Shortly after up came John to announce my horse being at the door. "Will you have a pair of master's spurs, sir?" said he. "No, I thank you, my good fellow," returned I. "Lend me a whip, and I shall be able to manage without spurs." Behold a sailor on horseback, gentle reader, to the admiration or astonishment of all the bystanders, of which there were as many as would man a king's cutter. I kept under moderate sail until I reached Middle Deal, when my companion brought up all standing at the door of a decent-looking house, nor could I make him again break ground until a maidservant opened the door. "Lord," said she, "I thought it was the baker, sir, for you are on his horse." "That accounts," I said, "for his halting at your door. I wish, Betty, you would get him once more into plain sailing." She most kindly took hold of the bridle and led him into the middle of the street. I now thought myself in the fair way, and I gave him a stroke with the whip, which I nearly repented, for he kicked up with his hind legs, and had not I seized the after part of the saddle I should have gone over his forecastle. I held on until he righted. After this freak, which was nearly knocking up my cruise, we jogged on steadily until we came to a narrow street, down which he turned in spite of all my endeavours to prevent him, and again hove to at the door of another house.
"This turning to windward," thinks I, "will never do. It reminds me of Commodore Trunnion making a Tom Coxe's traverse to fetch the church." Whilst I was puzzling my wise noddle what I was to do next, a man passed me. "I wish you would get this horse under weigh," said I, "for here have I been at single anchor for these five minutes at this door, and cannot cast him the right way." "Why," said he, "I knows that there horse; it be the baker's." "D——n the baker, and his horse too," said I, not much pleased at his remark. "You are close to the Canterbury road, and mayhap if I leads him he may go on." "You are the best fellow I have met for a quarter of an hour. Do get him into open cruising ground as fast as you can, for I have been on his back more than an hour, and have not gained half a mile." He gave me a broad grin, and good-naturedly led the horse until I got clear of the houses. He then let go the bridle, gave the animal a smart slap on the flank, which set him off at a hand-gallop, and nearly jerked me over the taffrail. I kept him to his speed, and in about half an hour he stopped suddenly near a small farmhouse, and I was again nearly going over his bows. A slovenly kind of woman hove in sight. I hailed her, and asked her to bring me a tumbler of milk, but I might as well have spoken to a Porto Rico donkey. She showed me her stern, and brought up in a piggery. "The devil take your hospitality," said I. The weather was exceedingly warm, and I was very thirsty, which made me more hasty in my expressions to the Dulciana of the pigstye than I ought to have been. But show me the fair one who would not excuse a sailor thirsty and on the back of an animal as obstinate as a boat's crew when cutting out. After a fruitless attempt to proceed further on my voyage of discovery, I hove about. The animal answered stays as well as any frigate, and was round sooner than the captain of the forecastle could clap the jib traveller over the end of the jib-boom. I was heartily tired of my horse cruise, and was glad when I hove to at the "Hoop and Griffin."
As soon as I had thrown myself on the sofa, my beautiful maid entered. "Will you favour me with your name?" said I, addressing her with quarter-deck modesty. "I am called Lucy," said she. "That's a very pretty name," returned I. "Pray, Miss Lucy, may I ask where the horse came from I have been riding? I have had a worse cruise than a dismantled Dutch dogger on the Goodwin Sands. I have, into the bargain, lost out of my waistcoat-pocket two two-pound notes and five new gloves out of six which I very stupidly stuffed into my coat-pocket." "I am very sorry, sir, indeed, for your misfortune," answered she. "The horse came from the 'Royal Oak.' We desired them to send a quiet one, as it was for a gentleman who was not in the habit of riding." "I wish they had sent me a donkey instead of the baker's horse," said I; "he took it into his head to stop at his master's customers' houses, nor could I make him leave them without assistance. No more cruising on horseback for me," continued I. "Pray do let me have plenty of oysters and bread and butter, with a tankard of ale as smiling as yourself, as soon as the waiter can bring them up, for I am very hungry." "We have a nice cold chicken in the house and some ham; shall I send them up too?" "That's the stuff for trousers," answered I. "Let all be handed up in the turn of a handspike, and if I do not do ample justice to the whole, you are not the prettiest girl I have seen. I suppose it would be treason to ask you to partake of the good things I have ordered?" "Oh, no, sir," said she; "that is not the fashion in our house, for me to sit down with a strange gentleman." Saying this, she left the room, and as I observed the smile which dimpled her blooming cheeks had vanished, I began to think I had said too much. Whilst I was in a blue study, up came chicken, ham, oysters, bread and butter, with the ale. I drew to the table and began with a keen West-country appetite, and for the first ten minutes forgot Lucy, baker's horse, pound notes and gloves, and almost that it was growing dark, and that we were to sail by the next morning's tide. Before I had finished moving my under jaw, which had been in constant motion for the last twenty minutes, in came the purser and one of the mids to report the boat being on shore. "You have saved me from a surfeit," exclaimed I. "Come," said I to the youngster, "sit down and finish the feast. As for you, Master Purser, I know you have been faring well elsewhere, therefore I shall not ask you to take anything."
Having paid the bill and shaken hands with Lucy, I jumped into the boat, and was soon on board. On seating myself in the gun-room, "Now, messmates," said I, addressing the second lieutenant and surgeon, "you commissioned me to buy you each a pair of gloves. I fulfilled it to the letter, but I have left them on the Canterbury road." I then related my adventure, which elicited a hearty laugh. "Now," added I, "we will have a glass of grog, and drink to fair Lucy at the 'Hoop and Griffin,' for she is a very pretty girl, and I have lost half my heart." "If we do not sail to-morrow," replied they, "we will go on shore and see whether she deserves the appellation you have given her." "Do," said I, "and give my love to her."
At daylight our signal was made to remain at anchor until further orders. On sending the last boat on shore for the officers, I ordered the midshipman who had charge of her to acquaint my messmates not to bring off any strangers to dinner, as no boat would leave the ship after they returned. About 3 P.M. the boat came on board, and, in contradiction to my order, brought off a stranger. The second lieutenant was first up the side, and the stranger followed. On his reaching the quarter-deck, he introduced him to me as a person sent off by the admiral as a broker to exchange English for foreign coin. He gave me his card, which I put into my pocket without looking at it. I began by telling him he had come on board at a very inconvenient time, and that, in consequence of the spring tide, the boat would not leave the ship until the morning. "It is of little consequence to me," said he, very coolly; "I can remain where I am until that time." "Respecting the errand you have come on," I resumed, "I am afraid you will be disappointed, as two persons have already been before you." "How came you," said I to the youngster who had charge of the boat, "to disobey the order I gave you?" Before he could answer the surgeon came up and whispered to me, "It is your brother." I examined his countenance more closely. He gave me one of his schoolboy grins and his hand, and then I was convinced. We had not seen each other for nearly nine years, and he had grown entirely out of my recollection. I did not give him the fraternal hug, but I shook him affectionately by the hand and told him I should not part with him until we reached Deptford, to which he willingly consented. He acquainted me with all family concerns, and that my mother was waiting in London, anxious to see me.
The following day we received on board eighteen French prisoners for the prison-ships in the river. We wished them at Jericho, where the man fell among those who used him worse than a Turk would have done. The same afternoon we daylighted the anchor, mastheaded the sails, crested the briny wave like a Yankee sea-serpent, and on the second day let go no fool of a piece of crooked iron off dirty Deptford. As orders were received to pay us off, we were fully occupied for nearly a week dismantling the ship and returning stores, etc. On the second day I ran up to London and saw my mother. She did not, luckily for both parties, shed a flood of tears, but received me with maternal affection, though she said she scarcely knew me—I was grown, as my sister was pleased to say, such a black man. On the sixth day after our anchoring I ordered the ship to be put out of commission, and the cook hauled down the pendant. We had a parting dinner at the "Gun" Inn, shook hands and separated.
A HOLIDAY ASHORE.
On shore—Tired of inactivity—Apply for a ship—Appointed to H.M.S. Minotaur (74)—Prisoners sent on board as part of crew—Go to Plymouth—Scarcity of seamen—Ruse to impress an Irish farm labourer—Ordered to join the Channel fleet off Ushant—Capture French thirty-six-gun ship—In danger off Ushant—Capture two small French ships and one Dutch one: author sent to Plymouth in charge of the latter—Placed in quarantine.
After I had remained in noisy, bustling, crowded and disagreeable London a month, my mother wishing to go into Surrey, I was glad of the opportunity to accompany her and to breathe purer air, and left town without regret.
I was now under my own orders, and was much puzzled to find out how I was to obey myself. For the last ten years I had been under the control of superiors. Now I had the whole of my crew within myself, and discipline I found was necessary. I knew no more of England than it knew of me. Men and manners were equally strange to me, except those on board the different men-of-war I had served in, and they were not the most polished. In the society of the fair sex I was exceedingly shy, and my feelings were sometimes painful when I had to run the gauntlet through rows of well-dressed women, some looking as demure as a noddy at the masthead. I was now in my twenty-third year, and an agreeable—nay, an old lady, whose word was considered sacred—declared I was a charming young man. My life passed as monotonously as that of a clock in an old maid's sitting-room. My habits were too active to remain long in this state of listlessness. I was almost idle enough to make love, and nearly lost my heart seven times. Caring little for the society of the men, I generally strolled over two or three fields to read my books, or to scribble sonnets on a plough, for I began to be sentimental and plaintive. Whilst meditating one morning in bed, I started up with a determination to have an interview with Sir J. Colpoys, who was one of the Lords of the Admiralty, and ask him in person for employment, for I began to be apprehensive if I remained longer on shore I should think a ship was something to eat, and the bobstay the top-sail haulyards. Three weeks after my application I was appointed to the Minotaur of seventy-four guns lying at Blackstakes, and I found it black enough, for she not having her masts stepped, we were all obliged—that is the officers—to live at the "Tap" at Shurnasty, commonly called Sheerness, where we spent thirteen out of six shillings a day, and until the ship was ready to receive us, which was nearly a fortnight, we drank elevation to the noble Secretary of the Admiralty, for, owing to his ignorance, we had been obliged to spend seven shillings daily more than our pay.
