LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Fifty Years’ Recollections, Literary and Personal

Vol. I Contents
Chapter I.
Chapter II.
Chapter III.
Chapter IV.
‣ Chapter V.
Chapter VI.
Chapter VII.
Chapter VIII.
Chapter IX.
Chapter X.
Vol. II Contents
Chapter I.
Chapter II.
Chapter III.
Chapter IV.
Chapter V.
Chapter VI.
Chapter VII.
Chapter VIII.
Vol. III Contents
Chapter I.
Chapter II.
Chapter III.
Chapter IV.
Chapter V.
Chapter VI.
Chapter VII.
Chapter VIII.
Chapter IX.
Chapter X.
Creative Commons License

Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Produced by CATH

The fiftieth year of the reign of George III., styled the Jubilee, was celebrated, with great marks of rejoicing in the West, I know not why, in a reign marked by much calamity. A grand dinner was given on the occasion. I was not very reflective about the consistency of the address, on being requested to write one, availing myself in its opening of Shakespear’s description of St. Crispin’s day, October 25, 1415.

Some stanzas from my pen were set to music by an eminent composer, and sung as a glee by the men of the bands of the regiments in garrison. The fête went off well. All proceedings of a public nature were then enthusiastically carried into effect.

Here I first met Wilkie, the artist. He and Haydon were on terms of close friendship. Wilkie’s health had not been good. Haydon had proposed a visit to Devonshire. I was introduced by the father to the son, and to Wilkie by young Haydon, in his father’s drawing-room.

Nearly opposite the end of Market Street, the awkward Guildhall being on the opposite side of the way, stood the house and shop of old Haydon, since deserted, in a street then a great thoroughfare, but now
entirely forsaken by the widening of another entrance to the better part of the town. Old Haydon was a printer and bookseller. The house was spacious, with a private entrance. At the shop-door congregated the newsmongers of all grades, civil, naval and military. There were seen the mild and gallant
Sir Israel Pellew, the brother of Sir Edward, afterwards Lord Exmouth, who himself lived in the town. Sir Israel, who was Captain of the Fleet which his brother commanded off Toulon, used, I remember, to complain of his brother’s imperious manner. There was old Captain Winne fond of relating anecdotes of Lord Howe, and the first of June, 1794, in which he bore a part, and how when Sir Roger Curtis told the Admiral the line was complete, Howe replied: “Then up with the helm in the name of God!” and dashed through the French line, the Queen Charlotte firing from both sides with her guns double shotted, when seven hundred Frenchmen fell in the ‘Montagne’ alone. From Haydon’s Winne would go and perch himself on the Hoe or in the citadel with his glass upon the look-out. It was with Winne’s sister the Duke of Clarence fell in love when stationed at Plymouth. Old Admiral Manley, of whom they used to relate that he took a cloud for a ship, fired whole broadsides at it, and the sky becoming clear, there was not a sail to be seen; Admiral Vincent, a Captain of 1747, who wrote a book to support Berkeley’s theory of the non-existence of matter, when between eighty and ninety years old; one-armed gallant Sir Michael Seymour, of the ‘Amethyst’, and, occasionally, Sir T. B. Martyn or Sir Samuel Pym. Now and then that “huge hill of flesh,” General England, the Lieutenant-governor
from the citadel, whom the
Duke of York christened “Great Britain,” (some surmised he was the Duke’s brother.) Haply little Sir M. M. Lopez, of Maristow, would show his Hebrew face there, or Sir W. Elford his bluff one, and the stiff stately Admiral Young would bow to some one of the group and pass onward; and old Herbert, the banker, one of Pharaoh’s lean kine, who had the soubriquet of “Death.” Two sailors with their grog on board rambled one evening at twilight into the garden of his house, in Frankfort Place, where the old haggard gentleman was nodding by his parlour fire, the shutters not being closed, one of them looked in and cried to his comrade, struck by the lank form and gaunt face of the old man, “Jim, Jim, didst ever see death? come look in here—here, here, heave a-head!” But these are shadows of the past—why recall them!

With rigid fingers from a gouty stiffness of the joints behind his counter, or in his back parlour, would be seen old Haydon, busy with his books. He had been a great rake in youth, a shrewd clever man, who had succeeded his father in business as he had designed his son, the painter, should succeed him. His only daughter, Harriet, was then a pleasing and accomplished girl, married afterwards, I believe, to a medical gentleman in Somersetshire.

Wilkie disappointed me. Perfectly self-possessed, he was destitute of life and energy, pale almost to delicacy, so that I fancied him more indisposed than he was in reality. Not bashful nor exactly clownish in manners, but simply awkward. His Scotch accent was decided. I met him at dinner the next day, when he talked sensibly enough on common-place subjects. I never
observed him deviate from these, except when he alluded to his art, and towards that he was destitute of enthusiasm. I found him more apt than the English at a coarse after dinner allusion, a thing not uncommon among his countrymen, making one think, with his gravity, were it possible, of a quakeress singing licentious songs.
Haydon was overflowing with conversation about art, the Elgin marbles, sunrise from Mount Edgecombe, and views from Staddon Heights, or Saltram Park. He proposed we should go, the following morning, and swim in the Sound, where “we could have fathoms of water under us.” He was a good swimmer, and so was I; but in diving, I could not approach him.

“Weel, mon,” said Wilkie, “an I must e’en look on?”

“No, no, the boatmen shall pull in under Mount Batten rocks, to which we will swim. You can undress on the sand, and paddle in the shallow water.”

“We shall have some fun,” said Haydon, aside. “Wilkie is anxious to learn to swim, and told me yesterday I must teach him. ‘Can’t I learn a little now?’ said Wilkie, and began sprawling upon the drawing-room carpet. I spread out a table for him, and he got upon it with his face downwards, moving his limbs like an awkward frog, little to the purpose. I almost killed myself with laughing to see him.”

We pulled into the Sound. The breakwater was not then begun. Haydon and myself undressed in the boat, and jumped overboard to swim to Mount Batten, Wilkie going in the boat. There we found him sputtering on the sand, in a few inches of water. “Let me
hold up your head, Wilkie,” said Haydon: “you must go in deeper.” This did not much mend matters; little tact and a want of confidence in his own buoyancy made him the least adroit of any adult person I ever knew, under similar circumstances. Haydon told me he continued his table-practice for some time. I was the more observant of his conduct, because I respected him as a man of high talent, and, in consequence, thought that such an individual must be worthy of note in everything. In a little time afterwards, I found my estimate of Wilkie not erroneous. His ideas were almost wholly artistical, in the line in which he was a great master. That he had aspiring ideas about a higher line of art than he had yet practised was not then visible. He had a fine eye for nature in the humbler social sense against all the world. He took so little notice of the fine scenery around Plymouth, that region of picturesque landscape, that even Haydon, who knew him well, seemed disappointed. Returning from a long walk, I once missed Wilkie at a turning in the road. On going back a short distance, I found him looking through the back gate of a cottage yard, at a troop of children literally seated upon, and round a dunghill.

“The finest grouping I ever saw,” he said, as we came away; “the finest bit I ever saw in my life.” Such things were with him, what the Elgin marbles were to Haydon. He loved the beaten track, and his enthusiasm for his art was phosphoric; for it shone without burning. He had a secret vanity, and he indulged it when among strangers, as if he were ashamed that those who knew him should discover his foible. When at Rome, he bought all sorts of fancy dresses, and sported
them when unnoticed by his countrymen, as if he thought those who knew him would tell of his weakness. To appreciate the singularity of this fancy it was necessary to know the man. An artist I well knew sketched him at Rome, without his knowledge, in some of those disguises, on which he certainly conferred no credit by his personal bearing.

