Part 5 out of 8
And others of such vinegar aspect,
That they'll not show their teeth in way of smile,
Though Nestor swear the jest be laughable."
The next forenoon Nicholas and his son left the inn in good time to keep
their appointment. The weather had changed, and the streets through which
they passed were crowded with people who had taken advantage of the fine
weather to prosecute business which had admitted of being postponed.
Nicholas, who stared every way except the right, received many shoves and
pushes, at which he expostulated, without the parties taking even the
trouble to look behind them as they continued their course. This conduct
produced a fit of reverie, out of which he was soon roused by another blow
on the shoulder, which would twist him half round; and thus he continued in
an alternate state of reverie and excitement, until he was dragged by
Newton to his brother's chambers. The clerk, who had been ordered to admit
them, opened the parlour door, where they found Mr John Forster, sitting at
his table, with his spectacles on, running through a brief.
"Your servant, young man.--Nicholas Forster, I presume," said he, taking
his eyes off the brief, and looking at Forster without rising from his
chair. "How do you do, brother?"
"Are you my brother John?" interrogated Nicholas.
"I am John Forster," replied the lawyer.
"Well, then, I am really very glad to see you, brother," said Nicholas,
extending his hand, which was taken with a "humph!"--(A minute's pause.)
"Young man, you're ten minutes past your time," said John, turning to
Newton. "I told you _one o'clock precisely_."
"I am afraid so," replied Newton; "but the streets were crowded, and my
father stopped several times."
"Why did he stop?"
"To expostulate with those who elbowed him: he is not used to it."
"He soon will be if he stays here long. Brother Nicholas," said Forster,
turning round; but perceiving that Nicholas had taken up his watch, and was
examining the interior, his intended remark was changed. "Brother Nicholas,
what are you doing with my watch?"
"It's very dirty," replied Nicholas, continuing his examination; "it must
be taken to pieces."
"Indeed it shall not," replied John.
"Don't be alarmed, I'll do it myself, and charge you nothing."
"Indeed you will not do it yourself, brother. My watch goes very well when
it's left alone. Do me the favour to hand it to me."
Nicholas shut up the watch, and handed it to his brother over the table.
"It ought not to go well in that state, brother."
"But I tell you that it _does_, brother," replied John, putting the watch
into his fob.
"I have brought the things that I mentioned, sir," said Newton, taking them
out of his handkerchief.
"Very well; have you the inventory?"
"Yes, sir, here it is."
"No. I, a diamond ring."
"I should rather think that they were No. 3," observed Nicholas, who had
taken up his brother's spectacles. "You're not very short-sighted,
"I am not, brother Nicholas;--will you oblige me by giving me my
"Yes, I'll wipe them for you first," said Nicholas, commencing his polish
with an old cotton handkerchief.
"Thanky, thanky, brother, that will do," replied John, holding out his hand
for the spectacles, which he immediately put in the case and conveyed into
his pocket. The lawyer then continued the inventory.
"It is all right, young man; I will sign a receipt."
The receipt was signed, and the articles deposited in the iron chest.
"Now, brother Nicholas, I have no time to spare; have you anything to say
"No," replied Nicholas, starting up.
"Well, then, I have something to say to you. In the first place, I cannot
help you in your profession (as I told my nephew yesterday), neither can I
afford you any time, which is precious: so good-bye, brother. Here is
something for you to read when you go home." John Forster took out his
pocket-book, and gave him a sealed letter.
"Nephew, although I never saw the sea, or knew a sailor in my life, yet the
law pervades everywhere. An East India director, who is under obligations
to me, has promised a situation for you as third mate on board of the
_Bombay Castle_. Here is his address: call upon him, and all will be
arranged. _You_ may come here again before you sail; and I expect you will
make proper arrangements for your father, who, if I can judge from what I
have already seen, will lose that paper I have given him, which contains
what is not to be picked up every day." Nicholas was in a deep reverie; the
letter had dropped from his hand, and had fallen, unnoticed by him, on the
carpet. Newton picked it up, and, without Nicholas observing him, put it
into his own pocket. "Now, good-bye, nephew; take away my brother, pray.
It's a good thing, I can tell you, sometimes to find out an uncle."
"I trust my conduct will prove me deserving of your kindness," replied
Newton, who was overjoyed at the unexpected issue of the meeting.
"I hope it will, young man. Good morning. Now, take away your father, I'm
busy;" and old Forster pulled out his spectacles, and recommenced his
Newton went up to his father, touched him on the shoulder, and said in a
low tone, and nodding his head towards the door--"Come, father."
Nicholas got upon his legs, retreated a few steps, then turned
round--"Brother, didn't you say something about a letter I was to put in
"No, I didn't," replied John, shortly, not raising his eyes from the brief.
"Well, I really thought I heard something--"
"Come, father; my uncle's busy."
"Well, then, good-bye, brother."
"Good-bye," replied John, without looking up; and Newton with his father,
quitted the room.
No conversation passed during the walk to the inn, except an accidental
remark of Nicholas, that it appeared to him that his brother was very busy.
When they arrived Newton hastened to open the enclosure, and found in it
the draft for L500, which his uncle had ordered to be filled up the day
before. Nicholas was lost in astonishment; and Newton, although he had
already gained some insight into his uncle's character, was not a little
surprised at his extreme liberality.
"Now," cried Nicholas, rubbing his hands, "my improvement upon the duplex;"
and the subject brought up by himself again led him away, and he was in
There was one little piece of advice upon the envelope--"When you cash the
draft take the number of your notes." This was all; and it was carefully
attended to by Newton, who took but L20, and left the remainder in the
hands of the banker. The next day Newton called on the East India director,
who gave him a letter to the captain of the ship, lying at Gravesend, and
expecting to sail in a few days. To Gravesend he immediately repaired, and,
presenting his credentials, was favourably received, with an intimation
that his company was required as soon as convenient. Newton had now no
other object to occupy him than to secure an asylum for his father; and
this he was fortunate enough to meet with when he little expected. He had
disembarked at Greenwich, intending to return to London by the coach, when,
having an hour to spare, he sauntered into the hospital, to view a building
which had so much of interest to a sailor. After a few minutes' survey he
sat down on a bench, occupied by several pensioners, outside of the gate,
wishing to enter into conversation with them relative to their condition,
when one addressed another--"Why, Stephen, since the old man's dead,
there's no one that'll suit us; and I expects that we must contrive to do
without blinkers at all. Jim Nelson told me the other day that that fellow
in town as has his shop full of polished brass, all the world like the
quarter-deck of the _Le Amphitrite_, when that sucking Honourable (what was
his name?) commanded her--Jim said to me, as how he charged him
one-and-sixpence for a new piece of flint for his starboard eye. Now you
know that old Wilkins never axed no more than threepence. Now, how we're to
pay at that rate comes to more than my knowledge. Jim hadn't the dirt,
although he had brought his threepence; so his blinkers are left there in
"We must find out another man; the shop's to let, and all handy. Suppose we
speak to the governor?"
"No use to speak to the governor; he don't use blinkers; and so won't have
Newton entered into conversation, and found that an old man, who gained his
livelihood in a small shop close to the gate, by repairing the spectacles
of the pensioners, had lately died, and that his loss was severely felt by
them, as the opticians in town did not work at so reasonable a rate. Newton
looked at the shop, which was small and comfortable, commanding a pleasant
view of the river; and he was immediately convinced that it would suit his
father. On his return he proposed it to Nicholas, who was delighted at the
idea; and the next day they viewed the premises together, and took a short
lease. In a few days Nicholas was settled in his new habitation, and busily
employed in enabling the old pensioners to read the newspapers and count
their points at cribbage. He liked his customers, and they liked him. His
gains were equal to his wants; and, unless on particular occasions--such as
a new coat, which, like his birthday, occurred but once in the year--he
never applied to the banker's for assistance. Newton, as soon as his father
was settled, and his own affairs arranged, called upon his uncle previous
to his embarkation. Old Forster gave a satisfactory "Humph!" to his
communication; and Newton, who had tact enough to make his visit short,
received a cordial shake of the hand when he quitted the room.
"Poor, short-lived things! what plans we lay!
Ah! why forsake our native home,
To distant climates speed away,
For self sticks close, where'er we roam.
"Care follows hard, and soon o'ertakes
The well-rigg'd ship; the warlike steed
Her destin'd quarry ne'er forsakes:
Nor the wind flees with half the speed."
Newton, who had made every preparation, as soon as he had taken leave of
his uncle, hastened to join his ship, which still remained at Gravesend,
waiting for the despatches to be closed by the twenty-four leaden heads
presiding at Leadenhall Street. The passengers, with the exception of two,
a Scotch Presbyterian divine and his wife, were still on shore, divided
amongst the inns of the town, unwilling until the last moment to quit
_terra firma_ for so many months of sky and water, daily receiving a visit
from the captain of the ship, who paid his respects to them all round,
imparting any little intelligence he might have received as to the probable
time of his departure.
When Newton arrived on board, he was received by the first mate, a rough,
good-humoured, and intelligent man, about forty years of age, to whom he
had already been introduced by the captain on his previous appearance with
the letter from the director.
"Well, Mr Forster, you're in very good time. As in all probability we shall
be shipmates for a voyage or two, I trust that we shall be good friends.
Now for your _traps_:" then, turning round, he addressed, in the
Hindostanee language, two or three Lascars (fine, olive-coloured men, with
black curling bushy hair), who immediately proceeded to hoist in the
The first mate, with an "excuse me a moment," went forward to give some
directions to the English seamen, leaving Forster to look about him. What
he observed, we shall describe for the benefit of our readers.
The Indiaman was a twelve-hundred-ton ship, as large as one of the small
class seventy-four in the king's service, strongly built, with lofty
bulwarks, and pierced on the upper deck for eighteen guns, which were
mounted on the quarter-deck and forecastle. Abaft, a poop, higher than the
bulwarks, extended forward, between thirty and forty feet, under which was
the cuddy or dining-room, and state-cabins, appropriated to passengers. The
poop, upon which you ascended by ladders on each side, was crowded with
long ranges of coops, tenanted by every variety of domestic fowl, awaiting,
in happy unconsciousness, the day when they should be required to supply
the luxurious table provided by the captain. In some, turkeys stretched
forth their long necks, and tapped the decks as they picked up some ant who
crossed it, in his industry. In others, the crowing of cocks and calling of
the hens were incessant: or the geese, ranged up rank and file, waited but
the signal from one of the party to raise up a simultaneous clamour, which
as suddenly was remitted. Coop answered coop, in variety of discord, while
the poulterer walked round and round to supply the wants of so many
hundreds committed to his charge.
The booms before the main-mast were occupied by the large boats, which had
been hoisted in preparatory to the voyage. They also composed a portion of
the farmyard. The launch contained about fifty sheep, wedged together so
close that it was with difficulty they could find room to twist their jaws
round, as they chewed the cud. The stern-sheets of the barge and yawl were
filled with goats and two calves, who were the first-destined victims to
the butcher's knife; while the remainder of their space was occupied by hay
and other provender, pressed down by powerful machinery into the smallest
compass. The occasional ba-aing and bleating on the booms were answered by
the lowing of three milch-cows between the hatchways of the deck below;
where also were to be descried a few more coops, containing fowls and
rabbits. The manger forward had been dedicated to the pigs; but, as the
cables were not yet unbent or bucklers shipped, they at present were
confined by gratings between the main-deck guns, where they grunted at each
passer-by, as if to ask for food.