Two days after the ship was commissioned, and I had been carrying on the war, for I was the senior lieutenant, the gallant captain made his appearance. After touching his hat in return to my grand salaam, he said, "Hulloa, how is this? I expected to find the ship masted. I will thank you to desire the boatswain to turn the hands up to hear my commission read, and quartermaster," addressing a dockyard matey, "go down and tell all the officers I am on board."
"That is not a quartermaster," said I to him, "he is one of the dockyard men." "Then where are the quartermasters?" "We have none," replied I, "nor have we a seaman on board except some one-legged and one-armed old Greenwich pensioners that were sent on board yesterday." At this satisfactory intelligence he turned his eyes up like a crow in a thunderstorm, and muttered, I fear, something in the shape of a prayer for the whole Board of Admiralty. Whilst we were looking at each other not knowing what to say next, a man came up the hatchway to report that one of the Greenwich men had broken his leg. "Where is the surgeon?" said the captain. "He has not yet joined," replied I. "We must send him to the dockyard for surgical aid. Man the boat, and you, Mr. Brown, take him on shore," said I. Mr. Brown made one of his best bows, and acquainted me that it was the carpenter who was wanted and not the surgeon, as the man had snapped his wooden leg in one of the holes of the grating, and the carpenter's mate was fishing it. After a pause of some minutes, "So," resumed the captain, "this is the manner King's ships are to be fitted out. Why, it will take us a month of Sundays before the lower masts are rigged. What the devil did they send those old codgers with their wooden legs here for? I will go immediately to the Admiral, and point out the state we are in." In the afternoon another lieutenant joined the ship, junior to me. I began to think I should be the first, when on the following day I was unshipped, for two others came on board by some years my seniors. The captain also sent four young mids on board and the Admiralty two oldsters, one of whom was a sprig of nobility. On the morning of the fourth day we were masted, and a lighter came alongside filled with riggers from London, and soon afterwards we received our complement of marines, with a captain and two lieutenants. We were now beginning to get animated and to make some show, when, as I was giving an order to the boatswain, Mr. Brown, whom I ought to have introduced before as the gunner, reported a barge coming alongside with prisoners. "That is surely a mistake," replied I; "I hope they do not take us for the prison ship." Bump she came, stern on. "Hulloa!" I called out; "do you wish to try what the bends are made of?" Before I could say anything more, up came and stood before me, cocked-up hat in hand, a consequential, dapper little stout man dressed in black, with his hair in powder. "Please you, sir, I have brought, by the order of the magistrates at Maidstone, fifteen men to belong to your ship. They be all of them tolerable good men, except five, who have been condemned to be transported, and two to be hung, but as they be contrabanders like, the Government have sent down orders for 'em to be sent on board your ship." "I am sure," said I, "I can in the name of His Majesty's officers offer many thanks to His Majesty's Government for their great consideration in sending men who deserve hanging to be made sailors on board His Majesty's ships." He then, with a flourish, presented me a paper with their names and the offences of which they had been guilty. Nine of these honest, worthy members of society were stout, robust fellows, and had only taken what did not belong to them. Two of the remaining six had been condemned for putting brave citizens in bodily fear on the King's highway and borrowing their purses and watches. The other four were smugglers bold, who wished to oblige their friends with a few hundreds of yards of Brussels lace and gloves, as well as some tubs of brandy, but were unfortunately interrupted in the exercise of their profession by those useless sea-beach cruisers called the Coast Guard. "Pray, sir," said I, "to whom may I be obliged to for the safe conveyance of these honest men?" "I be the under-sheriff's officer, sir," answered he, "and I have had mighty hard work to bring them along." "You deserve to be rewarded, Mr. Deputy Sheriff" (for I like to give every man his title), said I; "you would probably like to have a glass of grog." "Why it's thirsty weather, and I shall be obliged to you, sir." I called the steward, desired he might have some refreshment, and he soon after quitted the ship, admonishing the live cargo he brought on board, who were still on the quarter-deck, to behave themselves like good men. A month had expired by the time the top-gallant masts were on end. We had received all our officers and two hundred men from Chatham and the river. At length, Greenwich pensioners, riggers, and dockyard mateys took their departure, to our great satisfaction, as it was impossible to bring the ship's crew into discipline whilst they were on board. Our complement, including the officers, was six hundred and forty men. We had only three hundred and twenty when orders came down for us to proceed to Plymouth. The captain and first lieutenant looked very wise on this occasion, and were apprehensive that if the ship slipped the bridles she would be like an unruly horse, and run away with us, for there were only forty men on board who knew how to go aloft except a few of the marines. The pilot made his appearance, and soon afterwards down went the bridles, and we were fairly adrift. We reached the Nore, and let go the anchors in a hail squall, and it was with the greatest difficulty we got the top-sails furled. The admiral, having proof positive that we were as helpless as a cow in a jolly-boat, took compassion on us and sent fifty more men from the flag-ship, most of them able seamen. On the fourth day after quitting the Nore we anchored in Plymouth Sound.
I now had the delightful opportunity of once more breathing my native air, viewing beautiful Mount Edgcumbe, revelling in clotted cream and potted pilchards, tickling my palate—as Quin used to do—with John-dories, conger eels, star-gazey and squab pies, cray-fish, and sometimes, but not very often—for my purse was only half-flood in consequence of my expenses whilst on shore at the "Tap" at Sheerness—I had a drive upon Dock. The flag-ship in Hamoaze was the Salvador del Mundo, a three-decker taken from the Spaniards in the memorable battle of the fourth of February. The day after anchoring I was ordered by the captain to go with him on board the Sally-waiter-de-Modo. I reflected a short time, and not knowing there was such a ship on the Navy List, turned to the first lieutenant and asked him if he had heard of such a man-of-war. "No," said he, smiling, "the captain chooses to call her so; he means the flag-ship." On repairing on board her, my commander said to me, "You help me to look at those fellows' phizes," pointing to a number of men who were toeing the seam on her quarter-deck. "I am to take thirty of them; they are queer-looking chaps, and I do not much like the cut of their jib. But mind," added he, "don't take any one that has not a large quid of tobacco in his cheek."
I went up to the second man, who had a double allowance of Virginia or some other weed in his gill, the captain following me. "Well, my man," said I, "how long have you been to sea?" "Four months," was the reply. "Why, you d——d rascal," said our skipper—for observe, reader, he never swore—"what the devil business have you with such a quantity of tobacco in your mouth? I thought you were an old sailor." "No, sir," answered the man, "my trade is a tailor, but I have chawed bacca from my infancy." "Question another," was my order. I interrogated the next, who was a short, slight, pale-faced man. "And pray," said I, "what part of the play have you been performing; were you ever at sea?" "No, sir," said he; "I am a hairdresser, and was pressed a week ago." "D——n these fellows!" said my captain; "they are all tailors, barbers, or grass-combers. I want seamen."
"Then," said Captain N., who was the flag-captain, and had just come on board, "I much fear you will be disappointed. These are the only disposable men, and it's Hobson's choice—those or none."
"The admiral promised me some good seamen," returned my skipper, rather quickly. "Then I fear the admiral must find them," was the answer, "as I have not more than twenty seamen on board besides the petty officers. The last were drafted a few days ago in the Defiance. Will you take any of these men, Captain W.?" "What do you think," said my captain to me; "shall we take any of them?" "Suppose," returned I, "we take twenty of them and the tailor; they will all fit in in time." I then picked out twenty of the best, who were bad enough, as they were the worst set I ever saw grouped. Their appearance and dress were wretched in the extreme. I reached the ship before the hour of dinner with my live cargo. "What, more hard bargains," said the first lieutenant, "we have too many clodhoppers on board already. The captain told me we were to have seamen." "Captain N.," said I, "assured our noble captain that the Defiance had taken all the A.B.'s." "D——n the Defiance!" replied he; "I defy Captain N. or anybody else to match those gentlemanly ragamuffins." The master's mates were called, and they were given into their charge.
One of them, a tall, large-boned man, requested to remain on deck a little longer as he had a palpitation of the heart. "What country man are you?" said I. "Shure," answered he, "I'm all the way from dear ould Ireland, and I don't think I shall be arter seeing the bogs again; but good luck to her, wherever she goes!" "What did you do there?" said I. "Och," said he, "why do I give all this trouble and what business have I here? In Ireland, plase your honour, I planted praters and tended cows. In the hay season I came to England and was employed in stacking, when one day, as I was taking a walk in a field near Lunnen, I fell in with four men who asked me to join them as they were going to a public-house to have something to drink. I thought this was very civil to a stranger. After taking the first pot they told me they intended going in a boat on the river, and asked me if I could pull an oar. 'I'll try,' said I. 'Well,' said they, 'on Saturday, at five o'clock in the evening, be down at Wapping Stairs and you will see a green painted boat with six men in her. I will be ready to meet you,' said one of the most good-natured, 'and we will have a pleasant trip.' I little thought, your honour, that these spalpeens, saving your presence, intended anything more than friendship. I was at the place pointed out, and stepped into the boat. I took the second oar, but I caught so many crabs that I was desired to sit in the stern. We pulled up the river, which I thought very pleasant. In returning, the man who steered said he had a message to deliver on board a dark-looking vessel we were close to. We got alongside of her. 'Won't you go up, Pat?' said he; 'you never was on board so large a vessel; she is worth looking at.' I went up after him, when a man dressed in a blue coat with yellow buttons came up to me and told me to go below. Saying this, he called to another, who told me he would show me the way, which he soon did, and I was forced into a dark place where I found seven more half-ragged, half-starved looking animals. Two of them were countrymen. 'Who have we here?' said one of them. 'I am all the way from Ireland,' said I, 'and I have come to see this ship.' 'The devil you have, my honey; and what do you come here for?' 'Shure enough,' replied I, 'that's true. I'll go and see arter my frinds.' At this they all laughed. I went to the door, but found a sodjer there with a drawn sword. 'What do you want?' demanded he. 'To go, and plase you.' 'To-morrow, my lad,' replied he; 'to-night you stay where you are.' 'Why, what a bother you are making, Pat,' said one of my companions; 'you know you are going to serve the King.' 'And pray,' said I, 'who is the King? I never saw or heard of him before. How can I serve him?' 'That's a good one,' said the one who first spoke. 'Where were you born and baptized?' 'About the bogs of Ireland,' replied I, 'and I was baptized over a bowl of buttermilk and praters by Father Murphy in a stable among a parcel of cows.' 'You'll do,' said another; 'have you any dibbs?' 'Yes,' answered I, 'I have got two shillings and fourpence.' 'That will do. Send for a pot of the right sort, and we'll drink a long life to Ireland.' I gave the one who spoke some money. We had our pot, drew ourselves up like pigs in a trough, and went to sleep. Next morning at daylight we were put on board a tender—not very tenderly, your honour, for I lost my waistcoat and my money, and when I complained I was forced over the ship's side. They said the boat could not wait, as the tender was under weigh. We arrived at Plymouth about a fortnight ago, and here I am, your honour." "Well," said I, "if you behave yourself well and endeavour to do your duty, you will be happy enough; and as I brought you on board, I will, if you deserve it, keep sight of you, and in time you may become a good seaman, and perhaps a petty officer." "Long life to your honour! I'll be shure and take your advice." And so he did, and in a few months after was made captain of the waist.
We were now tolerably in order, and soon after joined the Channel fleet off Ushant. The second day after leaving Plymouth Sound we fell in with the Franchise, a large French frigate of thirty-six guns and three hundred and forty men, who, after exchanging a few shot without doing us any mischief, struck her colours. She was from St. Domingo, with General F. on board, bound to Brest. Her second captain appeared a very delicate young person, and during the four days he was on board he never slept in the cot provided for him in the captain's cabin, but always threw himself down on the sofa in his clothes. We all conjectured that, as a son of Erin might say, he was a woman, which idea after the prisoners left us, was confirmed by the captain's steward, who had been bribed to secrecy during the passage to Plymouth. The lady was the daughter of the captain of the captured frigate in disguise.
Having seen our prize into Hamoaze, and taken our officers and men out of her, we left her in charge of the prize agent, and repaired to our station off Ushant. We joined the fleet, consisting of thirteen sail of the line and two frigates. We looked into Brest roads, and could discover only eight sail of the enemy's line of battle ships, with their top-gallant yards crossed; nine others were coming forward. Four more sail of the line having joined our fleet, we were directed to part company and cruise off Vigo Bay. Soon after we fell in with the Venerable. Having the watch on deck, the captain desired the signalman to hoist the dog-a-tory pendant over the dinner signal. The man scratched his head and made wide eyes at one of the midshipmen, requesting him to tell him what the captain meant. "By Jove!" said the mid, "if you do not bear a hand and get the signal ready, he will make you a dog-of-a-wig instead of a Tory." Seeing the man at a pause, I asked him if he had the signal ready. "Yes, sir," replied he; "I have the telegraph dinner flags ready, but I do not know what the dog-a-tory pennant is; it must be in the boatswain's store-room, for I have never had charge of it." I could not forbear laughing at the man's explanation. "What's the signalman about?" inquired the captain; "why does he not hoist the signal?" "He did not know where to find the pendant you mentioned," replied I. "I have told him you meant the interrogatory pendant." "To be sure; I said so as plain as I could speak. The fellow must be stupid not to understand me," continued our deeply-read skipper. A worthier, better or braver seaman than our noble commander never had the honour of commanding a King's ship. His zeal and loyalty were unimpeachable. To hear him read the Articles of War to us once a month was, if not improving, most amusing. He dogrogated God's honour with emphasis, and accused the ministers of the Church of being lethargic. Some of my messmates declared, although it was perfectly without intention on his part, that the captain in the last expression was right, for although the word was liturgy, he was justified in reading it lethargy. Respecting the other word, "dogrogation," they had all turned over the leaves of Bailey's ancient dictionary in vain; but they presumed the captain meant to read "derogation," as it respected God's honour, and they considered it as a lapsus linguae. Two of the officers' names were Bateman and Slateman. For months after they had been on board our worthy captain did not appear to know one from the other, and we were sometimes much diverted, and they were much annoyed, by his sending for one when he meant the other. Although our cruising ground appeared a profitable one, and we were considered fortunate in being sent there, for six weeks we only made prizes of hundreds of the finny tribe by trawling off Quimper and L'Orient. This amusement, exercising guns, sails and lead, gave us full employment, and kept us out of mischief.
For nearly two months we had only seen four of our cruisers, and a few of the enemy's small craft going along shore, and although we frequently volunteered for boat service, our commander always closed his ears to our requests. He was no friend to boating, he said; it very seldom turned out successful, and it only answered, if it did at all, when courage was doubtful. "And if you are not men of courage," he used to add, "you are not the men I took you for." At length a cutter brought us orders to rejoin the Channel fleet under Lord Gardner, as the French fleet had increased to nineteen sail of the line, besides frigates. After joining, we were stationed off the Black Rocks, with four other ships, to watch Brest and the movements of the enemy's fleet. At this time we were seventeen sail of the line and three frigates, and were very sanguine that the ships at Brest would favour us with their company, as they had been practising their firing and sailing in Brest water. We strained our eyes and imaginations in vain. There they stuck, as the seamen used to say, like the Merrydun, of Dover, which took seven years in veering, and when she did so the fly of her ensign swept two flocks of sheep off Beachy Head, while her jib-boom knocked down the steeple of Calais church and killed the sexton. Cruising on this Siberian ground was horribly monotonous work. We sincerely wished the French fleet alongside of us, or in a warmer place. On one dark night we were caught in a heavy gale from the westward. We were under close-reefed main and foretop-sails and mizzen. The ship was settling down on Ushant rapidly, and we expected to strike every moment. The rebound of the water from the rocks caused the spray to fly half-way over the decks from to leeward. A rock called La Jument was on our lee bow. Luckily we saw the sea breaking over it. "Port the helm!" called out one of the pilots, "or the ship's lost. She must bear the main-sail, captain," added he, "or we shall not weather the island, and she will strike in less than half an hour." The main-sail was cast loose, and after a severe contest, its unwilling tack and sheet were belayed. The ship was literally buried in the foam, and I expected to see the main-mast go by the board every instant. Orders had been given, in case of such an event, to have all the axes ready. Providentially the wind veered two points to the southward, which saved the ship and her crew. Had she struck, she must instantly have gone to pieces. The rocks were so perpendicular that in all probability the whole of us must have made food for fishes. In a quarter of an hour we were clear of the island. Had we been under sentence of death, and suddenly reprieved, the effect on our minds could not have been greater. Long, anxious faces coiled themselves up to half their length and became brighter. The captain, who had been pacing the quarter-deck in quick time, brought himself up all standing, and I could perceive his lips move, and, if I mistake not, he was offering up a mental prayer of thankfulness for our hair-breadth escape. At daylight the gale abated, when, on examining the masts, the maintop-mast was found sprung in the cap. The following evening we captured two French brigs from Martinique, laden with sugar and coffee, and the day after a Dutch ship from Smyrna bound to Amsterdam, laden with silks and cotton, in which I went as prize-master. On our arrival at Plymouth we were put into quarantine. The boat which came out to us kept on her oars. I could not forbear smiling when I requested our letters might be sent on shore by her to see the great and certainly necessary precautions taken by these cunning people. A long kind of sprit was held up, split at the end to receive the letters. When in the boat, one man clipped them with a pair of scissors, another fumigated them with brimstone, a third bedabbled them with dirty vinegar and threw them into a leathern bag, taking care not to touch them with his hands.
A LINE OF BATTLE SHIP.
The ship arrives—Captain's attempt to form a band—Sail again—Attacked by rheumatic fever and invalided ashore—Ordered to join H.M.S. Tonnant—Proceed to Mediterranean—At Oran: experiences ashore.
The ship anchored at Cawsand Bay four days afterwards, when we joined her, leaving the prizes in charge of the agent. I found her with the yellow flag flying at the masthead. She had been put in quarantine on her arrival, which we paid off with the foretop-sail, as we sailed the day after for a six weeks' cruise in the chops of the Channel. At the end of that period we returned to our anchorage with another French brig laden with Colonial produce. Our gallant and would-be musical captain consulted us all respecting harmonious sounds, but, alas! we were weighed in the musical balance and found wanting. This, however, did not discourage him. Nine of the crew came forward with three of the marines, offering themselves as candidates for the band. The captain, after having consulted one of the sergeants of marines, who played the hautboy, whether anything might be made of the men who had come forward as musicians, it was determined nem. con. that a pease-barrel should be manufactured into a big drum, that two ramrods should be metamorphosed into triangles, that the two bassoons and the hautboy taken in the French frigate should be brought into action without loss of time, that the marine and ship's fifer, with the marine drummer, should be drilled with the others, under the direction of the sergeant, in the captain's cabin twice a day, and a horrible confusion of unmusical sounds they made for more than six weeks. The skipper was in his glory, and everybody else amazed. Some of my messmates prayed for them heartily, particularly the first lieutenant, who thought the captain musically mad. The mids declared they never would be respectable enough to be called a band, but would be bad enough to be called a banditti, as they looked more like brigands than musicians.
