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Charles Philip Yorke, Fourth Earl of Hardwicke, Vice-Admiral R.N. by Lady Biddulph of Ledbury

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It is with great diffidence that I lay this memoir before the public; it
is my first experience in such work, but my reasons for so doing appear
to me unanswerable. It was to my care and judgment that my father, by
his will, committed his letters and journals, and my heart confirms the
judgment of my mind, that his active and interesting life, so varied in
the many different positions he was called upon to fill, and the
considerable part he played in the affairs of his time, deserve a fuller
record than the accounts to be found in biographical works of reference.

It has been a labour of love to me to supply these omissions in the
following pages, and to present in outline the life of a capable,
energetic Englishman, for whom I can at least claim that he was a loyal
and devoted servant of his Sovereign and his country.

In fulfilling what I hold to be a filial obligation I have made no
attempt to give literary form to a work which, so far as possible, is
based upon my father's own words. Primarily it is addressed to his
grandchildren and great-grandchildren, to whom, I trust, it may serve as
an inspiration; but I have also some hope that a story which touches the
national life at so many points may prove of interest to the general
public. I am greatly indebted to my son, Mr. Adeane, and to my son-in-
law, Mr. Bernard Mallet, for the help and encouragement they have given
me; and I have also to acknowledge the assistance of Mr. W. B. Boulton
in editing and preparing these papers for publication.


LEDBURY: January 1910.



II. ALGIERS. 1815-1816


IV. GREEK PIRACY. 1823-1826








From a painting by E. U. Eddis

From a painting by Allan Ramsay (?)

From a painting by George Romney

from a painting by George Romney

From a chalk drawing by E. U. Eddis

From a chalk drawing by E. U. Eddis





The family of Yorke first came into prominence with the great
Chancellor Philip Yorke, first Earl of Hardwicke. This remarkable man,
who was the son of an attorney at Dover, descended, it is claimed, from
the Yorkes of Hannington in North Wiltshire, a family of some
consequence in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, was born in that
town in the year 1690, and rose from a comparatively humble station to
the commanding position he held so long in English public life.

My object in this chapter is to recall some of the incidents of his
career and of those of his immediate successors and descendants.

Philip Yorke was called to the bar in 1715, became Solicitor-General
only five years later, and was promoted to be Attorney-General in 1723.
In 1733 he was appointed Lord Chief Justice of England, and received the
Great Seal as Lord Chancellor in 1737, and when his life closed his
political career had extended over a period of fifty years.

Lord Campbell, the author of the 'Lives of the Chancellors,' 'that
extraordinary work which was held to have added a new terror to death,
and a fear of which was said to have kept at least one Lord Chancellor
alive,' claimed to lay bare the shortcomings of the subjects of his
memoirs with the same impartiality with which he pointed out their
excellences. He mentions only two failings of Lord Chancellor Hardwicke:
one, that he was fond of acquiring wealth, the other, that he was of an
overweening pride to those whom he considered beneath him. Neither of
these is a very serious charge, and as both are insufficiently
corroborated, one may let them pass. He acquired immense wealth in the
course of his professional career, but in an age of corruption he was
remarked for his integrity, and was never suspected or accused of
prostituting his public position for private ends. In his capacity of
Attorney-General Lord Campbell remarks of him:

'This situation he held above thirteen years, exhibiting a model of
perfection to other law officers of the Crown. He was punctual and
conscientious in the discharge of his public duty, never neglecting it
that he might undertake private causes, although fees were supposed to
be particularly sweet to him.'

But it was as a judge that he won imperishable fame, and one of his
biographers observes: [Footnote: See Dictionary of National Biography.]
'It is hardly too much to say that during his prolonged tenure of the
Great Seal (from 1737 to 1755) he transformed equity from a chaos of
precedents into a scientific system.' Lord Campbell states that
'his decisions have been, and ever will continue to be, appealed to as
fixing the limits and establishing the principles of that great
juridical system called Equity, which now, not only in this country and
in our colonies, but over the whole extent of the United States of
America, regulates property and personal rights more than ancient Common

He had a 'passion to do justice, and displayed the strictest
impartiality; and his chancellorship' is 'looked back upon as the golden
age of equity.' The Chancellor is said to have been one of the
handsomest men of his day, and 'his personal advantages, which included
a musical voice, enhanced the effect of his eloquence, which by its
stately character was peculiarly adapted to the House of Lords.'
[Footnote: Ibid.]

This is not the place for an estimate of Lord Hardwicke's political
career, which extended over the whole period from the reign of Queen
Anne to that of George III, and brought him into intimate association
with all the statesmen of his age. It was more especially as the
supporter of the Pelham interest and the confidant and mentor of the
Duke of Newcastle that he exercised for many years a predominant
influence on the course of national affairs both at home and abroad.
During the absence of George II from the realm in 1740 and subsequently
he was a member, and by no means the least important member, of the
Council of Regency. 'He was,' writes Campbell, 'mainly instrumental in
keeping the reigning dynasty of the Brunswicks on the throne'; he was
the adviser of the measures for suppressing the Jacobite rebellion in
1745, he presided as Lord High Steward with judicial impartiality at the
famous trial of the rebel Lords, and was chiefly responsible for the
means taken in the pacification of Scotland, the most questionable of
which was the suppression of the tartan! Good fortune, as is usually the
case when a man rises to great eminence, played its part in his career.
He had friends who early recognised his ability and gave him the
opportunities of which he was quick to avail himself. He took the tide
at its flood and was led on to fortune; but, as Campbell justly
observes, 'along with that good luck such results required lofty
aspirations, great ability, consummate prudence, rigid self-denial, and
unwearied industry.' His rise in his profession had undoubtedly been
facilitated by his marriage to Margaret Cocks, a favourite niece of Lord
Chancellor Somers, himself one of the greatest of England's lawyer-
statesmen. There is a story that when asked by Lord Somers what
settlement he could make on his wife, he answered proudly, 'Nothing but
the foot of ground I stand on in Westminster Hall.' Never was the self-
confidence of genius more signally justified than in his case. Not only
was his own rise to fame and fortune unprecedently rapid, but he became
the founder of a family many of whose members have since played a
distinguished part in the public and social life of the country. By
Margaret Cocks he had, with two daughters, five sons, the eldest of whom
enhanced the fortunes of the family by his marriage with Jemima,
daughter of the Earl of Breadalbane, heiress of Wrest and the other
possessions of the extinct Dukedom of Kent, and afterwards Marchioness
Grey and Baroness Lucas of Grudwell in her own right. Of his next son
Charles, the second Chancellor, something will presently be said.
Another son, Joseph, was a soldier and diplomatist. He was aide-de-camp
to the Duke of Cumberland at Fontenoy; and afterwards, as Sir Joseph
Yorke, Ambassador at the Hague. He died Lord Dover. A fourth son, John,
married Miss Elizabeth Lygon, of Madresfield. The fifth son, James,
entered the Church, became Bishop of Ely, and was the ancestor of the
Yorkes of Forthampton. I had the luck many years ago to have a talk with
an old verger in Ely Cathedral who remembered Bishop Yorke, and who told
me that he used to draw such congregations by the power of his oratory
and the breadth of his teaching, that when he preached, all the
dissenting chapels in the neighbourhood were closed!

It was in 1770, only six years after Lord Hardwicke's death which
occurred in London on March 6, 1764, that his second son Charles (born
in 1722) was sworn in as Lord Chancellor. His brilliant career ended in
a tragedy which makes it one of the most pathetic in our political
history. Although unlike his father in person he was intellectually his
equal, and might have rivalled his renown had he possessed his firmness
and resolution of character. He was educated at Cambridge, and before
the age of twenty had given evidence of his precocity as the principal
author (after his brother Philip) of the 'Athenian Letters,' a supposed
correspondence between Cleander, an agent of the King of Persia resident
in Athens, and his brother and friends in Persia. Destined to the law
from his childhood, Charles Yorke was called to the bar in 1743, and
rapidly advanced in his profession. Entering the House of Commons as
member for Reigate in 1747, he later succeeded his brother as member for
Cambridge, and one of his best speeches in the House was made in defence
of his father against an onslaught by Henry Fox. But in spite of his
brilliant prospects and great reputation he always envied those who were
able to lead a quiet life, and he thus wrote to his friend Warburton,
afterwards Bishop of Gloucester:

'I endeavour to convince myself it is dangerous to converse with you,
for you show me so much more happiness in the quiet pursuits of
knowledge and enjoyments of friendship than is to be found in lucre or
ambition, that I go back into the world with regret, where few things
are to be obtained without more agitation both of reason and the
passions, than either moderate parts or a benevolent mind can support.'

Charles Yorke was an intimate friend of Montesquieu, the famous author
of the 'Esprit des Lois' and the most far-seeing of those whose writings
preceded and presaged the French Revolution, who wrote, '_Mes
sentiments pour vous sont gravés dans mon cœur et dans mon esprit d'une
manière à ne s'effacer jamais_.'

On the formation of a government by the Duke of Devonshire in 1756,
Charles Yorke was sworn in, at the early age of thirty-three, as
Solicitor-General, and retained that office through the elder Pitt's
glorious administration. In 1762 he accepted from Lord Bute the
Attorney-Generalship, in which position he had to deal with the
difficult questions of constitutional law raised by the publication of
John Wilkes's _North Briton_. In November of that year, however, he
resigned office in consequence of the strong pressure put upon him by
Pitt, and took leave of the King in tears. Pitt failed in his object of
enlisting Yorke's services on behalf of Wilkes in the coming
parliamentary campaign, and the crisis ended in an estrangement between
the two, which drove Yorke into a loose alliance with the Rockingham
Whigs, a group of statesmen who were determined to free English politics
from the trammels of court influence and the baser traditions of the
party system. When, however, this party came into power in 1765, Yorke
was disappointed of the anticipated offer of the Great Seal, and only
reluctantly accepted the Attorney-Generalship. The ministry fell in the
following year, partly in consequence of Pitt's reappearance in the
House of Commons and his disastrous refusal of Rockingham's invitation
to join his Government, though they were agreed on most of the important
questions of the day, including that of American taxation and the repeal
of the Stamp Act; and Pitt, who then (August 1766) became Lord Chatham,
was commissioned to form a new government in which, to Yorke's
mortification, he offered the Lord Chancellorship to Camden. Yorke
thereupon resigned the Attorney-Generalship, and during the devious
course of the ill-starred combination under Chatham's nominal
leadership--for during the next two years Chatham was absolutely
incapacitated from all attention to business, his policy was reversed by
his colleagues, and America taxed by Charles Townshend--he maintained an
'attitude of saturnine reserve,' amusing himself with landscape
gardening at his villa at Highgate, doing its honours to Warburton,
Hurd, Garrick and other friends, and corresponding among others with
Stanislas Augustus, King of Poland, to whom he had been introduced by
his brother Sir Joseph. Gradually, however, Chatham made a recovery from
the mental disease under which he had been labouring, and in January
1770 he returned to the political arena with two vigorous speeches in
the House of Lords. His first speech spread consternation among the
members of the Government and the King's party, led by the Duke of
Grafton, who had assumed the duties of Prime Minister; and one of the
first effects of his intervention was the resignation of Lord Camden,
who had adhered to Chatham, and openly denounced the Duke of Grafton's
arbitrary measures. This event placed the Court party in the utmost
difficulty, and no lawyer of sufficient eminence was available for the
post but Charles Yorke, who thus suddenly found within his reach the
high office which had been the ambition of his life. The crisis was his
undoing, and the whole story is of such interest from a family point of
view, that, although it is well known from the brilliant pages of Sir
George Trevelyan's 'Life of Fox,' I may be excused for telling it again,
mainly in the words of two important memoranda preserved at the British

One of these was written by Charles Yorke's brother, the second Lord
Hardwicke, and dated nearly a year later, December 30, 1770; the other,
dated October 20, 1772, by his widow Agneta Yorke; and the effect of
them, to my mind, is not only to discredit the widely believed story of
Charles Yorke's suicide, which is not even alluded to, but also to place
his action from a public and political point of view in a more
favourable light than that in which it is sometimes presented.

Both the 'Memorials' to which I have alluded give a most vivid and
painful account of the struggle between ambition and political
consistency which followed upon the offer of the Chancellorship by the
Duke of Grafton to one who was pledged by his previous action to the
Rockingham party. Lord Hardwicke wrote:

'I shall set down on this paper the extraordinary and melancholy
circumstances which attended the offer of the Great Seal to my brother
in January last. On the 12th of that month he received on his return
from Tittenhanger a note from the Duke of Grafton desiring to see him.
He sent it immediately to me and I went to Bloomsbury Square where I met
my brother John and we had a long consultation with Mr. Yorke. He saw
the Duke of Grafton by appointment in the evening and his grace made him
in form and without personal cordiality an offer of the Great Seal,
complaining heavily of Lord Camden's conduct, particularly his hostile
speech in the House of Lords the first day of the Session. My brother
desired a little time to consider of so momentous an affair and stated
to the Duke the difficulties it laid him under, his grace gave him till
Sunday in the forenoon. He, Mr. Y., called on me that morning, the 14th,
and seemed in great perplexity and agitation. I asked him if he saw his
way through the clamorous and difficult points upon which it would be
immediately expected he should give his opinion, viz. the Middlesex
Election, America and the state of Ireland, where the parliament had
just been prorogued on a popular point. He seriously declared that he
did not, and that he might be called upon to advise measures of a higher
and more dangerous nature than he should choose to be responsible for.
He was clearly of opinion that he was not sent for at the present
juncture from predilection, but necessity, and how much soever the Great
Seal had been justly the object of his ambition, he was now afraid of
accepting it.

'Seeing him in so low and fluttered a state of spirits and knowing how
much the times called for a higher, I did not venture to push him on,
and gave in to the idea he himself started, of advising to put the Great
Seal in commission, by which time would be gained. He went from me to
the Duke of Grafton, repeated his declining answer, and proposed a
commission for the present, for which precedents of various times were
not wanting. The Duke of Grafton expressed a more earnest desire that my
brother should accept than he did at the first interview, and pressed
his seeing the King before he took a final resolution. I saw him again
in Montague House garden, on Monday the 15th, and he then seemed
determined to decline, said a particular friend of his in the law, Mr.
W. had rather discouraged him, and that nothing affected him with
concern but the uneasiness which it might give to Mrs. Yorke.

'On Tuesday forenoon the 16th, he called upon me in great agitation and
talked of accepting. He changed his mind again by the evening when he
saw the King at the Queen's Palace, and finally declined. He told me
just after the audience that the King had not pressed him so strongly as
he had expected, that he had not held forth much prospect of stability
in administration, and that he had not talked so well to him as he did
when he accepted the office of Attorney-General in 1765; his Majesty
however ended the conversation very humanely and prettily, that "after
what he had said to excuse himself, it would be cruelty to press his
acceptance." I must here solemnly declare that my brother was all along
in such agitation of mind that he never told me all the particulars
which passed in the different conversations, and many material things
may have been said to him which I am ignorant of. He left me soon after
to call on Mr. Anson and Lord Rockingham, authorising me to acquaint
everybody that he had absolutely declined, adding discontentedly that
"It was the confusion of the times which occasioned his having taken
that resolution." He appeared to me very much ruffled and disturbed, but
I made myself easy on being informed that he would be quiet next day and
take physic. He wanted both that and bleeding, for his spirits were in a

Up to this point Mrs. Yorke's account, written apparently to explain and
vindicate her own share in the transaction, tallies with that of her
brother-in-law, except that she states that Lord Hardwicke had been much
more favourable to the idea of Charles Yorke's acceptance than the above
narrative leads one to suppose; according to her the family felt 'it was
too great a thing to refuse.' Lord Hardwicke's wife, the Marchioness
Grey, indeed, had called upon Mrs. Yorke to urge it, saying among other
things that 'the great office to which Mr. Yorke was invited was in the
line of his profession, that though it was intimately connected with
state affairs, yet it had not that absolute and servile dependance on
the Court which the other ministerial offices had; that Mr. Yorke had
already seen how vain it was to depend on the friendship of Lord
Rockingham and his party; that the part he had acted had always been
separate and uninfluenced, and therefore she thought he was quite at
liberty to make choice for himself, and by taking the seals he would
perhaps have it in his power to reconcile the different views of people
and form an administration which might be permanent and lasting; that if
he now refused the seals they would probably never be offered a second
time ... and that these were Lord Hardwicke's sentiments as well as her

Lord Mansfield's advice had been more emphatic still. 'He had no doubt
of the propriety of his accepting the Great Seal, indeed was so positive
that Mr. Yorke told me he would hear no reason against it.' Mrs. Yorke
herself was at first opposed to the idea; but influenced by such
opinions and by her husband's extreme dejection after refusing the
offer, she ended by strongly urging him to accept, and was afterwards
blamed for having encouraged his fatal ambition. Lord Rockingham alone,
who had been greatly dependent upon the advice and assistance of Mr.
Yorke, 'to whom,' as Mrs. Yorke remarks, 'he could apply every moment,'
and 'without whom he would have made no figure at all in his
administration,' put the strongest pressure on him to decline, for
selfish reasons as appears from Mrs. Yorke's story. It was therefore
against the advice of his own family and 'the generality of his
friends,' including Lord Chief Justice Wilmot, that Charles Yorke, in
obedience to his own high sense of political honour, at first refused
the dazzling promotion, and this fact must be recorded to his credit.

The decision, however, brought no peace to his mind, and ambition
immediately began to resume its sway. He passed a restless night, and
said in the morning to his wife 'that he would not think of it, for he
found whenever he was inclined to consent he could get no rest, and want
of rest would kill him.' But after another day, Tuesday, spent in
conference 'I believe with Lords Rockingham and Hardwicke,' he was
persuaded, by what means does not appear, to go again to Court. Lord
Hardwicke, who, as Sir George Trevelyan observes, played a true
brother's part throughout the wretched business, thus continues:

'Instead of taking his physic, he left it on the table after a broken
night's rest, and went to the _levée_, was called into the closet,
and in a manner compelled by the King to accept the Great Seal with
expressions like these: "My sleep has been disturbed by your declining;
do you mean to declare yourself unfit for it?" and still stronger
afterwards, "If you will not comply, it must make an eternal break
betwixt us." At his return from Court about three o'clock, he broke in
unexpectedly on me, who was talking with Lord Rockingham, and gave us
this account.

We were both astounded, to use an obsolete but strong word, at so sudden
an event, and I was particularly shocked at his being so overborne in a
manner I had never heard of, nor could imagine possible between Prince
and subject. I was hurt personally at the figure I had been making for a
day before, telling everybody by his authority that he was determined to
decline, and I was vexed at his taking no notice of me or the rest of
the family when he accepted. All these considerations working on my mind
at this distracting moment induced me, Lord Rockingham joining in it, to
press him to return forthwith to the King, and entreat his Majesty
either to allow him time till next morning to recollect himself, or to
put the Great Seal in commission, as had been resolved upon. We could
not prevail; he said he could not in honour do it, he had given his
word, had been wished joy, &c. Mr. John Yorke came in during this
conversation, and did not take much part in it, but seemed quite
astounded. After a long altercating conversation, Mr. Yorke, unhappily
then Lord Chancellor, departed, and I went to dinner.

'In the evening, about eight o'clock, he called on me again, and
acquainted me with his having been sworn in at the Queen's house, and
that he had then the Great Seal in the coach. He talked to me of the
title he intended to take, that of Morden, which is part of the Wimple
estate, asked my forgiveness if he had acted improperly. We kissed and
parted friends. A warm word did not escape either of us. When he took
leave he seemed more composed, but unhappy. Had I been quite cool when
he entered my room so abruptly at three o'clock I should have said
little--wished him joy, and reserved expostulation for a calmer moment.'

Mrs. Yorke's account of these 'altercating conversations' between the
brothers, at the second of which, on the evening of the 17th, she was
herself present, is naturally much more highly coloured. Charles Yorke
was evidently terribly discomposed by it, speaking of Lord Hardwicke's
language as 'exceeding all bounds of temper, reason, and even common
civility.' 'I hope,' he said to his wife, 'he will in cooler moments
think better of it, and my brother John also, for if I lose the support
of my family, I shall be undone.'

I need not pursue the subject of this distressing difference between the
brothers, which no doubt assumed an altogether exaggerated importance in
the sensitive and affectionate, but self-centred, mind of poor Charles
Yorke, shaken as he was by the strain and struggle of these days, but
which was probably the immediate cause of his fatal illness.

'We returned home' (from St. James's Square), writes Mrs. Yorke, 'and
Mr. Woodcock followed in the chariot with the Great Seal. The King had
given it in his closet, and at the same time Mr. Yorke kissed his
Majesty's hand on being made Baron of Morden in the county of Cambridge.
Not once did Mr. Yorke close his eyes, though at my entreaty he took
composing medicines.... Before morning he was determined to return the
Great Seal, for he said if he kept it he could not live. I know not what
I said, for I was terrified almost to death. At six o'clock I found him
so ill that I sent for Dr. Watson, who ought immediately to have bled
him, instead of which he contented himself with talking to him. He
ordered him some medicine and was to see him again in the evening. In
the meantime Mr. Yorke was obliged to rise to receive the different
people who would crowd to him on this occasion, but before he left me,
he assured me that when the Duke of Grafton came to him at night, he
would resign the seals. When his company had left him, he came up to me,
and even then, death was upon his face. He said he had settled all his
affairs, that he should retire absolutely from business, and would go to
Highgate the next day, and that he was resolved to meddle no more with
public affairs. I was myself so ill with fatigue and anxiety that I was
not able to dine with him, but Dr. Plumptre did; when I went to them
after dinner I found Mr. Yorke in a state of fixed melancholy. He
neither spoke to me nor to Dr. Plumptre; I tried every method to wake
and amuse him, but in vain. I could support it no longer, I fell upon my
knees before him and begged of him not to affect himself so much--that
he would resume his fortitude and trust to his own judgment--in short, I
said a great deal which I remember now no more; my sensations were
little short of distraction at that time. In an hour or two after he
grew much worse, and Dr. Watson coming in persuaded him to go to bed,
and giving him a strong opiate, he fell asleep.

But his rest was no refreshment; about the middle of the night he awaked
in a delirium, when I again sent for Dr. Watson; towards the morning he
was more composed, and at noon got up. In about an hour after he was up,
he was seized with a vomiting of blood. I was not with him at the
instant, but was soon called to him. He was almost speechless, but on my
taking his hand in an agony of silent grief he looked tenderly on me,
and said, "How can I repay your kindness, my dear love; God will reward
you, I cannot; be comforted." These were the last words I heard him
speak, for my nerves were too weak to support such affliction. I was
therefore prevented from being in his room, and indeed I was incapable
of giving him assistance. He lived till the next day, when at five
o'clock in the afternoon, he changed this life for a better.'

Lord Hardwicke meanwhile had decided to follow the very friendly and
right opinion of Dr. Jeffreys, 'that he would do his best to support the
part which his brother had taken,' and came to town with that resolution
on 'Friday in the forenoon' but he found that Charles Yorke had been
taken very ill that morning.

'When I saw him on the evening of the 19th he was in bed and too much
disordered to be talked with. There was a glimmering of hope on the 20th
in the morning, but he died that day about five in the evening. The
patent of peerage had passed all the forms except the Great Seal, and
when my poor brother was asked if the seal should be put to it, he
waived it, and said "he hoped it was no longer in his custody." I can
solemnly declare that except what passed at my house on the Wednesday
forenoon, I had not the least difference with him throughout the whole
transaction, not a sharp or even a warm expression passed, but we
reasoned over the subject like friends and brothers.... In short, the
usage he met with in 1766 when faith was broke with him, had greatly
impaired his judgment, dejected his spirits, and made him act below his
superior knowledge and abilities. He would seldom explain himself, or
let his opinion be known in time to those who were ready to have acted
with him in the utmost confidence. After the menacing language used in
the closet to compel Mr. Yorke's acceptance and the loss which the King
sustained by his death at that critical juncture, the most unprejudiced
and dispassionate were surprised at the little, or rather no notice
which was taken of his family; the not making an offer to complete the
peerage was neither to be palliated nor justified in their opinion. It
was due to the _Manes_ of the departed from every motive of
humanity and decorum. Lord Hillsborough told a friend of mine, indeed,
that the King had soon after his death spoke of him with tears in his
eyes and enquired after the family, but it would surely not have
misbecome his Majesty conscious of the whole of his behaviour to an
able, faithful, and despairing subject, to have expressed that concern
in a more particular manner, and to those who were so deeply affected by
the melancholy event.

'A worthier and better man there never was, no more learned and
accomplished in his own profession, as well as out of it. What he wanted
was the calm, firm judgment of his father, and he had the misfortune to
live in times which required a double portion of it. Every precaution
was taken by me to prepare him for the offer, and to persuade him to
form some previous plan of conduct, but all in vain. He would never
explain himself clearly, and left everything to chance, till we were all
overborne, perplexed and confounded in that fatal interval which opened
and closed the negotiation with my brother. With him the Somers line of
the law seems to be at an end, I mean of that set in the profession who,
mixing principles of liberty with those proper to monarchy, have
conducted and guided that great body of men ever since the Revolution.'

Fever, complicated by colic and the rupture of a blood-vessel, caused
Charles Yorke's death, the consequence of the extreme nervous tension
which he had undergone, of which his widow has left a most touching and
graphic description. I wish I could have found room for the whole of her
account of those days. The circumstances of his physical constitution
and the mental struggle he had suffered are quite sufficient to account
for his death without the gratuitous assumption of suicide, which there
is nothing in the family papers to support. There is no doubt that this
idea was prevalent at the time, and allusions to it are to be found in
many subsequent accounts, down to that in Sir George Trevelyan's 'Life
of Fox.' Perhaps it is not too much to hope that this allegation may be
at last disposed of in the light of the papers by his brother and his
wife. We have two clear and positive declarations in these papers:
first, that in the beginning of his illness he declined his physic, and
afterwards took an opiate; second, that there followed the rupture of a
blood-vessel. When Lord Hardwicke saw him for the last time on the 19th
he was 'extremely ill'; 'there was a glimmering of hope on the 20th in
the morning, but he died that day about five in the evening.'

This is the summary of the evidence, which to my mind is conclusive.
Unless one assumes a conspiracy of silence between Lord Hardwicke and
Mrs. Yorke, I do not see that I can reasonably admit any other
hypothesis. I therefore claim that phrase of his brother's as a solution
of the supposed mystery of Charles Yorke's death.

If hereafter the vague rumours which have so long been current should be
supported by any real evidence, my judgment will be disputed, but I am
glad to have this opportunity of asserting my own firm conviction that
the version of the unhappy affair given in the family papers is correct,
and that Charles Yorke's death was due to natural causes.

Charles Yorke was twice married. His first wife was a daughter of
Williams Freeman, Esq., of Aspeden, Hertfordshire, by whom he had a son
Philip. This son succeeded his uncle as third Earl of Hardwicke, he
inherited the Tittenhanger and other estates (which passed away to his
daughters on his death in 1834) from his mother, and he is still
remembered for his wise and liberal administration as the first Lord-
Lieutenant of Ireland after the Union (from 1801 to 1806), the
irritation and unrest caused by which measure he did much to allay.
[Footnote: A recent publication, _The Viceroy's Post Bag_, by Mr.
MacDonagh, gives some curious details of his correspondence from the
Hardwicke Papers at the British Museum.] As a Whig he had always been in
favour of Catholic Emancipation in Ireland, and though he agreed to
postpone it on joining Addington's Administration, he adhered to the
cause till its triumph in 1829; and he gave a qualified support to the
Parliamentary Reform Bill in 1831. He was created a Knight of the Garter
in 1803, [Footnote: Lord Hardwicke married in 1782 Elizabeth, daughter
of James, fifth Earl of Balcarres, the sister of Lady Anne Barnard, the
authoress of _Auld Robin Gray_.] and had the misfortune to lose the
only son who survived infancy in a storm at sea off Lübeck in 1808 at
the age of twenty-four. The succession to the peerage was thus opened up
to his half-brothers, the sons of Charles Yorke's second wife, Agneta,
daughter of Henry Johnston of Great Berkhampsted: Charles Philip (1764-
1834) who left no heir, and Joseph Sydney (1768-1831), father of the
subject of this memoir. I have already alluded to the public career of
their half-brother, the third Lord Hardwicke; and it is interesting to
see how the tradition of political and public work was maintained by the
two younger brothers, who both, and especially the younger of the two,
added fresh laurels to the distinguished record held by so many of the
descendants of the great Chancellor. The Right Honourable Charles Yorke
represented the county of Cambridge in Parliament from 1790 to 1810, and
joined Addington's Government at the same time as Lord Hardwicke, first
as Secretary at War in 1801, and then as Secretary of State for the Home
Department, till the return to office of William Pitt (to whom he was
politically opposed) in 1804. In 1810 he became first Lord of the
Admiralty under Spencer Perceval, with his younger brother Joseph as one
of the Sea Lords, and retained office till Perceval's assassination
broke up the ministry; and when in 1812 Lord Liverpool became Prime
Minister he left the Admiralty and never afterwards returned to office,
retiring from public life in 1818. The splendid breakwater at Plymouth
was decided on and commenced while he was at the Admiralty, and a slab
of its marble marks his tomb in Wimpole Church.

With Joseph Sydney Yorke, afterwards Admiral and a K.C.B., opens a
chapter of family history with which this volume will be mainly
concerned; and the navy rather than the law or politics henceforth
becomes the chief interest of the story in its public aspect. Sir
Joseph, indeed, may be looked upon as a sort of second founder of the
family. Although Wimpole in Cambridgeshire, which the Chancellor
purchased from the Harleys, Earls of Oxford, was for many generations
the principal seat of the family, Sydney Lodge, on Southampton Water,
[Footnote: Attached to Sydney Lodge on the shore of Southampton Water is
a white battery containing guns taken from a French frigate and bearing
an inscription, written by my father, commemorating his last parting
with my grandfather, Sir Joseph. The battery encloses a well, known as
'Agneta's Well,' which has refreshed many a thirsty fisherman. The
inscription is as follows:--













September 4th, 1871] the charming house which Sir Joseph built out of
prize-money earned during the French wars, has all the associations of a
home for our branch of the family, and the love of the sea is an
inheritance which we all derive from him. His professional ability is
shown by the position he won in the service. Entering the navy in 1780
when he was fourteen, he had plenty of opportunity of active service in
those stirring times. After serving on board one or two other vessels,
Joseph Yorke joined the _Duke_ commanded by Sir Charles Douglas,
whom he followed to the _Formidable_. That vessel was one of
Rodney's fleet in the West Indies, and the boy fought in her at the
famous action of April 12, 1782 in which that admiral completely
defeated the French under De Grasse. He remained in the
_Formidable_ until she paid off in 1783, and spent the years 1784-
1789 on the Halifax station. In the latter year he was promoted
Lieutenant in the _Thisbe_ under Captain Sir Samuel Hood and
returned in her to England. Promotion followed rapidly. Yorke became a
Commander in 1790 and Captain in 1793, in which capacity he served
continuously on the home station, taking part in the blockade of Brest,
until the Peace of Amiens.

During this time he had the good fortune to capture several large
privateers from the enemy; he also took the _Espiégle_, a French
corvette, close to Brest harbour and in sight of a very superior French
squadron. In 1794 Captain Yorke was given command of the _Stag_,
32, and cruised in the Channel later off the coast of Ireland, and later
still, with the North Sea Fleet under Lord Duncan.

'On the 22nd of August 1795, Captain Yorke being in company with a light
squadron under the orders of Captain James Alms, gave chase to two large
ships and a cutter. At 4.15 P.M. the _Stag_ brought the sternmost
ship to close action, which continued with much spirit for about half an
hour, when the enemy struck, and proved to be the _Alliance_,
Batavian frigate of 36 guns and 240 men. Her consorts the _Argo_
36, and _Nelly_ cutter, 16, effected their escape after sustaining
a running fight with the other ships of the British squadron. In this
spirited action, the _Stag_ had 4 men slain and 13 wounded, and the
enemy between 40 and 50 killed and wounded.'

He was at the Nore during the dangerous mutiny of 1798, and he left
among his papers a very stirring address made to his crew on the day
that the mutineers were hung at the yard-arm. When the war broke out
again in 1803 he was again employed in the Channel, and after commanding
the _Barfleur_ and the _Christian VII_ he was appointed a
junior Sea Lord in May 1810, when his brother was First Lord. In this
year he was knighted when acting as proxy for Lord Hardwicke at his
installation as a Knight of the Garter; on July 31 he was promoted to
the rank of Rear-Admiral; and in the following January, with his flag in
the _Vengeur_, he was sent out with reinforcements for Wellington
to Lisbon. These were landed on March 4, 1811, and on the news being
received, Massena broke up his camp in front of the lines of Torres
Vedras and began his retreat. This was Sir Joseph's last service afloat.
In 1814, while still a member of the Board, he was appointed First Sea
Lord under Lord Melville as First Lord, and held that high post till
1818, a period of office which covered Lord Exmouth's expedition against
Algiers in 1816. He became Vice-Admiral and Knight Commander of the Bath
on January 2, 1815, when he also received the freedom of the borough of
Plymouth, and he was made a full Admiral on July 22, 1830. He had been
member for Reigate since 1790, with an interval as member for Sandwich,
from 1812 to 1818.

Sir Joseph married in 1798 Elizabeth Weake Rattray and had a family of
four sons and one daughter, afterwards Lady Agneta Bevan. Lady Yorke
died in 1812, and in 1815 he married Urania, Dowager Marchioness of
Clanricarde and daughter of the twelfth Lord Winchester, who survived
him. During his later years he lived mostly at Sydney Lodge, occupied
with family interests, and in the administration of various charities,
naval and other. My grandfather was a fine type of English sailor, very
handsome in his youth, as Romney's portraits show, affectionate and
high-spirited; altogether one of the most attractive figures in our
family history. Some following chapters will show him in his relations
with his son, and mention the peculiar circumstances attending his
accidental death by drowning.


ALGIERS. 1815-1816

Charles Philip Yorke was born on April 2, 1799, at Sydney Lodge, Hamble,
and like his father, was destined from the first for a naval career. He
must have been quite a small boy when Sir Joseph presented him to Lord
Nelson, and the family tradition is that the hero accosted him with a
kind smile and said, 'Give me a shake of your daddle, my boy, for I've
only one to shake _you_ with.'

The boy was sent to Harrow, and after a few years at that school was
entered, in his fourteenth year, at the Royal Naval College at
Portsmouth, where he formed a friendship with John Christian Schetky,
then drawing master at the college, and later Marine Painter to Queen
Victoria, and a man of note in his profession. What little is known of
young Yorke's career at Portsmouth points to diligence and capacity, for
he gained the gold medal in his second year after little more than
eighteen months at the college, a distinction which ensured his
immediate entry into the service. On May 15, 1815, he was appointed
midshipman on board the _Prince Regent_, 98 guns, the flagship at
Spithead, and a training which stood him in good stead in after life was
begun under the commander of this vessel, Captain Fowke. A month later
he was transferred to the _Sparrowhawk_, a brig of 18 guns
commanded by Captain Baines, then under sailing orders for the

There was no coddling in the navy in those days, and those who survived
its rigorous life were probably the fittest. I have heard my father say
that at this period the middies' soup was served in the tin boxes which
held their cocked hats, and that one of their amusements was provided by
races round the mess table of the weevils knocked out of the biscuit
which was a part of their daily fare. Young Yorke, however, accepted
this life and its hardships with all cheerfulness; and the spirit with
which he entered the service and the interest he took in his profession
from the first are, I think, abundantly clear from a letter he wrote
home to his father on July 15, 1815 from the Mediterranean, off
Celebrina, after he had been a little more than a month at sea.

* * * * *

'I am afraid you will be surprised at my not writing to you oftener but
I have had no opportunity of sending letters home, as we have spoken no
ships bound for England. I am happy to say that I am in perfect health
and have been so ever since I left you, and the hot country does not at
all oppress me, or make me uncomfortable, as I expected it would at
first, and I have not had a moment's sickness since I have been out. I
can only say that I am in every way so comfortable on the
_Sparrowhawk_ that I have no desire to quit her at all. Perhaps you
may think I am comfortable in her through idleness and not having much
duty put upon me; but I am one of the three Mids in the ship and the
duty is heavy, there being only one Mid in each watch, and he has the
duty of Mate of the watch, there being none; but I like my messmates,
and we have a capital berth. Captain Baines is also a kind friend to me
in every way; whatever may be said of him is nothing to me, his advice
and friendship to me is good and kind; he keeps me in practice with my
navigation, for I work all the observations for the ship and take them
also. It is, as you may perceive by my writing, my wish to remain in
her, but to the will of my Father I submit; and I am also certain that
seamanship and my profession I shall learn by being six months in a
brig. When we get to Genoa I shall see Lord Exmouth, but I will not give
your letter until I hear from you again, but I shall tell him I have
written to you concerning the _Sparrowhawk_, and beg to remain in
her till I hear from you.

'I shall now give you some short description of our voyage. We sailed
from England on the Tuesday after I left you and tided it down channel,
at Yarmouth we went ashore with the Captain and Officers to play cricket
and had an excellent match, _Sparrowhawks_ against Rosarios. In
general we have had calms and fine weather, now and then a few puffs.
Cape St. Vincent was the first land we made, that was on the 9th July,
we anchored off the rock of Gibraltar on the 12th. Captain B. took me
ashore with him to see the place, it is a most extraordinary thing. It
is dreadfully hot, the reflection of the sun being so great; from thence
we sailed the following day and are now off Celebrina in a dead calm. I
think I shall see much of the Mediterranean in this ship, for she will
be always kept cruising and likely to stay out some time. Yesterday we
cleared for action for a large brig that was bearing down upon us, but
to our great disappointment, it proved to be an English brig from Santa
Maria to London with fruit. There is on board the _Sparrowhawk_ a
carpenter by the name of Beach who sailed with you on the _Stag_,
and he wishes to be shifted into a larger ship; if you could at any time
have a thing of that sort in your power, you will be doing him the
greatest kindness. He did not apply to you, because when he was with you
he refused a warrant, not thinking himself fit to hold that situation.
If you could do this, let me know, for I should like to see him get a
larger ship, for he is a most excellent man.

'17th.--Here we are still in the same place off Celebrina detained by
calms and light breezes, just now a breeze has sprung up which is likely
to last. Last night we all went overboard and had a delightful bath.

'29th.--We have just arrived at Genoa after a tedious and unpleasant
voyage, the last six days squalls and heavy gales of wind and lightning.
Genoa is a most beautiful city, and situated most delightfully. Last
night I was at the Opera, and it is exactly the same as our own in
England, it is much larger and a most magnificent theatre. The houses
are mostly of marble and beautifully ornamented, they are immensely high
but the streets very narrow. There are no ships here and we sail for
Marseilles as soon as we have watered. Pray give my best love to Lady C.
and all hands on board.'

* * * * *

It is of interest to note the mention in this letter of Charles Yorke's
first visit to Genoa, and the impression that beautiful city, 'Genova la
superba,' made upon his youthful imagination. As will appear further on
in this memoir, he visited it again some thirty-five years later in very
different circumstances, and that Genoa exists to-day, with much of its
beauty unimpaired, is mainly owing to the part played by Charles Yorke
when, as Lord Hardwicke, he again appeared in a British man-of-war off
that port.

The boy's wish to stay on the _Sparrowhawk_ expressed in this
letter to his father was not fulfilled, for a month after his arrival in
the Mediterranean he was transferred to the _Leviathan_, of 74
guns, commanded successively by Captains F. W. Burgoyne and Thomas
Briggs. In her he remained a little less than a year, during which he
had a serious attack of scarlet fever followed by rheumatism, which left
him very weak, and raised a question as to whether he should be
invalided home. He was, however, exceedingly popular with his superiors,
who were most kind and attentive to him through his illness, and he was
lucky enough to recover without having to return to England. In August
of 1816 he was again transferred, to the _Queen Charlotte_, Captain
Brisbane, a ship of the line of 120 guns, and the flagship of Admiral
Lord Exmouth, commanding in the Mediterranean.

The young midshipman was most fortunate in being stationed under that
command, for it was the one place in the world at that moment where
there was any probability of seeing active service. The supremacy of the
British navy which had been established over the fleets of France and
Spain at Trafalgar, and the recent peace which had followed the defeat
and surrender of Buonaparte, had removed any possibility of collision
with a European State. But, as a matter of fact, the naval Powers,
England in particular, had long been waiting an opportunity to settle a
long-standing account in the Mediterranean with a set of potentates
established on the north coast of Africa, who had for years availed
themselves of the dissensions between the Great Powers to carry on a
system of piracy and rapine of the most insolent and atrocious
character. During the naval wars which had lasted with short intervals
for half a century, the fleets of England, France, Spain, and Holland
had been so much occupied in fighting each other that they had been
unable to bestow much attention on the doings of these petty rulers, who
were known collectively as the Barbary States, individually as the Deys
of Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli. All of these owned nominal allegiance to
the Sultan of Turkey at Constantinople when it suited them, but in
reality claimed and exercised complete independence when such was
convenient to any purpose they had in hand.

For half a century at least, the depredations of these barbarians had
made the Mediterranean a sea of great peril for the merchant vessels of
all nations, and even for the fighting ships of the smaller
Mediterranean powers like Naples and Sardinia, whose weakly manned
vessels were often no match for the galleys and feluccas of the Barbary
corsairs. The ruffianly Deys made little attempt to conceal the
piratical nature of their proceedings, and became a perfect scourge not
only to the mariners of all nations in the Mediterranean, but also to
the unfortunate inhabitants of its shores. They ravaged the islands and
coastline of the mainland wherever there was plunder to be gained or an
unprotected town to be raided, impudently hoisted the flags of one or
other of the great naval powers then at war, and preyed upon the
commerce of the rest, plundered and burned their shipping, and, worst of
all, consigned the crews of the vessels they captured or destroyed to
all the horrors of slavery in a Mohammedan country.

Among these Barbary Powers the Deys of Algiers had long been the most
powerful and the most truculent. During a lull in the fighting between
France and England in the middle years of the eighteenth century,
Admiral Keppel, [Footnote: Admiral Keppel, second son of the second Earl
of Albemarle, created Viscount Keppel for his gallant services; died
unmarried in 1786. He was the eponymous hero of so many public houses.]
then a very youthful-looking captain, had been sent with a squadron to
curb the insolence of the Dey of that period, which he effected without
the firing of a shot. Keppel demanded an interview with the Dey, and
went ashore to the palace without a guard, and stated his business in
very plain terms. The Dey wondered at the presumption of King George in
sending a beardless boy as his ambassador. 'The King my master,' replied
Keppel, with a glance at the Dey's hairy countenance, 'does not measure
wisdom by the length of the beard, or he would have sent a he-goat to
confer with your Highness.' The Dey raged at this bold repartee, and
began to speak of bowstrings and the ministers of death. 'Kill me, if
you will,' replied Keppel, pointing through the open window to his
squadron riding in the roadstead, 'and there are ships enough to burn
your city and provide me with a glorious funeral pile.' Keppel's
firmness had the result of checking the Algerian piracies for a time,
but during the long wars between the Powers which were shortly resumed,
these were overlooked in the press of matters of more urgency, and it
was only with the return of a permanent and general peace, as already
noted, that the Powers had leisure to turn their attention to a state of
things in the Mediterranean which had long been intolerable.

In view of her established supremacy at sea, England was generally
regarded as the police-constable of Europe in naval affairs, and upon
her fell the chief duty of chastening the Dey of Algiers, though on this
occasion the Dutch Government also lent its assistance. Quite early in
the spring of 1816, Lord Exmouth placed himself in communication with
the Dey, and stated the terms of the British demands. These were that
the Ionian Islands, long a hunting-ground for the Barbary pirates,
should be henceforth treated as British territory; that the British
Government should be accepted as arbitrator between the Barbary Powers
and Naples and Sardinia, who had a long list of claims and grievances
against them; and that the Barbary Powers should enter into a definite
undertaking to abolish all slavery of Christians within their dominions,
and to treat all prisoners of war, of whatever nation, in accordance
with the customs of civilised nations. The Dey agreed to the first two
demands and released the Ionian slaves as British subjects, but declined
all promises as to the abolition of slavery. Leaving that matter in
abeyance, Exmouth sailed on to Tripoli and Tunis, whose Deys he found
more amenable to reason, and who consented to make declarations in the
form demanded by the British Admiral upon all three points.

Exmouth then returned to Gibraltar, where his squadron was assembled,
and at once resumed negotiations with the Dey with the intention of
procuring his adhesion to the all-important undertaking to abolish
Christian slavery. The Dey, after many evasions, at length repeated his
refusal on the ground that he was a subject or vassal of the Sultan, and
could not consent to so important a stipulation without his authority.
Exmouth granted a delay of three months accordingly, and himself lent a
frigate, the _Tagus_, to convey the Dey's envoy to Constantinople.

Meanwhile, however, the Dey committed an unpardonable atrocity. A coral
fishery at Bona worked under the British flag was suddenly and
treacherously destroyed by an attack of the Algerines. The fishermen
engaged at their work were, without warning of any kind, almost
annihilated by artillery fire from the fort and by the musketry of 2000
Algerian infantry, their houses and goods were given over to the looting
of the soldiery, the company's stores and magazines were rifled, and
their boats either seized or sunk. This atrocity, of course, put an end
to all negotiation, and the Admiral, who had sailed for England, was at
once directed by the British Government to complete the work which he
had initiated, and to exact the most ample satisfaction and security for
the future. He was offered any force that might be necessary, and
surprised the naval authorities by his opinion, which was the result of
observation upon the spot, that five line-of-battle ships, with
frigates, bomb vessels and gun brigs, would be sufficient for a
successful attack on the formidable defences of Algiers. In less than
two months Lord Exmouth commissioned, fitted, manned and trained his
fleet, and on August 14, 1816, the expedition, including his own
flagship the _Queen Charlotte_ of 120 guns, the _Impregnable_
of 98, three vessels of 70 guns, the _Leander_ of 50, four smaller
frigates and several armed vessels of lesser tonnage, sailed from
Gibraltar. One of these, a gunboat, towed by the _Queen Charlotte_
from that port, was placed under the command of Charles Yorke, who had
just completed his seventeenth year. The English admiral's force was
joined at Gibraltar by a Dutch squadron of five frigates and a sloop
under Admiral Baron von de Capellan.

On the very eve of the sailing of this powerful force, young Yorke wrote
home a letter to his father which shows the spirit of the young sailor
and the enthusiasm which animated the fleet.

* * * * *


'We are hove to for a Packet, and she is coming up fast, so my stave
will be short, with a strong breeze, which is to say I am quite well. We
have a great deal to do, shall be at Gibraltar to-morrow if the wind
holds. We clear for action there, and leave all our chests, bulkheads,
and everything we have except guns, powder, shot, &c. &c. of which we
have not a little.

'I have the honour to command one of H.M.S. _Queen Charlotte's_
boats on service, and if there is any work, expect to cut no small
caper. I have seen the plan of attack; all our fire is to be on the mole
head. Us, the _Leander_, _Superb_ and _Impregnable_ are
to be lashed together and as near the walls as possible. _Minden_
engages a battery called the Emperor's Fort, and _Albion_ stands
off and on to relieve any damaged ship. As soon as the Mole is cleared,
we are to land; glorious enterprise for the boats.

'Give my love to dearest Uranie and Lady C. [Footnote: Dowager-
Marchioness of Clanricarde, his stepmother.] &c. &c.

'Your affecte.


* * * * *

The British fleet with its allied Dutch squadron arrived off Algiers on
August 21. Lord Exmouth had sent in advance a corvette with orders to
endeavour to rescue the British Consul, a humane effort which, however,
succeeded only in rescuing that gentleman's wife and child, and
resulted, on the other hand, in the capture of the boat's crew of
eighteen men. The captain of the corvette reported that the Dey refused
altogether to give up that official, or to be responsible for his
safety, and also that there were 40,000 troops in the town, in addition
to the Janissaries who had been summoned from distant garrisons. The
Algerine fleet, he said, consisted of between forty and fifty gun and
mortar vessels, as well as a numerous flotilla of galleys. Works had
been thrown up on the mole which protected the harbour, and the forts
were known to be armed with a numerous artillery and to be of excellent
masonry with walls fourteen to sixteen feet thick. The Dey, thinking
himself fairly secure behind such defences, was prepared with a
determined resistance.

On August 27, Lord Exmouth sent a flag of truce restating his demands
and giving a period of three hours for a reply. Upon the expiration of
that term and on the return of the flag of truce without an answer, he
anchored his flagship just half a cable's length from the mole head at
the entrance of the harbour, so that her starboard broadside flanked all
the batteries from the mole-head to the lighthouse. The mole itself was
covered with troops and spectators, whom Lord Exmouth vainly tried to
disperse before the firing began by waving his hat and shouting from his
own quarter-deck as the flagship came to an anchor at half-past two in
the afternoon.

'As soon as the ship was fairly placed,' writes Lord Exmouth's
biographer, 'the sound of the cheer given by the crew was answered by a
gun from the Eastern Battery; a second and a third opened in quick
succession. One of the shots struck the _Superb_. At the first
flash Lord Exmouth gave the order "Stand by," at the second "Fire." The
report of the third gun was drowned by the thunder of the _Queen
Charlotte's_ broadside.'

Thus opened an engagement which is memorable among the attacks of fleets
upon land fortifications, and which fully justified Lord Exmouth's
opinion that 'nothing can resist a line-of-battle ship's fire.' The
Algerine tactics were to allow the British squadron to come to an anchor
without molestation, and to board the vessels from their galleys while
the British crews were aloft furling sails, for which purpose they had
thirty-seven galleys fully manned waiting inside the mole. To the
surprise of the enemy, however, the British admiral had given orders for
the sails to be clewed from the deck, instead of sending men aloft for
the purpose, and the British ships were thus able to open fire the
moment they came to an anchor. The result of this smart seamanship was
an instant disaster for the Algerines; their galleys were all sunk
before they could make the few strokes of the oar which would have
brought them alongside, and tremendous broadsides of grapeshot from the
_Queen Charlotte_ and the _Leander_ shattered the entire
flotilla, and in a moment covered the surface of the harbour with the
bodies of their crews and with a few survivors attempting to swim from

On the molehead the effect of the British fire was terrible; the people
with whom it was crowded were swept away by the fire of the _Queen
Charlotte_, which had ruined the fortifications there before the
engagement became general, and then crumbled and brought down the
Lighthouse Tower and its batteries. The _Leander's_ guns, which
commanded the principal gate of the city opening on the mole, prevented
the escape of any survivors.

The batteries defending the mole were three times cleared by the British
fire, and three times manned again.

'The Dey,' wrote a British officer on the _Leander_, 'was
everywhere offering pecuniary rewards for those who would stand against
us; eight sequins were to be given to every man who would endeavour to
extinguish the fire. At length a horde of Arabs were driven into the
batteries under the direction of the most devoted of the Janissaries and
the gates closed upon them.'

Soon after the battle began, the enemy's flotilla of gunboats advanced,
with a daring which deserved a better fate, to board the _Queen
Charlotte_, and a few guns from the latter vessel sent thirty-three
out of thirty-seven to the bottom. Then followed the destruction of the
Algerine frigates and other shipping in the port, which were set on fire
by bombs and shells and burned together with the storehouses and the

The Algerines, none the less, made a most determined resistance, and
maintained a fire upon the squadron for no less than eleven hours. Young
Charles Yorke was in command of a tender of the flagship which was
moored near to his parent ship, and was consequently in the midst of the
hottest fire, within sixty yards of the mouths of the enemy's guns,
throughout the engagement. Long before that period had elapsed, however,
he found himself running short of ammunition, and taking one marine in
his dinghy, pulled in her to the _Queen Charlotte_, climbed her
side and made his way to the quarter-deck, where, saluting Lord Exmouth,
he said, 'Sir, I am short of ammunition.' 'Well, my lad,' replied the
admiral, 'I cannot help you, but if you choose to go below, and fetch
what you want yourself, you are very welcome.' Charles Yorke, wishing
for nothing better, again saluted and withdrew. He then descended into
the flagship's magazine, and single-handed brought up 1368 lbs. of
ammunition, which he lowered over her side to his single marine in the
dinghy, and in her returned to his gunboat to resume his firing until
the close of the action, when, by the aid of a land breeze, which turned
about half-past eleven into a tremendous storm of thunder and lightning,
the fleet was able to draw out from the batteries. Nothing had been able
to resist the concentrated and well-directed fire, and the sea defences
of Algiers, with a great part of the town itself, had by this time been
shattered and reduced to ruin.

This success was only purchased at heavy cost, for the British
casualties, considering the size of the squadron, were enormous, the
_Impregnable_ being the chief sufferer. One hundred and twenty-
eight men were killed and 690 wounded, while the Dutch lost thirteen and
fifty-two respectively. The _Leander_ had every spar injured and
her rigging cut to pieces, and when her cables were at last shot away,
was unable to set a single sail, and so was drifting helplessly ashore,
when a fortunate change of wind allowed her boats to bring her to a
second anchorage. On the flagship the enemy's fire was so hot that Lord
Exmouth himself escaped most narrowly, being slightly wounded in three
places, and the skirts of his coat were shot away by a cannon-ball.

When the morning broke, the admiral found that he had brought the Dey to
reason. Having first beheaded his prime minister, that potentate
released the British Consul and the boat's crew he had detained before
the action, handed over the ransom money he had extorted from captured
subjects of Naples and Sardinia in exchange for their freedom, amounting
to no less than 382,000 dollars, and undertook, 'in the presence of
Almighty God,' to release all Christian slaves in his dominions, to
abandon the enslavement of Christians for the future, and to treat all
prisoners of war with humanity until regularly exchanged, according to
European practice in like cases. About 1200 slaves, the bulk of them
Neapolitans and Sicilians, were embarked on the 31st, making, with those
liberated a few weeks before, more than 3000 persons whom Lord Exmouth
thus had the satisfaction of delivering from slavery. He sailed away
from the city without leaving a single Christian slave, so far as could
be gathered, in either of the Barbary States.

Charles Yorke's conduct at this engagement was fully recognised by
Captain Brisbane, who, when the young midshipman came to leave the
_Queen Charlotte_ a few months later, wrote his certificate in the
following terms:

* * * * *

'These are to certify the principal officers and commissioners of His
Majesty's navy that Mr. Charles Philip Yorke served as midshipman on
board H.M.S. _Queen Charlotte_ from the 11th day of July to the
16th October 1816, during which time he behaved with diligence and
sobriety, and was always obedient to command. His conduct at the battle
of Algiers was active, spirited, and highly meritorious.



* * * * *

Charles Yorke's share in this action, together with his later services,
is recorded on a tablet, next to a similar one to Lord Exmouth, in the
English chapel at Algiers, by his daughter, the writer of the present

It may be added that he always cherished the memory of the distinguished
admiral under whom he served on this occasion, and that in later years
he purchased from Sir William Beechy's studio a portrait of Lord Exmouth
on his quarter-deck at Algiers, in full dress and orders as the naval
fashion then was, which hung on the great staircase at Wimpole.

Still in his seventeenth year, Charles Yorke had not yet served long
enough for promotion, and was transferred on October 17 of the same
year, 1816, to the _Leander_, commanded by Sir David Milne, who had
been second in command at Algiers, and was then under orders for the
North American station at Halifax, where the _Leander_ shortly



A few letters which my father wrote home from the Halifax station,
covering a period of about twelve months from July 1817, I set out here
as giving better than any comment of my own an account of his life and
experiences in Nova Scotia at that time. They present a self-reliant
character, and the young midshipman who was so early recognised by his
superior officers as efficient and capable was found worthy of a small,
but most important, command soon after joining this station. His father,
Sir Joseph Yorke, who lost no opportunity of watching his son's progress
in his profession, was a little nervous at his undertaking a
responsibility of the kind, but how well his superiors' confidence was
justified will be evident from his letters. Young Yorke was full of
pride in his little sloop the _Jane_, and there is no hint in his
letters of the risk and danger of this service. As a fact, she was an
exceedingly difficult craft to handle, and if not unseaworthy, was, to
say the least, an unpleasant vessel in a sea, with decks constantly
awash, and the character she bore in the service appears in her nickname
the _Crazy Jane_. I have often heard my father describe this as a
most arduous and dangerous service, and say that life upon the
_Jane_ was 'like living on a fish's back.' In her he made voyages
to Bermuda from Halifax and back with despatches and ships' mails in
very heavy weather, and I find the following note referring to this
service in my mother's handwriting:

'C. commanded the _Jane_ at the age of nineteen, carrying mails
from Bermuda to Halifax during winter months when ordinary mail was
struck off, during which perilous service he had not a man on board who
could write or take an observation. This _crazy Jane_ was hardly
seaworthy, and he finished her career and nearly his own by running her
into Halifax Harbour in the dark, all hands at the pump.'

His certificate from Sir David Milne contains the following passage:

'Mr. Charles Philip Yorke, Midshipman of H.M.S. _Leander_,
commanded the _Jane_, Sloop, tender to the said ship bearing my
flag, from the 23rd of December 1817 to the date hereof, during which
time he took her twice in safety from Halifax to Bermuda, and from
Bermuda to Halifax, and was at sea in her at different other periods,
and conducted himself at all times so as to merit my entire
approbation.' Dated 28th December.

* * * * *


July 10, 1817.


'I almost fear my letters have not reached you, for the May packet has
arrived, and no letters. But silence I always take in a favourable
light, so I conclude you are all well and happy; indeed I had a letter
from Lady St. Germans which informed me so.

'I am, thank God, very well and like my station very much; it is really
a very pleasant place, and the inhabitants attentive and hospitable. I
am now very well acquainted all over Halifax thanks to Captain Lumley's
kindness; pray tell him so, for the family he introduced me to is very
pleasant and kind, so that it is a great comfort to go on shore, and to
be able to spend your evenings among friends instead of being obliged to
go to a dirty tavern.

'I have been on several very delightful fishing parties, and have never
returned with less than three or four dozen fine trout. This will make
the English sportsmen stare, but the fishing here is beyond everything I
could have imagined. The shooting has not come in as yet, and does not
until August, and then it will be very fine.

'The way I go fishing is this. I have got an Indian canoe, and I just
jump into it with my gear, paddle on shore, shoulder it, and carry it to
the lakes. I am become quite an Indian in the management of this canoe,
and with the expense of only one ducking. I was upset in the harbour,
but swam on shore and towed the canoe and all with me quite safe. I can
paddle this canoe much faster than any gig in the fleet.

'We are now just on the point of sailing for Shelburne with Ld. and Lady
Dalhousie, and I fancy shall be absent about ten days. The _Jane_
has not yet arrived, so I am still a mid, not a captain, but expect her
hourly. Last Monday we mids of the _Leander_ gave a grand
entertainment to the inhabitants of Halifax and officers of the fleet; a
play, ball, and supper, which went off remarkably well. _The Iron
Chest_ was the play; the _Wags of Windsor_ the farce. I did not
perform being steward of the supper, but merely spoke the prologue. Our
stage was very large and scenery very good, and on the whole, nothing
could go off with more _éclat_ than it did.

'The girls of Halifax are pretty, generally speaking, and certainly
rather ladylike in their manners, but not very accomplished, but there
is one thing very formidable in their structure, which is tremendous
hoofs, so that a kick from one of them would make you keep your bed for
a week. But they certainly are 50 degrees better than the Bermudians,
they are very affable and agreeable, which is the great point to an
indifferent person.

'Now I have tired your patience with lots of nonsense, which in fact is
all the news I have to tell, so you must excuse it. Give my kindest love
to Lady Clanricarde, Urania, and all the boys, not forgetting little
Agneta, who by this time must be grown and improved much.

'I remain, my dear Father,

'Your most affectionate son,

'C. P. YORKE.'



* * * * *


Aug. 8, 1817.


'I have received your letter by this packet, and am very sorry to find
you disapprove of my commanding the Admiral's tender, and am also
astonished to find that you can imagine I have so little command of
myself that I cannot keep from what you term "low company." This is a
thing which since I have been at sea I have never kept, and especially
at a time when I had charge of a vessel and the safety of men's lives. I
am happy to say I took care of myself and of the vessel, and pleased the
Admiral as much as I could wish. I have not got the large tender, as I
expected, on account of a prior application having been made, which I am
now glad of, as you disapprove of the sort of thing, and it certainly
will deter me from accepting any offer of the kind made to me, though at
the same time I consider myself perfectly capable in every sense of the

'I am very glad to hear Grantham has so well got over the measles.

'We have had a very pleasant trip along shore to Shelburne, Liverpool
and Mirligash(?), all of which ports you knew well in their former
state. Shelburne now is miserably fallen off, not above 200 inhabitants
in that once populous town, and more than half the houses falling to the
ground, having no owners. I asked the price of a good house and about 40
acres of land, and they said the most they could ask for it would be
£30, a cheap place to settle, for provisions also are cheaper than
anywhere I have been. Liverpool is a very flourishing little town, and
on the contrary with Shelburne, a rising place with a vast deal of
commerce and trade which keep the place quite alive. At these two places
I had capital fishing both salmon and trout. I caught one day at
Liverpool three very fine salmon and two or three dozen trout. In this
country they take most with the fly, and it does not matter of what
description. I am now become a very expert fly fisherman, make my own
flies, &c. Pray next season send me out a good assortment of fly gear
which is rather difficult to get here and not good.

'I am going to-morrow to Salmon River, a very fine river about seven
miles inland on the Dartmouth side. I was there last week with two of
our officers, and between the three of us we caught eleven dozen salmon
trout. Fine sport, and all with the fly. Do not forget to send me a
flute as soon as possible and some music; let it be new. Give my kindest
love to Lady C., Urania, and all hands. How delightful the Lodge must
look. I suppose the Urania is by this time ready for sea, and Henry
fighting captain. I must say I envy your circle, but Adieu!

'I remain, my dear Father,

'Your most affectionate son,

'C. P. YORKE.'

* * * * *

Aug. 14.

'I imagined that the packet was just going to sail, but I am happy to
say I am disappointed because I have a little news to tell you. I am
just returned from a cruise of rather a curious sort. I have been sent
along the coast with a party of armed men to take some smugglers who ran
from the _Leander_. I landed at Chester, and marched and rode just
as I could to Lunenburg, but without success, and then back, and so
about twenty miles to the eastward. It gave me a good opportunity of
seeing the country, and made it very pleasant, from the kindness and
hospitality of the inhabitants. I have no doubt I shall have many of
these trips from being in the admiral's and captain's notice. This
letter I send by Moorsom, whom you may recollect when I was at college.
Now I shall conclude with love and best wishes to all.'

* * * * *

H.M.S. 'LEANDER,' HALIFAX: Novr. 12, 1817.


'I received both your most kind letters by the _Forth_ and packet,
which as you may suppose, gave me great pleasure and satisfaction. I
return you my most grateful thanks for your great kindness in attending
to my little wishes, and hope the things will arrive quite safe. I have
written as you wished to Lady St. G. and told her all the news I could
think of, which I shall now relate to you.

'We have not been out of harbour since the cruise to the east, so I got
leave of absence and accepted the invitation of Judge Wilkins (Lumley's
friend) to go and spend some time with him at Windsor, a small town
about forty-five miles N.E. of Halifax, where I assure you, I passed my
time very pleasantly in shooting, fishing, &c. In that part of Nova
Scotia the country is beautiful, completely cleared of wood, very well
cultivated, and yields to its owners immense crops of grain. I am now
returned to the ship, and we sail for Bermuda in about a fortnight or
three weeks. This I am rather sorry for, for Halifax is very pleasant
during the winter, and Bermuda always very much otherwise. But Sir David
Milne dreads the cold, so we go.

'I am remarkably well in every point, and find the climate agrees with
me very well indeed. I am glad to hear Urania made her _début_ with
so much _éclat_ in the _beau monde_ at Winchester, pray let me
also hear of her in town. I am glad to hear all the boys are well and
getting on so fast in their respective schools. Agneta [Footnote:
Agneta, afterwards Lady _Agneta Bevan_.] by this time must be a
very fine little girl; does she ever talk of me? I really have no news
to tell you worth mention, but the service is very stale for want of
war, every day the same story. Adieu, my dear Father.

'Your most affectionate son,


'Tell my uncle Mr. Yorke I will write to thank him for his present as
soon as I have it in my possession.'

* * * * *


Jan. 23, 1818.


'I sit down to write to you after rather a long silence, but I have been
quite well and by no means ill employed. I did not hear from you by the
last packet, so by your silence I consider all is well and right in

'I have the satisfaction to communicate to you I am honoured by the
command of the _Jane_ Sloop on this station, which command I shall
in all probability keep till my return to England. The young man who
commanded her before and whom I superseded, was obliged to invalid from
her after he brought her from Halifax. She sailed in company with us and
we experienced a heavy gale of wind, and the poor _Jane_ was nearly
lost, but escaped with the loss of her bulwarks. She really is a
beautiful vessel; was a Yankee clipper in the war; 80 tons and 12 men. I
am remarkably happy in her, as you may suppose. I anticipate much
pleasure going up the St. Lawrence in her next summer. I am sure you
will be happy to hear of my good luck, but pray do not have any more
dreads of my inability to command. I positively would not accept it if I
thought myself in the least inadequate to undertake it. I have now again
fitted her at the dockyard at Ireland where I saw much of your friend
Commissioner Lewis, who really is to me a very kind and affectionate
friend; I like him exceedingly.

'The packet is just arrived, and I have received your letter of the 26th
ult, and likewise one from Lady St. G. You may believe your letter gave
me sincere gratification to find that I am giving you all satisfaction;
it is the first wish of my heart to be a credit to my friends and an
honour to my country. It is not my wish to be expensive in the least
beyond what it is necessary for a gentleman to be, to pay my debts, have
a good coat on my back, and sufficient in my pocket never to be made
look foolish. Now that I keep house for myself I shall, I fear, be a
little more expensive, for reasons which you must well know, and the
first fit out is the worst and greatest, after that all is regular, and
I am sure you do not wish me to live on His Majesty's own altogether.
Bermuda is a terrible dear place.

'This vessel you may know something of by hearsay, Mr. Brett, the 1st
Lieut. of the _Wye_ had her up the Bay of Fundy.

'You may rely on it I will express your gratitude to Lord Dalhousie for
his attentions to me the very first time I have an opportunity. I need
not express to you how much I regret the loss of your departed friend
Mrs. Rattray, but her great sufferings in this world made it rather a
blessing than otherwise, especially to one I believe to have been so
truly good. Your advice of the prudence of keeping a ship's head off
shore when near the land at night is a point of my profession I have
long seen the absolute necessity of, especially on the coast of Nova
Scotia where the fogs are so intense, and the shore so dangerous. But if
ever there was in my humble opinion a lubberly series of accidents from
the time she got on shore to the time she was on her beam ends alongside
the wharf, it was on board H.M.S. _Faith_. The first thing she did
after getting on shore was to anchor in Halifax harbour with her B.B.
anchor without a buoy on it, slipped her cable and never buoyed it, took
in moorings, unshipped her rudder and let it go to the bottom; slipped
her anchors without a buoy on them, and to cap the whole, let three of
her guns fall overboard in getting them out alongside the wharf. Sir D.
Milne was furious, no wonder. I am sure I can with pleasure meet you
halfway in your wishes to establish a free intercourse of sentiment
between us, for I am perfectly sure, my dearest Father, I can nowhere
find a better friend and adviser.

'I am exceedingly happy to hear so favourable accounts of the
youngsters, and of Lady Clanricarde and her fair daughter.

'Bermuda is a dull place. I am perfectly at my ease and my own master,
and the only things which annoy me are the tremendous gales of wind
which blow here, and which I, of course, feel much in the _Jane._
The admiral did think of sending me to the West Indies for a cruise, but
I believe that is dropped, as he now and then uses me to sail him about
for his health. I am a very good pilot for Bermuda, what with the
schooner and sloop _Jane_.

'Remember me most kindly to all; I shall answer Lady St. G. immediately.

'Adieu, my dear Father,

'Your affectionate son,

'C. P. YORKE.'

* * * * *

'JANE,' HALIFAX: June 16, 1818.


'... I am still in the _Jane,_ and continue in every way to give
satisfaction. I brought her from Bermuda, parted company from the
squadron in a fog, and got in before the admiral; you may suppose I was
not a little pleased with my navigation. I have pretty often the honour
of presiding at my own table, as Sir David often takes trips with me
along shore, on fishing excursions, &c. &c., which makes it exceedingly

'... I have been somewhat uneasy about some drafts upon you--heavier
than usual--and I fear you will be led to think I am getting into an
extravagant turn, but it is not so, I assure you. In this vessel I am
obliged to find everything, and Bermuda charges are so extravagant that
nothing can equal them. At any time you please to call for my bills and
receipts they are at your service, but mark, I have no debts. I never
leave a port that I do not pay every shilling. Pray let me know what you
wish; if Sir D. Milne goes home, shall I return with him or not? I have
not quite a year more to serve; or shall I remain with Ld. --- who I
understand will supersede him?...


* * * * *


Aug. 19, 1818.


'It is with the greatest pleasure I received your most kind and
affectionate letter from St. James's St. I am delighted to see by your
letter you are recovering your spirits and that you have been elected
for Reigate, for I should have been very sorry for both you and my uncle
to give up.

'I am happy to inform you that I am in perfect health and enjoying all
the happiness that that invaluable blessing brings, and all the little
comforts which your bounty affords me, together with the happiness which
the perfect approbation of my superiors and respect of my inferiors can
alone give a man. I feel your great kindness and generosity more than I
can express; by the way you speak on money matters I hope to God I never
may offend you by an absurd extravagance.

'I am excessively delighted with all you say of my kind family,
particularly Lady St. G. who I am truly rejoiced to hear is so much
better. Say everything that is kind from me to her, and my apology for
not writing is that my right hand is very weak, as you may see from my
writing, from an inflammation I have had in it occasioned entirely by a
slight scratch on the knuckle of the fore finger; but it is now quite
well, but still weak.

'You are now enjoying the sweets of Sydney Lodge and its appendages, the
_Urania_ by no means the smallest of the inanimate sort, on board
of which ship I hope your 1st Lieut. that gallant officer Mr. H. Yorke
continues to give perfect satisfaction, and also the mate of the decks,
Mr. E. Y. mid. continues to improve his mind in those studies which a
young gentleman of his abilities should attend to. I am very happy to
hear Urania is grown up so fine a young woman; I most sincerely hope
that all the wishes of her fond and amiable mother may be perfectly
fulfilled. Pray give my love to her, if I may say so much now, if not,
my esteem and regard. Pray give my love to Lady C. and tell her that I
look forward with extreme pleasure to the time when I shall see her and
all the family. Among my remembrances do not forget Nurse Jordan.

'Now I will tell you the little or nothing I have been doing since I
arrived. I sailed on the [ ] of June on a cruise of pleasure having the
honour of the company of Sir D. Milne and Col. Duke. We sailed up the
Muscadobit, or Bank's Inlet, to fish, in which river the pilot ran us
ashore three times; each time obliged to shore up, being left almost dry
at low water, and on one night about eleven, all in bed, down she came
bumpus on her bilge; in consequence of our shores being made of trees
with the bark on, the bark and lashings went together. We returned to
Halifax where I refitted, and have not been out since, but sail on
Monday on a cruise to the eastward in company with _Leander_ and
_Dee_, which will be very pleasant, as we touch at every harbour
where there is lots of sport. Oh, I quite forgot to thank my uncle and
yourself for the books that are coming....

'C. P. YORKE.'

* * * * *


Octr. 19, 1818.


'... We had a very agreeable cruise of six weeks and on my return I am
now fitting for Bermuda, to which place we sail next Sunday in company
with _Leander_ and _Belette_. I have not time to give you an
account of our cruise, so I must defer it to my next; suffice it to say
I have enjoyed most perfect health and my little command now in high
order and beauty....


* * * * *

My father got his first promotion as acting lieutenant on the
_Grasshopper_ early in 1819 at the age of twenty, and was confirmed
in that rank by commission bearing date of August of the same year. In
the following October he joined the _Phaeton_ frigate, on which
vessel he served during the rest of his service on the North American
station until 1822, when he got a second step.

There is no doubt he learned his profession very thoroughly during those
years in the North Atlantic; he deplores the absence of the excitement
of war in one of his letters, but he had ample opportunity of graduating
in the details of seamanship, which, like other professions, can be best
learned at an early age, and by those whose hearts are in their work and
are diligent in their business. In those qualities my father was
certainly not lacking, though he managed to procure a share of
enjoyment, which is the privilege of youth and high spirits. There are
many anecdotes told of him at this time. On one occasion he swam across
the harbour at Halifax, a feat which, in the circumstances, I have heard
described with great admiration. On another, a lady giving a ball and
wishing to prolong the pleasures of the evening, consulted Lieutenant
Yorke as to the best way. She suggested putting back the clocks, but he
advanced a step or two on that proposal, and while dancing was going on
vigorously, stepped away and hung all the ladies' cloaks on a large tree
not far from the front door. Imagine the confusion and merriment! I have
often heard him tell the story.

His next appointment, in 1822, was to the command of the brig
_Alacrity_, where I shall be able to follow him in some interesting
and important service on the Mediterranean station.


GREEK PIRACY. 1823-1826

Charles Yorke, having attained the rank of commander in May of 1822, was
in August of the same year appointed to the command of the sloop
_Alacrity_, and in her sailed to the Mediterranean in the autumn,
anchoring at Gibraltar on November 29. He was dispatched to that station
to take up some important duties in the Greek Archipelago, which arose
out of the Greek War of Independence, then in full progress.

Until the year 1821, the Greeks, though often ready to rebel against the
Turkish government at the instigation of the agents of foreign Powers
like Russia or France, had shown little capacity for any really national
movement. But the gradual spread of liberal ideas which followed the
French Revolution; the bravery which distinguished the resistance of
certain sections of the Hellenic peoples, such as the Suliotes, and
Spakiots of Crete; the aspirations of Ali Pacha, who conceived the idea
of severing his connection with the Sultan and assuming the independent
government of Albania; the impunity with which the Klephts or pirates
pursued their calling in the Levant, all combined to demonstrate the
real weakness of the Turkish rule, and at last brought about a national

This is not the place to enter into any detailed account of the War of
Independence which followed, but its main events must be mentioned in
order to make clear the letters which my father wrote from the scenes of
the disturbance. The insurrection was begun in 1821 by Prince Alexander
Hypsilantes, who crossed the Pruth in March of that year, but his
efforts failed and he fled to Austria three months later; and other
movements in the northern provinces had a similar fate. But the rising
in the Peloponnesus under Germanos, the Archbishop of Patros, was more
successful; his forces drove the Turks before them, and the independence
of the country was proclaimed in January of 1823. The Greeks, however,
displayed little power of combination, and their partial success was
followed by internal dissensions which greatly weakened their cause.
Mavrocordato was elected president, but the aspirants for honours and
leadership were numberless, the various factions were continually
quarrelling with each other, and there was at length open civil war
inspired by Colcotronis.

Meanwhile the aspirations of Greece had excited great sympathy
throughout Europe; a Greek Committee was formed in London; the
Philhellenes became very powerful in most countries on the continent, as
well as in America, and many volunteers, of whom Lord Byron was a
notable example, enlisted in the cause of Greek liberty.

The Greek fleet, led by Miaoulis from 1823 onward, was exceedingly
active; the Greek seamen inspired the Turks with great terror, and did
immense damage to their fleets. The Turks retaliated by taking vengeance
on the unprotected islands of the archipelago, and committed unspeakable
atrocities on the inhabitants of Chios in 1822, and two years later upon
those of Kasos and Psara. In 1824 the Sultan invoked the aid of Mehemet
Ali, Pacha of Egypt, whose stepson, Ibrahim, landed in the Peloponnesus
and with his Arab troops carried all before him, when the Greeks lost
most of what they had acquired. The war, however, was continued for many
years; Lord Cochrane became admiral of the Greek fleet and Sir Robert
Church took command of the land forces. The action of Navarino, which
occurred in 1827 almost by accident, had a great effect upon the
fortunes of the struggle. The fleets of England, France, and Russia were
cruising about the coasts of the Peloponnesus to prevent the ravages of
the Turkish fleet on the islands and mainland, and selected a winter
anchorage at Navarino, where the Turkish and Egyptian fleets lay. The
Turks thinking they were menaced opened fire upon the combined fleets,
and were annihilated in the engagement which followed. In the following
year the Greeks had the aid of the French, who cleared the Morea of
Turkish troops, and by the end of the year Greece was practically
independent. Some anarchy followed the assassination of the President
Capodostrias in 1831, but at length Otho of Bavaria was crowned king,
and in 1832 a convention was signed by which the protecting Powers of
Europe recognised the new kingdom and assigned its limits; and Greece
attained an independence which she has since maintained.

Among the results of this long period of anarchy and insurrection was an
outbreak of piracy among both Greeks and Turks. Individual chieftains
called their followers together, established their head-quarters in out-
of-the-way creeks, and preyed upon the commerce of the Levant without
any interference from their Government. As in the case of the Barbary
Powers, the depredations of these pirates became at length so
intolerable that the Governments of Europe were obliged to interfere for
the protection of their subjects.

Commander Yorke's part as representing his country in the mission he
undertook, to put down this state of things, appears fully in the
letters written to his father at intervals, which follow, and we there
see the important position he had to fill. He was, as he says, in those
eastern waters in the double capacity of warrior and diplomatist, or in
other words to command a neutral armed vessel, act impartially between
Greek and Turk, and protect trade from the piracies of both nations.
This was no easy task, and it appears that though his sympathies were
with the Greek cause, of the two he preferred the Turk as by far the
best to deal with.

It will be seen that he had to go round visiting the chief islands,
Corfu, Cephalonia and Zante, and ascertain from the governors if they
had any grievances to be remedied. He had no positive orders for his
guidance, but only 'act as you think most fit.' Often he found himself
in difficulties without even an interpreter, and so obliged to make
himself understood, if he could, in French. His short but graphic
description of Lord Byron at Missolonghi and his rencontre with Colonel
Leicester Stanhope will interest many readers.

From a journal kept by Commander Yorke during this service, which he
heads 'A few Miscellaneous Remarks. H.M. Sloop _Alacrity_,'
beginning in 1823, and now with the Hardwicke MSS. at the British
Museum, I find a few facts which supplement those of the letters. He
records receiving much civility from Lord Chatham at Gibraltar, and
sailed from that port on December 2 in company with the _Sybella_
for Malta, a passage which occupied about fourteen days. After ten days
at Malta refitting, he was ordered to proceed to the Ionian station. He
describes with great admiration the beauty of the scene at sunrise on
New Year's Day of 1824 as the _Alacrity_ made the coast of Epirus,
the snow-covered mountains of Albania contrasting with the green and
fertile shore of Corfu with its olive gardens reaching down to the
water's edge. At Corfu he dined with commissioners, generals, and at
messes; and records meeting Lord Byron's 'Maid of Athens,' 'who is now
rather _passée_, but certainly has remains of a fine face and a bad
figure; large feet, of course, that all the Greeks have,' he writes.
There are accounts of other diversions, including a week's shooting with
a Mr. P. Steven and the officers of the 90th Regiment, which he
describes as 'a marvellous slaughter of woodcocks,' after which he
sailed to Missolonghi, where he arrived on January 23. The letters
describe his further experiences.

* * * * *

H.M.S. 'Alacrity,' Gibraltar:

Nov. 29, 1823.

'My dearest Father,

'I this morning at six o'clock anchored under the cloud-cap't top of
this extraordinary rock, and found that _Alacrity_ had made a
better passage by some hours than either _Ganges_ or _Sybella_
who are all here. I paid my devoirs to Lord Chatham who asked after you,
also your old Teetotum G--- who I found in the very act of entertaining
the ladies of Gib with breakfast, music and a trip to Algeciras in the
_Tribune's_ boats to spend the day. He seems in great force and
sorry to leave this part of the world, indeed, they say that love has
much to do in the case. I afterwards paid my devoirs to the American
Commodore, Jones, who is here in the _Constitution_, and went over
his ship; I felt proud to see the ship that had captured our frigate--
she is enormous. Her cable and rigging in inches the same as the
_Ganges_ by level measurement, for they have taken the pains to
examine, but she is now in what I should call a state of nature as bad
as I could wish to see a Yankee in, with 450 men on board who look as if
they were tired of their work, and the officers say so.

'I have met a very intelligent man just left Cadiz, and have seen and
conversed with some of the Spanish Constitutionalists. Spain is in a
dreadful state; anarchy, confusion, highway robbery and assassination
daily take place. The game is up, if France has got and will keep
military possession of Cadiz. The French are disgusted with the whole
thing--the country and the people.... Officers and nobles are on the

'I shall sail for Malta on Monday. I am engaged in taking big guns up.
_Alacrity_ is the most comfortable vessel I have ever been in.

'Adieu. Love to all.

'Your affectionate and dutiful son,


'I sailed without my Government chronometers, they were so bad I would
not take them, but the one C--- has on board is capital and we made the
rock to a mile.'

* * * * *


March 9, 1824.


'It is a long while since I have had an opportunity of putting pen to
paper to address you, not having been in any Christian Port for some
time, nor have I received a single line from any one since I left you.

'I am just arrived at this port having brought Convoy from Malta, and
now I am here I think I had better begin at the other end of my story,
and so come down to the present time, instead of going back; relating
all the little matters just as they are and how H.M. sloop and her crew
have been employ'd since I last address'd you from the same place.

'I sailed from Gibraltar to Malta in company with my friend Capt.
Pechel, and after remaining at that Island for ten days to put a little
to rights I proceeded to the Ionian Islands and there, as I believe I
before told you, to act in the capacity of warrior and diplomatist, or
in other words, as an arm'd neutral vessel between the Turks and Greeks,
to protect our trade from the piracies of both Nations, I assure you no
very easy task, but certainly of the two the Turk is the best by far to
deal with. I visited the Islands of Corfu, Cefalonia and Zante,
inquiring of the Governors and if they had any abuses to be remedied,
and I soon had over ten Petitions from Merchants whose boats had been
plundered and pillaged by both parties.

'Now we are on this station placed in rather awkward circumstances,
having no positive orders how to act in cases of refusal and obstinacy
on the part of these People, but only, _to act as you think most
fit_; how the Government would bear us out in any act of violence
such as taking by force that which they will not give up I know not;
even with justice on your side, I question much whether they would
support you.

'I ask'd and consulted Sir T. Maitland on the mode I should adopt, but
he seem'd to advise that where they had captured a vessel, or property,
and refused to give it up on a fair review of the case, to take "vi et
armis" an equivalent or the vessel that committed the act. Thus armed
with his opinion it was not long before an opportunity offered, and one,
take it all in all, which was to me most interesting. A vessel of the
Greek fleet had captured an Ionian vessel coming from Patras to Zante
with a cargo "_as the Petition stated_" worth 400 Dollars, and
having plundered her and ill used the crew, permitted the vessel herself
to depart. This petition is put into my hands by Col. Sir F. Steven the
resident of Zante, for here a Capt. of a man of war is a species of
Penang Lawyer, and whenever a petition comes to any of these gentlemen
they always say "Oh! give it the Capt. of the Brig or Frigate, &c. he
will soon settle it, and do it by _Club Law_." However away I went
to Missolonghi, and anchored off the Town on the 23rd of Jany. observing
ten sail of Turkish men of war to leeward, went on shore, and with much
difficulty we poked our way through the narrow channels of this
extraordinary place, there being a low flat of sand turning out from the
land about seven miles; it seems to be the only defence the town has.
Had an interview with Mavrocordato who received me of course, with
civility, on Divan, supposing that I came to do him no good, having with
me two or three officers and an arm'd boats crew. When I landed I met
with a face that put me in mind of Hyde Park, Balls, Parties, Almacks,
&c. This was no one more or less than Col. Leicester Stanhope come out
with Jeremy Bentham under his arm to give the Greeks a constitution.

'Powerful in strength must he be who can manage this; long in pocket,
with a head filled up with every talent that man is capable of
possessing and a pair of loaded pistols in his belt, with no more words
than are absolutely necessary to warn people, if they do not do this,
that they will have a chance of being sent to sleep with their Fathers.

'St. James's Street and English notions must be abolish'd, so must all
Romance of Liberty and the children of the antient Greeks struggling to
shake off the yoke of the bloody Turk; Lord Byron knows all this, and is
in fact the only man that has ever come out to them who understands the
people. He was at Missolonghi, living in every way like a great Chief;
and in fact he is so, arm'd to the teeth with 500 Suliotes, the bravest
and best troops the Greeks have, and twenty German Veterans, besides a
certain Count Gamba, a beautiful Albanian Page, an Italian Chasseur, and
an old Scotch butler, making in all about 530 well arm'd men, besides
the Suliotes from all parts of Greece flocking to him daily, he could if
he liked set up a Govt. in Missolonghi, but as he hates governments, and
likes this sort of life where his nod and beck are a law, he will have
nothing to do with their legislation altho' they come and offer to place
him at the head of the Government victorious. He however has pay'd their
fleet for them, who immediately landed their Admiral and sailed away the
Lord knows where. 'The first interview I had with this Prince
Mavrocordato I could do nothing, as I plainly saw they were detaining me
while they made out a case and that Stanhope's wits were put in
requisition. In addition to which I had no interpreter, and so I was
obliged to speak French, the only other language Mavrocordato understood
besides Greek. So I broke up the interview by saying it was late and
that I should wait on him again to-morrow. This however I did not
effect, as it blew a gale on the following day, but the next I again saw
him, and having previously put a few questions to the purpose on paper I
defeated his quibbles, and made him refund in hard dollars the value of
the cargo, threatening that if he did not I should burn, sink and
destroy immediately. I gave him four hours to consider of it, and stay'd
with Ld. Byron until the time elapsed, much amused by all his sayings
and anecdotes, firing pistols at a mark, eating, &c. &c.

'The time pass'd and the money came; thus ended my diplomatic Mission at
Missolonghi. I have just seen some English papers, they talk of
Missolonghi having sixty pieces of Cannon and a large garrison.

'I can only say from personal knowledge that if it has sixty pieces of
Cannon they are all on the wrong side, or where the Dutchman had his
anchor. The garrison consisted of about 1000 arm'd men 500 of whom were
Lord Byron's Suliotes. The only defence towards the sea is what
bountiful Nature has given it, and a small fort on an island with two
guns, one dismounted, much more like a pig stye than a fort. In short
there seem'd to me to be nothing to prevent the Turkish Admiral from
landing men and destroying every soul in the place, but their style of
warfare is very harmless (except now and then, when they catch some poor
devil alone, then they murder him). The Greeks talked much of a fine
ship, and Ld. Byron recommended Mavrocordato to take boat with him in
the evening and "smoke a cigar against the Turkish fleet" which however
he declined. I was obliged soon to return to Zante for water, intending
to go up to Lepanto and be present at the storming of that place by the
Greeks. Ld. Byron and myself had agreed, he was to lead the attack and
indeed had undertaken the Enterprise entirely, and as he jocosely
observed to me a very fit man he was as he could not run if he wished,
alluding to his club foot; but it was otherwise ordained, for to my
great grief news one evening was suddenly brought me as I was dining at
the Mess of the 90th Regt. of the loss of H.M. sloop _Columbine_ at
Sapienza, my friend Abbot's ship. I lost no time in being at sea and was
with him on Saturday the 31st of Jany. having put to sea from Zante with
a gale from the N.W. and had much ado to keep clear of the Coast of the
Morea. On my arrival in Porto Longue, I found my friend and his crew all
well having only lost two people; the brig's tops just above water; she
was lost by parting her S.B. cable, and had not room to bring up; she
soon bilged on the rocks, and the people had much ado to save
themselves; little or no property was saved, they had tents on shore and
miserable enough, as the rain was almost constant. The Pasha of Modon é
Aron supplied them with provisions and was most attentive to them. Abbot
and myself pay'd our respects to the old boy, he regaled us with Pipes
and Coffee: and acknowledgement was made him for his attentions to the
shipwreck'd crew by a salute of twenty guns from H.M. sloop, four of my
cut glass tumblers as sherbet glasses, and 1 lb. of Mr. Fribourg's and
Palets' best snuff. I think you will laugh at our presents to him, but I

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