The boats hoisted up on the quarters, and the guys of the davits, to which
they were suspended, formed the kitchen-gardens, from which the passengers
were to be supplied, and were loaded with bags containing onions, potatoes,
turnips, carrots, beets, and cabbages, the latter, in their full round
proportions, hanging in a row upon the guys, like strings of heads, which
had been demanded in the wrath or the caprice of some despot of Mahomet's
Forster descended the ladder to the main-deck, which he found equally
encumbered with cabins for the passengers, trunks and bedding belonging to
them, and many other articles which had not yet found their way into the
hold, the hatches of which were open, and in which lanterns in every
direction partially dispelled the gloom, and offered to his view a confused
outline of bales and packages. Carpenters sawing deals, sailmakers roping
the foot of an old mainsail, servants passing to and fro with dishes,
Lascars jabbering in their own language, British seamen d-----g their eyes,
as usual, in plain English, gave an idea of confusion and want of method to
Newton Forster, which, in a short time, he acknowledged himself to have
been premature in having conceived. Where you have to provide for such a
number, to separate the luggage of so many parties, from the heavy chest to
the fragile bandbox, to take in cargo, and prepare for sea, all at the same
time, there must be apparently confusion. In a few days everything finds
its place; and, what is of more consequence, is itself to be found as soon
as it may be required.
According to the regulations on board of East India ships, Forster messed
below with the junior mates, midshipmen, surgeon's assistant, &c.: the
first and second mates only having the privilege of constantly appearing at
the captain's table, while the others receive but an occasional invitation.
Forster soon became on intimate terms with his shipmates. As they will,
however, appear upon the stage when required to perform their parts, we
shall at present confine ourselves to a description of the captain and the
Captain Drawlock was a man of about fifty years of age. Report said that in
his youth he had been wild; and some of his contemporary commanders in the
service were wont to plague him by narrating divers freaks of former days,
the recollection of which would create anything but a smile upon his face.
Whether report and the other captains were correct or not in their
assertions, Captain Drawlock was in appearance quite a different character
at the time we introduce him. He was of sedate aspect, seldom smiled, and
appeared to be wrapt up in the importance of the trust confided to him,
particularly with respect to the young women who were sent out under his
protection. He talked much of his responsibility, and divided the whole of
his time between his chronometers and his young ladies; in both of which a
trifling error was a source of irritation. Upon any deviation on the part
of either, the first were rated carefully, the latter were _rated soundly_;
considering the safety of the ship to be endangered on the one hand, and
the character of his ship to be equally at stake on the other.' It was
maliciously observed that the latter were by far the more erratic of the
two; and, still more maliciously, that the austere behaviour on the part of
Captain Drawlock was all pretence; that he was as susceptible as the
youngest officer in the ship; and that the women found it out long before
the voyage was completed.
It has been previously mentioned that all the passengers were on shore,
except two, a Presbyterian divine and his wife, the expenses attending
whose passage out were provided for by a subscription which had been put on
foot by some of the serious people of Glasgow, who prayed fervently, and
enlivened their devotions with most excellent punch. The worthy clergyman
(for worthy he was) thought of little else but his calling, and was a
sincere, enthusiastic man, who was not to be checked by any consideration
in what he considered to be his duty; but although he rebuked, he rebuked
mildly, and never lost his temper. Stern in his creed, which allowed no
loophole by which the offender might escape, still there was a kindness and
even a humility in his expostulation, which caused his zeal never to
offend, and often to create serious reflection. His wife was a tall,
handsome woman, who evidently had usurped an ascendency over her husband in
all points unconnected with his calling. She, too, was devout; but hers was
not the true religion, for it had not charity for its basis. She was clever
and severe; spoke seldom; but the few words which escaped from her lips
were sarcastic in their tendency.
The passengers who still remained on shore were numerous. There was an old
colonel, returning from a three years' furlough, the major part of which
had been spent at Cheltenham. He was an Adonis of sixty, with yellow cheeks
and white teeth; a man who had passed through life doing nothing; had risen
in his profession without having seen service, except on one occasion, and
of that circumstance he made the most. With a good constitution and happy
temperament, constantly in society, and constantly in requisition, he had
grown old without being aware of it, and considered himself as much an
object of interest with the other sex as he was formerly when a gay captain
of five-and-twenty, with good prospects. Amusing, and easily amused, he had
turned over the pages of the novel of life so uninterruptedly, that he had
nearly arrived at the last page without being conscious that the finis was
Then there were two cadets from the college, full of themselves and their
own consequence, fitted out with plenty of money and plenty of advice, both
of which were destined to be thrown away. There was also a young writer,
who talked of his mother, Lady Elizabeth, and other high relations, who had
despatched him to India, that he might be provided for by a cholera morbus
or a lucrative post; a matter of perfect indifference to those who had sent
him from England. Then, let me see,--oh! there were two officers of a
regiment at St Helena, with tongues much longer than their purses; who, in
the forepart of the day, condescended to talk nonsense to the fairer of the
other sex, and, in the evening, to win a few pounds from the weaker of
But all these were nobodies in the eyes of Captain Drawlock; they were a
part of his cargo, for which he was not responsible. The important part of
his consignment were four unmarried women; three of them were young,
good-looking, and poor; the other ill-favoured, old, but rich.
We must give precedence to wealth and age. The lady last mentioned was a
Miss Tavistock, born and educated in the city, where her father had long
been at the head of the well-established firm of Tavistock, Bottlecock &
Co., Dyers, Calenderers, and Scourers. As we before observed, she was the
fortunate sole heiress to her father's accumulation, which might amount to
nearly thirty thousand pounds; but had been little gifted by nature. In
fact, she was what you may style most preposterously ugly; her figure was
large and masculine; her hair red; and her face very deeply indented with
the small-pox. As a man, she would have been considered the essence of
vulgarity; as a woman, she was the quintessence: so much so, that she had
arrived at the age of thirty-six without having, notwithstanding her
property, received any attentions which could be construed into an offer.
As we always seek most eagerly that which we find most difficult to obtain,
she was possessed with _une fureur de se marier_; and, as a last resource,
had resolved to go out to India, where she had been informed that "anything
white" was acceptable. This _passion_ for matrimony (for with her it had so
become, if not a disease) occupied her whole thoughts; but she attempted to
veil them by always pretending to be extremely sensitive and refined; to be
shocked at anything which had the slightest allusion to the "increase and
multiply;" and constantly lamented the extreme fragility of her
constitution; to which her athletic bony frame gave so determined a lie,
that her hearers were struck dumb with the barefaced assertion. Miss
Tavistock had kept up a correspondence with an old schoolmate, who had been
taken away early to join her friends in India, and had there married. As
her hopes of matrimony dwindled away, so did her affection for her old
friend appear, by her letters, to increase. At last, in answer to a letter,
in which she declared that she would like to come out, and (as she had long
made a resolution to continue single) adopt one of her friend's children,
and pass her days with them, she received an answer, stating how happy they
would be to receive her, and personally renew the old friendship, if indeed
she could be persuaded to venture upon so long and venturous a passage.
Whether this answer was sincere or not, Miss Tavistock took advantage of
the invitation; and writing to intimate her speedy arrival, took her
passage in the _Bombay Castle_.
The other three spinsters were sisters: Charlotte, Laura, and Isabel Revel,
daughters of the Honourable Mr Revel, a _roue_ of excellent family, who had
married for money, and had dissipated all his wife's fortune except the
marriage settlement of L600 per annum. Their mother was a selfish,
short-sighted, manoeuvring woman, whose great anxiety was to form
establishments for her daughters, or, in other terms, remove the expense of
their maintenance from her own to the shoulders of other people, very
indifferent whether the change might contribute to their happiness or not.
Mr Revel may be said to have long deserted his family; he lived nobody knew
where, and seldom called, unless it was to "raise the wind" upon his wife,
who by entreaties and threats was necessitated to purchase his absence by a
sacrifice of more than half her income. Of his daughters he took little
notice, when he _did_ make his appearance; and if so, it was generally in
terms more calculated to raise the blush of indignant modesty than to
stimulate the natural feelings of affection of a daughter towards a parent.
Their mother, whose income was not sufficient to meet the demands of a
worthless husband, in addition to the necessary expenses attendant on three
grown-up women, was unceasing in her attempts to get them off her hands:
but we will introduce a conversation which took place between her and a
sedate-looking, powdered old gentleman, who had long been considered as a
"friend of the family," as thereby more light will perhaps be thrown upon
"The fact is, my dear Mr Heaviside, that I hardly know what to do. Mr
Revel, who is very intimate with the theatre people, proposed that they
should try their fortune on the stage. He says (and indeed there is some
truth in it) that nowadays, the best plan for a man to make himself popular
is to be sent to Newgate; and the best chance that a girl has of a coronet,
is to become an actress. Well, I did not much like the idea; but at last I
consented. Isabel, my youngest, is, you know, very handsome in her person,
and sings remarkably well, and we arranged that she should go on first;
and, if she succeeded, that her sister Charlotte should follow her; but
Isabel is of a very obstinate disposition, and when we proposed it to her,
she peremptorily refused, and declared that she would go out as a
governess, or anything, rather than consent. I tried what coaxing would do,
and her father tried threatening; but all was in vain. This was about a
year ago, and she is now only seventeen; but she ever was a most decided, a
most obstinate character."
"Very undutiful, indeed, ma'am; she might have been a duchess before
this:--a very foolish girl, indeed, ma'am," observed the gentleman.
"Well, Mr Heaviside, we then thought that Charlotte, our eldest, had the
next best chance of success. Although not by any means so good-looking as
her sister; indeed, to tell you the truth, Mr Heaviside, which I would not
do to everybody, but I know that you can keep a secret, Charlotte is now
nearly thirty years old, and her sister, Laura, only one year younger."
"Is it possible, madam!" replied Mr Heaviside, looking at the lady with
"Yes, indeed," replied the lady, who had forgotten that in telling her
daughters' secrets, she had let out her own. "But I was married so young,
so very young, that I am almost ashamed to think of it. Well Mr Heaviside,
as I was saying, although not so good-looking as her sister, Mr Revel, who
is a good judge in these matters, declared that by the theatre lights
Charlotte would be reckoned a very fine woman. We proposed it to her, and,
after a little pouting, she consented. The only difficulty was whether she
should attempt tragedy or comedy. Her features were considered rather too
sharp for comedy, and her figure not quite tall enough for tragedy. She
herself preferred tragedy, which decided the point; and Mr Revel, who knows
all the actors, persuaded Mr Y---- (you know who I mean, the great tragic
actor) to come here, and give his opinion of her recitation. Mr Y---- was
excessively polite; declared that she was a young lady of great talent, but
that a slight lisp, which she has, unfitted her most decidedly for tragedy.
Of course, it was abandoned for comedy, which she studied some time, and
when we considered her competent, Mr Revel had interest enough to induce
the great Mr M---- to come and give his opinion. Charlotte performed her
part, as I thought, remarkably well, and when she had finished she left the
room, that Mr M---- might not be checked by her presence from giving me his
"Which was favourable, ma'am, I presume; for, if not fitted for the one,
she naturally must have been fit for the other."
