Part 5 out of 12
apron up to her eyes.
"But one hundred louis may have," replied O'Brien.
"There is truth in that," observed the woman, after a pause, "but what
am I to do, if they come to search the house?"
"Send us out of it, until you can find an opportunity to send us to
England. I leave it all to you--your sister expects it from you."
"And she shall not be disappointed, if God helps us," replied the woman,
after a short pause: "but I fear you must leave this house and the town
"How are we to leave the town?"
"I will arrange that; be ready at four o'clock, for the gates are shut
at dusk. I must go now, for there is no time to be lost."
"We are in a nice mess now, O'Brien," observed I, after the woman had
quitted the room.
"Devil a bit, Peter; I feel no anxiety whatever, except at leaving such
We packed up all our effects, not forgetting our two blankets, and
waited the return of the hostess. In about an hour she entered the room.
"I have spoken to my husband's sister, who lives about two miles on the
road to Middelburg. She is in town now, for it is market-day, and you
will be safe where she hides you. I told her, it was by my husband's
request, or she would not have consented. Here, boy, put on these
clothes; I will assist you." Once more I was dressed as a girl, and when
my clothes were on, O'Brien burst out into laughter at my blue stockings
and short petticoats. "_Il n'est pas mal_," observed the hostess, as she
fixed a small cap on my head, and then tied a kerchief under my chin,
which partly hid my face. O'Brien put on a greatcoat, which the woman
handed to him, with a wide-brimmed hat. "Now follow me!" She led us into
the street, which was thronged, till we arrived at the market-place,
when she met another woman, who joined her. At the end of the
market-place stood a small horse and cart, into which the strange woman
and I mounted, while O'Brien, by the directions of the landlady, led the
horse through the crowd until we arrived at the barriers, when she
wished us good day in a loud voice before the guard. The guard took no
notice of us, and we passed safely through, and found ourselves upon a
neatly-paved road, as straight as an arrow, and lined on each side with
high trees and a ditch. In about an hour, we stopped near to the
farmhouse of the woman who was in charge of us. "Do you observe that
wood?" said she to O'Brien, pointing to one about half a mile from the
road. "I dare not take you into the house, my husband is so violent
against the English, who captured his schuyt, and made him a poor man,
that he would inform against you immediately; but go you there, make
yourselves as comfortable as you can to-night, and to-morrow I will send
you what you want. _Adieu! Je vous plains, pauvre enfant_." said she,
looking at me, as she drove off in the cart towards her own house.
"Peter," said O'Brien, "I think that her kicking us out of her house is
a proof of her sincerity, and therefore I say no more about it; we have
the brandy-flask to keep up our spirits. Now then for the wood, though,
by the powers, I shall have no relish for any of your pic-nic parties,
as they call them, for the next twelve years."
"But, O'Brien, how can I get over this ditch in petticoats? I could
hardly leap it in my own clothes."
"You must tie your petticoats round your waist and make a good run; get
over as far as you can, and I will drag you through the rest."
"But you forget that we are to sleep in the wood, and that it's no
laughing matter to get wet through, freezing so hard as it does now."
"Very true, Peter; but as the snow lies so deep upon the ditch, perhaps
the ice may bear. I'll try; if it bears me, it will not condescend to
bend at your shrimp of a carcass."
O'Brien tried the ice, which was firm, and we both walked over, and
making all the haste we could, arrived at the wood, as the woman called
it, but which was not more than a clump of trees of about half an acre.
We cleared away the snow for about six feet round a very hollow part,
and then O'Brien cut stakes and fixed them in the earth, to which we
stretched one blanket. The snow being about two feet deep, there was
plenty of room to creep underneath the blanket. We then collected all
the leaves we could, beating the snow off them, and laid them at the
bottom of the hole; over the leaves we spread the other blanket, and
taking our bundles in, we then stopped up with snow every side of the
upper blanket, except the hole to creep in at. It was quite astonishing
what a warm place this became in a short time after we had remained in
it. It was almost too warm, although the weather outside was piercingly
cold. After a good meal and a dose of brandy, we both fell fast asleep,
but not until I had taken off my woman's attire and resumed my own
clothes. We never slept better or more warmly than we did in this hole
which we had made on the ground, covered with ice and snow.
O'Brien parts company to hunt for provisions, and I have other company
in consequence of another hunt--O'Brien pathetically mourns my death and
finds me alive--We escape.
The ensuing morning we looked out anxiously for the promised assistance,
for we were not very rich in provisions, although what we had were of a
very good quality. It was not until three o'clock in the afternoon that
we perceived a little girl coming towards us, escorted by a large
mastiff. When she arrived at the copse of trees where we lay concealed,
she cried out to the dog in Dutch, who immediately scoured the wood
until he came to our hiding-place, when he crouched down at the
entrance, barking furiously, and putting us in no small dread, lest he
should attack us; but the little girl spoke to him again, and he
remained in the same position, looking at us, wagging his tail, with his
under jaw lying on the snow. She soon came up, and looking underneath,
put a basket in, and nodded her head. We emptied the basket. O'Brien
took out a napoleon and offered it to her; she refused it, but O'Brien
forced it into her hand, upon which she again spoke to the dog, who
commenced barking so furiously at us, that we expected every moment he
would fly upon us. The girl at the same time presented the napoleon, and
pointing to the dog, I went forward and took the napoleon from her, at
which she immediately silenced the enormous brute, and laughing at us,
"By the powers, that's a fine little girl!" said O'Brien; "I'll back her
and her dog against any man. Well, I never had a dog set at me for
giving money before, but we live and learn, Peter; now let's see what
she brought in the basket." We found hard-boiled eggs, bread, and a
smoked mutton ham, with a large bottle of gin. "What a nice little girl!
I hope she will often favour us with her company. I've been thinking,
Peter, that we're quite as well off here, as in a midshipman's berth."
"You forget you are a lieutenant."
"Well, so I did, Peter, and that's the truth, but it's the force of
habit. Now let's make our dinner. It's a new-fashioned way though, of
making a meal, lying down; but however, it's economical, for it must
take longer to swallow the victuals."
"The Romans used to eat their meals lying down, so I have read,
"I can't say that I ever heard it mentioned in Ireland, but that don't
prove that it was not the case; so, Peter, I'll take your word for it.
Murder! how fast it snows again! I wonder what my father's thinking on
just at this moment."
This observation of O'Brien induced us to talk about our friends and
relations in England, and after much conversation we fell fast asleep.
The next morning we found the snow had fallen about eight inches, and
weighed down our upper blanket so much, that we were obliged to go out
and cut stakes to support it up from the inside. While we were thus
employed, we heard a loud noise and shouting, and perceived several men,
apparently armed and accompanied with dogs, running straight in the
direction of the wood where we were encamped. We were much alarmed,
thinking that they were in search of us, but on a sudden they turned off
in another direction, continuing with the same speed as before. "What
could it be?" said I, to O'Brien. "I can't exactly say, Peter; but I
should think that they were hunting something, and the only game that I
think likely to be in such a place as this are otters." I was of the
same opinion. We expected the little girl, but she did not come, and
after looking out for her till dark, we crawled into our hole and supped
upon the remainder of our provisions.
The next day, as may be supposed, we were very anxious for her arrival,
but she did not appear at the time expected. Night again came on, and we
went to bed without having any sustenance, except a small piece of bread
that was left, and some gin which was remaining in the flask. "Peter,"
said O'Brien, "if she don't come again to-morrow, I'll try what I can
do; for I've no idea of our dying of hunger here, like the two babes in
the wood, and being found covered up with dead leaves. If she does not
appear at three o'clock, I'm off for provisions, and I don't see much
danger, for in this dress I look as much of a boor as any man in
We passed an uneasy night, as we felt convinced, either that the danger
was so great that they dared not venture to assist us, or, that being
over-ruled, they had betrayed us, and left us to manage how we could.
The next morning I climbed up the only large tree in the copse and
looked round, especially in the direction of the farm-house belonging to
the woman who had pointed out to us our place of concealment; but
nothing was to be seen but one vast tract of flat country covered with
snow, and now and then a vehicle passing at a distance on the Middelburg
road. I descended, and found O'Brien preparing for a start. He was very
melancholy, and said to me, "Peter, if I am taken, you must, at all
risks, put on your girl's clothes and go to Flushing to the cabaret. The
women there, I am sure, will protect you, and send you back to England.
I only want two napoleons; take all the rest, you will require them. If
I am not back by to-night, set off for Flushing to-morrow morning."
O'Brien waited some time longer, talking with me, and it then being past
four o'clock, he shook me by the hand, and, without speaking, left the
wood. I never felt more miserable during the whole time since we were
first put into prison at Toulon, till that moment, and, when he was a
hundred yards off, I knelt down and prayed. He had been absent two
hours, and it was quite dusk, when I heard a noise at a distance: it
advanced every moment nearer and nearer. On a sudden, I heard a rustling
of the bushes, and hastened under the blanket, which was covered with
snow, in hopes that they might not perceive the entrance; but I was
hardly there before in dashed after me an enormous wolf. I cried out,
expecting to be torn to pieces every moment, but the creature lay on his
belly, his mouth wide open, his eyes glaring, and his long tongue
hanging out of his mouth, and although he touched me, he was so
exhausted that he did not attack me. The noise increased, and I
immediately perceived that it was the hunters in pursuit of him. I had
crawled in feet first, the wolf ran in head foremost, so that we lay
head and tail. I crept out as fast as I could, and perceived men and
dogs not two hundred yards off in full chase. I hastened to the large
tree, and had not ascended six feet when they came up; the dogs flew to
the hole, and in a very short time the wolf was killed. The hunters
being too busy to observe me, I had in the meantime climbed up the trunk
of the tree, and hidden myself as well as I could. Being not fifteen
yards from them, I heard their expressions of surprise as they lifted up
the blanket and dragged out the dead wolf, which they carried away with
them; their conversation being in Dutch, I could not understand it, but
I was certain that they made use of the word "_English_." The hunters
and dogs quitted the copse, and I was about to descend, when one of them
returned, and pulling up the blankets, rolled them together and walked
away with them. Fortunately he did not perceive our bundles by the
little light given by the moon. I waited a short time and then came
down. What to do I knew not. If I did not remain and O'Brien returned,
what would he think? If I did, I should be dead with cold before the
morning. I looked for our bundles, and found that in the conflict
between the dogs and the wolf, they had been buried among the leaves. I
recollected O'Brien's advice, and dressed myself in the girl's clothes,
but I could not make up my mind to go to Flushing. So I resolved to walk
towards the farmhouse, which, being close to the road, would give me a
chance of meeting with O'Brien. I soon arrived there and prowled round
it for some time, but the doors and windows were all fast, and I dared
not knock, after what the woman had said about her husband's inveteracy
to the English. At last, as I looked round and round, quite at a loss
what to do, I thought I saw a figure at a distance proceeding in the
direction of the copse. I hastened after it and saw it enter. I then
advanced very cautiously, for although I thought it might be O'Brien,
yet it was possible that it was one of the men who chased the wolf in
search of more plunder. But I soon heard O'Brien's voice, and I hastened
towards him. I was close to him without his perceiving me, and found him
sitting down with his face covered up in his two hands. At last he
cried, "O Pater! my poor Pater! are you taken at last? Could I not leave
you for one hour in safety? Ochone! why did I leave you? My poor, poor
Pater! simple you were, sure enough, and that's why I loved you; but,
Pater, I would have made a man of you, for you'd all the materials,
that's the truth--and a fine man, too. Where am I to look for you,
Pater? Where am I to find you, Pater? You're fast locked up by this
time, and all my trouble's gone for nothing. But I'll be locked up too,
Pater. Where you are, will I be; and if we can't go to England together,
why then we'll go back to that blackguard hole at Givet together.
Ochone! Ochone!" O'Brien spoke no more, but burst into tears. I was much
affected with this proof of O'Brien's sincere regard, and I came to his
side and clasped him in my arms. O'Brien stared at me, "Who are you, you
ugly Dutch frow?" (for he had quite forgotten the woman's dress at the
moment), but recollecting himself, he hugged me in his arms. "Pater, you
come as near to an angel's shape as you can, for you come in that of a
woman, to comfort me; for, to tell the truth, I was very much distressed
at not finding you here; and all the blankets gone to boot. What has
been the matter?" I explained in as few words as I could.
"Well, Peter, I'm happy to find you all safe, and much happier to find
that you can be trusted when I leave you, for you could not have behaved
more prudently; now I'll tell you what I did, which was not much, as it
happened. I knew that there was no cabaret between us and Flushing, for
I took particular notice as I came along; so I took the road to
Middelburg, and found but one, which was full of soldiers. I passed it,
and found no other. As I came back past the same cabaret, one of the
soldiers came out to me, but I walked along the road. He quickened his
pace, and so did I mine, for I expected mischief. At last he came up to
me, and spoke to me in Dutch, to which I gave him no answer. He collared
me, and then I thought it convenient to pretend that I was deaf and
dumb. I pointed to my mouth with an Au--au--and then to my ears, and
shook my head; but he would not be convinced, and I heard him say
something about English. I then knew that there was no time to be lost,
so I first burst out into a loud laugh and stopped; and on his
attempting to force me, I kicked up his heels, and he fell on the ice
with such a rap on the pate, that I doubt if he has recovered it by this
time. There I left him, and have run back as hard as I could, without
anything for Peter to fill his little hungry inside with. Now, Peter,
what's your opinion? for they say that out of the mouth of babes there
is wisdom; and although I never saw anything come out of their mouths
but sour milk, yet perhaps I may be more fortunate this time, for,
Peter, you're but a baby."
"Not a small one, O'Brien, although not quite so large as Fingal's
_babby_ that you told me the story of. My idea is this.--Let us, at all
hazards, go to the farmhouse. They have assisted us, and may be inclined
to do so again; if they refuse, we must push on to Flushing and take our
"Well," observed O'Brien, after a pause, "I think we can do no better,
so let's be off." We went to the farmhouse, and, as we approached the
door, were met by the great mastiff. I started back, O'Brien boldly
advanced. "He's a clever dog, and may know us again. I'll go up," said
O'Brien, not stopping while he spoke, "and pat his head: if he flies at
me, I shall be no worse than I was before, for depend upon it he will
not allow us to go back again." O'Brien by this time had advanced to the
dog, who looked earnestly and angrily at him. He patted his head, the
dog growled, but O'Brien put his arm round his neck, and patting him
again, whistled to him, and went to the door of the farmhouse. The dog
followed him silently but closely. O'Brien knocked, and the door was
opened by the little girl: the mastiff advanced to the girl, and then
turned round, facing O'Brien, as much as to say, "Is he to come in?" The
girl spoke to the dog, and went indoors. During her absence the mastiff
lay down at the threshold. In a few seconds the woman who had brought us
from Flushing, came out, and desired us to enter. She spoke very good
French, and told us that fortunately her husband was absent; that the
reason why we had not been supplied was, that a wolf had met her little
girl returning the other day, but had been beaten off by the mastiff,
and that she was afraid to allow her to go again; that she heard the
wolf had been killed this evening, and had intended her girl to have
gone to us early to-morrow morning; that wolves were hardly known in
that country, but that the severe winter had brought them down to the
lowlands, a very rare circumstance, occurring perhaps not once in twenty
years. "But how did you pass the mastiff?" said she; "that has surprised
my daughter and me." O'Brien told her, upon which she said "that the
English were really '_des braves_.' No other man had ever done the
same." So I thought, for nothing would have induced me to do it. O'Brien
then told the history of the death of the wolf, with all particulars,
and our intention, if we could not do better, of returning to Flushing.
"I heard that Pierre Eustache came home yesterday," replied the woman;
"and I do think that you will be safer there than here, for they will
never think of looking for you among the _casernes_, which join their
"Will you lend us your assistance to get in?"
"I will see what I can do. But are you not hungry?"
"About as hungry as men who have eaten nothing for two days."
"_Mon Dieu! c'est vrai._ I never thought it was so long, but those whose
stomachs are filled forget those who are empty. God make us better and
She spoke to the little girl in Dutch, who hastened to load the table,
which we hastened to empty. The little girl stared at our voracity; but
at last she laughed out, and clapped her hands at every fresh mouthful
which we took, and pressed us to eat more. She allowed me to kiss her,
until her mother told her that I was not a woman, when she pouted at me,
and beat me off. Before midnight we were fast asleep upon the benches
before the kitchen fire, and at daybreak were roused up by the woman,
who offered us some bread and spirits, and then we went out to the door,
where we found the horse and cart all ready, and loaded with vegetables
for the market. The woman, the little girl, and myself got in, O'Brien
leading as before, and the mastiff following. We had learnt the dog's
name, which was "_Achille_," and he seemed to be quite fond of us. We
passed the dreaded barriers without interruption, and in ten minutes
entered the cabaret of Eustache; and immediately walked into the little
room through a crowd of soldiers, two of whom chucked me under the chin.
Whom should we find there but Eustache, the pilot himself, in
conversation with his wife, and it appeared that they were talking about
us, she insisting, and he unwilling to have any hand in the business.
"Well, here they are themselves, Eustache; the soldiers who have seen
them come in will never believe that this is their first entry if you
give them up. I leave them to make their own bargain; but mark me,
Eustache, I have slaved night and day in this cabaret for your profit;
if you do not oblige me and my family, I no longer keep a cabaret for
Madame Eustache then quitted the room with her husband's sister and
little girl, and O'Brien immediately accosted him. "I promise you," said
he to Eustache, "one hundred louis if you put us on shore at any part of
England, or on board of any English man-of-war; and if you do it within
a week, I will make it twenty louis more." O'Brien then pulled out the
fifty napoleons given us by Celeste, for our own were not yet expended,
and laid them on the table. "Here is this in advance, to prove my
sincerity. Say, is it a bargain or not?"
"I never yet heard of a poor man who could withstand his wife's
arguments, backed with one hundred and twenty louis," said Eustache
smiling, and sweeping the money off the table.
"I presume you have no objection to start to-night? That will be ten
louis more in your favour," replied O'Brien.
"I shall earn them," replied Eustache. "The sooner I am off the better,
for I could not long conceal you here. The young frow with you is, I
suppose, your companion that my wife mentioned. He has begun to suffer
hardships early. Come, now, sit down and talk, for nothing can be done
O'Brien narrated the adventures attending our escape, at which Eustache
laughed heartily; the more so, at the mistake which his wife was under,
as to the obligations of the family. "If I did not feel inclined to
assist you before, I do now, just for the laugh I shall have at her when
I come back, and if she wants any more assistance for the sake of her
relations, I shall remind her of this anecdote; but she's a good woman
and a good wife to boot, only too fond of her sisters." At dusk he
equipped us both in sailor's jackets and trowsers, and desired us to
follow him boldly. He passed the guard, who knew him well. "What, to sea
already?" said one. "You have quarrelled with your wife." At which they
all laughed, and we joined. We gained the beach, jumped into his little
boat, pulled off to his vessel, and, in a few minutes, were under weigh.
With a strong tide and a fair wind we were soon clear of the Scheldt,
and the next morning a cutter hove in sight. We steered for her, ran
under her lee, O'Brien hailed for a boat, and Eustache, receiving my
bill for the remainder of his money, wished us success; we shook hands,
and in a few minutes found ourselves once more under the British
Adventures at home--I am introduced to my grandfather--He obtains
employment for O'Brien and myself, and we join a frigate.
As soon as we were on the deck of the cutter, the lieutenant commanding
her inquired of us, in a consequential manner, who we were. O'Brien
replied that we were English prisoners who had escaped. "Oh, midshipmen,
I presume," replied the lieutenant; "I heard that some had contrived to
"My name, sir," said O'Brien, "is Lieutenant O'Brien; and if you'll send
for a 'Steel's List,' I will have the honour of pointing it out to you.
This young gentleman is Mr Peter Simple, midshipman, and grandson to the
Right Honourable Lord Viscount Privilege."
The lieutenant, who was a little snub-nosed man, with a pimply face,
then altered his manner towards us, and begged we would step down into
the cabin, where he offered, what perhaps was the greatest of all
luxuries to us, some English cheese and bottled porter. "Pray," said he,
"did you see anything of one of my officers, who was taken prisoner when
I was sent with despatches to the Mediterranean fleet?"
"May I first ask the name of your lively little craft?" said O'Brien.
"'The Snapper,'" replied the lieutenant.
"Och, murder; sure enough we met him. He was sent to Verdun, but we had
the pleasure of his company _en route_ as far as Montpelier. A
remarkably genteel, well-dressed young man, was he not?"
"Why, I can't say much about his gentility; indeed, I am not much of a
judge. As for his dress, he ought to have dressed well, but he never did
when on board of me. His father is my tailor, and I took him as
midshipman, just to square an account between us."
"That's exactly what I thought," replied O'Brien.
He did not say any more, which I was glad of, as the lieutenant might
not have been pleased at what had occurred.
"When do you expect to run into port?" demanded O'Brien; for we were
rather anxious to put our feet ashore again in old England. The
lieutenant replied that his cruise was nearly up; and he considered our
arrival quite sufficient reason for him to run in directly, and that he
intended to put his helm up after the people had had their dinner. We
were much delighted with this intelligence, and still more to see the
intention put into execution half an hour afterwards.
In three days we anchored at Spithead, and went on shore with the
lieutenant to report ourselves to the admiral. Oh! with what joy did I
first put my foot on the shingle beach at Sallyport, and then hasten to
the post-office to put in a long letter which I had written to my
mother. We did not go to the admiral's, but merely reported ourselves at
the admiral's office; for we had no clothes fit to appear in. But we
called at Meredith's the tailor, and he promised that, by the next
morning, we should be fitted complete. We then ordered new hats, and
everything we required, and went to the Fountain inn. O'Brien refused to
go to the Blue Posts, as being only a receptacle for midshipmen. By
eleven o'clock the next morning, we were fit to appear before the
admiral, who received us very kindly, and requested our company to
dinner. As I did not intend setting off for home until I had received an
answer from my mother, we, of course, accepted the invitation.
There was a large party of naval officers and ladies, and O'Brien amused
them very much during dinner. When the ladies left the room, the
admiral's wife told me to come up with them; and when we arrived at the
drawing-room, the ladies all gathered round me, and I had to narrate the
whole of my adventures, which very much entertained and interested them.
The next morning I received a letter from my mother--such a kind one!
entreating me to come home as fast as I could, and bring my _preserver_
O'Brien with me. I showed it to O'Brien, and asked him whether he would
"Why, Peter, my boy, I have a little business of some importance to
transact; which is, to obtain my arrears of pay, and some prize-money
which I find due. When I have settled that point, I will go to town to
pay my respects to the First Lord of the Admiralty, and then I think I
will go and see your father and mother: for, until I know how matters
stand, and whether I shall be able to go with spare cash in my pocket, I
do not wish to see my own family; so write down your address here, and
you'll be sure I'll come, if it is only to square my accounts with you,
for I am not a little in your debt."
I cashed a cheque sent by my father, and set off in the mail that night;
the next evening I arrived safe home. But I shall leave the reader to
imagine the scene: to my mother I was always dear, and circumstances had
rendered me of some importance to my father; for I was now an only son,
and his prospects were very different from what they were when I left
home. About a week afterwards, O'Brien joined us, having got through all
his business. His first act was to account with my father for his share
of the expenses; and he even insisted upon paying his half of the fifty
napoleons given me by Celeste, which had been remitted to a banker at
Paris before O'Brien's arrival, with a guarded letter of thanks from my
father to Colonel O'Brien, and another from me to dear little Celeste.
When O'Brien had remained with us about a week, he told me that he had
about one hundred and sixty pounds in his pocket, and that he intended
to go and see his friends, as he was sure that he would be welcome even
to Father M'Grath. "I mean to stay with them about a fortnight, and
shall then return and apply for employment. Now, Peter, will you like to
be again under my protection?"
"O'Brien, I will never quit you or your ship, if I can help it."
"Spoken like a sensible Peter. Well, then, I was promised immediate
employment, and I will let you know as soon as the promise is
O'Brien took his leave of my family, who were already very partial to
him, and left that afternoon for Holyhead. My father no longer treated
me as a child; indeed, it would have been an injustice if he had. I do
not mean to say that I was a clever boy; but I had seen much of the
world in a short time, and could act and think for myself. He often
talked to me about his prospects, which were very different from what
they were when I left him. My two uncles, his elder brothers, had died,
the third was married and had two daughters. If he had no son, my father
would succeed to the title. The death of my elder brother Tom had
brought me next in succession. My grandfather, Lord Privilege, who had
taken no more notice of my father than occasionally sending him a basket
of game, had latterly often invited him to the house, and had even
requested, _some day or another_, to see his wife and family. He had
also made a handsome addition to my father's income, which the death of
my two uncles had enabled him to do. Against all this, my uncle's wife
was reported to be again in the family way. I cannot say that I was
pleased when my father used to speculate upon these chances so often as
he did. I thought, not only as a man, but more particularly as a
clergyman, he was much to blame; but I did not know then so much of the
world. We had not heard from O'Brien for two months, when a letter
arrived, stating that he had seen his family, and bought a few acres of
land, which had made them all quite happy, and had quitted with Father
M'Grath's double blessing, with unlimited absolution; that he had now
been a month in town trying for employment, but found that he could not
obtain it, although one promise was backed up by another.
A few days after this, my father received a note from Lord Privilege,
requesting he would come and spend a few days with him, and bring his
son Peter who had escaped from the French prison. Of course this was an
invitation not to be neglected, and we accepted it forthwith. I must
say, I felt rather in awe of my grandfather; he had kept the family at
such a distance, that I had always heard his name mentioned more with
reverence than with any feeling of kindred, but I was a little wiser
now. We arrived at Eagle Park, a splendid estate, where he resided, and
were received by a dozen servants in and out of livery, and ushered into
his presence. He was in his library, a large room, surrounded with
handsome bookcases, sitting on an easy chair. A more venerable, placid
old gentleman I never beheld; his grey hairs hung down on each side of
his temples, and were collected in a small _queue_ behind. He rose and
bowed, as we were announced; to my father he held out _two_ fingers in
salutation, to me only _one_, but there was an elegance in the manner in
which it was done which was indescribable. He waved his hand to chairs,
placed by the _gentleman_ out of livery, and requested we would be
seated. I could not, at the time, help thinking of Mr Chucks, the
boatswain, and his remarks upon high breeding, which were so true: and I
laughed to myself when I recollected that Mr Chucks had once dined with
him. As soon as the servants had quitted the room, the distance on the
part of my grandfather appeared to wear off. He interrogated me on
several points, and seemed pleased with my replies; but he always called
me "child." After a conversation of half an hour, my father rose, saying
that his lordship must be busy, and that we would go over the grounds
till dinner-time. My grandfather rose, and we took a sort of formal
leave; but it was not a formal leave, after all, it was high breeding,
respecting yourself and respecting others. For my part, I was pleased
with the first interview, and so I told my father after we had left the
room. "My dear Peter," replied he, "your grandfather has one idea which
absorbs most others--the peerage, the estate, and the descent of it in
the right line. As long as your uncles were alive, we were not thought
of, as not being in the line of descent; nor should we now, but that
your uncle William has only daughters. Still we are not looked upon as
actual, but only contingent, inheritors of the title. Were your uncle to
die to-morrow, the difference in his behaviour would be manifested
"That is to say, instead of _two fingers_ you would receive the _whole_
hand, and instead of _one_ finger, I should obtain promotion to _two_."
At this my father laughed heartily, saying, "Peter, you have exactly hit
the mark. I cannot imagine how we ever could have been so blind as to
call you the fool of the family."
To this I made no reply, for it was difficult so to do without
depreciating others or depreciating myself; but I changed the subject by
commenting on the beauties of the park, and the splendid timber with
which it was adorned. "Yes, Peter," replied my father, with a sigh,
"thirty-five thousand a year in land, money in the funds, and timber
worth at least forty thousand more, are not to be despised. But God
wills everything." After this remark, my father appeared to be in deep
thought, and I did not interrupt him.
We stayed ten days with my grandfather, during which he would often
detain me for two hours after breakfast, listening to my adventures, and
I really believe was very partial to me. The day before I went away he
said, "Child, you are going to-morrow; now tell me what you would like,
as I wish to give you a token of regard. Don't be afraid; what shall it
be--a watch and seals, or--anything you most fancy?"
"My lord," replied I, "if you wish to do me a favour, it is, that you
will apply to the First Lord of the Admiralty to appoint Lieutenant
O'Brien to a fine frigate, and, at the same time, ask for a vacancy as
midshipman for me."
"O'Brien!" replied his lordship; "I recollect it was he who accompanied
you from France, and appears, by your account, to have been a true
friend. I am pleased with your request, my child, and it shall be
His lordship then desired me to hand him the paper and ink-standish,
wrote by my directions, sealed the letter, and told me he would send me
the answer. The next day we quitted Eagle Park, his lordship wishing my
father good-bye with _two_ fingers, and to me extending _one_, as
before; but he said, "I am pleased with you, child; you may write
When we were on our route home, my father observed that "I had made more
progress with my grandfather than he had known anyone to do, since he
could recollect. His saying that you might write to him is at least ten
thousand pounds to you in his will, for he never deceives any one, or
changes his mind." My reply was, that I should like to see the ten
thousand pounds, but that I was not so sanguine.
A few days after our return home, I received a letter and enclosure from
Lord Privilege, the contents of which were as follow:--
"My dear Child,--I send you Lord----'s answer, which I trust will prove
satisfactory. My compliments to your family.--Yours, &c., PRIVILEGE."
The inclosure was a handsome letter from the First Lord, stating that he
had appointed O'Brien to the _Sanglier_ frigate, and had ordered me to
be received on board as midshipman. I was delighted to forward this
letter to O'Brien's address, who, in a few days sent me an answer,
thanking me, and stating that he had received his 'appointment, and that
I need not join for a month, which was quite time enough, as the ship
was refitting; but, that if my family were tired of me, which was
sometimes the case in the best regulated families, why, then I should
learn something of my duty by coming to Portsmouth. He concluded by
sending his kind regards to all the family, and his _love_ to my
grandfather, which last I certainly did not forward in my letter of
thanks. About a month afterwards I received a letter from O'Brien,
stating that the ship was ready to go out of harbour, and would be
anchored off Spithead in a few days.
Captain and Mrs To--Pork--We go to Plymouth, and fall in with our old
I immediately took leave of my family, and set off for Portsmouth, and
in two days arrived at the Fountain inn, where O'Brien was waiting to
receive me. "Peter, my boy, I feel so much obliged to you, that if your
uncle won't go out of the world by fair means, I'll pick a quarrel with
him, and shoot him, on purpose that you may be a lord, as I am
determined you shall be. Now come up into my room, where we'll be all
alone, and I'll tell you all about the ship and our new captain. In the
first place, we'll begin with the ship, as the most important personage
of the two: she's a beauty, I forget her name before she was taken, but
the French know how to build ships better than keep them. She's now
called the _Sanglier_, which means a wild pig, and, by the powers! a
_pig_ ship she is, as you will hear directly. The captain's name is a
very short one, and wouldn't please Mr Chucks, consisting only of two
letters, T and O, which makes To; his whole title is Captain John To. It
would almost appear as if somebody had broken off the better half of his
name, and only left him the commencement of it; but, however, it's a
handy name to sign when he pays off his ship. And now I'll tell you what
sort of a looking craft he is. He's built like a Dutch schuyt, great
breadth of beam, and very square tuck. He applied to have the quarter
galleries enlarged in the two last ships he commanded. He weighs about
eighteen stone, rather more than less. He is a good-natured sort of a
chap, amazingly ungenteel, not much of an officer, not much of a sailor,
but a devilish good hand at the trencher. But he's only part of the
concern; he has his wife on board, who is a red-herring sort of a lady,
and very troublesome to boot. What makes her still more annoying is,
that she has a _piano_ on board, very much out of _tune_, on which she
plays very much out of _time_. Holystoning is music compared with her
playing: even the captain's spaniel howls when she comes to the high
notes; but she affects the fine lady, and always treats the officers
with music when they dine in the cabin, which makes them very glad to
get out of it."
"But, O'Brien, I thought wives were not permitted on board."
"Very true, but there's the worst part in the man's character: he knows
that he is not allowed to take his wife to sea, and, in consequence, he
never says she _is_ his wife, or presents her on shore to anybody. If
any of the other captains ask how Mrs To is to-day? 'Why,' he replies,
'pretty well, I thank you;' but at the same time he gives a kind of
smirk, as if to say, 'She is not my wife;' and although everybody knows
that she is, yet he prefers that they should think otherwise, rather
than be at the expense of keeping her on shore; for you know, Peter,
that although there are regulations about wives, there are none with
regard to other women."
"But does his wife know this?" inquired I.
"I believe, from my heart, she is a party to the whole transaction, for
report says, that she would skin a flint if she could. She's always
trying for presents from the officers, and, in fact, she commands the
"Really, O'Brien, this is not a very pleasant prospect."
"Whist! wait a little; now I come to the wind-up. This Captain To is
very partial to pig's _mate_, and we have as many live pigs on board as
we have pigs of ballast. The first lieutenant is right mad about them.
At the same time he allows no pigs but his own on board, that there may
be no confusion. The manger is full of pigs; there are two cow-pens
between the main-deck guns, drawn from the dock-yard, and converted into
pig-pens. The two sheep-pens amidships are full of pigs, and the geese
and turkey-coops are divided off into apartments for four _sows_ in the
_family way_. Now, Peter, you see there's little or no expense in
keeping pigs on board of a large frigate, with so much _pay_-soup and
whole peas for them to eat, and this is the reason why he keeps them,
for the devil a bit of any other stock has he on board. I presume he
means to _milk_ one of the _old sows_ for breakfast when the ship sails.
The first thing that he does in the morning, is to go round to his pigs
with the butcher, feeling one, scratching the dirty ears of another, and
then he classes them--his _bacon_ pigs, his _porkers_, his _breeding_
sows, and so on. The old boar is still at the stables of this inn, but I
hear he is to come on board with the sailing orders: but he is very
savage, and is therefore left on shore to the very last moment. Now
really, Peter, what with the squealing of the pigs and his wife's piano,
we are almost driven mad. I don't know which is the worse of the two; if
you go aft you hear the one, if you go forward you hear the other, by
way of variety, and that, they say, is charming. But, is it not shocking
that such a beautiful frigate should be turned into a pig-sty, and that
her main-deck should smell worse than a muckheap?"
"But how does his wife like the idea of living only upon hog's flesh?"
