Page images

most likely to be brought about under German inspiration. By all means let it have full and free scope. On political and humanitarian considerations, it deserves the cordial and unselfish support of England.

We may resume, in a few lines, the grouping of the six great Powers in regard to Turkey which can be already foreseen. On the one hand, Russia, never losing sight of, although temporarily suspending, her traditional policy of gravitating towards Constantinople; and France, in gratitude to the Power which rescued her from a depressing isolation, supporting Russia with a halfhearted enthusiasm. On the other hand, Germany espousing the cause of Turkey, partly from the personal sympathy of its Emperor for the Sultan, but mainly in virtue of its large stake in the preservation of the Ottoman Empire; and England, Austria, and Italy cooperating with Germany, because their interests are equally concerned in that preservation. It is unnecessary to enlarge upon the consequences of such a grouping. The moral weight of the second group is irresistible; and although it may not now represent a material force resolved to defend the object it has in view, it is impossible to deny that circumstances may favour the development of such a force in the future. As far at least as England is concerned, there can be no doubt that her true place is that we assign to her in the second group.

Asia Minor is an important factor in the preservation of the Turkish empire both as an obstacle to Russia and as giving some hope for the amelioration of the economic condition of the country itself. Germany thus becomes a sentinel, watchful against attack from without and an organiser of internal improvements. The task already upon the shoulders of England for the spread of civilisation is sufficiently great in other parts of the world, that she may well content herself with the humbler rôle of sympathetic co-operator in the work of Germany in Turkey. Chance circumstances have given Germany an exceptional influence with the Sultan, and it is undoubtedly advantageous for us that she should use that influence to the full.

Politically, the situation of Turkey is reassuring. The pacific dispositions of the Tzar are apparent in his attitude to wards the Sultan. Thanks to the readiness which the Russian Government has shown to facilitate the Turkish Treasury, a settlement has been come to of the pressing and long-pending claims which Russia had in connection with the war indemnity; and this fact, as well as the cordial relations existing between the two Powers, tend to the belief that in the near future no serious complications are likely to arise between Russia and Turkey. The present political calm is favourable to economic development, and this desirable result is certainly

Printed by William Blackwood and Sons.

[blocks in formation]

THE following narrative was written in the year 1822 by a lieutenant in the Royal Navy. In the manuscript copy it is preceded by a dedication to Vice-Admiral Sir George Cockburn, G.C.B. "Compiled in truth," says the dedication, "my story is plain and unvarnished; no literary embellishments show it off." It is here somewhat abbreviated, and such necessary corrections of sentence and phrase have been made as fit it for publication. Moralising reflections and outcries against the iniquity of Napoleon have been omitted; but no incident of any real importance is lost, and no detail has been added. If errors as to proper names, dates, &c., occur, the writer, whose name-attached to the dedication-was never known to literature, is responsible for them. Had the manuscript containing the present narrative fallen into the hands of R. L. Stevenson, it might have provided him with material for a brilliant tale. Its ill fortune has placed it in the possession of an editor who has no gift of invention. EDWARD DOWDEN.


I shall commence this narra- Esq., commander, and was just tive at the time when I was a turned fifteen years of age. midshipman on board H.M. Although so young, I was sloop Rambler, Thomas Innes, thought competent for any



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 us
his Majesty's navy.
correct information of every
movement of the French. In
former wars the naval service
used to follow the military
system of retiring into winter
quarters; but the skill of our
modern commanders - in - chief
showed that during the winter
season and the most dreadful
weather a blockade could be
strictly maintained.

The treaty of Amiens had
scarcely been signed when
hostilities broke out with re-
doubled vigour. Already the
British fleet was called to active
service; the light vessels filled
the ports with prizes, and our
sailors were enjoying the spoils
of the enemy.
The coast of
France, from one extremity to


In August 1804 the Rambler was on her return from the blockading squadron off Rochefort to the fleet off Brest. Being close in with the land, we perceived a convoy of small vessels going along shore from the Ile d'Yeu to the main; they were about twenty in number, chiefly sloops and luggers, of little value; but the idea of a dash to cut them out was too delightful to be withstood. Two boats were despatched in chase of these vessels, which were pushing, with all the sail they could spread, for the port of St Gilles. I was with Lieutenant Walter Forman in a small cutter or jolly-boat. We followed the fugitives into the harbour, and succeeded in boarding a sloop of 70 tons laden with wine, while we saw our second boat board another. Although exposed to the fire of heavy batteries, we ran them out to sea without having a single man wounded. However contemptible the prize may be,

the moment she appears along-
side the captor is one of happi-
ness in an adventure achieved

an adventure to be recited with all details in the hours of the midnight watch. When these two miserable crafts came near the Rambler, every one was upon deck, calculating the prize-money, which seemed to promise about ninepence farthing a man. If they had been burnt, as was proposed, I should have escaped a ten years' captivity and the trouble of writing this insignificant narrative.

Fate, however, would have it that I should proceed as prizemaster in one of them to Plymouth, and act as commodore over the other, which was conducted by a quartermaster. During the afternoon I was busied in preparing for my voyage. Three weeks' provisions and six men were allotted to each vessel. The Rambler was to windward, and Captain Innes bore up to ask me how I


[ocr errors][ocr errors]

got on. We were lying to; wishing to show good pilotage in giving me a close shave, he passed under our stern, and, in doing so, his main rigging caught the end of our main boom and carried it away in the crutch. This was a serious accident to a cutter with no carpenter on board, and a dark night and bad weather coming on. We fished the boom with a couple of handspikes, and managed to get on with two reefs in the mainsail. When sending our provisions on board I had made request for a logline and glass; but the squalls came on so thick that we lost

sight both of the Rambler and our companion prize, and never after saw either.

Here was I adrift in the Bay of Biscay, without the necessary implements of navigation ; a gale of wind right in our teeth; the sloop herself a bad sailer, and furnished with rotten sails. After hard trials in endeavouring to get from the land during five days, we found ourselves no farther than Belle Ile, off which place we expected every hour to fall in with our companions; but when day dawned nothing appeared save a sky that threatened little short of a hurricane.


The incidents of that morning are too deeply engraven in my memory ever to be effaced. We had a calm during the latter part of the morning watch, with a heavy swell from the W. N. W. About eight o'clock the sea emitted a rank smell; the atmosphere seemed on fire; thunder rolled in long peals; gannet and sea - gulls flew screaming shorewards from the approaching storm; the petrels Mother Carey's chickens-alone kept us company or followed in the vessel's wake. About ten o'clock the gale broke on us in all its fury; the seas rose to an unusual height; but we were perfectly prepared: everything was secured above and below, and we showed a balanced reefed mainsail, and nothing more, to the gale. We knew that we were not far from the French coast,

and that we were driving bodily on a dangerous shoal which lies off the entrance of the river Loire. Owing to the smallness of the craft and the continual jerking motion, every man was sea-sick.

About one o'clock a heavy sea broke over us and put out all our fires; we tried every means-even friction-to procure another, but to no purpose. The gale rather increased than diminished. The waves washed our deck with tremendous force. About five o'clock I found that we had no more than twelve miles' drift to the shoal, while, to add to our misfortune, our jib and foresail had been split as we were endeavouring to put some headsail on the vessel. I had with me five men and a boy. While I was on deck for a quarter of an hour, the boy hurried up to

tell that they had broken open the liquor-case, and that each man had drunk nearly the full contents of a quart-bottle, saying it was better to die drunk than be drowned cold. I went below and found them to all appearance suffocated: I untied the neck-cloths of the wretches, and left them lying on each other like pigs. And here were we, two boys, in a dangerous strait, with the prospect of a direful shipwreck momently drawing near.

The night had fallen, yet now to leeward we caught sight of the dreadful breakers. I endeavoured to awake the drunken scoundrels, but they were immovable. In one short halfhour our accounts for this life would be brought to a close. The night was dismal; but the breakers, striking against the edge of the shoal and rising to an incredible height, shone like silver. If we drove direct on the shoal, the first sea would take our vessel on the broadside, and roll her over like a jolly-boat. I, therefore, resolved run for that part which showed the least surf. Having closed every opening of the deck that would admit water, I lashed the boy to the taffrail, and myself to the helm. Noth


ing can describe my terror at the moment of approaching the surf; over the stern came a huge rolling sea, which presently sent us flying aloft. From that moment I do not remember anything until I found myself on deck, my arm still fastened to the tiller, my stomach full of salt water, and a dreadful contusion on my head; but we were in smooth water. The poor boy was in as bad a condition as myself, and between us we had not strength sufficient to get the anchor over the side, or even to haul up a range of the cable. We soon drifted into the centre of the shoal, and struck on a cluster of rocks, where we lay beating until morning.

The land lay about two miles to leeward of us. We hoisted French colours, and in about an hour two boats came off and took us on shore. Before we left the sloop our drunkards were come to their senses; but their insolence to me was beyond bearing. They exulted in the prospect of being made prisoners, and snapped their fingers at me, saying that ashore Jack is as good as his master. Such was the recompense I received for saving their lives.


The moment our boat touched shore all was confusion; everything, except what was on our backs, was plundered by the soldiers; my five years' gathering was divided in a few minutes among the ragged repub

licans; their treatment of us, their language to us, were what we might have expected from a tribe of barbarous Moors; the hatred they bore to the English was not disguised in word or deed; we

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »