صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

us

.

point of duty which my profes- the other, was under the most
sion might require, having rigid blockade; the secret ser-
served more than four years in vice was conducted on a scale
one of the smartest frigates in and system that gave
his Majesty's navy.

correct information of every The treaty of Amiens had movement of the French. In scarcely been signed when former wars the naval service hostilities broke out with re- used to follow the military doubled vigour. Already the system of retiring into winter British fleet was called to active quarters; but the skill of our service; the light vessels filled modern commanders - in-chief the ports with prizes, and our showed that during the winter sailors were enjoying the spoils season and the most dreadful of the enemy.

The coast of weather a blockade could be France, from one extremity to strictly maintained.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][merged small]

man,

In August 1804 the Rambler the moment she appears alongwas on her return from the side the captor is one of happiblockading squadron off Roche- ness in an adventure achieved fort to the fleet off Brest. an adventure to be recited Being close in with the land, we with all details in the hours of perceived a convoy of small the midnight watch. When vessels going along shore from these two miserable crafts came the Ile d'Yeu to the main; they near the Rambler, every one were about twenty in number, was upon deck, calculating the chiefly sloops and luggers, of prize-money, which seemed to little value ; but the idea of a promise about ninepence fardash to cut them out was too thing a If they had delightful to be withstood. Two been burnt, as was proposed, boats were despatched in chase I should have escaped a ten of these vessels, which were years' captivity and the trouble pushing, with all the sail they of writing this insignificant could spread, for the port of St narrative. Gilles. I was with Lieutenant Fate, however, would have it Walter Forman in a small that I should proceed as prizecutter or jolly-boat. We fol- master in one of them to Plylowed the fugitives into the mouth, and act as commodore harbour, and succeeded in

the other, which boarding a sloop of 70 tons conducted by a quartermaster. laden with wine, while we saw During the afternoon I was our second boat board another. busied in preparing for my Although exposed to the fire of voyage. Three weeks' provisheavy batteries, we ran them ions and six men were allotted out to sea without having a to each vessel. The Rambler single man wounded. However was to windward, and Captain contemptible the prize may be, Innes bore up to ask me how I

[ocr errors]

over

was

1

our

got on. We were lying to; sight both of the Rambler and wishing to show good pilotage our companion prize, and never in giving me a close shave, he after saw either. passed under our stern, and, in Here was I adrift in the Bay doing so, his main rigging of Biscay, without the necescaught the end of our main sary implements of navigation; boom and carried it away in a gale of wind right in the crutch. This was a serious teeth ; the sloop herself a bad accident to a cutter with no sailer, and furnished with rotcarpenter on board, and a dark ten sails. After hard trials in night and bad weather coming endeavouring to get from the on. We fished the boom with land during five days, we found a couple of handspikes, and ourselves no farther than Belle managed to get on with two Ile, off which place we expected reefs in the mainsail. When every hour to fall in with our sending our provisions on board companions; but when day I had made request for a log- dawned nothing appeared save line and glass; but the squalls a sky that threatened little came on so thick that we lost short of a hurricane.

PRIZE WRECKED ON A SHOAL.

The incidents of that morn- and that we were driving bodily ing are too deeply engraven in on a dangerous shoal which lies my memory ever to be effaced. off the entrance of the river We had a calm during the Loire.

during the Loire. Owing to the smallness latter part of the morning of the craft and the continual watch, with a heavy swell from jerking motion, every man was the W. N. W. About eight sea-sick. o'clock the sea emitted a rank About one o'clock a heavy smell; the atmosphere seemed sea broke over us and put out on fire; thunder rolled in long all our fires; we tried every peals; gannet and sea - gulls means—even friction—to proflew screaming shorewards from cure another, but to no purthe approaching storm; the pose. The gale rather inpetrels-Mother Carey's chick- creased than diminished. The ens—alone kept us company or waves washed our deck with followed in the vessel's wake. tremendous force. About five About ten o'clock the gale o'clock I found that we had no broke on us in all its fury; the more than twelve miles' drift seas rose to an unusual height; to the shoal, while, to add to

were perfectly pre- our misfortune, our jib and forepared : everything was secured sail had been split as we were above and below, and we endeavouring to put some headshowed a balanced reefed main- sail on the vessel. I had with sail, and nothing more, to the me five men and a boy. While gale. We knew that we were I was on deck for a quarter of not far from the French coast, an hour, the boy hurried up to

but we

a

I en

We soon

tell that they had broken opening can describe my terror at the liquor-case, and that each the moment of approaching the man had drunk nearly the full surf; over the stern came contents of a quart-bottle, say- huge rolling sea, which presently ing it was better to die drunk sent us flying aloft. From that than be drowned cold. I went moment I do not remember below and found them to all anything until I found myself appearance suffocated: I untied

on deck, my arm still fastened the neck-cloths of the wretches to the tiller, my stomach full of and left them lying on each salt water, and a dreadful conother like pigs. And here were tusion on my head; but we we, two boys, in a dangerous were in smooth water. The strait, with the prospect of a poor boy was in as bad a condireful shipwreck momently dition as myself, and between drawing near.

us we had not strength suffiThe night had fallen, yet now cient to get the anchor over to leeward we caught sight of the side, or even to haul up a the dreadful breakers.

range of the cable. deavoured to awake the drunken drifted into the centre of the scoundrels, but they were im- shoal, and struck on a cluster movable. In one short half- of rocks, where we lay beating hour our accounts for this life until morning. would be brought to

a close. The land lay about two miles The night was dismal; but the to leeward of us. We hoisted breakers, striking against the French colours, and in about edge of the shoal and rising to an hour two boats came off an incredible height, shone like and took us on shore. Before silver. If we drove direct on we left the sloop our drunkards the shoal, the first sea would were come to their senses; but take our vessel on the broad- their insolence to me was beside, and roll her over like a yond bearing. They exulted in jolly-boat. I, therefore, resolved the prospect of being made to run for that part which prisoners, and snapped their showed the least surf. Having fingers at me, saying that closed every opening of the ashore Jack is as good as his deck that would admit water, master. Such was the recomI lashed the boy to the taffrail, pense I received for saving their and myself to the helm. Noth- lives.

TAKEN PRISONER.

were

The moment our boat touched licans; their treatment of us, shore all was confusion ; every- their language to us, thing, except what was on our what we might have expected backs, was plundered by the from tribe of barbarous soldiers ; my five years' gather- Moors; the hatred they bore ing was divided in a few min- to the English was not disutes among the ragged repub- guised in word or deed; we

a

narrow

a

was

soon

were led in triumph through ing, which ever after kept them a small fishing - village called quiet. Poulguen to the prison - a Next day we were marched

hole that swarmed to small fortified town with vermin.

Guerrande—where some French After the fatigue I had officers took me out of prison undergone I

fast to dine with them. It was a asleep. A blow on the face, relief for the moment, but poldelivered by one of my drunken itics, served up with the dinner, brutes, awoke

he made me very uncomfortable, happy, he declared, to have and I was happy to quit their broken an ugly article of war, society for my prison and black without the danger of a court- bread. My watch, which remartial. One of the crew- mained with me, I sold for ten luckily the smartest and ablest crowns-one-sixth of its value of the party-was determined -and purchased four of my to stand by me, and immedi

shirts and a pair of ately knocked the fellow down; trousers from a soldier: the a general battle ensued, and, rest of the money I made after a struggle, we succeeded spin out, as best it could, in in giving the others a thrash- procuring provisions for us all.

me:

was

own

PRISONERS OVERPOWER THE GUARD.

no

our

Just as we were expecting to such a temptation was irresistleave the prison, we were in- ible. I set the example—seizing formed that another vessel had the sentinel and throwing him been wrecked not far from the with ease, for he was an old scene of our disaster. It was man, on his beam-ends. In less our second prize, the crew of than a minute we each had a which, fortunately saved like musket cocked, and upon our ourselves, joined us in the after- demand for their sabres, the noon. Next morning a large guard offered resistance. chasse-marée was prepared for Our victory, however, was all

conveyance to Nantes ; but wrested from us by the twelve garrison soldiers — old three seamen on deck, who had fogies — escorted us, and we nearly succeeded in securing were put down in the hold. It the hatches over us, when a was about twelve o'clock; wind musket pointed at the fellow and tide were in our favour. who was about it made him The soldiers had descended to think of his own safety. Thus, the hold to dine on black bread, without any bloodshed, we had garlic, and sour wine. While a prize ;

we battened them they were thus engaged, we con- down, and were in

way certed a rising against them, in of being soon out of the river; the hope of getting once more the ebb-tide and wind abeam to sea.

Their muskets, loaded rattled us along; in two hours with ball, were close to us, and we were near the place we had

a fair

first started from as prisoners. passed within a pistol-shot. Ten Here we perceived a boat putting minutes more and the brig had out from shore and making for slipped her cable and was maka privateer brig, which we had ing all sail in pursuit of us.

RECAPTURE.

[ocr errors]

To escape from this devil of santé.” If we had no money, a a craft was impossible ; she was shirt or two, it was suggested, shortly alongside, peppering us would fetch the amount. Seeing with musketry. We forced the that we were not to be persoldiers to come on deck and suaded, and that a storm of stand fire together with our- British fisticuffs was gathering, selves. Yet to what purpose ? the gentry informed us that We were obliged to bring to; they would leave it to our gena rope was thrown on board, erosity at another time. and presently we were in the Next morning we received a hold of the brig and strongly visit from the Commandant of ironed.

the town, who spoke English We remained on board the remarkably well. After some privateer until about noon of conversation as to our affair on the next day, when we arrived board the chasse-marée, he proat Nantes. The news of our posed to me to enter the French taking the chasse - marée had service; within three months I preceded us, and, like most should be lieutenant de vaisseau, stories, had gained each time and my men should be masterit was told.

It was reported gunners. I rejected his prothat we had murdered all the posal as an Englishman ought, crew ; but when we all went and we retired to our cells. The ashore together, the inhabitants following night passed with changed their hatred of us into much discomfort, caused by foul contempt for the soldiers, who, air and filth. When the bell like ourselves, were marched struck eight we were admitted in handcuffs to the military to the courtyard; I sought the prison.

refreshment of the pump; my On reaching the prison we men disappeared into the jailer's were ushered into a spacious house, to procure, as I imagined, courtyard, where a ragged, a morning dram. On finding, motley

of conscripts, however, that they did not thieves, and deserters were return, I inquired for them, and amusing themselves in singing learnt that they had been led the Carmagnole and killing ver- to the general's house. Susmin. They greeted us as com- pecting his design, I did not panions, and our "footing” was scruple to practise a ruse de demanded by the seeming cap- guerre. I told the jailer that I tain of the gang, who politely was surprised I had not been told us that we must give ten sent for, as I also was a volunsous each “pour boire à notre teer, begging him at the same

crew

« السابقةمتابعة »