Having been late at a ball about four miles from the town, Haydon proposed that we should ascend a hill by Saltram to see the sun rise, “it was absurd to think of walking home and going to bed that fine morning.” Wilkie, who had danced furiously, said he was afraid of the air, he had rather walk home. He did so, and Haydon and myself ascended a lofty eminence just in time to see the break of a glorious day. The artist was enthusiastic. “Mark that light in the east! How fine it is! How sombre it looks below in the valley, and the water in the Lara like pale silver. Then the woods, those limestone rocks, how rich it all is, and in London we sleep away these things. Look to the west, and the haze there, which the sun will presently disperse. Perhaps God dwells in the sun—or some delegated spirit who governs our system, our half a dozen cricket balls, called worlds. Who cares for this beautiful sight, my boy, but you and I?” It was in this way Haydon talked in his earlier years.

When we got to the town, we found Wilkie at the door of Haydon’s house endeavouring to make the servants hear him, full of fear lest he should take cold. ‘Daavid,’ as Haydon sometimes called him, went to bed, while we breakfasted, and then having had a plunge in the sea, we were fit for anything again. Haydon
possessed surprizing energy, and worked continually thirteen and fourteen hours a day. I visited Mount Edgcombe with the two artists, Wilkie did not show any admiration of the fine scenery, or the splendid foliage of the private gardens.

“North Corner is the place for Wilkie,” said Haydon, “there is famous grouping, sailors, and their lasses, drunk and sober, bearded Jews, salesmen, and soldiers.” We returned by that bustling and dissipated landing-place, which was always very crowded and noisy in war time. Wilkie thought something good might be got there earlier in the day.

In town, Haydon lodged in Great Marlborough Street, on the south side, the number I forget. Wilkie in Great Portland Street, as I recollect. I remember our breakfasting together in a coffee-house, called the Nassau, at the corner of Gerrard and Nassau Streets, Soho. Since the ruin of coffee-houses by the rage for clubs, that, with a hundred others, has been shut up. It is at present occupied by a baker. I never pass it but I think of those times, and the changes since. How painful a part of human destiny is it to recall such scenes. Not far from that house lived and died glorious John Dryden about a century before. Where are he and his contemporaries, and where now are Haydon and Wilkie?

With Haydon I first saw the Elgin marbles, then in Burlington House. I went some years after to see Lough’s sculptures, and found him looking at them. I could not help finding fault with the hands. “Yes,” said Haydon, “they betray a want of professional education—of study and practice. When you go to see
the works of artists, look at the hands and feet, they will tell you whether they are the work of educated or fancy taught people—yes,
Redding, look at the hands and feet, few can master them perfectly even among students.”

My intimacy with both Wilkie and Haydon was little during their latter years. Wilkie had no conversation of interest. There was nothing but his fame that was exciting about him, and in the vast social range of London this is not enough to give a preference. His genius was bounded by a limited circle, his conversational acquirements were not commensurate with his high abilities in art. Haydon was a pleasant companion, had read and thought much, and also to the purpose, but there were reasons why his friends could not enjoy his society as they wished; they were estranged without being desirous of estrangement. Peace to his manes! He was not born for the present era of taste in art, the era of common-place and mediocrity.

The father of Haydon told me a story interesting to ornithologists. A mulberry tree grew outside his printing office window in the heart of the town. A robin used to come there and sing sweetly to the delight of the inmates. The window being open one day at the commencement of winter, the bird flew in, and on being fed remained, singing occasionally with great sweetness. In the spring it flew away, and was seen no more until the next winter, when it reappeared on the mulberry tree again, and the window being left open, it flew in as it had done before. The men to know the bird, marked it with printing ink on the breast. In the following September, it came again to
the favourite tree, fluttering its wings, and again flew in, and was found to be the same bird. It was accompanied with two others. It became so tame that it would perch on the top of the cases of type where the men were at work, and sing with great apparent joyousness. By some means, a strange cat got into the office at night, and killed all three birds. The men proceeded to the summary execution of the cat, by hanging it on the mulberry tree, where the bird had first cheered them with its autumnal song. Mr. Haydon, senior, was fond of ornithology. He assured me that in 1796 a cuckoo had been distinctly heard to give its note in Mount Edgcombe woods in January. The winter had been remarkably mild as that the year before had been severe.

Old Haydon had known, when a boy of seventeen, an old seaman named Pearce, who died aged ninety-seven. This seaman used to describe the horrors of the storm of November, 1703. He had seen the unfortunate Winstanley go off from the Barbacan steps to the Eddystone lighthouse, of which he was the builder, and of which neither builder nor the slightest fragment of the pharos was ever seen again. The sea, he said, broke over Drake’s Island like a cascade. I have myself seen the spray break over the lanthorn of the present building, nearly a score feet.

There was a fishing bank between the Eddystone and Rame Head, to which we sometimes used to resort, and dropping anchor at the right time of the tide begin fishing. Fish will bite at anything shining. A sixpence with a hole for the hook will do. It is all fair gobbling, “right-minded fish,” as old Walton would
say, being truly aldermanic in the swallow. The gills are above water before you know what is hauling up. In summer weather it is delightful to run in a boat before the gentlest of breezes, with a solitary hook and line attached to the stern. The fresh delicious air, the serene sky, the undulating motion, impart the most luxurious sensations. By pulling the line gently, it is easily perceived if a line mackerel is hooked. This solitary fish dies like the dolphin, its beautiful colours fading into death as the life of the creature goes out. The colours of this species of fish are more beautiful than those of the common mackerel. I remember, too, there is some little difference in the shape. We sometimes got becalmed in these little cruises off the headlands. I once missed a famous dinner and ball in the garrison this way, having lain in the ground swell, without a breath of air for forty-eight hours. Once a thunder storm wrapped us there in a mantle of flame, the grandest thing I ever saw.

We ventured sometimes to run in a cutter nearer the French coast than was prudent. We knew old “Billy Blue,” (Admiral Cornwallis) was between us and Brest with from twenty to thirty line-of-battle ships. We sailed, too, in the wake of a seventy-four that had run in for bullocks. We once got a peep of that glorious, persevering old man, while his fleet was on the same tack, and the French snug within. It was on a morning cruise of this kind that I saw, hull down in the horizon, the masts of a vessel of considerable magnitude. When the whole had become visible, there were two vessels, one in the way of the other; and it was soon plain that one of them was in tow. “There is a prize to some-
body,” was the exclamation, as our little cutter mounted the ocean furrows. “What can she be?” The tricolor was waving beneath the British flag, over a vessel sadly mauled in “the sticks,” as the sailors used to phrase it. We could not account for the perfect state of the victor, every rope in its place—not a rent in the sails, the rigging as trim as if he had just come out of port. It was a moment of considerable interest; we had no glass. The real conqueror was not in sight, being too much crippled to do more than take possession of the prize. The ‘Shannon’ had fortunately come up at the moment, and relieved the victor from an arduous task, the prisoners being greater in number than his effective crew. The prize was the ‘Thetis’ of forty-four guns, captured by the ‘Amethyst’ of thirty-six. The commander of the English vessel was
Sir Michael Seymour, as fine an officer as ever walked a deck.

The reflective mind, on witnessing its scenes, shudders at war, sickens over the sound of that “glory” which so intoxicates the tyrant, the ignorant, and the unthinking. The unimaginative judge only by the evidence of the senses, and can form no idea of what is revealed to present perception in the term war, when out of reach of its mischiefs.

It was past ten o’clock at night when the English frigate (which I saw wrecked a year or two afterwards) came up; and in about an hour and half after, perhaps the most sanguinary engagement of single vessels during the last long and cruel war, the Frenchman struck his colours. There were, on board the ‘Thetis,’ a crew of three hundred seamen, and a hundred soldiers. In the space of time I have stated, out of four hundred, no
less than one hundred and thirty-five were killed, and a hundred and two wounded. Among the sufferers were all the officers but three. The prisoners who were unhurt were put on board the ‘Shannon,’ and English sailors sent in their place; but they found the prize unmanageable; and it was obliged to be taken in tow. Naval conflicts are always more destructive than land engagements in proportion to their numbers. I do not remember hearing how many the crew of the ‘Amethyst’ mustered, probably from two hundred and twenty to two hundred and thirty, of which seventy were killed or wounded—nearly one-third of the whole. This carnage was much spoken about. I met many years afterwards a gentleman, who saw the vessel at the same time; and he recalled the scene as one never to be erased from his memory. In the heyday of youth, accustomed to warlike exhibitions from a child, giddy and unreflecting, I can never forget how it took me “aback.” No sight could be more painful. All was in the same state as when the action closed, except that the dead were thrown overboard, and the dead had the best of it. The dreadful nature of some of the wounds inflicted, the number of sufferers, some moaning, others sighing away their hearts, or shrieking in agony—it was horrible. Humanity forbade clearing the ship before getting to port; and, indeed, there had not been time. The sufferers were so numerous that, in the confused state of the vessel, they lay about upon torn, blood-soaked hammocks, many writhing on the planks stained with gore. Amputations had been performed upon some as they thus lay. The surgeons’ narrow quarters below were full of miserable men who had
been brought down in the early part of the conflict. Severed limbs lay here and there for want of attention to inferior matters, while life was depending upon a succession of rapid operations. This scene of mangling and death had all occurred within a space not greater than many a ball-room, cannon-shot and splinters striking down people mercilessly in that limited space. The crowded state of the decks increased the havock. It was scarcely possible to believe that two hundred and thirty men had been put hors de combat in so brief a space of time. Death had made a rapid harvest of the vigour and high mettle of manhood, and taught the living an unmistakeable lesson of humility. On reaching the anchorage, those of the wounded who could be removed were taken to the spirit-depressing locality of the prison hospital, little calculated to be cheered by the sight of the guard’s glittering bayonets. The victor did not arrive for several days afterwards. In that small class of vessel, a middle-sized man was in a continued stoop while working the guns, and was, for want of space, liable to suffer more; while the roomy French ship, on the other hand, was too full of men to profit by its better space for action. It is difficult to prevent English seamen from double-shotting their guns when at a distance from an enemy, but when near, it is impossible. Much must be left to the seaman’s discretion, and safely too; for he is master of considerable resources. When I was a child, the guns on board ship were fired from the match; the lock was afterwards introduced. This was a great improvement. The seaman looked along the gun for the direction, lanyard in hand, noted the heave of the ship under his feet;
then, pulling at the right moment—a knowledge which experience only could give—he sprang on one side to avoid the recoil, which would otherwise crush him to pieces. His fire was thrown directly into the enemy’s hull. The effect was fearful, two ports being often knocked into one. The French used to fire at our rigging, as if they wished to prevent our manœuvring. The splinters made dreadful havoc. Grim death seemed to have entered at every perforation. The bulwarks were jagged with shot. The rigging, ropes, yards and blocks, encumbered the decks above. Coils of rope, dabbled with gore, on some of which were seated wounded men, pale and ghastly, showed grief and disappointment dividing the empire with pain. The tars who were put on board endeavoured at the alleviation of the sufferings of their captives. Some were on the forecastle, preferring the pure air to the groans, sights and sufferings on the decks below, where many a gallant spirit that a short time before had breathed defiance, lay gasping, uncertain of life or death. Some seemed doomed to die by inches, yet cherishing the hope of life, in the very jaws of death. Poor fellows! they would fain live for the chance of the repetition of similar misery, rather than repose where human nature could no more exhibit, except superstition, the most degrading of its features. The surgeons were tasked upon this occasion. On the planks in one place, side by side, were laid thirteen unfortunate men with locked jaw. “We can do nothing for them,” observed the professional men, as they cast a glance of pity at their terrible condition. Owing to muscular contraction, the bones from the severed limbs had
frightfully protruded; yet, though speechless and rigid, life lingered as if loth to quit its shattered and worthless tenement. One or two, though severely wounded, seemed to muster a stern resolution to bear their suffering like men—self-possessed, whatever might be their fate, and triumphant of soul in their prostrate state of body. The mischief caused by splinters has never been overrated. There were portions of the bone of severed limbs, driven by them against, and even into the timbers, and some pieces from living men into the very plank, so that it was not easy to detach them. One piece of skull was thus driven into the ship’s side, with hair attached to it. A gun was so covered and splashed in blood, that it showed many men had been struck down together while in the act of working it—most likely by a fragment of oak timber. Some of the gangways had coagulated blood over them that had dropped from step to step, as the bleeding wounded were borne below. The odour was insufferable, reminding one of a butchery. Gunpowder had, in several places, mingling with the stream of vitality, been trodden into the planking. I did not descend below the water-line but a little way; I was advised to return. The cockpit is the surgery during action; it is safe from shot, and lighted with candles. The agony suffering there, in a close, confined space, common nerves could not withstand. I had seen enough. I had been through hospitals, with surgeons on their duties; but they gave, no picture of such a scene of suffering, so confused and sanguinary.

I was struck, I remember, by our folly in adopting, and even preferring, vessels of so small a scantling
as our thirty-six gun frigates, while the French had their metal heavier. But I was set down for my opinion by some professional people. Both French and Spaniards were our masters in ship-building at that time. I have stood with my hat on between the decks of a Spanish first-rate. A noble French double-banked frigate, the ‘Egyptienne,’ after being sometime at sea with our flag, wanted new masts, and was used as a sheer hulk. “What a fine vessel!” I remarked, one day, to a naval officer.

“Yes; but the navy board won’t allow her to go to sea again, she would take the masts of a seventy-four.”

“What of that?” I asked; “give her the masts of a seventy-four.”

“Oh! it is contrary to regulations.”

This ship, every timber of undecaying cedar, was afterwards broken up, and the cedar used for ornamenting the cabins of other vessels, while cramped ships, in which a small man could not stand upright between decks, were expected to triumph over great physical superiority—but ‘I wander from my tale.’

I was not aware, until this incident took place, that surgeons judge of the mortal nature of the wounds very much by the appearance of the eyes. The medical head of the prisoners at that time was Doctor Magrath, afterwards Sir George Magrath.