We had nearly completed our water and stores, when I was ordered to the dockyard with the launch for the remainder and two anchor-stocks. It was blowing fresh, and in consequence I desired the leaves of the anchor-stock to be triced up under the oars outside the boat, that in case of shipping a sea we might be able, if necessary, to cut them away. The last leaf was lowered down to the boat, when I felt a touch on my shoulder. I turned quickly round, when my nose, which is not very short, came in rude contact with a cocked hat, which it nearly knocked off the head of the wearer. It was the admiral, who was in stature a King John's man, four feet nothing. I immediately pulled off my hat and apologised. "What are you doing, sir," said he to me, "with these anchor-stocks?" "Tricing them up outside the boat, sir," replied I. "Why do you not boat them?" I explained my reasons for not doing so. After a short pause, he said, "You are perfectly right. What ship do you belong to?" I informed him. He wished me good evening, and I repaired on board. The morning after we sailed, and in three days we joined the Channel fleet under Lord Gardner. For two long, lingering months we had our patience exercised, jogging backwards and forwards like a pig on a string. The Prince was our leader, and the ship astern of us the Spartiate. The former sailed like a haystack, the latter like a witch, and the sailors declared she was built of stolen wood, as she always sailed best at night. One squally night I was lieutenant of the middle watch, when the Prince split her maintop-sail, and we were in consequence obliged to show a light astern and shorten sail. The Spartiate shot up, and was nearly on board of us. The captain, hearing a bustle, was soon on deck. "What are the fleet about?" asked he. "What is the matter with that beastly Prince?" I informed him. "And what the devil is the Spartang doing on our weather quarter?"
"Why," replied I, "if the Prince and the Spartiate could divide their sailing, we should do very well; but we are very critically placed, being constantly obliged to shorten sail for the former, for fear of pooping her, and in so doing we are in our turn in danger of being pooped by the latter."
"Have you showed a light to the Spartang?" demanded he, for he always called her by that unheard-of name. I answered in the affirmative. "D——n that Prince," resumed he, "she ought to be ordered out of the line. When I go on board the admiral, I will report her." The ships again fell into their stations, and the captain took his in his cot. It was now the depth of winter, and the weather very severe. I had caught cold which confined me to my cot, and when we arrived at Plymouth I had a violent rheumatic fever. I was carried on shore to sick quarters in blankets, and before I was sufficiently recovered the ship sailed.
When I was strong enough I requested permission from the admiral to go to London, which was granted. I had a run in the country for a few months, for I soon got tired of noisy, smoky London. Soon after this I was informed by the Admiralty that I was superseded in the last ship, and ordered to Portsmouth to join the Tonnant, an eighty-four. A few days after receiving my commission, I joined this glorious ship of ships. When I took a perspective view of her gun-decks, I thought her an equal match for any ship afloat, and so she certainly was, and nobly proved it afterwards. Her gallant commander, Captain Troubridge, was from the Emerald Isle; had a slight touch of the brogue, and was replete with anecdote; he was good-humoured and a gentleman, and he never punished a man unless he richly deserved it. My messmates were all young men, and generally speaking well informed, with the exception of the master, who was a countryman of mine, and desperately fond of doggerel verse as well as cray-fish and conger eels.
We were again destined to make one of the Channel fleet, when to our great joy, after tacking and half-tacking for six weeks, we were ordered with some more ships of the line under Admiral Collingwood to proceed off Cadiz to watch the motions of the Spanish and French fleets, after the scratch they had with our fleet under Sir R. F. Calder. We occasionally ran into Gibraltar for refreshments and stores. On one of these occasions the Port-Admiral took it into his head to hoist his flag on board of one of the active ships, and ordered us with two others to make sail out of the harbour. As we were not acquainted with his object, we presumed he wanted to purify his constitution by a strong sea-breeze; if so, he was disappointed, as it fell calm two hours after we cleared Europa Point, and during the night we were under the shells and shot of Ceuta, which fortunately fell harmless. The day after we reached our former anchorage at Gibraltar, where we found Sir Richard Bickerton, who took us under his orders to cruise off Carthagena, where three Spanish line of battle ships were lying ready for sea.
On our way thither we anchored in Oran roads to procure bullocks for the squadron. As soon as the sails were furled a Turkish officer, dressed something like that figure of fun called Punch, came on board us, as we were the nearest ship, to inquire if the fort saluted us what number of guns would be fired in return. We referred him to the flag-ship; he took his departure with his interpreter who spoke broken English. About 1 P.M., whack came a large shot from the fort nearly into the bow, and presently several more. At first, as shot were fired so close to us, we could not exactly tell what was intended until the nineteenth shot was fired, when the battery was silent. The flag-ship returned seventeen guns. On inquiry we found that these barbarians always salute with shot, and endeavour to send them as near you as possible by way of compliment.
About 3 P.M. three principal Turkish officers came on board, the youngest of whom was the commander or governor of the town. The purser, who had been eyeing him with a wicked look, said to us, "I'll make that fellow drunk before he leaves the ship." He had expressed a wish to see the ship, and I offered to take him round the decks. In the meanwhile the purser went to his cabin, mixed some strong punch, and made some sherbet. "Now," said he to me, "when you show him the cockpit, hand him into my cabin." The Pacha admired the ship and the guns, and said it was the largest vessel he had seen. He spoke a little broken English. At length we came to the purser's cabin which was neatly fitted up and well lighted. The Turk was requested to repose himself on the sofa, and to take some sherbet. "First of all," whispered the purser to me, "we will try him with the punch." A glass was accordingly handed to him, and we filled others for ourselves. It went down his throat like mother's milk. He declared it was the best sherbet he had ever drunk, and asked for another glass of it. Down that went without a pause. "He'll do," whispered the purser, "he is a true Mussulman; he prefers stiff punch to cobbler's punch." A tureen was now filled with yet stronger punch, of which he took three more tumblers, and down he fell. He was laid on the sofa until his friends were ready to leave the ship. When they came from the captain's cabin, where they had been taking refreshments, they inquired for the sub-governor. After some delay and more difficulty he made his appearance. His turban had fallen off, and his countenance was ghastly. He was so helpless that he was obliged to be lowered into the boat, to the astonishment and terror of all those who had brought him off, and to the amusement of all our officers and crew.
The following morning I received orders to go on shore with three boats, each containing two barrels of powder and a half barrel of musket balls as a present to the Bey. On our arrival alongside a kind of quay, hewn out of the solid rock, a number of Moors rushed into the boats and seized on the ammunition. I desired the boats' crews to take the stretchers and give them some gentle raps on their petit toes, which made them soon jump back again. I then ordered the boats to lie on their oars, and seeing a person who looked something in the shape of an Irishman, I asked him if he would go to the English Consul and inform him that I should not land anything until he made his appearance. "Shure," said he, "I am the Consul's secretary; won't that do, so please ye?" "No," replied I, "nothing less than the Consul." "He has not finished his dinner yet, sir," was the answer. "Now," said I, "Mr. Consul's secretary, if you do not immediately go to the Consul and acquaint him that I am waiting for him, I will go on board, and you will all be hanged by the sentence of a court-martial." "Oh, sir, I shall be there in no time at all. Do not leave the harbour until you see me again." "Run," returned I, "for your life depends on your expedition." The poor man, I believe, was as frightened as he appeared ignorant.
In about seven minutes down came a tall, large-boned Yankee-kind-of-person with the before-mentioned secretary. "Will you, if you plaise, permit the boats to come on shore, sir," he called out; "I am His Majesty's Consul." We again got alongside the jetty. "Now, Mr. Consul," said I—"My name is Murphy, sir, if it's not bad manners." "Well, Mr. Murphy, if any of those barbarians dare come into the boats, they will be thrown overboard. Our men will put the barrels on the rocks, and they may take them, but you will give me a receipt for them." "Shure that I'll do for you, sir, in a few minutes. Will you favour me with your company to my house?" "By no means; my orders are not to set a foot on shore. But if you will purchase for me half a dozen of small bottles of otto of roses I will thank you. I cannot remain," added I, "more than a quarter of an hour longer." Whilst we were waiting for His Majesty's Consul, who, I need not hint, was an Irishman, an animal made its appearance which the boat's crew declared was a woman. It was clad in a coarse, light brown wrapping gown almost in the shape of a sack with the mouth downwards, with two small holes in the upper part for the eyes. As soon as it came near the boats it was driven away by the Moors. At length Mr. Murphy made his appearance with the requisite piece of paper and eight bottles of otto of roses, for which he did not forget to ask a good price. He informed me that bullocks would be sent off to the squadron next morning. We repaired on board, when my captain asked me if the Bey had sent me a sabre. "No," replied I, "I have received nothing." "Then," said he, "he is worse than a Turk; he ought to have given you one."
The day after we received twelve bullocks not much larger in size than an English calf, and I, with one of my messmates, went on shore outside the town. The soil we found very sandy. I took out my sketch book, and had drawn the outline of the batteries, when an armed Arab rode up to us at full gallop on a beautiful, small, dark chestnut horse. My messmate wore a highly polished steel-hilted hanger, the brightness of which, as it glittered in the sun's rays, attracted the Arab's attention. He spoke broken English, and asked to look at it. "Yes," said my companion, "if you will let me look at yours." He took it from his side without hesitation and presented it to him. The Arab admired the workmanship of the English sword, and then examined the blade. We had inspected his, and found it fine Damascus steel. "Will you exchange," said my messmate. He made a most contemptuous grimace at the question. "I tell you what," said he, "English very good for handle, but Arab better for blade." He then put spurs to his horse and galloped away, chuckling the whole time.
