Part 10 out of 12
and he quitted the cabin. I looked at the captain, who was sitting at
the table: he was a fine, stout man, with two or three ribands at his
button-hole, and a large pair of moustachios. I thought that I had seen
him before, but I could not recollect when: his face was certainly
familiar to me, but, as I had been informed by the officers on deck,
that the captain was a Count Shucksen, a person I had never heard of, I
thought that I must be mistaken. I therefore addressed him in French,
paying him a long compliment, with all the necessary _et ceteras_.
The captain turned round to me, took his hand away from his forehead,
which it had shaded, and looking me full in the face, replied, "Mr
Simple, I don't understand but very little French. Spin your yarn in
I started--"I thought that I knew your face," replied I; "am I
mistaken?--no, it must be--Mr Chucks!"
"You are right, my dear Mr Simple: it is your old friend, Chucks, the
boatswain, whom you now see. I knew you as soon as you came up the side,
and I was afraid that you would immediately recognize me, and I slipped
down into the cabin (for which apparent rudeness allow me to apologise),
that you might not explain before the officers."
We shook hands heartily, and then he requested me to sit down. "But,"
said I, "they told me on deck that the frigate was commanded by a Count
"That is my present rank, my dear Peter," said he; "but as you have no
time to lose, I will explain all. I know I can trust to your honour. You
remember that you left me, as you and I supposed, dying in the
privateer, with the captain's jacket and epaulettes on my shoulders.
When the boats came out, and you left the vessel, they boarded and found
me. I was still breathing; and judging of my rank by the coat, they put
me into the boat, and pushed on shore. The privateer sank very shortly
after. I was not expected to live, but in a few days a change took
place, and I was better. They asked me my name, and I gave my own, which
they lengthened into Shucksen, somehow or another. I recovered by a
miracle, and am now as well as ever I was in my life. They were not a
little proud of having captured a captain in the British service, as
they supposed, for they never questioned me as to my real rank. After
some weeks I was sent home to Denmark in a running vessel; but it so
happened, that we met with a gale, and were wrecked on the Swedish
coast, close to Carlscrona. The Danes were at that time at war, having
joined the Russians; and they were made prisoners, while I was of course
liberated, and treated with great distinction; but as I could not speak
either French or their own language, I could not get on very well.
However, I had a handsome allowance, and permission to go to England as
soon as I pleased. The Swedes were then at war with the Russians, and
were fitting out their fleet; but, Lord bless them! they didn't know
much about it. I amused myself walking in the dockyard, and looking at
their motions; but they had not thirty men in the fleet who knew what
they were about, and, as for a man to set them going, there wasn't one.
Well, Peter, you know I could not be idle, and so by degrees I told one,
and then told another--until they went the right way to work; and the
captains and officers were very much obliged to me. At last, they all
came to me, and if they did not understand me entirely, I showed them
how to do it with my own hands; and the fleet began to make a show with
their rigging. The admiral who commanded was very much obliged, and I
seemed to come as regularly to my work as if I was paid for it. At last,
the admiral came with an English interpreter, and asked me whether I was
anxious to go back to England, or would I like to join their service. I
saw what they wanted, and I replied that I had neither wife nor child in
England, and that I liked their country very much; but I must take time
to consider of it, and must also know what they had to propose. I went
home to my lodgings, and, to make them more anxious, I did not make my
appearance at the dockyard for three or four days, when a letter came
from the admiral, offering me the command of a frigate if I would join
their service. I replied, (for I knew how much they wanted me,) that I
would prefer an English frigate to a Swedish one, and that I would not
consent unless they offered something more; and then, with the express
stipulation that I should not take arms against my own country. They
then waited for a week, when they offered to make me a _Count_, and give
me the command of a frigate. This suited me, as you may suppose, Peter;
it was the darling wish of my heart--I was to be made a gentleman. I
consented, and was made Count Shucksen, and had a fine large frigate
under my command. I then set to work with a will, superintended the
fitting out of the whole fleet, and showed them what an Englishman could
do. We sailed, and you of course know the brush we had with the
Russians, which, I must say, did us no discredit. I was fortunate to
distinguish myself, for I exchanged several broadsides with a Russian
two-deck ship, and came off with honour. When we went into port I got
this riband. I was out afterwards, and fell in with a Russian frigate,
and captured her, for which I received this other riband. Since that I
have been in high favour, and now that I speak the languages, I like the
people very much. I am often at court when I am in harbour; and, Peter,
I am _married_."
"I wish you joy, count, with all my heart."
"Yes, and well married too--to a Swedish countess of very high family,
and I expect that I have a little boy or girl by this time. So you
observe, Peter, that I am at last a gentleman, and, what is more, my
children will be noble by two descents. Who would have thought that this
would have been occasioned by my throwing the captain's jacket into the
boat instead of my own? And now, my dear Mr Simple, that I have made you
my confidant, I need not say, do not say a word about it to anybody.
They certainly could not do me much harm, but still, they might do me
some; and although I am not likely to meet any one who may recognize me
in this uniform and these moustachios, it's just as well to keep the
secret, which to you and O'Brien only would I have confided."
"My dear count," replied I, "your secret is safe with me. You have come
to your title before me, at all events; and I sincerely wish you joy,
for you have obtained it honourably; but, although I would like to talk
with you for days, I must return on board, for I am now sailing with a
very unpleasant captain."
I then, in a few words, stated where O'Brien was; and when we parted, I
went with him on deck, Count Shucksen taking my arm, and introducing me
as an old shipmate to his officers. "I hope we may meet again," said I,
"but I am afraid there is little chance."
"Who knows?" replied he; "see what chance has done for me. My dear
Peter, God bless you! You are one of the very few whom I always loved.
God bless you, my boy! and never forget that all I have is at your
command if you come my way."
I thanked him, and saluting the officers, went down the side. As I
expected, when I came on board, the captain demanded, in an angry tone,
why I had stayed so long. I replied, that I was shown down into Count
Shucksen's cabin, and he conversed so long, that I could not get away
sooner, as it would not have been polite to have left him before he had
finished his questions. I then gave a very civil message, and the
captain said no more; the very name of a great man always silenced him.
Bad news from home, and worse on board--Notwithstanding his previous
trials, Peter forced to prepare for another--Mrs Trotter again; improves
as she grows old--Captain Hawkins and his twelve charges.
No other event of consequence occurred until we joined the admiral, who
only detained us three hours with the fleet, and then sent us home with
his despatches. We arrived, after a quiet passage, at Portsmouth, where
I wrote immediately to my sister Ellen, requesting to know the state of
my father's health. I waited impatiently for an answer, and by return of
post received one with a black seal. My father had died the day before
from a brain fever; and Ellen conjured me to obtain leave of absence, to
come to her in her state of distress. The captain came on board the next
morning, and I had a letter ready written on service to the admiral,
stating the circumstances, and requesting leave of absence. I presented
it to him, and entreated him to forward it. At any other time I would
not have condescended, but the thoughts of my poor sister, unprotected
and alone, with my father lying dead in the house, made me humble and
submissive. Captain Hawkins read the letter, and very coolly replied,
"that it was very easy to say that my father was dead, but he required
proofs." Even this insult did not affect me; I put my sister's letter
into his hand--he read it, and as he returned it to me, he smiled
maliciously. "It is impossible for me to forward your letter, Mr Simple,
as I have one to deliver to you."
He put a large folio packet into my hand, and went below. I opened it:
it was a copy of a letter demanding a court-martial upon me, with a long
list of the charges preferred by him. I was stupefied, not so much at
his asking for a court-martial, but at the conviction of the
impossibility of my now being able to go to the assistance of my poor
sister. I went down into the gunroom and threw myself on a chair, at the
same time tossing the letter to Thompson, the master. He read it over
carefully, and folded it up.
"Upon my word, Simple, I do not see that you have much to fear. These
charges are very frivolous."
"No, no--that I care little about; but it is my poor sister. I had
written for leave of absence, and now she is left, God knows how long,
in such distressing circumstances."
Thompson looked grave. "I had forgotten your father's death, Simple: it
is indeed cruel. I would offer to go myself, but you will want my
evidence at the court-martial. It can't be helped. Write to your sister,
and keep up her spirits. Tell her why you cannot come, and that it will
all end well."
I did so, and went early to bed, for I was really ill. The next morning,
the official letter from the port-admiral came off, acquainting me that
a court-martial had been ordered upon me, and that it would take place
that day week. I immediately resigned the command to the second
lieutenant, and commenced an examination into the charges preferred.
They were very numerous, and dated back almost to the very day that he
had joined the ship. There were twelve in all. I shall not trouble the
reader with the whole of them, as many were very frivolous. The
principal charges were--
1. For mutinous and disrespectful conduct to Captain Hawkins, on such a
date, having, in a conversation with an inferior officer on the
quarter-deck, stated that Captain Hawkins was a spy, and had spies in
2. For neglect of duty, in disobeying the orders of Captain Hawkins on
the night of the ---- of ----.
3. For having, on the ---- of ----, sent away two boats from the ship,
direct opposition to the orders of Captain Hawkins.
4. For having again, on the morning of the ---- of ----, held mutinous
and disrespectful conversation relative to Captain Hawkins with the
gunner of the ship, allowing the latter to accuse Captain Hawkins of
cowardice, without reporting the same.
5. For insulting expressions on the quarter-deck to Captain Hawkins on
his rejoining the brig on the morning of the ---- of ----.
6. For not causing the orders of Captain Hawkins to be put in force on
several occasions, &c. &c. &c.
And further, as Captain Hawkins' testimony was necessary in two of the
charges, the king, on _those charges, _was the prosecutor. Although most
of these charges were frivolous, yet I at once perceived my danger. Some
were dated back many months, to the time before our ship's company had
been changed: and I could not find the necessary witnesses. Indeed, in
all but the recent charges, not expecting to be called to a
court-martial, I had serious difficulties to contend with. But the most
serious was the first charge, which I knew not how to get over.
Swinburne had most decidedly referred to the captain when he talked of
spy captains. However, with the assistance of Thompson, I made the best
defence I could, ready for my trial.
Two days before my court-martial I received a letter from Ellen, who
appeared in a state of distraction from this accumulation of misfortune.
She told me that my father was to be buried the next day, and that the
new rector had written to her, to know when it would be convenient for
the vicarage to be given up. That my father's bills had been sent in,
and amounted to twelve hundred pounds already; and that she knew not the
extent of the whole claims. There appeared to be nothing left but the
furniture of the house; and she wanted to know whether the debts were to
be paid with the money I had left in the funds for her use. I wrote
immediately, requesting her to liquidate every claim, as far as my money
went, sending her an order upon my agent to draw for the whole amount,
and a power of attorney to him to sell out the stock.