"So I thought," replied the lady, to this polite _non sequitur_ of the
gentleman. "But Mr M---- is a very odd man, and if I must say it, not very
polite. What do you think, Mr Heaviside, as soon as she left the room he
rose from his chair, and, twisting up the corner of his mouth, as he looked
me in the face, he said, 'Madam, it is my opinion that your daughter's
comedy, whenever she makes her appearance on the boards, will, to use a
Yankee expression, _be most particularly damned_! I wish you a very good
"Very rude, indeed, madam; most excessively unpolite of Mr M----. I should
not have thought it possible."
"Well, Mr Heaviside, as for Laura, poor thing! you are aware that she is
not quite so clever as she might be; she never had any memory: when a
child, she never could recollect the evening hymn if she missed it two
nights running; so that acting was out of the question with her. So that
all my hopes of their forming a splendid establishment by that channel have
vanished. Now, my dear Mr Heaviside, what would you propose?"
"Why, really, ma'am, it is so difficult to advise in these times; but, if
anxious to dispose of your daughters, why not send them out to India?"
"We have thought of it several times; for Mr Revel has an uncle there
unmarried, and they say very rich. He is a colonel in the Bombay marine, I
"More probably in the Bengal army, ma'am."
"Well, I believe you are right; but I know it's in the Company's service.
But the old gentleman hates my husband, and will not have anything to say
to him. I did write a very civil letter to him, in which I just hinted how
glad one or two of my daughters would be to take care of his house, but he
never condescended to give me an answer. I am told that he is a very
"A difficult thing to advise, ma'am, very difficult indeed! but I can tell
you a circumstance which occurred about five years ago, when a similar
application to a relative in India was made by a friend of mine. It was no
more attended to than yours has been. Nevertheless, as it was supposed that
the answer had miscarried, the young lady was sent out to her relative with
a decent equipment, and a letter of introduction. Her relation was very
much surprised: but what could he do? he could not permit the young lady to
remain without a roof over her head, so he received her, and as he did not
like to say how he had been treated, he held his tongue. The young lady, in
the course of three months, made a very good match; and is, to my
knowledge, constantly sending home India shawls and other handsome presents
to her mother."
"Indeed, Mr Heaviside, then do you advise--"
"It is difficult, extremely difficult to advise upon so nice a point. I
only state the fact, my dear madam: I should think the colonel must feel
the want of female society; but, God bless me! it's nearly two o'clock.
Good morning, my dear Mrs Revel--good morning."
"Good morning, my dear Mr Heaviside; it's very kind of you to call in this
sociable way and chat an hour or two. Good morning."
The result of the above conversation was a consultation between Mr Revel
and his wife upon their first meeting. Mr Revel was delighted with the
plan, not so much caring at the disposal of his daughters as he was pleased
with the idea of annoying his uncle, from whom he, at one time, had great
expectations; but, as it was necessary to be circumspect, especially with
Isabel, Mr Revel took the opportunity of a subsequent visit to state that
he had received a letter from his uncle in India, wishing one of his
daughters to go out and live with him. In a few months he read another
letter (composed by himself, and copied in another hand), earnestly
desiring that they might all come out to him, as it would be much to their
advantage. The reluctance of the two eldest was removed by pointing out the
magnificent establishments they might secure: the consent of Isabel by a
statement of difficulty and debt on the part of her parents, which would
end in beggary if not relieved from the burden of their support.
By insuring her life, a sum of money sufficient for their outfit and
passage was raised on Mrs Revel's marriage settlement; and the three Miss
Revels were thus shipped off by their affectionate parents, as a "venture,"
in the _Bombay Castle._
"Thus the rich vessel moves in trim array,
Like some fair virgin on her bridal day:
Thus like a swan, she cleaves the watery plain,
The pride and wonder of the AEgean main.
"The natives, while the ship departs the land,
Ashore, with admiration gazing stand;
Majestically slow before the breeze,
In silent pomp, she marches on the seas."
Much to the satisfaction of Captain Drawlock, the chronometers and the
ladies were safe on board, and the _Bombay Castle_ proceeded to the Downs,
where she was joined by the purser, charged with despatches of the august
directors. Once upon a time a director was a very great man, and the India
board a very great board. There must have been a very great many plums in
the pudding, for in this world people do not take trouble for nothing; and
until latter years, how eagerly, how perseveringly was this situation
applied for--what supplicating advertisements--what fawning and wheedling
promises of attention to the interests of the proprietors--"your voices,
good people!" But now nobody is so particularly anxious to be a director,
because another board "bigger than he" has played the kittiwake, and forced
it to disgorge for the consumption of its superior,--I mean the Board of
Control: the reader has probably heard of it; the board which, not content
with the European residents in India being deprived of their proudest
birthright, "the liberty of the press," would even prevent them from having
justice awarded to them, by directing two tame elephants (thereby implying
two ---- ----) to be placed on each side of a wild one (thereby implying an
honest and conscientious man). Notwithstanding all which, for the present,
the tongue, the ears, and the eyes are permitted to be made discreet use
of, although I believe that the new charter is to have a clause introduced
to the contrary.
The prevalent disease of the time we live in is ophthalmia of intellect,
affecting the higher classes. Monarchs, stone-blind, have tumbled headlong
from their thrones, and princes have been conducted by their subjects out
of their principalities. The aristocracy are purblind, and cannot
distinctly decipher the "signs of the times." The hierarchy cannot discover
why people would have religion at a reduced price: in fact, they are all
blind, and will not perceive that an enormous mass, in the shape of public
opinion, hangs over their heads and threatens to annihilate them.
Forgetting that kings, and princes, and lords, spiritual or temporal, have
all been raised to their various degrees of exaltation by public opinion
alone, they talk of legitimacy, of vested rights, and Deuteronomy.--Well,
if there is to be a general tumble, thank God, I can't fall far!
We left the _Bombay Castle_ in the Downs, where she remained until joined
by several other India vessels. On the arrival of a large frigate, who had
orders to escort them as far as the Island of St Helena, they all weighed,
and bore down the Channel before a strong S.E. gale. The first ten days of
a voyage there is seldom much communication between those belonging to the
ship and the passengers; the former are too much occupied in making things
shipshape, and the latter with the miseries of sea-sickness. An adverse
gale in the Bay of Biscay, with which they had to contend, did not at all
contribute to the recovery of the digestive powers of the latter; and it
was not until a day or two before the arrival of the convoy at Madeira that
the ribbon of a bonnet was to be seen fluttering in the breeze which swept
the decks of the _Bombay Castle_.
The first which rose up from the quarter-deck hatchway was one that
encircled the head of Mrs Ferguson, the wife of the Presbyterian divine,
who crawled up the ladder, supported on one side by her husband, and on the
other by the assiduous Captain Drawlock.
"Very well done, ma'am, indeed!" said the captain, with an encouraging
smile, as the lady seized hold of the copper stanchions which surrounded
the sky-lights, to support herself, when she had gained the deck. "You're a
capital sailor, and have by your conduct set an example to the other
ladies, as I have no doubt your husband does to the gentlemen. Now allow me
to offer you my arm."
"Will you take mine also, my dear," said Mr Ferguson.
"No, Mr Ferguson," replied the lady, tartly; "I think it is enough for you
to take care of yourself. Recollect your Scripture proverb of 'the blind
leading the blind.' I have no inclination to tumble into one of those
pits," added she, pointing to the hatchway.
Captain Drawlock very civilly dragged the lady to the weather-side of the
quarter-deck, where, after in vain attempting to walk, she sat down on one
of the carronade slides.
"The fresh air will soon revive you, ma'am; you'll be much better
directly," observed the attentive captain. "I beg your pardon one moment,
but there is another lady coming out of the cuddy."
The cabins abaft the cuddy, or dining-room, were generally occupied by the
more distinguished and wealthy passengers (a proportionate sum being
charged extra for them). The good people of Glasgow, with a due regard to
economy, had not run themselves into such unnecessary expenses for the
passage of Mr and Mrs Ferguson. Mr Revel, aware of the effect produced by
an appearance of wealth, had taken one of them for his daughters. The other
had been secured by Miss Tavistock, much to the gratification of the
captain, who thus had his unmarried ladies and his chronometers both
immediately under his own eye.
The personage who had thus called away the attention of the captain was
Isabel Revel, whom, although she has already been mentioned, it will be
necessary to describe more particularly to the reader.
Isabel Revel was now eighteen years old, endowed with a mind so superior,
that had not her talents been checked by a natural reserve, she might have
stepped from the crowd, and have been hailed as a genius. She had been
brought up by a foolish mother, and had in her earlier years been checked
by her two insipid sisters, who assumed over her an authority which their
age alone could warrant. Seldom, if ever, permitted to appear when there
was company, that she might not "spoil the market" of the eldest, she had
in her solitude applied much to reading, and thus had her mind been highly
The conduct of her father entitled him to no respect; the heartlessness of
her mother to no esteem; the tyranny of her sisters to no affection; yet
did she strive to render all. Until the age of sixteen she had been the
Cinderella of the family, during which period of seclusion she had learned
to think and to act for herself.
Her figure was a little above the middle size, light and elegant; her
features beautiful, with an expression of seriousness, arising probably
from speaking little and reflecting much. Yet she possessed a mind ardent
and enthusiastic, which often bore her away in animated discourse, until
the eye of admiration fixed upon her would suddenly close her lips, for her
modesty and her genius were at perpetual variance.
It is well known to most of my readers that woman is a problem; but it may
not be as well known that nowadays she is a _mathematical problem_. Yet so
it is. As in the latter you have certain known quantities given by which
you are to find a quantity unknown, so in a lady you have the hand, the
foot, the mouth, &c., apparent; and 'tis only by calculation, now that
modern dresses are made so full, that you can arrive at a just estimate of
her approach to total perfection. All good arithmeticians, as they
scrutinised the outward and the visible of Isabel Revel, were perfectly
assured as to her quotient. But if I talked for hours, I could say no more
than that she was one of those ideal images created in the dream of youth
and poetry, fairly embodied in flesh and blood. As her father had justly
surmised, could she have been persuaded to have tried her fortune on the
stage, she had personal attractions, depth of feeling, and vivacity of mind
to have rendered her one of the very first in a profession, to excel in
which there is, perhaps, more correct judgment and versatility of talent
required than in any other, and would have had a fair prospect of obtaining
that coronet which has occasionally been the reward of those fair dames who
"stoop to conquer."
Mr Revel, who had been made acquainted with the customs on board of East
India ships, had been introduced to Mrs Ferguson, and had requested her to
take upon herself the office of _chaperon_ to his daughters, during the
passage: a nominal charge indeed, yet considered to be etiquette. Mrs
Ferguson, pleased with the gentlemanlike demeanour and personal appearance
of Mr Revel, and perhaps at the same time not sorry to have an authority to
find fault, had most graciously acquiesced; and the three Miss Revels were
considered to be under her protection.
As I said before, Miss Isabel Revel made her appearance not unattended, for
she was escorted by Doctor Plausible, the surgeon of the ship. And now I
must again digress while I introduce that gentleman. I never shall get that
poor girl from the cuddy-door.
Doctor Plausible had been summoned to prescribe for Miss Laura Revel, who
suffered extremely from the motion of the vessel, and the remedies which
she had applied to relieve her uneasiness. Miss Laura Revel had been told
by somebody, previous to her embarkation, that the most effectual remedy
for sea-sickness was gingerbread. In pursuance of the advice received, she
had provided herself with ten or twelve squares of this commodity, about
one foot by eighteen inches, which squares she had commenced upon as soon
as she came on board, and had never ceased to swallow, notwithstanding
various interruptions. The more did her stomach reject it the more did she
force it down, until, what with deglutition, _et vice versa_, she had been
reduced to a state of extreme weakness, attended with fever.
How many panaceas have been offered without success for two
evils--sea-sickness and hydrophobia! and between these two there appears to
be a link, for sea-sickness as surely ends in hydrophobia, as hydrophobia
does in death. The sovereign remedy prescribed, when I first went to sea,
was a piece of fat pork, tied to a string, to be swallowed, and then pulled
up again; the dose to be repeated until effective. I should not have
mentioned this well-known remedy, as it has long been superseded by other
nostrums, were it not that this maritime prescription has been the origin
of two modern improvements in the medical catalogue--one is the
stomach-pump, evidently borrowed from this simple engine; the other is the
very successful prescription now in vogue, to those who are weak in the
digestive organs, to eat fat bacon for breakfast, which I have no doubt was
suggested to Doctor Vance, from what he had been eye-witness to on board of
But here I am digressing again from Doctor Plausible to Doctor Vance.
Reader, I never lose the opportunity of drawing a moral; and what an
important one is here! Observe how difficult it is to regain the right path
when once you have quitted it. Let my error be a warning to you in your
journey through life, and my digressions preserve you from diverging from
the beaten track, which, as the Americans would say, leads _clean slick_ on
to happiness and peace.
Doctor Plausible was a personable man, apparently about five-and-thirty
years old; he wore a little powder in his hair, black silk stockings, and
knee-breeches. In this I consider Doctor Plausible was right; the above
look much more scientific than Wellington trousers; and much depends upon
the exterior. He was quite a ladies' man; talked to them about their
extreme sensibility, their peculiar fineness of organic structure, their
delicacy of nerves; and soothed his patients more by flattery than by
physic. Having discovered that Miss Laura was not inclined to give up her
gingerbread, he immediately acknowledged its virtues, but recommended that
it should be cut into extremely small dice, and allowed, as it were, to
melt away upon the tongue; stating, that her digestive organs were so
refined and delicate, that they would not permit themselves to be loaded
with any large particles, even of farinaceous compound. Isabel Revel, who
had been informed that Mrs Ferguson was on deck, expressed a wish to escape
from the confined atmosphere of the cabin; and Dr Plausible, as soon as he
had prescribed for Miss Laura, offered Miss Isabel his services; which, for
want of a better, perhaps, were accepted.
The ship at this time had a great deal of motion. The gale was spent; but
the sea created by the violence of the wind had not yet subsided, and the
waves continued still to rise and fall again, like the panting breasts of
men who have just desisted from fierce contention. Captain Drawlock
hastened over to receive his charge from the hands of the medical
attendant; and paying Isabel some compliments on her appearance, was
handing her over to the weather-side, where Mrs Ferguson was seated, when a
sea of larger dimensions than usual careened the ship to what the sailors
term a "heavy lurch." The decks were wet and slippery. Captain Drawlock
lost his footing, and was thrown to leeward. Isabel would most certainly
have kept him company; and indeed was already under weigh for the
lee-scuppers, had not it been that Newton Forster, who stood near, caught
her round the waist, and prevented her from falling.
It certainly was a great presumption to take a young lady round the waist
previous to any introduction; but, at sea, we are not very particular; and
if we do perceive that a lady is in danger of a severe fall, we do not
stand upon etiquette. What is more remarkable, we generally find that the
ladies excuse our unpolished manners, either upon the score of our good
intentions, or because there is nothing so very impertinent in them, after
all. Certain it is, that Isabel, as soon as she had recovered from her
alarm, thanked Newton Forster, with a sweet smile, for his timely aid, as
she again took the arm of Captain Drawlock, who escorted her to the
weather-side of the quarter-deck.
"I have brought you one of your _protegees_, Mrs Ferguson," said Captain
Drawlock. "How do you feel, Miss Revel?"
"Like most young ladies, sir, a little giddy," replied Isabel. "I hope you
were not hurt, Captain Drawlock; I'm afraid that you fell by paying more
attention to me than to yourself."
"My duty, Miss Revel. Allow me to add, my pleasure," replied the captain,
"That's very politely said, Captain Drawlock," replied Isabel.
"Almost too polite, I think," observed Mrs Ferguson (who was out of humour
at not being the first object of attention), "considering that Captain
Drawlock is a married man, with seven children." The captain looked glum,
and Miss Revel observing it, turned the conversation by inquiring--"Who was
that gentleman who saved me from falling?"
"Mr Newton Forster, one of the mates of the vessel. Would you like to walk,
Miss Revel, or remain where you are?"
"Thank you, I will stay with Mrs Ferguson."
The gentlemen passengers had as yet but occasionally appeared on deck. Men
generally suffer more from the distressing sickness than women. As soon,
however, as the news had been communicated below that the ladies were on
deck, some of the gentlemen immediately repaired to their trunks to make
themselves presentable, and then hastened on deck. The first on deck was
the old colonel, who tottered up the hatchway, and by dint of seizing rope
after rope, at last succeeded in advancing his lines to within hearing
range of Mrs Ferguson, to whom he had been formally introduced. He
commenced by lamenting his unfortunate sufferings, which had prevented him
from paying those attentions, ever to him a source of enjoyment and
gratification; but he was a martyr--quite a martyr; never felt any
sensation which could be compared to it, except when he was struck in the
breast with a spent ball, in the battle of ----; that their appearance had
made him feel revived already; that as the world would be a dark prison
without the sun, so would a ship be without the society of ladies;
commenced a description of Calcutta, and then--made a hasty retreat to the
The young writer next made his appearance, followed by the two boys, who
were going out as cadets; the first, with a new pair of grey kid gloves,
the others in their uniforms. The writer descanted long upon his own
miseries, without any inquiry or condolement for the sufferings of the
ladies. The cadets said nothing; but stared so much at Isabel Revel, that
she dropped her veil.
The ladies had been about a quarter of an hour on deck, when the sun, which
had not shown itself for two days, gleamed through the clouds. Newton, who
was officer of the watch, and had been accustomed, when with Mr Berecroft,
to work a chronometer, interrupted the captain, who was leaning on the
carronade, talking to Mrs Ferguson.
"The sun is out, and the horizon pretty clear, sir: you may have sights for
"Yes, indeed," said the captain, looking up; "be quick, and fetch my
sextant. You'll excuse me, ladies, but the chronometers must be attended
"In preference to us, Captain Drawlock?--Fie, for shame!" replied Mrs
"Why, not exactly," replied the captain, "not exactly; but the fact is,
that the sun may go in again."
"And we can stay out, I presume?" replied Isabel, laughing. "I think, Mrs
Ferguson, we ought to go in too."
"But, my dear young lady, if the sun goes in, I shall not get a _sight!_"
"And if we go in, you will not get a sight either," replied Mrs Ferguson.
"Between the two, sir," observed Newton, handing Captain Drawlock his
sextant, "you stand a chance of losing both. There's no time to spare; I'm
Captain Drawlock walked to the break of the gangways, so far concealed from
the ladies that they could not perceive that he was looking through his
sextant, the use of which they did not comprehend, having never seen one
before. Newton stood at the capstern, with his eyes fixed on the watch.
"Captain Drawlock," said Mrs Ferguson, calling to him, "allow me to
"_Stop_," cried Captain Drawlock, in a loud voice. Newton, to whom this was
addressed, noted the time.
"Good heavens! what can be the matter;" said Mrs Ferguson, with
astonishment, to those near her; "how excessively rude of Captain
Drawlock;--what can it be?" continued she, addressing the colonel, who had
"Really, madam, I cannot tell; but it is my duty to inquire," replied the
colonel, who, going up to Captain Drawlock, commenced--"Have the ladies
already so fallen in your estimation--"
"Forty degrees!" cried Captain Drawlock, who was intent upon his sextant.
"Excuse me, sir, just now."
"When will you be at leisure, sir?" resumed the colonel, haughtily.
"Twenty-six minutes," continued the captain, reading off his sextant.
"A little sooner, I should hope, sir," retorted the colonel.
"This is really quite insufferable! Miss Revel, we had better go in."
"Stop!" again cried Captain Drawlock, in a loud voice.
"Stop!" repeated Mrs Ferguson, angrily; "surely we are not slaves."
Newton, who heard what was passing, could not repress his laughter.
"Indeed, I am sure there must be some mistake, Mrs Ferguson," observed
Isabel. "Wait a little."
"Forty-six minutes, thirty seconds," again read off the captain. "Capital
sights both! but the sun is behind that dark cloud, and we shall have no
more of his presence."
"Nor of ours, I assure you, sir," said Mrs Ferguson, rising, as Captain
Drawlock walked from the gangway to the capstern.
"Why, my dear madam, what is the matter?"
"We have not been accustomed to such peremptory language, sir. It may be
the custom on board ship to holla 'stop' to ladies when they address you,
or express a wish to leave the deck."
"My dearest madam, I do assure you, upon my honour, that you are under a
mistake. I ordered Mr Forster to stop, not you."
"Mr Forster!" replied the lady; "why, he was standing still the whole
It was not until the whole system of taking sights for chronometers had
been satisfactorily explained, that the lady recovered her good-humour.
While the captain was thus employed with Mrs Ferguson, Newton, although it
was not necessary, explained the mystery to Miss Revel, who, with Mrs
Ferguson, soon after quitted the deck.
The sights taken proved the ship to be to the eastward of her reckoning.
The other ships in company had made the same discovery, and the course was
altered one quarter of a point. In two days they dropped their anchor in
But I must for a little while recross the Bay of Biscay, and, with my
reader, look into the chambers of Mr John Forster.
Upon this child--I saved her, must not leave
Her life to chance; but point me out some nook
Of safety, where she less may shrink and grieve.
This child, who parentless, is therefore mine."
A few minutes after Newton had quitted the chambers of his uncle, the clerk
made his appearance, announcing to Mr John Forster that a gentleman
requested to speak to him.
"I asked the gentleman's name, sir," observed the clerk, shutting to the
door, "but he did not choose to give it. He has a little girl with him."
"Very well, Scratton, the little girl cannot concern me," replied the old
lawyer; "ask him to walk in;"--and he again conned over the brief, not
choosing to lose the minute which might elapse before he was again to be
interrupted. The door was reopened, and Edward Forster, with Amber holding
him by the hand, entered the room.
"Your servant, sir. Scratton, a chair--two chairs, Scratton. I beg your
pardon, young lady."
When the clerk had retired, Mr John Forster commenced as usual.--"Now, sir,
may I request the favour of asking your business with me?"
"You do not recollect me; nor am I surprised at it, as it is fifteen years
since we last met. Time and suffering, which have worn me to a skeleton,
have also worn out the remembrance of a brother. I am Edward Forster."