The treatment of prisoners of war in the land prisons was well enough for a system of idleness without utility. Many would have been glad of any kind of labour. It was different in prison ships, and worse than that of the convicts at Woolwich, because these are relieved from ennui by labour. Prisoners of war, shut up
in floating hells, only a fifth part permitted to go on deck at a time, for an hour or so; the rest were battened below to look through iron bars at the water. The monotony, the idleness, the waste of life, the expense, used to strike me forcibly. I remember one of the prisoners in the ‘San Rafael’ imitated a two-pound note with India ink. He was sent to Exeter, tried for forgery, and condemned to death. He would have been executed, but for the interference of the Home-Secretary of State. The lawyers were against him. I fought hard in my little way against them. ‘He was under the protection of the laws, and had broken them.’ I denied it. He might shoot the sentinel and make his escape—he might carry off the ship if he could—and not be indicted for robbery or piracy. The sentinel might shoot him, and not be guilty of murder. He was not a free agent. He was a man under military coercion, out of the protection of the civil power as much as one of our own deserters under martial law. The man was not executed. It was curious that two Frenchmen did make their escape from the ‘San Rafael;’ swim ashore, and then were puzzled what to do to avoid being taken. They saw a lighter moored lower down the harbour, and no one on board. They swam off; found one man asleep; mastered him; up sail; cut the rope attaching the lighter to a buoy; ran down through all the ships in Hamoaze, round Drake’s Island, and so across the Channel, unmolested. They had on board all the powder of a seventy-four, which lay in the Sound, and which the officer would not hazard taking in at the late hour at which it was brought alongside the night before; so the lightermen went
back, and, mooring to a buoy, left one man on board, and went ashore, meaning to be off again early in the morning. The prisoners not only got clear, but divided the value of the lighter and cargo, worth some hundreds of pounds between them. If these prisoners had been intercepted in the Sound, could they be legally hanged for the theft? This would hardly be maintained, although the punishment of death was annexed at that time to almost every offence. My heart often bled at the statement made by the poor fellows of their overwhelming ennui on board.

There were altogether above seven thousand prisoners in the depots within the garrison. They were allowed to work at Dartmoor, and to sell the produce of their labour, and numbers did so, but there were men who were unable from having no trade. Many of these took refuge in gambling, and played away the clothes off their backs. Going in with the officer of the guard, I saw a number nearly naked in that cold region. They were called ‘the Romans.’ Even their bedding had been gambled away. They slept on the prison floor, huddled together for warmth. It was said they used to turn sides in the night at the word of command, “turn one, turn all.” Years of captivity and ennui thus driving men to wretchedness and demoralization, exhibited another of the calamities of war.

Sir Arthur Wellesley landed here at night, and was at an hotel near where I resided. The Cintra Convention had just been concluded. In the morning the landlord came to me and said Sir A. Wellesley was at his house, and would be obliged, as the mail had just passed, for a sight of a newspaper. I was the only
person in the town who had a paper before the post-office delivery, which was never much hurried in those days. I feed the mail guard, who dropped me my papers as he passed on to Dock (Devonport). I sent a paper over to Sir Arthur, not being quite dressed. I took over a second, all I had for that day. Sir Arthur was then about forty years old, and appeared to be full that age. He was dressed in a blue coat, knit pantaloons, and Hessian half boots. In person rather slender, but compact. This gave him a taller appearance than he bore later in life. I do not remember the officers who were with him, he alone attracting my attention on account of the Cintra business. I expressed my regret that I had no more papers to offer him till the post-office should open. He replied that he was obliged. “We wanted to know what people are saying about us, not having seen a paper for a considerable time. We leave Plymouth immediately,” he added. He thanked me for the papers, and left strict orders they should be returned. At that time the Cintra affair made a great noise in the garrison. It was reported Sir Arthur did not much like it, though he afterwards, somewhat chivalrously, spoke in its favour. That
General Burrard had succeeded Sir A. Wellesley on the field after the battle, in order to give a worthless approval of his dispositions, and that Sir Hew Dalrymple superseded Burrard the following day, to approve Sir Hew’s disposition for letting off the French, bag and baggage.

Before Wellington repealed the Test and Corporation Acts, those tyrannical laws pressed heavy on two thirds of the population of the United Kingdom, preventing their holding in England common civic offices. A
medical man, obnoxious to a political party in Plymouth, so high did political feeling run, being about to be sworn in as Mayor, had been asked whether he had taken the sacrament according to the rites of the church, within the preceding twelvemonth. He replied in the negative. “Poor B——,” said a friend of mine, “he reckoned without his host.”

The statute was rarely enforced, but it was still the law. Going to call upon the doctor I met a very high church clergyman, “I have an odd feeling of indisposition,” I remarked, “I am going to Dr. B. and shall ask him about it.”

The parson at once put on a sour face, “I never consult him, he is a rascally oppositionist. If you want a doctor go to Mr. L——.”

“I shall ask Dr. B——,” I replied, knowing the motive of the recommendation.

“Don’t consult any one,” said the parson, seeing I was not to be persuaded. “The great physician, Hoffman, said, ‘If you wish good health, avoid physicians and medicines—fuge medicos et medicamina’”

“How cunning the Jesuit is,” thought I, “he will keep me from my intention at any rate to gratify his spleen. I fathom his motive,” and I doubled my pace to Dr. B——.

I cannot observe exactly the order of dates. I know it was about this time that I became acquainted with General Wakin Tench of the Marines. We used often to converse about his voyage to Botany Bay when a captain, with the first convicts in 1789. They were thirty-six weeks on that voyage, and lost one marine,
and twenty-four convicts. He wrote a narrative of the passage, with some description of the country and its productions, a valuable work to the generations since, and to those yet to come in that continent. Tench has long been numbered with the dead. He spoke with humour of a native becoming strongly attached to the colonists because one of them had shaved him. Had that convict expedition not sailed, where would have been our present commerce and gold mines. The views of statesmen are very contracted. A large per centage out of the convict colonies turns out well. At home, even those who are sincere in their reformation and regain their freedom, are marked men. They must starve or turn to their vices again. The first convict generation soon passes away in the distant colony. It is a circumscribed view of things to try the benefit of this species of punishment by its immediate effects. I have witnessed the continental system. It only contributes to multiply offences.

The Roderick Random gait and appearance in our seamen, were fast disappearing in the time to which I now allude. One of the last individuals with its taint was Captain Rotherham, who commanded Collingwood’s ship the ‘Royal Sovereign,’ in the battle of Trafalgar. Not stout, tall, his cocked hat worn square, a mahogany complexion, and now and then a quid, he had much about him of the seaman of the past time—such men. are now become traditions.

I made the acquaintance of Belzoni here, the Egyptian antiquary, nearly seven feet tall; he had a brother with him six feet six inches. He was exhibiting feats of strength. Having a dispute with Foote, the manager
of the theatre, Belzoni came to me with his story. A country editor of a paper is too often condemned to receive similar applications. Foote wanted to screw the Italian too hardly in his bargains; I interfered and got the matter arranged to Belzoni’s satisfaction. One of his knees inclined inwards a little, or he might have stood for an Apollo. He was a meek quiet man. I have no doubt he was right in his subsequent dispute with
Salt in Egypt. The latter treated him as a mere pounds, shillings, and pence man would treat another. Belzoni’s zealous heart was in the business he undertook, and he was rightly not inclined to let Salt carry away all the merit.