I had just sealed the letter, when Mrs Trotter, who had attended the
ship since our return to Portsmouth, begged to speak with me, and walked
in after her message, without waiting for an answer. "My dear Mr
Simple," said she, "I know all that is going on, and I find that you
have no lawyer to assist you. Now I know that it is necessary, and will
very probably be of great service in your defence--for when people are
in distress and anxiety, they have not their wits about them; so I have
brought a friend of mine from Portsea, a very clever man, who, for my
sake, will undertake your cause, and I hope you will not refuse him. You
recollect giving me a dozen pair of stockings. I did not refuse them,
nor shall you refuse me now. I always said to Mr Trotter, 'Go to a
lawyer;' and if he had taken my advice he would have done well. I
recollect, when a hackney-coachman smashed the panel of our carriage--
'Trotter,' says I, 'go to a lawyer;' and he very politely answered, 'Go
to the devil!' But what was the consequence!--he's dead and I'm
bumming. Now, Mr Simple, will you oblige me?--it's all free gratis for
nothing--not for nothing, for it's for my sake. You see, Mr Simple, I
have admirers yet," concluded she, smiling.
Mrs Trotter's advice was good; and although I would not listen to
receiving his services gratuitously, I agreed to employ him; and very
useful did he prove against such charges, and such a man as Captain
Hawkins. He came on board that afternoon, carefully examined into all
the documents and the witnesses whom I could bring forward, showed me
the weak side of my defence, and took the papers on shore with him.
Every day he came on board to collect fresh evidence and examine into my
At last the day arrived. I dressed myself in my best uniform. The gun
fired from the admiral's ship, with the signal for a court-martial at
nine o'clock; and I went on board in a boat, with all the witnesses. On
my arrival, I was put under the custody of the provost-marshal. The
captains ordered to attend pulled alongside one after another, and were
received by a party of marines, presenting their arms.
At half-past nine the court was all assembled, and I was ushered in.
Courts-martial are open courts, although no one is permitted to print
the evidence. At the head of the long table was the admiral, as
president; on his right hand, standing, was Captain Hawkins, as
prosecutor. On each side of the table were six captains, sitting near to
the admiral, according to their seniority. At the bottom, facing the
admiral, was the judge-advocate, on whose left hand I stood, as
prisoner. The witnesses called in to be examined were stationed on his
right; and behind him, by the indulgence of the court, was a small
table, at which sat my legal adviser, so close as to be able to
communicate with me. The court were all sworn, and then took their
seats. Stauncheons, with ropes covered with green baize, passed along,
were behind the chairs of the captains who composed the court, so that
they might not be crowded upon by those who came in to listen to what
passed. The charges were then read, as well as the letters to and from
the admiral, by which the court-martial was demanded and granted: and
then Captain Hawkins was desired to open his prosecution. He commenced
with observing his great regret that he had been forced to a measure so
repugnant to his feelings; his frequent cautions to me, and the
indifference with which I treated them; and, after a preamble composed
of every falsity that could be devised, he commenced with the first
charge, and stating himself to be the witness, gave his evidence. When
it was finished, I was asked if I had any questions to put. By the
advice of my lawyer, I replied, "No." The president then asked the
captains composing the court-martial, commencing according to their
seniority, whether they wished to ask any questions.
"I wish," said the second captain who was addressed, "to ask Captain
Hawkins whether, when he came on deck, he came up in the usual way in
which a captain of a man-of-war comes on his quarter-deck, or whether he
slipped up without noise?"
Captain Hawkins declared that he came up as he _usually did._ This was
true enough, for he invariably came up by stealth.
"Pray, Captain Hawkins, as you have repeated a good deal of conversation
which passed between the first lieutenant and the gunner, may I ask you
how long you were by their side without their perceiving you?"
"A very short time," was the answer.
"But, Captain Hawkins, do you not think, allowing that you came up on
deck in your _usual_ way, as you term it, that you would have done
better to have hemmed or hawed, so as to let your officers know that you
were present? I should be very sorry to hear all that might be said of
me in my supposed absence."
To this observation Captain Hawkins replied, that he was so astonished
at the conversation, that he was quite breathless, having, till then,
had the highest opinion of me.
No more questions were asked, and they proceeded to the second charge.
This was a very trifling one--for lighting a stove, contrary to orders;
the evidence brought forward was the sergeant of marines. When his
evidence in favour of the charge had been given, I was asked by the
president if I had any questions to put to the witness. I put the
"Did you repeat to Captain Hawkins that I had ordered the stove to be
"Are you not in the custom of reporting, direct to the captain, any
negligence, or disobedience of orders, you may witness in the ship?"--"I
"Did you ever report anything of the sort to me, as first lieutenant, or
do you always report direct to the captain?"
"I always report direct to the captain."
"By the captain's orders?"--"Yes."
The following questions were then put by some of the members of the
"You have served in other ships before?"--"Yes."
"Did you ever, sailing with other captains, receive an order from them
to report direct to them, and not through the first lieutenant?" The
witness here prevaricated.
"Answer directly, yes or no."--"No."
The third charge was then brought forward--for sending away boats
contrary to express orders. This was substantiated by Captain Hawkins'
own evidence, the order having been verbal. By the advice of my counsel,
I put no questions to Captain Hawkins, neither did the court.
The fourth charge--that of holding mutinous conversation with the
gunner, and allowing him to accuse the captain of unwillingness to
engage the enemy--was then again substantiated by Captain Hawkins, as
the only witness. I again left my reply for my defence; and only one
question was put by one of the members, which was, to inquire of Captain
Hawkins, as he appeared peculiarly unfortunate in overhearing
conversations, whether he walked up as usual to the taffrail, or whether
he _crept up._ Captain Hawkins gave the same answer as before.
The fifth charge--for insulting expressions to Captain Hawkins, on my
rejoining the brig at Carlscrona--was then brought forward, and the
sergeant of marines and one of the seamen appeared as witnesses. This
charge excited a great deal of amusement. In the cross-examination by
the members of the court, Captain Hawkins was asked what he meant by the
expression, when disposing of the clothes of an officer who was killed
in action, that the men appeared to think that his trousers would instil
"Nothing more, upon my honour, sir," replied Captain Hawkins, "than an
implication that they were alarmed lest they should be haunted by his
"Then, of course, Mr Simple meant the same in his reply," observed the
The remainder of the charges were then brought forward, but they were of
little consequence. The witnesses were chiefly the sergeant of marines,
and the spy-glass of Captain Hawkins, who had been watching me from the
It was late in the afternoon before they were all gone through; and the
president then adjourned the court, that I might bring forward my own
witnesses, in my defence, on the following day, and I returned on board
A good defence not always good against a bad accusation--Peter wins
the heart of his judges, yet loses his cause, and is dismissed his ship.
The next day I commenced my defence, and I preferred calling my own
witnesses first, and, by the advice of my counsel, and at the request of
Swinburne, I called him. I put the following questions:--"When we were
talking on the quarter-deck, was it fine weather?"--"Yes, it was."
"Do you think that you might have heard any one coming on deck, in the
usual way, up the companion ladder?"
"Sure of it."
"Do you mean, then, to imply that Captain Hawkins came up stealthily?"
"I have an idea he pounced upon us as a cat does on a mouse."
"What were the expressions made use of?"
"I said that a spy captain would always find spy followers."
"In that remark were you and Mr Simple referring to your own captain?"--
"The remark was mine. What Mr Simple was thinking of, I can't tell; but
I _did_ refer to the captain, and he has proved that I was right." This
bold answer of Swinburne's rather astonished the court, who commenced
cross-questioning him; but he kept to his original assertion--that I had
only answered generally. To repel the second charge I produced no
witnesses; but to the third charge I brought forward three witnesses to
prove that Captain Hawkins's orders were that I should send no boats on
shore, not that I should not send them on board of the men-of-war close
to us. In answer to the fourth charge, I called Swinburne, who stated
that if I did not, he would come forward. Swinburne acknowledged that he
accused the captain of being shy, and that I reprimanded him for so
doing. "Did he say that he would report you?" inquired one of the
captains. "No, sir," replied Swinburne, "'cause he never meant to do
it." This was an unfortunate answer.
To the fifth charge, I brought several witnesses to prove the words of
Captain Hawkins, and the sense in which they were taken by the ship's
company, and the men calling out "Shame!" when he used the expression.
To refute the other charges I called one or two witnesses, and the court
then adjourned, inquiring of me when I would be ready to commence my
defence. I requested a day to prepare, which was readily granted; and
the ensuing day the court did not sit. I hardly need say that I was
busily employed, arranging my defence with my counsel. At last all was
done, and I went to bed tired and unhappy; but I slept soundly, which
could not be said of my counsel, for he went on shore at eleven o'clock,
and sat up all night making a fair copy. After all, the fairest court of
justice is a naval court-martial--no brow-beating of witnesses, an
evident inclination towards the prisoner--every allowance and every
favour granted him, and no legal quibbles attended to. It is a court of
equity, with very few exceptions; and the humbler the individual, the
greater the chance in his favour.
I was awoke the following morning by my counsel, who had not gone to bed
the previous night, and who had come off at seven o'clock to read over
with me my defence. At nine o'clock I again proceeded on board, and in a
short time the court was sitting. I came in, handed my defence to the
judge-advocate, who read it aloud to the court. I have a copy still by
me, and will give the whole of it to the reader.
"Mr President and Gentlemen,--After nearly fourteen years' service in
his Majesty's navy, during which I have been twice made prisoner, twice
wounded, and once wrecked; and, as I trust I shall prove to you, by
certificates and the public despatches, I have done my duty with zeal
and honour; I now find myself in a situation in which I never expected
to be placed--that of being arraigned before and brought to a
court-martial for charges of mutiny, disaffection, and disrespect
towards my superior officer. If the honourable court will examine the
certificates I am about to produce, they will find that, until I sailed
with Captain Hawkins, my conduct has always been supposed to have been
diametrically opposite to that which is now imputed to me. I have always
been diligent and obedient to command; and I have only to regret that
the captains with whom I have had the honour to sail are not now present
to corroborate by their oral evidence the truth of these documents.
Allow me, in the first place, to point out to the court, that the
charges against me are spread over a large space of time, amounting to
nearly eighteen months, during the whole of which period Captain Hawkins
never stated to me that it was his intention to try me by a
court-martial; and, although repeatedly in the presence of a senior
officer, has never preferred any charge against me. The articles of war
state expressly that if any officer, soldier, or marine has any
complaint to make he is to do so upon his arrival at any port or fleet
where he may fall in with a superior officer. I admit that this article
of war refers to complaints to be made by inferiors against superiors;
but, at the same time, I venture to submit to the honourable court that
a superior is equally bound to prefer a charge, or to give notice that
the charge will be preferred, on the first seasonable opportunity,
instead of lulling the offender into security, and disarming him in his
defence, by allowing the time to run on so long as to render him
incapable of bringing forward his witnesses. I take the liberty of
calling this to your attention, and shall now proceed to answer the
charges which have been brought against me.
