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Military Memoirs of Capt. George Carleton
by Daniel Defoe
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In three or four Days' Time, a fine and fair Gale presented; of which the Master taking due Advantage, we sail'd over the Bar into the Bay of Biscay. This is with Sailors, to a Proverb, reckon'd the roughest of Seas; and yet on our Entrance into it, nothing appear'd like it. 'Twas smooth as Glass; a Lady's Face might pass for young, and in its Bloom, that discover'd no more Wrinkles; Yet scarce had we sail'd three Leagues, before a prodigious Fish presented it self to our View. As near as we could guess, it might be twenty Yards in Length; and it lay sporting it self on the surface of the Sea, a great Part appearing out of the Water. The Sailors, one and all, as soon as they saw it, declar'd it the certain Forerunner of a Storm. However, our Ship kept on its Course, before a fine Gale, till we had near passed over half the Bay; when, all on a sudden, there was such a hideous Alteration, as makes Nature recoil on the very Reflection. Those Seas that seem'd before to smile upon us, with the Aspect of a Friend, now in a Moment chang'd their flattering Countenance into that of an open Enemy; and Frowns, the certain Indexes of Wrath, presented us with apparent Danger, of which little on this Side Death could be the Sequel. The angry Waves cast themselves up into Mountains, and scourg'd the Ship on every Side from Poop to Prow: Such Shocks from the contending Wind and Surges! Such Falls from Precipices of Water, to dismal Caverns of the same uncertain Element! Although the latter seem'd to receive us in Order to skreen us from the Riot of the former, Imagination could offer no other Advantage than that of a Winding-Sheet, presented and prepared for our approaching Fate. But why mention I Imagination? In me 'twas wholly dormant. And yet those Sons of stormy Weather, the Sailors, had theirs about them in full Stretch; for seeing the Wind and Seas so very boisterous, they lash'd the Rudder of the Ship, resolv'd to let her drive, and steer herself; since it was past their Skill to steer her. This was our Way of sojourning most Part of that tedious Night; driven where the Winds and Waves thought fit to drive us, with all our Sails quite lower'd and flat upon the Deck. If Ovid, in the little Archipelagian Sea, could whine out his jam jam jacturus, &c. in this more dismal Scene, and much more dangerous Sea (the Pitch-like Darkness of the Night adding to all our sad Variety of Woes) what Words in Verse or Prose could serve to paint our Passions, or our Expectations? Alas! our only Expectation was in the Return of Morning; It came at last; yet even slowly as it came, when come, we thought it come too soon, a new Scene of sudden Death being all the Advantage of its first Appearance. Our Ship was driving full Speed, towards the Breakers on the Cabritton Shore, between Burdeaux and Bayonne; which filled us with Ideas more terrible than all before, since those were past, and these seemingly as certain. Beside, to add to our Distress, the Tide was driving in, and consequently must drive us fast to visible Destruction. A State so evident, that one of our Sailors, whom great Experience had render'd more sensible of our present Danger, was preparing to save one, by lashing himself to the main Mast, against the expected Minute of Desolation. He was about that melancholy Work, in utter Despair of any better Fortune, when, as loud as ever he could bawl, he cry'd out, a Point, a Point of Wind. To me, who had had too much of it, it appear'd like the Sound of the last Trump; but to the more intelligent Crew, it had a different Sound. With Vigour and Alacrity they started from their Prayers, or their Despair, and with all imaginable Speed, unlash'd the Rudder, and hoisted all their Sails. Never sure in Nature did one Minute produce a greater Scene of Contraries. The more skilful Sailors took Courage at this happy Presage of Deliverance. And according to their Expectation did it happen; that heavenly Point of Wind deliver'd us from the Jaws of those Breakers, ready open to devour us; and carrying us out to the much more wellcome wide Sea, furnished every one in the Ship with Thoughts, as distant as we thought our Danger.

We endeavoured to make Port Passage; but our Ship became unruly, and would not answer her Helm; for which Reason we were glad to go before the Wind, and make for the Harbour of Saint Jean de Luz. This we attain'd without any great Difficulty, and to the Satisfaction of all, Sailors as well as Passengers, we there cast Anchor, after the most terrible Storm (as all the oldest Sailors agreed) and as much Danger as ever People escap'd.

Here I took notice, that the Sailors buoy'd up their Cables with Hogsheads; enquiring into the Reason of which, they told me, that the Rocks at the Bottom of the Harbour were by Experience found to be so very sharp, that they would otherwise cut their Cables asunder. Our Ship was obliged to be drawn up into the Dock to be refitted; during which, I lay in the Town, where nothing of Moment, or worth reciting, happen'd.

I beg Pardon for my Errors; the very Movements of Princes must always be considerable, and consequently worth Recital. While the Ship lay in the Dock, I was one Evening walking upon the Bridge, with the little Island near it, (which I have before spoke of) and had a little Spanish Dog along with me, when at the further End I spy'd a Lady, and three or four Gentlemen in Company; I kept on my Pace of Leisure, and so did they; but when I came nearer, I found they as much out number'd me in the Dog, as they did in the human Kind. And I soon experienced to my Sorrow, that their Dogs, by their Fierceness and Ill-humour, were Dogs of Quality; having, without Warning, or the least Declaration of War, fallen upon my little Dog, according to pristine Custom, without any honourable Regard to Size, Interest or Number. However the good Lady, who, by the Privilege of her Sex, must be allow'd the most competent Judge of Inequalities, out of an Excess of Condescension and Goodness, came running to the Relief of oppressed poor Tony; and, in courtly Language, rated her own oppressive Dogs for their great Incivility to Strangers. The Dogs, in the Middle of their insulting Wrath, obey'd the Lady with a vast deal of profound Submission; which I could not much wonder at, when I understood, that it was a Queen Dowager of Spain, who had chid them.

Our Ship being now repaired, and made fit to go out again to Sea, we left the Harbour of Saint Jean de Luz, and with a much better Passage, as the last Tempest was still dancing in my Imagination, in ten Days' Sail we reach'd Dover. Here I landed on the last Day of March, 1713 having not, till then, seen or touch'd English Shoar from the Beginning of May, 1705.

I took Coach directly for London, where, when I arriv'd, I thought my self transported into a Country more foreign, than any I had either fought or pilgrimag'd in. Not foreign, do I mean, in respect to others, so much as to it self. I left it, seemingly, under a perfect Unanimity: The fatal Distinctions of Whig and Tory were then esteemed meerly nominal; and of no more ill Consequence or Danger, than a Bee robb'd of its Sting. The national Concern went on with Vigour, and the prodigious Success of the Queen's Arms, left every Soul without the least Pretence to a Murmur. But now on my Return, I found them on their old Establishment, perfect Contraries, and as unlikely to be brought to meet as direct Angles. Some arraigning, some extolling of a Peace; in which Time has shown both were wrong, and consequently neither could be right in their Notions of it, however an over prejudic'd Way of thinking might draw them into one or the other. But Whig and Tory are, in my Mind, the compleatest Paradox in Nature, and yet like other Paradoxes, old as I am, I live in Hope to see, before I die, those seeming Contraries perfectly reconcil'd, and reduc'd into one happy Certainty, the Publick Good.

* * * * *

Whilst I stay'd at Madrid, I made several Visits to my old Acquaintance General Mahoni. I remember that he told me, when the Earl of Peterborow and he held a Conference at Morvidro, his Lordship used many Arguments to induce him to leave the Spanish Service. Mahoni made several Excuses, especially that none of his Religion was suffer'd to serve in the English Army. My Lord reply'd, That he would undertake to get him excepted by an Act of Parliament. I have often heard him speak with great Respect of his Lordship, and was strangely surprized, that after so many glorious Successes he should be sent away.

He was likewise pleased to inform me, that at the Battle of Saragoza, 'twas his Fortune to make some of our Horse to give way, and he pursued them for a considerable time; but at his Return, he saw the Spanish Army in great Confusion: But it gave him the Opportunity of attacking our Battery of Guns; which he performed with great Slaughter, both of Gunners and Matrosses: He at the same time inquired, who 'twas that commanded there in chief. I informed him 'twas Col. Bourguard, one that understood the Oeconomy of the Train exceeding well. As for that, he knew nothing of; but that he would vouch, he behaved himself with extraordinary Courage, and defended the Battery to the utmost extremity, receiving several Wounds, and deserved the Post in which he acted. A Gentleman who was a Prisoner at Gualaxara, informed me, that he saw King Philip riding through that Town, being only attended with one of his Guards.

Saragoza, or Caesar Augusta, lies upon the River Ebro, being the Capital of Arragon; 'tis a very ancient City, and contains fourteen great Churches, and twelve Convents. The Church of the Lady of the Pillar is frequented by Pilgrims, almost from all Countries; 'twas anciently a Roman Colony.

* * * * *

Tibi laus, tibi honor, tibi sit gloria, O gloriosa Trinitas, quia tu dedisti mihi hanc opportunitatem, omnes has res gestas recordandi. Nomen tuum sit benedictum, per saecula saeculorum. Amen.

FINIS

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