Part 7 out of 8
The stranger was then under the smartest canvass a frigate can carry;
reefs in her top-sails, with the courses set. Her sail could be shortened
in an instant, yet she was under a press of it; more than an ordinary
vessel would presume to carry, perhaps, in so strong a breeze.
Notwithstanding the great jeopardy from which we had just escaped, and the
imminent hazard so lately run, all three of us watched the movements of
the frigate with as much satisfaction as a connoisseur would examine a
fine painting. Even Neb let several nigger expressions of pleasure
By the time sail could be shortened and the ship hauled close on a wind,
the frigate was nearer half than a quarter of a mile off. We had to wait,
therefore, until she could beat up to the place where we lay. This she
soon did, making one stretch to the southward, until in a line with the
boat, when she tacked, and came toward us, with her yards braced up, but
having the wind nearly abeam. As she got within a cable's-length, both
courses were hauled up and left hanging in the brails. Then the noble
craft came rolling by us, in the trough, passing so near that we might be
spoken. The old officer stood in the weather gangway, with a trumpet, and
he hailed, when near enough to be heard. Instead of asking questions, to
satisfy his own curiosity, he merely communicated his own intentions.
"I'll heave-to, when past you," he cried out, "waring ship to do so. You
can then drop down under my stern, as close as possible, and we'll throw
you a rope."
I understood the plan, which was considerate, having a regard to the
feebleness of our boat's crew, and the weight of the boat itself.
Accordingly, when she had room enough, the frigate wore, hauling up close
on the other tack, and laying her main-yard square. As soon as the ship
was stationary, Neb cast off the hawser, and Marble and he manned two
oars. We got the boat round without much risk, and, in less time than it
takes to write it, were sending down towards the ship at a furious rate. I
steered, and passed so near the frigate's rudder, that I thought, for an
instant, I had gone too close. A rope was hove as we cleared the
lee-quarter of the frigate, and the people on board hauled us alongside.
We caught the man-ropes, and were soon on the quarter-deck. A
respectable-looking elderly man, of a square, compact frame, and a fine
ruddy English face, in a post-captain's undress, received me, with an
extended hand, and a frank, generous, hearty manner.
"You are welcome on board the Briton," he said, warmly; "and I thank God
that he has put it in our power to relieve you. Your ship must have been
lost quite recently, as you do not seem to have suffered. When you feel
equal to it, I should like to hear the name of your vessel, and the
particulars of her disaster. I suppose it was in the late blow, which was
a whacker, and did lots of mischief along the coast. I see you are
Americans, and that your boat is New York built; but all men in distress
This was a hearty reception, and one I had every reason to extol. So long
as I stayed with Captain Rowley, as this officer was named, I had no
reason to complain of any change in his deportment. Had I been his son, he
could not have treated me more kindly, taking me into his own cabin, and
giving me a seat at his own table. I gave him an outline of what had
happened to us, not deeming it necessary to relate the affair with the
Speedy, however; simply mentioning the manner in which we had escaped from
a French privateer, and leaving him to infer, should he see fit, that the
rest of our crew had been carried away on that occasion. My reserve on the
subject of the other capture, the reader will at once see, was merely a
necessary piece of prudent caution.
Captain Rowley had no sooner heard my story, which I made as short as
possible, knowing that Marble and Neb had been cautioned on the subject,
than he again took my hand, and welcomed me to his ship. The mate was sent
into the gun-room, and recommended to the hospitality of the lieutenants;
while Neb was placed in the care of the cabin servants. A short
consultation was then held about the boat, which it was decided must be
sent adrift, after its effects were passed out of it; the Briton having no
use for such a launch, nor any place to stow it. I stood at the gangway,
and looked with a melancholy eye at this last remnant of the Dawn that I
ever beheld: a large eighty thousand dollars of my property vanishing from
the earth, in the loss of that ship and her cargo.
Some shout at victory's loud acclaim,
Some fall that victory to assure,
But time divulges that in name,
Alone, our triumphs are secure.
The Briton had come out of the Cove of Cork, only a few days before, and
was bound on service, with orders to run off to the westward, a few
hundred miles, and to cruise three months in a latitude that might cover
the homeward-bound running ships, from the American provinces, of which
there were many in that early period of the war. This was not agreeable
news to us, who had hoped to be landed somewhere immediately, and who had
thought, at first, on seeing the ship carrying a press of sail to the
westward that she might be going to Halifax. There was no remedy, however,
and we were fain to make the best of circumstances. Captain Rowley
promised to put us on board the first vessel that offered, and that was as
much as we had a right, to ask of him.
More than two months passed without the Briton's speaking, or even seeing
a single sail! To these vicissitudes is the seaman subject; at one time he
is in the midst of craft, at another the ocean seems deserted to himself
alone. Captain Rowley ascribed this want of success to the fact that the
war was inducing the running ships to collect in convoys, and that his
orders carried him too far north to permit his falling in with the
Americans, bound to and from Liverpool. Whatever may have been the reason,
however, the result was the same to us. After the gale of the equinox, the
Briton stood to the southward, as far as Madeira, such a change of ground
being included in her instructions; and thence, after cruising three weeks
in the neighbourhood of that island, she shaped her course for Plymouth.
In the whole, the frigate had, at that time, brought-to and boarded some
thirty sail, all of whom were neutrals, and not one of whom was bound to a
port that would do us any good. The ship's water getting low, we were now
compelled to go in, and, as has been said, we made sail to the northward.
The afternoon of the very day the Briton left her second cruising ground,
a strange ship was seen directly on our course, which was pronounced to be
a frigate, before the sun set.
The Briton manoeuvred all night to close with the stranger, and with
success, as he was only a league distant, and a very little to windward of
her, when I went on deck early the next morning. I found the ship clear
for action, and a degree of animation pervading the vessel, that I had
never before witnessed. The people were piped to breakfast just as I
approached the captain to salute him with a 'good morning.'
"Good morning to you, Wallingford," cried the old man, in a cheerful way;
"you are just in time to take a look at yonder Frenchman in his glory. Two
hours hence I hope he'll not appear quite as much of a beau as he is a'
this moment. She's a noble craft, is she not, and quite of our
"As for the last, sir," I answered, "there does not seem much to
choose--she is what you call a thirty-eight, and mounts fifty guns, I dare
say. Is she certainly French?"
"As certainly as this ship is English. She can do nothing with our
signals, and her rig is a character for her. Whoever saw an Englishman
with such royal-masts and yards? So, Master Wallingford, you must consent
to take your breakfast an hour earlier than common, or go without it,
altogether. Ah--here is the steward to say it waits for us."
I followed Captain Rowley to the cabin, where I found he had sent for
Marble, to share our meal. The kind-hearted old gentleman seemed desirous
of adding this act of civility to the hundred others that he had already
shown us. I had received much generous and liberal treatment from Captain
Rowley, but never before had he seemed so much disposed to act towards me
as a father would act to a son as on that morning.
"I hope you have done justice to Davis's cookery, gentlemen," he said,
after the assault on the eatables began to abate a little in ardour, "for
this may be the last opportunity that will offer to enjoy it. I am an
Englishman, and have what I hope is a humble confidence in the superiority
of an English over a French ship; but I very well know we never get even a
French ship without working for it; and yonder gentleman may not leave us
any crockery, for to-morrow. He evidently means to fight us, and I think
will do himself credit."
"I believe you English always go into action against the French with a
confidence of victory," I remarked.
"Why, we have brought our lads up to that feeling, certainly, though I
would not have you fancy I am quite of that way of thinking. I am too old,
and have seen too much service, Wallingford, not to know that every battle
is liable to accidents and vicissitudes. There is some difference in
service, I must suppose, though not half as much in men as is vulgarly
imagined. The result is in the hands of God, and I _do_ think we are
fighting his battles, in this fearful war: therefore, I trust he will take
care of us."
I was surprised to find Captain Rowley, who was usually cheerful and gay,
talking in this manner; but it did not become me to pursue the subject. In
a minute or two, we rose from table, and I heard the order given to the
steward to report to the first-lieutenant as soon as the table was cleared
away, that the cabin bulkheads might be removed. Marble and I then passed
below, into a canvass berth that had been made for him, where we could
consult together without danger of interruption. Just as we reached the
place, the drum beat to quarters. This carried nearly every one else on
deck, and left us virtually alone.
"Well, Miles," commenced Marble, "this v'y'ge will beat any other of our
v'y'ges, and give it fifty. We have been twice captured, once wrecked,
have seen a fight, and are about to _feel_ another. What do you think
patriotism, and republican vartoo, require us to do, in such a crisis?"
This was the first time I had ever heard my mate mention republicanism,
his habits being certainly as much opposed to liberty, as those of
Napoleon himself. Although the reader probably will not understand the
drift of his question, it was not lost on me. I answered, therefore, like
one who fully comprehended him.
"I am afraid, Moses," said I, "there is very little republicanism in
France just now, nor do I know that resemblance in governments makes
nations friends. Unless the resemblance be complete, I rather think they
are more disposed to quarrel about the differences, than to allow the
merits of the points of affinity. As between England and France, however,
since we are at peace with both, we Americans have nothing to do with
"I thought that would be your idee, Miles, and yet it would be awkward to
be in the midst of a fight, and take no part in it. I'd give a hundred
dollars to be on board that Frenchman, this minute."
"Are you so much in love with defeat, as to wish to be flogged?"
"I don't know how it is, but it goes ag'in the grain to take sides with a
"There is no necessity for taking sides with either, though we can
remember how these people have saved our lives, how kind they have been to
us, and that we have literally lived three months on their bounty. Neb,
I'm glad to see, makes fair weather of it, on the berth-deck."
"Ay, there's more in that than you dream of, perhaps. Mr. Clements, the
first-lieutenant of this ship, is a sly one; and he thinks more of a good
seaman than some priests do of piety. If I'm not greatly misled, he
intends that Neb shan't quit this ship till the peace."
"How! They surely cannot pretend that the black is an Englishman?"
"There are all kinds of Englishmen, black and white, when seamen grow
scarce. Hows'ever, there is no use in looking out for the worst--we shall
know all about it, when the ship gets in. How are we to behave, Miles, in
this here battle? It goes ag'in my feelin's to help an Englishman; and yet
an old salt don't like to keep under hatches, while powder is burning
"It would be wrong for either of us to take any part in the action, since
we have nothing to do with the quarrel. Still, we may appear on deck,
unless ordered below; and I dare say opportunities will offer to be of
use, especially in assisting the hurt. I shall go on the quarter-deck, but
I would advise you not to go higher than the gun-deck. As for Neb, I shall
formally offer his services in helping to carry the wounded down."
"I understand you--we shall all three sarve in the humane gang--well, when
a man has no business with any other, that may be better than none. Your
standing idle in a fight must be trying work!"
Marble and I conversed a little longer on this subject, when a gun fired
from the upper-deck gave us notice that the game was about to begin. Each
hastened to his intended post without more words. When I reached the
quarter-deck, everything denoted the eve of a combat. The ship was under
short canvass, the men were at quarters, the guns were cast loose, and
were levelled; the tompions were all out, shot was distributed about the
deck; and here and there some old salt of a captain might be seen
squinting along his gun, as if impatient to begin. A silence like that of
a deserted church reigned throughout the ship. Had one been on board her
intended adversary, at that same instant, be would have been deafened by
the clamour, and confused with the hurried and disorderly manner in which
preparations that were long before completed on board the British, were
still in progress on board the Frenchman. Four years earlier, the same
want of preparation had given Nelson his great victory at the Nile. The
French, in order to clear their outer batteries, had lumbered those
in-shore; and when half their enemies unexpectedly passed inside, they
found their ships were not prepared to fire; ships that were virtually
beaten, before they had discharged an effective shot.
"Wallingford," said my old friend the captain, as soon as I approached
him, "you have nothing to do here. It would not be proper for you to take
a part in this action, and it would be folly to expose yourself without
"I am quite aware of all this, Captain Rowley, but I have thought your
kindness to me was so great as to permit me to be a looker-on. I may be of
some service to the wounded, if to nothing else; and I hope you think me
too much of an officer to get in the way."
"I am not certain, sir, I ought to permit anything of the sort," returned
the old man, gravely. "This fighting is serious business, and no one
should meddle with it whose duty does not command it of him. See here,
sir," pointing at the French frigate, which was about two cable's-lengths
distant, with her top-gallant-sails clewed up and the courses in the
brails; "in ten minutes we shall be hard at it, and I leave it to yourself
to say whether prudence does not require that you should-go below."
I had expected this; and, instead of contesting the matter, I bowed, and
walked off the quarter-deck, as if about to comply. "Out of sight, out of
mind," I thought;--it would be time enough to go below, when I had seen
the beginning of the affair! In the waist I passed the marines, drawn up
in military array, with their officer as attentive to dressing them in
line as if the victory depended on its accuracy. On the forecastle I found
Neb, with his hands in his pockets, watching the manoeuvres of the French
as the cat watches those of the mouse. The fellow's eye was alive with
interest; and I saw it was useless to think of sending him below. As for
the officers, they had taken their cue from the captain, and only smiled
good-naturedly as I passed them. The first-lieutenant, however, was an
exception. He never had appeared well-disposed towards us, and, I make no
doubt, had I not been so hospitably taken into the cabin, we should all
have got an earlier taste of his humour.
"There is too much good stuff in that fellow," he drily remarked, in
passing, pointing towards Neb at the same time, "for him to be doing
nothing, at a moment like this."
"We are neutrals, as respects France, Mr. Clements," I answered, "and it
would not be right for us to take part in your quarrels. I will not
hesitate to say, however, that I have received so much kindness on board
the Briton, that I should feel miserable in not being permitted to share
your danger. Something may turn up, that will enable me to be of
assistance--ay, and Neb, too."
The man gave me a keen look, muttered something between his teeth, and
walked aft, whither he was proceeding when we met. I looked in the
direction in which he went, and could see he was speaking in a surly way
to Captain Rowley. The old gentleman cast a look forward, shook a finger
at me, then smiled in his benevolent way, and turned, as I thought, to
look for one of the midshipmen who acted as his aids. At that moment, the
Frenchman went in stays, delivering his whole broadside, from aft forward,
as the guns bore. The shot told on the British spars smartly, though only
two hulled her. As a matter of course, this turned the thoughts of Captain
Rowley to the main business in hand, and I was forgotten. As for Neb, he
immediately made himself useful. A shot cut the main-spring-stay, just
above his head; and before I had time to speak, the fellow seized a
stopper, and caught one of the ends of the stay, applied the stopper, and
was hard at work in bringing the rope into its proper place, and in
preparing it again to bear a strain. The boatswain applauded his activity,
sending two or three forecastle-men to help him. From that moment, Neb was
as busy as a bee aloft, now appearing through openings in the smoke, on
this yard-arm, now on that, his face on a broad grin, whenever business of
more importance than common was to be done. The Briton might have had
older and more experienced seamen at work in her rigging, that day, but
not one that was more active, more ready when told what to do, or more
athletic. The _gaite de coeur_ with which this black exerted himself in
the midst of that scene of strife, clamour and bloodshed, has always
presented itself to my mind as truly wonderful.
Captain Rowley did not alter his course, or fire a gun, in answer to the
salute he received, though the two ships were scarcely a cable's-length
asunder when the Frenchman began. The Briton stood steadily on, and the
two ships passed each other, within pistol-shot, a minute or two later,
when we let fly all our larboard guns. This was the beginning of the real
war, and warm enough it was, for half an hour or more,--our ship coming
round as soon as she had fired, when the two frigates closed broadside and
broadside, both running off nearly dead before the wind. I do not know how
it happened, but when the head-yards were swung, I found myself pulling at
the fore-brace, like a dray horse. The master's mate, who commanded these
braces, thanked me for my assistance, in a cheerful voice, saying, "We'll
thrash 'em in an hour, Captain Wallingford." This was the first
consciousness I had, that my hands had entered into the affair at all!
I had now an opportunity of ascertaining what a very different thing it is
to be a spectator in such a scene, from being an actor. Ashamed of the
forgetfulness that had sent me to the brace, I walked on the quarter-deck,
where blood was already flowing freely. Everybody, but myself, was at
work, for life or death. In 1803, that mongrel gun, the carronade, had
come into general use, and those on the quarter-deck of the Briton were
beginning to fly round and look their owners in the face, when they
vomited their contents, as they grew warm with the explosion. Captain
Rowley, Clements, and the master, were all here, the first and last
attending to the trimming of the sails, while the first-lieutenant looked
a little after the battery, and a little at everything else. Scarce a
minute passed, that shot did not strike somewhere, though it was
principally aloft; and the wails of the hurt, the revolting part of every
serious combat, began to mingle in the roar of the contest. The English, I
observed, fought sullenly, though they fought with all their hearts.
Occasionally, a cheer would arise in some part of the ship; but these, and
the cries of the hurt, were fire on the Briton, as well as the manner in
which the English repaid all they received. While standing near the
main-mast, in the battery that was not engaged, Marble made me out in the
smoke, and came-up to speak to me.
"Them Frenchmen are playing their parts like men," he said. "There's a
shot just gone through the cook's coppers, and another through the boats.
By the Lord Harry, if the boys on this deck do not bestir themselves, we
shall get licked. I wouldn't be licked by a Frenchman on any account,
Miles.--Even little Kitty would point her finger at me."
"We are only passengers, you know, Moses; and can have little concern with
victory, or defeat, so long as the striped and starred bunting has nothing
to do with the credit of the thing."
"I am not so sure of that, Miles.--I do not like being flogged, even as a
passenger. There! just look at that, now! Two or three more such raps, and
half our guns will be silenced!"
Two shot had come in together, as Marble thus interrupted himself; one of
them knocking away the side of a port, while the other laid four men of
its gun on the deck. This gun was on the point of being discharged, as the
injury was inflicted; but the loss of its captain prevented it from being
fired. The lieutenant of the division caught the match from the fallen
seaman, gave it a puff with his breath, and applied it to the priming. As
the gun came leaping in, the lieutenant turned his head to see where he
could best find men to supply the place of those who had been killed, or
wounded. His eyes fell on us. He asked no questions; but merely looked in
"Ay, ay, sir," said Marble, stripping off his jacket, and taking the
tobacco from his mouth. "In one moment.--Just hold on, till I'm ready."
I scarce knew whether to remonstrate, or not: but hard at it he went; and,
delighted by his zeal, the officer clapped him on the back, leaving him to
act as captain of the gun. Afraid the contagion might extend to myself, I
turned, ascended the ladder, and was immediately on the quarter-deck
again. Here I found old Captain Rowley, with his hat off, cheering his
men,--the Frenchman's main-top-mast having just gone over his side. It
was not a time to make my report, nor was any needed just then; so I
walked aft as far as the taffrail, in order to get out of the way, and to
make my observations as much removed from the smoke as possible. This was
the only opportunity I enjoyed of noting the relative positions, as well
as conditions, of the two vessels.
The Briton had suffered heavily aloft; but all her principal spars still
stood. On the other hand, her antagonist had lost both main and
mizen-top-masts, and her fire had materially slackened within the last
fifteen minutes. She was falling more under a quarter-raking fire, too,
from her people's losing command of their ship; the two frigates having,
some time before, come by the wind--the Englishman a little on the
Frenchman's weather-quarter. As is usual, in a heavy cannonade and a
moderate breeze, the wind had died away, or become neutralized, by the
concussions of the guns, and neither combatant moved much from the
position he occupied. Still the Briton had her yards knowingly braced,
while those of her enemy were pretty much at sixes and sevens. Under such
circumstances, it was not difficult to predict the result of the
engagement; more especially as the spirits of the Britons seemed to be
rising with the duration of the combat.
I was still making my observations, when I heard the crack of a shot, and
the ripping of plank, on the forward part of the quarter-deck. A little
group collected around a falling man, and I thought I caught a glimpse of
Captain Rowley's uniform and epaulettes, in the sufferer. In an instant I
was on the spot. Sure enough, there was my old friend grievously wounded.
Clements was also there. Catching my eye, he observed--
"As you are doing nothing, sir, will you assist in carrying Captain Rowley
I did not like the manner in which this was said, nor the expression of
the first-lieutenant's eye while saying it. They seemed to me to add, "I
shall now command this ship, and we shall see if new lords don't produce
new laws," I complied, however, of course, and, aided by two of his own
servants, I got the poor old man into the gun-room. The instant the
surgeon cast his eyes on the injuries, I saw by his countenance, there
was no hope. His words soon confirmed the bad news.
"The captain cannot live half an hour," this gentleman said to me aside,
"and all we can do will be to give him what he asks for. At present he is
stupified by the shock of the blow, but, in a few minutes, he will
probably ask for water, or wine and water; I wish, sir, you would indulge
him in his wishes, for you can have no duty to call you on deck. This will
be a lucky hit for Clements, who will run off with more than half the
credit of the battle, though I fancy the Frenchman has as much as he
And so it turned out, literally, in the end. About twenty minutes after I
went below, during which time the Briton did most of the fighting, we
heard the cheer of victory on deck. These sounds appeared to cause the
wounded man to revive.
"What means that, Wallingford?" he asked in a stronger voice than I could
have thought it possible for him to use, "What do these cheers mean, my
"They mean, Captain Rowley, that you have conquered--that you are master
of the French frigate."
"Master!--am I master of my own life? Of what use is victory to me, now? I
shall die--die soon, Wallingford, and there will be an end of it, all! My
poor wife will call this a melancholy victory."
Alas! what I could say? These words were only too true as respects
himself, and, I dare say, as respected his wife, also. Die he did, and in
my presence, and that calmly, with all his senses about him; but, I could
see, he had his doubts whether a little lustre like that which attended
his end, was fulfilling all the objects of his being. The near view of
death places a man on a moral eminence, whence he commands prospects
before and behind, on each side and on every side, enabling him to
overlook the whole scene of life from its commencement to its close, and
to form an opinion of his own place in a drama that is about to close.
Like many of those who exhibit themselves for our amusement, and to
purchase our applause, he is only too apt to quit the stage less satisfied
with his own performances, than the thoughtless multitude, who, regarding
merely the surfaces of things, are too often loudest in their approbation
when there is the least to praise.
I shall pass over the next ten days, with a very brief allusion to their
events. The first proof I had of Mr. Clements being commanding officer,
was my being transferred from the cabin to the gun-room. It is true, there
was no want of space in my new apartment, for officering and manning the
prize had left several state-rooms vacant in the Briton's gun-room, which
fell to the shares of the French prisoners and myself. Poor Captain Rowley
was preserved in spirits and then things went on pretty much as before,
with the exception that our crippled condition and reduced crew rendered
us no longer anxious to fall in with Frenchmen. I may say, in this place,
also, that now the excitement which had carried him away was gone, Marble
was profoundly ashamed of the part he had taken in the late affair. He had
fought under English colours, once more; and, though I seldom dared to
allude to the thing, it is my opinion he heartily regretted his conduct,
to his dying day. As for Neb, all seemed right enough in his eyes; for,
though he well understood the distinctions between flags and countries, he
always imagined it a duty to stick by the craft in which he happened
Ten days after I had been living under the _regime_ of "new lords and new
laws," we fell in with a frigate, in the chops of the channel, and
exchanged signals with her. The reader will judge of Marble's and my
dissatisfaction, when we heard it announced that the ship which was then
fast approaching us, was the Speedy. There was no help for it, however;
she was already within gun-shot, and soon rounded-to, within hail of the
Briton, which ship had hove-to, to wait for her. In a few minutes, Lord
Harry Dermond, in person, was alongside of us, in a boat, to show his
orders to Captain Rowley, and report himself, as the junior captain. I
could not quit the quarter-deck, from a desire to ascertain, if possible,
what had become of Sennit and his companions, though prudence dictated
Clements met the young nobleman at the gangway, and, apologizing for not
going on board the Speedy, on account of the state of his boats, reported
the late action and its results. Lord Harry then found himself the senior,
instead of the junior commander, and he immediately began to ask
questions. He was in the midst of these interrogatories, when his eye
suddenly fell on me. He and Clements were walking on the quarter-deck
together, and I had gone into the gangway, to escape his notice, when this
unexpected recognition took place. It occurred as the two were turning in
their walk, and were so near me that I could hear what was said
"Who have you there, leaning against the cutter, Mr. Clements?" demanded
the captain of the Speedy. "It's a face I know--some old ship-mate of
mine, I fancy."
"I rather think not, my lord--it's a-Yankee we picked up at sea in a boat,
a Captain Wallingford, of the American ship Dawn. His vessel foundered in
a gale, and all hands were lost but this gentleman, his mate, and a negro.
We have had them on board, now, more than three months."
A long, low whistle escaped from Lord Harry Dermond, who immediately
walked up to me, raised his hat, and commenced a very disagreeable sort of
a dialogue, by saying--"Your servant, Mr. Wallingford! We meet under very
unusual circumstances, and somewhat often. The last time was at a rather
interesting moment to me, and one in which I was so much engaged, that I
had not leisure properly to pay my respects to you. Mr. Clements, I have a
little business to transact with this gentleman, and must ask the favour
of your company and his, for a few minutes, in your cabin."
No objection could be raised to this request; and I followed the two
officers into the Briton's cabin.
O I hae scarce to lay me on,
If kingly fields were ance my ain;
Wi' the moor-cock on the mountain-bree,
But hardship na'er can daunton me.
There was an air of cool deliberation about Lord Harry Dermond, which
satisfied me I should have to pass through a trying ordeal; and I prepared
myself for the occasion. Nothing was said until all three of us were in
the after-cabin, when Clements and his visiter took seats on the sofa, and
a motion was made to me to occupy a chair. Then Lord Harry Dermond
commenced the discourse, in a manner more serious than I could
"Mr. Wallingford," he said, "there is little need of preliminaries between
you and me. I recollected your ship, when the Black Prince and Speedy were
in the act of closing with the Frenchmen, three months since; and I need
scarcely say that the manner in which she got back to the place where I
then saw her, requires an explanation at your hands."
"It shall be given to you, my lord. Believing you had no right to send in
the Dawn, and knowing that a detention of any length would prove my ruin,
I regained possession of my own by the best means that offered."
"This is at least frank, sir. You mean to be understood that you rose on
my people in the night, murdered them, and that you subsequently lost your
vessel from a want of force to take care of her."
"This is partly true, and partly a mistake. I certainly should not have
lost my ship had I been as strong-handed in the gale in which she was
destroyed, as she was the day she left home: and she would have been as
strong-handed in that gale, had we never fallen in with the Speedy."
"Which is an indirect manner of saying that the wreck was owing to us?"
"I shall very directly say, that I think it was; though by indirect
"Well, sir, on that point it is not probable we shall ever agree. You
cannot suppose that the servants of the king of Great Britain will submit
to your American mode of construing public law; but will easily understand
that we leave such matters to our own admiralty judges. It is a matter of
more moment to me, just now, to ascertain what has become of the officers
and men that were put in charge of your ship. I saw the vessel, some time
after I put Mr. Sennit and his party on board you, in your possession,
(that we ascertained by means of our glasses;) and you now admit that you
retook your vessel from these men. What has become of the prize-crew?"
I briefly related the manner in which we had regained the possession of
the Dawn. The two English officers listened attentively, and I could
discern a smile of incredulity on the countenance of Clements; while the
captain of the Speedy seemed far from satisfied--though he was not so much
disposed to let his real opinion be known.
"This is a very well-concocted and well-told tale, my lord," said the
first, with a sneer; "but I doubt whether it find many believers in the
"The British service, sir," I coldly retorted, "is, like all others,
liable to reverses and accidents."
"Not exactly of this nature, Mr. Wallingford, you will yourself admit, on
reflection. But I beg pardon, my lord: this is your affair--not mine; and
I have been indiscreet in speaking."
Lord Harry Dermond looked as if he concurred in this sentiment. He had the
pride of official rank, and that of private rank, to the usual degree; and
did not exactly like the notion that one so much his inferior in both
should take an affair so peculiarly his own out of his hands. He made a
cold acknowledging bow, therefore, in reply, and paused a moment, like a
man who reflected, ere he continued the discourse.
"You must be aware, Mr, Wallingford, it is my duty to inquire closely into
this matter," he at length resumed. "I am just out of port, where my ship
has been lying to refit, several weeks, and it is not probable that either
of my officers would be in England without reporting himself, had he
"It is quite probable, my lord, that neither has reached home. I saw them
picked up, with my own eyes, and by what appeared to me to be an
outward-bound West Indiaman. In that case, they have, most probably, all
been carried to one of the West India islands."
Here Clements handed Lord Harry Desmond a paper with something written on
it, in pencil, which the latter read. After running his eyes over it, the
captain nodded his head, and the lieutenant quitted the cabin. While he
was absent, my companion, in a polite manner, gave me the particulars of
the combat I had witnessed, going so far as to direct my attention to a
paper he had brought on board, to show to Captain Rowley, and which
contained the English official account of the whole affair. On glancing at
it, I saw that the presence of the Dawn, on that occasion, was mentioned
in ihe report; the name of the ship being given, with an allusion that was
not very clear to the general reader, but which was plain enough to me. It
was not long, however, before Clements returned, and, without much
ceremony, he informed me that the gun-room mess waited my appearance to
sit down to dinner. On this hint, I rose and took my leave, though I had
time to see Marble enter the cabin, and Neb standing by the scuttle-butt,
under the charge of the sentinel, ere I dipped my head under hatches.
The dinner lasted near an hour, and Lord Harry Dermond civilly waited all
that time, before he again summoned me to the cabin. I was surprised to
find Marble in the outer-cabin, Neb near the door, in waiting, and the two
officers with pen, ink, and paper before them, where they had been left
"Mr. Wallingford," Lord Harry commenced, "I hold it to be no more than
fair to let you know that your mate's account of the manner in which the
Speedy's people got out of the Dawn, and your own, do not agree in a
single particular. Here is his statement, taken down by myself from his
own words; if you are disposed to hear it, I will read you what he says."
"I do not well see how Mr. Marble can contradict me and tell the truth, my
lord--but it were better I should hear his statement."
"'I was first-mate of the Dawn, of New York, Miles Wallingford master and
owner. Captured and ordered in by Speedy, as known. Three days after
parting company with the frigate, with Mr. Sennit as prize-master,
Captain Wallingford and I commenced reasoning with that gentleman on the
impropriety of sending in a neutral and breaking up a promising voyage,
which so overcame the said Lieutenant Sennit, in his mind, that he
consented to take the ship's yawl with a suitable stock of provisions and
water, and give us up the ship. Accordingly, the boat was lowered,
properly stowed, the most tender anxiety manifested for the party that was
to go in her, when the English took their leave with tears in their eyes,
and hearty good wishes for our safe arrival at Hamburg.'"
"Am I to understand you seriously, Lord Harry Dermond, that my mate has
actually given you this account of the affair, for fact?"
"Most seriously, sir. I believe he even offered to swear to it, though I
dispensed with that ceremony. Here is the statement of the black. Perhaps
you would wish to hear that also?"
"Anything, my lord, it is your pleasure to communicate."
"Nebuchadnezzar Clawbonny says, 'he belonged to the Dawn--was left in her,
when captured by Speedy, and was in her when wrecked. Captain Wallingford
ordered Mr. Sennit to quit his ship, or he would make him; and Mr. Sennit
obeyed Master Miles, of course,' But I will read no more of this, as a
slave's statement can hardly be relied on. Perhaps we ought not to have
received it, Mr. Clements?"
"Your pardon, my lord; it is our duty to protect his Majesty's subjects,
in the best mode we can."
"That may be true, sir; but certain great principles ought never to be
overlooked, even when doing our duty. You perceive, Mr. Wallingford, that
your companions contradict your own account of this affair; and the most
unpleasant suspicions are awakened. I should never justify myself to my
superiors, were I to neglect putting you under arrest, and carrying you
all in for trial."
"If my companions have been so ill-judging as to make the statements you
say, I can only regret it. I have told you the truth; and I can add no
more. As for the future, I do not suppose any representation of mine will
induce you to change your decision."
"You carry it off well, sir; and I hope you will maintain the same
appearance of innocence to the end. The lives of the king's subjects are
not to be taken with impunity, nevertheless."
"Nor is the property of an American citizen, I trust, my lord. _Had_ I
used force to regain my ship, and _had_ I thrown the prize-crew into the
sea, I conceive I would have been doing no more than was my duty."
"This is well, sir; and I hope, for your sake, that an English jury will
view the affair in the same light. At present, prepare to go on board the
Speedy--for you must not be separated from the important testimony we can
find in that ship. As for the citizens you mention, they are bound to
submit to the decision of the admiralty courts, and not to take the law
into their own hands."
"We shall see, my lord. When this case reaches my own country, we shall
probably hear more of it."
I uttered this in a sufficiently magnificent manner; and, to own the
truth, I felt a little magnificently at the time. I was then young, not
three-and-twenty; and I thought of my country, her independence, her
justice, her disposition to do right, her determination to submit to no
wrongs, and her disregard of the expedient when principles were
concerned,--much as young people think of the immaculate qualities of
their own parents. According to the decisions of judges of this latter
class, there would not be a liar, a swindler, a cheat, or a mercenary
scoundrel living; but the earth would be filled with so many suffering
saints that are persecuted for their virtues. According to the notions of
most American citizens of my age, the very name they bore ought to be a
protection to them in any part of the world, under the penalty of
incurring the republic's just indignation. How far my anticipations were
realized, will be seen in the sequel;--and I beg the American reader, in
particular, to restrain his natural impatience, until he can learn the
facts in the regular order of the narrative. I can safely promise him,
that should he receive them in the proper spirit, with a desire to
ascertain truth only and not to uphold bloated and untenable theories, he
will be a wiser, and probably a more modest man, for the instruction that
is to be thus gleaned from the incidents it will be my painful office to
record. As for Lord Harry Dermond, the threatened indignation of the great
American nation gave him very little concern. He probably cared a vast
deal more for one frown from the admiral who commanded at Plymouth, than
for the virtuous resentment of the President and Congress of the United
States of America. I am writing of the close of the year 1803, it will be
remembered;--a remote period in the history of the great republic; though
I will not take it on myself to say things have materially altered, except
it be in the newspapers, in this particular interest. The order to prepare
to quit the Briton was repeated, and I was dismissed to the outer cabin,
where was Marble, while Mr. Clements attempted to shut the door that
separated us, though, from some cause or other, he did not exactly effect
his object. In consequence of this neglect, I overheard the
"I hope, my lord," said Clements, "you will not think of taking away the
mate and the black. They are both first-rate men, and both well affected
to his Majesty's service. The negro was of great use aloft, during the
late action, while the mate fought at a gun, like a tiger, for the better
part of an hour. We are somewhat short of hands, and I have counted on
inducing both these men to enter. There is the prize-money for the
Frenchman under our lee, you know, my lord; and I have little doubt of
"I'm sorry duty compels me to take all three, Clements, but I'll bear what
you say in mind; perhaps we can get them to enter on board the Speedy. You
Here Mr. Clements discovered that the door was not shut, and he closed it
tight, preventing my hearing any more. I now turned to Marble, whose
countenance betrayed the self-reproach he endured, at ascertaining the
injury he had done, by his ill-judged artifice. I made no reproaches,
however, but squeezed his hand in token of my forgiveness. The poor
fellow, I plainly saw, had great difficulty in forgiving himself; though
he said nothing at the moment.
The conference between Lord Harry Dermond and Mr. Clements, lasted half an
hour. At the end of that time, both appeared in the forward cabin, and I
saw by the countenance of the last, that he had failed in his object. As
for us, we were transferred, with the few articles we possessed, to the
Speedy, on board which ship our arrival made as much of a sensation as the
discipline of a man-of-war would permit. I was put in irons, the moment we
reached the quarter-deck, and placed under the charge of a sentinel near
the cabin-door. Some little attention was paid to my comfort, it is true,
and a canvass screen was fitted for me, behind which I ate and slept, with
some sort of retirement. My irons were of so large a sort, that I found
means to take them off, and to put them on, at pleasure. I was disposed to
think that the officers were aware of the fact, and that the things were
used as much for the sake of appearance as for anything else. Apart from
the confinement, and the injury done my affairs, I had no especial causes
of complaint, though this imprisonment lasted until the month of April
1804, or quite five months. During this time, the Speedy arrived as far
south as the line; then she hovered about the Canaries and the Azores, on
her way homeward, looking in vain for another Frenchman. I was permitted
to take exercise, twice a day, once in the gangway, and once on the
gun-deck, and my table was actually supplied from the cabin. On no head,
had I any other cause to complain, than the fact that my ship had been
wrongfully seized in the first place, and that I was now suffering
imprisonment for a crime--if crime indeed it would have been--that I
certainly had not been obliged to commit.
During the five months I thus remained a prisoner on the gun-deck of the
Speedy, I never exchanged a syllable with either Marble or Neb. I saw them
both occasionally, employed on duty, like the crew, and we often exchanged
significant looks, but never any words. Occasionally I had a visit from an
officer; these gentlemen sitting down and conversing with me, on general
topics, evidently to relieve the tedium of my confinement, without making
any allusion to its cause. I cannot say that my health suffered, a
circumstance that was probably owing to the cleanliness of the ship, and
the admirable manner in which she was ventilated.
At length we went into port, carrying with us a French ship from one of
the islands to the eastward of the Cape, as a prize. The Speedy captured
this vessel, after a smart chase to the northward of the Azores, and
Marble and Neb having volunteered to do so, were sent on board her, as two
of the prize-crew. That day I got a visit from the purser, who was the
most attentive of all my acquaintances, and I took the liberty of asking
him if it were possible my two shipmates had entered into the
"Why not exactly that," he said, "though they seem to like us, and we
think both will ship rather than lose the prize-money they might get, for
their services in the Briton. Your old mate is a prime fellow, the master
tells me; but my lord fancying we might meet some French cruiser in the
chops of the channel, thought it better to send these two chaps in the
prize, lest they should take the studs and refuse to fight at the pinch.
They have done duty, they say, to keep themselves in good health; and we
humour them, to be frank with you, under the notion they may get to like
us so well, as not to wish to quit us."
This gave me an insight into the true state of the case, and I felt much
easier on the subject. That Marble ever intended to serve under the
British flag, I had not supposed for a moment; but I was not sure that
regret for the blunder he had already made, might not lead him into some
new mistake of equally serious import, under the impression that he was
correcting the evil. As for Neb, I knew he would never desert me; and I
had not, from the first, felt any other concern on his account, than an
apprehension his ignorance might be imposed on.
The day we anchored in Plymouth sound, was thick and drizzling, with a
fresh breeze at south-west. The ship came-to just at sunset, her prize
bringing up a short distance in-shore of her, as I could see from the
port, that formed a sort of window to my little canvass state-room. Just
as the ship was secured, Lord Harry Dermond passed into his cabin,
accompanied by his first-lieutenant, and I overheard him say to
"By the way, Mr. Powlett, this prisoner must be removed to some other
place in the morning. Now we are so near the land, it is not quite safe to
trust him at a port."
I was still musing on the purport of this remark, when I heard the noise
of a boat coming alongside. Putting my head out of the port, I could just
see that the prize, master of the French ship had come on board, and that
Marble and Neb were two of the four men who pulled the oars. Marble saw
me, and gave a sign of recognition, though it was so dark as to render it
difficult to distinguish objects at a trifling distance. This sign I
returned in a significant manner. It was this answering signal from me,
that induced my mate not to quit the boat, and to keep Neb with him. The
other two men were so accustomed to do duty with the Americans, that they
did not scruple to run up the frigate's side, after their officer, eager
to get a gossip with their old mess-mates on the berth-deck. Almost at the
same instant the officer of the deck called out--
"Drop _la Manerve's_ boat astern, out of the way of the captain's gig,
which will be hauling up in a minute."
This was on the larboard side, it is true; but a smart sea slapping
against the starboard. Lord Harry was willing to dispense with ceremony,
in order to escape a wet jacket. I cannot tell the process of reasoning
that induced me to take the step I did; it was, however, principally owing
to the remark I had so lately heard, and which brought all the danger of
my position vividly to my mind. Whatever may have been the moving cause, I
acted as follows:
My irons were slipped, and I squeezed myself between the gun and the side
of the port, where I hung by my hands, against the ship's side. I might be
seen, or I might not, caring little for the result. I was not seen by any
but Marble and Neb, the former of whom caught me by the legs, as he passed
beneath, and whispering to me to lie down in the bottom of the boat, he
assisted me into the cutter. We actually rubbed against the captain's gig,
as it was hauling up to the gangway; but no one suspected what had just
taken place. This gig was the only one of the Speedy's boats that was in
the water, at that hour, it having just been lowered to carry the captain
ashore. In another minute we had dropped astern, Neb holding on by a
boat-hook to one of the rudder-chains. Here we lay, until the gig pulled
round, close to us, taking the direction toward the usual landing, with
the captain of the Speedy in her.
In two minutes the gig was out of sight, and Marble whispered to Neb to
let go his hold. This was promptly done, when the boat of the prize began
to drift from the ship, swept by a powerful tide, and impelled by a stiff
breeze. No one paid any heed to us, everybody's thoughts being occupied
with the shore and the arrival at such a moment. The time was fortunate in
another particular: Lord Harry Dermond was a vigilant and good officer:
but his first-lieutenant was what is called on board ship "a poor devil;"
a phrase that is sufficiently significant; and the moment a vigilant
captain's back is turned, there is a certain ease and neglect in a vessel
that has an indifferent first-lieutenant. Every one feels at liberty to do
more as he pleases, than has been his wont; and where there is a divided
responsibility of this nature, few perform more duty than they can help.
When "the cat is away, the mice come out to play."
At all events, our boat continued to drop astern unobserved, until the
ship itself became very faintly visible to us. I arose as soon as we were
fifty feet from the rudder, and I assumed the direction of affairs as soon
as on my feet. There were a mast and a lugg-sail in the boat, and we
stepped the former and set the last, as soon as far enough from the Speedy
to be certain we could not be seen. Putting the helm up, sufficiently to
bring the wind on the quarter, I then stood directly out to sea. All this
was accomplished in less than five minutes, by means of what the French
call a sudden inspiration!
To be sure, our situation was sufficiently awkward, now we had obtained
something that had the semblance of freedom. Neither of us had a single
shilling of money, or an article of clothing but those we wore. There was
not a mouthful of food of any sort in the boat, nor a drop of water. The
night was lowering, and intensely dark; and the wind was blowing fresher
than was at all desirable for a boat. Still we determined to persevere,
and we ran boldly off the land, trusting our common fate to Providence. I
hoped we might fall in with some American, bound in or out: should that
fail us, France might be reached, if we had good luck, in the course of
less than eight-and-forty hours.
Our situation afforded nothing to occupy the mind, but anxiety. We could
not see a hundred yards, possessed no compass or any other guide on our
way than the direction of the wind, and were totally without the means of
refreshment or shelter. Still, we managed to sleep, by turns, each having
entire confidence in the skill of both the others. In this manner we got
through the night, feeling no apprehensions of being pursued, the darkness
affording an effectual cover.
When the light returned, we discovered nothing in pursuit, though the
weather was too thick to admit of our seeing any great distance around the
boat. All the morning we continued running to the northward and eastward,
under our single lugg reefed, only keeping clear of the seas that chased
us, by dint of good management. As for eating or drinking, the first was
out of the question; though we began to make some little provision to
slake our thirst, by exposing our handkerchiefs to the drizzle, in order
to wring them when they should become saturated with water. The coolness
of the weather, however, and the mist, contributed to prevent our
suffering much, and I do not know that I felt any great desire for either
food or water, until towards the middle of the day. Then we began to
converse together, on the subject of dinner, in a jocular way, however,
rather than with any very great longings on the subject. While thus
employed, Neb suddenly exclaimed, "dere a sail!"
Sure enough a ship was meeting us, heading up on the larboard tack about
west-north-west, as she stretched in towards the English coast. I can see
that vessel, in my mind's eye, even at this distant day! She had two reefs
in her top-sails, with spanker, jib, and both courses set, like a craft
that carried convenient, rather than urgent canvass. Her line of sailing
would take her about two hundred yards to leeward of us, and my first
impulse was to luff. A second glance showed us she was an English frigate,
and we doused our lugg as soon as possible. Our hearts were in our mouths
for the next five minutes. My eye never turned from that frigate, as she
hove by us, now rising on the summit of a sea, now falling gracefully into
the trough, concealing everything but her spars from sight. Glad enough
were we, when she had got so far ahead as to bring us well on her
weather-quarter, though we did not dare set our sail again, until her
dark, glistening hull, with its line of frowning ports, was shut up in the
cloud of mist, leaving the spot on the ocean where she had last been
seen, as if she were not. That was one of those hair-breadth escapes that
often occur to men engaged in hazardous undertakings, without any direct
agency of their own.
Our next adventure was of a more pleasing character. A good-sized ship was
made astern, coming up channel before the wind, and carrying top-mast
studding-sails. She was an American! On this point we were all agreed, and
placing ourselves in her track, we ran off, on her course, knowing that
she must be going quite two feet to our one. In twenty minutes she passed
close to us, her officers and crew manifesting the greatest curiosity to
learn who and what we were. So dexterously did Marble manage the boat,
that we got a rope, and hauled alongside without lessening the ship's way,
though she nearly towed us under water in the attempt. The moment we
could, we leaped on deck, abandoning the boat to its fate.
We had not mistaken the character of the vessel. It was a ship from James'
river, loaded with tobacco, and bound to Amsterdam. Her master heard our
story, believed it, and felt for us. We only remained with him a week,
however, quitting his vessel off the coast of Holland, to go to Hamburg,
where I fancied my letters would have been sent, and whence I knew it
would be equally in our power to reach home. At Hamburg, I was fated to
meet with disappointment. There was not a line for me, and we found
ourselves without money in a strange place. I did not deem it prudent to
tell our story, but we agreed to ship together in some American, and work
our way home in the best manner we could. After looking about us a little,
necessity compelled us to enter in the first vessel that offered. This was
a Philadelphia ship, called the Schuylkill, on board which I shipped as
second-mate, while Marble and Neb took the berths of foremast Jacks. No
one questioned us as to the past, and we had decided among ourselves, to
do our duty and keep mum. We used our own names, and that was the extent
of our communication on the subject of our true characters.
I found it a little hard to descend so much on the ladder of life, but an
early and capital training enabled me to act Dicky over again, with some
credit; and, before the ship went to sea, our chief mate was discharged
for drunkenness, and I got a lift. Marble was put in my place, and from
that time, for the next five months, things went on smoothly enough; I say
five months, for, instead of sailing for home direct, the ship went to
Spain, within the Straits, for a cargo of barilla, which she took up to
London, where she got a freight for Philadelphia. We were all a little
uneasy, at finding that our story, with sundry perversions and
exaggerations, were in the English papers; but, by the time we reached
England, it was forgotten; having been crowded out by the occurrence of
new events of interest, at a moment when every week was teeming with
incidents that passed into history.
Nevertheless, I was glad when we left England, and I once more found
myself on the high seas, homeward bound. My wages had enabled me, as well
as Marble and Neb, to get new outfits, suited to our present stations, and
we sailed for Philadelphia with as good a stock of necessaries as usually
fall to the lot of men in our respective positions. These were all that
remained to me of a ship and cargo that were worth between eighty and
ninety thousand dollars!
The passage proved to be very long, but we reached the capes of the
Delaware at last. On the 7th September, 1804, or when I wanted a few weeks
of being three-and-twenty, I landed on the wharves of what was then the
largest town in America, a ruined and disappointed man. Still I kept up my
spirits, leaving my companions in ignorance of the extent of my
misfortunes. We remained a few days to discharge the cargo, when we were
all three paid off. Neb, who had passed on board the Schuylkill for a free
black, brought me his wages, and when we had thrown our joint stock into a
common bag, it was found to amount to the sum of one hundred and
thirty-two dollars. With this money, then, we prepared to turn our faces
north, Marble anxious to meet his mother and little Kitty, Neb desirous of
again seeing Chloe, and I to meet my principal creditor John Wallingford,
and to gain some tidings of Mr. Hardinge and Lucy.
"You think, I'll weep.
No, I'll not weep:--
I have full cause of weeping; but this heart
Shall break into a hundred thousand flaws,
Or ere I'll weep."
I pass over the manner and time of our being on the road between
Philadelphia and New York, as things belonging to a former age, and to be
forgotten. I will merely say that we travelled the South Amboy road, and
went through a part of the world called Feather-bed Lane, that causes my
bones to ache, even now, in recollection. At South Amboy, we got on board
a sloop, or packet, and entered the bay of New York, by the passage of the
Kills, landing near White-hall. We were superintending the placing of our
chests on a cart, when some one caught my hand, and exclaimed--
"God bless me!--Captain Wallingford come to life, as I live!"
It was old Jared Jones, the man who had been miller at Clawbonny from my
infancy to the day I left home. I had supposed him to be at work there
still; but the look he gave me--the tears that I could see were forcing
themselves from his eyes--his whole manner, indeed,--gave me at once to
understand that all was not right. My countenance, rather than my tongue,
demanded an explanation. Jared understood me, and we walked together
towards the Battery; leaving Marble and Neb to proceed with the luggage to
the modest lodgings in which we had proposed to hide ourselves until I had
time to look about me--a house frequented by Moses for many years.
"You perceive I do not return home, Jared, in precisely the condition in
which I went abroad. My ship and cargo are both lost, and I come among
you, now, a poor man, I fear."
"We were afraid that something of the sort must have happened, or such bad
news would never have reached Clawbonny, sir. Some of your men got back
months ago and they brought the tidings that the Dawn was captivated by
the English. From that hour, I think, Mr. Hardinge gave the matter up. The
worst news, however, for us,--that of your death excepted,--was that of
the mortgage on Clawbonny."
"The mortgage on Clawbonny! Has anything been done in connection with
"Lord bless you, my dear Mr. Miles, it has been foreclosed, under the
statue I believe they call it; and it was advertised to be sold three
months. Then, when it _was_ sold, how much do you think the place, mill
and all, actually brought? Just give a guess, sir?"
"Brought! Clawbonny is then sold, and I am no longer the owner of my
"Sold, sir; and we have been sent adrift--niggers and all. They said the
freedom-laws would soon let all the older blacks be their own masters;
and, as to the young 'uns, why, your creditors might sell their times. But
Mr. Hardinge put the poor critturs into houses, near the rectory, and they
work about among the neighbours, until things are settled. It's to their
credit, Mr. Miles, that not one of 'em all thinks of runnin' away. With
the feelin' that's up in the country consarnin' blacks, and no master to
look arter them, every one of 'em might be off, without risk."
"And Chloe, my sister's own girl, what has become of Chloe, Jared?"
"Why, I believe Miss Lucy has tuck her. Miss Lucy is dreadful rich, as all
allow: and she has put it in her father's power to take care of all the
moveables. Every huff [hoof] of living thing that was on the place, has
been put on the Wright farm, in readiness for their owner, should he ever
come to claim them."
"Has Miss Hardinge had the consideration to hire that farm, with such an
"They say she has bought it, out of the savings of her income. It seems
she is mistress of her income, though under age. And this is the use she
has made of some of her money."
"I had supposed she would have been married by this time. Mr. Drewett was
thought to be engaged to her when I sailed."
"Yes: there is much talk about that, through the country; but they say
Miss Lucy will never marry, until she has been of age a few weeks, in
order that she may do what she pleases with her money, afore a husband can
lay his hand on it. Mr. Rupert is married, I s'pose you heard, sir--and
living away like a nabob with his bride, in one of the best houses in
town. Some people say, that he has a right in a part of old Mrs.
Bradfort's estate, which he will get as soon as Miss Lucy comes of age."
I did not like to pursue this part of the discourse any further, though it
was balm to my wounds to hear these tidings of Lucy. The subject was too
sacred, however, to be discussed with such a commentator, and I turned the
discourse to Clawbonny, and the reports that might have circulated there
concerning myself. Green told me all he knew, which was briefly
It seems that the second-mate of the Dawn, and such of her crew as had
been put in the Speedy, and who had not been impressed either in the
frigate itself, or in England after they were turned ashore, had found
their way home, bringing with them an account of the capture of the ship,
her extraordinary appearance near the four combatants, and their own
attempt to escape. This last affair, in particular, had made some noise in
the journals--a warm discussion having taken place on the subject of the
right of Americans to run away with an English man-of-war's boat, under
the circumstances in which these poor fellows had found themselves placed.
In that day, parties in America took as lively an interest in the wars of
Europe, as if the country were a belligerent; and politicians, or _quasi_
statesmen, were little more than retailers of the most ultra English and
ultra French opinions. It was sufficient for the Federalists to justify
any act, if England did it; while the Democrats had almost as strong a
disposition to defend all the enormities which the policy of Napoleon led
him to commit. I say _almost_--for, to deal honestly with posterity, I do
not think the French-American party was quite as French as the
English-American party was English. These last had returned to their
provincial dependence of thought; and, well-read in the English version of
all political and moral truths, and little read in those of any other
state of society, they believed, as he who worships at a distance from
the shrine is known implicitly to yield his faith. The English party had
actually a foundation in deeply-rooted opinion, and colonial admiration
for the ancient seat of power, whereas the French owed its existence
principally to opposition. The alliance of 1778 had some little influence
among men old enough to have been active in the events of the revolution,
it is true, but they existed as exceptions even in their own party. It was
the English feeling that was natural, hearty, dependent, and deep; the
other having been, as has just been stated, rooted as much in opposition,
as in any other soil.
The public discussions of the fate of the Dawn, as a matter of course, had
drawn much speculation, among my acquaintances, to my own. As month passed
after month, and no letters reached America, the opinion became very
general that the vessel was lost. At length, a ship from Jamaica brought
in a blind story of the manner in which I had re-taken my vessel from
Sennit; and, it now being known that we were only four left in the vessel,
the conjecture was hazarded that we had been wrecked for want of force to
take care of the ship; and I was set down as a drowned man.
Shortly after this opinion of my fate became general among my
acquaintances, John Wallingford had appeared at Clawbonny. He made no
change, however, spoke kindly to every one, told the slaves nothing should
be altered, and gave them every reason to suppose that they would continue
under a true Wallingford regime. It was generally understood he was to be
my heir, and no one saw any occasion for the acts of violence that
But, two months after John Wallingford's visit, Mr. Hardinge, and all
connected with Clawbonny, had been astounded by the intelligence of the
existence of the mortgage. A foreclosure under the statute, or 'statue,'
as Jared had called it, was commenced, and a few months later the place
was publicly sold at Kingston, none bidding more than five thousand
dollars for it, less than a sixth of its worth. This sacrifice of real
estate, however, under forced sales, was, and is, common enough in
America, especially; it being generally understood that the creditor is
prepared to rise in his bids, as necessity presents. In my case there was
no one to protect my rights, Mr. Hardinge having attended the sale
prepared to reason with my cousin on the propriety and generosity of his
course, rather than prepared with good current coin to extinguish the
claim. John Wallingford did not appear, however, and the sale took place
without further competition, than one bid of Mr. Hardinge's; a bid that he
was not properly prepared to make, but which he hazarded on his knowledge
of Lucy's means and disposition. A man of the name of Daggett, a relative
of John Wallingford's, by his mother's side, was the ostensible purchaser,
and now professed to be the owner of my paternal acres. It was he who had
taken possession under the purchase, had dismissed the negroes, and sent
off the personal property; and he it was who had placed new servants on
the farm and in the mill. To the surprise of everybody, John Wallingford
had not appeared in the transaction, though it was understood he had a
legal right to all my remaining effects, in the event of my real death. No
will was proved or produced, however, nor was anything heard of, or
concerning, my cousin! Mr. Daggett was a close and reserved man, and
nothing could be learned on the subject from him. His right to Clawbonny
could not be disputed, and after consulting counsel in the premises, Mr.
Hardinge himself had been compelled, reluctantly, to admit it. Such was
the substance of what I gleaned from the miller, in a random sort of
conversation that lasted an hour. Of course, much remained to be
explained, but I had learned enough, to know that I was virtually a beggar
as to means, whatever I might be in feeling.
When I parted from Jared I gave him my address, and we were to meet again
next day. The old man felt an interest in me that was soothing to my
feelings, and I wished to glean all I could from him; more especially
concerning Lucy and Mr. Hardinge. I now followed Marble and Neb to the
boarding-house, one frequented by masters and mates of ships, the masters
being of the humble class to condescend thus to mingle with their
subordinates. We consumed the rest of the morning in establishing
ourselves in our rooms, and in putting on our best round-abouts; for I was
not the owner of a coat that had skirts to it, unless, indeed there might
be a few old garments of that sort among the effects that had been removed
from Clawbonny to the Wright farm. Notwithstanding this defect in my
wardrobe, I would not have the reader suppose I made a mean or a
disagreeable appearance. On the contrary, standing as I did, six feel
one, in my shoes, attired in a neat blue round-about of mate's cloth, with
a pair of quarter-deck trowsers, a clean white shirt, a black silk
handkerchief, and a vest of a pretty but modest pattern, I was not at all
ashamed to be seen. I had come from England, a country in which clothes
are both good and cheap, and a trimmer-looking tar than I then was, seldom
showed himself in the lower part of the town.
Marble and I had dined, and were preparing to sally forth on a walk up
Broadway, when I saw a meagre, care-worn, bilious-looking sort of a person
enter the house, and proceed towards the bar, evidently with an inquiry
concerning some of the inmates. The bar-tender pointed at once to me, when
the stranger approached, and with a species of confidence that seemed to
proclaim that he fancied news to be the great end of life, and that all
who were engaged in its dissemination were privileged beings, he announced
himself as Colonel Warbler, the Editor of the New York Republican Freeman.