"I am accused of having held a conversation with an inferior officer on
the quarter-deck of his Majesty's brig _Rattlesnake_, in which my
captain was treated with contempt. That it may not be supposed that Mr
Swinburne was a new acquaintance, made upon my joining the brig, I must
observe that he was an old shipmate, with whom I had served many years,
and with whose worth I was well acquainted. He was my instructor in my
more youthful days, and has been rewarded for his merit, with the
warrant which he now holds as gunner of His Majesty's brig
_Rattlesnake_. The offensive observation, in the first place, was not
mine; and, in the second, it was couched in general terms. Here Mr
Swinburne has pointedly confessed that _he_ did refer to the captain,
although the observation was in the plural; but that does not prove the
charge against me--on the contrary, adds weight to the assertion of Mr
Swinburne, that I was guiltless of the present charge. That Captain
Hawkins has acted as a spy, his own evidence on this charge, as well as
that brought forward by other witnesses, will decidedly prove; but as
the truth of the observation does not warrant the utterance, I am glad
that no such expression escaped my lips.
"Upon the second charge I shall dwell but a short time. It is true that
there is a general order that no stoves shall be alight after a certain
hour; but I will appeal to the honourable court, whether a first
lieutenant is not considered to have a degree of licence of judgment in
all that concerns the interior discipline of the ship. The surgeon sent
to say that a stove was required for one of the sick. I was in bed at
the time, and replied immediately in the affirmative. Does Captain
Hawkins mean to assert to the honourable court, that he would have
refused the request of the surgeon? Most certainly not. The only error I
committed, if it were an error, was not going through the form of
awaking Captain Hawkins, to ask the permission, which, as first
lieutenant, I thought myself authorized to give.
"The charge against me, of having sent away two boats, contrary to his
order, I have already disproved by witnesses. The order of Captain
Hawkins was, not to communicate with the shore. My reasons for sending
away the boats"--(Here Captain Hawkins interposed, and stated to the
president that my reasons were not necessary to be received. The court
was cleared, and, on our return, the court had decided, that my reasons
ought to be given, and I continued.) "My reasons for sending away these
boats, or rather it was one boat which was despatched to the two
frigates, if I remember well, were, that the brig was in a state of
mutiny. The captain had tied up one of the men, and the ship's company
refused to be flogged. Captain Hawkins then went on shore to the
admiral, to report the situation of his ship, and I conceived it my duty
to make it known to the men-of-war anchored close to us. I shall not
enter into further particulars, as they will only detain the honourable
court; and I am aware that this court-martial is held upon my conduct,
and not upon that of Captain Hawkins. To the charge of again holding
disrespectful language on the quarter-deck, as overheard by Captain.
Hawkins, I must refer the honourable court to the evidence, in which it
is plainly proved that the remarks upon him were not mine, but those of
Mr Swinburne, and that I remonstrated with Mr Swinburne for using such
unguarded expressions. The only point of difficulty is, whether it was
not my duty to have reported such language. I reply, that there is no
proof that I did not intend to report it; but the presence of Captain
Hawkins, who heard what was said, rendered such report unnecessary.
"On the fifth charge, I must beg that the court will be pleased to
consider that some allowance ought to be made for a moment of
irritation. My character was traduced by Captain Hawkins, supposing that
I was dead; so much so, that even the ship's company cried out _shame._
I am aware, that no language of a superior officer can warrant a retort
from an inferior; but, as what I intended to imply by that language is
not yet known, although Captain Hawkins has given an explanation to his,
I shall merely say, that I meant no more by my insinuations, than
Captain Hawkins did at the time, by those which he made use of with
respect to me.
"Upon the other trifling charges brought forward, I lay no stress, as I
consider them fully refuted by the evidence which has been already
adduced; and I shall merely observe, that, for reasons best known to
himself, I have been met with a most decided hostility on the part of
Captain Hawkins, from the time that he first joined the ship; that, on
every occasion, he has used all his efforts to render me uncomfortable,
and embroil me with others; that, not content with narrowly watching my
conduct on board, he has resorted to his spy-glass from the shore; and,
instead of assisting me in the execution of a duty sufficiently arduous,
he has thrown every obstacle in my way, placed inferior officers as
spies over my conduct, and made me feel so humiliated in the presence of
the ship's company, over which I have had to superintend, and in the
disciplining of which I had a right to look to him for support, that,
were it not that some odium would necessarily be attached to the
sentence, I should feel it as one of the happiest events of my life that
I were dismissed from the situation which I now hold under his command.
I now beg that the honourable court will allow the documents I lay upon
the table to be read in support of my character."
When this was over, the court was cleared, that they might decide upon
the sentence. I waited about half an hour in the greatest anxiety, when
I was again summoned to attend. The usual forms of reading the papers
were gone through, and then came the sentence, which was read by the
president, he and the whole court standing up with their cocked hats on
their heads. After the preamble, it concluded with saying, "that it was
the opinion of that court that the charges had been _partly_ proved, and
therefore, that Lieutenant Peter Simple was dismissed his ship; but, in
consideration of his good character and services, his case was strongly
recommended to the consideration of the Lords Commissioners of the
Peter looks upon his loss as something gained--Goes on board the
_Rattlesnake_ to pack up, and is ordered to pack off--Polite
leave-taking between relations. Mrs Trotter better and better--Goes to
London, and afterwards falls into all manner of misfortunes by the hands
of robbers, and of his own uncle.
I hardly knew whether I felt glad or sorry at this sentence. On the one
hand, it was almost a deathblow to my future advancement or employment
in the service; on the other, the recommendation very much softened down
the sentence, and I was quite happy to be quit of Captain Hawkins, and
free to hasten to my poor sister. I bowed respectfully to the court,
which immediately adjourned. Captain Hawkins followed the captains on
the quarter-deck, but none of them would speak to him--so much to his
disadvantage had come out during the trial.
About ten minutes afterwards, one of the elder captains composing the
court called me into the cabin. "Mr Simple," said he, "we are all very
sorry for you. Our sentence could not be more lenient, under the
circumstances: it was that conversation with the gunner at the taffrail
which floored you. It must be a warning to you to be more careful in
future, how you permit any one to speak of the conduct of your superiors
on the quarter-deck. I am desired by the president to let you know that
it is our intention to express ourselves very strongly to the admiral in
your behalf; so much so, that if another captain applies for you, you
will have no difficulty in being appointed to a ship; and as for leaving
your present ship, under any other circumstances I should consider it a
matter of congratulation."
I returned my sincere thanks, and soon afterwards quitted the
guard-ship, and went on board of the brig to pack up my clothes, and
take leave of my messmates. On my arrival, I found that Captain Hawkins
had preceded me, and he was on deck when I came up the side. I hastened
down into the gun-room, where I received the condolements of my
"Simple, I wish you joy," cried Thompson, loud enough for the captain to
hear on deck. "I wish I had your luck; I wish somebody would try me by a
"As it has turned out," replied I, in a loud voice, "and after the
communication made to me by the captains composing the court, of what
they intend to say to the Admiralty, I agree with you, Thompson, that it
is a very kind act on the part of Captain Hawkins, and I feel quite
grateful to them."
"Steward, come--glasses," cried Thompson, "and let us drink success to
All this was very annoying to Captain Hawkins, who overheard every word.
When our glasses were filled--"Simple, your good health, and may I meet
with as good a messmate," said Thompson.
At this moment, the sergeant of marines put his head in at the gun-room
door, and said, in a most insolent tone, that I was to leave the ship
immediately. I was so irritated, that I threw my glass of grog in his
face, and he ran up to the captain to make the complaint; but I did not
belong to the ship, and even if I had, I would have resented such
Captain Hawkins was in a great rage, and I believe would have written
for another court-martial, but he had had enough of them. He inquired
very particularly of the sergeant whether he had told me that I was to
leave the ship directly, or whether, that Captain Hawkins desired that I
should leave the ship immediately; and finding that he had not given the
latter message (which I was aware of, for had he given it, I dare not
have acted as I did); he then sent down again by one of the midshipmen,
desiring me to leave the ship immediately. My reply was, that I should
certainly obey his orders with the greatest pleasure. I hastened to pack
up my clothes, reported myself ready to the second lieutenant, who went
up for permission to man a boat, which was refused by Captain Hawkins,
who said I might go on shore in a shore-boat. I called one alongside,
shook hands with all my messmates, and when I arrived on the
quarter-deck, with Swinburne, and some of the best men, who came
forward; Captain Hawkins stood by the binnacle, bursting with rage. As I
went over the planeshear, I took my hat off to him, and wished him
good-morning very respectfully, adding, "If you have any commands for my
_uncle_, Captain Hawkins, I shall be glad to execute them."
This observation, which showed him that I knew the connection and
correspondence between them, made him gasp with emotion. "Leave the
ship, sir, or by God I'll put you in irons for mutiny," cried he. I
again took off my hat, and went down the side, and shoved off.
As soon as I was a few yards distant, the men jumped on the carronades
and cheered, and I perceived Captain Hawkins order them down, and before
I was a cable's length from her, the pipe "all hands to punishment;" so
I presume some of the poor fellows suffered for their insubordination in
showing their good will. I acknowledge that I might have left the ship
in a more dignified manner, and that my conduct was not altogether
correct; but still, I state what I really did do, and some allowance
must be made for my feelings. This is certain, that my conduct after the
court-martial, was more deserving of punishment, than that for which I
had been tried. But I was in a state of feverish excitement, and hardly
knew what I did.
When I arrived at Sally Port, I had my effects wheeled up to the Blue
Posts, and packing up those which I most required, I threw off my
uniform, and was once more a gentleman at large. I took my place in the
mail for that evening, sent a letter of thanks, with a few bank notes,
to my counsel, and then sat down and wrote a long letter to O'Brien,
acquainting him with the events which had taken place.
I had just finished, and sealed it up, when in came Mrs Trotter. "Oh my
dear Mr Simple! I'm so sorry, and I have come to console you. There's
nothing like women when men are in affliction, as poor Trotter used to
say, as he laid his head in my lap. When do you go to town?"
"This evening, Mrs Trotter."
"I hope I am to continue to attend the ship?"
"I hope so too, Mrs Trotter, I have no doubt but you will."
"Now, Mr Simple, how are you off for money? Do you want a little? You
can pay me by-and-by. Don't be afraid. I'm not quite so poor as I was
when you came down to mess with Trotter and me, and when you gave me the
dozen pair of stockings. I know what it is to want money, and what it is
to want friends."
"Many thanks to you, Mrs Trotter," replied I; "but I have sufficient to
take me home, and then I can obtain more."
"Well, I'm glad of it, but it was offered in earnest. Good-bye, God
bless you! Come, Mr Simple, give me a kiss; it won't be the first time."
I kissed her, for I felt grateful for her kindness; and with a little
smirking and ogling she quitted the room. I could not help thinking,
after she was gone, how little we know the hearts of others. If I had
been asked if Mrs Trotter was a person to have done a generous action,
from what I had seen of her in adversity, I should have decidedly said,
No. Yet in this offer she was disinterested, for she knew the service
well enough to be aware that I had little chance of being a first
lieutenant again, and of being of service to her. And how often does it
also occur, that those who ought, from gratitude or long friendship, to
do all they can to assist you, turn from you in your necessity, and
prove false and treacherous! It is God alone who knows our hearts. I
sent my letter to O'Brien to the admiral's office, sat down to a dinner
which I could not taste, and at seven o'clock got into the mail.