"Edward Forster!--humph! Well, I did not recollect you; but I'm very glad
to see you, brother. Very strange--never have heard of one of my family for
years, and now they all turn up at once! No sooner get rid of one, than up
starts another. Nicholas came from the Lord knows where, the other day."
Edward Forster, who was better acquainted with his brother's character than
Newton, took no notice of the abruptness of his remarks, but replied:
"Nicholas! Is he, then, alive? I shall be delighted to see him."
"Humph!" replied John, "I was delighted to get rid of him. Take care of
your watch or spectacles when you meet him."
"Indeed, brother! I trust he is not such a character."
"But he is a character, I can tell you; not what you suppose--he's honest
enough. Let me see--if my memory serves me, brother Edward, we last met
when you were passing through London on your way to ----, having been
invalided, and having obtained a pension of forty pounds per annum for a
severe wound received in action. And pray, brother, where have you been
"At the same spot, from which I probably never should have been induced to
remove, had it not been for the sake of this little girl who is now with
"And pray who may be that little girl? Is she your daughter?"
"Only by adoption."
"Humph, brother! for a half-pay lieutenant, that appears rather an
expensive whim!--bad enough to maintain children of our own begetting."
"You say true," replied Edward; "but if in this instance I have incurred an
expense and responsibility, it must be considered to be more my misfortune
than my fault." Edward Forster then entered into the particulars connected
with Amber's rescue. "You must acknowledge, brother John," observed Edward,
as he closed his narrative, "that I could not well have acted otherwise;
you would not yourself."
"Humph! I don't know that; but this I do know, that you had better have
stayed at home!"
"Perhaps so, considering the forlorn prospects of the child; but we must
not judge. The same Providence which willed that she should be so
miraculously saved also willed that I should be her protector;--why
otherwise did the dog lay her at my feet?"
"Because it had been taught to 'fetch and carry,' I suppose: but however,
brother Edward, I have no right to question your conduct. If the girl is as
good as she is pretty, why all the better for her; but, as I am rather
busy, let me ask if you have any more to say to me?"
"I have, John; and the discourse we have had is preliminary. I am here with
a child, forced upon me I may say, but still as dear to me as if she were
mine own. You must be aware that I have nothing but my pension and half-pay
to subsist upon. I can save nothing. My health is undermined and my life
precarious. Last winter I never expected to quit my bed again; and, as I
lay in it, the thought naturally occurred of the forlorn and helpless state
in which this poor little girl would be in case of my decease. In a lonely
cottage, without money--without family or friends to apply to--without
anyone near her being made acquainted with her unfortunate history, what
would have become of her? It was this reflection which determined me, if my
life was spared, as soon as my health would permit, to come to you, the
only relative I was certain of still having in the world, that I might
acquaint you with her existence, and, with her history, confide to you the
few articles of dress which she wore when rescued, and which may eventually
lead to her recognition--a case of extreme doubt and difficulty, I grant;
but the ways of Providence are mysterious, and her return to the arms of
her friends will not be more wonderful than her preservation on that
dreadful night. Brother! I never have applied to you in my own behalf,
although conscious how ample are your means--and I never will; but I do now
plead in favour of this dear child. Worn out as I am, my pilgrimage on
earth can be but short; and if you would smooth the pillow of a dying
brother, promise him now that you will extend your bounty to this poor
orphan, when I'm no more!"
Edward Forster's voice was tremulous at the close of his appeal, and his
brother appeared to be affected. There was a silence of a minute, when the
customary "humph!" was ejaculated, and John Forster then continued: "A very
foolish business, brother--very foolish, indeed. When Nicholas and his son
came here the other day and applied to me--why it was all very well--there
was relationship; but really, to put another man's child upon me!"
"Not while it pleases heaven to spare _my_ life, brother."
"'May you live a thousand years!' then, as the Spanish say; but, however,
brother Edward, as you say, the poor thing must not starve; so, if I am to
take care of a child of another man's begetting, as soon as you are dead, I
can only say, it will very much increase my sorrow at your loss. Come here,
little one: What's your name?"
"Amber! who the devil gave you that fool's name?"
"I did, brother," replied Edward; "I thought it appropriate."
"Humph! really can't see why. Why did you not call her Sukey, or some name
fit for a Christian? Amber! Amber's a gum, is it not? Stop, let's see what
The lawyer went to a case of books which were in the next room, and
returned with a quarto.
"Now," said he, seating himself; "AG--AL--AM--Ambassador--Ambassadress--
Amber!--humph! here it is, 'A yellow, transparent substance of a gummous or
bituminous consistence, but of a resinous taste, and a smell like oil of
turpentine; chiefly found in the Baltic sea or the coast of Prussia.'
Humph! 'Some have imagined it to consist of the tears of birds; others
the'--humph!--'of a beast; others the scum of the Lake Cephesis, near the
Atlantic; others a congelation in some fountains, where it is found
swimming like pitch.' Really, brother," continued the lawyer, fixing his
eyes on the little girl, and shutting the book, "I can't see the analogy."
"Be her godfather, my dear brother, and call her any name you please."
"Pray, papa," said Amber, turning to Edward Forster, "What's the meaning of
"Humph!" repeated the lawyer, looking hard at Amber.
"It implies yes or no, as it may be," replied Edward Forster, smiling.
"I never heard anyone say it before, papa. You're not angry with me, sir?"
continued Amber, turning round to John Forster.
"No, not angry, little girl; but I'm too busy to talk to you--or indeed
with you, brother Edward. Have you anything more to say?"
"Nothing, my dear brother, if I have your promise."
"Well, you have it; but what am I to do with her, God only knows! I wish
you had kept better hours. You mentioned some clothes which might identify
her to her relations; pray let me have them; for I shall have the greatest
pleasure in restoring her to them, as soon as possible, after she is once
in my hands."
"Here they are, brother," replied Edward, taking a small packet from his
coat-pocket; "you had better take charge of them now; and may God bless you
for having relieved my mind from so heavy a load!"
"Humph! by taking it on my own shoulders," muttered John, as he walked to
the iron safe, to deposit the packet of linen; then returning to the table,
"Have you anything more to say, brother?"
"Only to ask you where I may find my brother Nicholas?"
"That I can't tell; my nephew told me somewhere down the river; but it's a
long way from here to the Nore. Nephew's a fine lad; I sent him off to the
"I am sorry then that I have no chance of seeing him:--but you are busy,
"I have told you so three times, as plain as I could speak!"
"I will no longer trespass on your time. We return home to-morrow morning;
and, as I cannot expect ever to see you again, God bless you, my dear John!
and farewell, I am afraid I may say, in this world at least, farewell for
Edward held out his hand to his brother. It was taken with considerable
emotion. "Farewell, brother, farewell!--I'll not forget."
"Good-bye, sir," said Amber, going close up to John Forster.
"Good-bye, my little girl," replied he, looking earnestly in her face; and
then, as if thawing towards her, as he scanned her beautiful and expressive
features, removing his spectacles and kissing her, "Good-bye."
"Oh! papa," cried Amber, as she went out of the room, "he kissed me!"
"Humph!" said John Forster, as the door closed upon them.
The spectacles were put on, and the reading of the brief immediately
"Strickland.--These doings in my house distract me.
I met a fine gentleman; when I inquired who
He was--why, he came to Clarinda. I met
A footman too, and he came to Clarinda.
My wife had the character of a virtuous
"Let us no more contend
Each other, blamed enough elsewhere, but strive
In offices of love, how we may lighten
Each other's burden in our share of woe."
I do not know a spot on the globe which astonishes and delights, upon your
first landing, as the island of Madeira.
The voyager embarks, and is in all probability confined to his cabin,
suffering under the dreadful protraction of sea-sickness. Perhaps he has
left England in the gloomy close of the autumn, or the frigid concentration
of an English winter. In a week, or even in a shorter period, he again
views that _terra firma_ which he had quitted with regret, and which in his
sufferings he would have given half that he possessed to regain.
When he lands upon the island, what a change! Winter has become summer, the
naked trees which he left are exchanged for the most luxuriant and varied
foliage, snow and frost for warmth and splendour; the scenery of the
temperate zone for the profusion and magnificence of the tropics; fruit
which he had never before seen, supplies for the table unknown to him; a
bright sky, a glowing sun, hills covered with vines, a deep-blue sea, a
picturesque and novel costume; all meet and delight the eye, just at the
precise moment when to have been landed, even upon a barren island, would
have been considered as a luxury. Add to all this, the unbounded
hospitality of the English residents, a sojourn too short to permit
satiety; and then is it to be wondered that the island of Madeira is a
"green spot" in the memory of all those who land there, or that they quit
it with regret?
The _Bombay Castle_ had not been two hours at anchor before the passengers
had availed themselves of an invitation from one of the English residents,
and were quartered in a splendid house, which looked upon a square and one
of the principal churches in the city of Funchal. While the gentlemen
amused themselves, at the extensive range of windows, with the novelty of
the scene, and the ladies retired to their apartments to complete the hasty
toilet of their disembarkation, Captain Drawlock was very busy in the
counting-house below, with the master of the house. There were so many
pipes of Madeira for the Honourable Company; so many for the directors'
private cellars, besides many other commissions for friends, which Captain
Drawlock had undertaken to execute; for at that period Madeira wine had not
been so calumniated as it latterly has been.
A word upon this subject. I am a mortal enemy to every description of
humbug; and I believe there is as much in the medical world as in any
other. Madeira wine had for a century been in high and deserved reputation,
when on a sudden some fashionable physician discovers that it contained
more acid than sherry. Whether he was a sleeping partner in some Spanish
house, or whether he had received a present of a few pipes of sherry that
he might turn the scale of public favour towards that wine, I know not; but
certain it is, that it became fashionable with all medical gentlemen to
prescribe sherry; and when once anything becomes fashionable, _c'est une
I do not pretend to be much of a pathologist; but on reading Mr F----'s
analysis on the component parts of wine, I observed that in one hundred
parts there are perhaps twenty-two parts of acid in Madeira, and nineteen
in sherry; so that, in fact, if you reduce your glass of Madeira wine just
one sip in quantity, you will imbibe no more acid than in a full glass of
sherry; and when we consider the variety of acids in sugar and other
compounds, which abound in culinary preparations, the fractional quantity
upon which has been grounded the abuse of Madeira wine appears to be most
But if not a pathologist, I have a most decided knowledge of what is good
wine; and if the gout should some day honour me with a visit, I shall at
least have the consolation to know that I have by potation most honestly
But allowing that the medical gentlemen are correct, still their good
intentions are frustrated by the knavery of the world; and the result of
their prescriptions is that people drink much more acid than they did
before. I do every justice to good old sherry when it does make its
appearance at table; it is a noble wine when aged and unsophisticated from
its youth; but for once that you meet with it genuine, you are twenty times
disappointed. When Madeira wine was in vogue, the island could not produce
the quantity required for consumption, and the vintage from the north side
of the island, or of Teneriffe, was substituted. This adulteration no doubt
was one cause of its losing its well-established reputation. But Madeira
wine has a quality which in itself proves its superiority over all other
wines--namely, that although no other wine can be passed off as Madeira,
yet with Madeira the wine-merchants may imitate any other wine that is in
demand. What is the consequence? that Madeira, not being any longer in
request as Madeira now that sherry is the "correct thing," and there not
being sufficient of the latter to meet the increased demand, most of the
wine vended as sherry is made from the inferior Madeira wines. Reader, if
you have ever been in Spain, you may have seen the Xerez or sherry wine
brought from the mountains to be put into the cask. A raw goat-skin, with
the neck-part and the four legs sewed up, forms a leathern bag, containing
perhaps from fifteen to twenty gallons. This is the load of one man, who
brings it down on his shoulder exposed to the burning rays of the sun. When
it arrives, it is thrown down on the sand, to swelter in the heat with the
rest, and remains there probably for days before it is transferred into the
cask. It is this proceeding which gives to sherry that peculiar leather
twang which distinguishes it from other wines--a twang easy to imitate by
throwing into a cask of Cape wine a pair of old boots, and allowing them to
remain a proper time. Although the public refuse to drink Madeira as
Madeira, they are in fact drinking it in every way disguised--as port, as
sherry, &c.; and it is a well-known fact that the poorer wines from the
north side of the island are landed in the London Docks, and shipped off to
the Continent, from whence they reappear in bottles as "peculiarly fine
Now, as it is only the indifferent wines which are thus turned into
sherry,--and the more inferior the wine, the more acid it contains,--I
think I have made out a clear case that people are drinking more acid than
they did before this wonderful discovery of the medical gentlemen, who have
for some years led the public by the nose.
There are, however, some elderly persons of my acquaintance who are not to
be dissuaded from drinking Madeira, but who continue to destroy themselves
by the use of this acid, which perfumes the room when the cork is
extracted. I did represent to one of them that it was a species of suicide,
after what the doctors had discovered; but he replied, in a very gruff tone
of voice, "May be, sir; but you can't teach an old dog new tricks!"
I consider that the public ought to feel very much indebted to me for this
_expose_. Madeira wine is very low, while sherry is high in price. They
have only to purchase a cask of Madeira and flavour it with Wellington
boots or ladies' slippers, as it may suit their palates. The former will
produce the high-coloured, the latter the pale sherry. Further, I consider
that the merchants of Madeira are bound to send me a letter of thanks, with
a pipe of Bual to prove its sincerity. Now I recollect Stoddart did promise
me some wine when he was last in England; but I suppose he has forgotten
But from the produce I must return to the island and my passengers. The
first day of their arrival they ate their dinner, took their coffee, and
returned to bed early to enjoy a comfortable night after so many of
constant pitching and tossing. The next morning the ladies were much
better, and received the visits of all the captains of the India ships, and
also of the captain of the frigate who escorted them.
The officers of the _Bombay Castle_ had been invited to dinner; and the
first mate not being inclined to leave the ship, Newton had for one
accepted the invitation. On his arrival, he discovered in the captain of
the frigate his former acquaintance, Captain Carrington, in whose ship he
had obtained a passage from the West Indies, and who, on the former being
paid off, had been appointed to the command of the _Boadicea_. Captain
Carrington was delighted to meet Newton; and the attention which he paid to
him, added to the encomiums bestowed when Newton was out of hearing, raised
him very high in the opinion, not only of Captain Drawlock, but also in the
estimation of the ladies. At the request of Captain Carrington, Newton was
allowed to remain on shore till their departure from the island; and from
this circumstance he became more intimate with the ladies than he would in
all probability have otherwise been in the whole course of the voyage. We
must pass over the gallop up to Nostra Senhora da Monte,--an expedition
opposed by Captain Drawlock on the score of his responsibility; but he was
overruled by Captain Carrington, who declared that Newton and he were quite
sufficient convoy. We must pass over the many compliments paid to Isabel
Revel by Captain Carrington, who appeared desperately in love after an
acquaintance of four-and-twenty hours, and who discovered a defect in the
_Boadicea_ which would occupy two or three days to make good, that he might
be longer in her company; but we will not pass over one circumstance which
occurred during their week's sojourn at this delightful island.
A certain Portuguese lady of noble birth had been left a widow with two
daughters, and a fine estate to share between them. The daughters were
handsome; but the estate was so much handsomer that it set all the
mandolins of the Portuguese inamoratos strumming under the windows of the
lady's abode from sunset to the dawn of day.
Now, it did so occur, that a young English clerk in a mercantile house, who
had a fresh complexion and a clean shirt to boast of (qualifications
unknown to the Portuguese), won the heart of the eldest daughter; and the
old lady, who was not a very strict Catholic, gave her consent to this
heretical union. The Catholic priests, who had long been trying to persuade
the old lady to shut up her daughters in a convent, and endow the church
with her property, expressed a holy indignation at the intended marriage.
The Portuguese gentlemen, who could not brook the idea of so many fair
hills of vines going away to a stranger, were equally indignant: in short,
the whole Portuguese population of the island were in arms; but the old
lady, who had always contrived to have her way before her husband's death,
was not inclined to be thwarted now that she was her own mistress; and,
notwithstanding threats and expostulations from all quarters, she awaited
but the arrival of an English man-of-war that the ceremony might be
performed, there being at that time no Protestant clergyman on the island;
for the reader must know that a marriage on board of a king's ship, by the
captain, duly entered in the log-book, is considered as valid as if the
ceremony were performed by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
I once married a couple on board of a little ten-gun brig of which I
condescended to take the command, to oblige the first lord of the
Admiralty; offered, I believe, to _provide_ for me, and rid the Board of
all future solicitations for employment or promotion.
It was one of my sailors, who had come to a determination to make an honest
woman of Poll and an ass of himself at one and the same time. The ceremony
took place on the quarter-deck. "Who gives this woman away?" said I, with
due emphasis, according to the ritual. "I do," cried the boatswain, in a
gruff voice, taking the said lady by the arm and shoving her towards me, as
if he thought her not worth keeping. Everything went on seriously,
nevertheless. The happy pair were kneeling down on the union-jack, which
had been folded on the deck in consideration of the lady's knees, and I was
in the middle of the blessing, when two pigs, which we had procured at St
Jago's, being then off that island (creatures more like English pigs on
stilts than anything else, unless you could imagine a cross between a pig
and a greyhound), in the lightness of their hearts and happy ignorance of
their doom, took a frisk, as you often see pigs do on shore, commenced a
run from forward right aft, and galloping to the spot where we were all
collected, rushed against the two just made one, destroying their centre of
gravity, and upsetting them; and, indeed, destroying the gravity and
upsetting the seriousness of myself and the whole of the ship's company.
The lady recovered her legs, d--d the pigs, and, taking her husband's arm,
hastened down the hatchway; so that I lost the kiss to which I was entitled
for my services. I consoled myself by the reflection that, "please the
pigs," I might be more fortunate the next time that I officiated in my
clerical capacity. This is a digression, I grant, but I cannot help it; it
is the nature of man to digress. Who can say that he has through life kept
in the straight path? This is a world of digression; and I beg that critics
will take no notice of mine, as I have an idea that my digressions in this
work are as agreeable to my readers, as my digressions in life have been
agreeable to myself.
When Captain Carrington anchored with his convoy in Funchal roads,
immediate application was made by the parties for the ceremony to be
performed on board of his ship. It is true that, as Mr Ferguson had
arrived, it might have taken place on shore; but it was considered
advisable, to avoid interruption and insult, that the parties should be
under the sanctuary of a British man-of-war. On the fourth day after the
_Boadicea's_ arrival, the ceremony was performed on board of her by Mr
Ferguson; and the passengers of the _Bombay_, residing at the house of
Mr-----, who was an intimate friend of the bridegroom, received and
accepted the invitation to the marriage-dinner. The feast was splendid, and
after the Portuguese custom. The first course was _boiled_: it consisted of
boiled beef, boiled mutton, boiled hams, boiled tongues, boiled bacon,
boiled fowls, boiled turkeys, boiled sausages, boiled cabbages, boiled
potatoes, and boiled carrots. Duplicates of each were ranged in opposition,
until the table groaned with its superincumbent weight. All were cut up,
placed in one dish, and handed round to the guests. When they drank wine,
every glass was filled, and everybody who filled his glass was expected to
drink the health of every guest separately and by name before he emptied
it. The first course was removed, and the second made its appearance, all
roasted. Roast beef, roast veal, roast mutton, roast lamb, roast joints of
pork, roasted turkeys, roasted fowls, roasted sausages, roasted everything;
the centre dish being a side of a large hog, rolled up like an enormous
fillet of veal. This, too, was done ample justice to by the Portuguese part
of the company, at least; and all was cleared away for the dessert,
consisting of oranges, melons, pine-apples, guavas, citrons, bananas,
peaches, strawberries, apples, pears, and, indeed, of almost every fruit
which can be found in the whole world; all of which appear to naturalise
themselves at Madeira. It was now supposed by the uninitiated that the
dinner was over; but not so: the dessert was cleared away, and on came an
_husteron proteron_ medley of pies and puddings, in all their varieties,
smoking hot, boiled and baked; custards and sweetmeats, cheese and olives,
fruits of all kinds preserved, and a hundred other things, from which the
gods preserve us! At last the feast was really over--the Portuguese picked
their teeth with their forks, and the wine was circulated briskly. On such
an occasion as the marriage of her daughter, the old lady had resolved to
tap a pipe of Madeira, which was, at the very least, fifty years old, very
fine in flavour, but, from having been so long in the wood, little inferior
in strength to genuine Cognac. The consequence was that many of the
gentlemen became noisy before the dinner was over; and their mirth was
increased to positive uproar upon a message being sent by the bishop,
ordering, upon pain of excommunication, that the ceremony should proceed no
further. The ladies retired to the withdrawing-room: the gentlemen soon
followed; but the effects of the wine were so apparent upon most of them
that Captain Drawlock summoned Newton to his assistance, and was in a state
of extreme anxiety until his "responsibilities" were safe at home. Shortly
afterwards, Captain Carrington and those who were the least affected, by
persuasion and force, removed the others from the house; and the bridal
party were left to themselves, to deliberate whether they should or should
not obey the preposterous demands of the reverend bishop.
Captain Carrington was excessively fond of a joke, and never lost the
opportunity when it occurred: now, it happened that in the party invited
there was a merchant of the name of Sullivan, who, upon his last visit to
England, had returned with a very pretty, and at the same time, a very
coquettish young lady as his wife. It happened, in the casualties of a
large dinner party, that the old colonel (Ellice was his name, if I have
not mentioned it before) was seated next to her, and, as usual, was
remarkably attentive. Mr Sullivan, like many other gentlemen, was very
inattentive to his wife, and, unlike most Irishmen, was very jealous of
her. The very marked attention of the colonel had not escaped his notice;
neither did his fidgeting upon this occasion escape the notice of those
about him, who were aware of his disposition. The poor colonel was one of
those upon whose brain the wine had taken the most effect; and it was not
until after sundry falls, and being again placed upon his legs, that he had
been conveyed home between Captain Carrington and Mr----, the merchant at
whose house the party from the _Bombay Castle_ were residing. The ensuing
morning he did not make his appearance at breakfast; and the gentlemen
residing on the island, commenting upon the events of the evening before,
declared in a joking way that they should not be surprised at Mr Sullivan
sending him a challenge in the course of the morning; that was, if he was
up so soon, as he had quitted the house in a greater state of inebriety
than even the colonel. It was upon this hint that Captain Carrington
proposed to have some amusement; and having arranged it with one of the
junior partners of the house, he went into the room of the colonel, whom he
found still in bed.