I asked the gentleman into the common sitting-room, when the following
dialogue took place between us.
"We have just heard of your arrival, Captain Wallingford," commenced the
_Colonel_, all New York editors of a certain calibre seeming to be,
ex-officio, of that blood-and-thunder rank, "and are impatient to place
you, as it might be, _rectus in curia_, before the nation. Your case
excited a good deal of feeling some months since, and the public mind may
be said to be prepared to learn the whole story; or, in a happy condition
to indulge in further excitement. If you will have the goodness to furnish
me with the outlines, sir," coolly producing pen, ink, and paper without
further ceremony, and preparing to write, "I promise you that the whole
narrative shall appear in the Freeman of to-morrow, related in a manner of
which you shall have no reason to complain. The caption is already
written, and if you please, I will read it to you, before we go any
further." Then without waiting to ascertain whether I did or did not
please to hear him, the colonel incontinently commenced reading what he
called his caption.
"'In the Schuylkill, arrived lately at Philadelphia, came passenger our
esteemed fellow-citizen Captain Miles Wallingford"--in 1804, everybody had
not got to be '_esquires_,' even the editors not yet assuming that title
of gentility _ex officio_. "This gentleman's wrongs have already been laid
before our readers. From his own mouth we learn the following outline of
the vile and illegal manner in which he has been treated by an English
man-of-war called the Speedy, commanded by a sprig of nobility y'clepped
Lord"--I have left a blank for the name--"an account which will awaken in
the bosom of every true-hearted American sentiments of horror and feelings
of indignation, at this new instance of British faith and British
insolence on the high-seas. It will be seen by this account, that not
satisfied with impressing all his crew, and in otherwise maltreating them,
this scion of aristocracy has violated every article of the treaty between
the two countries, as respects Captain Wallingford himself, and otherwise
trodden on every principle of honour; in a word--set at naught all the
commandments of God. We trust there will be found no man, or set of men in
the country, to defend such outrageous conduct, and that even the minions
of England, employed around the Federal presses of _our_ country, will be
ready to join with us, on this occasion, in denouncing British aggression
and British usurpation.' There, sir, I trust that is quite to
"It is a little _ex parte_, Colonel, as I have quite as much complaint to
make of French as of English aggression, having been twice captured, once
by an English frigate, and again by a French privateer. I prefer to tell
the whole story, if I am to tell any of it."
"Certainly, sir; we wish to relate all the enormities of which these
arrogant English were guilty."
"I believe that, in capturing my ship, the English commander did me an act
of great injustice, and was the cause of my ruin--"
"Stop, sir, if you please," interrupted Colonel Warbler writing with
rapidity and zeal, "and thus caused the ruin of an industrious and honest
man; ay, that ends a period beautifully--well, sir, proceed."
"But, I have no personal ill treatment to complain of; and, the act of the
French was of precisely the same character; perhaps, worse, as I had got
rid of the English prize-crew, when the Frenchman captured us in his turn,
and prevented our obtaining shelter and a new crew in France." Colonel
Warbler listened with cold indifference. Not a line would he write against
the French, belonging to a very extensive school of disseminators of news
who fancy it is a part of their high vocation to tell just as much, or
just as little, of any transaction, as may happen to suit their own
purposes. I pressed the injuries I had received from the French, on my
visitor, so much the more warmly, on account of the reluctance he
manifested to publish it; but all to no purpose. Next morning the
Republican Freeman contained just such an account of the affair as
comported with the consistency of that independent and manly journal; not
a word being said about the French privateer, while the account of the
proceedings of the English frigate was embellished with sundry facts and
epithets that must have been obtained from Colonel Warbler's general stock
in trade, as it was certainly not derived from me.
As soon as I got rid of this gentleman, which was not long after he
discovered my desire to press the delinquency of the French on his notice,
Marble and I left the house, on the original design of strolling up
Broadway, and of looking at the changes produced by time. We had actually
got a square, when I felt some one touch my elbow; turning, I found it was
an utter stranger with a very eager, wonder-mongering sort of a
countenance, and who was a good deal out of breath with running.
"Your pardon, sir; the bar-tender of the house where you lodge, tells me
you are Captain Wallingford." I bowed an assent, foreseeing another
application for _facts_.
"Well, sir. I hope you'll excuse the liberty I am taking, on account of
its object. I represent the public, which is ever anxious to obtain the
earliest information on all matters of general concernment, and I feel
emboldened by duty, to introduce myself--Colonel Positive of the Federal
Truth Teller, a journal that your honoured father once did us the favour
to take--we have this moment heard of the atrocities committed on you,
Captain Wallingford, by 'a brigand of a French piratical, picarooning,
plundering vagabond,'" reading from what I dare say was another caption,
prepared for the other side of the question; "a fresh instance of Gallic
aggression, and republican, jacobinical insolence; atrocities that are of
a character to awaken the indignation of every right-thinking American,
and which can only find abettors among that portion of the community,
which, possessing nothing, is never slow to sympathize in the success of
this robber, though it be at the expense of American rights, and American
As soon as Col. Positive had read this much, he stopped to take breath,
looking at me, as if expecting some exclamations of admiration
"I have suffered by means of what I conceive to be a perfectly
unauthorized act of a French privateer, Col. Positive," I replied; "but
this wrong would not have been done me, had I not suffered previously by
what I conceive to be an equally unjustifiable act of the English frigate,
the Speedy, commanded by Captain Lord Harry Dermond, a son of the Irish
Marquis of Thole."
"Bless me, sir, this is very extraordinary! An English frigate, did you
say? It is very unusual for the vessels of that just nation ever to be
guilty of an aggression, particularly as our common language, common
descent, Saxon ancestors, and Saxon English, and all that sort of thing,
you know, operate against it; whereas, sorry I am to say, each new arrival
brings us some fresh instance of the atrocities of the myrmidons of this
upstart Emperor of the French; a man, sir, whose deeds, sir, have never
been paralleled since the day of Nero, Caligula, and all the other tyrants
of antiquity. If you will favour me, Captain Wallingford, with a few of
the particulars of this last atrocity of Bonaparte, I promise you it shall
be circulated far and near, and that in a way to defy the malignant and
corrupt perversions of any man, or set of men."
I had the cruelty to refuse compliance. It made no difference, however;
for, next day, the Federal Truth Teller had an account of the matter, that
was probably about as accurate as if I had related all the events myself,
and which was also about as true as most of the jeremiads of the journals
that are intended for brilliant effect. It was read with avidity by all
the federalists of America; while its counterpart in the Republican
Freeman, passed, _pari passu_, through all the democratic papers, and was
devoured, with a similar appetite, by the whole of that side of the
question. This distinction, I afterwards ascertained, was made by nearly
the whole country. If a federalist was my auditor, he would listen all day
to that part of my story which related to the capture by the French
privateer; while it was _vice versa_ with the democrats. Most of the
merchants being federalists, and the English having so much more
connection with my narrative than the French, I soon found I was making
myself exceedingly unpopular by speaking on the subject at all; nor was it
long before a story got in circulation, that I was nothing but a runaway
English deserter myself--I, the fifth Miles of my name, at Clawbonny! As
for Marble, men were ready to swear he had robbed his captain, and got off
from an English two-decker only four years before. It is unnecessary to
tell people of the world the manner in which stories to the prejudice of
an unpopular man are fabricated, and with what industry they are
circulated; so I shall leave the reader to imagine what would have been
our fate, had we not possessed the prudence to cease dwelling on our
wrongs. Instead of thinking of appealing to the authorities of my country
for redress, I felt myself fortunate in having the whole affair forgotten,
as soon as possible, leaving me some small portion of character.
I confess, while returning home, I had sometimes fancied I might be
protected by the country of which I was a native, for which I had fought,
and to which I paid taxes; but I was only three-and-twenty, and did not
then understand the workings of laws, particularly in a state of society
that submits to have its most important interests under foreign control.
Had I received a wrong from only a Frenchman, or an Englishman, I should
have fared a little better, in appearance, at least, though my money was
irretrievably gone; for one political party, or the other, as the case
might have been, would have held me up to _ex parte_ sympathy, so long as
it suited its purposes, or until the novelty of some new case offered an
inducement to supplant me. But I had been wronged by both belligerents;
and it was soon agreed, by mutual consent, to drop the whole subject. As
for redress or compensation, I was never fool enough to seek it. On the
contrary, finding how unpopular it made a man among the merchants, to
_prove_ anything against Great Britain, just at that moment, I was wisely
silent, thus succeeding in saving my character, which would otherwise have
followed my property, as the shortest method of making a troublesome
declaimer hold his tongue.
Most young persons will doubtless hesitate to believe that such a state of
things could ever have existed in a nation calling itself independent;
but, in the first place, it must be remembered, that the passions of
factions never leave their followers independent of their artifices and
designs; and, in the next place, all who knew the state of this country in
1804, must admit it was not independent in mind of either England or
France. Facts precede thought in everything among us; and public opinion
was as much in arrears of the circumstances of the country, then,
as--as--to what shall I liken it?--why, as it is to-day. I know no better
or truer parallel. I make no doubt that the same things would be acted
over again, were similar wrongs to be committed by the same powerful
Marble was ludicrously enraged at these little instances of the want of
true nationality in his countrymen. He was not a man to be bullied into
holding his tongue; and, for years afterwards, he expressed his opinions
on the subject of an American's losing his ship and cargo, as I had lost
mine, without even a hope of redress, with a freedom that did more credit
to his sense of right, than to his prudence. As for myself, as has just
been said, I never even attempted to procure justice. I knew its utter
hopelessness; and the Dawn and her cargo went with the hundreds of other
ships and cargoes, that were sunk in the political void created by the
declaration of war, in 1812.
This is an unpleasant subject to me. I could gladly have passed it over,
for it proves that the political association of this country failed in one
of the greatest ends of all such associations;--but nothing is ever gained
by suppressing truth, on such a matter. Let those who read reflect on the
past: it may possibly have a tendency to render the future more secure,
giving to the American citizen in reality, some of those rights which it
so much accords with our habits to boast of his possessing. If concealment
did any good, I would gladly be silent; but diseases in the body politic
require a bold and manly treatment, even more than those in the physical
system. I remember the tone of the presses of the trading towns of this
country on the subject of the late French treaty,--one of the most
flagitious instances of contempt, added to wrong, of which history
supplies an instance, and will own I do not feel much encouraged to hope
for any great improvement.
After we got rid of Colonel No. 2, Marble and I continued our walk. We
passed several persons of my acquaintance, but not one of them recognised
me in my present attire. I was not sorry to see this, as I was wearied of
my story, and could gladly remain in a species of incognito, for a few
days. But, New York was comparatively a small town in 1804, and everybody
knew almost everybody's face who was anybody. There was little real hope,
therefore, of my escaping recognition for any great length of time.
We strolled up above St. Paul's, then a high quarter of the town, and
where a few houses had been erected in what was then a new and enlarged
style. On the stoop of one of these patrician residences--to use a word
that has since come much into use--I saw a fashionably pressed man,
standing, picking his teeth, with the air of its master. I had nearly
passed this person, when an exclamation from him, and his calling my mate
by name, caused me to stop. It was Rupert!
"Marble, my dear fellow, why, how fare you?" said our old ship-mate,
descending the steps, with an indolent, half-cordial, half-condescending
manner; extending his hand at the same time, which Moses received and
shook heartily.--"The sight of you reminds me of old times, and
"Mr. Hardinge," answered my mate, who knew nothing of Rupert's defects,
beyond his want of aptitude for the sea, "I'm heartily glad to fall in
with you. Do your father and handsome sister live here?"