As we had not permission to enter the gates of the town we amused ourselves by examining the houses outside, which were low and whitewashed. The windows were few, small and high, and some of these mean, wretched-looking hovels were surrounded by a mud and sand wall. We saw only Moors and a few Arabs. The country higher up appeared green and fresh, although much rock and sand abounded. The harbour, or rather bay, is small, and its depth of water from two to five fathoms. The principal battery is built on a solid tongue of rock which curves outward and forms a kind of harbour. I remarked the Spanish arms on the centre of it, and on inquiry I found it had been placed there by Charles the Fifth when he landed and took possession of the town.
On the morning of the third day we were under sail for Carthagena. On nearing the harbour, which is strongly fortified by an island at its mouth, we discovered two Spanish ships of the line at anchor, but so close under the island that it was impossible to make any impression on them. The next day they removed into the harbour and struck their top-masts. We cruised between Capes di Gata and Palos for a fortnight, occasionally looking into Carthagena to see if the Spaniards would take the hint. Finding all our wishes and hints fruitless, we left a frigate and a brig sloop to watch their motions and shaped our course for Gibraltar. Near the small island of Alberaw we fell in with two frigates convoying twenty sail of levanters, the commodore of which called me brother-in-law. As the wind was light I had permission to spend the day on board his frigate, where I partook of an Italian dinner, more shadow than substance, and after coffee I repaired on board my own ship, where I ordered something substantial to eat, as the Italian dinner had provoked a good appetite. We anchored at old Gib four days afterwards, and were ordered to refit with all expedition and join once more Admiral Collingwood off Cadiz, where the French and Spanish fleets still remained and were apparently ready for sea.
BATTLE OF TRAFALGAR.
Join Lord Nelson's squadron—Battle of Trafalgar—Author's experiences—Occurrences during action—Severity of operations before the use of anaesthetics—The Tonnant's casualty list—Proceed to Gibraltar—A truce with Spain during horse races on neutral ground there.
In a week's time we formed one of the squadron, and shortly after were joined by fourteen sail of the line under Lord Nelson. The salutation was heartfelt and most gratifying. The dispositions of the fleet were soon made, and as they were as simple as possible, there could be no mistake. A cordon of frigates were ordered to repeat signals to us from the one nearest the shore, whilst we kept nearly out of sight of the land, and all our ships' sides were ordered to be painted yellow with black streaks, and the masts yellow.
We now mustered twenty-seven sail of the line, four frigates, and a schooner, and were waiting impatiently for the joyful signal from the frigates that the enemy were coming out of harbour. On the afternoon of the 20th of October, 1805, our longing eyes were blessed with the signal. We cleared for quarters and were in high spirits. At daylight we had the felicity to see them from the deck, and counted thirty-three sail of the line and three large frigates. They extended in line ahead.
We answered with alacrity the signal to make all sail for the enemy, preserving our order of sailing. The sails appeared to know their places and were spread like magic. The wind was very light, and it was nearly noon before we closed with the enemy. We remarked they had formed their ships alternately French and Spanish. All our ships that had bands were playing "Rule Britannia," "Downfall of Paris," etc. Our own struck up "Britons, strike home." We were so slow in moving through the water in consequence of the lightness of the wind that some of the enemy's ships gave us a royal salute before we could break their line, and we lost two of the band and had nine wounded before we opened our fire. The telegraph signal was flying from the masthead of the Victory, "England expects every man to do his duty." It was answered with three hearty cheers from each ship, which must have shaken the nerve of the enemy. We were saved the trouble of taking in our studding-sails, as our opponents had the civility to effect it by shot before we got into their line. At length we had the honour of nestling His Majesty's ship between a French and a Spanish seventy-four, and so close that a biscuit might have been thrown on the decks of either of them. Our guns were all double-shotted. The order was given to fire; being so close every shot was poured into their hulls, down came the Frenchman's mizzen-mast, and after our second broadside the Spaniard's fore and cross-jack yards. A Spanish three-decker now crossed our bows and gave us a raking broadside which knocked away the fore and main top-masts, the main and fore-yards with the jib-boom and sprit-sail yard, part of the head, and killed and wounded twenty-two of the men. One midshipman was cut literally in half. This was the more provoking as we could not return her the compliment, having full employment with those we first engaged.
We were in this situation about half-an-hour, when the Spaniard called out he had struck, but before we could take possession of him, a French ship of eighty guns with an admiral's flag came up, and poured a raking broadside into our stern which killed and wounded forty petty officers and men, nearly cut the rudder in two, and shattered the whole of the stern with the quarter galleries. She then in the most gallant manner locked her bowsprit in our starboard main shrouds, and attempted to board us with the greater part of her officers and ship's company. She had rifle-men in her tops who did great execution. Our poop was soon cleared, and our gallant captain shot through the left thigh and obliged to be carried below. During this time we were not idle. We gave it to her most gloriously with the starboard lower and main-deckers, and turned the forecastle guns loaded with grape on the gentleman who wished to give us a fraternal hug. The marines kept up a warm and destructive fire on the boarders. Only one man made good his footing on our quarter-deck, when he was pinned through the calf of his right leg by one of the crew with his half-pike, whilst another was going to cut him down, which I prevented, and desired him to be taken to the cockpit. At this period the Bellerophon, seeing our critical position, gallantly steered between us and our first French antagonist and sheeted her home until she struck her colours. Our severe contest with the French admiral lasted more than half-an-hour, our sides grinding so much against each other that we were obliged to fire the lower deck guns without running them out.
At length both ships caught fire before the chest-trees, and our firemen, with all the coolness and courage so inherent in British seamen, got the engine and played on both ships, and finally extinguished the flames, although two of them were severely wounded in doing so. At length we had the satisfaction of seeing her three lower masts go by the board, ripping the partners up in their fall, as they had been shot through below the deck, and carrying with them all their sharp-shooters to look sharper in the next world, for as all our boats were shot through we could not save one of them in this. The crew were then ordered with the second lieutenant to board her. They cheered and in a short time carried her. They found the gallant French Admiral Magon killed at the foot of the poop ladder, the captain dangerously wounded. Out of eight lieutenants five were killed, with three hundred petty officers and seamen, and about one hundred wounded. We left the second lieutenant and sixty men in charge of her, and took some of the prisoners on board when she swung clear of us. We had pummelled her so handsomely that fourteen of her lower deck guns were dismounted, and her larboard bow exhibited a mass of splinters.
After she cleared us another Spanish three-decker drifted nearly on board of us. We received her fire, which shot away the gaff. We returned her salute with interest, and her foremast went about four feet above her deck. We cheered and gave her another broadside, and down came her colours. We manned the jolly boat—the only boat that we thought would float—to take possession of her, but she had not proceeded more than a few yards when down she went, leaving the fourth lieutenant and her crew paddling like sea nondescripts. Having no boat that would float, four of the seamen jumped overboard to rescue those who could not swim, and they all regained the ship. Mr. C., the lieutenant, was nearly drowned, and had it not been for a black man, who took him on his back, he must have sunk. (This man he never lost sight of and left him a handsome legacy when he died.) We were drifting like a pig upon a grating, and as helpless as a sucking shrimp, when the signal was made to repair damages. We soon cut away all that was useless, and in twenty minutes we were under topsails as courses, and top-gallant-sails as topsails.
The carpenters had cobbled up one of the cutters, in which I was sent on board the Royal Sovereign to report our condition and to request the assistance of one of the fleet to tow us, as in consequence of our rudder being so much shattered by shot it was rendered unserviceable. The Defiance was ordered to take us in tow; we shortly afterwards made the signal, that we were able to renew the action. The enemy's fleet were making for Cadiz. Nineteen sail of their line of battleships had surrendered, and one, the Achille, had blown up. The explosion she made was sublime and awful; a number of her crew were saved by the Pickle schooner. The wind still continued light, and the signal was flying to renew the attack. In about twenty minutes we were again in the rear of the enemy, who appeared to have had enough of it, as they had neared Cadiz, and all the prizes except four seventy-fours were making for the harbour. This was owing to their having so few of our men on board them, and to our not being able, in consequence of the loss of boats, to take out the prisoners. We gave them some parting salutes. There were so many of us in a crippled state it was thought prudent to haul to the westward, as the swell was throwing us towards the shore, and the sky had all the tokens of a gale of wind from the west-south-west. The signal was out to prepare to anchor if necessary. The Royal Sovereign, which had only her foremast standing, with four other ships of our fleet, had already anchored.
The Santissima Trinidada, one of the Spanish prizes, went down in consequence of having received so many shot between wind and water. Her crew were taken out by our frigates and she was scuttled. She was the largest ship and had four regular tiers of guns, mounting in the whole one hundred and thirty-six. About 7 P.M. the wind began to freshen from the westward. The signal was made from the Royal Sovereign for all those ships that could carry sail to proceed to Gibraltar. About 9 P.M. the wind increased to a heavy gale, and the ship which towed us was obliged to cast us off. We fortunately had been able to fix the quarter tackles to the ring-bolts of the rudder before the gale came on. The night was passed in much painful anxiety, and we expected every time we wore to strike on the rocks of Cape Trafalgar. Providentially the wind drew more round to the north-east, and at daylight we weathered the Cape and about noon anchored at Gibraltar. We found the four prizes with several of our fleet lying there, and we were congratulated most cordially on our having escaped a lee shore, as they had given us up as lost.