Here I met the author of ‘the Essay on the Immateriality and Immortality of the Soul,’ Samuel Drew, by trade a lapstone, brother of Gifford and Bloomfield, but superior to both in mental power; in fact, a first rate metaphysician. He had attracted the attention of the Rev. Mr. Whittaker, the historian of Manchester, who drew him out. His essay was a surprizing performance. He was a Wesleyan methodist, and died a preacher among the sect in 1833. His mind was too logical to shine among those to whom a few wild ideas in an ocean of words, were more objects of admiration than dry verities or abstract reasoning. Here, too, Dr. Hawker thundered forth his discourses in the church of St. Charles, I did not like the manner, matter, or man. Polwhele’s Greek translations were first put into my hands here. I read them more out of compliment to the author whom I knew, than from any supposition of their superior excellence. He was a laborious working man, with no low opinion of
himself, never offensive except to a methodist, whom he could not tolerate as Whittaker his neighbour did. His prejudices were continually at war with his perception of our intellectual advances. He could work laboriously. There is merit in some of his compilations, but his verse had not levity sufficient to float. He sometimes daubed his friends with flattery, in expectation of a return which he did not always obtain. He lived and died out of the great world, a country clergyman, of talent and unimpeachable character, not so orthodox as to be divested of all candour, nor so liberal as to look complacently upon
John Wesley’s disciples.

I had deprecated religious persecution from a child, first from having perused the pictures before I was able to read the text of Fox’s Book of Martyrs. This feeling grew up with me. I soon learned that I was not to hate a man, and wish him burned, because he thought a brown loaf good mutton, or an honest reformer, because he denied the apostolic succession through Roderic Borgia and Leo X., to the Archbishop of Canterbury, inclusive. I deemed such things hallucinations, and have ever endeavoured with my pen as much as possible to prevent time-worn superstitions and early prejudices from tainting action. It is a humbling consideration for human nature that we make so little progress in this respect. Shan O’Neal, of Ulster, put some of his own partizans to death because they made bread in the English mode, and not in the good old way. All religious disputants are infallible in their own opinions; all ready to condemn the error of their brothers. How do they know they are not in error themselves. How do they know this when every reflecting man of right
reason is well aware that, with all we know, we know comparatively nothing.

I was a never-ceasing reader. In poetry, I have said, I had early in youth possessed myself of the works of Charlotte Smith. I got fond of her melancholy egotism. She died soon after I arrived in London the first time. Her ‘Old Manor House’ I read with youthful delight. What a pure delight that is which arises out of inexperience! The sonnets of Bowles were not in my view equal to Charlotte Smith’s, and yet I was delighted with them. When the fancy is tickled, it is the happiness of youth to be satisfied; it is never discontented enough to be critical. I had read, as I have stated, most of the poets before Cowper, in earlier youth. Spenser delighted me; I revelled in his imaginative scenes of fairyland. Chaucer was too obsolete. This was before I knew much of Shakspeare, from the latter not coming in my way.

I know not what it was that made Miss Edgeworth so attractive to me then, dry and formal as she really is. I hardly perceived, nor was it likely I should appreciate if I had, her fine tone of moral feeling. Her ‘Patronage,’ some years after, did not produce the same effect on my mind.

The novel-writers, immediately previous to Scott, produced some works worthy of being still remembered. The supremacy of folly was not then acknowledged by those who sought reputation. The more intellectual portion of the social body decided the merit of works of literature and art, and the advance was upwards, not downwards, as it is at present, when low-mindedness leads the critic. Scott’s success made the avaricious
dealers in the brains of writers cry out for works like Scott’s. All the mutton must be South-down, as if in literature or art men can be great by imitation, while the original imitated is before the public.

It was at this time that Strutt’sQueenhoo Hall,’ a posthumous romance, appeared, the author dying before it was completed. Edited by Scott, ‘Queenhoo Hall’ merited particular notice, because it was the first attempt to add to tales of the olden time correctness of keeping in dress, manners, and language. Just as Macbeth came to be played in the costume of his supposed cotemporaries in place of a bagwig and sword, so was Strutt the author of a great and beneficial reform, heralding Scott, who made so excellent an application of his system.

Hannah Moore had just published her ‘Coelebs in Search of a Wife.’ That such a work should have gone through many editions, must be ascribed to the author’s previous writings now nearly forgotten. She exerted herself extensively in the cause of common sense and benevolence, but I thought her somewhat presumptuous to meddle with a state in life of which she had no experience. I had an introduction to her, being at Clifton, and called, but did not find her at home. Her residence was some distance away. She advocated, at that moment, I well remember, the education of the poor. Too many of the clergy were virulent against her upon that account; they said it would derange social order. This was before Lancaster promulgated his scheme of instruction. How different now is the conduct of the clergy—how pleasing to see the school of the parish in its place. I remember that, at the time I was at
Clifton, they were excavating the Bristol docks, and driving piles for the gates next the Avon.

The longevity of this or that type of novel it would be curious to examine. Of many I recollect in my early reading, there are now no traces. What becomes of castoff novels? Some were sofa companions, read between call and call of a morning, light inanities adapted for that purpose, and no more; others were natural, many supernatural; there were also the fashionable, the languishing, and the furious. Except a few resuscitated by speculative bibliopolists, to save copyright expenses, most are forgotten. Ancient Greeks used to talk in them in good English, and knew more of London than Athens. Romans conversed in the language of Bond Street. Cherokees were represented as sentimental, and love sometimes becoming too deficient in excitement, was exchanged for the hazards and perjuries of a genteel adultery.

Pratt’sEmma Corbet’ exhibited at this time the most writing and least merit of any book I ever saw; and it had still a run, though it had been published twenty years. The Miss Lee’s ‘Canterbury Tales’ I read in 1805, in a second edition, generally ascribed to Miss Harriet Lee. These tales were a joint production of Harriet and Sophia. The latter lived in Bath, during my first visit there, and died in 1851, wanting but little of being a century old.

The accidental death of a friend, in the prime of youth, Lieutenant Robert Tryon of the navy, much affected me. We think little of man’s grim foe in youth, except on similar occasions. He was a native of Lincolnshire, much admired by the fair sex. I had heard he was wounded, and wrote to the purser of the
ship for particulars. He had carried a French privateer by boarding, when one of the guns in his own vessel went off by accident; and the shot striking him on the back of the left shoulder, shattered the blade, and laid bare part of the ribs and flesh close to the spine. He became delirious at night, having begged to be removed to his own ship, at the risk of his life, the sea running high. He sat on the deck supported by the men, pale, weak, faint, vomiting blood. Landed at Yarmouth, he rallied surprisingly, and his wound nearly healed, when, in an evil hour, he was advised to go to London, the place of all others most inimical to an open shot wound. There he soon fell into a decline, and died. I noticed him in the “
Naval Chronicle,” the only tribute I could pay to his memory. It was long before I could shake off the gloom occasioned by this event. It was a deep shade of cloud passing over youth’s gay landscape. We had witnessed lively scenes together, in the society of much female loveliness. Another of a different stamp, a Hercules in strength, and a pleasant jovial friend, I lost just afterwards, in Lieutenant Millridge of the ‘Emerald.’ A twenty-four pounder was in the slings; he saw a rope or something amiss under it, stooped to remove it, when the gun fell upon him, and crushed him to death in a moment. He was an iron man, with none of the pensive graces of Tryon. I, even now, hear his deep voice calling to the men aloft. It might have been heard half over the bay. My old friend and townsman, Captain Cardew of the Engineers, now numbered among the dead, I met with here, and renewed our youthful intimacy. We were once returning together from a ball at Ridgway, in a morning in November. It
was between three and four o’clock, when we crossed the Plym, by the bridge near Saltram Lodge. On the right hand stood a dwelling called Marsh House, an avenue of pines leading up to the door. Within the entrance gate but a few yards, close to the trunk of one of the trees, there burned steadily a bright light, so bright that the minutest configurations in the bark were seen by it. The night, or rather morning, was drizzling and dark. I got off my horse and climbed the gate, which was locked. I was descending on the other side, when a furious dog came down upon me; and I was forced to retreat. The light burned steadily all the time; and, as the dog passed close to it, the hair on his back was distinctly visible. I had often seen the ignis fatuus; but that moved, and uniformly disappeared on being approached. Here the light continued steadily burning; and we left it more luminous than an ordinary candle—every blade of grass around it distinguishable. For twenty minutes that we watched it, there was no diminution. We were neither of us strangers to appearances of a similar character in the mining district of Cornwall; but there were no mines here. About thirteen miles from where Cardew and myself had spent our boyhood, there was a remarkable phenomenon of this kind. It was seen during the winter months only, and, perhaps, is seen still about a mile westward of St. Austle, in the high turnpike road, near the summit of a hill. This light was like that of a candle, and on drawing near disappeared entirely. Angles of the spot were taken in vain; for nothing peculiar was observable on the surface, the ground near not being marshy, but the great copper and tin mine of Polgooth was in the vicinity.


With two or three friends, we established a private club, called the Beefsteaks. The “King’s Arms Inn,” where it was held, was nearly full of guests, when Lucien Bonaparte, and his suite landed, thirty-four persons in all. We made room for them, by giving up our apartment, and adjourning. Lucien was not much like his brother in person, with a sallow complexion. In stature he was under the middle height. His family was with him—all Italian-looking—his daughters five in number, pretty, and two sons. He came in the ‘Pomona’ frigate, to remain a species of captive. I believe he completed in England his poem of Charlemagne. One of his daughters was subsequently the wife of my friend Mr. Wyse, now British envoy at Athens.

About the same time, I was requested to meet some gentlemen in Cornwall, who wanted another paper in the county, there being but one, which, having been secured by the opposite party, and having before been neutral in position, they thus became deprived of any support from a Tory press. I represented that it was against my interest to oblige them. They pressed me farther, told me they had an editor ready, and a printer as well; but that none of them knew how to organize the whole. If I did not assist them, they were determined to get some one from town who would. They appealed to my sympathy as to their position. I consented, ordered from London what was necessary, organized the undertaking, and returned to my duties. Some lines bearing the anonymous sign adopted by an old schoolfellow of mine, who had often sent verses to the older paper, appeared in
the new, and roused the jealousy of the proprietor, who assailed me with the most violent personality and ribaldry, for a thing of which I was guilty of being innocent. I made a short reply, and the proprietor of the old paper not long after sold his journal. Such was the origin of the “
West Briton,” the largest circulated paper in the county at this hour, exceedingly well edited. The promoters of the undertaking, at that time, included Glynn of Glynn, some of the Rashleighs, the Stackhouses (Pendarvis), and other gentlemen of high respectability in the county, most if not all of whom are no longer numbered with the living.

There are few reflections which afford me more gratification than the share I had in aiding that undertaking, and thus in disseminating the principles since become everywhere triumphant. I rejoiced to see them there, for the memory of the wild shores of that county, its barren heights, fertile vallies and mild climate, with their hospitable inhabitants, can only perish with life. It is, doubtless, a melancholy thing to return, and be unremembered in the district of one’s birth, no wonted names seen that of old greeted the native, save those inscribed among the records of the dead. Still I had rather retire, and breathe my last there, as the stag retires to die where he was roused, than on any other spot upon the globe. How many incidents happened there, now lost to all but myself, how many names have sunk in oblivion, how many are partially submerged, desolate islets of which the surrounding waves continually displace fragments that disappear in the remorseless depth beneath! If any
thing could teach human pride its nothingness, the lesson might be acquired in the contemplation of such a position, when time has left the individual like a column in a melancholy waste.

I used to meet Lord Cochrane sometimes—a remarkably plain, quiet, fine young man, wholly unassuming. He was often in and out in the ‘Impérieuse,’ a ship in which he performed so many gallant exploits, and among others the destruction of part of the French fleet, of eleven sail of the line, in Basque roads, while hampered by a do-nothing commander-in-chief, much as Nelson was shackled by a commander-in-chief set over him in the Baltic. Although the hero of the Nile, he was ordered by signal from that commander to leave his victory half-achieved; though he would not see the signal amid the smoke of the Copenhagen combat. People talked loudly and indignantly of the higher powers in the affair of Basque Roads. It was singular that Cochrane and Sir Sidney Smith, with Nelson, were all capable of operating against an enemy on shore or afloat with equal success.

A friend of mine, with his lordship, when they next came into port, expressed his astonishment at the scene so unparalleled in our naval warfare. Of eleven sail of the line of the largest class, one was taken, three others struck their colours, and seven went on shore, of which three could not be got off. All this was achieved with the loss of only ten killed and thirty-six wounded. It was a daring act. Twelve or fifteen hundred barrels of powder were placed in casks standing on end, and girt strongly round with cables. Clay was rammed in the interstices between the casks, and wedges forced down to
make more resistance in exploding. On their top were placed three hundred loaded shells fuseed for explosion, and above two thousand grenades. The enemy was ready in the ships and batteries to receive them.
Cochrane himself, his lieutenant, and four seamen proceeded thus towards the ships of the enemy. The French became alarmed as the tremendous engine of destruction approached, and cut their cables. Undauntedly the little party proceeded in this magazine that a spark would tear into a million of atoms. The shot of the enemy struck the explosion ship. Cochrane made his party get into the boat, and then kindled a fusee himself, calculated to burn fifteen minutes to give them time to escape. It must have been an awful moment for the most intrepid spirit. They pulled away at their boat most vigorously, having as they supposed fifteen minutes to get out of the danger, but the wind was fresh, and the fuse burned too fast. In nine minutes from leaving the explosion-ship she blew up, and the fragments of thousands of shells fell or flew about like rain. The boat just on the verge of destruction escaped being struck. The waves broke over them, and the lieutenant died of fatigue and exhaustion. Two of the seamen were so worn out, after they reached the ‘Impérieuse,’ that their recovery was doubtful. The battle of Lord Howe, and the capture or destruction of seven French line of battle ships, cost nine hundred killed and wounded. Here six or seven line of battle ships were destroyed, and one was brought away with the loss of ten killed and thirty-six wounded. One of the French captains, a prisoner, was killed by Lord Cochrane’s side, and his boat nearly sunk in the first attack upon the
enemy. Admirably did his lordship calculate everything upon that occasion. Many years afterwards when I became acquainted with
General Miller, who was much with Lord Cochrane when he served the South Americans, I learned from him that the precautions taken beforehand in all his dashing attempts to ensure success, were a remarkable trait in Cochrane’s character, and all that mortal man could take in the circumstances. Cochrane brought Gambier to a court-martial, unsuccessfully of course, for his delay in the operations undertaken, in which more promptness would have ensured further success. The praises of Cochrane, and the dispraise of the commander of the squadron off Rochfort, were on every tongue in the garrison, and his being ordered to sea soon afterwards alone prevented a public demonstration of feeling in his regard on the Basque Roads affair. I met his lordship lately at Temple Bar. Alas! what ravage time had made in his once handsome and active figure. Such changes tell painfully in the history of our fleeting humanity.

The government in those days had a personal dislike to men of high bearing, and disinterestedness, who would not become its servile tools. Nor was any love lost. It was necessary to employ such officers for the sake of obtaining credit for the successes which strengthened ministerial interests. I remember Cochrane’s ‘Impérieuse’was painted black with red ports, which gave the frigate a strange appearance, like no other of our ships of war.

I sometimes, during an idle half day, crossed over to Drake’s Island, where a captain’s guard was stationed and relieved once a week. Cut off from society, it was
a deed of charity to visit any friend when there. I had just landed, as some of the soldiers reported a dead body floating close under the island. It was one of the crew of the ‘Barfleur,’ of whom twenty-two had been upset in a boat a day or two before, and sixteen drowned, in crossing what is called the bridge, a line of sunken rocks connecting the island with the main. Through one spot in this reef, at high water, at a place called “the gap,” a small ship might venture, but with the least wind a heavy surf broke along the whole ridge.
Lord Cochrane, I was told, had dashed through it on hearing a French privateer was off the coast, as the only chance of getting out quickly in pursuit. Few would have dared it. This incident recalls a matter in which I was myself concerned, while it reveals the effects of the close borough system of those times.

Among the drowned was an officer, the brother of some ladies of a family in which I felt great interest. Attention was also drawn to the incident by the public indignation, and regret that the whole scene was passed over by the proper authorities. The ‘Barfleur’ a fine second-rate, lay in Cawsand Bay. The captain and his crew were a band of brothers. I do not recollect whether from promotion or from what cause, the commander left the vessel. A new captain was appointed, notorious throughout the navy for wanton tyranny. The appointment in that, as it would in any other case, produced dissatisfaction, and ultimately a round robin to the Admiralty, which the latter sent down to the commander-in-chief at the port. The latter sent it at once to the party to whom it related,
who had received his appointment. The new captain introduced himself to the ship with the round robin, and ordered the men to be mustered. He then questioned them man and man. “What have you got to say against me, what complaint have you—tell me I command you.”

Knowing the danger of his position, and the articles of war too well, several men replied, “Nothing, Sir.” At last a man who had served under the little Tartar, replied, “You command me to speak the truth, Sir, I was punished wrongfully under your orders. I was innocent of the charge.”

The reply of the Captain was, “Put that man in irons!”

Such was the feeling of the men, that proceeding in the same mode, while some made a negative reply, others determined the man in irons should not suffer alone, and told the truth, that they had once served under him, were wrongfully punished, and did not like to do so again. Two more were put in irons, and being enough of whom to make an example, as the phrase was, he applied for a court-martial upon them.

The request was granted, the time fixed. The wind blew fresh on the day the irons were taken off the men, who with officers and a guard were ordered to proceed the shortest way over the bridge to the flag-ship. The order was obeyed, the boat overset in the surf, and seventeen out of twenty-two were drowned, among whom were two of the prisoners. The remnant reached the flag-ship, having been saved by a boat passing near. The president of the court-martial humanely told the solitary prisoner, that if he wished,
after such a melancholy accident, the trial should be postponed. He answered that he had only done what he was ordered to do. His accuser was heard, and with a sense of that justice inherent in British bosoms, the court fully acquitted the prisoner, and set him at liberty. This was a tacit censure, but it seemed not to be so felt. The ‘Barfleur’ sailed, the crew of which from their commander’s previous character, knew they had nothing to hope and all to fear. The tyranny under which they groaned became so unbearable that one of the crew, off Lisbon, stabbed his commander with a knife, which turning against a rib did not kill him, but inflicted a painful wound. The man was hung of course, his only remark being that he had devoted himself for the ship’s company. The Captain coming to England not long afterwards, died of apoplexy. Talking of this affair twenty years after with a gallant post-captain in the navy, who had a pension for wounds, he said that, when a lieutenant, he had by ill luck got twice under the command of that officer, but having some little interest himself, he was removed from his authority each time into another ship. He saw that Captain flog a whole watch, because laying out upon the yards, they did not secure the sails within the time he ordered, in which time no men could do it. I asked why he did not bring that officer to a court-martial. He replied, “No, my dear
Redding, you will not catch a lieutenant too often at that game. If it were a holy deed and succeeded before the court, I should be a marked man—no further promotion. A lieutenant in the navy is not tried by his equals, though a soldier captain is tried by those with whom he ranks.”


To return to myself in this matter of the ‘Barfleur,’ It was expected the port-admiral would report all to government, and perhaps he did, for the affair became the topic of general conversation, but no more was heard of it. The officer I speak of had great interest. I felt for the family I have mentioned, and the death of a fine young man in such a way. I determined, in consequence, to detail the facts carefully, and I did so in the columns of the paper. Everybody cried “shame.” In a few days, I received a message from the little despot, through a relative of his own, whom I knew, “that he would give me a d—— horse-whipping and call upon me for the purpose.”

I sent my thanks to him for the obliging information, as it enabled me to lay in a tolerably heavy whip to return the courtesy, and that it should go hard if I did not give him as good as he brought. I was well able to put my threat into execution, for I was his match in strength. He thought so for he never came near me. It would have been impolitic, too, for it would have enabled me to notice others of his exploits byegone, of which officers had informed me, I should then have had a motive which otherwise a diabolus regis would have declared, in those days, to be pure malice.

I got the commendation of the ladies. One fair dame told me as indicative of this man’s temper, that sitting with the captain’s wife one morning in cold weather, the rain falling fast, a delicate looking genteel youth came with some papers. He was suffered to remain in the open porch of the house in the cold.

“Why don’t you let the poor little fellow in?” said his lady.


The reply was, gruffly, “he is very well where he is.”

“But it is so cold.”

“No matter, he shall remain there.”

“Nonsense, Captain, let him come in, he looks delicate,” said my fair informant.

The captain rose angrily, went to the door, and ordered the poor middy to walk up and down in the rain on the pavement, till he called him, which was nearly an hour afterwards, when he was thoroughly water soaked. What must men have endured, subjected to the tempers and caprices of such personages—tempers and caprices never displayed by the great or eminent of the profession. It was impossible for the hero of my animadversion to lose credit on the ground upon which I assailed him; on the other hand, I obtained much commendation for not passing over in silence so disreputable a proceeding.

I was a spectator, too, of the ‘Africaine’ frigate, when she lay in the Sound. It was suspected there was a mutinous spirit on board, in consequence of another commander, notorious for his arbitrary conduct, being appointed to her. She had before been a well commanded ship. The appointment made a great talk, for it was reported that if any resistance was made on board to the appointment of Captain Corbet, the port-admiral would lay a frigate on each side and sink her. The admiral was a strict officer, who looked only “to the stop watch.” I never heard a word in his praise or dispraise. Cold, exact, destitute of enthusiasm, peculiar in dress and personal bearing, he was the last with whom any liberty could be taken. Just or unjust the
letter of his instructions was his law. About the middle height, spare, grave, one hand always on the hilt of his sword, the other hanging stiffly at his side, white breeches of kerseymere, and black top boots to his knees, hat never worn fore and aft, strait and upright as if a spit passed through him, a complete Quixote in bearing,
Dighton’s caricature of “a first-rate man of war,” still extant, represents him wonderfully well. Such was Admiral Young, the naval commander-in-chief. Sir Edward Buller, a pleasant kind man, and good officer, was second in command. Young was fidgetty if orders came down in the morning for a ship to go to sea, and the captain did not take himself off quickly after dinner, if dining with him at the time. It was at his table that Corbet, newly appointed to the ‘Africaine,’ said the service would not be worth anything till captains could flog all in the ship, even the lieutenants.

“Then admirals will flog captains,” said Sir Edward Buller, “and I’ll give you your share if ever you come under my command.”