"She! Lord bless you, Peter! why, she looks as spare as a shark, and she
has just the appetite of one, for she'll _bolt_ a four-pound piece of
pork before it's well put on her plate."
"Have you any more such pleasant intelligence to communicate, O'Brien?"
"No, Peter; you have the worst of it. The lieutenants are good officers
and pleasant messmates: the doctor is a little queer, and the purser
thinks himself a wag; the master, an old north-countryman, who knows his
duty, and takes his glass of grog. The midshipmen are a very genteel set
of young men, and full of fun and frolic. I'll bet a wager there'll be a
bobbery in the pig-sty before long, for they are ripe for mischief. Now,
Peter, I hardly need say that my cabin and everything I have is at your
service; and I think if we could only have a devil of a gale of wind, or
a hard-fought action, to send the _pigs_ overboard and smash the
_piano_, we should do very well."
The next day I went on board, and was shown down into the cabin, to
report my having joined. Mrs To, a tall thin woman, was at her piano;
she rose, and asked me several questions--who my friends were--how much
they allowed me a year, and many other questions, which I thought
impertinent: but a captain's wife is allowed to take liberties. She then
asked me if I was fond of music? That was a difficult question, as, if I
said that I was, I should in all probability be obliged to hear it: if I
said that I was not, I might have created a dislike in her. So I
replied, that I was very fond of music on shore, when it was not
interrupted by other noise. "Ah! then I perceive you are a real amateur,
Mr Simple," replied the lady.
Captain To then came out of the after-cabin, half-dressed. "Well,
youngster, so you've joined us at last. Come and dine with us to-day?
and, as you go down to your berth, desire the sentry to pass the word
for the butcher; I want to speak with him."
I bowed and retired. I was met in the most friendly manner by the
officers and by my own messmates, who had been prepossessed in my favour
by O'Brien, previous to my arrival. In our service you always find young
men of the best families on board large frigates, they being considered
the most eligible class of vessels; I found my messmates to be
gentlemen, with one or two exceptions, but I never met so many wild
young lads together. I sat down and ate some dinner with them, although
I was to dine in the cabin, for the sea air made me hungry.
"Don't you dine in the cabin, Simple?" said the caterer.
"Yes," replied I.
"Then don't eat any pork, my boy, now, for you'll have plenty there.
Come, gentlemen, fill your glasses; we'll drink happiness to our new
messmate, and pledging him, we pledge ourselves to try to promote it."
"I'll just join you in that toast," said O'Brien, walking into the
midshipmen's berth. "What is it you're drinking it in?"
"Some of Collier's port, sir. Boy, bring a glass for Mr O'Brien."
"Here's your health, Peter, and wishing you may keep out of a French
prison this cruise. Mr Montague, as caterer, I will beg you will order
another candle, that I may see what's on the table, and then perhaps I
may find something I should like to pick a bit off."
"Here's the fag end of a leg of mutton, Mr O'Brien, and there's a piece
of boiled pork."
"Then I'll just trouble you for a bit close to the knuckle. Peter, you
dine in the cabin, so do I--the doctor refused."
"Have you heard when we sail, Mr O'Brien?" inquired one of my messmates.
"I heard at the admiral's office, that we were expected to be ordered
round to Plymouth, and receive our orders there, either for the East or
West Indies, they thought; and, indeed, the stores we have taken on
board indicate that we are going foreign, but the captain's signal is
just made, and probably the admiral has intelligence to communicate."
In about an hour afterwards, the captain returned, looking very red and
hot. He called the first lieutenant aside from the rest of the officers,
who were on deck to receive him, and told him, that we were to start for
Plymouth next morning; and the admiral had told him confidentially, that
we were to proceed to the West Indies with a convoy, which was then
collecting. He appeared to be very much alarmed at the idea of going to
make a feast for the land crabs; and certainly, his gross habit of body
rendered him very unfit for the climate. This news was soon spread
through the ship, and there was of course no little bustle and
preparation. The doctor, who had refused to dine in the cabin upon plea
of being unwell, sent up to say, that he felt himself so much better,
that he should have great pleasure to attend the summons, and he joined
the first lieutenant, O'Brien, and me, as we walked in. We sat down to
table; the covers were removed, and as the midshipmen prophesied, there
was plenty of _pork_--mock-turtle soup, made out of a pig's head--a
boiled leg of pork and peas-pudding--a roast spare-rib, with the
crackling on--sausages and potatoes, and pig's pettitoes. I cannot say
that I disliked my dinner, and I ate very heartily; but a roast
sucking-pig came on as a second course, which rather surprised me; but
what surprised me more, was the quantity devoured by Mrs To. She handed
her plate from the boiled pork to the roast, asked for some pettitoes,
tried the sausages, and finished with a whole plateful of sucking-pig
and stuffing. We had an apple pie at the end, but as we had already
eaten apple sauce with the roast pork, we did not care for it. The
doctor, who abominated pork, ate pretty well, and was excessively
attentive to Mrs To.
"Will you not take a piece of the roast pig, doctor?" said the captain.
"Why, really Captain To, as we are bound, by all reports, to a station
where we must not venture upon pork, I think I will not refuse to take a
piece, for I am very fond of it."
"How do you mean?" inquired the captain and his lady, both in a breath.
"Perhaps I may be wrongly informed," replied the doctor, "but I have
heard that we were ordered to the West Indies; now, if so, everyone
knows, that although you may eat salt pork there occasionally without
danger, in all tropical climates, and especially the West Indies, two or
three days' living upon this meat will immediately produce dysentery,
which is always fatal in that climate."
"Indeed!" exclaimed the captain.
"You don't say so!" rejoined the lady.
"I do indeed: and have always avoided the West Indies for that very
reason--I am so fond of pork."
The doctor then proceeded to give nearly one hundred instances of
messmates and shipmen who had been attacked with dysentery, from the
eating of fresh pork in the West Indies; and O'Brien, perceiving the
doctor's drift, joined him, telling some most astonishing accounts of
the dreadful effects of pork in a hot country. I think he said, that
when the French were blockaded, previous to the surrender of Martinique,
that, having nothing but pigs to eat, thirteen hundred out of seventeen
hundred soldiers and officers died in the course of three weeks, and the
others were so reduced by disease, that they were obliged to capitulate.
The doctor then changed the subject, and talked about the yellow fever,
and other diseases of the climate, so that, by his account, the West
India islands were but hospitals to die in. Those most likely to be
attacked, were men in full strong health. The spare men stood a better
chance. This conversation was carried on until it was time to leave--Mrs
To at last quite silent, and the captain gulping down his wine with a
sigh. When we rose from the table, Mrs To did not ask us, as usual, to
stay and hear a little music; she was, like her piano, not a little out
"By the powers, doctor, you did that nately," said O'Brien, as we left
"O'Brien," said the doctor, "oblige me, and you, Mr Simple, oblige me
also, by not saying a word in the ship about what I have said; if it
once gets wind, I shall have done no good, but if you both hold your
tongues for a short time, I think I may promise you to get rid of
Captain To, his wife, and his pigs." We perceived the justice of his
observation, and promised secrecy. The next morning the ship sailed for
Plymouth, and Mrs To sent for the doctor, not being very well. The
doctor prescribed for her, and I believe, on my conscience, made her
worse on purpose. The illness of his wife, and his own fears, brought
Captain To more than usual in contact with the doctor, of whom he
frequently asked his candid opinion, as to his own chance in a hot
"Captain To," said the doctor, "_I_ never would have given my opinion,
if you had not asked it, for I am aware, that, as an officer, you would
never flinch from your duty, to whatever quarter of the globe you may be
ordered; but, as you have asked the question, I must say, with your full
habit of body, I think you would not stand a chance of living for more
than two months. At the same time, sir, I may be mistaken; but, at all
events, I must point out that Mrs To is of a very bilious habit, and I
trust you will not do such an injustice to an amiable woman, as to
permit her to accompany you."
"Thanky, doctor, I'm much obliged to you," replied the captain, turning
round and going down the ladder to his cabin. We were then beating down
the channel; for, although we ran through the Needles with a fair wind,
it fell calm, and shifted to the westward, when we were abreast of
Portland. The next day the captain gave an order for a very fine pig to
be killed, for he was out of provisions. Mrs To still kept her bed, and
he therefore directed that a part should be salted, as he could have no
company. I was in the midshipman's berth, when some of them proposed
that we should get possession of the pig; and the plan they agreed upon
was as follows:--they were to go to the pen that night, and with a
needle stuck in a piece of wood, to prick the pig all over, and then rub
gunpowder into the parts wounded. This was done, and although the
butcher was up a dozen times during the night to ascertain what made the
pigs so uneasy, the midshipmen passed the needle from watch to watch,
until the pig was well tattooed in all parts. In the morning watch it
was killed, and when it had been scalded in the tub, and the hair taken
off, it appeared covered with blue spots. The midshipman of the morning
watch, who was on the main-deck, took care to point out to the butcher,
that the pork was _measly_, to which the man unwillingly assented,
stating, at the same time, that he could not imagine how it could be,
for a finer pig he had never put a knife into. The circumstance was
reported to the captain, who was much astonished. The doctor came in to
visit Mrs To, and the captain requested the doctor to examine the pig,
and give his opinion. Although this was not the doctor's province, yet,
as he had great reason for keeping intimate with the captain, he
immediately consented. Going forward, he met me, and I told him the
secret. "That will do," replied he; "it all tends to what we wish." The
doctor returned to the captain, and said, "that there was no doubt but
that the pig was measly, which was a complaint very frequent on board
ships, particularly in hot climates, where all pork became _measly_--one
great reason for its there proving so unwholesome." The captain sent for
the first lieutenant, and, with a deep sigh, ordered him to throw the
pig overboard; but the first lieutenant, who knew what had been done
from O'Brien, ordered the _master's mate_ to throw it overboard: the
master's mate, touching his hat, said, "Ay, ay, sir," and took it down
into the berth, where we cut it up, salted one half, and the other we
finished before we arrived at Plymouth, which was six days from the time
we left Portsmouth. On our arrival, we found part of the convoy lying
there, but no orders for us; and, to my great delight, on the following
day the _Diomede_ arrived, from a cruise off the Western Islands. I
obtained permission to go on board with O'Brien, and we once more
greeted our messmates. Mr Falcon, the first lieutenant, went down to
Captain Savage, to say we were on board, and he requested us to come
into the cabin. He greeted us warmly, and gave us great credit for the
manner in which we had effected our escape. When we left the cabin, I
found Mr Chucks, the boatswain, waiting outside.
"My dear Mr Simple, extend your flapper to me, for I'm delighted to see
you. I long to have a long talk with you."
"And I should like it also, Mr Chucks, but I'm afraid we have not time;
I dine with Captain Savage to-day, and it only wants an hour of
"Well, Mr Simple, I've been looking at your frigate, and she's a beauty
--much larger than the _Diomede_."
"And she behaves quite as well," replied I. "I think we are two hundred
tons larger. You've no idea of her size until you are on her decks."
"I should like to be boatswain of her, Mr Simple; that is, with Captain
Savage, for I will not part with him." I had some more conversation with
Mr Chucks, but I was obliged to attend to others, who interrupted us. We
had a very pleasant dinner with our old captain, to whom we gave a
history of our adventures, and then we returned on board.
We get rid of the pigs and piano-forte--The last boat on shore before
sailing--The First Lieutenant too hasty, and the consequences to me.
We waited three days, at the expiration of which, we heard that Captain
To was about to exchange with Captain Savage. We could not believe such
good news to be true, and we could not ascertain the truth of the
report, as the captain had gone on shore with Mrs To, who recovered fast
after she was out of our doctor's hands; so fast, indeed, that a week
afterwards, on questioning the steward, upon his return on board, how
Mrs To was, he replied, "O charming well again, sir, she has eaten a
_whole pig_, since she left the ship." But the report was true: Captain
To, afraid to go to the West Indies, had effected an exchange with
Captain Savage. Captain Savage was permitted, as was the custom of the
service, to bring his first lieutenant, his boatswain, and his barge's
crew with him. He joined a day or two before we sailed, and never was
there more joy on board: the only people miserable were the first
lieutenant, and those belonging to the _Sanglier_ who were obliged to
follow Captain To; who, with his wife, his pigs, and her piano, were all
got rid of in the course of one forenoon.
I have already described pay-day on board of a man-of-war, but I think
that the two days before sailing are even more unpleasant; although,
generally speaking, all our money being spent, we are not sorry when we
once are fairly out of harbour, and find ourselves in _blue water_. The
men never work well on those days: they are thinking of their wives and
sweethearts, of the pleasure they had when at liberty on shore, where
they might get drunk without punishment; and many of them are either
half drunk at the time, or suffering from the effects of previous
intoxication. The ship is in disorder, and crowded with the variety of
stock and spare stores which are obliged to be taken on board in a
hurry, and have not yet been properly secured in their places. The first
lieutenant is cross, the officers are grave, and the poor midshipmen,
with all their own little comforts to attend to, are harassed and driven
about like post-horses. "Mr Simple," inquired the first lieutenant,
"where do you come from?"
"From the gun wharf, sir, with the gunner's spare blocks, and
"Very well--send the marines aft to clear the boat, and pipe away the
first putter. Mr Simple, jump into the first cutter, and go to Mount
Wise for the officers. Be careful that none of your men leave the boat.
Come, be smart."
Now, I had been away the whole morning, and it was then half-past one,
and I had had no dinner: but I said nothing, and went into the boat. As
soon as I was off, O'Brien, who stood by Mr Falcon, said, "Peter was
thinking of his dinner, poor fellow!"
"I really quite forgot it," replied the first lieutenant, "there is so
much to do. He is a willing boy, and he shall dine in the gun-room when
he comes back." And so I did--so I lost nothing by not expostulating,
and gained more of the favour of the first lieutenant, who never forgot
what he called _zeal_. But the hardest trial of the whole, is to the
midshipman who is sent with the boat to purchase the supplies for the
cabin and gun-room on the day before the ship's sailing. It was my
misfortune to be ordered upon that service this time, and that very
unexpectedly. I had been ordered to dress myself to take the gig on
shore for the captain's orders, and was walking the deck with my very
best uniform and side arms, when the marine officer, who was the
gun-room caterer, came up to the first lieutenant, and asked him for a
boat. The boat was manned, and a midshipman ordered to take charge of
it; but when he came up, the first lieutenant recollecting that he had
come off two days before with only half his boat's crew, would not trust
him, and called out to me, "Here, Mr Simple, I must send you in this
boat; mind you are careful that none of the men leave it; and bring off
the sergeant of marines, who is on shore looking for the men who have
broken their liberty." Although I could not but feel proud of the
compliment, yet I did not much like going in my very best uniform, and
would have run down and changed it, but the marine officer and all the
people were in the boat, and I could not keep it waiting, so down the
side I went, and we shoved off. We had, besides the boat's crew, the
marine officer, the purser, the gun-room steward, the captain's steward,
and the purser's steward; so that we were pretty full. It blew hard from
the S.E., and there was a sea running, but as the tide was flowing into
the harbour there was not much bubble. We hoisted the foresail, flew
before the wind and tide, and in a quarter of an hour we were at Mutton
Cove, when the marine officer expressed his wish to land. The
landing-place was crowded with boats, and it was not without sundry
exchanges of foul words and oaths, and the bow-men dashing the point of
their boat-hooks into the shore-boats, to make them keep clear of us,
that we forced our way to the beach. The marine officer and all the
stewards then left the boat, and I had to look after the men. I had not
been there three minutes before the bow-man said that his wife was on
the wharf with his clothes from the wash, and begged leave to go and
fetch them. I refused, telling him that she could bring them to him. "Vy
now, Mr Simple," said the woman, "ar'n't you a nice lady's man, to go
for to ax me to muddle my way through all the dead dogs, cabbage-stalks,
and stinking hakes' heads, with my bran new shoes and clean stockings?"
I looked at her, and sure enough she was, as they say in France, _bien
chaussee_. "Come, Mr Simple, let him out to come for his clothes, and
you'll see that he's back in a moment." I did not like to refuse her, as
it was very dirty and wet, and the shingle was strewed with all that she
had mentioned. The bow-man made a spring out with his boat-hook, threw
it back, went up to his wife, and commenced talking with her, while I
watched him. "If you please, sir, there's my young woman come down,
mayn't I speak to her?" said another of the men. I turned round, and
refused him. He expostulated, and begged very hard, but I was resolute;
however, when I again turned my eyes to watch the bow-man, he and his
wife were gone. "There," says I to the coxswain, "I knew it would be so;
you see Hickman is off."
"Only gone to take a parting glass, sir," replied the coxswain; "he'll
be here directly."
"I hope so; but I'm afraid not." After this, I refused all the
solicitations of the men to be allowed to leave the boat, but I
permitted them to have some beer brought down to them. The gun-room
steward then came back with a basket of _soft-tack_, _i.e._ loaves of
bread, and told me that the marine officer requested I would allow two
of the men to go up with him to Glencross's shop, to bring down some of
the stores. Of course, I sent two of the men, and told the steward if he
saw Hickman, to bring him down to the boat.
By this time many of the women belonging to the ship had assembled, and
commenced a noisy conversation with the boat's crew. One brought an
article for Jim, another some clothes for Bill; some of them climbed
into the boat, and sat with the men; others came and went, bringing beer
and tobacco, which the men desired them to purchase. The crowd, the
noise, and confusion were so great, that it was with the utmost
difficulty that I could keep my eyes on all my men, who, one after
another, made an attempt to leave the boat. Just at that time came down
the sergeant of the marines, with three of our men whom he had picked
up, _roaring drunk_. They were tumbled into the boat, and increased the
difficulty, as in looking after those who were riotous, and would try to
leave the boat by force, I was not so well able to keep my eyes on those
who were sober. The sergeant then went up after another man, and I told
him also about Hickman. About half an hour afterwards the steward came
down with the two men, loaded with cabbages, baskets of eggs, strings of
onions, crockery of all descriptions, paper parcels of groceries, legs
and shoulders of mutton, which were crowded in, until not only the
stern-sheets, but all under the thwarts of the boat were also crammed
full. They told me that they had a few more things to bring down, and
that the marine officer had gone to Stonehouse to see his wife, so that
they should be down long before him. In half an hour more, during which
I had the greatest difficulty to manage the boat's crew, they returned
with a dozen geese and two ducks, tied by the legs, but without the two
men, who had given them the slip, so that there were now three men gone,
and I knew Mr Falcon would be very angry, for they were three of the
smartest men in the ship. I was now determined not to run the risk of
losing more men, and I ordered the boat's crew to shove off, that I
might lie at the wharf, where they could not climb up. They were very
mutinous, grumbled very much, and would hardly obey me; the fact is,
they had drunk a great deal, and some of them were more than half tipsy.
However, at last I was obeyed, but not without being saluted with a
shower of invectives from the women, and the execrations of the men
belonging to the wherries and _shore_ boats which were washed against
our sides by the swell. The weather had become much worse, and looked
very threatening. I waited an hour more, when the sergeant of marines
came down with two more men, one of whom, to my great joy, was Hickman.
This made me more comfortable, as I was not answerable for the other
two; still I was in great trouble from the riotous and insolent
behaviour of the boat's crew, and the other men brought down by the
sergeant of marines. One of them fell back into a basket of eggs, and
smashed them all to atoms; still the marine officer did not come down,
and it was getting late. The tide being now at the ebb, running out
against the wind, there was a heavy sea, and I had to go off to the ship
with a boat deeply laden, and most of the people in her in a state of
intoxication. The coxswain, who was the only one who was sober,
recommended our shoving off, as it would soon be dark, and some accident
would happen. I reflected a minute, and agreeing with him, I ordered the
oars to be got out, and we shoved off, the sergeant of marines and the
gun-room steward perched up in the bows--drunken men, ducks and geese,
lying together at the bottom of the boat--the stern sheets loaded up to
the gunwale, and the other passengers and myself sitting how we could
among the crockery and a variety of other articles with which the boat
was crowded. It was a scene of much confusion--the half-drunken boat's
crew _catching crabs_, and falling forward upon the others--those who
were quite drunk swearing they _would_ pull. "Lay on your oar, Sullivan;
you are doing more harm than good. You drunken rascal, I'll report you
as soon as we get on board."
"How the divil can I pull, your honour, when there's that fellow Jones
breaking the very back o' me with his oar, and he never touching the
water all the while?"
"You lie," cried Jones; "I'm pulling the boat by myself against the
whole of the larbard oars."
"He's rowing _dry_, your honour--only making bilave."
"Do you call this rowing dry?" cried another, as a sea swept over the
boat, fore and aft, wetting everybody to the skin.
"Now, your honour, just look and see if I ain't pulling the very arms
off me?" cried Sullivan.
"Is there water enough to cross the bridge, Swinburne?" said I to the
"Plenty, Mr Simple; it is but quarter ebb, and the sooner we are on
board the better."
We were now past Devil's Point, and the sea was very heavy: the boat
plunged in the trough, so that I was afraid that she would break her
back. She was soon half full of water, and the two after-oars were laid
in for the men to bale. "Plase your honour, hadn't I better cut free the
legs of them ducks and geese, and allow them to swim for their lives?"
cried Sullivan, resting on his oar; "the poor birds will be drowned else
in their own _iliment_."
"No, no--pull away as hard as you can."
By this time the drunken men in the bottom of the boat began to be very
uneasy, from the quantity of water which washed about them, and made
several staggering attempts to get on their legs. They fell down again
upon the ducks and geese, the major part of which were saved from being
drowned by being suffocated. The sea on the bridge was very heavy; and
although the tide swept us out, we were nearly swamped. Soft bread was
washing about the bottom of the boat; the parcels of sugar, pepper, and
salt, were wet through with the salt water, and a sudden jerk threw the
captain's steward, who was seated upon the gunwale close to the
after-oar, right upon the whole of the crockery and eggs, which added to
the mass of destruction. A few more seas shipped completed the job, and
the gun-room steward was in despair. "That's a darling," cried Sullivan:
"the politest boat in the whole fleet. She makes more bows and curtseys
than the finest couple in the land. Give way, my lads, and work the
crater stuff out of your elbows, and the first lieutenant will see us
all so sober, and so wet in the bargain, and think we're all so dry,
that perhaps he'll be after giving us a raw nip when we get on board."
In a quarter of an hour we were nearly alongside, but the men pulled so
badly, and the sea was so great, that we missed the ship and went
astern. They veered out a buoy with a line, which we got hold of, and
were hauled up by the marines and after-guard, the boat plunging bows
under, and drenching us through and through. At last we got under the
counter, and I climbed up by the stern ladder. Mr Falcon was on deck,
and very angry at the boat not coming alongside properly. "I thought, Mr
Simple, that you knew by this time how to bring a boat alongside."
"So I do, sir, I hope," replied I; "but the boat was so full of water,
and the men would not give way."
"What men has the sergeant brought on board?"
"Three, sir," replied I, shivering with the cold, and unhappy at my very
best uniform being spoiled.
"Are all your boat's crew with you, sir?"
"No sir; there are two left on shore; they--"
"Not a word, sir. Up to the mast-head, and stay there till I call you
down. If it were not so late, I would send you on shore, and not receive
you on board again without the men. Up, sir, immediately."
I did not venture to explain, but up I went. It was very cold, blowing
hard from the S.E., with heavy squalls; I was so wet that the wind
appeared to blow through me, and it was now nearly dark. I reached the
cross-trees, and when I was seated there, I felt that I had done my
duty, and had not been fairly treated. During this time, the boat had
been hauled up alongside to clear, and a pretty clearance there was. All
the ducks and geese were dead, the eggs and crockery all broke, the
grocery almost all washed away; in short, as O'Brien observed, there was
"a very pretty general average." Mr Falcon was still very angry. "Who
are the men missing?" inquired he, of Swinburne, the coxswain, as he
came up the side.
"Williams and Sweetman, sir."
"Two of the smartest topmen, I am told. It really is too provoking;
there is not a midshipman in the ship I can trust. I must work all day,
and get no assistance. The service is really going to the devil now,
with the young men who are sent on board to be brought up as officers,
and who are above doing their duty. What made you so late, Swinburne?"
"Waiting for the marine officer, who went to Stonehouse to see his wife;
but Mr Simple would not wait any longer, as it was getting dark, and we
had so many drunken men in the boat."
"Mr Simple did right. I wish Mr Harrison would stay on shore with his
wife altogether--it's really trifling with the service. Pray, Mr
Swinburne, why had you not your eyes about you if Mr Simple was so
careless? How came you to allow these men to leave the boat?"
"The men were ordered up by the marine officer to bring down your
stores, sir, and they gave the steward the slip. It was no fault of Mr
Simple's, nor of mine either. We lay off at the wharf for two hours
before we started, or we should have lost more; for what can a poor lad
do, when he has charge of drunken men who _will not_ obey orders?" And
the coxswain looked up at the mast-head, as much as to say, Why is he
sent there? "I'll take my oath, sir," continued Swinburne, "that Mr
Simple never put his foot out of the boat, from the time that he went
over the side until he came on board, and that no young gentleman could
have done his duty more strictly."
Mr Falcon looked very angry at first at the coxswain speaking so freely,
but he said nothing. He took one or two turns on the deck, and then
hailing the mast-head, desired me to come down. But I _could not_; my
limbs were so cramped with the wind blowing upon my wet clothes, that I
could not move. He hailed again; I heard him, but was not able to
answer. One of the topmen then came up, and perceiving my condition,
hailed the deck, and said he believed I was dying, for I could not move,
and that he dared not leave me for fear I should fall. O'Brien, who had
been on deck all the while, jumped up the rigging, and was soon at the
cross-trees where I was. He sent the topman down into the top for a
tail-block and the studding-sail haulyards, made a whip, and lowered me
on deck. I was immediately put into my hammock; and the surgeon ordering
me some hot brandy-and-water, and plenty of blankets, in a few hours I
was quite restored.
O'Brien, who was at my bedside, said, "Never mind, Peter, and don't be
angry with Mr Falcon, for he is very sorry."
"I am not angry, O'Brien; for Mr Falcon has been too kind to me not to
make me forgive him for being once hasty."
The surgeon came to my hammock, gave me some more hot drink, desired me
to go to sleep, and I woke the next morning quite well.
When I came into the berth, my messmates asked me how I was, and many of
them railed against the tyranny of Mr Falcon; but I took his part,
saying, that he was hasty in this instance, perhaps, but that, generally
speaking, he was an excellent and very just officer. Some agreed with
me, but others did not. One of them, who was always in disgrace, sneered
at me, and said, "Peter reads the Bible, and knows that if you smite one
cheek, he must offer the other. Now, I'll answer for it, if I pull his
right ear he will offer me his left." So saying, he lugged me by the
ear, upon which I knocked him down for his trouble. The berth was then
cleared away for a fight, and in a quarter of an hour my opponent gave
in; but I suffered a little, and had a very black eye. I had hardly time
to wash myself and change my shirt, which was bloody, when I was
summoned on the quarter-deck. When I arrived, I found Mr Falcon walking
up and down. He looked very hard at me, but did not ask me any questions
as to the cause of my unusual appearance.
"Mr Simple," said he, "I sent for you to beg your pardon for my
behaviour to you last night, which was not only very hasty but very
unjust. I find that you were not to blame for the loss of the men."
I felt very sorry for him when I heard him speak so handsomely; and, to
make his mind more easy, I told him that, although I certainly was not
to blame for the loss of those two men, still I had done wrong in
permitting Hickman to leave the boat; and that had not the sergeant
picked him up, I should have come off without him, and therefore I _did_
deserve the punishment which I had received.
"Mr Simple," replied Mr Falcon, "I respect you, and admire your
feelings; still, I was to blame, and it is my duty to apologise. Now go
down below. I would have requested the pleasure of your company to
dinner, but I perceive that something else has occurred, which, under
any other circumstances, I would have inquired into, but at present I
I touched my hat and went below. In the meantime, O'Brien had been made
acquainted with the occasion of the quarrel, which he did not fail to
explain to Mr Falcon, who, O'Brien declared, "was not the least bit in
the world angry with me for what had occurred." Indeed, after that, Mr
Falcon always treated me with the greatest kindness, and employed me on
every duty which he considered of consequence. He was a sincere friend;
for he did not allow me to neglect my duty, but, at the same time,
treated me with consideration and confidence.
The marine officer came on board very angry at being left behind, and
talked about a court-martial on me for disrespect, and neglect of stores
entrusted to my charge; but O'Brien told me not to mind him, or what he
said. "It's my opinion, Peter, that the gentleman has eaten no small
quantity of _flap-doodle_ in his lifetime."
"What's that, O'Brien?" replied I; "I never heard of it."
"Why, Peter," rejoined he, "it's the stuff they _feed fools on_."
A long conversation with Mr Chucks--The advantage of having a
prayer-book in your pocket--We run down the trades--Swinburne, the
quartermaster, and his yarns--The Captain falls sick.
The next day the captain came on board with sealed orders, with
directions not to open them until off Ushant. In the afternoon, we
weighed and made sail. It was a fine northerly wind, and the Bay of
Biscay was smooth. We bore up, set all the studding-sails, and ran along
at the rate of eleven miles an hour. As I could not appear on the
quarter-deck, I was put down on the sick-list. Captain Savage, who was
very particular, asked what was the matter with me. The surgeon replied,
"An inflamed eye." The captain asked no more questions; and I took care
to keep out of his way. I walked in the evening on the forecastle, when
I renewed my intimacy with Mr Chucks, the boatswain, to whom I gave a
full narrative of all my adventures in France. "I have been ruminating,
Mr Simple," said he, "how such a stripling as you could have gone
through so much fatigue, and now I know how it is. It is _blood_, Mr
Simple--all blood--you are descended from good blood; and there's as
much difference between nobility and the lower classes, as there is
between a racer and a cart-horse."
"I cannot agree with you, Mr Chucks. Common people are quite as brave as
those who are well-born. You do not mean to say that you are not brave--
that the seamen on board this ship are not brave?"
"No, no, Mr Simple; but as I observed about myself, my mother was a
woman who could not be trusted, and there is no saying who was my
father; and she was a very pretty woman to boot, which levels all
distinctions for the moment. As for the seamen, God knows, I should do
them an injustice if I did not acknowledge that they were as brave as
lions. But there are two kinds of bravery, Mr Simple--the bravery of the
moment, and the courage of bearing up for a long while. Do you
"I think I do; but still do not agree with you. Who will bear more
fatigue than our sailors?"
"Yes, yes, Mr Simple, that is because they are _endured_ to it from
their hard life: but if the common sailors were all such little
thread-papers as you, and had been brought up so carefully, they would
not have gone through all you have. That's my opinion, Mr Simple--
there's nothing like _blood_."
"I think, Mr Chucks, you carry your ideas on that subject too far."
"I do not, Mr Simple; and I think, moreover, that he who has more to
lose than another will always strive more. Now a common man only fights
for his own credit; but when a man is descended from a long line of
people famous in history, and has a coat _in_ arms, criss-crossed, and
stuck all over with lions and unicorns to support the dignity of--why,
has he not to fight for the credit of all his ancestors, whose names
would be disgraced if he didn't behave well?"
"I agree with you, Mr Chucks, in the latter remark, to a certain
"Ah! Mr Simple, we never know the value of good descent when we have it,
but it's when we cannot get it that we can _'preciate_ it. I wish I had
been born a nobleman--I do, by heavens!" and Mr Chucks slapped his fist
against the funnel, so as to make it ring again. "Well, Mr Simple,"
continued he, after a pause, "it is, however, a great comfort to me that
I have parted company with that fool, Mr Muddle, with his twenty-six
thousand and odd years, and that old woman, Dispart, the gunner. You
don't know how those two men used to fret me; it was very silly, but I
couldn't help it. Now the warrant officers of this ship appear to be
very respectable, quiet men, who know their duty and attend to it, and
are not too familiar, which I hate and detest. You went home to your
friends, of course, when you arrived in England?"
"I did, Mr Chucks, and spent some days with my grandfather, Lord
Privilege, whom you say you once met at dinner."
"Well, and how was the old gentleman?" inquired the boatswain, with a
"Very well, considering his age."
"Now do, pray, Mr Simple, tell me all about it; from the time that the
servants met you at the door until you went away. Describe to me the
house and all the rooms, for I like to hear of all these things,
although I can never see them again."
To please Mr Chucks, I entered into a full detail, which he listened to
very attentively, until it was late, and then with difficulty would he
permit me to leave off, and go down to my hammock. The next day, rather
a singular circumstance occurred. One of the midshipmen was mast-headed
by the second lieutenant, for not waiting on deck until he was relieved.
He was down below when he was sent for, and expecting to be punished
from what the quarter-master told him, he thrust the first book into his
jacket-pocket which he could lay his hand on, to amuse himself at the
mast-head, and then ran on deck. As he surmised, he was immediately
ordered aloft. He had not been there more than five minutes, when a
sudden squall carried away the main-top-gallant mast, and away he went
flying over to leeward (for the wind had shifted, and the yards were now
braced up). Had he gone overboard, as he could not swim, he would, in
all probability, have been drowned; but the book in his pocket brought
him up in the jaws of the fore-brace block, where he hung until taken
out by the main-topmen. Now it so happened that it was a prayer-book
which he had laid hold of in his hurry, and those who were superstitious
declared it was all owing to his having taken a religious book with him.
I did not think so, as any other book would have answered the purpose
quite as well: still the midshipman himself thought so, and it was
productive of good, as he was a sad scamp, and behaved much better
afterwards. But I had nearly forgotten to mention a circumstance which
occurred on the day of our sailing, which will be eventually found to
have had a great influence upon my after life. It was this. I received a
letter from my father, evidently written in great vexation and
annoyance, informing me that my uncle, whose wife I have already
mentioned had two daughters, and was again expected to be confined, had
suddenly broken up his housekeeping, discharged every servant, and
proceeded to Ireland under an assumed name. No reason had been given for
this unaccountable proceeding; and not even my grandfather, or any of
the members of the family, had had notice of his intention. Indeed, it
was by mere accident that his departure was discovered, about a
fortnight after it had taken place. My father had taken a great deal of
pains to find out where he was residing; but although my uncle was
traced to Cork, from that town all clue was lost, but still it was
supposed, from inquiries, that he was not very far from thence. "Now,"
observed my father, in his letter, "I cannot help surmising, that my
brother, in his anxiety to retain the advantages of the title to his own
family, has resolved to produce to the world a spurious child as his
own, by some contrivance or other. His wife's health is very bad, and
she is not likely to have a large family. Should the one now expected
prove a daughter, there is little chance of his ever having another; and
I have no hesitation in declaring my conviction that the measure has
been taken with a view of defrauding you of your chance of eventually
being called to the House of Lords."