"Well, colonel, how do you find yourself?" said Captain Carrington, when he
had roused him.
"Oh! very bad, indeed: my head is ready to split; never felt such a
sensation in my head before, except when I was struck with a spent ball at
the battle of--"
"I am very sorry for your headache, colonel: but more sorry that the wine
should have played you such a trick last night."
"Trick, indeed!" replied the colonel; "I was completely overcome. I do not
recollect a word that passed after I quitted the dinner-table."
"Are you serious? Do you not recollect the scene with Mrs Sullivan?"
"Mrs Sullivan! My dear sir, what scene? I certainly paid every attention
due to a very pretty woman; but I recollect no further."
"Not the scene in the drawing-room?"
"God bless me!--No--I do not even recollect ever going into the
drawing-room! Pray tell me what I said or did: I hope nothing improper."
"Why, that depends very much whether the lady likes it or not; but in the
presence of so many people--"
"Merciful powers! Captain Carrington, pray let me know at once what folly
it was that I committed."
"Why, really, I am almost ashamed to enter into particulars: suffice to
say, that you used most unwarrantable freedom towards her."
"Is it possible?" cried the colonel. "Now, Captain Carrington, are you not
"Ask this gentleman; he was present."
The assertion of the captain was immediately corroborated, and the colonel
was quite aghast.
"Excuse me, gentlemen, I will run immediately--that abominable wine. I must
go and make a most ample apology. I am bound to do it, as a gentleman, as
an officer, and as a man of honour."
Captain Carrington and his confederate quitted the room, satisfied with the
success of their plot. The colonel rose, and soon afterwards made his
appearance. He swallowed a cup of coffee, and then proceeded on his visit,
to make the _amende honorable_.
When Mr Sullivan awoke from the lethargy produced from the stupefying
effects of the wine, he tried to recollect the circumstances of the
preceding evening; but he could trace no further than to the end of the
dinner, after which his senses had been overpowered. All that he could call
to memory was, that somebody had paid great attention to his wife, and that
what had passed afterwards was unknown. This occasioned him to rise in a
very jealous humour; and he had not been up more than an hour, when the
colonel sent up his card, requesting, as a particular favour, that the lady
would admit him.
The card and message were taken by the servant to Mr Sullivan, whose
jealousy was again roused by the circumstance; and wishing to know if the
person who had now called was the same who had been so attentive to his
wife on the preceding evening, and the motives of the call, he requested
that the colonel might be shown in, without acquainting his wife, whom he
had not yet seen, with his arrival. The colonel, who intended to have made
an apology to the lady without the presence of a third person, least of all
of her husband, ascended the stairs, adjusting his hair and cravat, and
prepared with all the penitent assurance and complimentary excuses of a too
ardent lover. The fact was, that, although the colonel had expressed to
Captain Carrington his regret and distress at the circumstance, yet, as an
old Adonis, he was rather proud of this instance of juvenile indiscretion.
When, therefore, he entered the room, and perceived, instead of the lady,
Mr Sullivan, raised up to his utmost height, and looking anything but
good-humoured, he naturally started back, and stammered out something which
was unintelligible. His behaviour did not allay the suspicions of Mr
Sullivan, who requested, in a haughty tone, to be informed of the reason
why he had been honoured with a visit. The colonel became more confused,
and totally losing his presence of mind, replied:--
"I called, sir,--on Mrs Sullivan,--to offer an apology for my conduct last
night; but as I perceive that she is not visible, I will take a more
"Any apology you may have to offer to my wife, sir," replied Mr Sullivan,
"may be confided to me. May I inquire the circumstances which have occurred
to render an apology necessary?" and Mr Sullivan walked to the door and
"Why, really, Mr Sullivan, you must be aware that circumstances may occur,"
replied the colonel, more confused: "the fact is, that I consider it my
duty, as a gentleman and a man of honour, to express my regrets to your
"My fair lady! for what, sir, may I ask?"
"Why, sir," stammered the colonel, "to state the truth, for, as a gentleman
and a man of honour, I ought not to be ashamed to acknowledge my
error--for--the very improper behaviour which I was guilty of last night."
"Improper behaviour, sir!--d--nation! with my wife?" roared Mr Sullivan, in
his rage. "What behaviour, sir? and when, sir?"
"Really, sir, I was too much affected with the wine to know anything which
passed. I did hope to have addressed the lady in person on the subject, and
I came here with that intention."
"I daresay you did, sir."
"But," continued the colonel, "as it appears I am not to have that honour,
I consider that I have done my duty in requesting that you will convey my
sentiments of regret for what has passed;--and now, sir, I wish you a good
"Good morning," retorted the husband, with a sneer, "and observe, sir, I
will not trouble you to call again. William, show this gentleman outside
The colonel, who was descending the stairs, turned round to Mr Sullivan at
the latter part of his speech, and then, as if thinking better of it, he
resumed his descent, and the door was immediately closed upon him.
Mr Sullivan, as soon as he was satisfied that the colonel was shut out,
immediately repaired to his wife's dressing-room, where he found her
"Madam," said he, fixing his eyes sternly on her, "I have been informed of
what took place last night."
"I'm sure I do not know what that was," replied the lady, coolly, "except
that you were very tipsy."
"Granted, madam; you took advantage of it; and your conduct--"
"My conduct, Mr Sullivan!" replied his wife, kindling with anger.
"Yes, Mrs Sullivan, your conduct. A married woman, madam, who allows
"Gentlemen, Mr Sullivan! I allow no gentleman but yourself. Are you sure
that you are quite sober?"
"Yes, madam, I am; but this affected coolness will not avail you: deny, if
you can, that Colonel Ellice did not last night--"
"Well, then, I do deny it. Neither Colonel Ellice nor any other man ever
"Did what, madam?" interrupted the husband in a rage.
"I was going to observe, if you had not interrupted me, that no one was
wanting in proper respect towards me," replied the lady, who grew more cool
as her husband increased in choler. "Pray, Mr Sullivan, may I inquire who
is the author of this slander?"
"The author, madam! look at me--to your confusion look at me!"
"Well, I'm looking."
"'Twas, madam--the colonel himself."
"The colonel himself!"
"Yes, madam, the colonel himself, who called this morning to see you and
renew the intimacy, I presume; but by mistake was shown up to me, and then
made an apology for his conduct."
"It's excessively strange! first the colonel is rude, without my knowledge,
and then apologises to you! Mr Sullivan, I'm afraid that your head is not
right this morning."
"Indeed, madam, I only wish that your heart was as sound," replied the
husband, with a sneer; "but, madam, I am not quite blind. An honest
woman--a virtuous woman, Mrs Sullivan, would have immediately acquainted
her husband with what had passed--not have concealed it; still less have
had the effrontery to deny it, when acknowledged by her _paramour_."
"_Paramour_!" cried the lady, with an hysterical laugh; "Mr Sullivan, when
I select a _paramour_, it shall be a handsome young man--not an old,
"Pshaw, madam! there's no accounting for taste; when a woman deviates from
the right path--"
"Right path! if ever I deviated from the right path, as you call it, it was
when I married such a wretch as you! Yes, sir," continued the lady,
bursting into tears, "I tell it you now--my life has been a torment to me
ever since I married (sobbing)--always suspected for nothing (sob,
sob)--jealous, detestable temper (sob)--go to my friends (sob)--hereafter
may repent (sob)--then know what you've lost" (sob, sob, sob).
"And, madam," replied Mr Sullivan, "so may you also know what you have
lost, before a few hours have passed away; then, madam, the time may come
when the veil of folly will be rent from your eyes, and your conduct appear
in all its deformity. Farewell, madam--perhaps for ever!"
The lady made no reply; Mr Sullivan quitted the room, and, repairing to his
counting-house, wrote a challenge to the colonel and confided the delivery
of it to one of his friends, who unwillingly accepted the office of second.
"He's truly valiant, that can wisely suffer
The worst that man can breathe, and make his wrongs
His outsides: to wear them, like his raiment, carelessly,
And ne'er prefer his injuries to his heart,
To bring it into danger."
The colonel, in the meantime, had returned to the house where he was
residing, when he was immediately accosted by Captain Carrington and the
other gentlemen who had been let into the secret of the plot. During his
walk home the colonel had been ruminating on his dismissal, and had not
quite made up his mind whether he ought or ought not to resent the conduct
of Mr Sullivan. Naturally more inclined for peace than war, by the time
that he had arrived home he had resolved to pocket the affront, when
Captain Carrington called him on one side, and obtained from him a
recapitulation of what had passed; which probably never would have been
given if the colonel had not considered the communication as confidential.
This, however, did not suit the intentions of Captain Carrington, who felt
inclined for more mischief; and, when the colonel had concluded his
narrative, he replied, "Upon my word, colonel, as you observe, this conduct
on the part of Mr Sullivan is not exactly what can be permitted by us
military men. I hardly know how to advise; indeed, I would not take the
responsibility; however, I will consult with Mr S---- and Mr G----, and if
you will leave your honour in our hands, depend upon it we will do you
strict justice:" and Captain Carrington quitted the colonel, who would have
expostulated, and, walking up to the other gentlemen, entered into a
recapitulation of the circumstances. A wink of his eye, as his back was
turned to the colonel, fully expressed to the others the tenor of the
advice which they were to offer.
"Well, gentlemen, what is your opinion?" said the captain, as he concluded
"I think," replied Mr S----, with a serious face, "there can be but
one--our gallant friend has been most grossly insulted. I think," continued
he, addressing the colonel, who had quitted the sofa, in his anxiety to
know the issue of their debate, "that I should most decidedly ask him what
"Or rather demand an apology," observed Mr G----.
"Which Mr Sullivan, as a man of honour, is bound to offer, and the colonel,
as a gentleman and an officer, has a right to insist upon. Do you not think
so, Captain Carrington?" said Mr S----.
"Why, I always have been more inclined to be a peacemaker than otherwise,
if I can," replied Captain Carrington. "If our gallant friend the colonel
is not sure that Mr Sullivan did use the words, 'I won't trouble you to
call again,'--are you positive as to the exact words, colonel?"
"Why, to the best of my recollection," replied the colonel, "I rather think
those were the words. I may be mistaken:--it was certainly--most certainly,
something to that effect."
"Were they 'requesting you to call again?'" said Captain Carrington.
"No, no, that they were certainly not."
"Well, they could be but one or the other. Then, gentlemen, the case is
clear--the words were uttered," said Mr S----. "Now Captain Carrington,
what would you advise?"
"I really am vexed to say that I do not see how our friend, Colonel Ellice,
can do otherwise than demand an apology, or a meeting."
"Could not I treat him with contempt, Captain Carrington?" demanded the
"Why, not exactly," replied Mr S----. "Sullivan is of good family--the
Sullivans of Bally cum Poop. He was some time in the 48th Regiment, and was
obliged to retire from it for challenging his colonel."
"Well, gentlemen," replied the colonel, "I suppose I must leave my honour
in your hands, although it does appear to me that our time is very short
for such arrangements. We sail early to-morrow morning, Captain Carrington;
at daylight I think you said, and it will be too late to-night."
"My dear colonel, I will risk a rebuke from the Admiralty," replied the
captain, "rather than not allow you to heal your wounded honour. I will
stay till the day after tomorrow, should it be requisite for the
arrangement of this business."
"Thank you, many thanks," replied the colonel, with an expression of
disappointment. "Then I had better prepare the letter?"
"Carta por senhor commandante," interrupted a Portuguese, presenting a
letter to the colonel; "O senhor embaixo; queir risposta."
The colonel opened the letter, which contained Mr Sullivan's
challenge,--pistols--tomorrow morn, at daylight--one mile on the road to
The colonel's countenance changed two or three shades less yellow as he
read the contents: recovering himself with a giggle, he handed the letter
to Captain Carrington.
"You see, captain, the gentleman has saved me the trouble--He, he, he!
these little affairs are common to gentlemen of our profession--He, he!
and, since the gentleman wishes it, why, I presume--He, he! that we must
not disappoint him."
"Since you are both of one mind, I think there will be some business done,"
observed Mr S----. "I perceive that he is in earnest by the place named for
the meeting. We generally settle our affairs of honour in the Loo-fields;
but I suppose he is afraid of interruption.--They want an answer, colonel."
"Oh! he shall have one," replied the colonel, tittering with excitement;
"he shall have one. What hour does he say?"
"Oh, we will arrange all that. Come, colonel," said Captain Carrington,
taking him familiarly by the arm, and leading him away.
The answer was despatched, and they sat down to dinner. Many were the
friendly and encouraging glasses of wine drank with the colonel, who
recovered his confidence, and was then most assiduous in his attentions to
the ladies, to prove his perfect indifference. He retired at an early hour,
In the meantime Mr Sullivan had received the answer, and had retired to his
counting-house, to arrange his affairs in case of accident. He had not seen
his wife since the _fracas_. And now we will leave them both for a while,
and make a few remarks upon duelling.
Most people lament, many abuse, the custom as barbarous; but barbarous it
is not, or it would not be necessary in a state of high civilisation. It is
true, that by the practice we offend laws human and divine; but, at the
same time, it must be acknowledged, that neither law nor religion can keep
society in such good order, or so restrain crime. The man who would defy
the penalty of the law, and the commandments of his God against seduction
will, however, pause in his career, when he finds that there are brothers
to avenge an injured sister. And why so?--because in this world we live as
if we were in a tavern, careless of what the bill is which we run up, but
dreading the day of reckoning, which the pistol of our adversary may bring
at once. Thus duelling may be considered as a necessary evil, arising out
of our wickedness; a crime in itself rare in occurrence, but which prevents
others of equal magnitude from occurring every day; and, until the world is
reformed, nothing can prevent it. Men will ever be governed by the
estimation of the world: and until the whole world decide against
duelling--until it has become the usage to offer the other cheek upon the
first having been smitten--then, and not till then, will the practice be
discontinued. When a man refuses to fight a duel, he is stigmatised as a
coward, his company is shunned, and unless he is a wretch without feeling,
his life becomes a burden. Men have refused from purely conscientious
motives, and have subsequently found themselves so miserable, from the
neglect and contumely of the world, that they have _backslided_, and have
fought to recover their place in society. There have been some few--very
few--who, having refused from conscientious motives, have adhered to these
resolutions, because they feared God and not man. There was more courage in
their refusal than if they had run the gauntlet of a hundred duels; a moral
courage which is most rare,--preferring the contempt of man to the wrath of
God. It is, however, the most trying situation on this side of the grave.
To refuse to fight a duel, is in fact to obey the stern injunction, "Leave
all, and follow me."
For my part, I never have and never will fight a duel, if I can help it. I
have a double motive for my refusal; in the first place, I am afraid to
offend the Deity; and in the next, I am afraid of being shot. I have,
therefore, made up my mind never to meet a man except upon what I consider
fair terms; for when a man stakes his life, the gambling becomes rather
serious, and an equal value should be laid down by each party. If, then, a
man is not so big--not of equal consequence in the consideration of his
fellow-mites--not married, with five small children, as I am--not having so
much to lose,--why, it is clear that I risk more than he does; the stake is
not equal, and I therefore shall not meet him. If, on the contrary, he
presents a broader target--if he is my superior in rank, more patriarchal
at home, or has so many hundreds per annum more--why, then the
disadvantages will be on his side; and I trust I am too much of a
gentleman, even if he offers to waive all these considerations, to permit
him to fight. It would be _swindling_ the man out of his life.
The best advice I can offer to my friends under these unpleasant
circumstances is, first to try if they cannot persuade their adversaries to
make an apology: and if they will not, why, then, let them make one
themselves; for although the making an apology creates a very uneasy
sensation, and goes very much _against_ the stomach, yet, depend upon it, a
well-directed bullet creates a much more uneasy feeling, and, what is
worse, goes _directly into it_.
We left Mrs Sullivan sobbing in her anger, when her husband bounded out of
the room in his heroics. At the time that he made the threat she was in no
humour to regard it; but as her anger gradually subsided, so did her alarm
increase. Notwithstanding that she was a coquette, she was as warmly
attached to her husband as he was to her; if she trifled, it was only for
her amusement, and to attract that meed of admiration to which she had been
accustomed previous to her marriage, and which no woman can renounce on her
first entry into that state. Men cannot easily pardon jealousy in their
wives; but women are more lenient towards their husbands. Love,
hand-in-hand with confidence, is the more endearing; yet, when confidence
happens to be out of the way, Love will sometimes associate with Jealousy;
still, as this disagreeable companion proves that Love is present, and as
his presence is what a woman and all a woman asks, she suffers Jealousy,
nay, sometimes even becomes partial to him, for the sake of Love.
Now, that Mrs Sullivan had been most unjustly accused, the reader must
know, and, moreover, that she had great reason to feel irritated. When her
tears had subsided, for some time she continued in her chair, awaiting,
with predetermined dignity, the appearance and apology of Mr Sullivan.
After some time had elapsed, she wondered why he did not come. Dinner was
announced, and she certainly expected to meet him then, and she waited for
some minutes to see if he would not take this opportunity of coming up to
her;--but no. She then presumed that he was still in the sulks, and had sat
down to table without her, and therefore, as he would not come--why, she
went; but he was not at the table. Every minute she expected him:--Had he
been told?--Where was he?--He was in the counting-house, was the reply. Mrs
Sullivan swallowed a few mouthfuls, and then returned upstairs. Tea was
made--announced to Mr Sullivan, yet he came not. It remained on the table;
the cup poured out for him was cold. The urn had been sent down, with
strict injunctions to keep the water boiling, and all was cleared away. Mrs
Sullivan fidgeted and ruminated, and became uneasy. He never had been at
variance for so many hours since their marriage, and all for nothing! At
last the clock struck ten, and she rang the bell.--"Where is Mr
Sullivan?"--"In the counting-house."--"Tell him that I wish to speak with
him." Mr Sullivan had not answered him, and the door was locked inside.
This intelligence created a little irritation, and checked the tide of
affection. "Before all the servants--so inconsiderate--it was quite
insulting!" With a heavy heart, Mrs Sullivan lighted the chamber candle,
and went upstairs to bed. Once she turned down the stairs two or three
steps, intending to go to the counting-house door; but her pride restrained
her, and she reascended. In an hour Mrs Sullivan was in bed, expecting her
husband every minute, listening at the slightest sound for his footsteps;
but two o'clock came, and he was still away. She could bear up against her
suspense and agitation no longer; she rose, threw on her _robe de nuit_,
and descended the stairs. All the family had long retired, and everything
was still: her light foot made no noise as she tripped along. As she neared
the door she perceived the light gleaming through the key-hole. Whether to
peep or to speak first--he might be fast asleep. Curiosity prevailed--she
looked through the key-hole, and perceived her husband very busy writing.
After he had finished his letter he threw down the pen, pressed his
forehead with both hands, and groaned deeply. Mrs Sullivan could refrain no
longer. "William! William!" cried she, in a soft, imploring voice: but she
was not answered. Again and again did she repeat his name, until an answer,
evidently wrung from him by impatience, was returned--"It is too late now."
"Too late, dear William! Yes, it is very late--it's almost three o'clock.
Let me in, William--pray do!"
"Leave me alone: it's the last favour I shall probably ever request of
"The last favour! Oh, William! you frighten me so:--dear William--do--do
let me in. I'm so cold--I shall die:--only for one moment, and I'll bless
you. Pray do, William!"
It was not until after repeated and repeated entreaties of this kind that
Mr Sullivan, worn out by importunity, at last opened the door.
"Mary, I am very busy; I have opened the door to tell you so, and to
request that you will not interrupt me. Now oblige me by going to bed."
But getting in was everything; and a young and pretty wife, in dishabille
and in tears, imploring, entreating, conjuring, promising, coaxing, and
fondling, is not quite so easy to be detached when once she has gained
access. In less than half an hour Mr Sullivan was obliged to confess that
her conduct had been the occasion of a meeting being agreed upon for that
morning, and that he was arranging his affairs in case of a melancholy
"You now, Mary, must see the consequences of your conduct. By your
imprudence, your husband's life is risked, probably sacrificed; but this is
no time to be at variance. I forgive you, Mary--from my soul I do, as I
hope for pardon myself."
Mrs Sullivan burst into a paroxysm of tears; and it was some time before
she could answer. "William," cried she, energetically, "as you well say,
this is no time to be at variance, neither is it a time for falsehood. What
I stated to you this morning was true;--if not, may I never hope for
pardon! and may heaven never be opened to me! You have been
deceived--grossly deceived; for what purpose, I know not: but so it is. Do
not, therefore, be rash. Send for all who were present, and examine them;
and if I have told you a falsehood, put me away from you, to the shame and
seclusion I shall so well deserve."
"It is too late, Mary; I have challenged him, and he has accepted it. I
fain would believe you; but he told me so himself."
"Then he told a lie! a base, cowardly lie! which sinks him beneath the
notice of a gentleman. Let me go with you and confront him. Only let him
dare to say it to my face; 'tis all I ask, William, that I may clear my
fame with you. Come to bed--nay, nay, don't refuse me," and poor Mrs
Sullivan again burst into tears.
We must leave the couple to pass the remaining hours in misery, which,
however, reclaimed them both from faults. Mrs Sullivan never coquetted
more; and her husband was, after this, never jealous but on trifles.
The colonel was just as busy on his side in preparing for the chances of
the morrow: these chances, however, were never tried; for Captain
Carrington and his confederates had made their arrangements. Mr Sullivan
was already dressed, his wife clinging to him in frantic despair, when a
letter was left at his door, the purport of which was that Colonel Ellice
had discovered that his companions had been joking with him, when they had
asserted that during his state of inebriety he had offered any rudeness to
Mrs Sullivan. As, therefore, no offence had been committed, Colonel Ellice
took it for granted that Mr Suillivan would be satisfied with the
Mrs Sullivan, who devoured the writing over her husband's shoulder, sank
down on her knees in gratitude, and was raised to her husband's arms, who,
as he embraced her, acknowledged his injustice.