Page images

“ I was extremely sorry for it, and, after beating him, dressed the boy's hurt, which was not severe. I

gave the boy a few cass, who went away quite pleased. In a short time after I saw him coming back, and his father leading him. I looked for squalls, but the father only asked a few hairs out from under Neptune's fore leg, close to the body; he would take them froin no other part, and stuck them all over the wound. He went away content. I had often heard, when a person had been tipsy the evening before, people tell him to take a hair of the dog that bit him, but never saw it in the literal sense before.” P. 100.

The Chinese are distinguished for extraordinary longitude of nails. Many wear them half as long as the rest of their fingers, and pride themselves not a little on their whiteness and cleanliness. By means of these riders they hold more dollars in one paw, ihan an Englishman can hold in both. But shaking hands is quite out of fashion.

This voyage of discovery lasted nearly three years, and Nicol's next birth was in a female convict-ship. His narrative confirms the disgusting accounts which we have before had occasion to refer to, of the gross mismanagement with which these expeditions were at first attended. The ship was one vast brothel, and all hopes of penitence or amendment, during the passage, were dissipated by authorized prostitution. One of the women bore a son to Nicol while on board, and he would have married her immediately after, if he had not been compelled to return to England. For many years he continued an unavailing pursuit of his beloved, and we doubt not, that the fighting these amorous battles o’er again has been to him the most interesting part of the composition of his volume. The Lady Julian contained 245 female convicts. Few were very bad characters; most were condemned for petty crimes; many only as disorderly, [this must be a mistake) the colony at the time being in great want of women.

“ One, a Scottish girl, broke her heart, and died in the river ; she was buried at Dartford. Four were pardoned on account of his majesty's recovery. The poor young Scottish girl I have never yet got out of my mind; she was young and beautiful, even in the convict dress, but pale as death, and her eyes red with weeping. She never spoke to any of the other women, or came on deck. She was constantly seen sitting in the same corner from morning to night; even the time of meals roused her not. My heart bled for her,--she was a countrywoman in misfortune. I offered her consolation, but her hopes and heart had sunk. When I spoke she heeded me not, or only answered with sighs and tears ; if I spoke of Scotland she would wring her hands and sob,

until I thought her heart would burst. I endeavoured to get her sad story from her lips, but she was silent as the grave to which she hastened. I lent her my Bible to comfort her, but she read it not; she laid it on her lap after kissing it, and only bedewed it with her tears. At length she sunk into the grave of no disease but a broken heart." P. 211.

Mrs. Barnsley was of another mood. She used to boast of hereditary honours. She herself was a distinguished shop-lifter, and all her family for more than a century bad been known as swindlers or highwaymen. A brother of the last named caste, frequently visited her while in the river “ as well dressed and genteel in his appearance as any gentleman."

We must not stop upon our hero's pursuit of his Sarah. She so dwelt upon his imagination, that on his return to England he engaged himself on board a South Sea whaler, in the hope of making his way to her place of exile, and it was not until he reached the fishing ground, that he learned her infidelity from a convict who had escaped thither. She had accompanied another man to Bombay; and her flight cost Nicol a second voyage to China.

We next find him pressed and employed on board the Goliah, of 74, in Sir John Jervis's (the late Lord St. Vincent's) fleet, blockading Toulon. His account of the action which followed is most characteristic of an English sailor.

“ While we lay at Lisbon we got private intelligence overland that the Spanish fleet was at sea. We with all dispatch set sail in pursuit of them. We were so fortunate as to come in sight of them by break of day, on the 14th of February, off Cape St. Vincent. They consisted of twenty-five sail, mostly threedeckers. We were only eighteen; but we were English, and we gave them their Valentines in style. Soon as we came in sight, a bustle commenced, not to be conceived or described. To do it justice, while every man was as busy as he could be, the greatest order prevailed. A serious cast was to be perceived on every face; but not a shade of doubt or fear. We rejoiced in a general action; not that we loved fighting; but we all wished to be free to return to our homes, and follow our own pursuits. We knew there was no other way of obtaining this than by defeating the enemy.

. The hotter the war the sooner the peace,' was a saying with us. When every thing was cleared, the ports open, the matches lighted, and guns run out, then we gave them three such cheers as are only to be heard in a British man-of-war. This intimidates the enemy more than a broadside, as they have often declared to me. It shows them all is right; and the men in the true spirit baying to be at them.

Ee VOL. XIX, APRIL, 1823.

During the action, my situation was not one of danger, but most wounding to my feelings, and trying to my patience. I was stationed in the after magazine, serving powder from the screen, and could see nothing ; but I could feel every shot that struck the Goliah ; and the cries and groans of the wounded were most dis. tressing, as there was only the thickness of the blankets of the screen between me and them. Busy as I was, the time hung upon me with a dreary weight. Not a soul spoke to me but the masterat-arms, as he went his rounds to inquire if all was safe. No sick person ever longed more for his physician than I for the voice of the master-at-arms. The surgeon's-mate, at the commencement of the action, spoke a little ; but his hands were soon too full of his own affairs. Those who were carrying run like wild creatures, and scarce opened their lips. I would far rather have been on the decks, amid the bustle, for there the time flew on eagle's wings. The Goliah was sore beset; for some time she had two three-deckers upon her. The men stood to their guns as cool as if they had been exercising. The Admiral ordered the Britannia to our assistance. Iron-sides, with her forty-twos, soon made them sheer off*. Towards the close of the action, the men were very weary. One lad put his head out of the port-hole, saying, 'D-n them, are they not going to strike yet?' For us to strike was out of the question.