"Not they, old Moses;" answered Rupert, still without casting his eyes on
me. "This is my own house, in which I shall be very happy to see you, and
to make you acquainted with my wife, who is also an old acquaintance of
yours--Miss Emily Merton that was--the daughter of Gen. Merton, of the
"Blast the British army! and blast the British navy, too!" cried Marble,
with more feeling than manners. "But for the last, our old friend Miles,
here, would now be a rich man."
"Miles!" Rupert repeated, with an astonishment that had more nature in it
than had been usual with him of late years. "This is true, then, and you
have not been lost at sea, Wallingford?"
"I am living, as you may see, Mr. Hardinge, and glad of this opportunity
to inquire after your father and sister?"
"Both are well, I thank you: the old gentleman, in particular, will be
delighted to see you. He has felt your misfortunes keenly, and did all he
could to avert the sad affair about Clawbonny. You know he could as well
raise a million, as raise five or ten thousand dollars; and poor Lucy is
still a minor, and can only touch her income, the savings of which were
insufficient, just then. We did all we could, I can assure you,
Wallingford; but I was about commencing house-keeping, and was in want of
cash at the moment,--and you know how it is under such circumstances. Poor
Clawbonny! I was exceedingly sorry when I heard of it; though they say
this Mr. Daggett, your successor, is going to do wonders with it,--a
capitalist, they tell me, and able to carry out all his plans."
"I am glad Clawbonny has fallen into good hands, since it has passed out
of mine. Good evening, Mr. Hardinge, I shall take an early opportunity to
find your father, and to learn the particulars."
"Yes; he'll be exceedingly glad to see you, Wallingford; and I'm sure it
will always afford me pleasure to aid you, in any way I can. I fear it
must be very low water with you?"
"If having nothing to meet a balance of some twenty or thirty thousand
dollars of unpaid debt is what you call low water, the tide is out of my
pocket, certainly. But, I shall not despair; I am young, and have a
noble, manly profession."
"Yes, I dare say, you'll do remarkably well, Wallingford," Rupert
answered, in a patronizing manner. "You were always an enterprising
fellow; and one need have no great concern for _you_. It would hardly be
delicate to ask you to see Mrs. Hardinge, just as you are--not but what
you appear uncommonly well in your round-about, but I know precisely how
it is with young men when there are ladies in the case; and Emily _is_ a
little over-refined, perhaps."
"Yet, Mrs. Hardinge has seen me often in a round-about, and passed hours
in my company, when I have been dressed just as I am at this moment."
"Ay, at sea. One gets used to everything at sea. Good evening; I'll bear
you in mind, Wallingford, and may do something for you. I am intimate with
the heads of all the principal mercantile houses, and shall bear you in
mind, certainly. Good evening, Wallingford.--A word with you, Marble,
before we part."
I smiled bitterly--and walked proudly from before Rupert's door. Little
did I then know that Lucy was seated within thirty feet of me, listening
to Andrew Drewett's conversation and humour. Of the mood in which she was
listening, I shall have occasion to speak presently. As for Marble, when
he overtook me, I was informed that Rupert had stopped him in order to
ascertain our address;--a piece of condescension for which I had not the
grace to be thankful.
"The weary sun hath made a golden set,
And, by the bright track of his fiery car,
Gives token of a goodly day to-morrow."
I was quite as much surprised at my own manner towards Rupert, as he could
be himself. No doubt he ascribed it to my fallen fortune, for, at the
commencement of the interview, he was a good deal confused, and his
confidence rose in proportion as he fancied mine was lessened. The
moderation I manifested, however, was altogether owing to Lucy, whose
influence on my feelings never ceased. As for Marble, he thought all was
right, and was very decided in his approval of Rupert's behaviour and
"'Tisn't every man that _can_ make a seaman, Miles," he said, "for it's a
gift that comes nat'rally, like singing, or rope-dancing. I dare say
Rupert will do very well ashore, in the gentleman line, though he's no
great catch afloat, as all will admit who ever sailed with him. The lad
don't want for stuff; but it's shore stuff, a'ter all; and that will never
pass muster in blue water. I dare say, now, this Imperor-Gineral,
Bonaparte, would make a bloody poor shipmaster, if a body was to try him."
I made no answer, and we strolled on until dark. Then we returned to our
lodgings, and turned-in. Next morning we breakfasted with the rest, and I
was about to set out in search of a lawyer, to take his opinion on the
subject of my insurance, though I had little or no hope of recovering
anything, when I was told two gentlemen wished to see me. At first sight,
I fancied that more editors were in quest of news; but we were no sooner
alone together, than one of these persons let me into the secret of his
errand, in a way that was well enough as respects the _suaviter in modo_,
while it could not be said to be in the least deficient in the
_fortiter in re_.
"I am sorry to say, Capt. Wallingford," this person commenced "that I have
a writ to arrest you, for a sum that will require very respectable
bail--no less than sixty thousand dollars."
"Well done, my upright cousin," I muttered; "this is losing no time,
certainly. I owe half that money, I admit, sir, if my farm only sold for
five thousand dollars, as I hear, and I suppose I am arrested for the
penalty of my bond. But, at whose suit am I thus pursued?"
Here, the second person announced himself as the attorney of the
plaintiff, excusing his presence on the pretence that he hoped to be of
service in amicably arranging the affair.
"My client is Mr. Thomas Daggett, of Clawbonny, Ulster county, who holds
your bonds as the administrator of the estate of the late John
Wallingford, deceased, a gentleman to whom I believe you were related."
"The _late_ John Wallingford! Is my cousin then dead?"
"He departed this life eight months since, dying quite unexpectedly.
Letters of administration have been granted to Mr. Daggett, who is a son
of his mother's sister, and a principal heir, the party dying intestate.
It is a great pity that the law excludes you from the succession, being as
you are of the name."
"My kinsman gave me reason to think I _was_ to be his heir, as it was
understood he was to be mine. My will in his favour was left in
"We are aware of that, sir, and your death being supposed, for a
considerable period, it was thought your personals would descend to us, in
part, by devise, which might have prevented the necessity of taking the
unpleasant step to which we are now driven. The question was, which died
first, you, or your cousin, and that fact, you will easily understand, we
had no means of establishing. As it is, the duty of the administrator
compels him to proceed, with as little delay as possible."
"I have no alternative, then, but to go to gaol. I know not the person on
earth, I can or could ask to become my bail for a sum as large as even
that I justly owe, to say nothing of the penalty of the bond,'"
"I am very sorry to hear this, Captain Wallingford," Mr. Meekly, the
attorney, very civilly replied. "We will walk together, leaving the
officer to follow. Perhaps the matter may be arranged amicably."
"With all my heart, sir. But, before quitting this house, I will discharge
my bill, and communicate my position to a couple of friends, who are
waiting in the passage."
Neb was one of these friends: for I felt I was fast getting into a
condition which rendered the friendship of even my slaves of importance to
me. That worthy fellow and Marble joined us on a signal from me, when I
simply let them into the secret of my affairs.
"Arrested!" said Moses, eyeing the sheriff's officer with sovereign
contempt; though he was a sturdy fellow, and one who had every disposition
to do his duty. "Arrested! Why, Miles, you can handle both these chaps,
yourself; and, with Neb's and my assistance, could work 'em up into
spun-yarn without a winch!"
"That may be true, Moses: but I cannot handle the law, even with your
powerful aid; nor should I wish to, if I could. I am bound to gaol, my
friends,--having no bail,--so----"
"Bail! Why _I_'ll be your bail; and, if you want two, there's Neb."
"I fancy the gentleman don't much understand being taken on a writ," the
"I not understand it! That's a bloody poor guess of your'n, my
friend.--When we had the scrape with the Hamburghers, in
Philadelphy,--it's now coming thirty years,--"
"Never mind all that just now, Moses. I wish you to pay my bill here; give
Neb the small bag of my clothes to bring up to the gaol, and keep my other
effects under your own care. Of course you will come to see me, by-and
bye: but I now _order_ you not to follow us."
I then left the house, with a rapidity that gave the officer some
uneasiness, I believe. Once in the street, however, my pace became more
moderate; and dropping alongside of the attorney, we fell into discourse
on the subject of the arrangement.
"To be frank with you, Captain Wallingford," said Meekly, "my client never
expects to recover the full amount of his demand: it being understood your
personals are now limited to certain jewelry; the stock of your late
farm; a few negroes; a sloop; some furniture, &c. No, sir, we do not
expect to obtain the whole of our demand. Certain securities in our hands
will extinguish much of it, though a large balance will remain."
"As Mr. Daggett has already got real estate richly worth five-and-thirty
thousand dollars, and which brings a clear two thousand a-year,--to say
nothing of its advantages as a residence,--besides bonds and mortgages for
twenty odd thousand more, I am fully sensible of his moderation. The forty
thousand dollars I owed my cousin will be amply repaid to his heirs,
though I pass my life in jail."
"You misapprehend the affair, entirely. Mr. Daggett does not hold
Clawbonny as administrator at all; but as a purchaser under a mortgage
sale. He did not buy it himself, of course; but has received a deed from a
nephew of his, who was a _bond fide_ bidder. The amount bid,--five
thousand, two hundred and fifty dollars,--is duly endorsed on your bond,
and you have credit for it. If no one bid higher, the property had to go."
"Yes, sir: I very well understand how property goes, in the absence of the
debtor, at forced sales. But what is the nature of the proposition you
intend to make?"
"Mr. Daggett understands you possess some very valuable pearls, that are
supposed to be worth one thousand dollars, with a good deal of plate, &c.,
&c. Now he proposes that you assign to the estate he represents all your
personals at an appraisal, when he will credit you with the amount, and
suspend proceedings for the balance. In a word--give you time."
"And what idea has Mr. Daggett of the sum I should thus receive?"
"He is disposed to be liberal, and thinks you might get credit for about
four thousand dollars."
"My personal property, including the pearls of which you speak, quite a
thousand dollars worth of plate, even at the price of old silver, the
sloop, the stock, horses, carriages, farming utensils, and without
counting the slaves, all of whom I intend to set free, if the law will
allow it, must nearly or quite double that sum, sir. Unless Mr. Daggett is
disposed to raise his views of the value of my effects, I should prefer
to remain in custody, and see what I can do by private sale. As he will
receive every cent of the securities received from my sister's estate,
quite $22,000, and now possesses more than $5,000 from Clawbonny, the
balance I shall really owe cannot exceed $13,000."
"Were you to confess judgment, sir, and leave the property under
"I'll do nothing of the sort, Mr. Meekly--on that subject my mind is made
up. One forced sale is quite enough for a novice."
"We shall soon reach the jail, sir--perhaps its sight may--"
"It will not, sir. Whenever Mr. Daggett shall be disposed to receive my
property at a just valuation, I may be ready to arrange the matter with
him, for I have no disposition to deny the debt, or to avoid its payment;
but, as he has adopted his own mode of proceeding, I am ready to abide by
it. Good morning, Mr. Meekly; I see no use in your accompanying me
I was thus decided, because I saw I had to deal with an extortioner. A
rogue himself, Mr. Daggett was afraid I might get rid of my personal
property before he could issue an execution by the regular mode; and he
anticipated frightening or constraining me into an arrangement. It would
be my business to disappoint him; and I assumed an air of confidence that
soon shook off my companion. A few minutes later, the key of the old stone
debtor's jail was turned upon me. I had a little money, and reluctant to
be shut up with the company I found in the building, I succeeded in
procuring a small, ill-furnished room, to myself.
