring him to with a round turn!

The "old man" was pleased with the notion, I saw at a glance; and I
confess it took my fancy also. We all felt very sore at the result of
the other attempt, and here it seemed as if fortune gave us a good
occasion for repairing the evil.

"There can be no harm in getting ready, Mr. Marble," the captain
observed; "and when we are ready ourselves we shall know better what
to think of the matter."

This was no sooner said, than away we went to clear ship. Our task
was soon done; the tompions were got out, the guns cast loose,
ammunition was brought up, and a stand of grape was put in over the
shot in every piece in both batteries. As the men were told the
motive, they worked like dray-horses; and I do not think we were ten
minutes before the ship was ready to go into action, at a moment's
notice.

All this time, Captain Williams refused to keep the ship away. I
believe he wanted to get a look at our neighbour himself, for he could
not but foresee what might be the consequences, should he run down in
the fog, and engage a heavier vessel than his own, without the
ceremony of a hail. The sea was covered with Englishmen, and one of
their cruisers might not very easily pardon such a mistake, however
honestly made. But preparation seems to infer a necessity for
performance. When everything was ready, all eyes were turned aft in a
way that human nature could hardly endure, and the captain was obliged
to yield. As Marble, of all on board, had alone seen the other vessel,
he was directed to conn the Crisis in the delicate operation she was
about to undertake.

As before, my station was on the forecastle. I had been directed to
keep a bright look-out, as the enemy would doubtless be first seen
from forward. The order was unnecessary, however, for never did human
beings gaze into a fog more anxiously, than did all on board our ship
on this occasion. Calculating by the distance, and the courses
steered, we supposed ten or fifteen minutes would bring us square
alongside of Mr. Marble's ship; though some among us doubted his
having seen any vessel at all. There was about a five-knot breeze, and
we had all our square sails set, knowing it was necessary to go a
little faster than our adversary, to catch up with him. The intense
expectation, not to say anxiety, of such a scene, is not easily
described. The surrounding fog, at times, seemed filled with ships;
but all vanished into _thick_ air, one after another, leaving
nothing but vapour. Severe orders had been given for no one to call
out, but, the moment the ship was seen, for the discoverer to go aft
and report. At least a dozen men left their quarters on this errand,
all returning in the next instant, satisfied they had been
deceived. Each moment, too, increased the expectation; for each moment
must we be getting nearer and nearer to her, if any vessel were really
there. Quite twenty minutes, however, passed in this manner, and no
ship was seen. Marble continued cool and confident, but the captain
and second-mate smiled, while the people began to shake their heads,
and roll the tobacco into their cheeks. As we advanced, our own ship
luffed by degrees, until we had got fairly on our old course again, or
were sailing close upon the wind. This change was made easily, the
braces not having been touched; a precaution that was taken expressly
to give us this advantage. When we found ourselves once more close
upon the wind, we gave the matter up forward, supposing the mate had
been deceived. I saw by the expression of the captain's face that he
was about to give the order to secure the guns, when, casting my eyes
forward, there was a ship, sure enough, within a hundred yards of us!
I held up both arms, as I looked aft, and luckily caught the captain's
eye. In an instant, he was on the forecastle.

It was easy enough to see the stranger now. There he was in the fog,
looking mystical and hazy; but there he was, under his main-top-
gallant-sail, close-hauled, and moving ahead in all the confidence of
the solitude of the ocean. We could not see his hull, or so faintly
as only to distinguish its mass; but from his tops up, there was no
mistaking the objects. We had shot away the Frenchman's mizen-royal-mast.
It was a pole, and there the stump stood, just as it was when we had
last seen him on the evening of the day of the combat. This left no
doubt of the character of our neighbour, and it at once determined our
course. As it was, we were greatly outsailing him, but an order was
immediately given to set the light staysails. As Captain Williams
passed aft, he gave his orders to the men in the batteries. In the
mean time, the second-mate, who spoke very good New York French, came
upon the forecastle, in readiness to answer the expected hail. As the
Crisis was kept a little free, in order to close, and as she sailed so
fast, it was apparent we were coming up with the chase, hand over
hand.

The two ships were not more than a hundred feet asunder when the
Frenchmen first saw us. This blindness was owing to several
circumstances. In the first place, ten men look forward in a ship,
where one looks aft. Those who looked aloft, too, were generally on
the quarter-deck, and this prevented them from looking astern. Then
the Frenchman's crew had just gone to their breakfasts, most of them
eating below. She was so strong-handed, moreover, as to give a
forenoon's watch below, and this still left many of the sluggards in
their hammocks. In that day, even a French ship-of-the-line was no
model of discipline or order, and a letter-of-marque was consequently
worse. As it afterwards appeared, we were first seen by the mate of
the watch, who ran to the taffrail, and, instead of giving an order to
call all hands, he hailed us. Mr. Forbank, our second-mate, answered;
mumbling his words so, that, if they were bad French, they did not
sound like good English. He got out the name "Le Hasard, de Bordeaux,"
pretty plainly, however; and this served to mystify the mate for a few
seconds. By the end of that time, our bows were doubling on the
Frenchman's quarter, and we were sheering into him so fast as quite to
distract the Nantes man. The hail had been heard below, however, and
the Frenchmen came tumbling up by the dozen, forward and aft.

Captain Williams was a prime seaman, and one of the coolest men that
ever lived. Everything that day was done at precisely the proper
moment. The Frenchman attempted to keep off, but our wheel was so
touched as to keep us lapping in nearly a parallel line with them, the
whole time; and our forward sails soon becalmed even their mainsail.
Of course we went two feet to their one. Marble came on the
forecastle, just as our cat-head was abreast of "The Lady's"
forward-rigging. Less than a minute was required to take us so far
forward, and that minute was one of great confusion among the
French. As soon as Marble got on the forecastle, he made a signal, the
ensign was run up, and the order was given to fire. We let fly all
five of our nine-pounders, loaded with two round and a stand of grape,
at the same moment. At the next instant, the crash of the ships coming
foul of each other was heard. Marble shouted "Come on, boys!" and away
he, and I, and Neb, and all hands of us, went on board of the
Frenchman like a hurricane. I anticipated a furious hand to hand
conflict; but we found the deck deserted, and had no difficulty
whatever in getting possession. The surprise, the rush, and the effect
of the broadside, gave us an easy victory. The French captain had been
nearly cut in two by a nine-pound shot, moreover, and both of the
mates were severely wounded. These accidents contributed largely to
our success, causing the enemy to abandon the defence as hopeless. We
had not a soul hurt.