I must retrograde a little here and relate a few occurrences which took place during the action, and of which I was an eye-witness. We had hoisted our colours before the action in four different places, at the ensign-staff, peak, and in the fore and main top-mast shrouds, that if one was shot away the others might be flying. A number of our fleet had done the same, and several of the enemy followed our example. The French admiral's ship who so gallantly attempted to board us had his flag hoisted in three places. One of our men, Fitzgerald, ran up his rigging and cut away one of them and placed it round his waist, and had nearly, after this daring exploit, reached his ship, when a rifleman shot him and he fell between the two ships and was no more seen. The principal signalman, whose name was White, and a captain of one of the guns on the poop, had his right great toe nearly severed from his foot. He deliberately took his knife and cut it away. He was desired to go below to the doctor. "No, sir," was his reply; "I am not the fellow to go below for such a scratch as that. I wish to give the beggars," meaning the enemy, "a few more hard pills before I have done with them." Saying this, he bound his foot up in his neck-handkerchief and served out double allowance until his carronade was dismounted by the carriage of it being shattered to pieces. He then hopped to another gun, where he amused himself at the Frenchman's expense until the action ceased.
We had fought on nearly empty stomachs. At the time we began the action it was dinner time, i.e. twelve o'clock; a small proportion of cheese had been given out and half allowance of grog. During the latter part of the action the captain, who was lying on a cot in the purser's cabin, sent for me. On entering the cockpit I found fourteen men waiting amputation of either an arm or a leg. A marine who had sailed with me in a former ship was standing up as I passed, with his left arm hanging down. "What's the matter, Conelly?" said I to him. "Not much," replied he; "I am only winged above my elbow, and I am waiting my turn to be lopped." His arm was dreadfully broken by a grape-shot. I regret to mention that out of sixteen amputations only two survived. This was in consequence of the motion of the ship during the gale. Their stumps broke out afresh, and it was impossible to stop the haemorrhage. One of them, whose name was Smith, after his leg was taken off, hearing the cheering on deck in consequence of another of the enemy striking her colours, cheered also. The exertion he made burst the vessels, and before they could be again taken up he died.
When I was sent on board Admiral Collingwood's ship during the action I observed a great anxiety in the officers' faces. It immediately occurred to me that Lord Nelson had fallen, and I put the question to one of the lieutenants, who told me he was mortally wounded and that he could not live long. Thus gloriously fell in the arms, and on the deck, of Victory, as brave, as intrepid, and as great a hero as ever existed, a seaman's friend and the father of the fleet. The love of his country was engraven on his heart. He was most zealous for her honour and welfare, and his discernment was clear and decisive. His death was deservedly and deeply felt by every man in the fleet. I must not omit that when the Commander of the French fleet, Admiral Villeneuve, was brought alongside us instead of the Victory, he was informed it was not Nelson's ship. "My God," said he, "you are all Nelsons!"(5)
On mustering our ship's company after we were tolerably in order, we found we had twenty-six killed and fifty-eight wounded, the captain included, who, as soon as we arrived, went on shore. We sent our wounded men to the hospital, and began to refit. Our rudder was unshipped, or rather the wreck of it, to be spliced. On the fourth morning, at daylight, during a fog, we were not a little astonished at finding ourselves bombarded, and the shells and shot flying fast and thick amongst us. We had taken the precaution of keeping our guns towards the enemy shotted, but fortunately for us and for those people who were amusing themselves in the enemy's gun-boats, the fog was so dense that we neither could see them or they us. However, we fired as nearly as we could judge in the direction from whence their shells came, and I presume we must have done some execution among them. After our second broadside all was silent. We had only a few ropes shot away and one man wounded. The shells fell either short or over us on shore, where they did no injury. The shot were the most destructive. After this freak, which might have proved serious, we had additional guard boats during night.
The Governor, General Fox, sent an invitation to all the officers of the fleet requesting their company to a ball at the Government House. I understood it was well attended, and the ladies very amiable. I, having received a wound in the left hand, which was painful, did not attend. Before we sailed we had several dinner-parties and made excursions to St. George's and other caves. One afternoon I had been rambling with another brother officer over the Rock, when, as we reached the O'Hara Tower, we were overtaken by a thunder-storm. As we stood in the tower, which, as Paddy would say, is no tower at all, we saw the thunder-clouds descend under us, and could distinctly see the lightning. It was to us a novel and awful scene. We soon removed from our position, as the small building under which we had taken shelter had been formerly struck by lightning, and we began to be apprehensive of its second visit. In descending we started two large baboons, who appeared as much surprised as we were. We soon lost sight of them among the rocks. It is strictly forbidden to use fire-arms or to destroy anything on the Rock. We also saw a few red-legged partridges, which were not very shy, and some large lizards.
The officers of the garrison gave a horse race on neutral ground, and invited the Governor of St. Roch with his staff. He came with a numerous retinue. Flags of truce were stuck up beyond the Gibraltar limits, and we were at liberty to go nearly as far as the nearest Spanish fort. It was a singular coincidence to see us shaking hands and offering cigars to men whose duty it was an hour before to shoot us. Everything went off very pleasantly except with the poor, distressed horses, who had to run over deep sand. After the Spanish Governor and his officers had partaken of a plentiful collation under a large marquee, they took their departure, and we gave them three cheers. We at length received our rudder from the hands of the dockyard mateys. They had made a good job of it, and it answered admirably.
Return under jury-masts to England—Arrive at Spithead—The admiral, the middy, and the dirk—Join H.M.S. Diamond as first lieutenant—Attached to Lord St. Vincent's fleet off Brest—A change of captains—Weary waiting for an enemy who never came.
A few days after we sailed, with three other line of battle ships, under jury-masts, for old England. On our passage we spoke a frigate, who informed us that Sir Richard Strachan had taken the four sail of the line which had escaped from the French fleet. We were delighted as well as "Dicky Strong," and gave three hearty cheers. On the eighth day we arrived at Spithead, and were cheered by all the ships lying there, which we returned. Some of the fleet had, we thought, made rather a show of their shot-holes, but our commodore declared that "good wine needed no bush." Our shot-holes, of which we had a good share, were painted over and not perceptible at any distance. The captain left us, and was heartily cheered as he left the ship. As soon as we were in the harbour I had permission from the Admiralty to return home for a month.
I found my sweetest half (for I had, without knowing why or wherefore, become a Benedict) in much anxiety, as our ship had been reported lost. She put into my arms a dear little black-eyed girl, who was born a week after the action. After spending three delightful weeks, the happiest of the happy, I tore myself away. On my rejoining the ship I found her in dock, and all the crew on board a hulk. I now became commanding officer, as the first lieutenant had leave of absence. I have here to remark that forty seamen and ten marines had leave to go to their families and friends for three weeks or a month, according to the distance, and out of six hundred men only one desertion occurred. I mention this circumstance to prove that seamen, when they become accustomed to a man-of-war, have no dislike to her discipline, provided they are properly encouraged when deserving, and the cat is only used when it is absolutely necessary, which was the case in our ship. Seamen are too valuable to be ill used.
Admiral Montague was the commander-in-chief at this port, and Sir Isaac Coffin, of inspecting memory, the rear-admiral. One morning one of the midshipmen, in stepping into the dockyard boat, had the misfortune to lose his dirk overboard. As it was blowing strong, he could not return to the hulk to borrow another. He consequently went to the yard without one. The rear-admiral, who was always in search of adventure, met him. "Hulloa! officer," said he; "why are you without side arms?" The youngster related what had happened. "Then, sir," said he, "you must buy another as fast as you can." "I have no money, sir," replied the mid, "and I know no one here." "Then I will put you in the way to get one. Come with me to my office." The youngster followed him, and received the address of a sword cutler. "And tell him," said Sir Isaac, "from me that you are to have a dirk. But," added he, "I had better write my name; he will then know I sent you." Next morning the mid lost no time in repairing to the shop of the vendor of slaying instruments. He produced the rear-admiral's paper. The cutler at first hesitated. At length he said, "Do you pay for it?" "No," answered the mid, "not till I return from my next cruise." "Oh, never mind," said the man of cut and thrust; "Sir Isaac has signed the paper, and he will, of course, be responsible. What kind of dirk do you wish to have?" "Oh, a good one," returned the mid; "one at about forty shillings." It was given him; he gave his name and ship, and left the shop. In a few days after this an order came on board from the admiral to discharge a lieutenant and a midshipman into another ship bound to the West Indies. The sixth lieutenant and this youngster were selected. About four months afterwards the bill was sent to the rear-admiral for payment of the dirk. It was naturally refused. Some months passed, when the bill was again presented and refused. The poor mid was far away and not forthcoming, although he fully intended, had he not been so suddenly exiled, to pay it when he was able. The cutler now brought an action against the rear-admiral, and he was, as he had put his name to the paper, obliged to pay the account.
The shipwrights and carpenters having repaired the ship, she was hauled alongside the hulk, and in ten days was as majestic as ever. Another captain was appointed, and I was ordered to join the Diamond frigate, as first lieutenant, off Brest. I took an affectionate leave of my messmates, and procured a passage on board a passage-sloop going to Plymouth. We sailed in the evening, through the Needles passage, and when off the Shingles the head of the mast went in the hounds. After much exertion we got the main-sail out of the water, and the try-sail set. We reached, to my great joy, Portland Roads on the third day, where, as I found myself rather queerish on board the sloop, I salaamed the skipper of her, and mounted a horse, which they assured me was quiet enough to carry the parson. With this assurance, which was corroborated by three old men and two young women, I trusted myself once more on a horse's back. A brother officer, who was also going to join a ship at Plymouth, accompanied me. We dined at Weymouth, saw Gloucester Lodge, had a somersault, to the terror and astonishment of the lady housekeeper and servants, on all the Princesses' beds, viewed the closet of odd-and-end old china belonging to the amiable Princess Elizabeth, thought ourselves an inch taller when we sat ourselves down in the chair in which the good King dined at one o'clock, generally off a boiled leg of mutton and turnips, so we were informed, and in the evening hired a post-chaise and arrived at Dorchester, where we took the mail for Plymouth. On reaching the latter place we repaired to the admiral's office, where, as there was no present opportunity of joining my new ship, I remained five days, calling on my old acquaintances and talking of old times.
One day we made an excursion to Plympton, and entered a neat farmer's house. We inquired if we could be provided with some home-baked brown bread, and milk from the cow. The farmer's wife, who was a hale, buxom, youngish-looking woman, and had only nine children, brought out chairs and benches. We had some madeira with us, and we made delicious whip-syllabub. The nice, well-baked and wholesome brown loaves, with the milk and cream, were too good for city aldermen, but quite good enough for sailors. We did ample justice to the good wife's fare, of which she partook with her mother, who was sixty-five, and had eleven boys and nine girls all living. Nine of the former were on board different men-of-war, and the other two working with their father on the farm. "And," added the poor woman, with an anxious, smiling face, "whenever we see a squadron of King's ships arrive we expect a son." The girls, with the exception of three who were married, were out in respectable families. We made a trifling purse, which we gave to a fine boy about eleven years old for himself and brothers; recompensed our good hostess, shook hands, and departed in peace and good fellowship.
Two days later I went on board the Alexandria frigate for a passage to my proper ship, which we fell in with soon afterwards off the Black Rocks. I found her a fine, first-class frigate, but, alas! I also found she only sailed like the launch, stern foremost. The captain, a jolly, little, fresh-faced, rather corpulent man, welcomed me with a smile, and after a short conversation relating to the ship he inquired the news, on which I presented him with the latest newspaper. The surgeon, a delicate, pale young man, came up to me and asked me to the gun-room. On entering it he introduced me to my future messmates. The second lieutenant was a fine-looking young man, highly connected, but unfortunately disgusted with the Service, and too fond of a very strong north-wester, which soon destroyed him, as he died a few months after I joined the frigate. The third lieutenant was a person of great consequence in his own opinion, and always imagined himself in the right. He was, nevertheless, an active officer and knew his duty. The master was a hardy north countryman, and knew what he was about. The marine officer was a well-informed, sensible man; the mids were a fine set of lads, ripe for mischief and alert on duty. The ship's company were, generally speaking, good and willing seamen, and I thought myself fortunate in being first lieutenant of such a ship and of having intellectual messmates.
We were placed as one of the look-out frigates to watch the enemy's vessels in Brest. The fleet was under the command of the brave and persevering Earl St. Vincent, whose laws were those of the Medes and Persians in days of yore. Implicit obedience and non-resistance was his device, and woe to those who were disobedient. My messmates gave me the outline of the captain's character. They informed me he was more cut out for a country gentleman than the captain of a man-of-war, that he was very partial to a good dinner—"Show me the man who is not," interrupted I;—that he was highly nervous, and that he left everything to the first lieutenant, except the discipline of his cook. "So be it," cried I, "I think we shall accord." About ten days after being on board he sent for me into his cabin. "Now," said he to me, "Mr. Hoffman, we have had time enough to know each other. I approve of your method of carrying on the duty, and from henceforth I shall consider you as sailing, and myself as fighting, captain." I thanked him for the confidence he reposed in me, and assured him that, being very partial to the profession, I never was happier than when in the path of duty. He then mentioned he was not fond of punishment with the cat. I informed him that, having been first lieutenant for nearly three years of a former ship, I would submit to his inspection a code of minor punishments which had proved beneficial to her discipline. "Did you not use the cat at all?" demanded he. "Never," returned I, "except for theft, drunkenness at sea and intentional disobedience of orders. On these occasions the punishment was severe, and they very seldom happened."
When the wind was light, we generally anchored about two gun-shots from the shore, and in the evening the crew danced or got up a kind of farce, which was farcical enough. After seven long, lazy, tedious weeks, we were ordered to Plymouth to refit. We flew like a shovel-nosed barge against tide, and reached Hamoaze on the evening of the third day. Reader, I do not know whether you were ever at Plymouth. If you have not, go there. It is in a beautiful country, and very healthy. The people are very civil, and until the taxes and poor rates became so high, were very hospitable. Even in the poorest cottager's hut, if you happened to call at their dinner-hour, you were invited, with a hearty "Do ye, God bless ye, sit down and take some-at. There be more than we can eat." We frequently made social picnic parties to the small farmhouses. I have heard sailors declare they would rather be hanged in their native country than die a natural death in any other. It is not very agreeable to be hanged even in Paradise, but I certainly prefer residing in the neighbourhood of Plymouth to any other part of England. The month we were in harbour vanished like a dream. We cast off the moorings, and soon after anchored at Spithead.
The following week we were again on the Siberian or Black Rock station. One night, in consequence of a light westerly wind with a heavy swell and a counter current, we had drifted so near the south-west end of Ushant that we were obliged to let go an anchor in rocky ground. For more than six hours it was a question whether the cable would part or hold on: had the latter occurred, the frigate must have gone on shore. After hoping, wishing and expecting a breeze from the eastward, it made its appearance by cat's-paws. We weighed, and found the cackling and one strand of the cable cut through. As the wind freshened we worked up to our old station off Point St. Matthew, and anchored. The following morning we reconnoitred Brest, could make out fourteen of the enemy's ships of the line with their top-gallant yards crossed, and five others refitting. The same day a cutter joined us with our letters and two bullocks. After cruising between Ushant and the Saints, the small rocky island Beriguet and Douarnenez Bay, until we were tired of seeing them, we, at the expiration of two months, were again ordered to Plymouth to refit, but not before the considerate old Earl had taken from us thirty of our best seamen, which so much pleased our noble captain that he declared if he was ordered to rejoin the Channel fleet he would give up the frigate. After having refitted, to our great mortification we were again under orders for the detestable station off Brest. The captain wrote to be superseded, and as there was no lack of sharp half-pay skippers looking-out, his request was immediately complied with.
His successor was a shambling, red-nosed, not sailor-like looking man, who had persuaded a counterpart of himself, the village barber, to accompany him as his steward. Sure such a pair was never seen before! The hands were turned up and his commission read. "Well, my men," said he, addressing the crew, "I understand you know how to do your duty, therefore my advice to you is to do it. That's all," said he to me; "pipe down if you please, sir," and after adding, "We shall sail to-morrow morning, and I shall be on board in the evening," he ordered a cutter to be manned, and went on shore. At the time appointed we were under weigh, and three days afterwards off the Black Rocks, which made us look black enough. The enemy's fleet were much in the same state, with little prospect of their coming out. Easterly winds were prevalent, and we were generally at anchor, one half of the ship's company doing nothing, and the other helping them. I soon found that our noble commander was fond of the game of chess and a stiff glass of grog, and I frequently found him en chemise with those companions at daylight on one of the cabin lockers. He was an unmarried man, but a great admirer of the fair sex of all descriptions, and was sometimes heard to say he was astonished at their want of taste in not admiring him. He was not altogether an unread man, but his manners were like his dress, slovenly, and too often coarse. He had been, when he was a lieutenant, in command of a cutter, and afterwards of a lugger. There, the mids declared, he ought to have remained, as he was out of his element on the quarter-deck of a fine frigate. They were not singular in their opinion. He was, without exception, the most slovenly officer I ever had the misfortune to sail with. I am probably rather severe. His only redeeming quality was certainly good nature. He, unfortunately for himself and in some measure for the Service, courted a kind of left-handed popularity amongst the seamen, and neglected the officers. The consequence was, that in less than two months the discipline of the ship became so relaxed that the crew, from being one of the smartest in the fleet, was now the slackest. After a disagreeable cruise of nine weeks, in which time we had carried away the main and foretop-masts, we were ordered to Portsmouth. After refitting we joined another frigate to cruise off Havre de Grace, where the enemy had two frigates and a corvette nearly ready for sea. We were shortly after joined by a sloop of war. At the full and change of the moon we always anchored inside the Cape, in order to watch the enemy's motions more effectively, and, when under weigh, we sometimes trawled and dredged, and frequently caught sufficient fish for the whole crew, as well as a quantity of oysters.
On one unlucky evening we ran on board the sloop of war, carried away the mainmast, and destroyed a part of her upper works. Fortunately for the officer of the watch the captain was on deck, and had been giving orders respecting the sails, which took the responsibility from the shoulders of the former. The sloop was so ill-treated by us that she was, without delay, obliged to proceed to Portsmouth. A few days after this accident we were ordered to the same port. On our arrival a court of inquiry sat to investigate the reason why the mainmast of one of His Majesty's cruisers should be so unceremoniously knocked away by the jib-boom of another. The answers not being quite satisfactory our captain was reprimanded and the other admonished. We sailed shortly after, and resumed our station. Of all duties imposed on an active mind blockading vessels in an enemy's port, from whence there is not much probability of their sailing, is the most tiresome. The mids declared that had patient Job been on board the ten weeks we were off Havre he would have lost his patience in the fifth week and thrown up his commission. After a lazy cruise of nearly eleven weeks the frigate once more sat like a duck at Spithead.
Ordered on foreign service—Visit Madeira, Cape de Verde, and Goree—Experiences on shore—Sail for Cape Coast Castle—Difficulty of landing—The captain's black lady—Author appointed captain of H.M.S. Favourite—Proceed to Accrah—Sacred alligators.
After a refit and taking on board six months' provisions and stores, as we were ordered to fit foreign, our signal was made to proceed to sea under sealed orders, taking with us a sloop of war. On the tenth day we anchored in Funchal Roads, Madeira, with our consort. The day following was the natal day of our gracious Queen, on which occasion we both fired a royal salute and dressed the ships with flags. The captain, with as many of the officers as could be spared, was invited to dine with the consul at Funchal. At four o'clock the captain, two of my messmates and myself, left the ship, and in half an hour afterwards we reached the consul's house, where we met an agreeable party, consisting of four English ladies and eight gentlemen. It was the month of June, and the weather was very warm, but it did not prevent us from seeing the town and visiting some of the nunneries. The former was scarcely worth our trouble, and the latter gave us, from the nuns' appearance, no very high opinion of female beauty. We visited some of the vineyards. The vines, trained over arched trellis work, extend to some distance, and when in full leaf afford a delightful shade. The grapes are generally remarkably large and of a delicious flavour. The morning before sailing I found the best bower cable was two-thirds cut through by some small, sharp instrument on the turn round the bit-head. The hands were turned up and singly interrogated. Nobody knew anything about it. All appeared anxious to find out the culprit, but in vain. Had the cable parted in the night we should not have had room to have let go the small bower, and must have gone on the rocks.
In the afternoon we sailed, ran along the Canary Islands, and in five days afterwards anchored off the island of Goree. This small, tolerably well-fortified island is a few miles from Cape de Verde. It possesses no harbour, but the anchorage off the town is good. It produces nothing but a few cotton bushes. The inhabitants are very poor. They manufacture cotton cloths, in which they clothe themselves. They are a mixture of black, brown and white. Their features are more of the Arabian than the African cast. They speak corrupt English, French and Portuguese. They are very proud and equally independent. The better class live in small houses made of mud and clay, the inferiors in cone-shaped buildings something like Indian kraals, formed neatly of bamboo and surrounded by a bamboo wall. The Governor, Colonel Lloyd, gave us an invitation to dinner and a ball. I was one of the party. The former consisted of buffalo soup, fish, and Muscovy ducks, the latter of a number of brown ladies dressed like bales of cotton. Dancing with them might be compared to a cooper working round a cask. Some few had tolerably regular features, and I noticed the captain making love like a Greenland bear to the girl I danced with.
The second morning after our arrival I was sent with two cutters to haul the seine off the mainland about three miles to the westward of Cape de Verde. As soon as we had made the first haul, in which we had taken a quantity of herrings, about twenty of the inhabitants of that part of the coast rushed towards the fish with the intention of seizing them. I desired the marines we had with us to present their muskets in order to frighten them. It answered perfectly, and they retired. I then desired two of the seamen to take a quantity of the fish and lay them down at some short distance, and I beckoned to the natives to come and take them, which they did, tumbling over each other in the scramble. After having taken a quantity of herrings in three hauls, besides several larger fish, I proceeded with one of the marines and the coxswain to the town.
I found it a miserable place, much like Goree, but three times the size, and surrounded by a high fence of thick bamboo matting, supported by long stakes. All I could purchase were two old Muscovy ducks, some pumpkins, and a few cocoanuts. One of the ducks got adrift, and a long, lean, hungry girl caught it and ran off with it into the brushwood, where we lost sight of her. The people of Goree informed us they were terrible thieves, and we proved it. The following day I again paid a visit to these Patagonian people, for the greater part of the men at Cape de Verde were more than six feet in stature and very slight. They all carried long lances, principally because of the numerous pattigoes, or hyenas, in their neighbourhood. The purser, who was with me, purchased with some rum which the coxswain of the boat brought with him two sacks of beans and some oranges. I mentioned the loss of my duck the day before to a man who understood English and spoke it indifferently. As I stood alongside of him, both the purser and myself, who were five feet seven, appeared like pigmies. He was at least seven feet two inches, and had an amazing long lance in his hand. He laughed loud and long at my recital. "Ah, Buckra," at last he chuckled out, "you takee care anoder time, eh! and you no lettee de duck run abay; if you do, anoder piccaninny girl hab it again, eh?"
"Confound this fellow!" said the purser; "I believe he is a worse rogue than the girl. Have you had enough of his palaver?" "Almost too much," answered I. "Let us pull foot." We returned to the boat, and after an hour's row got on board. The following day I dined with Commissary Hamilton, who showed me a letter from the interesting Mr. Mungo Park, who was surgeon of the regiment he belonged to. Mr. Hamilton told me he had set out with forty in his party, but that in consequence of sickness it was reduced to twenty-five; but notwithstanding these drawbacks Park wrote in good spirits, and was determined to persevere in his journey to Timbuctoo.
Before we sailed I made another excursion on the mainland, and fell in with fourteen Arabian travelling merchants. They were seated on the ground like London tailors, surrounded by their bales of goods, principally rough cotton, with six camels and two tame ostriches. The former were lying down, the latter walking about and searching for food among the short, rank grass and stones. Some of the latter I observed they swallowed. I purchased from the merchants some ostrich eggs. They asked me to give them rum. One of them, who spoke a little English, and was interpreter for the others, told me they intended coming on board to see the ship, and to shake hands with the captain. I informed him he would feel himself highly flattered by such Arabian condescension, but that they must make haste, as the ship would sail in a day or two. They all begged to shake hands with us, for the marine officer accompanied me. On returning to the boat we found two of the natives, who appeared at a distance more like maypoles than men, endeavouring to hold a conversation with the boat's crew. The coxswain told me they had fallen in love with the boat-hook, and offered in exchange one of their lances. When we appeared their thoughts were turned from the boat-hook to the marine officer's sword, and they requested him, by signs, to make an exchange. Another native had joined the other two, armed with a musket. I made signs to him to let me look at it, but he would not trust it out of his hands. I remarked it was an old English worn-out gun without a hammer to the lock. Perceiving that they were beginning to be troublesome, we jumped into the boat and threw them some biscuits, which they devoured with the appetite of wolves.
We had not been on board an hour when we were honoured with a visit from four of the Arabians, who, without ceremony, went up to the captain and shook him by the hand, and asked him for the purser. The latter very opportunely made his appearance, when the captain pointed him out to the Arab who spoke broken English. He soon left the latter, and accosted the former with unblushing effrontery, and asked him for a cask of flour. "And for what?" demanded the purser. "Because I your good friend," was the answer. "You are an impudent, beggarly rascal," said our hasty-tempered purveyor of provisions to him. "What can I see in your precious ugly black face that will induce me to give you anything but a good kicking?" "Patience and policy, messmate," I said. "Where is your philosophy? Let your steward give them a few biscuits and a dram, and get rid of them." To this proposal, after a grumble, he assented, and they departed.
The following morning we weighed, and made all sail for Cape Coast Roads. On our passage we experienced heavy squalls of wind and rain, which frequently obliged us to clew all up. We anchored at Sierra Leone on the fourth day, and found the colony healthy. After remaining two days to complete our water, we left it, and proceeded to our destination. We anchored off Cape Coast a few days afterwards, at a respectable distance, as the surf breaks two miles from the shore. The ship's boats on this part of the coast are useless. Were they to attempt to land they would soon be swamped and knocked to pieces, and the crews drowned. Native canoes of from eight to twenty paddles are only used, and it requires great caution and dexterity by the black boatmen to prevent their being upset. I once came off in a large canoe with twenty paddles. On the third rolling surf she was half filled, and I was washed out of the chair among the paddlers. As soon as the sails were furled, a large canoe came off from the Governor with an invitation for the captain to dine with him. I remarked that the greater part of the coal-coloured crew of the canoe had the wool on their heads tied into about thirty tails an inch in length. A painter might have manufactured a tolerable Gorgonian head from among them.
On the following day we were visited by several flat-nosed, thick-lipped, black-skinned ladies, who came off with the express purpose of being married to some of the man-of-war buckras. They soon found husbands. In the afternoon a canoe came alongside with a tall grasshopper of a woman as ugly as sin and as black as the ace of spades, with a little girl about seven years old a shade, if possible, blacker, and as great a beauty as herself. One of the canoe men came on the quarter-deck with them. He made a leg and pulled one of the many tails of his wool, and addressed me as follows: "Massa officer, Massa Buckra Captain hab sent him wife off and him piccaninny." Saying this he gave me a note, which was addressed to his steward, the barber, who came and told me, to my amazement, that the animal on two ill-formed legs was to have the use of the captain's cabin. Thinks I to myself, "Wonders will never cease. There is no accounting for taste. Some people are over nice, some not nice enough." About two hours after our gallant captain came on board, I presume love-sick, for he either looked love or shame-stricken. Probably I was mistaken, as I concluded he had discarded the latter when he entered the Service as an unmanly appendage.
Whilst here I went on shore with some of my messmates, and dined with the mess at the Castle off goat, boiled, broiled, roasted, stewed, and devilled, and some fish. In short they have nothing else except some half-starved fowls and Muscovy ducks; sometimes, but not very often, buffalo beef, which is so tough that after you have swallowed it—for you cannot chew it—you are liable to indigestion for two months or so; so naturally they prefer young goat. The Castle, which stands on an eminence, is strong on the sea face, but I presume it would not hold out long on the land side against a regular siege, but as I am no engineer, I will leave it, as Moore's Almanac says of the hieroglyphic, to the learned and the curious. The town consists of small, low huts, the greater part of which are built of stakes and mud, whitewashed over, and thatched with palm leaves. I saw a spot of parched, arid ground which was designated a botanical garden. If it did not contain many exotics, it did a most savage tiger, which was enclosed in an iron cage.