I showed this letter to O'Brien, who, after reading it over two or three
times, gave his opinion that my father was right in his conjectures
"Depend upon it, Peter, there's foul play intended, that is, if foul
play is rendered necessary."
"But, O'Brien, I cannot imagine why, if my uncle has no son of his own,
he should prefer acknowledging a son of any other person's, instead of
his own nephew."
"But I can, Peter: your uncle is not a man likely to live very long, as
you know. The doctors say that, with his short neck, his life is not
worth two years' purchase. Now if he had a son, consider that his
daughters would be much better off, and much more likely to get married;
besides, there are many reasons which I won't talk about now, because
it's no use making you think your uncle to be a scoundrel. But I'll tell
you what I'll do. I'll go down to my cabin directly, and write to Father
M'Grath, telling him the whole affair, and desiring him to ferret him
out, and watch him narrowly, and I'll bet you a dozen of claret, that in
less than a week he'll find him out, and will dog him to the last. He'll
get hold of his Irish servants, and you little know the power that a
priest has in our country. Now give the description as well as you can
of your uncle's appearance, also of that of his wife, and the number of
their family, and their ages. Father M'Grath must have all particulars,
and then let him alone for doing what is needful."
I complied with O'Brien's directions as well as I could, and he wrote a
very long letter to Father M'Grath, which was sent on shore by a careful
hand. I answered my father's letter, and then thought no more about the
Our sealed orders were opened, and proved our destination to be the West
Indies, as we expected. We touched at Madeira to take in some wine for
the ship's company; but as we only remained one day, we were not
permitted to go on shore. Fortunate indeed would it have been if we had
never gone there; for the day after, our captain, who had dined with the
consul, was taken alarmingly ill. From the symptoms, the surgeon dreaded
that he had been poisoned by something which he had eaten, and which
most probably had been cooked in a copper vessel not properly tinned. We
were all very anxious that he should recover; but, on the contrary, he
appeared to grow worse and worse every day, wasting away, and dying, as
they say, by inches. At last he was put into his cot, and never rose
from it again. This melancholy circumstance, added to the knowledge that
we were proceeding to an unhealthy climate, caused a gloom throughout
the ship; and, although the trade wind carried us along bounding over
the bright blue sea--although the weather was now warm, yet not too
warm--although the sun rose in splendour, and all was beautiful and
cheering, the state of the captain's health was a check to all mirth.
Every one trod the deck softly, and spoke in a low voice, that he might
not be disturbed; all were anxious to have the morning report of the
surgeon, and our conversation was generally upon the sickly climate, the
yellow fever, of death, and the palisades where they buried us.
Swinburne, the quarter-master, was in my watch, and as he had been long
in the West Indies, I used to obtain all the information from him that I
could. The old fellow had a secret pleasure in frightening me as much
as he could. "Really, Mr Simple, you ax so many questions," he would
say, as I accosted him while he was at his station at the _conn_, "I
wish you wouldn't ax so many questions, and make yourself uncomfortable
--'steady so'--'steady it is;'--with regard to Yellow Jack, as we calls
the yellow fever, it's a devil incarnate, that's sartain--you're well
and able to take your allowance in the morning, and dead as a herring
'fore night. First comes a bit of a head-ache--you goes to the doctor,
who bleeds you like a pig--then you go out of your senses--then up comes
the black vomit, and then it's all over with you, and you go to the land
crabs, who pick your bones as clean and as white as a sea elephant's
tooth. But there be one thing to be said in favour of Yellow Jack, a'ter
all. You dies _straight,_ like a gentleman--not cribbled up like a
snow-fish, chucked out on the ice of the river St Lawrence, with your
knees up to your nose, or your toes stuck into your arm-pits, as does
take place in some of your foreign complaints; but straight, quite
straight, and limber, like a _gentleman_. Still Jack is a little
mischievous, that's sartain. In the Euridiscy we had as fine a ship's
company as was ever piped aloft--'Steady, starboard, my man, you're
half-a-pint off your course;'--we dropped our anchor in Port Royal, and
we thought that there was mischief brewing, for thirty-eight sharks
followed the ship into the harbour, and played about us day and night. I
used to watch them during the night watch, as their fins, above water,
skimmed along, leaving a trail of light behind them; and the second
night I said to the sentry abaft, as I was looking at them smelling
under the counter--'Soldier,' says I, 'them sharks are mustering under
the orders of Yellow Jack,' and I no sooner mentioned Yellow Jack, than
the sharks gave a frisky plunge, every one of them, as much as to say,
'Yes, so we are, d----n your eyes.' The soldier was so frightened that
he would have fallen overboard, if I hadn't caught him by the scruff of
the neck, for he was standing on the top of the taffrail. As it was, he
dropped his musket over the stern, which the sharks dashed at from every
quarter, making the sea look like fire--and he had it charged to his
wages, L1 16s. I think. However, the fate of his musket gave him an idea
of what would have happened to him if he had fallen in instead of it--
and he never got on the taffrail again. 'Steady, port--mind your helm,
Smith--you can listen to my yarn all the same.' Well, Mr Simple, Yellow
Jack came, sure enough. First the purser was called to account for all
his roguery. We didn't care much about the land crabs eating him, who
had made so many poor dead men chew tobacco, cheating their wives and
relations, or Greenwich Hospital, as it might happen. Then went two of
the middies, just about your age, Mr Simple: they, poor fellows, went
off in a sad hurry; then went the master--and so it went on, till at
last we had no more nor sixty men left in the ship. The captain died
last, and then Yellow Jack had filled his maw, and left the rest of us
alone. As soon as the captain died, all the sharks left the ship, and we
never saw any more of them."
Such were the yarns told to me and the other midshipmen during the night
watches; and I can assure the reader, that they gave us no small alarm.
Every day that we worked our day's work, and found ourselves so much
nearer to the islands, did we feel as if we were so much nearer to our
graves. I once spoke to O'Brien about it, and he laughed. "Peter," says
he, "fear kills more people than the yellow fever, or any other
complaint, in the West Indies. Swinburne is an old rogue, and only
laughing at you. The devil's not half so black as he's painted--nor the
yellow fever half so yellow, I presume." We were now fast nearing the
island of Barbadoes, the weather was beautiful, the wind always fair;
the flying fish rose in shoals, startled by the foaming seas, which
rolled away, and roared from the bows as our swift frigate cleaved
through the water; the porpoises played about us in thousands--the
bonetas and dolphins at one time chased the flying fish, and at others,
appeared to be delighted in keeping company with the rapid vessel.
Everything was beautiful, and we all should have been happy, had it not
been for the state of Captain Savage, in the first place, who daily
became worse and worse, and from the dread of the hell, which we were
about to enter through such a watery paradise. Mr Falcon, who was in
command, was grave and thoughtful; he appeared indeed to be quite
miserable at the chance which would insure his own promotion. In every
attention, and every care that could be taken to insure quiet and afford
relief to the captain, he was unremitting; the offence of making a noise
was now, with him, a greater crime than drunkenness, or even mutiny.
When within three days' sail of Barbadoes, it fell almost calm, and the
captain became much worse; and now for the first time did we behold the
great white shark of the Atlantic. There are several kinds of sharks,
but the most dangerous are the great white shark and the ground shark.
The former grows to an enormous length--the latter is seldom very long,
not more than twelve feet, but spreads to a great breadth. We could not
hook the sharks as they played around us, for Mr Falcon would not permit
it, lest the noise of hauling them on board should disturb the captain.
A breeze again sprang up. In two days we were close to the island, and
the men were desired to look out for the land.
Death of Captain Savage--His funeral--Specimen of true Barbadian born--
Sucking the monkey--Effects of a hurricane.
The next morning, having hove-to part of the night, land was discovered
on the bow, and was reported by the mast-head man at the same moment
that the surgeon came up and announced the death of our noble captain.
Although it had been expected for the last two or three days, the
intelligence created a heavy gloom throughout the ship; the men worked
in silence, and spoke to one another in whispers. Mr Falcon was deeply
affected, and so were we all. In the course of the morning, we ran in to
the island, and unhappy as I was, I never can forget the sensation of
admiration which I felt on closing with Needham Point to enter Carlisle
Bay. The beach of such a pure dazzling white, backed by the tall, green
cocoa-nut trees, waving their spreading heads to the fresh breeze, the
dark blue of the sky, and the deeper blue of the transparent sea,
occasionally varied into green as we passed by the coral rocks which
threw their branches out from the bottom--the town opening to our view
by degrees, houses after houses, so neat, with their green jalousies,
dotting the landscape, the fort with the colours flying, troops of
officers riding down, a busy population of all colours, relieved by the
whiteness of their dress. Altogether the scene realised my first ideas
of Fairyland, for I thought I had never witnessed anything so beautiful.
"And can this be such a dreadful place as it is described?" thought I.
The sails were clewed up, the anchor was dropped to the bottom, and a
salute from the ship, answered by the forts, added to the effect of the
scene. The sails were furled, the boats lowered down, the boatswain
squared the yards from the jolly-boat ahead. Mr Falcon dressed, and his
boat being manned, went on shore with the despatches. Then, as soon as
the work was over, a new scene of delight presented itself to the sight
of midshipmen who had been so long upon his Majesty's allowance. These
were the boats, which crowded round the ship, loaded with baskets of
bananas, oranges, shaddocks, soursops, and every other kind of tropical
fruit, fried flying fish, eggs, fowls, milk, and everything which could
tempt a poor boy after a long sea voyage. The watch being called, down
we all hastened into the boats, and returned loaded with treasures,
which we soon contrived to make disappear. After stowing away as much
fruit as would have sufficed for a dessert to a dinner given to twenty
people in England, I returned on deck.
There was no other man-of-war in the bay; but my attention was directed
to a beautiful little vessel, a schooner, whose fairy form contrasted
strongly with a West India trader which lay close to her. All of a
sudden, as I was looking at her beautiful outline, a yell rose from her
which quite startled me, and immediately afterwards her deck was covered
with nearly two hundred naked figures with woolly heads, chattering and
grinning at each other. She was a Spanish slaver, which had been
captured, and had arrived the evening before. The slaves were still on
board, waiting the orders of the governor. They had been on deck about
ten minutes, when three or four men, with large panama straw hats on
their heads, and long rattans in their hands, jumped upon the gunnel,
and in a few seconds drove them all down below. I then turned round, and
observed a black woman who had just climbed up the side of the frigate.
O'Brien was on deck, and she walked up to him in the most consequential
"How do you do, sar? Very happy you com back again," said she to
"I'm very well, I thank you, ma'am," replied O'Brien, "and I hope to go
back the same; but never having put my foot into this bay before, you
have the advantage of me."
"Nebber here before, so help me Gad! me tink I know you--me tink I
recollect your handsome face--I Lady Rodney, sar. Ah, piccaninny buccra!
how you do?" said she, turning round to me. "Me hope to hab the honour
to wash for you, sar," courtesying to O'Brien.
"What do you charge in this place?"
"All the same price, one bit a piece."
"What do you call a bit?" inquired I.