The prize proved to be the ship I have mentioned, a letter-of-marque,
from Guadaloupe, bound to Nantes. She was a trifle larger than the
Crisis, mounted twelve French nines, and had eighty-three souls on
board when she sailed. Of these, however, no less than twenty-three
had been killed and wounded in our previous affair with her, and
several were absent in a prize. Of the wounded, nearly all were still
in their hammocks. Among the remainder, some sixteen or eighteen
suffered by our close and destructive broadside on the present
occasion, reducing the efficient part of her crew to about our own
numbers. The vessel was new and valuable, and her cargo was invoiced
at something like sixty thousand dollars, having some cochineal among
it.

As soon as assured of our victory, the Crisis's main-top-sail was
braced aback, as well as it could be, and her helm put down. At the
same time, the Dame was kept away, and the two ships went clear of
each other. Little injury had been done by the collision, or the
grinding; and, in consequence of our guns having been so much shotted,
no damage whatever was done the lower masts of the prize. The shot
had just force enough to pass through the bulwarks, make splinters,
and to lodge. This left both vessels in good condition for going into
port.

At first it was determined to leave me in _la Dame de Nantes,_ as
prize-master, with directions to follow the Crisis into Falmouth,
whither she was bound for orders. But, on further examination, it was
discovered that the crew of an American brig was on board the prize as
prisoners; _la Dame de Nantes_ having captured the vessel only
two days before we met the former the first time, taken out her
people, manned her, and ordered her for Nantes. These Americans,
including the master and two mates, amounted to thirteen souls in all,
and they enabled us to make a different disposition of the prize. The
result of an hour or two's deliberations was as follows:

Our old second-mate, whose hurt was likely to require better care than
could be had on the North-west Coast, was put on board the French ship
as prize-master, with orders to make the best of his way to New
York. The master and chief-mate of the American brig agreed to act
under him, and to assist in carrying _la Dame_ across the
ocean. Three or four of our invalids were sent home also, and the
liberated Americans took service for the passage. All the French
wounded were left in the ship, under the charge of their own surgeon,
who was a man of some little merit, though a good deal of a butcher,
as was too much the fashion of that day.

It was dark before all the arrangements were made, when _la Dame de
Nantes_ turned short round on her heel, and made sail for
America. Of course our captain sent in his official report by her, and
I seized a moment to write a short letter to Grace, which was so
worded as to be addressed to the whole family. I knew how much
happiness a line from me would bestow, and I had the pleasure to
inform them, also, that I was promoted to be second-mate--the
second-mate of the American brig having shipped as my successor in the
rank of third-officer.

The parting on the wide ocean, that night, was solemn, and, in some
respects, sad. We knew that several who were in _la Dame de
Nantes_ would probably be left behind, as she travelled her long,
solitary path, in the depths of the ocean; and there were the chances
that she, herself, might never arrive. As respects the last, however,
the odds were in her favour, the American coast being effectually
cleared of French privateers by that time; and I subsequently received
eleven hundred and seventy-three dollars for my share in that
exploit. How I was affected by the circumstance, and what I did with
the money, will appear in the sequel.

The Crisis made sail on a bowline, at the same moment her prize filled
away for America; Miles Wallingford a much more important personage
than he had been a few hours before. We put the prisoners below,
keeping a good watch over them, and hauled off to the northward and
westward, in order to avoid any French cruisers that might be hovering
on their own coast. Captain Williams seemed satisfied with the share
of glory he had obtained, and manifested no further disposition to
seek renown in arms. As for Marble, I never knew a man more exalted in
his own esteem, than he was by the results of that day's work. It
certainly did him great credit; but, from that hour, woe to the man
who pretended to dispute with him concerning the character of any sail
that happened to cross our path.

The day after we parted company with our prize, we made a sail to the
westward, and hauled up to take a look at her, the wind having
shifted. She was soon pronounced to be an American; but, though we
showed our colours, the stranger, a brig, manifested no disposition to
speak us. This induced Captain Williams to make sail in chase, more
especially as the brig endeavoured to elude us by passing ahead, and
the run was pretty nearly on our course. At 4, P. M. we got near
enough to throw a nine-pound shot between the fellow's masts, when the
chase hove-to, and permitted us to come up. The brig proved to be the
prize of _la Dame de Nantes_, and we took possession of her
forthwith. As this vessel was loaded with flour, pot and pearl ashes,
&c., and was bound to London, I was put in charge of her, with a young
man of my own age, of the name of Roger Talcott, for my assistant,
having six men for my crew. Of course the Frenchmen, all but one who
acted as cook and steward excepted, were received on board the
Crisis. Neb went with me, through his own and my earnest entreaties,
though spared by Marble with great reluctance.

This was my first command; and proud enough did I feel on the
occasion, though almost dying with the apprehension of doing something
wrong. My orders were, to make the Lizard light, and to crawl along
up-channel, keeping close in with the English coast; Captain Williams
anticipating instructions to go to the same port to which the Amanda
(the brig) was bound, and expecting to overtake us, after he had
called at Falmouth for his orders. As the Crisis could go four feet to
the Amanda's three, before sunset our old ship was hull down ahead of
us.

When I took charge of the deck the next morning, I found myself on the
wide ocean, with nothing in sight, at the age of eighteen, and in the
enemy's seas, with a valuable vessel to care for, my way to find into
narrow waters that I had never entered, and a crew on board, of whom
just one-half were now on their first voyage. Our green hands had
manifested the aptitude of Americans, and had done wonders in the way
of improvement; but a great deal still remained to be learned. The
Crisis's complement had been too large to employ everybody at all
sorts of work, as is usually done in a merchant-vessel with her
ordinary number of hands and the landsmen had to take their chances
for instruction. Notwithstanding, the men I got were stout, healthy,
willing and able to pull and haul with the oldest salts.

By the arrangement that had been made, I was now thrown upon my own
resources. Seamanship, navigation, address, prudence, all depended on
me. I confess I was, at first, nearly as much depressed by the novelty
and responsibility of my command, as Neb was delighted. But it is
surprising how soon we get accustomed to changes of this sort. The
first five or six hours set me quite at my ease, though it is true
nothing occurred in the least out of the usual way; and, by the time
the sun set, I should have been happy, could I have got over the
uneasiness produced by the darkness. The wind had got round to
south-west, and blew fresh. I set a lower and a top-mast
studding-sail, and by the time the light had entirely vanished, the
brig began to drag after her canvass in a way to keep me wide awake.
I was at a loss whether to shorten sail or not. On the one hand, there
was the apprehension of carrying away something; and, on the other,
the fear of seeming timid in the eyes of the two or three seamen I had
with me. I watched the countenances of these men, in order to glean
their private sentiments; but, usually, Jack relies so much on his
officers, that he seldom anticipates evils. As for Neb, the harder it
blew, the greater was his rapture. He appeared to think the wind was
Master Miles's, as well as the ocean, the brig, and himself. The more
there was of each, the richer I became. As for Talcott, he was
scarcely as good a seaman as myself, though he was well-educated, had
good manners, was well-connected, and had been my original competitor
for the office of third-mate. I had been preferred only through the
earnest recommendations of Marble. Talcott, however, was as expert a
navigator as we had in the ship, and had been placed with me on that
account; Captain Williams fancying two heads might prove better than
one. I took this young man into the cabin with me, not only as a
companion, but to give him consideration with the people forward. On
shore, though less fortunate in the way of state, he would have been
considered as fully my equal in position.

Talcott and myself remained on deck together nearly the whole of the
first night and the little sleep I did get was caught in a top-mast
studding-sail that lay on the quarterdeck, and which I had determined
not to set, after rowsing it up for that purpose. When daylight
returned, however, with a clear horizon, no increase of wind, and
nothing in sight, I was so much relieved as to take a good nap until
eight. All that day we started neither tack nor sheet, nor touched a
brace. Towards evening I went aloft myself to look for land, but
without success, though I knew, from our observation at noon, it could
not be far off. Fifty years ago the longitude was the great difficulty
with navigators. Both Talcott and myself did very well with the
lunars, it is true; but there was no chance to observe, and even
lunars soon get out of their reckoning among currents and tides. Glad
enough, then, was I to hear Neb sing but "Light ahead!" from the
fore-top-sail-yard. This was about ten o'clock. I knew this light
must be the Lizard, as we were too far to the eastward for Scilly. The
course was changed so as to bring the light a little on the
weather-bow; and I watched for its appearance to us on deck with an
anxiety I have experienced, since, only in the most trying
circumstances. Half an hour sufficed for this, and then I felt
comparatively happy. A new beginner even is not badly off with the
wind fresh at south-west, and the Lizard light in plain view on his
weather-bow, if he happen to be bound up-channel. That night,
consequently, proved to be more comfortable than the previous.

Next morning there was no change, except in the brig's position. We
were well in the channel, had the land as close aboard as was prudent,
and could plainly see, by objects ashore, that we were travelling
ahead at a famous rate. We went within a mile of the Eddystone, so
determined was I to keep as far as possible from the French
privateers. Next morning we were up abreast of the Isle of Wight; but
the wind had got round to the southward and eastward, becoming much
lighter, and so scant as to bring us on a taut bowline. This made
England a lee-shore, and I began to be as glad to get off it, as I had
lately been to hug it.

All this time, it will easily be understood that we kept a sharp
look-out, on board the brig, for enemies. We saw a great many sail,
particularly as we approached the Straits of Dover, and kept as much
aloof from all as circumstances would allow. Several were evidently
English vessels-of-war, and I felt no small concern on the subject of
having some of my men impressed; for at that period, and for many
years afterwards, ships of all nations that traded with the English
lost many of their people by this practice, and the American craft
more than any other. I ascribed to our sticking so close to the coast,
which we did as long as it was at all safe, the manner in which we
were permitted to pass unnoticed, or, at least, undetained. But, as we
drew nearer to the narrow waters, I had little hope of escaping
without being boarded. In the mean while, we made short stretches off
the land, and back again, all one day and night, working slowly to the
eastward. We still met with no interruption. I was fast getting
confidence in myself; handling the Amanda, in my own judgment, quite
as welt as Marble could have done it, and getting my green hands into
so much method and practice, that I should not have hesitated about
turning round and shaping our course for New York, so far as the mere
business of navigating the vessel was concerned.

The lights on the English coast were safe guides for our movements,
and they let me understand how much we made or lost on a
tack. Dungeness was drawing nearer slowly, to appearances, and I was
beginning to look out for a pilot; when Talcott, who had the watch,
about three in the morning, came with breathless haste into the cabin,
to tell me there was a sail closing with us fast, and, so far as he
could make her out in the darkness, she was lugger-rigged. This was
startling news indeed, for it was almost tantamount to saying the
stranger was a Frenchman. I did not undress at all, and was on deck in
a moment. The vessel in chase was about half a mile distant on our
lee-quarter, but could be plainly enough distinguished, and I saw at a
glance she was a lugger. There were certainly English luggers; but all
the traditions of the profession had taught me to regard a vessel of
that particular rig as a Frenchman. I had heard of privateers from
Dunkirk, Boulogne, and various other ports in France, running over to
the English coast in the night, and making prizes, just as this fellow
seemed disposed to serve us. Luckily, our head was toward the land,
and we were looking about a point and a half to windward of the light
on Dungeness, being also favoured with a flood-tide, so far as we
could judge by the rapid drift of the vessel to windward.

My decision was made in a minute. I knew nothing of batteries, or
where to seek protection; but there was the land, and I determined to
make for it as fast as I could. By keeping the brig a good full, and
making all the sail she could carry, I thought we might run ashore
before the lugger could get alongside us. As for her firing, I did not
believe she would dare to attempt that, as it might bring some English
cruiser on her heels, and France was some hours' sail distant. The
fore and mizen top-gallant-sails were set as fast as possible, the
weather-braces pulled upon a little, the bowlines eased, and the brig
kept a rap-full. The Amanda was no flyer, certainly; but she seemed
frightened as much as we were ourselves, that night. I never knew her
to get along so fast, considering the wind; and really there was a
short time when I began to think she held her own, the lugger being
jammed up as close as she could be. But this was all delusion, that
craft coming after us more like a sea-serpent than a machine carried
ahead by canvass. I was soon certain that escape from such a racer by
sailing, was altogether out of the question.

The land and light were now close aboard us, and I expected every
moment to hear the brig's keel grinding on the bottom. At this instant
I caught a faint glimpse of a vessel at anchor to the eastward of the
point, and apparently distant about a quarter of a mile. The thought
struck me that she might be an English cruiser, for they frequently
anchored in such places; and I called out, as it might be
instinctively, "luff!" Neb was at the helm, and I knew by his cheerful
answer that the fellow was delighted. It was lucky we luffed as we
did, for, in coming to the wind, the vessel gave a scrape that was a
fearful admonisher of what would have happened in another minute. The
Amanda minded her helm beautifully, however, and we went past the
nearest land without any further hints, heading up just high enough to
fetch a little to windward of the vessel at anchor. At the next
moment, the lugger, then about a cable's length from as, was shut in
by the land. I was now in great hopes the Frenchman would be obliged
to tack; but he had measured his distance well, and felt certain, it
would seem, that he could lay past. He reasoned, probably, as Nelson
is _said_ to have reasoned at the Nile, and as some of his
captains unquestionably _did_ reason; that is, if there was water
enough for us, there was water enough for him. In another minute I saw
him, jammed nearly into the wind's eye, luffing past the point, and
falling as easily into our wake as if drawn by attraction.

All this time, the night was unbroken by any sound. Not a hail, nor a
call, our own orders excepted, and they had been given in low tones,
had been audible on board the Amanda. As regards the vessel at anchor,
she appeared to give herself no concern. There she lay, a fine ship,
and, as I thought, a vessel-of-war, like a marine bird asleep on its
proper element. We were directly between her and the lugger, and it is
possible her anchor-watch did not see the latter. The three vessels
were not more than half a cable's length asunder; that is, we were
about that distance from the ship, and the lugger was a very little
farther from us. Five minutes must determine the matter. I was on the
brig's forecastle, anxiously examining all I could make out on board
the ship, as her size, and shape, and rig, became slowly more and more
distinct; and I hailed--

"Ship ahoy!"

"Hilloa! What brig's that?"

"An American, with a French privateer-lugger close on board me,
directly in my wake. You had better be stirring!"

I heard the quick exclamation of "The devil there is!" "Bloody
Yankees!" came next. Then followed the call of "All hands." It was
plain enough my notice had set everything in motion in that
quarter. Talcott now came running forward to say he thought, from some
movements on board the lugger, that her people were now first apprised
of the vicinity of the ship. I had been sadly disappointed at the call
for all hands on board the ship, for it was in the manner of a
merchantman, instead of that of a vessel-of-war. But we were getting
too near to remain much longer in doubt. The Amanda was already
sweeping up on the Englishman's bows, not more than forty yards
distant.

"She is an English West-Indiaman, Mr. Wallingford," said one of my
oldest seamen; "and a running ship; some vessel that has deserted or
lost her convoy."

"Do you _know_ anything of the lugger?" demanded an officer from
on board the ship, in a voice that was not very amicable.

"No more than you see; she has chased me, close aboard, for the last
twenty minutes."

There was no reply to this for a moment, and then I was asked--"To
tack, and give us a little chance, by drawing him away for a few
minutes. We are armed, and will come out to your assistance."

Had I been ten years older, experience in the faith of men, and
especially of men engaged in the pursuit of gain, would have prevented
me from complying with this request; but, at eighteen, one views these
things differently. It did appear to me ungenerous to lead an enemy in
upon a man in his sleep, and not endeavour to do something to aid the
surprised party. I answered "ay, ay!" therefore, and tacked directly
alongside of the ship. But the manoeuvre was too late, the lugger
coming in between the ship and the brig, just as we began to draw
ahead again, leaving him room, and getting a good look at us both. The
Englishman appeared the most inviting, I suppose, for she up helm and
went on board of him on his quarter. Neither party used their guns. We
were so near, however, as plainly to understand the whole, to
distinguish the orders, and even to hear the blows that were struck by
hand. It was an awful minute to us in the brig. The cries of the hurt
reached us in the stillness of that gloomy morning, and oaths mingled
with the clamour. Though taken by surprise, John Bull fought well;
though we could perceive that he was overpowered, however, just as the
distance, and the haze that was beginning to gather thick around the
land, shut in the two vessels from our view.

The disappearance of the two combatants furnished me with a hint how
to proceed. I stood out three or four minutes longer, or a sufficient
distance to make certain we should not be seen, and tacked again. In
order to draw as fast as possible out of the line of sight, we kept
the brig off a little, and then ran in towards the English coast,
which was sufficiently distant to enable us to stand on in that
direction some little time longer. This expedient succeeded perfectly;
for, when we found it necessary to tack again, day began to
dawn. Shortly after, we could just discern the West-Indiaman and the
lugger standing off the land, making the best of their way towards the
French coast. In 1799, it is possible that this bold Frenchman got his
prize into some of his own ports, though three or four years later it
would have been a nearly hopeless experiment. As for the Amanda, she
was safe; and Nelson did not feel happier, after his great achievement
at the Nile, than I felt at the success of my own expedient. Talcott
congratulated me and applauded me; and I believe all of us were a
little too much disposed to ascribe to our own steadiness and address,
much that ought fairly to have been imputed to chance.

Off Dover we got a pilot, and learned that the ship captured was the
Dorothea, a valuable West-Indiaman that had stolen away from her
convoy, and come in alone, the previous evening. She anchored under
Dungeness at the first of the ebb, and, it seems, had preferred taking
a good night's rest to venturing out in the dark, when the flood
made. Her berth was a perfectly snug one, and the lugger would
probably never have found her, had we not led her directly in upon her
prey.

I was now relieved from all charge of the brig; and a relief I found
it, between shoals, enemies, and the tides, of which I knew
nothing. That day we got into the Downs, and came-to. Here I saw a
fleet at anchor; and a pretty stir it made among the man-of-war's-men,
when our story was repeated among them. I do think twenty of their
boats were alongside of us, to get the facts from the original
source. Among others who thus appeared, to question me, was one old
gentleman, whom I suspected of being an admiral. He was in
shore-dress, and came in a plain way; the men in his boat declining to
answer any questions; but they paid him unusual respect. This
gentleman asked me a great many particulars, and I told him the whole
story frankly, concealing or colouring nothing. He was evidently much
interested. When he went away, he shook me cordially by the hand, and
said--"Young gentleman, you have acted prudently and well. Never mind
the grumbling of some of our lads; they think only of themselves. It
was your right and your duty to save your own vessel, if you could,
without doing anything dishonourable; and I see nothing wrong in your
conduct. But it's a sad disgrace to us, to let these French rascals be
picking up their crumbs in this fashion, right under our hawse-holes."

CHAPTER X.

"How pleasant and how sad the turning tide
Of human life, when side by side
The child and youth begin to glide
Along the vale of years:
The pure twin-being for a little space,
With lightsome heart, and yet a graver face.
Too young for woe, though not for tears."
ALLSTON.

With what interest and deference most Americans of any education
regarded England, her history, laws and institutions, in 1799! There
were a few exceptions--warm political partisans, and here and there an
individual whose feelings had become embittered by some particular
incident of the revolution--but surprisingly few, when it is
recollected that the country was only fifteen years from the peace. I
question if there ever existed another instance of as strong
provincial admiration for the capital, as independent America
manifested for the mother country, in spite of a thousand just
grievances, down to the period of the war of 1812. I was no exception
to the rule, nor was Talcott. Neither of us had ever seen England
before we made the Lizard on this voyage, except through our minds'
eyes; and these had presented quantities of beauties and excellencies
that certainly vanished on a nearer approach. By this I merely mean
that we had painted in too high colours, as is apt to be the case when
the imagination holds the pencil; not that there was any unusual
absence of things worthy to be commended. On the contrary, even at
this late, hour, I consider England as a model for a thousand
advantages, even to our own inappreciable selves. Nevertheless, much
delusion was blended with our admiration.

English history was virtually American history; and everything on the
land, as we made our way towards town, which the pilot could point
out, was a source of amusement and delight. We had to tide it up to
London, and had plenty of leisure to see all there was to be seen. The
Thames is neither a handsome, nor a very magnificent river; but it was
amazing to witness the number of vessels that then ascended or
descended it. There was scarce a sort of craft known to Christendom, a
few of the Mediterranean excepted, that was not to be seen there; and
as for the colliers, we drifted through a forest of them that seemed
large enough to keep the town a twelvemonth in fire-wood, by simply
burning their spars. The manner in which the pilot handled our brig,
too, among the thousand ships that lay in tiers on each side of the
narrow passage we had to thread, was perfectly surprising to me;
resembling the management of a coachman in a crowded thoroughfare,
more than the ordinary working of a ship. I can safely say I learned
more in the Thames, in the way of keeping a vessel in command, and in
doing what I pleased with her, than in the whole of my voyage to
Canton and back again. As for Neb, he rolled his dark eyes about in
wonder, and took an occasion to say to me--"He'll make her talk,
Masser Miles, afore he have done." I make no doubt the navigation from
the Forelands to the bridges, as it was conducted thirty years since,
had a great influence on the seamanship of the English. Steamers are
doing away with much of this practice, though the colliers still have
to rely on themselves. Coals will scarcely pay for tugging.

I had been directed by Captain Williams to deliver the brig to her
original consignee, an American merchant established in the modern
Babylon, reserving the usual claim for salvage. This I did, and that
gentleman sent hands on board to take charge of the vessel, relieving
me entirely from all farther responsibility. As the captain in his
letter had, inadvertently I trust, mentioned that he had put
"Mr. Wallingford, his _third_ mate," in charge, I got no
invitation to dinner from the consignee; though the affair of the
capture under Dungeness found its way into the papers, _via_
Deal, I have always thought, with the usual caption of "Yankee Trick."
Yankee trick! This phrase, so often carelessly used, has probably done
a great deal of harm in this country. The young and ambitious--there
are all sorts of ambition, and, among others, that of being a rogue;
as a proof of which, one daily hears people call envy, jealousy,
covetousness, avarice, and half of the meaner vices, ambition--the
young and _ambitious_, then, of this country, too often think to
do a _good_ thing, that shall have some of the peculiar merit of
a certain other good thing that they have heard laughed at and
applauded, under this designation. I can account in no other manner
for the great and increasing number of "Yankee tricks" that are of
daily occurrence among us. Among other improvements in taste, not to
say in morals, that might be introduced into the American press, would
be the omission of the histories of these rare inventions. As
two-thirds of the editors of the whole country, however, are Yankees,
I suppose they must be permitted to go on exulting in the cleverness
of their race. We are indebted to the Puritan stock for most of our
instructors--editors and school-masters--and when one coolly regards
the prodigious progress of the people in morals, public and private
virtue, honesty, and other estimable qualities, he must indeed rejoice
in the fact that our masters so early discovered "a church without a
bishop."

I had an opportunity, while in London, however, of ascertaining that
the land of our fathers, which by the way has archbishops, contains
something besides an unalloyed virtue in its bosom. At Gravesend we
took on board _two_ customhouse officers, (they always set a
rogue to watch a rogue, in the English revenue system,) and they
remained in the brig until she was discharged. One of these men had
been a gentleman's servant, and he owed his place to his former
master's interest. He was a miracle of custom-house integrity and
disinterestedness, as I discovered in the first hour of our
intercourse. Perceiving a lad of eighteen in charge of the prize, and
ignorant that this lad had read a good deal of Latin and Greek under
excellent Mr. Hardinge, besides being the heir of Clawbonny, I suppose
he fancied he would have an easy time with him. This man's name was
Sweeney. Perceiving in me an eager desire to see everything, the brig
was no sooner at her moorings, than he proposed a cruise ashore. It
was Sweeney who showed me the way to the consignee's, and, that
business accomplished, he proposed that we should proceed on and take
a look at St. Paul's, the Monument, and, as he gradually found my
tastes more intellectual than he had at first supposed, the wonders of
the West End. I was nearly a week under the pilotage of the "Admirable
Sweeney." After showing me the exteriors of all the things of mark
about the town, and the interiors of a few that I was disposed to pay
for, he descended in his tastes, and carried me through Wapping, its
purlieus and its scenes of atrocities. I have always thought Sweeney
was sounding me, and hoping to ascertain my true character, by the
course he took; and that he betrayed his motives in a proposition
which he finally made, and which brought our intimacy to a sudden
close. The result, however, was to let me into secrets I should
probably have never learned in any other manner. Still, I had read and
heard too much to be easily duped; and I kept myself not only out of
the power of my tempter, but out of the power of all that could injure
me, remaining simply a curious observer of what was placed before my
eyes. Good Mr. Hardinge's lessons were not wholly forgotten; I could
run away from him, much easier than from his precepts.

I shall never forget a visit I made to a house called the Black Horse,
in St. Catherine's Lane. This last was a narrow street that ran across
the site of the docks that now bear the same name; and it was the
resort of all the local infamy of Wapping. I say _local_ infamy;
for there were portions of the West End that were even worse than
anything which a mere port could produce. Commerce, that parent of so
much that is useful to man, has its dark side as everything else of
earth; and, among its other evils, it drags after it a long train of
low vice; but this train is neither so long nor so broad as that which
is chained to the chariot-wheels of the great. Appearances excepted,
and they are far less than might be expected, I think the West End
could beat Wapping out and out, in every essential vice; and, if
St. Giles be taken into the account, I know of no salvo in favour of
the land over the sea.

Our visit to the Black Horse was paid of a Sunday, that being the
leisure moment of all classes of labourers, and the day when, being
attired in their best, they fancied themselves best prepared to appear
in the world. I will here remark, that I have never been in any
portion of Christendom that keeps the Sabbath precisely as it is kept
in America. In all other countries, even the most rigorously severe in
their practices, it is kept as a day of recreation and rest, as well
as of public devotion. Even in the American towns, the old observances
are giving way before the longings or weaknesses of human nature; and
Sunday is no longer what it was. I have witnessed scenes of brawling,
blasphemy and rude tumult, in the suburbs of New York, on Sundays,
within the last few years, that I have never seen in any other part of
the world on similar occasions; and serious doubts of the expediency
of the high-pressure principle have beset me, whatever may be the just
constructions of doctrine. With the last I pretend not to meddle;
but, in a worldly point of view, it would seem wise, if you cannot
make men all that they ought to be, to aim at such social regulations
as shall make them as little vile as possible. But, to return to the
Black Horse in St. Catherine's Lane--a place whose very name was
associated with vileness.

It is unnecessary to speak of the characters of its female
visiters. Most of them were young, many of them were still blooming
and handsome, but all of them were abandoned. "I need tell you
nothing of these girls," said Sweeney, who was a bit of a philosopher
in his way, ordering a pot of beer, and motioning me to take a seat at
a vacant table--"but, as for the men you see here, half are
house-breakers and pickpockets, come to pass the day genteelly among
you gentlemen-sailors. There are two or three faces here that I have
seen at the Old Bailey, myself; and how they have remained in the
country, is more than I can tell you. You perceive these fellows are
just as much at their ease, and the landlord who receives and
entertains them is just as much at _his_ ease, as if the whole
party were merely honest men."

"How happens it," I asked, "that such known rogues are allowed to go
at large, or that this inn-keeper dares receive them?"

"Oh! you're a child yet, or you would not ask such a question! You
must know, Master Wallingford, that the law protects rogues as well as
honest men. To convict a pickpocket, you must have witnesses and
jurors to agree, and prosecutors, and a sight of things that are not
as plenty as pocket-handkerchiefs, or even wallets and Bank of England
notes. Besides, these fellows can prove an alibi any day in the
week. An alibi, you must know--"

"I know very well what an alibi means, Mr. Sweeney."

"The deuce you do!" exclaimed the protector of the king's revenue,
eyeing me a little distrustfully. "And pray how should one as young as
you, and coming from a new country like America, know that?"

"Oh!" said I, laughing, "America is just the country for
_alibis_--everybody is everywhere, and nobody anywhere. The
whole nation is in motion, and there is every imaginable opportunity
for _alibis_."

I believe I owed the development of Sweeney's "ulterior views" to this
careless speech. He had no other idea of the word than its legal
signification; and it must have struck him as a little suspicious that
one of my apparent condition in life, and especially of my years,
should be thus early instructed in the meaning of this very useful
professional term. It was a minute before he spoke again, having been
all that time studying my countenance.

"And pray, Master Wallingford," he then inquired, "do you happen to
know what _nolle prosequi_ means, too?"

"Certainly; it means to give up the chase. The French lugger under
Dungeness entered a _nolle prosequi_ as respects my brig, when
she found her hands full of the West-Indiaman."

"So, so; I find I have been keeping company all this time with a
knowing one, and I such a simpleton as to fancy him green! Well, that
I should live to be done by a raw Jonathan!"

"Poh, poh, Mr. Sweeney, I can tell you a story of two of our naval
officers, that took place just before we sailed; and then you will
learn that all hands of us, on the other side of the Big Pond,
understand Latin. One of these officers had been engaged in a duel,
and he found it necessary to lie hid. A friend and shipmate, who was
in his secret, came one day in a great hurry to tell him that the
authorities of the State in which the parties fought had entered a
_nolle prosequi"_ against the offenders. He had a newspaper with
the whole thing in it, in print. "What's a _nolle prosequi_,
Jack?" asked Tom. "Why, it's Latin, to be sure, and it means some
infernal thing or other. We must contrive to find out, for it's half
the battle to know who and what you've got to face." "Well, you know
lots of lawyers, and dare show your face; so, just step out and ask
one." "I'll trust no lawyer; I might put the question to some chap who
has been fee'd. But we both studied a little Latin when boys, and
between us we'll undermine the meaning." Tom assented, and to work
they went. Jack had the most Latin; but, do all he could, he was not
able to find a "_nolle_" in any dictionary. After a great deal of
conjecture, the friends agreed it must be the root of "knowledge," and
that point was settled. As for "_prosequi_" it was not so
difficult, as "sequor" was a familiar word; and, after some
cogitation, Jack announced his discoveries. "If this thing were in
English, now," he said, "a fellow might understand it. In that case, I
should say that the sheriff's men were in "pursuit of knowledge;" that
is, hunting after _you_; but Latin, you remember, was always an
inverted sort of stuff, and that '_pro_' alters the whole
signification. The paper says they've '_entered_ a _nolle
prosequi;_' and the 'entered' explains the whole. 'Entered a nolle'
means, have entered on the knowledge, got a scent; you see it is law
English; 'pro' means 'how,' and 'sequi,' 'to give chase.' The amount
of it all is, Tom, that they are on your heels, and I must go to work
and send you off, at once, two or three hundred miles into the
interior, where you may laugh at them and their 'nolle prosequis'
together." [*]

[Footnote *: There is said to be foundation for this story.]

Sweeney laughed heartily at this story, though he clearly did not take
the joke, which I presume he fancied lay concealed under an American
flash language; and he proposed by way of finishing the day, to carry
me to an entertainment where, he gave me to understand, American
officers were fond of sometimes passing a few minutes. I was led to a
Wapping assembly-room, on entering which I found myself in a party
composed of some forty or fifty cooks and stewards of American
vessels, all as black as their own pots with partners of the usual
colour and bloom of English girls I have as few prejudices of colour
as any American well can have; but I will confess this scene struck me
as being painfully out of keeping. In England, however, nothing seemed
to be thought of it; and I afterwards found that marriages between
English women, and men of all the colours of the rainbow, were very
common occurrences.

When he had given me this ball as the climax of his compliments,
Sweeney betrayed the real motive of all his attentions. After
drinking a pot of beer extra, well laced with gin, he offered his
services in smuggling anything ashore that the Amanda might happen to
contain, and which I, as the prize-master, might feel a desire to
appropriate to my own particular purposes. I met the proposal with a
little warmth, letting my tempter understand that I considered his
offer so near an insult, that it must terminate our acquaintance. The
man seemed astounded. In the first place, he evidently thought all
goods and chattels were made to be plundered, and then he was of
opinion that plundering was a very common "Yankee trick." Had I been
an Englishman, he might possibly have understood my conduct; but, with
him, it was so much a habit to fancy an American a rogue, that, as I
afterwards discovered, he was trying to persuade the leader of a
press-gang that I was the half-educated and illegitimate son of some
English merchant, who wished to pass himself off for an American. I
pretend not to account for the contradiction, though I have often met
with the same moral phenomena among his countrymen; but here was as
regular a rogue as ever cheated, who pretended to think roguery
indigenous to certain nations, among whom his own was not included.

At length I was cheered with the sight of the Crisis, as she came
drifting through the tiers, turning, and twisting, and glancing along,
just as the Amanda had done before her. The pilot carried her to
moorings quite near us; and Talcott, Neb and I were on board her,
before she was fairly secured. My reception was very favourable,
Captain Williams having seen the account of the "Yankee trick" in the
papers; and, understanding the thing just as it had happened, he
placed the most advantageous construction on all I had done. For
myself, I confess I never had any misgivings on the subject.

All hands of us were glad to be back in the Crisis again. Captain
Williams had remained at Falmouth longer than he expected, to make
some repairs that could not be thoroughly completed at sea, which
alone prevented him from getting into the river as soon as I did
myself. Now the ship was in, we no longer felt any apprehension of
being impressed, Sweeney's malignancy having set several of the gang
upon the scent after us. Whether the fellow actually thought I was an
English subject or not, is more than I ever knew; but I felt no
disposition myself to let the point be called in question, before my
Lord Chief Justice of a Rendezvous. The King's Bench was more
governed by safe principles, in its decisions, than the gentlemen who
presided in these marine courts of the British navy.

As I was the only officer in the ship who had ever seen anything of
London, my fortnight's experience made me a notable man in the
cabin. It was actually greater preferment for me than when I was
raised from third to be second-mate. Marble was all curiosity to see
the English capital, and he made me promise to be his pilot, as soon
as duty would allow time for a stroll, and to show him everything I
had seen myself. We soon got out the cargo, and then took in ballast
for our North-West voyage; the articles we intended to traffic with on
the coast, being too few and too light to fill the ship. This kept us
busy for a fortnight, after which we had to look about us to obtain
men to supply the places of those who had been killed, or sent away in
_la Dame de Nantes_. Of course we preferred Americans; and this
so much the more, as Englishmen were liable to be pressed at any
moment. Fortunately, a party of men that had been taken out of an
American ship, a twelvemonth before, by an English cruiser, had
obtained their discharges; and they all came to London, for the double
purpose of getting some prize-money, and of obtaining passages home.
These lads were pleased with the Crisis and the voyage, and, instead
of returning to their own country, sailor-like, they took service to
go nearly round the world. These were first-rate men--Delaware-river
seamen--and proved a great accession to our force. We owed the
windfall to the reputation the ship had obtained by her affairs with
the letter-of-marque; an account of which, copied from the log-book
and a little embellished by some one on shore, he consignee had taken
care should appear in the journals. The history of the surprise, in
particular, read very well; and the English were in a remarkably good
humour, at that time, to receive an account of any discomfiture of a
Frenchman. At no period since the year 1775, had the American
character stood so high in England as it did just then; the two
nations, for a novelty, fighting on the same side. Not long after we
left London, the underwriters at Lloyd's actually voted a handsome
compliment to an American commander for capturing a French
frigate. Stranger things have happened than to have the day arrive
when English and American fleets may be acting in concert. No one can
tell what is in the womb of time; and I have lived long enough to know
that no man can foresee who will continue to be his friends, or a
nation what people may become its enemies.

The Crisis at length began to take in her bales and boxes for the
North-West Coast, and, as the articles were received slowly, or a few
packages at a time, it gave us leisure for play. Our captain was in
such good humour with us, on account of the success of the
outward-bound passage, that he proved very indulgent. This disposition
was probably increased by the circumstance that a ship arrived in a
very short passage from New York, which spoke our prize; all well,
with a smacking southerly breeze, a clear coast, and a run of only a
few hundred miles to make. This left the almost moral certainty that
_la Dame de Nantes_ had arrived safe, no Frenchman being likely
to trust herself on that distant coast, which was now alive with our
own cruisers, going to or returning from the West Indies.

I had a laughable time in showing Marble the sights of London. We
began with the wild beasts in the Tower, as in duty bound; but of
these our mate spoke very disparagingly. He had been too often in the
East "to be taken in by such animals;" and, to own the truth, the
cockneys were easily satisfied on the score of their _menagerie_.
We next went to the Monument; but this did not please him. He had
seen a shot-tower in America--there was but one in that day--that beat
it out and out as to height, and he thought in beauty, too. There was
no reasoning against this. St. Paul's rather confounded him. He
frankly admitted there was no such church at Kennebunk; though he did
not know but Trinity, New York, "might stand up alongside of it."
"Stand up along side of it!" I repeated, laughing. "Why, Mr. Marble,
Trinity, steeple and all, could stand up in it--_under_ that
dome-and then leave more room in this building than all the other
churches in New York contain, put altogether."

It was a long time before Marble forgave this speech. He said it was
"unpatriotic;" a word which was less used in 1799 than it is used
to-day, certainly; but which, nevertheless, _was_ used. It often
meant then, as now, a thick and thin pertinacity in believing in
provincial marvels; and, in this, Marble was one of the most patriotic
men with whom I ever met. I got him out of the church, and along Fleet
street, through Temple Bar, and into the Strand, however, in peace;
and then we emerged into the arena of fashion, aristocracy and the
court. After a time, we worked our way into Hyde Park, where we
brought up, to make our observations.

Marble was deeply averse to acknowledging all the admiration he really
felt at the turn-outs of London, as they were exhibited in the Park,
of a fine day, in their season. It is probable the world elsewhere
never saw anything approaching the beauty and magnificence that is
here daily seen, at certain times, so far as beauty and magnificence
are connected with equipages, including carriages, horses and
servants. Unable to find fault with the _tout ensemble_, our
mate made a violent attack on the liveries. He protested it was
indecent to put a "hired man"--the word _help_ never being
applied to the male sex, I believe, by the most fastidious New England
purist--in a cocked hat; a decoration that ought to be exclusively
devoted to the uses of ministers of the gospel, governors of States,
and militia officers. I had some notions of the habits of the great
world, through books, and some little learned by observation and
listening; but Marble scouted at most of my explanations. He put his
own construction on everything he saw; and I have often thought,
since, could the publishers of travels have had the benefit of his
blunders, how many would have profited by them. Gentlemen were just
then beginning to drive their own coaches; and I remember, in a
particular instance, an ultra in the new mode had actually put his
coachman in the inside, while he occupied the dickey in person. Such a
gross violation of the proprieties was unusual, even in London; but
there sat Jehu, in all the dignity of cotton-lace, plush, and a cocked
hat. Marble took it into his head that this man was the king, and no
reasoning of mine could persuade him to the contrary. In vain I
pointed out to him a hundred similar dignitaries, in the proper
exercise of their vocation, on the hammer-cloths; he cared not a
straw--this was not showing him one _inside_; and a gentleman
inside of a carriage, who wore so fine a coat, and a cocked hat in the
bargain, could be nothing less than some dignitary of the empire; and
why not the king! Absurd as all this will seem, I have known mistakes,
connected with the workings of our own institutions, almost as great,
made by theorists from Europe.

While Marble and I were wrangling on this very point, a little
incident occurred, which led to important consequences in the
end. Hackney-coaches, or any other public conveyance, short of
post-chaises and post-horses, are not admitted into the English
parks. But glass-coaches are; meaning by this term, which is never
used in America, hired carriages that do not go on the stands. We
encountered one of these glass-coaches in a very serious
difficulty. The horses had got frightened by means of a wheelbarrow,
aided probably by some bad management of the driver, and had actually
backed the hind-wheels of the vehicle into the water of the
canal. They would have soon had the whole carriage submerged, and have
followed it themselves, had it not been for the chief-mate and
myself. I thrust the wheelbarrow under one of the forward-wheels, just
in time to prevent the final catastrophe; while Marble grasped the
spoke with his iron gripe, and, together, he and the wheelbarrow made
a resistance that counterbalanced the backward tendency of the
team. There was no footman; and, springing to the door, I aided a
sickly-looking, elderly man--a female who might very well have been
his wife, and another that I took for his daughter--to escape. By my
agency all three were put on the dry land, without even wetting their
feet, though I fared worse myself. No sooner were they safe, than
Marble, who was up to his shoulders in the water, and who had made
prodigious efforts to maintain the balance of power, released his
hold, the wheelbarrow gave way at the same moment, and the whole
affair, coach and horses, had their will, and went, stern foremost,
overboard. One of the horses was saved, I believe, and the other
drowned; but, a crowd soon collecting, I paid little attention to what
was going on in the carriage, as soon as its cargo was discharged.

The gentleman we had saved, pressed my hand with fervour, and
Marble's, too; saying that we must not quit him--that we must go home
with him. To this we consented, readily enough, thinking we might
still be of use. As we all walked towards one of the more private
entrances of the Park, I had an opportunity of observing the people we
had served. They were very respectable in appearance; but I knew
enough of the world to see that they belonged to what is called the
middle class in England. I thought the man might be a soldier; while
the two females had an air of great respectability, though not in the
least of fashion. The girl appeared to be nearly as old as myself, and
was decidedly pretty. Here, then, was an adventure! I had saved the
life of a damsel of seventeen, and had only to fall in love, to become
the hero of a romance.

At the gate, the gentleman stopped a hackney-coach, put the females
in, and desired us to follow. But to this we would not consent, both
being wet, and Marble particularly so. After a short parley, he gave
us an address in Norfolk Street, Strand; and we promised to stop there
on our way back to the ship. Instead of following the carriage,
however, we made our way on foot into the Strand, where we found an
eating-house, turned in and eat a hearty dinner each, the chief-mate
resorting to some brandy in order to prevent his taking cold. On what
principle this is done, I cannot explain, though I know it is often
practised, and in all quarters of the world.

As soon as we had dined and dried ourselves, we went into Norfolk
street. We had been told to ask for Major Merton, and this we did. The
house was one of those plain lodging-houses, of which most of that
part of the town is composed: and we found the Major and his family in
the occupation of the first floor, a mark of gentility on which some
stress is laid in England. It was plain enough, however, to see that
these people were not rolling in that splendour, of which we had just
seen so much in the Park.

"I can trace the readiness and gallantry of the English tar in your
conduct," observed the Major, after he had given us both quite as warm
a reception as circumstances required, at the same time taking out his
pocket-book, and turning over some bank-notes. "I wish, for your
sakes, I was better able than I am to reward you for what you have
done; but twenty pounds is all I can now offer. At some other time,
circumstances may place it in my power to give further and better
proofs of my gratitude."

As this was said, the Major held two ten-pound notes towards Marble,
doubtless intending that I should receive one of them, as a fair
division of the spoils. Now, according to all theory, and the
established opinion of the Christian world, America is _the_
avaricious country; the land, of all others, in which men are the most
greedy of gain; in which human beings respect gold more, and
themselves less, than in any other portion of this globe. I never
dispute anything that is settled by the common consent of my
fellow-creatures, for the simple reason that I know the decision must
be against me; so I will concede that money _is_ the great end of
American life--that there is little else to live for, in the great
model republic. Politics have fallen into such hands, that office will
not even give social station; the people are omnipotent, it is true;
but, though they can make a governor, they cannot make gentlemen and
ladies; even kings are sometimes puzzled to do that; literature, arms,
arts, and fame of all sorts, are unattainable in their rewards, among
us as in other nations, leaving the puissant dollar in its undisturbed
ascendency; still, as a rule, twenty Europeans can be bought with two
ten-pound Bank of England notes, much easier than two Americans. I
leave others to explain the phenomenon; I only speak of the
_fact_.

Marble listened to the Major's speech with great attention and
respect, fumbling in his pocket for his tobacco-box, the whole
time. The box was opened just as the Major ended, and even I began to
be afraid that the well-known cupidity of Kennebunk was about to give
way before the temptation, and the notes were to be stowed alongside
of the tobacco but I was mistaken. Deliberately helping himself to a
quid, the chief-mate shut the box again, and then he made his reply.

"Quite ginerous in you, Major," he said, "and all ship-shape and
right. I like to see things done just in that way. Put up the money;
we thank you as much as if we could take it, and that squares all
accounts. I would just mention, however, to prevent mistakes, as the
other idee might get us impressed, that this young man and I are both
born Americans--he from up the Hudson somewhere, and I from York city,
itself, though edicated down east."

"Americans!" resumed the Major, drawing himself up a little stiffly;
"then _you_, young man," turning to me, and holding out the

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