Page images
PDF
EPUB

occasion to recommend it, you may depend on pilot boats putting to sea even in strong gales and bad weather the moment it appears. I have no doubt, from the natural spirit of enterprise of our countrymen, that they will be induced next winter to balance the losses they suffer during these long days by the English cruisers in the European seas. Let me recommend to you to send a privateer of 18–24 pounders and from 160 to 180 men with musketry, which would have but little to fear from anything but from a frigate ; for the English cannot spare men for musketry fighting ; and were she to cruise in the chops of the channel, between November and March ; she might leave part of her guns in France when her hands would be exhausted with manning prizes, and take in a cargo of silks and other dry goods for the United States. Such a plan could not fail of being attended with the most important consequences. Our prizes are even better treated in France than those made by the French privateers, for besides having all the advantages of the latter, the goods brought in by ours are not burned ; they are allowed to be sold for exportation, and they have the right of entrepot for 18 months. Their prisoners, too, are immediately exchanged, and having lately made a tour to the coast of Brittany to attend the sales of some prizes by a privateer of my own, the True Blooded Yankee,* I have had occasion to see and can recommend many excellent ports in that quarter which are but little watched by the English, such as Abrevrac, Lannion, Roscoff, Morlaix, Paimpol, Tregnier and St. Maloes. Should you send any cargoes to France you may depend on cotton, potashes, and first quality of St. James river tobacco, being good standing articles during the war.

“I am about establishing a house at Nantes to exist during the war, and to be transferred to Havre on a peace taking place between the United States and England. May I beg the favor of your own support to it. My own presence will be necessary on account of purchasing dry goods, of which I have had lately several cargoes for returns, to make up, and which I hope will arrive safe, for I hope my friends will find nobody can purchase them better, if as well, as myself. The ports of Brittany are very secure, and there is two chances to one that vessels arrive there safe, sooner than in the bay, and as they have all my signal, you will always find pilots.”

Henry Preble's sunshine of mercantile prosperity was, however, soon clouded; his speculations proved as disastrous as his previous gains had been great. These business involvements plunged him into the deepest melancholy.

His daughter Harriet writes her uncle Enoch from Draviel, August 22, 1817: “Anica no doubt has told you of the severe trials of fortune my father has experienced. For these many years he has seen nothing but her

* See page 145 for some account of the True Blooded Yankee, which was commanded by his nephew Thomas Oxnard.

distressful frowns. It would be very kind of you, dear uncle, to write him a few lines before you quit France; it would certainly procure him a delightful sensation, and alas ! his happy moments are but few.”

After these misfortunes Henry Preble returned to the United States and passed the summer of 1818 with his daughter Anica at Kalorma, which had been purchased by her husband, Mr. Thomas Barlow.

In 1819, he was appointed U. S. Consul for Palermo in Sicily—and writes his brother from Alexandria, D. C., Jan. 20, 1819 :-“I am now on the point of embarking from this place for Gibraltar, and from thence shall proceed to Palermo, for which port and those adjacent in Sicily I have received the appointment of Consul. I shall probably visit Constantinople and Odessa during the next autumn and winter, and if the information I gain should induce the government of the United States to go to the expense of making a Treaty with the Ottoman Porte and maintain a minister at Constantinople, I shall have the choice of the Consulates of Constantinople or Odessa. To the first of these there will be a salary attached, but this you must not mention.” In the same letter, after describing the excellencies of his children, he says :-“ Thus you see if I am poor in purse, I am rich in children, and cannot but feel proud and happy even in poverty while I possess them.”

After his return to the United States from this mission, he writes his brother from Pittsburgh, April 20, 1822:-“Soon after I left the United States in 1819, I went to the Black Sea, and spent some time at Odessa and the adjacent country, and about six weeks at Constantinople and Smyrna. I also visited some of the Ionian or Greek Islands, and returned to Sicily after a most interesting and agreeable tour of eight months. I collected a good deal of commercial information in my journey which I forwarded to our Government. I spent some months of 1820 on board our squadron, and with it visited Algiers, Tunis and Tripoli, also many of the ports of the Mediterranean, and had an opportunity to revisit for the third time Rome, Naples and Florence. Finding my Consulate produced me little else than the honor of holding the office, I concluded to resign it and return to the United States. In fact it was impossible for me to remain longer abroad, not having the means. I can have any Consulate of the United States that may become vacant, but there is scarcely one that would maintain me by the fees of office, and I have no other means of living was I to accept one. The Consulates to which salaries are attached will, when vacant, be given to the disbanded Officers of the Army and Navy, as the government think they have superior claims to most persons, so I have pretty much given up the idea of seeking the office of Consul at present. I am the more inclined to this as Anica and her husband much wish me to remain with them. It is probable they will settle at Meadville, Penn., near Lake Erie, where Mr. Barlow has one of the finest farms in this State, most delightfully situated, and as I am fond of agriculture, I think I shall turn farmer. I am tired with

roaming about, I am growing old, my health declines, I want repose if I can find it for the few years that remain to me in this life.

“I made extracts from my notes on Odessa and its commerce—and on the commerce of Constantinople and Smyrna, and also some observations on the plague, which I intended to have sent you, but Mr. Crawford, the Secretary of the Treasury, wished to see them, and they have not been returned. Since that time I have been constantly unwell and suffer much with a violent cold, but I will try and make a copy before Congress rises, and send to you through some M. C. with whom I am acquainted, and you may expect to receive the papers in question by the middle of May. I wish you to show them to those of our friends who were kind enough to sign my recommendation for the Consulate at Palermo, if you think it will be any gratification for them to peruse the notes. I have only extracted from my journal what I thought might be useful in a commercial point of view.

“Write me and give me all the news—everything that relates to my native place, or to its inhabitants, will be interesting to me. I long much to visit it, but most probably I shall never have such a gratification. I see that there is an Edward Preble in the Navy; is he your son ?* My Edward is still at school in Paris, and will remain another year, when Messrs. King & Gracie (of New-York), established at Liverpool, will take him into their counting-house, for he says he will be a merchant.'.

These letters prove that Henry Preble was a person of culture and refinement, and that while in prosperity he remembered and aided those of his friends who were in need, in adversity he did not lose his dignity of character, and the esteem and respect of others. He inherited the family taste for drawing and painting, and took the greatest delight, says this daughter, in cultivating his taste for it. Many of his drawings and watercolor paintings are still extant. His person was tall, dignified and commanding, and his bearing gentlemanly. An exquisitely-drawn profile likeness of him, painted in sepia, by his daughter Harriet, a photograph from

* The E. P. he refers to entered the Navy in 1817, and was drowned while attached to the U. S. S. Franklin, in the Pacific, in 1822. See note to Joshua Preble, pp. 160-61.

Since that note was written I have found, among my old letters, the following inquiry and answer concerning that young man :

Extract from a letter from Mid'n G. H. P. to Enoch Preble, Nov. 15, 1839:46. Twice this cruise (West Indies) I have been asked about a Mid'n Edward Preble, who was attached to the U.S. S. Franklin, in the Pacific, and was drowned by the capsizing of a boat with a party of officers. An old Quarter Master asked me the same question on my last (Mediterranean) cruise. All agree in calling him a clever fellow and that he was a fine promising officer."

Extract from Enoch Preble's reply, dated Portland, Me., Dec. 4, 1839 :-"The Mid'n Preble you mention, who was drowned from the boat of the U. S, S. Franklin, was a son of your uncle Joshua, born in Virginia.

He must have been an illegitimate son, as Joshua Preble's wife was living in Newburyport until 1822.

[graphic]
« PreviousContinue »