“ At length the roar of the guns ceased, and I came on deck to see the effects of a great sea engagement; but such a scene of blood and desolation I want words to express. I had been in a great number of actions with single ships in the Proteus and Surprise, during the seven years I was in them. This was my first action in a fleet, and I had only a small share in it. We had destroyed a great number, and secured four three-deckers. One, they had the impiety to call the Holy Ghost, we wished much to get; but they towed her off. The fleet was in such a shattered situation, we lay twenty-four hours in sight of them, repairing our rigging. It is after the action the disagreeable part commences; the crews are wrought to the utmost of the strength; for days they have no remission of their toil; repairing the rigging, and other parts injured in the action; their spirits are broke by fatigue : they have no leisure to talk of the battle ;. and when the usual round of duty returns, we do not choose to revert to a disagreeable subject. Who can speak of what he did, where all did their utmost? One of my messmates had the heel of his shoe shot off; the skin was not broke, yet his leg swelled and became black. He was lame for a long time.” P. 178.

* W The Britannia is a first-rate, carrying 110 guns. She was the only ship that carried 42 pounders on her lower deck, and 32 on her 'middle deck. She was the strongest built ship in the navy; the sailors upon this account called her · Iron-Sides." "

every vessel,

The Goliah soon joined Lord Nelson. We must give the battle of the Nile as a companion picture to the last extract.

“ We had our anchors out at our stern port with a spring upon them, and the cable carried along the ship's side, so that the anchors were at our bows, as if there was no change in the arrangement. This was to prevent the ships from swinging round, as every ship was to be brought to by her stern. We ran in between the French fleet and the shore, to prevent any

communication between the enemy and the shore. Soon as they were in sight, a signal was made from the Admiral's ship

for as she came up, to make the best of her way, firing upon the French ships as she passed, and every man to take his bird,' as we joking called it. The Goliah led the van. There was a French frigate right in our way. Captain Foley cried, Sink that brúte; what does he there? In a moment she went to the bottom, and her crew were seen running into her rigging. The sun was just setting as we went into the bay, and a red and fiery sun it was. I would, if I had had my choice, been on the deck; there I would have seen what was passing, and the time would not have hung so heavy; but every man does his duty with spirit, whether his station be in the slaughter-house, or the magazine *

“ I saw as little of this action as I did of the one on the 14th February off Cape St. Vincent. My station was in the powder magazine with the gunner. As we entered the bay, we stripped to our trowsers, opened our ports, cleared, and every ship we passed gave them a broad-side and three cheers. Any information we got was from the boys and women who carried the powder. The women behaved as well as the men, and got a present for their bravery from the Grand Signior. When the French Admiral's ship blew up, the Goliah got such a shake, we thought the afterpart of her had blown up, until the boys told us what it was. They brought us every now and then the cheering news of another French ship having struck, and we answered the cheers on deck with heart-felt joy. In the heat of the action, a shot came right into the magazine, but did no harm, as the carpenters plugged it up, and stopped the water that was rushing in. I was much indebted to the ganner's wife, who gave her husband and me a drink of wine every now and then, which lessened our fatigue much. There were some of the women wounded, and one woman belonging to Leith died of her wounds, and was buried on a small island in the bay. One woman bore a son in the heat of the ac. tion; she belonged to Edinburgh. When we ceased firing, I went on deck to view the state of the fleets, and an awful sight it

*" The seamen call the lower deck, near the main-mast, the slaughter-house as it is a mid-ships, and the enemy aim their fire principally at the body of the ship."


The only

The whole bay was covered with dead bodies, mangled, wounded, and scorched, not a bit of clothes on them except their trowsers. There were a number of French belonging to the French Admiral's ship, the L'Orient, who had swam to the Goliah, and were cowering under her forecastle. Poor fellows, they were brought on board, and Captain Foley ordered them down to the steward's room, to get provisions and clothing. One thing I observed in these Frenchmen quite different from any thing I had ever before observed. In the American war, when we took a French ship, the Duke de Chartres, the prisoners were as merry as if they had taken us, only saying, 'Fortune de guerre,' --you take me to-day, I take you to-morrow. Those we now had on board were thankful for our kindness, but were sullen, and as downcast as if each had lost a ship of his own. incidents I heard of are two. One lad who was stationed by a salt-box, on which he sat to give out cartridges, and keep the lid close,- it is a trying birth, -when asked for a cartridge, he gave none, yet he sat upright ; his eyes were open. One of the men gave him a push; he fell all his length on the deck. There was not a blemish on his body, yet he was quite dead, and was thrown over-board. The other, a lad who had the match in his hand to fire his gun. In the act of applying it a shot took off his arm ; it hung by a small piece of skin. The match fell to the deck. He looked to his arm, and seeing what had happened, seized the match in his left hand, and fired off the gun before he went to the cock.pit to have it dressed. They were in our mess, or I might never have heard of it. Two of the mess were killed, and I knew not of it until the day after. Thus terminated the glorious first of August, the busiest night in my life.” P. 185.

The expedition to Egypt formed the close of Nicol's warlike exploits. Twenty-five years after he first left Edinburgh as a wanderer, he again returned, and having bought a house on the Castle Hill, he married a cousin of his own, and established himself as a cooper. Business flourished, till unfortunately war again broke out, and he was compelled to withdraw himself from the press-gangs. At Cousland, about nine miles from Edinburgh, he got employment in Mr. Dickson's lime-quarries; and, while thus engaged, adopted a species of political logic among his companions, which we recommend as highly useful in general practice.

“ As Mr. Dickson knew I was anxious for the news, he was so kind as to give me a reading of the newspapers when he was done. The other workmen assembled in my cottage on the evenings I got them, and I read aloud; then we would discuss the important parts together. The others were not friendly to the government, save one, an old soldier, who had been in the East Indies; he and

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »