Part 7 out of 8
stopped by a sudden check with the fore-topsail haul-yards.
"What's the matter?" said the first lieutenant, calling to me, who was
at my station on the forecastle.
"Something foul of the topsail-tie," I replied.
"What's the matter forward?" said the captain.
"Topsail-tie is foul, my lord," answered the first lieutenant.
"D----n the topsail-tie! cut it away. Out knife there, aloft! I _will_
have the topsail hoisted; cut away the topsail-tie."
For the information of my land readers, I should observe that the
topsail-tie was the very rope which was at that moment suspending the
yard aloft. The cutting it would have disabled the ship until it could
have been repaired; and had the order been obeyed, the topsail-yard
itself, would, in all probability, have been sprung or broke in two on
We arrived at Halifax without falling in with an enemy; and as soon as
the ship was secured, I went on shore to visit all my dear Dulcineas,
every one of whom I persuaded, that on her account alone I had used my
utmost interest to be sent out on the station. Fortunately for them
and for me, I was not long permitted to trifle away my time. We were
ordered to cruise on the coast of North America. It was winter and
very cold; we encountered many severe gales of wind, during which time
we suffered much from the frequent and sudden snowstorms, north-east
gales, and sharp frosts, which rendered our running-rigging almost
unmanageable, and obliged us to pour boiling water into the sheaves of
the blocks to thaw them, and allow the ropes to traverse; nor did the
cold permit the captain to honour us with his presence on deck more
than once in the twenty-four hours.
We anchored off a part of the coast, which was not in a state of
defence, and the people being unprotected by their own government,
considered themselves as neutrals, and supplied us with as much fish,
poultry, and vegetables, as we required. While we lay here, the
captain and officers frequently went on shore for a short time without
molestation. One night, after the captain had returned, a snow-storm
and a gale of wind came on. The captain's gig, which ought to have
been hoisted up, was not; she broke her painter, and went adrift, and
had been gone some time before she was missed. The next morning, on
making inquiry, it was found that the boat had drifted on shore a few
miles from where we lay; and that having been taken possession of by
the Americans, they had removed her to a hostile part of the coast,
twenty-two miles off. The captain was very much annoyed at the loss of
his boat, which he considered as his own private property, although
built on board by the king's men, and with the king's plank and nails.
"As my private property," said his lordship, "it ought to be given up,
I did not tell him that I had seen the sawyers cutting an anchor-stock
into the plank of which it was built, and that the said plank had been
put down to other services in the expense-book. This, however, was no
business of mine; nor had I any idea that the loss of this little boat
would so nearly produce my final catastrophe; so it was, however, and
very serious results took place in consequence of this accident.
"They _must_ respect private property, you know," said the captain to
the first lieutenant.
"Yes," answered the lieutenant; "but they do not know that it is
"Very true: then I will send and tell them so;" and down he went to
The yawl was ordered to be got ready, and hoisted out at daylight, and
I had notice given me that I was to go away in her. About nine o'clock
the next morning, I was sent for into the cabin; his lordship was
still in bed, and the green silk curtains were drawn close round his
"Mr Thingamy," said his lordship, "you will take the what's-his-name,
"Yes, my lord," said I.
"And you will go to that town, and ask for my thingumbob."
"For your gig, my lord?" said I.
"Yes, that's all."
"But, my lord, suppose they won't give it to me?"
"Then take it."
"Suppose the gig is not there, my lord, and if there, suppose they
refuse to give it up?"
"Then take every vessel out of the harbour."
"Very well, my lord. Am I to put the gun in the boat? or to take
"Oh, no, no arms--take a flag of truce--No. 8 (white flag) will do."
"Suppose they will not accept the flag of truce, my lord?"
"Oh, but they will: they always respect a flag of truce, you know."
"I beg your lordship's pardon, but I think a few muskets in the boat
would be of service."
"No, no, no,--no arms. You will be fighting about nothing. You have
your orders, Sir."
"Yes," thinks I, "I have. If I succeed, I am a robber; if I fail, I am
liable to be hanged on the first tree."
I left the cabin, and went to the first lieutenant. I told him what my
orders were. This officer was, as I before observed, a man who had no
friends, and was therefore entirely dependent on the captain for his
promotion, and was afraid to act contrary to his lordship's orders,
however absurd. I told him, that whatever might me the captain's
orders, I would not go without arms.
"The orders of his lordship must be obeyed," said the lieutenant.
"Why," said I, irritated at his folly, "you are as clever a fellow as
This he considered so great an affront, that he ran down to his cabin,
saying, "You shall hear from me again for this, Sir."
I concluded that he meant to try me by a court-martial, to which I had
certainly laid myself open by this unguarded expression; but I went on
the quarter-deck, and, during his absence, got as many muskets into
the boat as I wanted, with a proper proportion of ammunition. This
was hardly completed, before the lieutenant came up again, and put
a letter into my hands: which was no more than the very comfortable
intelligence, that, on my return from the expedition on which I was
then going, he should expect satisfaction for the affront I had
offered him. I was glad, however, to find it was no worse. I laughed
at his threat; and, as the very head and front of my offending was
only having compared him to the captain, he could not show any
resentment openly, for fear of displeasing his patron. In short, to be
offended at it, was to offer the greatest possible affront to the
man he looked up to for promotion, and thus destroy all his golden
As I put this well-timed challenge into my pocket, I walked down the
side, got into my boat, and put off. It wanted but one hour of sunset
when I reached the part where this infernal gig was supposed to be,
and the sky gave strong indications of an approaching gale. Indeed, I
do not believe another captain in the navy could have been found who,
at such a season of the year, would have risked a boat so far from the
ship on an enemy's coast and a lee-shore, for such a worthless object.
My crew consisted of twenty men and a midshipman. When we arrived off
the mouth of the harbour, we perceived four vessels lying at anchor,
and pulled directly in. We had, however, no opportunity of trying our
flag of truce, for as soon as we came within range of musket-shot, a
volley from two hundred concealed militiamen struck down four of my
men. There was then nothing left for it but to board, and bring out
the vessels. Two of them were aground, and we set them on fire, it
being dead low water (thanks to the delay in the morning): in doing
this, we had more men wounded. I then took possession of the other two
vessels, and giving one of them in charge of the midshipman, who was
quite a lad, I desired him to weigh his anchor. I gave him the boat,
with all the men except four, which I kept with me. The poor fellow
probably lost more men, for he cut his cable, and got out before me.
I weighed my anchor, but had one of my men killed by a musket ball in
doing it. I stood out after the midshipman. We had gained an offing
of four miles, when a violent gale and snow-storm came on. The sails
belonging to the vessel all blew to rags immediately, being very old.
I had no resource, except to anchor, which I did on a bank, in five
fathom water. The other vessel lost all her sails, and, having no
anchor, as I then conjectured, and afterwards learned, drifted on
shore, and was dashed to pieces, the people being either frozen to
death, wounded, or taken prisoners.
The next morning I could see the vessel lying on shore a wreck,
covered with ice. A dismal prospect to me, as at that time I knew not
what had become of the men. My own situation was even less enviable;
the vessel was frail, and deeply laden with salt: a cargo, which, if
it by any means gets wet, is worse than water, since it cannot be
pumped out, and becomes as heavy as lead; nothing could, in that
event, have kept the vessel afloat, and we had no boat in case of such
an accident. I had three men with me, besides the dead body, in the
cabin, and a pantry as clear as an empty house: not an article of any
description to eat. I was four miles from the shore, in a heavy gale
of wind, the pleasure of which was enhanced by snow, and the bitterest
cold I ever experienced. We proceeded to examine the vessel, and found
that there was on board a quantity of sails and canvas, that did not
fit, but had been bought with an intention of making up for this
vessel, and not before she wanted them; there was also an abundance of
palms, needles, and twine; but to eat, there was nothing except salt,
and to drink, nothing but one cask of fresh water. We kindled a fire
in the cabin, and made ourselves as warm as we could, taking a view
on deck now and then, to see if she drove, or if the gale abated. She
pitched heavily, taking in whole seas over the forecastle, and the
water froze on the deck. The next morning we found we had drifted
a mile nearer to the shore, and the gale continued with unabated
violence. The other vessel lay a wreck, with her masts gone, and as it
were _in terrorem_, staring us in the face.
We felt the most pinching hunger; we had no fuel after the second day,
except what we pulled down from the bulkheads of the cabin. We amused
ourselves below, making a suit of sails for the vessel, and drinking
hot water to repel the cold. But this work could not have lasted long;
the weather became more intensely cold, and twice did we set the prize
on fire, in our liberality with the stove to keep ourselves warm. The
ice formed on the surface of the water in our kettle, till it was
dissolved by the heat from the bottom. The second night passed like
the first; and we found, in the morning, that we had drifted within
two miles of the shore. We completed our little sails this day, and
with great difficulty contrived to bend them.
The men were now exhausted with cold and hunger, and proposed that we
should cut our cable and run on shore; but I begged them to wait till
the next morning, as these gales seldom lasted long. This they agreed
to: and we again huddled together to keep ourselves warm, the outside
man pulling the dead man close to him by way of a blanket. The gale
this night moderated, and towards the morning the weather was fine,
although the wind was against us, and to beat her up to the ship was
impossible. From the continued freezing of the water, the bob-stays
and the rigging were coated with ice five or six inches thick, and the
forecastle was covered with two feet of clear ice, showing the ropes
coiled underneath it.
There was no more to be done: so, desiring the men to cut the cable,
I made up my mind to run the vessel on shore, and give myself up.
We hoisted the foresail, and I stood in with the intention of
surrendering myself and people at a large town which I knew was
situated about twelve miles farther on the coast. To have given myself
up at the place where the vessels had been captured, I did not think
would have been prudent.
When we made sail on the third morning, we had drifted within half a
mile of the shore, and very near the place we had left. Field pieces
had been brought down to us. They had the range, but they could not
reach us. I continued to make more sail, and to creep along shore,
until I came within a few cables' length of the pier, where men,
women, and children were assembled to see us land; when suddenly a
snow-storm came on; the wind shifted, and blew with such violence,
that I could neither see the port, nor turn the vessel to windward
into it; and as I knew I could not hold my own, and that the wind was
fair for our ship, then distant about forty miles, we agreed to up
helm and scud for her.
This was well executed. About eleven at night we hailed her, and asked
for a boat. They had seen us approaching, and a boat instantly came,
taking us all on board the frigate, and leaving some fresh hands in
charge of the prize.
I was mad with hunger and cold, and with difficulty did we get up the
side, so exhausted and feeble were the whole of us. I was ordered down
into the cabin, for it was too cold for the captain to show his face
on deck. I found his lordship sitting before a good fire, with his
toes in the grate; a decanter of Madeira stood on the table, with a
wine glass, and most fortunately, though not intended for my use, a
large rummer. This I seized with one hand and the decanter with the
other; and, filling a bumper, swallowed it in a moment, without even
drinking his lordship's good health. He stared, and I believe thought
me mad. I certainly do own that my dress and appearance perfectly
corresponded with my actions. I had not been washed, shaved, or
"cleaned," since I had left the ship, three days before. My beard was
grown, my cheeks hollow, my eyes sunk, and for my stomach, I leave
that to those fortunate Frenchmen who escaped from the Russian
campaign, who only can appreciate my sufferings. My whole haggard
frame was enveloped in a huge blue flushing coat, frosted, like a
plum-cake, with ice and snow.
As soon as I could speak, I said, "I beg pardon, my lord, but I have
had nothing to eat or drink since I left the ship."
"Oh, _then_ you are very welcome," said his lordship; "I never
expected to see you again."
"Then why the devil did you send me?" thought I to myself.
During this short dialogue, I had neither been offered a chair nor any
refreshment, of which I stood so much in need; and if I had been able,
should have been kept standing while I related my adventures. I was
about to commence, when the wine got into my head; and to support
myself, I leaned, or rather staggered, on the back of a chair.
"Never mind now," said the captain, apparently moved from his listless
apathy by my situation; "go and make yourself comfortable, and I will
hear it all to-morrow."
This was the only kind thing he had ever done for me; and it came so
_apropos_, that I felt grateful to him for it, thanked him, and went
below to the gun-room, where, notwithstanding all I had heard and read
of the dangers of repletion after long abstinence, I ate voraciously,
and drank proportionably, ever and anon telling my astonished
messmates, who were looking on, what a narrow escape the dead body
had of being dissected and broiled. This, from the specimen of my
performance, they had no difficulty in believing. I recommended the
three men who had been with me to the care of the surgeon; and, with
his permission, presented each of them with a pint of hot brandy and
water, well sweetened, by way of a night cap. Having taken these
precautions, and satisfied the cravings of nature on my own part, as
well as the cravings of curiosity on that of my messmates, I went to
bed, and slept soundly till the next day at noon.
Thus ended this anomalous and fatal expedition: an ambassador sent
with the sacred emblem of peace, to commit an act of hostility under
its protection. To have been taken under such circumstances, would
have subjected us to be hung like dogs on the first tree; to have gone
unarmed, would have been an act of insanity, and I therefore took upon
me to disobey an unjust and absurd order. This, however, must not be
pleaded as an example to juniors, but a warning to seniors how they
give orders without duly weighing the consequences: the safest plan
is always to obey. Thus did his Majesty's service lose eighteen fine
fellows, under much severe suffering, for a boat, "the _private_
property" of the captain, not worth twenty pounds.
The next day, as soon as I was dressed, the first lieutenant sent to
speak to me. I then recollected the little affair of the challenge. "A
delightful after-piece," thought I, "to the tragedy, to be shot by
the first lieutenant only for calling him as clever a fellow as the
captain." The lieutenant, however, had no such barbarous intentions;
he had seen and acknowledged the truth of my observation, and, being
a well meaning north-countryman, he offered me his hand, which I took
with pleasure, having had quite enough of stimulus for that time.
_Bell_. You have an opportunity now, Madam, to revenge yourself
upon him for affronting your squirrel. _Belin_. O, the filthy,
rude beast. _Aram_. 'Tis a lasting quarrel.
We sailed the next day, and after one month more of unsuccessful
cruising, arrived safe at Halifax, where I was informed that an old
friend of my father's, Sir Hurricane Humbug, of whom some mention has
already been made in this work, had just arrived. He was not in an
official character, but had come out to look after his own property.
It is absolutely necessary that I should here, with more than usual
formality, introduce the reader to an intimate acquaintance with the
character of Sir Hurricane.
Sir Hurricane had risen in life by his own ingenuity, and the
patronage of a rich man in the South of England: he was of an
ardent disposition, and was an admirable justice of peace, when the
_argumentum baculinum_ was required, for which reason he had been
sent to reduce two or three refractory establishments to order and
obedience; and, by his firmness and good humour, succeeded. His tact
was a little knowledge of everything (not like Solomon's, from the
hyssop to the cedar), but from the boiler of a potato to the boiler of
a steam-boat, and from catching a sprat to catching a whale; he could
fatten pigs and poultry, and had a peculiar way of improving the size,
though not the breed of the latter; in short, he was "jack of all
trades and master of none."
I shall not go any farther back with his memoirs than the day he chose
to teach an old woman how to make mutton-broth. He had, in the course
of an honest discharge of his duty, at a certain very dirty sea-port
town, incurred the displeasure of the lower orders generally: he
nevertheless would omit no opportunity of doing good, and giving
advice to the poor, gratis. One day he saw a woman emptying the
contents of a boiling kettle out of her door into the street. He
approached, and saw a leg of mutton at the bottom, and the unthrifty
housewife throwing away the liquor in which it had been boiled.
"Good woman," said the economical baronet, "do you know what you
are doing? A handful of meat, a couple of carrots, and a couple of
turnips, cut up into dice, and thrown into that liquor, with a little
parsley, would make excellent mutton-broth for your family."
The old woman looked up, and saw the ogre of the dockyard; and either
by losing her presence of mind, or by a most malignant slip of the
hand, she contrived to pour a part of the boiling water into the shoes
of Sir Hurricane. The baronet jumped, roared, hopped, stamped, kicked
off his shoes, and ran home, d----ning the old woman, and himself too,
for having tried to teach her how to make mutton-broth. As he ran off,
the ungrateful hag screamed after him, "Sarves you right; teach you to
mind your own business."
The next day, in his magisterial capacity, he commanded the attendance
of "the dealer in slops." "Well, Madam, what have you got to say for
yourself for scalding one of his Majesty's Justices of the Peace?
don't you know that I have the power to commit you to Maidstone gaol
for the assault?"
"I beg your honour's pardon, humbly," said the woman; "I did not know
it was your honour, or I am sure I wouldn't a done it; besides, I own
to your honour, I had a drop too much."
The good-natured baronet dismissed her with a little suitable advice,
which no doubt the good woman treated as she did that relative to the
My acquaintance with Sir Hurricane had commenced at Plymouth, when he
kicked my ship to sea in a gale of wind, for fear we should ground on
our beef bones. I never forgave him for that. My father had shown him
great civility, and had introduced me to him. When at Halifax, we
resided in the same house with a mutual friend, who had always
received me as his own son. He had a son of my own age, with whom I
had long been on terms of warm friendship, and Ned and I confederated
against Sir Hurricane. Having paid a few visits _en passant_, as I
landed at the King's Wharf, shook hands with a few pretty girls, and
received their congratulations on my safe return, I went to the house
of my friend, and, without ceremony, walked into the drawing-room.
"Do you know, Sir," said the footman, "that Sir Hurricane is in his
room? but he is very busy," added the man, with a smile.
"Busy or not," said I, "I am sure he will see me," so in I walked.
Sir Hurricane was employed on something, but I could not distinctly
make out what. He had a boot between his knees and the calves of his
legs, which he pressed together, and as he turned his head round, I
perceived that he held a knife between his teeth.
"Leave the door open, messmate," said he, without taking the least
notice of me. Then rising, he drew a large, black, tom cat, by the
tail, out of the boot, and flinging it away from him to a great
distance, which distance was rapidly increased by the voluntary
exertion of the cat, which ran away as if it had been mad, "There,"
said he, "and be d----d to you, you have given me more trouble than a
whole Kentucky farm-yard; but I shall not lose my sleep any more, by
your d----d caterwauling."
All this was pronounced as if he had not seen me--in fact, it was a
soliloquy, for the cat did not stay to hear it. "Ah!" said he, holding
out his hand to me, "how do you do? I know your face, but d----n me if I
have not forgot your name."
"My name, Sir," said I, "is Mildmay."
"Ah, Mildmay, my noble, how do you do? how did you leave your father?
I knew him very well--used to give devilish good feeds--many a plate
I've dirtied at his table--don't care how soon I put my legs under
it again;--take care, mind which way you put your helm--you will be
aboard of my chickabiddies--don't run athwart hawse."
I found, on looking down, that I had a string round my leg, which
fastened a chicken to the table, and saw many more of these little
creatures attached to the chairs in the room; but for what purpose
they were thus domesticated I could not discover.
"Are these pet chickens of yours, Sir Hurricane?" said I.
"No," said the admiral, "but I mean them to be pet capons, by and by,
when they come to table. I finished a dozen and a half this morning,
besides that d----d old tom cat."
The mystery was now explained, and I afterwards found out (every man
having his hobby) that the idiosyncrasy of this officer's disposition
had led him to the practice of neutralising the males of any species
of bird or beast, in order to render them more palatable at the table.
"Well, sir," he continued, "how do you like your new ship--how do
you like your old captain?--good fellow, isn't he?--d----n his
eyes--countryman of mine--I knew him when his father hadn't as much
money as would jingle on a tombstone. That fellow owes every thing
to me. I introduced him to the duke of ----, and he got on by that
interest; but, I say, what do you think of the Halifax girls?--nice!
I expressed my admiration of them.
"Ay, ay, they'll do, won't they?--we'll have some fine fun--give the
girls a party at George's Island--haymaking--green gowns--ha, ha, ha.
I say, your captain shall give us a party at Turtle Cove. We are going
to give the old commissioner a feed at the Rockingham--blow the roof
of his skull off with champagne do you dine at Birch Cove to-day?
No, I suppose you are engaged to Miss Maria, or Miss Susan, or Miss
Isabella--ha, sad dog, sad dog--done a great deal of mischief,"
surveying me from head to foot.
I took the liberty of returning him the same compliment; he was a
tall raw-boned man, with strongly marked features, and a smile on his
countenance that no modest woman could endure. In his person he gave
me the idea of a discharged life-guardsman; but from his face you
might have supposed that he had sat for one of Rubens' Satyrs. He was
one of those people with whom you become immediately acquainted; and
before I had been an hour in his company, I laughed very heartily
at his jokes--not very delicate, I own, and for which he lost a
considerable portion of my respect; but he was a source of constant
amusement to me, living as we did in the same house.
I was just going out of the room when he stopped me--"I say, how
should you like to be introduced to some devilish nice Yankee girls,
relations of mine, from Philadelphia? and I should be obliged to you
to show them attention; very pretty girls, I can tell you, and will
have good fortunes--you may go farther and fare worse. The old dad
is as rich as a Jew--got the gout in both legs--can't hold out much
longer--nice pickings at his money bags, while the devil is picking
There was no withstanding such inducements, and I agreed that he
should present me the next day.
Our dialogue was interrupted by the master of the house and his son,
who gave me a hearty welcome; the father had been a widower for some
years, and his only son Ned resided with him, and was intended to
succeed to his business as a merchant. We adjourned to dress for
dinner; our bed-rooms were contiguous, and we began to talk of Sir
"He is a strange mixture," said Ned. "I love him for his good temper;
but I owe him a grudge for making mischief between me and Maria;
besides, he talks balderdash before the ladies, and annoys them very
"I owe him a grudge too," said I, "for sending me to sea in a gale of
"We shall both be quits with him before long," said Ned; "but let us
now go and meet him at dinner. To-morrow I will set the housekeeper
at him for his cruelty to her cat; and if I am not much mistaken, she
will pay him off for it."
Dinner passed off extremely well. The admiral was in high spirits; and
as it was a bachelor's party, he earned his wine. The next morning we
met at breakfast. When that was over, the master of the house retired
to his office, or pretended to do so. I was going out to walk, but Ned
said I had better stay a few minutes; he had something to say to me;
in fact, he had prepared a treat without my knowing it.
"How did you sleep last night, Sir Hurricane?" said the artful Ned.
"Why, pretty well; considering," said the admiral, "I was not
tormented by that old tom cat. D----n me, Sir, that fellow was like
the Grand Signior, and he kept his seraglio in the garret, over my
bed-room, instead of being at his post in the kitchen, killing the
rats that are running about like coach-horses."
"Sir Hurricane," said I, "it's always unlucky to sailors, if they
meddle with cats. You will have a gale of wind, in some shape or
another, before long."
These words were hardly uttered, when, as if by preconcerted
arrangement, the door opened, and in sailed Mrs Jellybag, the
housekeeper, an elderly woman, somewhere in the latitude of fifty-five
or sixty years. With a low courtesy and contemptuous toss of her head,
she addressed Sir Hurricane Humbug.
"Pray, Sir Hurricane, what have you been doing to my cat?"
The admiral, who prided himself in putting any one who applied to
him on what he called the wrong scent, endeavoured to play off Mrs
Jellybag in the same manner.
"What have I done to your cat, my dear Mrs Jellybag? Why, my dear
Madam" (said he, assuming an air of surprise), "what _should_ I do to
"You _should_ have left him alone, Mr Admiral; that cat was my
property; if my master permits you to ill-treat the poultry, that's
his concern; but that cat was mine, Sir Hurricane--mine, every inch of
him. The animal has been ill-treated, and sits moping in the corner
of the fireplace, as if he was dying; he'll never be the cat he was
"I don't think he ever will, my dear Mrs Housekeeper," answered the
The lady's wrath now began to kindle. The admiral's cool replies
were like water sprinkled upon a strong flame, increasing its force,
instead of checking it.
"Don't dear _me_, Sir Hurricane. I am not one of _your dears_--_your
dears_ are all in Dutchtown--more shame for you, an old man like you."
"Old man!" cried Sir Hurricane, losing his placidity a little.
"Yes, old man; look at your hair--as grey as a goose's."
"Why, as for my hair, that proves nothing, Mrs Jellybag, for though
there may be snow on the mountains, there is still heat in the
valleys. What d'ye think of my metaphor?"
"I am no more a _metafore_ than yourself, Sir Hurricane; but I'll
tell you what, you are a _cock-and-hen_ admiral, a dog-in-the-manger
barrownight, who was jealous of my poor tom cat, because--, I won't
say what. Yes, Sir Hurricane, all hours of the day you are leering at
every young woman that passes, out of our windows--and an old man too;
you ought to be ashamed of yourself--and then you go to church of a
Sunday, and cry, 'Good Lord, deliver us.'"
The housekeeper now advanced so close to the admiral, that her nose
nearly touched his, her arms akimbo, and every preparation for
boarding. The admiral, fearing she might not confine herself to
vocality, but begin to beat time with her fists, thought it right to
take up a position; he therefore very dexterously took two steps in
the rear, and mounted on a sofa; his left was defended by an upright
piano, his right by the breakfast-table, with all the tea-things on
it; his rear was against the wall, and his front depended on himself
in person. From this commanding eminence he now looked down on the
housekeeper, whose nose could reach no higher than the seals of
her adversary's watch; and in proportion as the baronet felt his
security, so rose his choler. Having been for many years Proctor at
the great universities of Point-street and Blue-town, as well as
member of Barbican and North Corner, he was perfectly qualified, in
point of classical dialect, to maintain the honour of his profession.
Nor was the lady by any means deficient. Although she had not taken
her degree, her tongue from constant use had acquired a fluency which
nature only concedes to practice.
It will not be expected, nor would it be proper, that I should repeat
all that passed in this concluding scene, in which the housekeeper
gave us good reason to suppose that she was not quite so ignorant of
the nature of the transaction as she would have had us believe.
The battle having raged for half an hour with great fury, both parties
desisted, for want of breath, and consequently of ammunition. This
produced a gradual cessation of firing, and by degrees the ships
separated--the admiral, like Lord Howe on the first of June,
preserving his position, though very much mauled; and the housekeeper,
like the Montague, _running down_ to join her associates. A few random
shots were exchanged as they parted, and at every second or third step
on the stairs, Mrs Margaret brought to, and fired, until both were
quite out of range; a distant rumbling noise was heard, and the
admiral concluded, by muttering that she might go--, somewhere, but
the word died between his teeth.
"There, admiral," said I, "did not I tell you that you would have a
"Squall! yes--d----n my blood," wiping his face; "how the spray flew
from the old beldam! She's fairly wetted my trousers, by God. Who'd
ever thought that such a purring old b----h could have shown such a
set of claws!--War to the knife! By heavens, I'll make her remember
Notwithstanding the admiral's threat, hostilities ceased from that
day. The cock-and-hen admiral found it convenient to show a white
feather; interest stood in the way, and barred him from taking his
revenge. Mrs Jellybag was a faithful servant, and our host neither
liked that she should be interfered with, or that his house should
become an arena for such conflicts; and the admiral, who was
peculiarly tenacious of undrawing the strings of his purse, found it
convenient to make the first advances. The affair was, therefore,
amicably arranged--the tom cat was, in consideration of his
sufferings, created a baronet, and was ever afterwards dignified by
the title of _Sir H. Humbug_; who certainly was the most eligible
person to select for god-father, as he had taken the most effectual
means of weaning him from "the pomps and vanities of this wicked
It was now about one o'clock, for this dispute had ran away with the
best part of the morning, when Sir Hurricane said, "Come, youngster,
don't forget your engagements--you know I have got to introduce you to
my pretty cousins--you must mind your P's and Q's with the uncle, for
he is a sensible old fellow--has read a great deal, and thinks America
the first and greatest country in the world."
We accordingly proceeded to the residence of the fair strangers, whom
the admiral assured me had come to Halifax from mere curiosity, under
the protection of their uncle and aunt. We knocked at the door, and
the admiral inquired if Mrs M'Flinn was at home; we were answered
in the affirmative. The servant asked our names. "Vice Admiral Sir
Hurricane Humbug," said I, "and Mr Mildmay."
The drawing-room door was thrown open, and the man gave our names with
great propriety. In we walked; a tall, grave-looking, elderly lady
received us, standing bolt upright in the middle of the room; the
young ladies were seated at their work.
"My dear Mrs M'Flinn," said the admiral, "how do you do? I am
delighted to see you and your fair nieces looking so lovely this
morning."--The lady bowed to this compliment--a courtesy she was
not quite up to--"Allow me to introduce my gallant young friend,
Mildmay--young ladies, take care of your hearts--he is a great rogue,
I assure you, though he smiles so sweet upon you."
Mrs M'Flinn bowed again to me, hoped I was very well, and inquired
"how long I had been in these parts."
I replied that I had just returned from a cruise, but that I was no
stranger in Halifax.
"Come, officer," said the admiral, taking me by the arm, "I see you
are bashful--I must make you acquainted with my pretty cousins. This,
Sir, is Miss M'Flinn--her Christian name is Deliverance. She is a
young lady whose beauty is her least recommendation."
"A very equivocal compliment," thought I.
"This, Sir, is Miss Jemima; this is Miss Temperance; and this is Miss
Deborah. Now that you know them all by name, and they know you, I hope
you will contrive to make yourself both useful and agreeable."
"A very pretty sinecure," thinks I to myself, "just as if I had not my
hands full already." However, as I never wanted small talk for pretty
faces, I began with Jemima. They were all pretty, but she was a
love--yet there was an awkwardness about them that convinced me they
were not of the _bon ton_ of Philadelphia. The answers to all
my questions were quick, pert, and given with an air of assumed
consequence; at the same time I observed a mode of expression which,
though English, was not well-bred English.
"Did you come through the United States," said I, "into the British
territory, or did you come by water?"
"Oh, by water," screamed all the girls at once, "and _liked_ to have
been eaten up with the nasty roaches."
I did not exactly know what was meant by "roaches," but it was
explained to me soon after. I inquired whether they had seen a British
man-of-war, and whether they would like to accompany me on board of
that which I belonged to? They all screamed out at same moment--
"No, we never have seen one, and should like to see it of all things.
When will you take us?"
"To-morrow," said I, "if the day should prove fine."
Here the admiral, who had been making by-play with the old chaperon,
turned round, and said:
"Well, Mr Frank, I see you are getting on pretty well without my
"Oh, we all like him very much," said Temperance; "and he says he will
take us on board his ship."
"Softly, my dear," said the aunt: "we must not think of giving the
gentleman the trouble, until we are better acquainted."
"I am sure, aunt," said Deborah, "we are very well acquainted."
"Then," said the aunt, seeing she was in the minority, "suppose you
and Sir Hurricane come and breakfast with us to-morrow morning at
eleven o'clock, after which, we shall all be very much at your
Here the admiral looked at me with one of his impudent leers, and
burst into a loud laugh; but I commanded my countenance very well, and
rebuked him by a steady and reserved look.
"I shall have great pleasure," said I, to the lady, "in obeying your
orders from eleven to-morrow morning, till the hour of dinner, when I
So saying, we both bowed, wished them a good morning, and left the
room. The door closed upon us, and I heard them all exclaim--"What a
charming young man!"
I went on board, and told the first lieutenant what I had done; he,
very good-naturedly, said he would do his best, though the ship was
not in order for showing, and would have a boat ready for us at the
dock-yard stairs at one o'clock the next day.
I went to breakfast at the appointed hour. The admiral did not appear,
but the ladies were all in readiness, and I was introduced to their
uncle--a plain, civil-spoken man, with a strong nasal twang. The
repast was very good; and as I had a great deal of work before me,
I made hay while the sun shone. When the rage of hunger had been a
little appeased, I made use of the first belle to inquire if a lady
whom I once had the honour of knowing, was any relation of theirs, as
she bore the same name, and came, like them, from Philadelphia.
"Oh, dear, yes, indeed, she is a relation," said all the ladies
together; "we have not seen her this seven years, when did you see her
I replied that we had not met for some time; but that the last time I
had heard of her, she was seen by a friend of mine at Turin on the Po.
The last syllable was no sooner out of my mouth, than tea, coffee, and
chocolate was out of theirs, all spirting different ways, just like so
many young grampuses. They jumped up from the table and ran away to
their rooms, convulsed with laughter, leaving me alone with their
uncle. I was all amazement, and I own felt a little annoyed.
I asked if I had made any serious lapsus, or said any thing very
ridiculous or indelicate; if I had, I said I should never forgive
"Sir," said Mr M'Flinn, "I am very sure you meant nothing indelicate;
but the refined society of Philadelphia, in which these young ladies
have been educated, attaches very different meanings to certain words,
to what you do in the old country. The back settlements, for instance,
so called by our ancestors, we call the western settlements, and we
apply the same term, by analogy, to the human figure and dress. This
is a mere little explanation, which you will take as it is meant. It
cannot be expected that '_foreigners_' should understand the niceties
of our language."
I begged pardon for my ignorance; and assured him I would be more
cautious in future. "But pray tell me," said I, "what there was in my
last observation which could have caused so much mirth at my expense?"
"Why, Sir," said Mr M'Flinn, "you run me hard there; but since
you force me to explain myself, I must say that you used a word
exclusively confined to bedchambers."
"But surely, Sir," said I, "you will allow that the name of a
celebrated river, renowned in the most ancient of our histories, is
not to be changed from such a refined notion of false delicacy?"
"There you are wrong," said Mr M'Flinn. "The French, who are our
instructors in every thing, teach us how to name all these things; and
I think you will allow that they understand true politeness."
I bowed to this dictum, only observing, that there was a point in our
language where delicacy became indelicate; that I thought the noble
river had a priority of claim over a contemptible vessel; and,
reverting to the former part of his discourse, I said that we in
England were not ashamed to call things by their proper names; and
that we considered it a great mark of ill-breeding to go round about
for a substitute to a common word, the vulgar import of which a well
bred and modest woman ought never to have known.
The old gentleman felt a little abashed at this rebuke, and, to
relieve him, I changed the subject, hoping that the ladies would
forgive me for this once, and return to their breakfasts.
"Why, as for that matter," said the gentleman, "the Philadelphia
ladies have very delicate appetites, and I dare say they have had
Finding I was not likely to gain ground on that tack, I steered my
own course, and finished my breakfast, comforting myself that much
execution had been done by the ladies on the commissariat department,
before the "Po" had made its appearance.
By the time I had finished, the ladies had composed themselves; and
the pretty Jemima had recovered the saint-like gravity of her lovely
mouth. Decked in shawls and bonnets, they expressed much impatience to
be gone. We walked to the dock-yard, where a boat with a midshipman
attended, and in a few minutes conveyed us alongside of my ship.
A painted cask, shaped like a chair, with, a whip from the main
yard-arm, was let down into the boat; and I carefully packed the fair
creatures, two at a time, and sent them up. There was a good deal of
giggling, and screaming, and loud laughing, which rather annoyed me;
for as they were not my friends, I had no wish that my messmates
should think they belonged to that set in Halifax in which I was so
At length, all were safely landed on the quarter-deck, without the
exposure of an ancle, which they all seemed to dread. Whether their
ancles were not quite so small as Mr M'Flinn wished me to suppose
their appetites were, I cannot say.
"La! aunt," said Deborah, "when I looked up in the air, and saw you
and Deliverance dangling over our heads, I thought if the rope was to
break, what a 'squash' you would have come on us: I am sure you would
have _paunched us_."
Determined to have the Philadelphia version of this elegant phrase, I
inquired what it meant, and was informed, that in their country when
any one had his bowels _squeezed_ out, they called it "_paunching_."
"Well," thought I, "after this, you might swallow the Po without
spoiling your breakfasts." The band struck up "Yankee Doodle," the
ladies were in ecstacy, and began to caper round the quarter-deck.
"La! Jemima," said Deborah, "what have you done to the western side of
your gown? it is all over white."
This was soon brushed off, but the expression was never forgotten in
the ship, and always ludicrously applied.
Having shown them the ship and all its wonders, I was glad to conduct
them back to the shore. When I met the admiral, I told him I had done
the honours, and hoped the next time he had any female relatives, he
would keep his engagements, and attend to them himself.
"Why, now, who do you think they are?" said the admiral.
"Think!" said I, "why, who should they be but your Yankee cousins?"
"Why, was you such a d----d flat as to believe what I said, eh? Why,
their father keeps a shop of all sorts at Philadelphia, and they were
going to New York, on a visit to some of their relatives, when the
ship they were in was taken and brought in here."
"Then," said I, "these are not the bon-ton of Philadelphia?"
"Just as much as Nancy Dennis is the bon-ton of Halifax," said the
admiral; "though the uncle, as I told you, is a sensible fellow in his
"Very well," said I; "you have caught me for once; but remember, I pay
you for it."
And I was not long in his debt. Had he not given me this explanation,
I should have received a very false impression of the ladies of
Philadelphia, and have done them an injustice for which I should never
have forgiven myself.
The time of our sailing drew near. This was always a melancholy time
in Halifax; but my last act on shore was one which created some mirth,
and enlivened the gloom of my departure. My friend Ned and myself had
not yet had an opportunity of paying off Sir Hurricane Humbug for
telling tales to Maria, and for his false introduction to myself. One
morning we both came out of our rooms at the same moment, and were
proceeding to the breakfast parlour, when we spied the admiral
performing some experiment. Unfortunately for him, he was seated in
such a manner, just clear of a pent-house, as to be visible from our
position; and at the same time, the collar of his coat would exactly
intersect the segment of a circle described by any fluid, projected by
us over this low roof, which would thus act as a conductor into the
very pole of his neck.
The housemaid (these housemaids are always the cause or the
instruments of mischief, either by design or neglect), had left
standing near the window a pail nearly filled with dirty water, from
the wash-hand basins, &c. Ned and I looked at each other, then at the
pail, then at the admiral. Ned thought of his Maria: I of my false
introduction. Without saying a word, we both laid our hands on the
pail, and in an instant, souse went all the contents over the admiral.
"I say, what's this?" he roared out. "Oh, you d----d rascals!"
He knew it could only be us. We laughed so immoderately, that we
had not the power to move or to speak; while the poor admiral was
spitting, sputtering, and coughing, enough to bring his heart up.
"You infernal villains! No respect for a flag-officer? I'll serve you
out for this."
The tears rolled down our cheeks; but not with grief. As soon as
the admiral had sufficiently recovered himself to go in pursuit, we
thought it time to make sail. We knew we were discovered; and as the
matter could not be made worse, we resolved to tell him what it was
for. Ned began.
"How do you do, admiral? you have taken a shower-bath this morning."
He looked up, with his teeth clenched--"Oh, it's you, is it? Yes, I
thought it could be no one else. Yes, I have had a shower-bath, and be
d----d to you; and that sea-devil of a friend of yours. Pretty pass
the service has come to, when officers of my rank are treated in this
way. I'll make you both envy the tom-cat."
"Beware the housekeeper, admiral," said Ned. "Maria has made it up
with me, admiral, and she sends her love to you."
"Oh, very well, I'll tell her so," said Ned.
"Admiral," said I, "do you remember when you sent the --- to sea in a
gale of wind, when I was midshipman of her? Well, I got just as wet
that night as you are now. Pray, admiral, have you any commands to the
"I'll tell you when I catch hold of you," said Sir Hurricane, as he
moved up stairs to his room, dripping like Pope's Lodona, only not
smelling so sweet.
Hearing a noise, the housekeeper came up, and all the family assembled
to condole with the humid admiral, but each enjoying the joke as much
as ourselves. We however paid rather dearly for it. The admiral swore
that neither of us should eat or drink in the house for three days;
and Ned's father, though ready to burst with laughter, was forced in
common decency to say that he thought the admiral perfectly right
after so gross a violation of hospitality.
I went and dined on board my ship, Ned went to a coffee-house; but
on the third morning after the shower, I popped my head into the
breakfast parlour, and said,
"Admiral, I have a good story to tell you, if you will let me come
"I'd see you d----d first, you young scum of a fish pond. Be off, or
I'll shy the ham at your head."
"No, but indeed, my dear Admiral, it is such a nice story; it is one
just to your fancy."
"Well then, stand there and tell it, but don't come in, for if you
I stood at the door and told him the story.
"Well, now," said he, "that is a good story, and I will forgive you
for it." So with a hearty laugh at my ingenuity, he promised to
forgive us both, and I ran and fetched Ned to breakfast.
This was the safest mode we could have adopted to get into favour, for
the admiral was a powerful, gigantic fellow, that could have given us
some very awkward squeezes. The peace was very honourably kept, and
the next day the ship sailed.
They turned into a long and wide street, in which not a single
living figure appeared to break the perspective. Solitude is never
so overpowering as when it exists among the works of man. In old
woods, or on the tops of mountains, it is graceful and benignant,
for it is at home; but where thick dwellings are, it wears a
We were ordered to look out for the American squadron that had done so
much mischief to our trade; and directed our course, for this purpose,
to the coast of Africa. We had been out about ten days, when a vessel
was seen from the mast-head. We were at that time within about one
hundred and eighty leagues of the Cape de Verd Islands. We set all
sail in chase, and soon made her out to be a large frigate, who seemed
to have no objection to the meeting, but evidently tried her rate of
sailing with us occasionally: her behaviour left us no doubt that she
was an American frigate, and we cleared for action.
The captain, I believe, had never been in a sea fight, or if he had,
he had entirely forgotten all he had learned; for which reason, in
order to refresh his memory, he laid upon the capstan-head, the famous
epitome of John Hamilton Moore, now obsolete, but held at that time to
be one of the most luminous authors who had ever treated on maritime
affairs. John, who certainly gives a great deal of advice on every
subject, has, amongst other valuable directions, told us how to bring
a ship into action, according to the best and most approved methods,
and how to take your enemy afterwards, if you can. But the said John
must have thought red hot shot could be heated by a process somewhat
similar to that by which he heated his own nose, or he must entirely
have forgotten "the manners and customs in such cases used at sea,"
for he recommends, as a prelude or first course to the entertainment,
a good dose of red hot shot, served up the moment the guests are
assembled; but does not tell us where the said dishes are to
be cooked. No doubt whatever that a broadside composed of such
ingredients, would be a great desideratum in favour of a victory,
especially if the enemy should happen to have none of his own to give
So thought his lordship, who walking up to the first lieutenant, said,
"Mr Thingamay, don't you think red hot what-do-ye-call-ums should be
given in the first broadside to that thingumbob?"
"Red hot shot, do you mean, my lord?"
"Yes," said his lordship; "don't you think they would settle his
"Where the devil are we to get them, my lord?" said the first
lieutenant, who was not the same that wanted to fight me for saying he
was as clever a fellow as the captain: that man had been unshipped by
the machinations of Toady.
"Very true," said his lordship.
We now approached the stranger very fast, when, to our great
mortification, she proved to be an English frigate; she made the
private signal, it was answered; showed her number, we showed ours,
and her captain being junior officer came on board, to pay his
respects and show his order. He was three weeks from England, brought
news of a peace with France, and, among other treats, a navy list,
which, next to a bottle of London porter, is the greatest luxury to a
sea officer in a foreign climate.
Greedily did we all run over this interesting little book, and among
the names of the new made commanders, I was overjoyed to find my own;
the last on the list to be sure, but that I cared not for. I received
the congratulations of my messmates; we parted company with the
stranger, and steered for the island of St Jago, our captain intending
to complete his water in Port Praya Bay, previous to a long cruise
after the American squadron.
We found here a slave vessel in charge of a naval officer, bound to
England; and I thought this a good opportunity to quit, not being over
anxious to serve as a lieutenant when I knew I was a commander. I was
also particularly anxious to return to England for many reasons,
the hand of my dear Emily standing at the head of them. I therefore
requested the captain's permission to quit the ship; and as he wished
to give an acting order to one of his own followers, he consented. I
took my leave of all my messmates, and of my captain, who, though an
unfeeling coxcomb and no sailor, certainly had some good points about
him: in fact, his lordship was a gentleman; and had his ship fallen
in with an enemy, she would have been well fought, as he had good
officers, was sufficiently aware of his own incapability, would take
advice, and as a man of undaunted bravery, was not to be surpassed in
On the third day after our arrival, the frigate sailed. I went on
board the slaver, which had no slaves on board except four to assist
in working the vessel; she was in a filthy state, and there was no
inn on shore, and of course no remedy. Port Praya is the only good
anchorage in the island; the old town of St Jago was deserted, in
consequence of there being only an open roadstead before it, very
unsafe for vessels to lie in. The town of Port Praya is a miserable
assemblage of mud huts; the governor's house, and one more, are better
built, but they are not so comfortable as a cottage in England. There
were not ten Portuguese on the island, and above ten thousand blacks,
all originally slaves; and yet every thing was peaceable, although
fresh arrivals of slaves came every day.
It was easy to distinguish the different races: the Yatoffes are tall
men, not very stoutly built; most of them are soldiers. I have seen
ten of them standing together, the lowest not less than six feet two
or three inches. The Foulahs, from the Ashantee country, are another
race, they are powerful and muscular, ill-featured, badly disposed,
and treacherous. The Mandingoes are a smaller race than the others,
but they are well disposed and tractable.
The island of slaves is kept in subjection by slaves only, who are
enrolled as soldiers, miserably equipped; a cap and a jacket was all
they owed to art, nature provided the rest of their uniform. The
governor's orderly alone sported a pair of trousers, and these were on
permanent duty, being transferred from one to the other as their turn
for that service came on.
I paid my respects to the governor, who, although a Portuguese, chose
to follow the fashion of the island, and was as black as most of his
subjects. After a few French compliments, I took my leave. I was
curious to see the old town of St Jago, which had been abandoned; and
after a hot walk of two hours over uncultivated ground, covered with
fine goats, which are the staple of the island, I reached the desolate
It was melancholy to behold: it seemed as if the human race were
extinct. The town was built on a wide ravine running down to the sea;
the houses were of stone, and handsome; the streets regular and paved,
which proves that it had formerly been a place of some importance; but
it is surprising that a spot so barren as this island generally is
should ever have had any mercantile prosperity. Whatever it did enjoy,
I should conceive must have been anterior to the Portuguese having
sailed round the Cape of Good Hope; and the solidity and even elegance
of construction among the buildings justifies the supposition.
The walls were massive, and remained entire; the churches were
numerous, but the roofs of them and the dwelling-houses had mostly
fallen in. Trees had grown to a considerable height in the midst of
the streets, piercing through the pavements and raising the stones
on each side; and the convent gardens were a mere wilderness. The
cocoa-nut tree had thrust its head through many a roof, and its long
stems through the tops of the houses; the banana luxuriated out of
the windows. The only inhabitants of a town capable of containing ten
thousand inhabitants, were a few friars who resided in a miserable
ruin which had once been a beautiful convent. They were the first
negro friars I had ever seen; their cowls were as black as their
faces, and their hair grey and woolly. I concluded they had adopted
this mode of life as being the laziest; but I could not discover by
what means they could gain a livelihood, for there were none to give
them anything in charity.
The appearance of these poor men added infinitely to the necromantic
character of the whole melancholy scene. There was a beauty, a
loveliness, in these venerable ruins, which delighted me. There was a
solemn silence in the town; but there was a small, still voice, that
said to me: "London may one day be the same--and Paris; and you and
your children's children will all have lived and had their loves and
adventures; but who will the wretched man be, that shall sit on the
summit of Primrose Hill, and look down upon the desolation of the
mighty city, as I, from this little eminence, behold the once
flourishing town of St Jago?"
The goats were browsing on the side of the hill, and the little kids
frisking by their dams. "These," thought I, "perhaps are the only food
and nourishment of these poor friars." I walked to Port Praya, and
returned to my floating prison, the slave ship. The officer who was
conducting her home, as a prize, was not a pleasant man; I did not
like him: and nothing passed between us but common civility. He was an
old master's mate, who had probably served his time thrice over; but
having no merit of his own, and no friends to cause that defect to be
overlooked, he had never obtained promotion: he therefore naturally
looked on a young commander with envy. He had only given me a passage
home, from motives which he could not resist; first, because he was
forced to obey the orders of my late captain; and, secondly,
because my purse would supply the cabin with the necessary stock of
refreshments, in the shape of fruit, poultry, and vegetables, which
are to be procured at Port Praya; he was therefore under the necessity
of enduring my company.
The vessel, I found, was not to sail on the following day, as he
intended. I therefore took my gun, at daybreak, and wandered with a
guide up the valleys, in search of the pintados, or Guinea fowl, with
which the island abounds; but they were so shy that I never could get
a shot at them; and I returned over the hills, which my guide assured
me was the shortest way. Tired with my walk, I was not sorry to arrive
at a sheltered valley, where the palmetto and the plantain offer
a friendly shade from the burning sun. The guide, with wonderful
agility, mounted the cocoa-nut tree, and threw down half a dozen nuts.
They were green, and their milk I thought the most refreshing and
delicious draught I had ever taken.
The vesper bells at Port Praya were now summoning the poor black
friars to their devotion; and a stir and bustle appeared among the
little black boys and girls, of whose presence I was till then
ignorant. They ran from the coverts, and assembled near the front of
the only cottage visible to my eye. A tall elderly negro man came out,
and took his seat on a mound of turf a few feet from the cottage; he
was followed by a lad, about twenty years of age, who bore in his
hand a formidable cowskin. For the information of my readers, I must
observe that a cowskin is a large whip, made like a riding whip, out
of the hide of the hippopotamus, or sea-cow, and is proverbial for
the severity of punishment it is capable of inflicting. After the
executioner came, with slow and measured steps, the poor little
culprits, five boys and three girls, who, with most rueful faces,
ranged themselves, rank and file, before the old man.
I soon perceived that the hands were turned up for punishment; but the
nature of the offence I had yet to learn: nor did I know whether any
order had been given to strip. With the boys this would have been
supererogatory, as they were quite naked. The female children had on
cotton chemises, which they slowly and reluctantly rolled up, until
they had gathered them close under their armpits.
The old man then ordered the eldest boy to begin his Pater Noster;
and simultaneously the whipper-in elevated his cowskin by way of
encouragement. The poor boy watched it, out of the corner of his eye,
and then began "Pattery nobstur, qui, qui, qui--(here he received a
most severe lash from the cowskin bearer)--is in silly," roared the
boy, as if the continuation had been expelled from his mouth by the
application of external force in an opposite direction--"sancty
fisheter nom tum, adveny regnum tum, fi notun tas, ta, ti, tu,
terror," roared the poor fellow, as he saw the lash descending on his
"Terror indeed," thought I.
"Pannum nossum quotditty hamminum da nobs holyday, e missy nobs
debitty nossa si cut nos demittimissibus debetenibas nossimus e,
ne, nos hem-duckam in, in, in temptationemum, sed lillibery nos a
ma--ma--" Here a heavy lash brought the very Oh! that was "caret" to
complete the sentence.
My readers are not to suppose that the rest of the class acquitted
themselves with as much ability as their leader, who, compared to
them, was perfectly erudite; the others received a lash for every
word, or nearly so. The boys were first disposed of, in order, I
suppose, that they might have the full benefit of the applicant's
muscles; while the poor girls had the additional pleasure of
witnessing the castigation until their turn came; and that they
were aware of what awaited them was evident, from their previous
arrangement and disposition of dress, at the commencement of the
entertainment. The girls accordingly came up one after another to say
their Ave Maria, as more consonant to their sex; but I could scarcely
contain my rage when the rascally cowskin was applied to them, or my
laughter when, smarting under its lash, they exclaimed, "Benedicta
Mulieribus," applying their little hands with immoderate pressure to
the afflicted part.
I could have found in my heart to have wrested the whip out of the
hands of the young negro, and applied it with all my might to him, and
his old villain of a master, and father of these poor children, as I
soon found he was. My patience was almost gone when the second girl
received a lash for her "Plena Gratia." She screamed, and danced, and
lifted up her poor legs in agony, rubbing herself on her "_west_"
side, as the Philadelphia ladies call it, with as much assiduity as if
it had been one of those cases in which friction is prescribed by the
But the climax was yet to come. A grand stage effect was to be
produced before the falling of the curtain. The youngest girl was so
defective in her lesson, that not one word of it could be extracted
from her, even by the cowskin; nothing but piercing shrieks, enough
to make my heart bleed, could the poor victim utter. Irritated at
the child's want of capacity to repeat by rote what she could not
understand, the old man darted from his seat, and struck her senseless
to the ground.
I could bear no more. My first impulse was to wrest the cowskin from
the negro's hand, and revenge the poor bleeding child as she lay
motionless on the ground; but a moment's reflection convinced me that
such a step would only have brought down a double weight of punishment
on the victims when I was gone; so, catching up my hat, I turned away
with disgust, and walked slowly towards the town and bay of Port
Praya, reflecting as I went along what pleasant ideas the poor
creatures must entertain of religion, when the name of God and of the
cowskin were invariably associated in their minds. I began to parody
one of Watts's hymns--
"Lord! how delightful 'tis to see
A whole assembly worship thee."
The indignation I felt against this barbarous and ignorant negro was
not unmingled with some painful recollections of my own younger days,
when, in a Christian and protestant country, the bible and prayer-book
had been made objects of terror to my mind; tasks, greater than
my capacity could compass, and floggings in proportion were not
calculated to forward the cause of religious instruction in the mind
of an obstinate boy.
Reaching the water-side, I embarked on board of my slaver; and the
next day sailed for England. We had a favourable passage until we
reached the chops of the channel, when a gale of wind from the
north-east caught us, and drove us down so far to the southward that
the prize master found himself under the necessity of putting into
Bordeaux to refit, and to replenish his water.
I was not sorry for this, as I was tired of the company of this
officer, who was both illiterate and ill-natured, neither a sailor nor
a gentleman. Like many others in the service, who are most loud in
their complaints for want of promotion, I considered that even in his
present rank he was what we called a _king's hard bargain_--that is,
not worth his salt; and promoting men of his stamp would only have
been picking the pocket of the country. As soon, therefore, as we
had anchored in the Gironde, off the city of Bordeaux, and had been
visited by the proper authorities, I quitted the vessel and her
captain, and went on shore.
Taking up my abode at the Hotel d'Angleterre, my first care was to
order a good dinner; and having despatched that, and a bottle of Vin
de Beaune (which, by the by, I strongly recommend to all travellers,
if they can get it, for I am no bad judge), I asked my _valet de
place_ how I was to dispose of myself for the remainder of the
"_Mais, monsieur_," said he, "_il faut aller au spectacle_?"
"_Allons_," said I, and in a few minutes I was seated in the stage-box
of the handsomest theatre in the world.
What strange events--what unexpected meetings and sudden separations
are sailors liable to--what sudden transitions from grief to joy, from
joy to grief, from want to affluence, from affluence to want! All
this the history of my life, for the last six months, will fully
You will proceed in pleasure and in pride,
Beloved, and loving many; all is o'er
For me on earth, except some years to hide
My shame and sorrow deep in my heart's core.
I paid little attention to the performance; for the moment I came to
the house, my eyes were rivetted on an object from which I found it
impossible to remove them. "It is," said I, "and yet it cannot be; and
yet why should it not?" A young lady sat in one of the boxes; she was
elegantly attired, and seemed to occupy the united attentions of many
Frenchmen, who eagerly caught her smiles.
"Either that is Eugenia," thought I, "or I have fallen asleep in the
ruins of St Jago, and am dreaming of her. That is Eugenia, or I am
not Frank. It is her, or it is her ghost." Still I had not that moral
certainty of the identity, as to enable me to go at once to her, and
address her. Indeed, had I been certain, all things considered, the
situation we were in would have rendered such a step highly improper.
"If that be Eugenia," thought I, again, "she has improved both in
manner and person. She has a becoming _embonpoint_, and an air _de bon
societe_ which, when we parted, she had not."
The more intensely I gazed, the more convinced was I that I was right;
the immovable devotion of my eyes attracted the attention of a French
officer, who sat near me.
"_C'est une jolie femme, n'est-ce pas, monsieur_?"
"_Vraiment_" said I. "Do you know her name?"
"_Elle s'appelle Madame de Rosenberg_."
"Then I am wrong, after all," said I to myself. "Has she a husband,
"_Pardonnez-moi, elle est veuve, mais elle a un petit garcon de cinq
ans, beau comme un ange_."
"That is her," said I again, reviving. "Is she a Frenchwoman?"
"_Du tout, Monsieur, elle est une de vos compatriottes; c'est un fort
She had only been three months at Bordeaux, and had refused many very
good offers in marriage. Such was the information I obtained from my
obliging neighbour; and I was now convinced that Madame de Rosenberg
could be no other than Eugenia. Every endeavour to catch her eye
proved abortive. My only hope was to follow the carriage.
When the play was over, I waited with an impatience like that of a
spirited hunter who hears the hounds. At last, the infernal squalling
of the vocalists ceased, but not before I had devoutly wished that
all the wax candles in the house were down their throats and burning
there. I saw one of the gentlemen in the box placing the shawl over
her shoulders, with the most careful attention, while the bystanders
seemed ready to tear him in pieces, from envy. I hurried to the door,
and saw her handed into her carriage, which drove off at a great pace.
I ran after it, jumped up behind, and took my station by the side of
"_Descendez donc, Monsieur_," said the man.
"I'll be d----d if I do," said I.
"_Comment donc_?" said the man.
"_Tais-toi bete_" said I, "_ou je te brulerai la cervelle_."
"_Vous f----e_," said the man, who behaved very well, and instantly
began to remove me, _vi et armis_; but I planted a stomacher in his
fifth button, which I knew would put him _hors de combat_ for a few
minutes, and by that time, at the rate the carriage was driving, my
purpose would have been answered. The fellow lost his breath--could
not hold on or speak--so tumbled off and lay in the middle of the
As he fell on dry ground and was not an English sailor, I did not jump
after him, but left him to his own ease, and we saw no more of him,
for we were going ten knots, while he lay becalmed without a breath of
wind. This was one of the most successful acts of usurpation recorded
in modern history. It has its parallels, I know; but I cannot now stop
to comment on them, or on my own folly and precipitation. I was as
firmly fixed behind the carriage, as Bonaparte was on the throne of
France after the battle of Eylau.
We stopped at a large _porte cochere_, being the entrance to a very
grand house, with lamps at the door, within a spacious court yard;
we drove in and drew up. I was down in a moment, opened the carriage
door, and let down the steps. The lady descended, laid her hand on my
arm without perceiving that she had changed her footman, and tripped
lightly up the stairs. I followed her into a handsome saloon, where
another servant in livery had placed lights on the table. She turned
round, saw me, and fainted in my arms.
It was, indeed, Eugenia, herself; and with all due respect to my
dear Emily, I borrowed a thousand kisses while she lay in a state of
torpor, in a fauteuil to which I carried her. It was some few minutes
before she opened her eyes; the man-servant, who had brought the
lights, very properly never quitted the room, but was perfectly
respectful in his manner, rightly conceiving that I had some authority
for my proceedings.
"My dearest Frank," said Eugenia, "what an unexpected meeting! What,
in the name of fortune, could have brought you here?"
"That," said I, "is a story too long, Eugenia, for a moment so
interesting as this. I also might ask you the same question; but it is
now one o'clock in the morning, and, therefore, too late to begin with
inquiry. This one question, however, I must ask--are you a mother?"
"I am," said Eugenia, "of the most lovely boy that ever blessed the
eyes of a parent; he is now in perfect health and fast asleep--come
to-morrow, at ten o'clock, and you shall see him."
"To-morrow," said I, with surprise, "to-morrow, Eugenia? why am I to
quit your house?"
"That also you shall know, to-morrow," said she; "but now you must do
as you are desired. To-morrow, I will be at home to no one but you."
Knowing Eugenia as I did, it was sufficient that she had decided.
There was no appeal; so, kissing her again, I wished her a good night,
quitted her, and retired to my hotel. What a night of tumult did I
pass! I was tossed from Emily to Eugenia, like a shuttlecock between
two battledores. The latter never looked so lovely; and to the natural
loveliness of her person, was added a grace and a polish, which gave
a lustre to her charms, which almost served Emily as I had served the
footman. I never once closed my eyes during the night--dressed early
the next morning, walked about, looked at Chateau Trompette and the
Roman ruins--thought the hour of ten would never strike, and when it
did, I struck the same moment at her door.
The man who opened it to me was the same whom I had treated so ill the
night before; the moment he saw me, he put himself into an attitude at
once of attack, defence, remonstrance, and revenge, all connected with
the affair of the preceding evening.
"_Ah, ah, vous voila donc! ce n'etoit pas bienfait, Monsieur_."
"_Oui_," said I, "_tres nettement fait, et voila encore_," slipping a
Napoleon into his hand.
"_Ca s'arrange tres-joliment, Monsieur_," said the man, grinning from
ear to ear, and bowing to the ground.
"_C'est Madame, que vous voulez donc_?"
"_Oui_," said I.
He led, I followed; he opened the door of a breakfast
parlour--"_tenez, Madame, voici le Monsieur que m'a renverse hier au
Eugenia was seated on a sofa, with her boy by her side, the loveliest
little fellow I had ever beheld. His face was one often described,
but rarely seen; it was shaded with dark curling ringlets, his mouth,
eyes, and complexion had much of his mother, and, vanity whispered me,
much more of myself. I took a seat on the sofa, and with the boy on my
knee, and Eugenia by my side, held her hand, while she narrated the
events of her life since the time of our separation.
"A few days," said she, "after your departure for the Flushing
expedition, I read in the public prints, that 'if the nearest relation
of my mother would call at ----, in London, they would hear of
something to their advantage.' I wrote to the agent, from whom I
learned, after proving my identity, that the two sisters of my mother,
who, you may remember, had like sums left them by the will of their
relative, had continued to live in a state of single blessedness;
that, about four years previous, one of them had died, leaving every
thing to the other, and that the other had died only two months
before, bequeathing all her property to my mother, or her next heir;
or, in default of that, to some distant relation. I, therefore,
immediately came into a fortune of ten thousand pounds, with interest;
and I was further informed that a great-uncle of mine was still
living, without heirs, and was most anxious that my mother or her
heirs should be discovered. An invitation was therefore sent to me to
go down to him, and to make his house my future residence.
"At that time, the effects of my indiscretion were but too apparent,
and rendered, as I thought, deception justifiable. I put on widow's
weeds, and gave out that my husband was a young officer, who had
fallen a victim to the fatal Walcheren fever; that our marriage had
been clandestine, and unknown to any of his friends: such was my story
and appearance before the agent, who believed me. The same fabrication
was put upon my grand-uncle, with equal success. I was received into
his house with parental affection; and in that house I gave birth to
the dear child you now hold in your arms--to your child, my Frank--to
the only child I shall ever have. Yes, dear Eugenio," continued she,
pressing her rosy lips on the broad white neck of the child, "you
shall be my only care, my solace, my comfort, and my joy. Heaven,
in its mercy, sent the cherub to console its wretched mother in the
double pangs of guilt and separation from all she loved; and Heaven
shall be repaid, by my return to its slighted, its insulted laws. I
feel that my sin is forgiven; for I have besought forgiveness night
and day, with bitter tears, and Heaven has heard my prayer. 'Go, and
sin no more,' was said to me; and upon these terms I have received
"You will no doubt ask, why did I not let you know all this? and why I
so carefully secreted myself from you? My reasons were founded on the
known impetuosity of your character. You, my beloved, who could brave
death, and all the military consequences of desertion from a ship
lying at Spithead, were not likely to listen to the suggestions of
prudence when Eugenia was to be found; and, having once given out that
I was a widow, I resolved to preserve the consistency of my character
for my own sake--for your sake, and for the sake of this blessed
child, the only drop that has sweetened my cup of affliction. Had you
by any means discovered my place of abode, the peace of my uncle's
house, and the prospects of my child had been for ever blasted.