When I arrived in town I was much worse, but I did not wait more than an
hour. I took my place in a coach which did not go to the town near which
we resided; for I had inquired and found that coach was full, and I did
not choose to wait another day. The coach in which I took my place went
within forty miles of the vicarage, and I intended to post across the
country. The next evening I arrived at the point of separation, and
taking out my portmanteau, ordered a chaise, and set off for what had
once been my home. I could hardly hold my head up, I was so ill, and I
lay in a corner of the chaise in a sort of dream, kept from sleeping
from intense pain in the forehead and temples. It was about nine o'clock
at night, when we were in a dreadful jolting road, the shocks proceeding
from which gave me agonizing pain, that the chaise was stopped by two
men, who dragged me out on the grass. One stood over me, while the other
rifled the chaise. The post-boy, who appeared a party to the
transaction, remained quietly on his horse, and as soon as they had
taken my effects, turned round and drove off. They then rifled my
person, taking away everything that I had, leaving me nothing but my
trousers and shirt. After a short consultation, they ordered me to walk
on in the direction in which we had been proceeding in the chaise, and
to hasten as fast as I could, or they would blow my brains out. I
complied with their request, thinking myself fortunate to have escaped
so well. I knew that I was still thirty miles at least from the
vicarage; but ill as I was, I hoped to be able to reach it on foot. I
walked during the remainder of the night, but I got on but slowly. I
reeled from one side of the road to the other, and occasionally sat down
to rest. Morning dawned, and I perceived habitations not far from me. I
staggered on in my course.
The fever now raged in me, my head was splitting with agony, and I
tottered to a bank near a small neat cottage, on the side of the road. I
have a faint recollection of some one coming to me and taking my hand,
but nothing further; and it was not till many months afterwards, that I
became acquainted with the circumstances which I now relate. It appears
that the owner of the cottage was a half-pay lieutenant in the army, who
had sold-out on account of his wounds. I was humanely taken into his
house, laid on a bed, and a surgeon requested to come to me immediately.
I had now lost all recollection, and who I was they could not ascertain.
My pockets were empty, and it was only by the mark on my linen that they
found that my name was Simple. For three weeks I remained in a state of
alternate stupor and delirium. When the latter came on, I raved of Lord
Privilege, O'Brien, and Celeste. Mr Selwin, the officer who had so
kindly assisted me, knew that Simple was the patronymic name of Lord
Privilege, and he immediately wrote to his lordship, stating that a
young man of the name of Simple, who, in his delirium called upon him
and Captain O'Brien, was lying in a most dangerous state in his house,
and, that as he presumed I was a relative of his lordship's he had
deemed it right to apprise him of the fact.
My uncle, who knew that it must be me, thought this too favourable an
opportunity, provided I should live, not to have me in his power. He
wrote to say that he would be there in a day or two; at the same time
thanking Mr Selwin for his kind attention to his poor nephew, and
requesting that no expense might be spared. When my uncle arrived, which
he did in his own chariot, the crisis of the fever was over, but I was
still in a state of stupor, arising from extreme debility. He thanked Mr
Selwin for his attention, which he said he was afraid was of little
avail, as I was every year becoming more deranged; and he expressed his
fears that it would terminate in chronic lunacy. "His poor father died
in the same state," continued my uncle, passing his hand across his
eyes, as if much affected. "I have brought my physician with me, to see
if he can be moved. I shall not be satisfied unless I am with him night
The physician (who was my uncle's valet) took me by the hand, felt my
pulse, examined my eyes, and pronounced that it would be very easy to
move me, and that I should recover sooner in a more airy room. Of
course, Mr Selwin raised no objections, putting down all to my uncle's
regard for me; and my clothes were put on me, as I lay in a state of
insensibility, and I was lifted into the chariot. It is most wonderful
that I did not die from being thus taken out of my bed in such a state,
but it pleased Heaven that it should be otherwise. Had such an event
taken place, it would probably have pleased my uncle much better than my
surviving. When I was in the carriage, supported by the
pseudo-physician, my uncle again thanked Mr Selwin, begged that he would
command his interest, wrote a handsome cheque for the surgeon who had
attended me, and getting into the carriage, drove off with me still in a
state of insensibility--that is, I was not so insensible, but I think I
felt I had been removed, and I heard the rattling of the wheels; but my
mind was so uncollected, and I was in a state of such weakness, that I
could not feel assured of it for a minute.
For some days afterwards, for I recollect nothing about the journey, I
found myself in bed in a dark room and my arms confined. I recalled my
senses, and by degrees was able to recollect all that had occurred,
until I laid down by the roadside. Where was I? The room was dark, I
could distinguish nothing; that I had attempted to do myself some
injury, I took for granted, or my arms would not have been secured. I
had been in a fever and delirious, I supposed, and had now recovered. I
had been in a reverie for more than an hour, wondering why I was left
alone, when the door of the apartment opened. "Who is there?" inquired
"Oh! you've come to yourself again," said a gruff voice; "then I'll give
you a little daylight."
He took down a shutter which covered the whole of the window, and a
flood of light poured in, which blinded me. I shut my eyes, and by
degrees admitted the light until I could bear it. I looked at the
apartment: the walls were bare and whitewashed. I was on a truckle-bed.
I looked at the window--it was closed up with iron bars.--"Why, where am
I?" inquired I of the man, with alarm.
"Where are you?" replied he; "why, in Bedlam!"
As O'Brien said; it's a long lane that has no turning--I am rescued, and
happiness pours in upon me as fast as misery before overwhelmed me.
The shock was too great--I fell back on my pillow insensible. How long I
laid, I know not, but when I recovered the keeper was gone, and I found
a jug of water and some bread by the side of the bed, I drank the water,
and the effect it had upon me was surprising. I felt that I could get
up, and I rose: my arms had been unpinioned during my swoon. I got on my
feet, and staggered to the window. I looked out, saw the bright sun, the
passers-by, the houses opposite--all looked cheerful and gay, but I was
a prisoner in a madhouse. Had I been mad? I reflected, and supposed that
I had been, and had been confined by those who knew nothing of me. It
never came into my head that my uncle had been a party to it. I threw
myself on the bed, and relieved myself with tears. It was about noon
that the medical people, attended by the keepers and others, came into
my apartment. "Is he quite quiet?" "O Lord! yes, sir, as quiet as a
lamb," replied the man who had before entered. I then spoke to the
medical gentleman, begging him to tell why, and how, I had been brought
here. He answered mildly and soothingly, saying that I was there at the
wish of my friends, and that every care would be taken of me; that he
was aware that my paroxysms were only occasional, and that, during the
time I was quiet, I should have every indulgence that could be granted,
and that he hoped that I soon should be perfectly well, and be permitted
to leave the hospital. I replied by stating who I was, and how I had
been taken ill. The doctor shook his head, advised me to lie down as
much as possible, and then quitted me to visit the other patients.
As I afterwards discovered, my uncle had had me confined upon the plea
that I was a young man who was deranged with an idea that his name was
Simple, and that he was the heir to the title and estates; that I was
very troublesome at times, forcing my way into his house and insulting
the servants, but in every other respect was harmless; that my paroxysms
generally ended in a violent fever, and it was more from the fear of my
coming to some harm, than from any ill-will towards the poor young man,
that he wished me to remain in the hospital, and be taken care of. The
reader may at once perceive the art of this communication: I, having no
idea why I was confined, would of course continue to style myself by my
true name; and as long as I did this, so long would I be considered in a
deranged state. The reader must not therefore be surprised when I tell
him that I remained in Bedlam for one year and eight months. The doctor
called upon me for two or three days, and finding me quiet, ordered me
to be allowed books, paper, and ink, to amuse myself; but every attempt
at explanation was certain to be the signal for him to leave my
apartment. I found, therefore, not only by him, but from the keeper, who
paid no attention to anything I said, that I had no chance of being
listened to, or of obtaining my release.
After the first month, the doctor came to me no more: I was a quiet
patient, and he received the report of the keeper. I was sent there with
every necessary document to prove that I was mad; and, although a very
little may establish a case of lunacy, it requires something very strong
indeed to prove that you are in your right senses. In Bedlam I found it
impossible. At the same time I was well treated, was allowed all
necessary comforts, and such amusement as could be obtained from books,
&c. I had no reason to complain of the keeper--except that he was too
much employed to waste his time in listening to what he did not believe.
I wrote several letters to my sister and to O'Brien, during the first
two or three months, and requested the keeper to put them in the post.
This he promised to do, never refusing to take the letters; but, as I
afterwards found out, they were invariably destroyed. Yet I still bore
up with the hopes of release for some time; but the anxiety relative to
my sister, when I thought of her situation, my thoughts of Celeste and
of O'Brien, sometimes quite overcame me; then, indeed, I would almost
become frantic, and the keeper would report that I had had a paroxysm.
After six months I became melancholy, and I wasted away. I no longer
attempted to amuse myself, but sat all day with my eyes fixed upon
vacancy. I no longer attended to my person; I allowed my beard to grow--
my face was never washed, unless mechanically, when ordered by the
keeper; and if I was not mad, there was every prospect of my soon
becoming so. Life passed away as a blank--I had become indifferent to
everything--I noted time no more--the change of seasons was unperceived
--even the day and the night followed without my regarding them.
I was in this unfortunate situation, when one day the door was opened,
and, as had been often the custom during my imprisonment, visitors were
going round the establishment, to indulge their curiosity, in witnessing
the degradation of their fellow-creatures, or to offer their
commiseration. I paid no heed to them, not even casting up my eyes.
"This young man," said the medical gentleman who accompanied the party,
"has entertained the strange idea that his name is Simple, and that he
is the rightful heir to the title and property of Lord Privilege."
One of the visitors came up to me, and looked me in the face. "And so he
is," cried he to the doctor, who looked with astonishment. "Peter, don't
you know me?" I started up. It was General O'Brien. I flew into his
arms, and burst into tears.
"Sir," said General O'Brien, leading me to the chair, and seating me
upon it, "I tell you that _is_ Mr Simple, the nephew of Lord Privilege;
and I believe, the heir to the title. If, therefore, his assertion of
such being the case is the only proof of his insanity, he is illegally
confined. I am here, a foreigner, and a prisoner on parole; but I am not
without friends. My Lord Belmore," said he, turning to another of the
visitors who had accompanied him, "I pledge you my honour that what I
state is true; and I request that you will immediately demand the
release of this poor young man."
"I assure you, sir, that I have Lord Privilege's letter," observed the
"Lord Privilege is a scoundrel," replied General O'Brien. "But there is
justice to be obtained in this country, and he shall pay dearly for his
_lettre de cachet_. My dear Peter, how fortunate was my visit to this
horrid place! I had heard so much of the excellent arrangements of this
establishment, that I agreed to walk round with Lord Belmore; but I find
that it is abused."
"Indeed, General O'Brien, I have been treated with kindness," replied I;
"and particularly by this gentleman. It was not his fault."
General O'Brien and Lord Belmore then inquired of the doctor if he had
any objection to my release.
"None whatever, my lord, even if he were insane; although I now see how
I have been imposed upon. We allow the friends of any patient to remove
him, if they think that they can pay him more attention. He may leave
with you this moment."
I now did feel my brain turn with the revulsion from despair to hope,
and I fell back in my seat. The doctor, perceiving my condition, bled me
copiously, and laid me on the bed, where I remained more than an hour,
watched by General O'Brien. I then got up, calm and thankful. I was
shaved by the barber of the establishment, washed and dressed myself,
and, leaning on the general's arm, was let out. I cast my eyes upon the
two celebrated stone figures of Melancholy and Raving Madness, as I
passed them; I trembled, and clung more tightly to the general's arm,
was assisted into the carriage, and bade farewell to madness and misery.
The general said nothing until we approached the hotel where he resided,
in Dover-street, and then he inquired, in a low voice, whether I could
bear more excitement.
"It is Celeste you mean, general?"
"It is, my dear boy; she is here;" and he squeezed my hand.
"Alas!" cried I, "what hopes have I now of Celeste?"
"More than you had before," replied the general. "She lives but for you;
and if you are a beggar, I have a competence to make you sufficiently
I returned the general's pressure of the hand, but could not speak. We
descended, and in a minute I was led by the father into the arms of the
I must pass over a few days, during which I had almost recovered my
health and spirits, and had narrated my adventures to General O'Brien
and Celeste. My first object was to discover my sister. What had become
of poor Ellen, in the destitute condition in which she had been left I
knew not; and I resolved to go down to the vicarage, and make inquiries.
I did not, however, set off until a legal adviser had been sent for by
General O'Brien, and due notice given to Lord Privilege of an action to
be immediately brought against him for false imprisonment.
I set off in the mail, and the next evening arrived at the town of----.
I hastened to the parsonage, and the tears stood in my eyes as I thought
of my mother, my poor father, and the peculiar and doubtful situation of
my dear sister. I was answered by a boy in livery, and found the present
incumbent at home. He received me politely, listened to my story, and
then replied that my sister had set off for London on the day of his
arrival, and that she had not communicated her intentions to any one.
Here, then, was all clue lost, and I was in despair. I walked to the
town in time to throw myself into the mail, and the next evening joined
Celeste and the general, to whom I communicated the intelligence, and
requested advice how to proceed.
Lord Belmore called the next morning, and the general consulted him. His
lordship took great interest in my concerns, and, previous to any
further steps, advised me to step into his carriage, and allow him to
relate my case to the First Lord of the Admiralty. This was done
immediately; and, as I had now an opportunity of speaking freely to his
lordship, I explained to him the conduct of Captain Hawkins, and his
connection with my uncle; also the reason of my uncle's persecution. His
lordship, finding me under such powerful protection as Lord Belmore's,
and having an eye to my future claims, which my uncle's conduct gave him
reason to suppose were well founded, was extremely gracious, and said
that I should hear from him in a day or two. He kept his word, and, on
the third day after my interview, I received a note, announcing my
promotion to the rank of commander. I was delighted with this good
fortune, as was General O'Brien and Celeste.
When at the Admiralty, I inquired about O'Brien, and found that he was
expected home every day. He had gained great reputation in the East
Indies, was chief in command at the taking of some of the islands, and,
it was said, was to be created a baronet for his services. Everything
wore a favourable aspect, excepting the disappearance of my sister. This
was a weight on my mind I could not remove.
But I have forgotten to inform the reader by what means General O'Brien
and Celeste arrived so opportunely in England. Martinique had been
captured by our forces about six months before, and the whole of the
garrison surrendered as prisoners of war. General O'Brien was sent home,
and allowed to be on parole; although born a Frenchman, he had very high
connections in Ireland, of whom Lord Belmore was one. When they arrived,
they had made every inquiry for me without success; they knew that I had
been tried by a court-martial, and dismissed my ship, but after that, no
clue could be found for my discovery.
Celeste, who was fearful that some dreadful accident had occurred to me,
had suffered very much in health; and General O'Brien, perceiving how
much his daughter's happiness depended upon her attachment for me, had
made up his mind that if I were found we should be united. I hardly need
say how delighted he was when he discovered me, though in a situation so
little to be envied.
The story of my incarceration, of the action to be brought against my
uncle, and the reports of foul play relative to the succession, had in
the meantime been widely circulated among the nobility; and I found that
every attention was paid me, and I was repeatedly invited out as an
object of curiosity and speculation. The loss of my sister also was a
subject of much interest, and many people, from goodwill, made every
inquiry to discover her. I had returned one day from the solicitor's,
who had advertised for her in the newspapers without success, when I
found a letter for me on the table, in an Admiralty enclosure. I opened
it--the enclosure was one from O'Brien, who had just cast anchor at
Spithead, and who had requested that the letter should be forwarded to
me, if any one could tell my address. I tore it open.
"My dear Peter,--Where are, and what has become of, you? I have
received no letters for these two years, and I have fretted myself to
death. I received your letter about the rascally court-martial; but
perhaps you have not heard that the little scoundrel is dead. Yes,
Peter; he brought your letter out in his own ship, and that was his
death-warrant. I met him at a private party. He brought up your name--
I allowed him to abuse you, and then told him he was a liar and a
scoundrel; upon which he challenged me, very much against his will;
but the affront was so public, that he couldn't help himself. Upon
which I shot him, with all the good-will in the world, and could he
have jumped up again twenty times, like Jack-in-the-Box, I would have
shot him every time. The dirty scoundrel! but there's an end of him.
Nobody pitied him, for every one hated him; and the admiral only
looked grave, and then was very much obliged to me for giving him a
vacancy for his nephew. By-the-bye, from some unknown hand, but I
presume from the officers of his ship, I received a packet of
correspondence between him and your worthy uncle, which is about as
elegant a piece of rascality as ever was carried on between two
scoundrels; but that's not all, Peter. I've got a young woman for you
who will make your heart glad--not Mademoiselle Celeste, for I don't
know where she is--but the wet-nurse who went out to India. Her
husband was sent home as an invalid, and she was allowed her passage
home with him in my frigate. Finding that he belonged to the regiment,
I talked to him about one O'Sullivan, who married in Ireland, and
mentioned the girl's name, and when he discovered that he was a
countryman of mine he told me that his real name was O'Sullivan, sure
enough, but that he had always served as O'Connell, and that his wife
on board was the young woman in question. Upon which I sent to speak
to her, and telling her that I knew all about it, and mentioning the
names of Ella Flanagan and her mother, who had given me the
information, she was quite astonished; and when I asked her what had
become of the child which she took in place of her own, she told me
that it had been drowned at Plymouth, and that her husband was saved
at the same time by a young officer, 'whose name I have here,' says
she; and then she pulled out of her neck your card, with Peter Simple
on it. 'Now,' says I, 'do you know, good woman, that in helping on the
rascally exchange of children, you ruin that very young man who saved
your husband, for you deprive him of his title and property?" She
stared like a stuck pig, when I said so, and then cursed and blamed
herself, and declared she'd right you as soon as we came home; and
most anxious she is still to do so, for she loves the very name of
you; so you see, Peter, a good action has its reward sometimes in this
world, and a bad action also, seeing as how I've shot that confounded
villain who dared to ill-use you. I have plenty more to say to you,
Peter; but I don't like writing what, perhaps, may never be read, so
I'll wait till I hear from you; and then, as soon as I get through my
business, we will set to and trounce that scoundrel of an uncle. I
have twenty thousand pounds jammed together in the Consolidated,
besides the Spice Islands, which will be a pretty penny; and every
farthing of it shall go to right you, Peter, and make a lord of you,
as I promised you often that you should be; and if you win you shall
pay, and if you don't then d--n the luck and d--n the money too. I beg
you will offer my best regards to Miss Ellen, and say how happy I
shall be to hear that she is well; but it has always been on my mind,
Peter, that your father did not leave too much behind him, and I wish
to know how you both get on. I left you a _carte blanche _at my
agent's, and I only hope that you have taken advantage of it, if
required; if not, you're not the Peter that I left behind me. So now,
farewell, and don't forget to answer my letter in no time. Ever yours,
This was indeed joyful intelligence. I handed the letter to General
O'Brien, who read it, Celeste hanging over his shoulder, and perusing it
at the same time.
"This is well," said the General. "Peter, I wish you joy, and Celeste, I
ought to wish you joy also at your future prospects. It will indeed be a
gratification if ever I hail you as Lady Privilege."
"Celeste," said I, "you did not reject me when I was pennyless, and in
disgrace. O my poor sister Ellen! If I could but find you, how happy
should I be!"
I sat down to write to O'Brien, acquainting him with all that had
occurred, and the loss of my dear sister. The day after the receipt of
my letter, O'Brien burst into the room. After the first moments of
congratulation were past, he said, "My heart's broke, Peter, about your
sister Ellen: find her I must. I shall give up my ship, for I'll never
give up the search as long as I live. I must find her."
"Do, pray, my dear O'Brien, and I only wish--"
"Wish what, Peter? shall I tell you what I wish?--that if I find her,
you'll give her to me for my trouble."
"As far as I am concerned, O'Brien, nothing would give me greater
pleasure; but God knows to what wretchedness and want may have compelled
"Shame on you, Peter, to think so of your sister. I pledge my honour for
her. Poor, miserable, and unhappy she may be--but no--no, Peter. You
don't know--you don't love her as I do, if you can allow such thoughts
to enter your mind."
This conversation took place at the window: we then turned round to
General O'Brien and Celeste.
"Captain O'Brien," said the general.
"Sir Terence O'Brien, if you please, general. His Majesty has given me a
handle to my name."
"I congratulate you, Sir Terence," said the general, shaking him by the
hand: "what I was about to say is, that I hope you will take up your
quarters at this hotel, and we will all live together. I trust that we
shall soon find Ellen: in the meanwhile we have no time to lose, in our
exposure of Lord Privilege. Is the woman in town?"
"Yes, and under lock and key; but the devil a fear of her. Millions
would not bribe her to wrong him who risked his life for her husband.
She's Irish, general, to the back bone. Nevertheless, Peter, we must go
to our solicitor, to give the intelligence, that he may take the
For three weeks, O'Brien was diligent in his search for Ellen, employing
every description of emissary without success. In the meanwhile, the
general and I were prosecuting our cause against Lord Privilege. One
morning, Lord Belmore called upon us, and asked the general if we would
accompany him to the theatre, to see two celebrated pieces performed. In
the latter, which was a musical farce, a new performer was to come out,
of whom report spoke highly. Celeste consented, and after an early
dinner, we joined his lordship in his private box, which was above the
stage, on the first tier. The first piece was played, and Celeste, who
had never seen the performance of Young, was delighted. The curtain then
drew up for the second piece. In the second act, the new performer, a
Miss Henderson, was led by the manager on the stage; she was apparently
much frightened and excited, but three rounds of applause gave her
courage, and she proceeded. At the very first notes of her voice I was
startled, and O'Brien, who was behind, threw himself forward to look at
her; but as we were almost directly above, and her head was turned the
other way, we could not distinguish her features. As she proceeded in
her song, she gained courage, and her face was turned towards us, and
she cast her eyes up--saw me--the recognition was mutual--I held out my
arm, but could not speak--she staggered, and fell down in a swoon.
"'Tis Ellen!" cried O'Brien, rushing past me; and making one spring down
on the stage, he carried her off, before any other person could come to
her assistance. I followed him, and found him with Ellen still in his
arms, and the actresses assisting in her recovery. The manager came
forward to apologize, stating that the young lady was too ill to
proceed, and the audience, who had witnessed the behaviour of O'Brien
and myself, were satisfied with the romance in real life which had been
exhibited. Her part was read by another, but the piece was little
attended to, every one trying to find out the occasion of this uncommon
occurrence. In the meantime, Ellen was put into a hackney-coach by
O'Brien and me, and we drove to the hotel, where we were soon joined by
the general and Celeste.
It never rains but it pours, whether it be good or bad news--I succeed
in everything, and to everything, my wife, my title, and estate--And
"All's well that ends well."
I shall pass over the scenes which followed, and give my sister's
history in her own words.
"I wrote to you, my dear Peter, to tell you that I considered it my duty
to pay all my father's debts with your money, and that there were but
sixty pounds left when every claim had been satisfied; and I requested
you to come to me as soon as you could, that I might have your counsel
and assistance as to my future arrangements."
"I received your letter, Ellen, and was hastening to you, when--but no
matter, I will tell my story afterwards."
"Day after day I waited with anxiety for a letter, and then wrote to the
officers of the ship to know if any accident had occurred. I received an
answer from the surgeon, informing me that you had quitted Portsmouth to
join me, and had not since been heard of. You may imagine my distress at
this communication, as I did not doubt but that something dreadful had
occurred, as I knew, too well, that nothing would have detained you from
me at such a time. The new vicar appointed had come down to look over
the house, and to make arrangements for bringing in his family. The
furniture he had previously agreed to take at a valuation, and the sum
had been appropriated in liquidation of your father's debts. I had
already been permitted to remain longer than was usual, and had no
alternative but to quit, which I did not do until the last moment. I
could not leave my address, for I knew not where I was to go. I took my
place in the coach, and arrived in London. My first object was to secure
the means of livelihood, by offering myself as a governess; but I found
great difficulties from not being able to procure a good reference, and
from not having already served in that capacity. At last I was taken
into a family to bring up three little girls; but I soon found out how
little chance I had of comfort. The lady had objected to me as too
good-looking--for this same reason the gentleman insisted upon my being
"Thus was I a source of disunion; the lady treated me with harshness,
and the gentleman with too much attention. At last her ill-treatment and
his persecution, were both so intolerable, that I gave notice that I
should leave my situation."
"I beg pardon, Miss Ellen, but you will oblige me with the name and
residence of that gentleman?" said O'Brien.
"Indeed, Ellen, do no such thing," replied I; "continue your story."
"I could not obtain another situation as governess; for, as I always
stated where I had been, and did not choose to give the precise reason
for quitting, merely stating that I was not comfortable, whenever the
lady was called upon for my character, she invariably spoke of me so as
to prevent my obtaining a situation. At last I was engaged as teacher to
a school. I had better have taken a situation as housemaid. I was
expected to be everywhere, to do everything; was up at daylight, and
never in bed till past midnight; fared very badly, and was equally ill
paid; but still it was honest employment, and I remained there for more
than a year; but, though as economical as possible, my salary would not
maintain me in clothes and washing, which was all I required. There was
a master of elocution, who came every week, and whose wife was the
teacher of music. They took a great liking to me, and pointed out how
much better I should be off if I could succeed on the stage, of which
they had no doubt. For months I refused, hoping still to have some
tidings of you; but at last my drudgery became so insupportable, and my
means so decreased, that I unwillingly consented. It was then nineteen
months since I had heard of you, and I mourned you as dead. I had no
relations except my uncle, and I was unknown even to him. I quitted the
situation, and took up my abode with the teacher of elocution and his
wife, who treated me with every kindness, and prepared me for my new
career. Neither at the school, which was three miles from London, nor at
my new residence, which was over Westminster-bridge, did I ever see a
newspaper. It was no wonder, therefore, that I did not know of your
advertisements. After three months' preparation I was recommended and
introduced to the manager by my kind friends, and accepted. You know the
"Well, Miss Ellen, if any one ever tells you that you were on the stage,
at all events you may reply that you wasn't there long."
"I trust not long enough to be recognised," replied she. "I recollect
how often I have expressed my disgust at those who would thus consent to
exhibit themselves; but circumstances strangely alter our feelings. I
do, however, trust that I should have been respectable, even as an
"That you would, Miss Ellen," replied O'Brien. "What did I tell you,
"You pledged your honour that nothing would induce Ellen to disgrace her
family, I recollect, O'Brien."
"Thank you, Sir Terence, for your good opinion," replied Ellen.
My sister had been with us about three days, during which I had informed
her of all that had taken place, when, one evening, finding myself alone
with her, I candidly stated to her what were O'Brien's feelings towards
her, and pleaded his cause with all the earnestness in my power.
"My dear brother," she replied, "I have always admired Captain O'Brien's
character, and always have felt grateful to him for his kindness and
attachment to you; but I cannot say that I love him. I have never
thought about him except as one to whom we are both much indebted."
"But do you mean to say that you could not love him?"
"No, I do not; and I will do all I can, Peter--I will try. I never will,
if possible, make him unhappy who has been so kind to you."
"Depend upon it, Ellen, that with your knowledge of O'Brien, and with
feelings of gratitude to him, you will soon love him, if once you accept
him as a suitor. May I tell him--"
"You may tell him that he may plead his own cause, my dear brother; and,
at all events, I will listen to no other until he has had fair play; but
recollect that at present I only _like_ him--like him _very much, _it is
true; but still I only _like_ him."
I was quite satisfied with my success, and so was O'Brien, when I told
him. "By the powers, Peter, she's an angel, and I can't expect her to
love an inferior being like myself; but if she'll only like me well
enough to marry me, I'll trust to after-marriage for the rest. Love
comes with the children, Peter. Well, but you need not say that to her--
divil a bit--they shall come upon her like old age, without her
O'Brien having thus obtained permission, certainly lost no time in
taking advantage of it. Celeste and I were more fondly attached every
day. The solicitor declared my case so good, that he could raise fifty
thousand pounds upon it. In short, all our causes were prosperous, when
an event occurred, the details of which, of course, I did not obtain
until some time afterwards, but which I shall narrate here.
My uncle was very much alarmed when he discovered that I had been
released from Bedlam--still more so, when he had notice given him of a
suit, relative to the succession to the title. His emissaries had
discovered that the wet-nurse had been brought home in O'Brien's
frigate, and was kept so close that they could not communicate with her.
He now felt that all his schemes would prove abortive. His legal adviser
was with him, and they had been walking in the garden, talking over the
contingencies, when they stopped close to the drawing-room windows of
the mansion at Eagle Park.
"But, sir," observed the lawyer, "if you will not confide in me, I
cannot act for your benefit. You still assert that nothing of the kind
has taken place?"
"I do," replied his lordship. "It is a foul invention."
"Then, my lord, may I ask you why you considered it advisable to
imprison Mr Simple in Bedlam?"
"Because I hate him," retorted his lordship,--"detest him."
"And for what reason, my lord? his character is unimpeached, and he is
your near relative."
"I tell you, sir, that I hate him--would that he were now lying dead at
Hardly were the words out of my uncle's mouth, when a whizzing was heard
for a second, and then something fell down within a foot of where they
stood, with a heavy crash. They started--turned round--the adopted heir
lay lifeless at their feet, and their legs were bespattered with his
blood and his brains. The poor boy, seeing his lordship below, had
leaned out of one of the upper windows to call to him, but lost his
balance, and had fallen head foremost upon the wide stone pavement which
surrounded the mansion. For a few seconds the lawyer and my uncle looked
upon each other with horror.
"A judgment!--a judgment!" cried the lawyer, looking at his client. My
uncle covered his face with his hands, and fell. Assistance now came
out, but there was more than one to help up. The violence of his emotion
had brought on an apoplectic fit, and my uncle, although he breathed,
never spoke again.
It was in consequence of this tragical event, of which we did not know
the particulars until afterwards, that the next morning my solicitor
called upon me, and put a letter into my hand, saying, "Allow me to
congratulate your lordship." We were all at breakfast at the time, and
the general, O'Brien, and myself jumped up, all in such astonishment at
this unexpected title being so soon conferred upon me, that we had a
heavy bill for damages to pay; and had not Ellen caught the tea-urn, as
it was tipping over, there would, in all probability, have been a
doctor's bill into the bargain. The letter was eagerly read--it was from
my uncle's legal adviser, who had witnessed the catastrophe, informing
me, that all dispute as to the succession was at an end by the tragical
event that had taken place, and that he had put seals upon everything,
awaiting my arrival or instructions. The solicitor, as he presented the
letter, said that he would take his leave, and call again in an hour or
two, when I was more composed. My first movement, when I had read the
letter aloud, was to throw my arms round Celeste, and embrace her--and
O'Brien, taking the hint, did the same to Ellen, and was excused in
consideration of circumstances; but, as soon as she could disengage
herself, her arms were entwined round my neck, while Celeste was hanging
on her father's. Having disposed of the ladies, the gentlemen now shook
hands, and though we had not all appetites to finish our breakfasts,
never was there a happier quintette.
In about an hour my solicitor returned, and congratulated me, and
immediately set about the necessary preparations. I desired him to go
down immediately to Eagle Park, attend to the funeral of my uncle, and
the poor little boy who had paid so dearly for his intended advancement,
and take charge from my uncle's legal adviser, who remained in the
house. The "dreadful accident in high life" found its way into the
papers of the day, and before dinner time a pile of visiting cards was
poured in, which covered the table. The next day a letter arrived from
the First Lord, announcing that he had made out my commission as
post-captain, and trusted that I would allow him the pleasure of
presenting it himself at his dinner hour, at half-past seven. Very much
obliged to him, the "fool of the family" might have waited a long while
While I was reading this letter, the waiter came up to say that a young
woman below wanted to speak to me. I desired her to be shown up. As soon
as she came in, she burst into tears, knelt down, and kissed my hand.
"Sure, it's you--oh! yes--it's you that saved my poor husband when I was
assisting to your ruin. And an't I punished for my wicked doings--an't
my poor boy dead?"
She said no more, but remained on her knees, sobbing bitterly. Of
course, the reader recognises in her the wet-nurse who had exchanged her
child. I raised her up, and desired her to apply to my solicitor to pay
her expenses, and leave her address.
"But do you forgive me, Mr Simple? It's not that I have forgiven
"I do forgive you with all my heart, my good woman. You have been
"I have, indeed," replied she, sobbing; "but don't I deserve it all, and
more too? God's blessing, and all the saints' too, upon your head, for
your kind forgiveness, anyhow. My heart is lighter." And she quitted the
She had scarcely quitted the hotel, when the waiter came up again.
"Another lady, my lord, wishes to speak with you, but she won't give her
"Really, my lord, you seem to have an extensive female acquaintance,"
said the general.
"At all events, I am not aware of any that I need be ashamed of. Show
the lady up, waiter."
In a moment entered a fat, unwieldly little mortal, very warm from
walking; she sat down in a chair, threw back her tippet, and then
exclaimed, "Lord bless you, how you have grown! Gemini, if I can hardly
believe my eyes; and I declare he don't know me."
"I really cannot exactly recollect where I had the pleasure of seeing
you before, madam."
"Well, that's what I said to Jemima, when I went down in the kitchen.
'Jemima,' says I, 'I wonder if little Peter Simple will know me.' And
Jemima says, 'I think he would the parrot, marm.'"
"Mrs Handycock, I believe," said I, recollecting Jemima and the parrot,
although, from a little thin woman, she had grown so fat as not to be
"Oh! so you've found me out, Mr Simple--my lord, I ought to say. Well, I
need not ask after your grandfather now, for I know he's dead; but as I
was coming this way for orders, I thought I would just step in and see
how you looked."
"I trust Mr Handycock is well, ma'am. Pray is he a bull or a bear?"
"Lord bless you, Mr Simple, my lord, I should say, he's been neither
bull nor bear for this three years. He was obliged to _waddle_. If I
didn't know much about bulls and bears, I know very well what a _lame
duck_ is, to my cost. We're off the Stock Exchange, and Mr Handycock is
set up as a coal merchant."
"Yes; that is, we have no coals, but we take orders, and have
half-a-crown a chaldron for our trouble. As Mr Handycock says, it's a
very good business, if you only had enough of it. Perhaps your lordship
may be able to give us an order. It's nothing out of your pocket, and
something into ours."
"I shall be very happy, when I return again to town, Mrs Handycock. I
hope the parrot is quite well."
"Oh! my lord, that's a sore subject; only think of Mr Handycock, when we
retired from the 'Change, taking my parrot one day and selling it for
five guineas, saying, five guineas were better than a nasty squalling
bird. To be sure, there was nothing for dinner that day; but, as Jemima
agreed with me, we'd rather have gone without a dinner for a month, than
have parted with Poll. Since we've looked up a little in the world, I
saved up five guineas, by hook or by crook, and tried to get Poll back
again, but the lady said she wouldn't take fifty guineas for him."
Mrs Handycock then jumped from her chair, saying, "Good morning, my
lord; I'll leave one of Mr Handycock's cards. Jemima would be so glad to
As she left the room, Celeste laughingly asked me whether I had any more
such acquaintances. I replied, that I believed not; but I must
acknowledge that Mrs Trotter was brought to my recollection, and I was
under some alarm, lest she should also come and pay me her respects.
The next day I had another unexpected visit. We had just sat down to
dinner, when we heard a disturbance below; and, shortly after, the
general's French servant came up in great haste, saying that there was a
foreigner below, who wished to see me: and that he had been caning one
of the waiters of the hotel, for not paying him proper respect.
"Who can that be?" thought I: and I went out of the door, and looked
over the banisters, as the noise continued.
"You must not come here to beat Englishmen, I can tell you," roared one
of the waiters. "What do we care for your foreign counts?"
"Sacre, canaille?" cried the other party, in a contemptuous voice, which
I well knew.
"Ay, canal!--we'll duck you in the canal, if you don't mind."
"You will!" said the stranger, who had hitherto spoken French. "Allow me
to observe--in the most delicate manner in the world--just to hint, that
you are a d----d trencher-scraping, napkin-carrying, shilling-seeking,
up-and-down-stairs son of a bitch--and take this for your impudence!"
The noise of the cane was again heard; and I hastened downstairs, where
I found Count Shucksen thrashing two or three of the waiters without
mercy. At my appearance, the waiters, who were showing fight, retreated
to a short distance, out of reach of the cane.
"My dear count," exclaimed I, "is it you?"
"My dear Lord Privilege, will you excuse me? but these fellows are
"Then I'll have them discharged," replied I. "If a friend of mine, and
an officer of your rank and distinction, cannot come to see me without
insult, I will seek another hotel."
This threat of mine, and the reception I gave the count, put all to
rights. The waiters sneaked off, and the master of the hotel apologised.
It appeared that they had desired him to wait in the coffee-room until
they could announce him, which had hurt the count's dignity.
"We are just sitting down to dinner, count; will you join us?"
"As soon as I have improved my toilet, my dear lord," replied he; "you
must perceive that I am off a journey."
The master of the hotel bowed, and proceeded to show the count to a
dressing-room. When I returned upstairs--"What was the matter?"
"Oh, nothing!--a little disturbance in consequence of a foreigner not
In about five minutes the waiter opened the door, and announced Count
"Now, O'Brien, you'll be puzzled," said I; and in came the count.
"My dear Lord Privilege," said he, coming up and taking me by the hand,
"let me not be the last to congratulate you upon your accession. I was
running up the channel in my frigate when a pilot-boat gave me a
newspaper, in which I saw your unexpected change of circumstances. I
made an excuse for dropping my anchor at Spithead this morning, and I
have come up post, to express how sincerely I participate in your good
fortune." Count Shucksen then politely saluted the ladies and the
general, and turned round to O'Brien, who had been staring at him with
astonishment. "Count Shucksen, allow me to introduce Sir Terence
"By the piper that played before Moses, but it's a puzzle," said
O'Brien. "Blood and thunder! if it a'n't Chucks!--my dear fellow, when
did you rise from your grave?"
"Fortunately," replied the count, as they shook each other's hands for
some time, "I never went into it, Sir Terence. But now, with your
permission, my lord, I'll take some food, as I really am not a little
hungry. After dinner, Captain O'Brien, you shall hear my history."
His secret was confided to the whole party, upon my pledging myself for
their keeping it locked up in their own breasts, which was a bold thing
on my part, considering that two of them were ladies. The count stayed
with us for some time, and was introduced everywhere. It was impossible
to discover that he had not been bred up in a court, his manners were so
good. He was a great favourite with the ladies; and his moustachios, bad
French, and waltzing--an accomplishment he had picked up in Sweden--were
quite the vogue. All the ladies were sorry when the Swedish count
announced his departure by a P.P.C.
Before I left town I called upon the First Lord of the Admiralty, and
procured for Swinburne a first-rate building--that is to say, ordered to
be built. This he had often said he wished, as he was tired of the sea,
after a service of forty-five years. Subsequently I obtained leave of
absence for him every year, and he used to make himself very happy at
Eagle Park. Most of his time was, however, passed on the lake, either
fishing or rowing about; telling long stories to all who would join him
in his water excursions.
A fortnight after my assuming my title, we set off for Eagle Park, and
Celeste consented to my entreaties that the wedding should take place
that day month. Upon this hint O'Brien spake; and, to oblige _me_, Ellen
consented that we should be united on the same day.
O'Brien wrote to Father M'Grath; but the letter was returned by post,
with "_dead_" marked upon the outside. O'Brien then wrote to one of his
sisters, who informed him that Father M'Grath would cross the bog one
evening when he had taken a very large proportion of whisky; and that he
was seen out of the right path, and had never been heard of afterwards.
On the day appointed we were all united, and both unions have been
attended with as much happiness as this world can afford. Both O'Brien
and I are blessed with children, which, as O'Brien observed, have come
upon us like old age, until we now can muster a large Christmas party in
the two families. The general's head is white, and he sits and smiles,
happy in his daughter's happiness, and in the gambols of his
Such, reader, is the history of Peter Simple, Viscount Privilege, no
longer the fool, but the head of the family, who now bids you farewell.
The Three Cutters
CUTTER THE FIRST
Reader, have you ever been at Plymouth? If you have, your eye must have
dwelt with ecstasy upon the beautiful property of the Earl of Mount
Edgcumbe: if you have not been at Plymouth, the sooner that you go
there, the better. At Mount Edgcumbe you will behold the finest timber
in existence, towering up to the summits of the hills, and feathering
down to the shingle on the beach. And from this lovely spot you will
witness one of the most splendid panoramas in the world. You will see--I
hardly know what you will not see--you will see Ram Head, and Cawsand
Bay; and then you will see the Breakwater, and Drake's Island, and the
Devil's Bridge below you; and the town of Plymouth and its
fortifications, and the Hoe; and then you will come to the Devil's
Point, round which the tide runs devilish strong; and then you will see
the New Victualling Office,--about which Sir James Gordon used to stump
all day, and take a pinch of snuff from every man who carried a box,
which all were delighted to give, and he was delighted to receive,
proving how much pleasure may be communicated merely by a pinch of
snuff--and then you will see Mount Wise and Mutton Cove; the town of
Devonport, with its magnificent dockyard and arsenals, North Corner, and
the way which leads to Saltash. And you will see ships building and
ships in ordinary; and ships repairing and ships fitting; and hulks and
convict ships, and the guardship; ships ready to sail and ships under
sail; besides lighters, men-of-war's boats, dockyard-boats, bumboats,
and shore-boats. In short, there is a great deal to see at Plymouth
besides the sea itself: but what I particularly wish now, is, that you
will stand at the battery of Mount Edgecumbe and look into Barn Pool
below you, and there you will see, lying at single anchor, a cutter; and
you may also see, by her pendant and ensign, that she is a yacht.
Of all the amusements entered into by the nobility and gentry of our
island there is not one so manly, so exciting, so patriotic, or so
national, as yacht-sailing. It is peculiar to England, not only from our
insular position and our fine harbours, but because it requires a
certain degree of energy and a certain amount of income rarely to be
found elsewhere. It has been wisely fostered by our sovereigns, who have
felt that the security of the kingdom is increased by every man being
more or less a sailor, or connected with the nautical profession. It is
an amusement of the greatest importance to the country; as it has much
improved our ship-building and our ship-fitting, while it affords
employment to our seamen and shipwrights. But if I were to say all that
I could say in praise of yachts, I should never advance with my
narrative. I shall therefore drink a bumper to the health of Admiral
Lord Yarborough and the Yacht Club, and proceed.
You observe that this yacht is cutter-rigged, and that she sits
gracefully on the smooth water. She is just heaving up her anchor; her
foresail is loose, all ready to cast her--in a few minutes she will be
under weigh. You see that there are some ladies sitting at the taffrail;
and there are five haunches of venison hanging over the stern. Of all
amusements, give me yachting. But we must go on board. The deck, you
observe, is of narrow deal planks as white as snow; the guns are of
polished brass; the bitts and binnacles of mahogany; she is painted with
taste; and all the mouldings are gilded. There is nothing wanting; and
yet how clear and unencumbered are her decks! Let us go below. This is
the ladies' cabin: can anything be more tasteful or elegant? is it not
luxurious? and, although so small, does not its very confined space
astonish you, when you view so many comforts so beautifully arranged?
This is the dining-room, and where the gentlemen repair. What can be
more complete or _recherche_? and just peep into their state-rooms and
bed-places. Here is the steward's room and the beaufet: the steward is
squeezing lemons for the punch, and there is the champagne in ice; and
by the side of the pail the long-corks are ranged up, all ready. Now,
let us go forwards: here are the men's berths, not confined as in a
man-of-war. No! luxury starts from abaft, and is not wholly lost, even
at the fore-peak. This is the kitchen: is it not admirably arranged?
What a _multum in parvo_! And how delightful are the fumes of the
turtle-soup! At sea we do meet with rough weather at times; but, for
roughing it out, give me a _yacht_. Now that I have shown you round the
vessel, I must introduce the parties on board.
You observe that florid, handsome man in white trousers and blue jacket,
who has a telescope in one hand, and is sipping a glass of brandy and
water which he has just taken off the skylight. That is the owner of the
vessel, and a member of the Yacht Club. It is Lord B--: he looks like a
sailor, and he does not much belie his looks; yet I have seen him in his
robes of state at the opening of the House of Lords. The one near to him
is Mr Stewart, a lieutenant in the navy. He holds on by the rigging with
one hand, because, having been actively employed all his life, he does
not know what to do with hands which have nothing in them. He is
_protege_ of Lord B., and is now on board as sailing-master of the
That handsome, well-built man who is standing by the binnacle, is a Mr
Hautaine. He served six years as midshipman in the navy, and did not
like it. He then served six years in a cavalry regiment, and did not
like it. He then married, and in a much shorter probation, found that he
did not like that. But he is very fond of yachts and other men's wives,
if he does not like his own; and wherever he goes, he is welcome.
That young man with an embroidered silk waistcoat and white gloves,
bending to talk to one of the ladies, is a Mr Vaughan. He is to be seen
at Almack's, at Crockford's, and everywhere else. Everybody knows him,
and he knows everybody. He is a little in debt, and yachting is
The one who sits by the lady is a relation of Lord B.; you see at once
what he is. He apes the sailor; he has not shaved, because sailors have
no time to shave every day; he has not changed his linen, because
sailors cannot change every day. He has a cigar in his mouth, which
makes him half sick and annoys his company. He talks of the pleasure of
a rough sea, which will drive all the ladies below--and then they will
not perceive that he is more sick than themselves. He has the misfortune
to be born to a large estate, and to be a _fool_. His name is Ossulton.
The last of the gentlemen on board whom I have to introduce, is Mr
Seagrove. He is slightly made, with marked features full of
intelligence. He has been brought up to the bar; and has every
qualification but application. He has never had a brief, nor has he a
chance of one. He is the fiddler of the company, and he has locked up
his chambers, and come, by invitation of his lordship, to play on board
of his yacht.
I have yet to describe the ladies--perhaps I should have commenced with
them--I must excuse myself upon the principle of reserving the best to
the last. All puppet-showmen do so: and what is this but the first scene
in my puppet-show?
We will describe them according to seniority. That tall, thin,
cross-looking lady of forty-five is a spinster, and sister to Lord B.
She has been persuaded very much against her will to come on board; but
her notions of propriety would not permit her niece to embark under the
protection of _only_ her father. She is frightened at everything: if a
rope is thrown down on the deck, up she starts, and cries, "Oh!" if on
the deck, she thinks the water is rushing in below; if down below, and
there is a noise, she is convinced there is danger; and, if it be
perfectly still, she is sure there is something wrong. She fidgets
herself and everybody, and is quite a nuisance with her pride and
ill-humour; but she has strict notions of propriety, and sacrifices
herself as a martyr. She is the Hon. Miss Ossulton.
The lady who, when she smiles, shows so many dimples in her pretty oval
face, is a young widow of the name of Lascelles. She married an old man
to please her father and mother, which was very dutiful on her part. She
was rewarded by finding herself a widow with a large fortune. Having
married the first time to please her parents, she intends now to marry
to please herself; but she is very young, and is in no hurry.
The young lady with such a sweet expression of countenance is the Hon.
Miss Cecilia Ossulton. She is lively, witty, and has no fear in her
composition; but she is very young yet, not more than seventeen--and
nobody knows what she really is--she does not know herself. These are
the parties who meet in the cabin of the yacht. The crew consists of ten
fine seamen, the steward, and the cook. There is also Lord B.'s valet,
Mr Ossulton's gentleman, and the lady's maid of Miss Ossulton. There not
being accommodation for them, the other servants have been left on
The yacht is now under weigh, and her sails are all set. She is running
between Drake's Island and the main. Dinner has been announced. As the
reader has learnt something about the preparations, I leave him to judge
whether it be not very pleasant to sit down to dinner in a yacht. The
air has given everybody an appetite; and it was not until the cloth was
removed that the conversation became general.
"Mr Seagrove," said his lordship, "you very nearly lost your passage; I
expected you last Thursday."
"I am sorry, my lord, that business prevented my sooner attending to
your lordship's kind summons."
"Come, Seagrove, don't be nonsensical," said Hautaine; "you told me
yourself, the other evening, when you were talkative, that you had never
had a brief in your life."
"And a very fortunate circumstance," replied Seagrove; "for if I had had
a brief I should not have known what to have done with it. It is not my
fault; I am fit for nothing but a commissioner. But still I had
business, and very important business, too; I was summoned by Ponsonby
to go with him to Tattersall's, to give my opinion about a horse he
wishes to purchase, and then to attend him to Forest Wild to plead his
cause with his uncle."
"It appears, then, that you were retained," replied Lord B.; "may I ask
you whether your friend gained his cause?"
"No, my lord, he lost his cause, but he gained a suit."
"Expound your riddle, sir," said Cecilia Ossulton.
"The fact is, that old Ponsonby is very anxious that William should
marry Miss Percival, whose estates join on to Forest Wild. Now, my
friend William is about as fond of marriage as I am of law, and thereby
issue was joined."
"But why were you to be called in?" inquired Mrs Lascelles.
"Because, madam, as Ponsonby never buys a horse without consulting me--"
"I cannot see the analogy, sir," observed Miss Ossulton, senior,
"Pardon me, madam: the fact is," continued Seagrove, "that, as I always
have to back Ponsonby's horses, he thought it right that, in this
instance, I should back him: he required special pleading, but his uncle
tried him for the capital offence, and he was not allowed counsel. As
soon as we arrived, and I had bowed myself into the room, Mr Ponsonby
bowed me out again--which would have been infinitely more jarring to my
feelings, had not the door been left a-jar."
"Do anything but pun, Seagrove," interrupted Hautaine.
"Well, then, I will take a glass of wine."
"Do so," said his lordship; "but, recollect, the whole company are
impatient for your story."
"I can assure you, my lord, that it was equal to any scene in a comedy."
Now be it observed that Mr Seagrove had a great deal of comic talent; he
was an excellent mimic, and could alter his voice almost as he pleased.
It was a custom of his to act a scene as between other people, and he
performed it remarkably well. Whenever he said that anything he was
going to narrate was "as good as a comedy," it was generally understood
by those who were acquainted with him, that he was to be asked so to do.
Cecilia Ossulton therefore immediately said, "Pray act it, Mr Seagrove."
Upon which, Mr Seagrove--premising that he had not only heard, but also
seen all that passed--changing his voice, and suiting the action to the
"It may," said he, "be called
"FIVE THOUSAND ACRES IN A RING-FENCE."
We shall not describe Mr Seagrove's motions; they must be inferred from
"'It will, then, William,' observed Mr Ponsonby, stopping, and turning
to his nephew, after a rapid walk up and down the room with his hands
behind him under his coat, so as to allow the tails to drop their
perpendicular about three inches clear of his body, 'I may say, without
contradiction, be the finest property in the county--five thousand acres
in a ring-fence.'
"'I dare say it will, uncle,' replied William, tapping his foot as he
lounged in a green morocco easy-chair; 'and so, because you have set
your fancy upon having these two estates enclosed together in a
ring-fence, you wish that I should also be enclosed in a _ring_-fence.'
"'And a beautiful property it will be,' replied Mr Ponsonby.
"'Which, uncle?--the estate, or the wife?'
"'Both, nephew, both; and I expect your consent.'
"'Uncle, I am not avaricious. Your present property is sufficient for
me. With your permission, instead of doubling the property, and doubling
myself, I will remain your sole heir, and single.'
"'Observe, William, such an opportunity may not occur again for
centuries. We shall restore Forest Wild to its ancient boundaries. You
know it has been divided nearly two hundred years. We now have a
glorious, golden opportunity of re-uniting the two properties; and when
joined, the estate will be exactly what it was when granted to our
ancestors by Henry the Eighth, at the period of the Reformation. This
house must be pulled down, and the monastery left standing. Then we
shall have our own again, and the property without encumbrance.'
"'Without encumbrance, uncle! You forget that there will be a wife.'
"'And you forget that there will be five thousand acres in a
"'Indeed, uncle, you ring it too often in my ears that I should forget
it; but much as I should like to be the happy possessor of such a
property, I do not feel inclined to be the happy possessor of Miss
Percival; and the more so, as I have never seen the property.'
"'We will ride over it to-morrow, William."
"'Ride over Miss Percival, uncle! That will not be very gallant. I will,
however, one of these days, ride over the property with you, which, as
well as Miss Percival, I have not as yet seen.'
"'Then I can tell you, she is a very pretty property.'
"'If she were not in a ring-fence.'
"'In good heart, William. That is, I mean an excellent disposition.'
"'Valuable in matrimony.'
"'And well tilled--I should say well-educated, by her thee maiden aunts,
who are the patterns of propriety.'
"'Does any one follow the fashion?'
"'In a high state of cultivation; that is, her mind highly cultivated,
and according to the last new system--what is it?'
"'A four-course shift, I presume,' replied William, laughing; 'that is,
dancing, singing, music, and drawing.'
"'And only seventeen! Capital soil, promising good crops. What would you
"'A very pretty estate, uncle, if it were not the estate of matrimony. I
am sorry, very sorry, to disappoint you; but I must decline taking a
lease of it for life.'
"'Then, sir, allow me to hint to you that in my testament you are only
tenant-at-will. I consider it a duty that I owe to the family, that the
estate should be re-united. That can only be done by one of our family
marrying Miss Percival; and, as you will not, I shall now write to your
cousin James, and if he accept my proposal, shall make _him_ my heir.
Probably he will more fully appreciate the advantages of five thousand
acres in a ring-fence.'
"And Mr Ponsonby directed his steps towards the door.
"'Stop, my dear uncle,' cried William, rising up from his easy-chair;
'we do not quite understand one another. It is very true that I would
prefer half the property and remaining single to the two estates and the
estate of marriage; but, at the same time I did not tell you that I
would prefer beggary to a wife and five thousand acres in a ring-fence.
I know you to be a man of your word;--I accept your proposal, and you
need not put my cousin James to the expense of postage.'
"'Very good, William; I require no more: and as I know you to be a man
of your word, I shall consider this match as settled. It was on this
account only that I sent for you, and now you may go back again as soon
as you please. I will let you know when all is ready.'
"'I must be at Tattersall's on Monday, uncle; there is a horse I must
have for next season. Pray, uncle, may I ask when you are likely to want
"'Let me see--this is May--about July, I should think.'
"'July, uncle! Spare me--I cannot marry in the dog-days. No, hang it,
"'Well, William, perhaps, as you must come down once or twice to see the
property--Miss Percival, I should say--it may be too soon--suppose we
put it off till October.'
"'October--I shall be down at Melton.'