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Captain Bingham hailed that he wished to send a boat on board; the answer came back that no boat would be allowed alongside. However, a boat was lowered with a lieutenant and a party of marines in her, and was proceeding towards the brig when
the mutineers threatened to fire on her, and she was therefore recalled. The brig was then hailed to surrender, and after ample time had been given, a single shot was fired into her, which passed in at one ladderway, through the mainmast, and out at the other. Upon receiving this shot the brig retaliated with a broadside of round and grape; but as she had momentarily fallen off and the guns had not been retrained, little or no damage was done. The foremost division of the frigate's main-deck guns were then fired into her, upon which she struck her colours. The brig lost three men killed and fifteen or twenty wounded in this brief engagement."
probable that after this he found it expedient to pay close attention to training his men at their guns, and there is no doubt that the Thetis was in excellent gunnery order.
Bingham did not live to bring the Thetis home, and young Mends nearly lost his life at the same time as his captain, through the capsizing of the ship's barge by getting athwart the hawse of a vessel at anchor when running up the Guayaquil river in a strong tide. The tide in this river runs five or six knots, and Bingham showed some lack of caution in sailing up this dangerous river in the dark, amongst anchored vessels. With poor Bingham, Hall, his chaplain, also lost his life. The sailors of the Thetis were, however, far from attributing this sad accident to any lack of care: they had a much better reason for their captain's death. It seems that the Thetis sailed from Callao on a Friday! Moreover, when making the entrance of the Guayaquil river, they sighted the island of Amortajada—the shrouded corpse— a name given to it by the ancient Spanish explorers who sailed with Pizarro, owing to its supposed resemblance to this gruesome object. Now, Captain Bingham was not only much interested in the strange name, but called to the chaplain to come and notice the resemblance. Such matters were most serious in our ships of seventy years ago, and though we may smile, the old quartermaster and his chum, the boatswain's mate, were absolutely certain that but for the reckless
It must have been a great satisfaction to Captain Bingham of the Thetis to demonstrate in this forcible manner, in full view of the French flagship, the smartness of his ship and the excellence of her gunnery. It says much too for his humanity and forbearance, as well as for the control which he held over his men, that he did not sink the brig when she fired her broadside at the Thetis. Bingham had before been engaged in a serious action during peacetime. He was captain of the sloop Little Belt when, owing to a mistake which has never been satisfactorily cleared up, she was engaged at night by the United States frigate President, of fully treble her force. On this occasion the Little Belt suffered a loss of thirty-two killed and wounded, and inflicted very little damage on her huge foe. It seems not im
disregard of true wisdom their captain's life would not have been sacrificed. But the commission was drawing to an end, and the Thetis was soon making the best of her way home, calling at Rio, where various changes were made amongst the officers, Captain Burgess of the Warspite taking command. The coast near Rio lies nearly east and west, and turns sharply to the northward at Cape Frio. The wind being to the southeast, as soon as Cape Frio was weathered the ship could set her course for home. The Thetis once more, by order of the Admiral, weighed her anchor on Friday, and set to work to beat to the eastward till far enough to windward to weather the iron-bound cape. On Sunday afternoon Captain Burgess thought that she was far enough to the eastward, and gave the order to keep the ship to the northward. Young Mends, now a senior mid., had been given charge of a watch in place of a lieutenant who was sick, and, coming on deck at 8 P.M., found that there was a strong breeze with heavy rain. He had just taken command of the deck, and had gone round to ascertain that all was right aloft and that a good look-out was being kept, when land was reported close to. He at once put the helm down, thus anticipating the orders of the captain, who came running on deck. In another moment the ship ran into a perpendicular cliff, which swept her masts down like so many reeds. Young Mends had the presence of mind, as the jibboom crashed into the cliff, thus
giving a moment's warning, to order the men in his charge to lie down between the guns. Thus no lives were lost amongst the men stationed before the mainmast, and Mends's journal records :—
"But the people rushing up the main and after ladders suffered
severely, many being killed, including the man at the wheel, who continued to grip it firmly, thus still helping to bring the ship round. Notwithstanding the scene of chaos and desolation,
the fact that all the boats were destroyed by the falling spars, and the groans of the wounded and the dying, the ship's company never lost their discipline for an instant, and on the well being sounded and it being ascertained that the ship was not leaking, they gave three hearty cheers.”
He then goes on to tell how the ship drifted along the face of the cliff in deep water till she struck on a reef of rocks where the water shoaled :
"Just before she reached the rocks I was sent down to see that the tiller was to starboard: I found that the men were at the relieving tackles, and that the helm was as desired. Whilst I was below the hull of the dear old ship crashed upon the rocks, and there was great grinding, for the sea was the spirit-room, in which over 800,000 very heavy. I found the sentry over dollars were secured; I also found the guard over the gunroom door: there was no panic, and these men remained quietly at their posts."
Although ships have changed beyond recognition since 1830, and officers and men also, recent naval history records the same quiet obedience to duty in men stationed below in times of imminent peril. Both in the escape of the Calliope and the loss of the Victoria the ship was the first consideration-" the dear old ship," as young Mends calls
the Thetis, there is no thought of self except that each individual must do his duty. It is not only the strict sense of duty and the fear of disobeying orders that keeps men steady in such crises as these, but there is a real sense of love to the ship that makes the duty almost pleasurable. The Thetis finally sank in comparatively shallow water, and only twenty-one were lost, including those killed by the fall of the masts.
nople, who were only withdrawn in deference to urgent representations from the other Powers, backed by a British fleet in Besika Bay. Young Mends was at Constantinople, and was immensely interested in the embarkation of the Russian troops :
The court-martial which assembled at Portsmouth for the trial of Captain Burgess and the surviving officers and men of the Thetis was a severe ordeal for young Mends, who, being officer of the watch at the time of the catastrophe, shared with the captain and master the responsibility for the loss of the ship. Both the captain and master were severely punished, the former losing two years' seniority, and the latter being placed at the bottom of the list: Mends, on the other hand, was warmly commended by the president and members of the court for his conduct, and this commendation took the practical form of the offer of a vacancy in every one of the ships then fitting at Portsmouth. Mends chose the Acteon, and was speedily on his way to the Mediterranean, where he remained from 1831 to 1835. These were uneventful years afloat, although the Eastern Question was very much in evidence on shore. In 1832 the Russians had 20,000 men encamped outside Constanti
"I watched the embarkation of the Russian army the whole day, scarcely leaving the deck of the Acteon even to eat. I made careful notes of their manner and methods of embarking the cavalry and guns, and most excellent and expeditious they seemed to be, the whole force of 22,000 men with all their stores and belongings being on board before 6 P.M., the embarkation having been commenced at 6 A.M."
This was undoubtedly a fine achievement for a nation like the Russians, who were supposed to be good seamen. Moreover, the fleet which provided the boats and made all the arrangements was not a very large one, numbering only ten line-of-battle ships.
Early in 1835 Mends, still only a mate, though twentythree years of age, was appointed to the Pique, a new Symondite frigate just off the stocks. In these days the first thing done with a new cruiser is to try her speed. This is no new thing, for although the practice of running up and down the measured mile only came in with steamships, the trial of a frigate's speed was a most important matter in the early thirties. The method consisted in selecting some ship of known merit and trying the new ship against her. Just as the efficient steaming of a ship depends not only on the design
of ship and engines but on the efficiency of her engineroom complement, so in old days the seaman-like qualities of the officers and men were an important factor in the sailing trials. The seamen of those days, it is to be remembered, not only sailed their ships but rigged them as well, which made their interest all the keener. In this case the Pique was sent to the Bay of Biscay during February and March to try rate of sailing against the Castor, a crack frigate, reported one of the best ships in the service for sailing. The Pique, under Captain Rous, afterwards that well-known, most upright, and thorough sportsman Admiral Rous, did well, but the Castor seems to have been somewhat superior. A month in the Bay of Biscay at the equinox was enough even for Mends's zeal, and keen as was his interest in the sailing contests, he lets slip a little growl towards the close of them. But in those good old days where was there a gunroom in which the mates were not privileged to growl? In many gunrooms there were men who had seen service in the great war, and whose hair was actually turning grey and they were mates still. They worked hard, but were most notorious growls, and thus worked off their spleen. Sailing trials not only continued the order of the day in the forties and fifties, but, such is the conservatism of the navy, even in the seventies the writer was in one of a pair of new ironclads which were diligently beating to windward
against each other in the bay, much where the Pique encountered the Castor. We all knew that sailing was doomed as a fighting factor; but we just as keen over the merits of our ships, and as critical as to the sit of the jib and the trimming of the sails generally, as the seamen of eighty years before, with whom smart seamanship and good sailing qualities made all the difference between an efficient man-of-war and a useless dummy.
The next task for the Pique was one common enough for our cruisers in the days of good King William, but now, in these days of rapid and luxurious mail-steamers, quite as much out of date as royals and skysails. This was to convey a new governor-general and his staff to Canada, and thence to bring home his predecessor. The passage out was uneventful, except that the ship narrowly escaped running on the rocks in the Straits of Belleisle. In those days of imperfect charts and few lights, passages which are now traversed without danger by our steamers were full of risk for even the best found sailing-ship; and when the Pique was homeward bound she actually ran on the rocks, and it was only by the skill of her captain and crew that she was brought safely home. The stranding of the ship was, as is usual, inquired into by court-martial, and Captain Rous and his master were most honourably acquitted: there was, therefore, no carelessness or recklessness to account for the accident. As in
the case of the Thetis, the ship was stranded at night in thick blowing weather, all the circumstances being such as might well have caused a panic. But once more the power of discipline shows itself, assisted as before by a romantic attachment to the ship. In the midst of the work of shortening sail, sending down spars, and laying out anchors, Mends is deep in his sympathy for the Pique.
"The poor ship now began to thump and struggle for it very violently, which I am sure, if other hearts felt as mine did, made many ache for her. Many a time did I think of my poor Thetis, though hers was a worse case."
The ship was very severely damaged, nevertheless Rous decided to take her home, and this during the equinox. As long as the pumps remained in good order they were able to cope with the leaks; but, as so often happens in such cases, one of the pumps gave out, and the necessary repairs were too much for the skill of the carpenters. However, the ingenuity of the bluejacket came to the fore, and three seamen who took the pump in hand got it into working order. The weather became very bad, and before they were half way across the Atlantic the rudder was carried away. It was blowing hard at the time, and the ship at once broached to, threatening every minute to carry away her masts, which were badly sprung when the ship stranded. Sail being shortened, the crew set to work to make a temporary rudder, and after a time they
were successful in getting the ship's head in the right direction. A better and more permanent jury-rudder was prepared, and getting one day of fine weather, the opportunity was seized to ship it. With this rudder the ship was steered into the entrance of the Channel, where another gale swept it away, and the ship was saved from wreck by anchoring with her last remaining cable near the Caskets. Finally a light breeze enabled them to weigh and make Spithead without assistance. On anchoring, these gallant seamen, following the example of those saved from the Thetis, were not ashamed to assemble together to publicly thank God for their safety. The hand of God was more fully recognised then as ruling the raging of the sea than is the case in the present day.
Mends now got his promotion to lieutenant, and, thanks to the reputation as a seaman which he was making, was quickly appointed to a crack frigate in the Mediterranean, the 50-gun Vernon. Most of his lieutenant's time was spent on this station under two ancient and amiable commandersin-chief, Sir Robert Stopford and Sir Edward Owen. In the early years of her Majesty's reign the navy was in a very depressed condition. Such life as there was existed mainly in the Mediterranean, but even there matters were in a very sluggish state. After leaving the Vernon, Mends was fortunate in getting into that really smart and efficient ship the Rodney, under the command of Captain