"Now then say, Frank, have I, or have I not, acted the part of a Roman
mother? My grand-uncle having declared his intention of making me heir
to his property, for his sake, and yours, and for my child, I have
preserved the strict line of duty, from which God, in his infinite
mercy, grant that I may never depart.
"I first resolved upon not seeing you until I could be more my own
mistress; and when, at the death of my respected relative, I was not
only released from any restraint on account of his feelings, but
also became still more independent in my circumstances, you might
be surprised that I did not immediately impart to you the change of
fortune which would have enabled us to have enjoyed the comfort of
unrestricted communication. But time, reflection, the conversation and
society of my uncle and his select friends, the care of my infant, and
the reading of many excellent books had wrought a great change in my
sentiments. Having once tasted the pleasures of society among virtuous
women, I vowed to Heaven that no future act of mine should ever drive
me from it. The past could not be recalled; but the future was my own.
"I took the sacrament after a long and serious course of reading;
and, having made my vows at the altar, with the help of God, they are
unchangeable. Dramatic works, the pernicious study and poison of my
youthful ardent mind, I have long since discarded; and I had resolved
never to see you again, until after your marriage with Miss Somerville
had been solemnised. Start not! By the simplest and easiest means
I have known all your movements--your dangers, your escapes, your
undaunted acts of bravery and self-devotion for the sake of others.
"'Shall I then,' said I to myself, 'blast the prospects of the man
I love--the father of my boy? Shall I, to gratify the poor, pitiful
ambition of becoming the wife of him, to whom I once was the mistress,
sacrifice thus the hopes and fortune of himself and family, the reward
of a virtuous maiden?' In all this I hope you will perceive a proper
share of self-denial. Many, many floods of bitter tears of repentance
and regret have I shed over my past conduct; and I trust, that what
I have suffered and what I shall suffer, will be received as my
atonement at the Throne of Grace. True, I once looked forward to the
happy period of our union, when I might have offered myself to you,
not as a portionless bride; but I was checked by one maddening,
burning, inextingishable thought. I could not be received into that
society to which you were entitled. I felt that I loved you, Frank;
loved you too well to betray you. The woman that had so little respect
for herself, was unfit to be the wife of Francis Mildmay.
"Besides, how could I do my sweet boy the injustice to allow him to
have brothers and sisters possessing legitimate advantages over him?
I felt that our union never could be one of happiness, even if you
consented to take me as your wife, of which I had my doubts; and when
I discovered, through my emissaries, that you were on the point of
marriage with Miss Somerville, I felt that it was all for the best;
that I had no right to complain; the more so as it was I who (I blush
to say it) had seduced you.
"But, Frank, if I cannot be your wife--and alas! I know too well that
that is impossible--will you allow me to be your friend, your dear
friend, as the mother of your child, or, if you please, as your
sister? But there the sacred line is drawn; it is a compact between
my God and myself. You know my firmness and decision; once maturely
deliberated, my resolution formed, it is not, I think, in man to turn
me. Do not, therefore, make the attempt; it will only end in your
certain defeat and shame, and in my withdrawing from your sight for
ever. You will not, I am sure, pay me so bad a compliment as to wish
me to renew the follies of my youth. If you love me, respect me;
promise, by the love you bear to Miss Somerville, and your affection
for this poor boy, that you will do as I wish you. Your honour and
peace of mind, as well as mine, demand it."
This severe rebuke, from a quarter, whence I least expected it, threw
me back with shame and confusion. As if a mirror had been held up
to me, I saw my own deformity. I saw that Eugenia was not only the
guardian of her own honour, but of mine, and of the happiness of Miss
Somerville, against whom I now stood convicted of foul deceit and
shameful wrong. I acknowledged my fault, I assured Eugenia that I was
bound to her, by every tie of honour, esteem, and love; and that her
boy and mine should be our mutual care.
"Thank you, dearest," said she: "you have taken a heavy load from my
mind: henceforth remember we are brother and sister. I shall now be
able to enjoy the pleasure of your society; and now, as that point is
settled, let me know what has occurred to you since we parted--the
particulars I mean, for the outline I have had before."
I related to her everything which had happened to me, from the hour of
our separation to the moment I saw her so unexpectedly in the theatre.
She was alternately affected with terror, surprise, and laughter. She
took a hearty crying spell over the motionless bodies of Clara and
Emily, as they lay on the floor; but recovered from that, and went
into hysterics of laughter, when I described the footman's mistake,
and the slap on the face bestowed on him by the housemaid.
My mind was not naturally corrupt. It was only so at times, and from
peculiar circumstances; but I was always generous, and easily recalled
to a sense of my duty, when reminded of my fault. Not for an empire
would I have persuaded Eugenia to break her vow. I loved and respected
the mother of my child; the more when I reflected that she had been
the means of preserving my fidelity to Emily. I rejoiced to think
that my friendship for the one, and love for the other, were not
incompatible. I wrote immediately to Emily, announcing my speedy
return to England.
"Having the most perfect reliance on your honour, I shall now," said
Eugenia, "accept of your escort to London, where my presence is
required. Pierre shall accompany us--he is a faithful creature, though
you used him so ill."
"That," said I, "is all made up, and Pierre will be heartily glad of
another tumble for the same price."
All our arrangements were speedily made. The house was given up--a
roomy travelling barouche received all our trunks; and, seated by the
side of Eugenia, with the child between us, we crossed the Gironde,
and took our way through Poictiers, Tours, and Orleans, to Paris; here
we remained but a short time. Neither of us were pleased with the
manners and habits of the French; but as they have been so fully
described by the swarms of English travellers who have infested
that country with their presence, and this with the fruits of their
labours, I shall pass as quietly through France, as I hope to do
through the Thames Tunnel, when it is completed, but not before.
Eugenia consulted me as to her future residence; and here I own
I committed a great error, but, I declare to Heaven, without any
criminal intention. I ventured to suggest that she should live in a
very pretty village a few miles from ---- Hall, the residence of Mr
Somerville, and where, after my marriage, it was intended that I
should continue to reside with Emily. To this village, then, I
directed her to go, assuring her that I should often ride over and
"Much as I should enjoy your company, Frank," said Eugenia, "this is
a measure fraught with evil to all parties; nor is it fair dealing
towards your future wife."
Unhappily for me, that turn for duplicity, which I had imbibed in
early life, had not forsaken me, notwithstanding the warnings I had
received, and the promises of amendment which I had made. Flattering
myself that I intended no harm, I overruled all the scruples of
the excellent Eugenia. She despatched a confidential person to the
village; on the outskirts of which, he procured for her a commodious,
and even elegant cottage ornee ready furnished. She went down with her
child and Pierre to take possession; and I to my father's house, where
my appearance was hailed as a signal for a grand jubilee.
Clara I found had entirely changed her unfavourable opinion of sea
officers, induced thereto by the engaging manners of my friend Talbot,
on whom I was delighted to learn she was about to bestow her very
pretty little white hand at the altar. This was a great triumph to the
navy, for I always told Clara, laughingly, that I never would forgive
her if she quitted the service; and as I entertained the highest
respect for Talbot, I considered the prospects of my sister were very
bright and flattering, and that she had made a choice very likely to
secure her happiness. "Rule Britannia," said I to Clara; "Blue for
The next morning I started for Mr Somerville's, where I was of course
received with open arms; and the party, a few days after, having been
increased by the arrival of my father with Clara and Talbot, I was as
happy as a human being could be. Six weeks was the period assigned by
my fair one as the very shortest in which she could get rigged, bend
new sails, and prepare for the long and sometimes tedious voyage of
matrimony. I remonstrated at the unconscionable delay.
"Long as it may appear," she said, "it is much less time than you took
to fit out your fine frigate for North America."
"That frigate was not got ready even then by any hurry of mine," said
I; "and if ever I come to be first lord of the Admiralty, I shall
have a bright eye on the young lieutenants and their sweethearts
at Blackheath, particularly when a ship is fitting in a hurry at
Much of this kind of sparring went on, to the great amusement of all
parties; meanwhile, the ladies employed themselves in running up
milliner's bills, and their papas employed themselves in discharging
them. My father was particularly liberal to Emily in the articles of
plate and jewellery, and Mr Somerville equally kind to Clara. Emily
received a trinket box, so beautifully fitted and so well filled, that
it required a cheque of no trifling magnitude to cry quits with the
jeweller; indeed my father's kindness was so great, that I was forced
to beg he would set some bounds to his liberality.
I was so busy and so happy, that I had let three weeks pass over my
head without seeing Eugenia. I dreamed of her at last, and thought she
upbraided me; and the next day, full of my dream, as soon as breakfast
was over, I recommended the young ladies to the care of Talbot, and,
mounting my horse, rode over to see Eugenia. She received me kindly,
but she had suffered in her health, and was much out of spirits. I
inquired the reason, and she burst into tears. "I shall be better,
Frank," said she, "when all is over, but I must suffer now; and I
suffer the more acutely from a conviction that I am only paying
the penalty of my own crime. Perhaps," continued she, "had I never
departed from virtue, I might at this moment have held in your heart
the envied place of Miss Somerville; but as the righteous decrees of
Providence having provided punishment to tread fast in the footsteps
of guilt, I am now expiating my faults, and I have a presentiment that
although the struggle is bitter, it will soon be over. God's will be
done; and may you, my dear Frank, have many, many happy years in the
society of one you are bound to love before the unhappy Eugenia."
Here she sank on a sofa, and again wept bitterly.
"I feel," said she, "now, but it is too late--I feel that I have acted
wrongly in quitting Bordeaux. There I was loved and respected; and
if not happy, at least I was composed. Too much dependence on my
resolution, and the vanity of supposing myself superior in magnanimity
to the rest of my sex, induced me to trust myself in your society.
Dearly, alas! have I paid for it. My only chance of victory over
myself was flight from you, after I had given the irrevocable
sentence; by not doing so, the poison has again found its way to my
heart. I feel that I love you; that I cannot have you; and that death,
very shortly, must terminate my intolerable sufferings."
This affecting address pierced me to the soul; and now the
consequences of my guilt and duplicity rushed upon me like a torrent
through a bursting flood-gate. I would have resigned Emily, I would
have fled with Eugenia to some distant country, and buried our sorrows
in each other's bosoms; and, in a state of irrepressible emotion, I
proposed this step to her.
"What do I hear, my beloved?" said she (starting up with horror from
the couch on which she was sitting, with her face between her knees),
"what! is it you that would resign home, friends, character, the
possession of a virtuous woman, all, for the polluted smiles of an ----"
"Hold! hold! my Eugenia," said I; "do not, I beseech you, shock my
ears with an epithet which you do not deserve! Mine, mine, is all the
guilt; forget me, and you will still be happy."
She looked at me, then at her sweet boy, who was playing on the
carpet--but she made no answer; and then a flood of tears succeeded.
It was, indeed, a case of singular calamity for a beautiful young
creature to be placed in. She was only in her three-and-twentieth
year--and, lovely as she was, nature had scarcely had time to finish
the picture. The regrets which subdued my mind on that fatal morning
may only be conceived by those who, like me, have led a licentious
life--have, for a time, buried all moral and religious feeling, and
have been suddenly called to a full sense of their guilt, and the
misery they have entailed on the innocent. I sat down and groaned. I
cannot say I wept, for I could not weep; but my forehead burned, and
my heart was full of bitterness.
While I thus meditated, Eugenia sat with her hand on her forehead, in
a musing attitude. Had she been reverting to her former studies, and
thrown herself into the finest conceivable posture of the tragic muse,
her appearance would not have been half so beautiful and affecting.
I thought she was praying, and I think so still. The tears ran in
silence down her face; I kissed them off, and almost forgot Emily.
"I am better now, Frank," said the poor, sorrowful woman; "do not come
again until after the wedding. When will it take place?" she inquired,
with a trembling and a faltering voice.
My heart almost burst within me, as I told her, for I felt as if I
was signing a warrant for her execution. I took her in my arms, and,
tenderly embracing her, endeavoured to divert her thoughts from the
mournful fate that too evidently hung over her; she became tranquil,
and I proposed taking a stroll in the adjoining park. I thought the
fresh air would revive her.
She agreed to this; and, going to her room, returned in a few minutes.
To her natural beauty was added on that fatal day a morning dress,
which more than any other became her; it was white, richly trimmed,
and fashionably made up by a celebrated French milliner. Her bonnet
was white muslin, trimmed with light blue ribbons, and a sash of the
same colour confined her slender waist. The little Eugenio ran before
us, now at my side, and now at his mother's. We rambled about for some
time, the burthen of our conversation being the future plans and mode
of education to be adopted for the child; this was a subject on which
she always dwelt with peculiar pleasure.
Tired with our walk, we sat down under a clump of beech trees, near
a grassy ascent, winding among the thick foliage, contrived by the
opulent owner to extend and diversify the rides in his noble domain.
Eugenio was playing around us, picking the wild flowers, and running
up to me to inquire their names.
The boy was close by my side, when, startled at a noise, he turned
round and exclaimed--
"Oh! look, mamma, look, papa, there is a lady and a gentleman
I turned round, and saw Mr Somerville and Emily on horseback, within
six paces of me; so still they stood, so mute, I could have fancied
Emily a wax-work figure. They neither breathed nor moved; even their
very horses seemed to be of bronze, or, perhaps the unfortunate
situation in which I found myself made me think them so. They had come
as unexpectedly on us as we had discovered them. The soft turf had
received the impression of their horses' feet, and returned no sound;
and if they snorted, we had either not attended to them in the warmth
of our conversation, or we had never heard them.
I rose up hastily--coloured deeply--stammered, and was about to speak.
Perhaps it was better that I did not; but I had no opportunity. Like
apparitions they came, and like apparitions they vanished. The avenue
from whence they had so silently issued, received them again, and they
were gone before Eugenia was sensible of their presence.
Fare thee well; and if for ever--
Still for ever fare thee well:
Even though unforgiving, never
'Gainst thee shall my heart rebel.
I was so stunned with this _contretemps_, that I fell senseless to the
ground; and it was long before the kind attentions and assiduity of
Eugenia could restore me. When she had succeeded, my first act was one
of base ingratitude, cruelty, and injustice: I spurned her from me,
and upbraided her as the cause of my unfortunate situation. She only
replied with tears. I quitted her and the child without bidding them
adieu, little thinking I should never see them again. I ran to the
inn, where I had left my horse, mounted, and rode back to ---- Hall.
Mr Somerville and his daughter had just arrived, and Emily was lifted
off her horse, and obliged to be carried up to her room.
Clara and Talbot came to enquire what had happened. I could give
no account of it; but earnestly requested to see Emily. The answer
returned was that Miss Somerville declined seeing me. In the course of
this day, which, in point of mental suffering, exceeded all I had
ever endured in the utmost severity of professional hardship, an
explanation had taken place between myself, my father, and Mr
Somerville. I had done that by the impulse of dire necessity which I
ought to have done at first of my own free will. I was caught at last
in my own snare. "The trains of the devil are long," said I to myself,
"but they are sure to blow up at last."
The consequence of the explanation was my final dismissal, and a
return of all the presents which my father and myself had given to
Emily. My conduct, though blamable, was not viewed in that heinous
light, either by my father or Mr Somerville; and both of them did all
that could be done to restore harmony. Clara and Talbot interposed
their kind offices, but with no better success. The maiden pride of
the inexorable Emily had been alarmed by a beautiful rival, with a
young family, in the next village. The impression had taken hold of
her spotless mind, and could not be removed. I was false, fickle, and
deceitful, and was given to understand that Miss Somerville did not
intend to quit her room until she was assured by her father that I was
no longer a guest in the house.
Under these painful circumstances, our remaining any longer at the
Hall was both useless and irksome--a source of misery to all.
My father ordered his horses the next morning, and I was carried back
to London, more dead than alive. A burning fever raged in my blood;
and the moment I reached my father's house, I was put to bed, and
placed under the care of a physician, with nurses to watch me night
and day. For three weeks I was in a state of delirium; and when I
regained my senses, it was only to renew the anguish which had
caused my disorder, and I felt any sentiment except gratitude for my
My dear Clara had never quitted me during my confinement. I had taken
no medicine but from her hand. I asked her to give me some account of
what had happened. She told me that Talbot was gone--that my father
had seen Mr Somerville, who had informed him that Emily had received
a long letter from Eugenia, narrating every circumstance, exculpating
me, and accusing herself. Emily had wept over it, but still remained
firm in her resolution never to see me more--"And I am afraid, my dear
brother," said Clara, "that her resolution will not be very easily
altered. You know her character, and you should know something about
our sex; but sailors, they say, go round the world without going into
it. This is the only shadow of an excuse I can form for you, much as I
love and esteem you. You have hurt Emily in the nicest point, that in
which we are all the most susceptible of injury. You have wounded her
pride, which our sex rarely, if ever, forgive. At the very moment she
supposed you were devoted to her--that you were wrapped up in the
anticipation of calling her your own, and counting the minutes with
impatience until the happy day arrived; with all this persuasion
on her mind, she comes upon you, as the traveller out of the wood
suddenly comes upon the poisonous snake in his path, and cannot avoid
it. She found you locked hand-in-hand with another, a fortnight before
marriage, and with the fruits of unlawful love in your arms. What
woman could forgive this? I would not, I assure you. If Tal---, I mean
if any man were to serve me so, I would tear him from my heart,
even if the dissolution of the whole frame was to be the certain
consequence. I consider it a kindness to tell you, Frank, that you
have no hope. Much as you have and will suffer, she, poor girl, will
suffer more; and, although she will never accept you, she will not let
your place be supplied by another, but sink, broken-hearted, into her
grave. You, like all other men, will forget this; but what a warning
ought it to be to you, that, sooner or later, guilt will be productive
of misery! This you have fully proved: your licentious conduct with
this woman has ruined her peace for ever, and Divine vengeance has
dashed from your lips the cup which contained as much happiness as
this world could afford: nor has the penalty fallen on you alone--the
innocent, who had no share in the crime, are partakers in the
punishment; we are all as miserable as yourself. But God's will be
done," continued she, as she kissed my aching forehead, and her tears
fell on my face.
How heavenly is the love of a sister towards a brother! Clara was now
everything to me. Having said thus much to me on the subject of my
fault (and it must be confessed that she had not been niggardly in the
article of words), she never named the subject again, but sought by
every means in her power to amuse and to comfort me. She listened
to my exculpation; she admitted that our meeting at Bordeaux was as
unpremeditated as it was unfortunate; she condemned the imprudence of
our travelling together, and still more the choice of a residence for
Eugenia and her son.
Clara's affectionate attention and kind efforts were unavailing. I
told her so, and that all hopes of happiness for me in this world were
gone for ever.
"My dear, dear brother," said the affectionate girl, "answer me one
question. Did you ever pray?"
My answer will pretty well explain to the reader the sort of religion
"Why, Clara," said I, "to tell you the truth, though I may not exactly
pray, as you call it, yet words are nothing. I feel grateful to the
Almighty for his favours when he bestows them on me; and I believe a
grateful heart is all he requires."
"Then, brother, how do you feel when he afflicts you?"
"That I have nothing to thank him for," answered I.
"Then, my dear Frank, that is not religion."
"May be so," said I; "but I am in no humour to feel otherwise, at
present, so pray drop the subject."
She burst into tears. "This," said she, "is worse than all. Shall
we receive good from the hand of the Lord, and shall we not receive
But seeing that I was in that sullen and untameable state of mind, she
did not venture to renew the subject.
As soon as I was able to quit my room, I had a long conversation with
my father, who, though deeply concerned for my happiness, said he was
quite certain that any attempt at reconciliation would be useless. He
therefore proposed two plans, and I might adopt whichever was the most
likely to divert my mind from my heavy affliction. The first was, to
ask his friends at the Admiralty to give me the command of a sloop
of war; the second, that I should go upon the continent, and, having
passed a year there, return to England, when there was no knowing what
change of sentiment time and absence might not produce in my favour.
"For," said he, "there is one very remarkable difference in the heart
of a man and of a woman. In the first, absence is very often a cure
for love. In the other, it more frequently cements and consolidates
it. In your absence, Emily will dwell on the bright parts of your
character, and forget its blemishes. The experiment is worth making,
and it is the only way which offers a chance of success."
I agreed to this. "But," said I, "as the war with France is now over,
and that with America will be terminated no doubt very shortly, I
have no wish to put you to the expense, or myself to the trouble, of
fitting out a sloop of war in time of peace, to be a pleasure-yacht
for great lords and ladies, and myself to be neither more or less than
a _maitre d'hotel_: and, after having spent your money and mine, and
exhausted all my civilities, to receive no thanks, and hear that I
am esteemed at Almack's only 'a tolerable sea brute enough.' A
ship, therefore," continued I, "I will not have; and as I think the
continent holds out some novelty at least, I will, with your consent,
This point being settled, I told Clara of it. The poor girl's grief
was immoderate. "My dearest brother, I shall lose you, and be left
alone in the world. Your impetuous and unruly heart is not in a state
to be trusted among the gay and frivolous French. You will be at sea
without your compass--you have thrown religion overboard--and what is