"A bit, lilly massa?--what you call um _bit_? Dem four _sharp shins _to
Our deck was now enlivened by several army officers, besides gentlemen
residents, who came off to hear the news. Invitations to the mess and to
the houses of the gentlemen followed, and as they departed Mr Falcon
returned on board. He told O'Brien and the other officers, that the
admiral and squadron were expected in a few days, and that we were to
remain in Carlisle Bay and refit immediately. But although the fright
about the yellow fever had considerably subsided in our breasts, the
remembrance that our poor captain was lying dead in the cabin was
constantly obtruding. All that night the carpenters were up making up
his coffin, for he was to be buried the next day. The body is never
allowed to remain many hours unburied in the tropical climates, where
putrefaction is so rapid. The following morning the men were up at
daylight, washing the decks and putting the ship in order; they worked
willingly, and yet with a silent decorum which showed what their
feelings were. Never were the decks better cleaned, never were the ropes
more carefully _flemished_ down; the hammocks were stowed in their white
cloths, the yards carefully squared, and the ropes hauled taut. At eight
o'clock, the colours and pennant were hoisted half-mast high. The men
were then ordered down to breakfast, and to clean themselves. During the
time that the men were at breakfast, all the officers went into the
cabin to take a last farewell look at our gallant captain. He appeared
to have died without pain, and there was a beautiful tranquillity in his
face; but even already a change had taken place, and we perceived the
necessity of his being buried so soon. We saw him placed in his coffin,
and then quitted the cabin without speaking to each other. When the
coffin was nailed down, it was brought up by the barge's crew to the
quarter-deck, and laid upon the gratings amidships, covered over with
the Union Jack. The men came up from below without waiting for the pipe,
and a solemnity appeared to pervade every motion. Order and quiet were
universal, out of respect to the deceased. When the boats were ordered
to be manned, the men almost appeared to steal into them. The barge
received the coffin, which was placed in the stern sheets. The other
boats then hauled up, and received the officers, marines, and sailors,
who were to follow the procession. When all was ready, the barge was
shoved off by the bow-men, the crew dropped their oars into the water
without a splash and pulled the _minute stroke: _the other boats
followed, and as soon as they were clear of the ship, the minute guns
boomed along the smooth surface of the bay from the opposite side of the
ship, while the yards were topped to starboard and to port, the ropes
were slackened and hung in bights, so as to give the idea of distress
and neglect. At the same time, a dozen or more of the men who had been
ready, dropped over the sides of the ship in differents [sic] parts, and
with their cans of paint and brushes in a few minutes effaced the whole
of the broad white riband which marked the beautiful run of the frigate,
and left her all black and in deep mourning. The guns from the forts now
responded to our own. The merchant ships lowered their colours, and the
men stood up respectfully with their hats off, as the procession moved
slowly to the landing-place. The coffin was borne to the burial-ground
by the crew of the barge, followed by Mr Falcon as chief mourner, all
the officers of the ship who could be spared, one hundred of the seamen
walking two and two, and the marines with their arms reversed. The
_cortege_ was joined by the army officers, while the troops lined the
streets, and the bands played the Dead March. The service was read, the
volleys were fired over the grave, and with oppressed feelings we
returned to the boats, and pulled on board. It then appeared to me, and
to a certain degree I was correct, that as soon as we had paid our last
respect to his remains, we had also forgotten our grief. The yards were
again squared, the ropes hauled taut, working dresses resumed, and all
was activity and bustle. The fact is, that sailors and soldiers have no
time for lamentation, and running as they do from clime to clime, so
does scene follow scene in the same variety and quickness. In a day or
two, the captain appeared to be, although he was not, forgotten. Our
first business was to _water_ the ship by rafting and towing off the
casks. I was in charge of the boat again, with Swinburne as coxswain. As
we pulled in, there were a number of negroes bathing in the surf,
bobbing their woolly heads under it, as it rolled into the beach. "Now,
Mr Simple," said Swinburne, "see how I'll make them _niggers_ scamper."
He then stood up in the stern sheets, and pointing with his finger,
roared out, "A shark! a shark!" Away started all the bathers for the
beach, puffing and blowing, from their dreaded enemy; nor did they stop
to look for him until they were high and dry out of his reach. Then,
when we all laughed, they called us "_all the hangman tiefs_," and every
other opprobrious name which they could select from their vocabulary. I
was very much amused with this scene, and as much afterwards with the
negroes who crowded round us when we landed. They appeared such merry
fellows, always laughing, chattering, singing, and showing their white
teeth. One fellow danced round us, snapping his fingers, and singing
songs without beginning or end. "Eh, massa, what you say now? Me no
slave--true Barbadian born, sir. Eh!
"Nebba see de day
Dat Rodney run away,
Nebba see um night
Dat Rodney cannot fight.
Massa me free man, sar. Suppose you give me pictareen, drink massa
"Nebba see de day, boy,
Pompey lickum de Caesar.
Eh! and you nebba see de day dat de Grasshopper run on de Warrington."
"Out of the way, you nigger," cried one of the men who was rolling down
"Eh! who you call nigger? Me free man, and true Barbadian born. Go along
you man-of-war man.
He de boy for me;
Nebba, nebba do,
Nebba, nebba do for me;
Sodger give me one shilling,
Sailor give me two.
Massa, now suppose you give me only one pictareen now. You really
handsome young gentleman."
"Now, just walk off," said Swinburne, lifting up a stick he found on the
"Eh! walk off.
"Nebba see de day, boy,
'Badian run away, boy.
Go, do your work, sar. Why you talk to me? Go, work, sar. I free man,
and real Barbadian born.
"Negro on de shore
See de ship come in,
De buccra come on shore,
Wid de hand up to the chin;
He de boy for me,
Gib pictareen to me."
At this moment my attention was directed to another negro, who lay on
the beach rolling and foaming at the mouth, apparently in a fit. "What's
the matter with that fellow?" said I to the same negro who continued
close to me, notwithstanding Swinburne's stick. "Eh! call him Sam Slack,
massa. He ab um _tic tic_ fit." And such was apparently the case. "Stop,
me cure him;" and he snatched the stick out of Swinburne's hand, and
running up to the man, who continued to roll on the beach, commenced
belabouring him without mercy. "Eh, Sambo!" cried he at last, quite out
of breath, "you no better yet--try again." He recommenced, until at last
the man got up and ran away as fast as he could. Now, whether the man
was shamming, or whether it was real _tic tic_, or epileptic fit, I know
not; but I never heard of such a cure for it before. I threw the fellow
half a pictareen, as much for the amusement he had afforded me as to get
rid of him. "Tanky, massa; now man-of-war man, here de tick for you
again to keep off all the dam niggers." So saying, he handed the stick
to Swinburne, made a polite bow, and departed. We were, however, soon
surrounded by others, particularly some dingy ladies with baskets of
fruit, and who, as they said, "sell ebery ting." I perceived that my
sailors were very fond of cocoa-nut milk, which, being a harmless
beverage, I did not object to their purchasing from these ladies, who
had chiefly cocoa-nuts in their baskets. As I had never tasted it, I
asked them what it was, and bought a cocoa-nut. I selected the largest.
"No, massa, dat not good for you. Better one for buccra officer." I then
selected another, but the same objection was made. "No, massa, dis very
fine milk. Very good for de tomac." I drank off the milk from the holes
on the top of the cocoa-nut, and found it very refreshing. As for the
sailors, they appeared very fond of it indeed. But I very soon found
that if good for de tomac, it was not very good for the head, as my men,
instead of rolling the casks, began to roll themselves in all
directions, and when it was time to go off to dinner, most of them were
dead drunk at the bottom of the boat. They insisted that it was the
_sun_ which affected them. Very hot it certainly was, and I believed
them at first, when they were only giddy; but I was convinced to the
contrary when I found that they became insensible; yet how they had
procured the liquor was to me a mystery. When I came on board, Mr
Falcon, who, although acting captain, continued his duties as first
lieutenant almost as punctually as before, asked how it was that I had
allowed my men to get so tipsy. I assured him that I could not tell,
that I had never allowed one to leave the watering-place, or to buy any
liquor: the only thing that they had to drink was a little cocoa-nut
milk, which, as it was so very hot, I thought there could be no
objection to. Mr Falcon smiled and said, "Mr Simple, I'm an old stager
in the West Indies, and I'll let you into a secret. Do you know what
'_sucking the monkey_' means?" "No, sir." "Well, then, I'll tell you; it
is a term used among seamen for drinking _rum_ out of _cocoa-nuts, _the
milk having been poured out, and the liquor substituted. Now do you
comprehend why your men are tipsy?" I stared with all my eyes, for it
never would have entered into my head; and I then perceived why it was
that the black woman would not give me the first cocoa-nuts which I
selected. I told Mr Falcon of this circumstance, who replied, "Well, it
was not your fault, only you must not forget it another time."
It was my first watch that night, and Swinburne was quarter-master on
deck. "Swinburne," said I, "you have often been in the West Indies
before, why did you not tell me that the men were '_sucking the monkey_'
when I thought that they were only drinking cocoa-nut milk?"
Swinburne chuckled, and answered, "Why, Mr Simple, d'ye see, it didn't
become me as a ship-mate to peach. It's but seldom that a poor fellow
has an opportunity of making himself a 'little happy,' and it would not
be fair to take away the chance. I suppose you'll never let them have
cocoa-nut milk again?"
"No, that I will not; but I cannot imagine what pleasure they can find
in getting so tipsy."
"It's merely because they are not allowed to be so, sir. That's the
whole story in few words."
"Well, I think I could cure them if I were permitted to try."
"I should like to hear how you'd manage that, Mr Simple."
"Why, I would oblige a man to drink off a half pint of liquor, and then
put him by himself. I would not allow him companions to make merry with
so as to make a pleasure of intoxication. I would then wait until next
morning when he was sober, and leave him alone with a racking headache
until the evening, when I would give him another dose, and so on,
forcing him to get drunk until he hated the smell of liquor."
"Well, Mr Simple, it might do with some, but many of our chaps would
require the dose you mention to be repeated pretty often before it would
effect a cure; and what's more, they'd be very willing patients, and
make no wry faces at their physic."
"Well, that might be, but it would cure them at last. But tell me,
Swinburne, were you ever in a hurricane?"
"I've been in everything, Mr Simple, I believe, except at school, and I
never had no time to go there. Do you see that battery at Needham Point?
Well, in the hurricane of '82, them same guns were whirled away by the
wind, right over to this point here on the opposite side, the sentries
in their sentry-boxes after them. Some of the soldiers who faced the
wind had their teeth blown down their throats like broken 'baccy-pipes,
others had their heads turned round like dog vanes, 'cause they waited
for orders to the '_right about face_,' and the whole air was full of
young _niggers_ blowing about like peelings of _ingons_."
"You don't suppose I believe all this, Swinburne?"
"That's as may be, Mr Simple, but I've told the story so often, that I
believe it myself."
"What ship were you in?"
"In the _Blanche_, Captain Faulkner, who was as fine a fellow as poor
Captain Savage, whom we buried yesterday; there could not be a finer
than either of them. I was at the taking of the Pique, and carried him
down below after he had received his mortal wound. We did a pretty thing
out here when we took Fort Royal by a coup-de-_main_, which means,
boarding from the _main_-yard of the frigate, and dropping from it into
the fort. But what's that under the moon?--there's a sail in the
Swinburne fetched the glass and directed it to the spot. "One, two,
three, four. It's the admiral, sir, and the squadron hove-to for the
night. One's a line-of-battle ship, I'll swear." I examined the vessels,
and agreeing with Swinburne, reported them to Mr Falcon. My watch was
then over, and as soon as I was released I went to my hammock.
END OF VOL. I.
TURNBULL AND SPEARS, PRINTERS, EDINBURGH.
THE THREE CUTTERS
J.M. DENT AND CO.
BOSTON: LITTLE, BROWN AND CO.
CHAPTER XXXI 1
CHAPTER XXXII 12
CHAPTER XXXIII 24
CHAPTER XXXIV 38
CHAPTER XXXV 45
CHAPTER XXXVI 53
CHAPTER XXXVII 59
CHAPTER XXXVIII 68
CHAPTER XXXIX 80
CHAPTER XL 87