These preliminaries were hardly settled, when Neb was admitted with the
bag. The poor fellow had been in tears; for he not only felt for me, but
he felt for the disgrace and misfortune which had alighted on the whole
Clawbonny stock. He had yet to learn that the place itself was gone, and I
shrank from telling him the fact; for, to his simple mind, it would be
like forcing body and soul asunder. All the negroes considered themselves
as a part of Clawbonny, and a separation must have appeared in their eyes
like some natural convulsion. Neb brought me a letter. It was sealed with
wax, and bore the impression of the Hardinge arms. There was also an
envelop, and the address had been written by Rupert. In short, everything
about this letter denoted ease, fashion, fastidiousness, and the
observance of forms. I lost no time in reading the contents, which I
"_Broadway, Wednesday morning._
"It has just occurred to me that the enclosed may be of service to you;
and I reproach myself for not having bethought me of your probable
necessities when I saw you. I regret it is not in my power to ask you to
dine with me, _en famille_, to-day; but Mrs. Hardinge has company, and
we are engaged out every other day this week. I shall fall in with you
again, some day, however, when I hope to be less engaged. Lucy has just
heard of your safety and arrival, and has gone to write a note to my
father, who will be glad to learn you are still in the land of the
living. The General, who lives with us, desires to be mentioned, and
hopes when he returns to England, it may be as your passenger. Adieu,
dear Wallingford; I shall never forget our boyish pranks, which, I dare
say, sometimes cause you to smile.
This letter contained a bank-note for twenty dollars! Yes, the man to whom
I had given twenty thousand dollars, sent me, in my distress, this
generous donation, to relieve my wants. I need hardly say, I sent the
bank-note back to him, by the hands of Neb, on the instant, with a cold
note of acknowledgment. I had no occasion for _his_ charity, at least.
I passed a most uncomfortable hour alone, after Neb was gone. Then a
turnkey came to inform me that a gentleman and lady--a clergyman, he
believed--were in the private parlour, and wished to see me. It was
doubtless Mr. Hardinge--_could_ his companion be Lucy? I was too anxious,
too eager, to lose any time, and, rushing toward the room, was at once
admitted. There they were--Lucy and her father. Neb had seen Chloe, in
calling at Rupert's door--had heard much and told much. Mr. Hardinge was
on the point of going in quest of me; but, learning where I was, he had
barely given his daughter time to put on a hat and shawl, and conducting
her across the Park, brought her himself to visit me in prison. I saw, at
a glance, that Lucy was dreadfully agitated; that she was pale, though
still handsomer than ever; and that she was Lucy herself, in character, as
"Miles, my dear, dear boy!" cried the good old divine, folding me in his
arms, "for this mercy, may God alone receive the praise! Everybody gave
you up, but Lucy and myself, and we could not, _would_ not believe you,
too, were lost to us for ever!"
As my former guardian still clasped me to his bosom, as if I still
remained a child, I could perceive that dear Lucy was weeping as if ready
to break her heart. Then she looked up, and tried to smile; though I could
see the effort was made solely on my account. I caught her extended hand,
and kissed it over and over again. The dear, dear girl trembled in every
fibre of her body.
"All my misfortunes are forgotten," I cried, "in finding you thus, in
finding you unchanged, in finding you still Lucy Hardinge!"
I scarce knew what I was uttering, though I saw Lucy's face was covered
with blushes, and that a smile, which I found of inexplicable
signification, now rose readily enough to her beautiful mouth. On the
whole, I think there must have been some eight or ten minutes, during
which neither of the three knew particularly well what was said or done.
Lucy was both smiles and tears; though keen anxiety to know what had
occurred, and how I came to be in gaol, was strongly expressed in her
countenance, as well as in some of her words. As for myself, I was beside
myself, and acted like a fool.
After a time, we were all seated, when I narrated the manner in which I
had lost my ship, and the reason why Clawbonny had been sold, and why I
supposed I was thus arrested.
"I am glad my cousin, John Wallingford, had no concern with these
transactions; though I deeply regret the reason why my bond has passed
into other hands. It would have rendered my misfortunes still harder to be
borne, could I suppose that a kinsman had laid so deep a plot to ruin me,
under the semblance of kindness. His death, however, sets that point
"I do not like his talking of making you his heir, and neglecting to do
it," rejoined Mr. Hardinge. "Men should never promise, and forget to
redeem their words. It has a suspicious look."
Lucy had not spoken the whole time I was relating my story. Her serene eye
beamed on me in a way to betray the interest she felt; but not a syllable
escaped her until her father had made the observation just given.
"It is of no moment, now," she then said, "what may have been the motive
of Mr. John Wallingford. With Miles, I thought him a rough, but an honest
man; but honest men may be pardoned for not foreseeing their own sudden
deaths. The question, now, my dear father, is, how Miles can be got out of
this wretched place, in the shortest possible time."
"Ay, Miles, my dear boy: heaven forbid you should sleep in such a spot.
How shall we go to work?"
"I am afraid, sir, I shall sleep many nights here. The debt I really owe
is about thirteen thousand dollars; and the writ, I believe, is issued for
the entire penalty of the bond. As the motive for arresting me is,
probably, to drive me into a compromise, by confessing judgment, and
giving up my personal property to be sacrificed, as Clawbonny has been, it
is not probable that bail for a less amount than the law allows the
plaintiff to claim, will be received. I do not know the man who will
become surety for me in that amount."
"Well, I know two.--Rupert and myself."
The idea of receiving such a favour from Rupert was particularly
unpleasant to me; and I saw by the expression of Lucy's face that she
entered into my feelings.
"I am afraid, sir," I said, after thanking Mr. Hardinge by a warm pressure
of the hand, "that _you_ are not rich enough. The deputy sheriff has told
me he has instructions to be rigid about the bail; and I apprehend neither
you, nor Rupert, can swear he is worth fifty thousand dollars."
"Bless me!--bless me! Is that really necessary, Miles?"
"If required, I believe the law insists on security to the amount of the
judgment claimed. Rupert lives largely, I see, and yet I doubt if he would
be willing to swear to that."
Mr. Hardinge's face became very sorrowful; and he paused a moment before
"I am not in Rupert's secrets, neither is Lucy," he then said. "I hope all
is right: though the thought that he might possibly play, has sometimes
crossed my anxious mind. He is married to Miss Merton; has purchased and
furnished a Broadway house, and is living at a large rate. When I spoke to
him on the subject, he asked me if I thought 'English ladies of condition
gave empty hands in marriage?' I don't know how it is, my dear Miles, but
I always fancied that the Mertons had nothing but the Colonel's salary
to live on."
"_Major_ Merton," I answered, laying an emphasis on the brevet rank the
worthy individual actually possessed, "_Major_ Merton has told me as much
as this, himself."
Mr. Hardinge actually groaned, and I saw that Lucy turned pale as death.
The former had no knowledge of the true character of his son; but he had
all the apprehensions that a father would naturally feel under such
circumstances. I saw the necessity--nay, the humanity, of relieving both.
"You know me too well, my dear guardian--excellent Lucy--to think that I
would deliberately deceive either of you. What I now tell you, is to
prevent Rupert from being too harshly judged. I _know_ whence Rupert
derived a large sum of money, previously to my sailing. It was legally
obtained, and is, or was, rightfully his. I do not say it was large enough
long to maintain him in the style in which he lives; but it can so
maintain him a few years. You need fear neither cards, nor positive
dishonesty. Rupert has no disposition for either: he dislikes the first,
and is too prudent for the last."
"God be thanked for this!" the divine exclaimed devoutly. "I had really
frightened myself, with my own folly. So, so, Master Rupert; you have been
making money and holding your peace! Well, I like his modesty; Rupert _is_
clever, Miles, and I trust will one day take an honourable station at the
bar. His marriage has been a little too early, for one of his means,
perhaps; but I feel encouraged now that I find he can make money
honourably, and legally, and justly."
I had said nothing of the honourable, or the just; but what weakness will
not parental affection encourage? As for Lucy, her countenance told me she
suspected the truth. Never before had I seen on those usually placid, and
always lovely features, an expression of so much humiliation. For a single
instant, it almost amounted to anguish. Recovering her self-possession,
however, she was the first to turn the discourse to its proper channel.
"All this time, we are forgetting Miles," she said. "It would seem,
father, that he thinks neither you, nor Rupert, rich enough to be his
bail--can _I_ be of any use, in this way?"
Lucy spoke firmly, and in the manner of one who was beginning to be
accustomed to consider herself of some account in the way of money; but, a
bright flush suffused her face, as she thus seemed to make herself of more
moment than was her wont--to pass out of her sex, as it might be.
"A thousand thanks, dearest Lucy, for the offer," I said, eagerly, "but
_could_ you become my bail, I certainly would not permit it. It is enough
that you come to visit me here, without further connecting your name with
my debts. A minor, however, cannot become security. Mr. Daggett will keep
me here a few weeks; when he finds I am employing agents to sell my
effects, I fancy he is sufficiently a rogue himself to apprehend the money
will get beyond the reach of his execution, and he will offer to
compromise. Once at large, I can always go to sea; if not as master, at
least as a mate."
"Had we been as proud as yourself, Miles, Clawbonny would have been less
dear to us."
"It is not pride, but propriety, Lucy, to prevent you from doing a thing
for which there is no necessity, and which might subject you to
impertinent observations. No, I'll set about disposing of my personal
property at once; that will soon bring Mr. Daggett to some sense
"If a minor cannot be received as bail, there is no more to be said," Lucy
answered; "else would I prove to you, Miles, that I can be as obstinate as
you are yourself. At all events, I can be a purchaser of jewels, if
wanting a few months of my majority; fortunately, I have nearly a year's
income on hand. You see, Miles,"--Lucy again blushed brightly, though she
smiled--"what an accountant I am getting to be--but, I can commence at
once by purchasing your pearls. They are already in my possession for safe
keeping, and many is the covetous glance they have received from me. Those
precious pearls! I think you valued them at three thousand dollars,
Miles," Lucy continued, "and my father will at once pay you that sum on my
behalf. Then send for the lawyer of your persecutor, for I can call him
nothing else, and offer to pay that much on his demand provided he will
accept my father as bail. If he be the son of being you fancy him, and so
his acts I think prove him to be, he will be glad to accept the offer."
I was delighted at the readiness of resources this proved in Lucy, nor was
the project in the least unlikely to succeed. Could I get four or five
thousand dollars together, I had no doubt Daggett would accept Mr.
Hardinge for bail, as it was only as surety for my appearance in court.
That was then required, and no one could really think I would abscond and
leave my old guardian in the lurch. Still, I could not think of thus
robbing Lucy. Left to her own sense of propriety, I well knew she would
never dream of investing so large a sum as the pearls were really worth,
in ornaments for her person; and the pearls were worth but little more
than half the sum she had named.
"This will not do," I answered, expressing my gratitude with my eyes, "and
no more need be said about it. I cannot rob you, dearest Lucy, because you
are so ready to submit to be robbed. Leave me here a few days, and Mr.
Meekly will come to volunteer a plan of setting me free."
"I have it!" exclaimed Mr. Hardinge, jumping up and seizing his hat.
"Lucy, I'll be back in fifteen minutes; then we'll bear Miles off in
triumph, to your own house. Yes, yes, the scheme cannot fail, with a
lawyer of any respectability."
"May I know what it is, dear papa?" Lucy asked, glancing expressively
"Why, it's just this. I'll go and find the bishop, who'll do anything to
oblige me, and he and I'll go, in company, to this Mr. Meekly's office,
and pledge our words as divines, that Miles shall appear in court, as the
under-sheriff told me would be required, when all will be settled to our
heart's content. On my way to the bishop's, I'll just stop in at Richard
Harrison's office, and take his opinion in the matter."
"Well, sir, the notion of seeing Richard Harrison is a good one. He may
suggest something in the way of practice that will be useful to us. If you
could step across the way, and get him to pay me a short visit, I should
be infinitely obliged to you. I was about to take his advice on the
subject of my insurance when arrested, and I wish that point disposed of."