The subsequent history of the ‘Africaine’ and her commander, is but too well known—melancholy it was, according to all accounts. He expiated his faults with his life off the Isle of France.

Speaking of Admiral Young, his gravity, stiffness, yet gentlemanly bearing, in short that species of character, which seemed calculated to awe the impudent, exact obedience by law and rule, and keep the just middle course in everything, there is an anecdote I recollect which is amusing.

Among the regiments in garrison, the West Middlesex
militia used to be thought low in the scale of character, and the officers inferior men in manners. One of them, a field-officer, dining with the port-admiral, when the wine had warmed a front of great natural assurance, was tickled at something the admiral said, which might be taken for a joke by a little straining, but which its author never intended to be so misinterpreted, for I query if he ever joked in his life. The officer’s name I forget, he was a knight, or something of the kind, of course, an ill-bred man. Taking the remark as a joke, he tapped the admiral on the shoulder, in his vulgar hilarity, and exclaimed:—

“Well done, old Stiff Stump!”

To feel the full force of so gross an act, Admiral Young’s exact bearing, reserve, and very gentlemanly habits, should be understood. Sir Robert Calder succeeded him as commander-in-chief. General Stephens commanded the Artillery, whose only daughter, known as Miss Jenny by the officers of that arm, is now Lady Gough. Of all the Artillery and Engineer officers in the garrison at that time, I believe Captain Veitch, of the Engineers, the present able consulting engineer to the Admiralty, is the only survivor. General England was succeeded by General Gore Brown. The former was a kind, good-natured man, with little mind. I knew him only by sight. General Brown I knew personally; he was a liberal in politics, which at that time meant little more than that he would concede religious freedom to everybody, even to the Catholics of Ireland. The Misses Brown were the most beautiful girls I ever saw. They lived in the citadel. When the Emperor Napoleon was a captive in the ‘Northumber-
land,’ he was struck with their beauty, on visiting the ship.
Young Turton, the son of the Sir Thomas, the member for Surrey, whom as I have before mentioned I knew, married one of them. The history of the same individual in relation to another sister, and his conduct in an Indian office, are painful incidents. General Mercer commanded the Engineers, whose son and aide-de-camp, an old friend of mine, died, I believe, in the Bermudas.

I remember dining with old Sir Massey Lopez at the mess of the regiment of local militia, which he commanded. General Brown was present. The conversation turned on Catholic Emancipation. I remarked to the General, that Sir Massey had voted against it in a recent debate in the House of Commons, and he had been once of a persecuted race himself. Sir Massey observed, “that he thought he should have voted for it, but Mr. Perceval pressed him to vote against it. I thought it better to oblige Mr. Perceval;” a very sound excuse for a vote in a senator of that time. It was said Sir Massey wanted to be Lord Roborough. The baronet, a millionaire of that day, was not a bad-minded man. He was only something of a miser, which those lovers of the root of evil nearly all are, who acquire large fortunes by an attention to small sums. Here his old money-making position continually drew him towards the principle of accumulation, and he forgot to keep up his existent character. In electioneering, which he did not understand, he was fleeced continually. In fact, he was more sinned against than sinning; he did not know the ‘disinterested’ qualities of agents. He lost seven thousand pounds at Barnstaple, and had
to pay for some hundred pairs of shoes made presents of to poor men there, who belonged to a local militia corps.

“They must have cost you half a guinea per pair, Sir Massey,” I remarked to him one day.

“Before God, I believe they did,” he replied.

He was tricked at Grampound, a most venal place, and suffered for it. Some of his doings were original in their way, and contradictory. His word was his bond, once pledged. He purchased land all round Maristow, his seat, as fast as he could obtain it, in order to extend his domains. Mr. A——, whom I well knew, agreed to sell him a small freehold, happening to want money. His land adjoined Sir Massey’s. After much haggling, the bargain was settled.

“I have not ready money to pay down; you must take my bill at four months.”

This was assented to and arranged.

“Now, will you want this bill discounted?”


“Well, I will discount it for you; how will you have it?”

The prospect of a little gain made him forget his existing situation, and he discounted his own bill. One or two other things I recollect of him. An individual, who kept a stationer’s shop, in which he used to lounge, had his house burned down. The stationer was not insured, and a subscription was opened to reimburse him for his losses. The Baronet went into the new shop, one day, and said:—

“I have not subscribed anything for you, Mr. Rogers; give me a stamp to draw a bill for thirty pounds.”


The stamp was given, the bill drawn, signed, and given to the stationer, and the Baronet went away. In a few minutes, he returned again, breathless.

“But, Mr. Rogers, you did not pay me for the stamp.”

The money, about eighteen-pence, was actually handed over to him, and he went away satisfied.

Coming to dine with the Corporation of Plymouth, he thought he would take with him a pine-apple, to present at the dessert. Passing down the Market Street, before the dinner hour, the presentation pine in his pocket, he cast his eyes at the window of a fruiterer, named Ponsford, where there were several starveling pines.

“How do you value your pines, Mrs. Ponsford?”

“Half a guinea apiece, Sir Massey.”

“They are very small, very. What is this worth?” said the Baronet, pulling out a fine specimen from his pocket.

“That, Sir Massey, is well worth a guinea.”

“Here, then, give me one of the small ones, and half a guinea.”

The bargain was concluded; Sir Massey presented the small pine to the Corporation.

On the other hand, there was an half-pay lieutenant I knew who used to dine occasionally with Sir Massey, in Arlington Street, where his town house was situated. One day, after dinner, he asked the Baronet if he had not some votes in the India House. The answer was in the affirmative, “that he had four votes.”

“Were they promised?”



“Might I ask them in favour of a worthy friend of mine?”

And the friend’s case was explained.

“He shall have them.”

Parliament was up; Sir Massey returned to the West. The voting afterwards came on at the India House. The petitioner for his votes had no idea of Sir Massey’s voting for his friend, for he knew he was not in town, and he could not dream he would travel two hundred miles and more on his account. What was his surprise to find, calling in Arlington Street, accidentally, after the voting, that Sir Massey had posted up to town, given his four votes as he had promised, and, forty-eight hours afterwards, returned again to the West, having travelled on purpose, backward and forward, four hundred miles. How could the baronet afford it! Such are the contradictions in the money-loving character.

He was uneducated, or he made little use of his acquirements. When he purchased Maristow as it stood with its contents, Sir Massey, after being put in possession, asked the widow of the former possessor if there was nothing she wished to retain. She replied, nothing except a set of Classics in the library, the only set there, which her husband particularly valued.

“You shall have them, Madam, whenever you choose to send for them.”

The lady sent once, twice, thrice, no books were forthcoming. Sir Massey stating at last he could not find them, and if she did not think it too much trouble, he would be obliged if she would come over and point them out. The lady did so. “O,” replied Sir Massey,
“those are the books are they—I see different names on the backs, I thought I should see ‘The Classics’ upon them.”

I might recount many other incidents, but he has departed to where wealth is no more the object of solicitude.

I once gave a receipt for money to an officer of the Falmouth Customs, and was subpoenaed to the assizes to give evidence against him. There were two receipts for the same sums, he having informed me that the first was mislaid, and he could not make up his accounts. Sir Vicary Gibbs was the judge, and Jekyl counsel for the Crown. Gibbs was the worst judge I ever saw on the bench. He bore harder against the accused than Jekyl, who was the counsel. He called for a witness to go into the box and prove to the jury the large amount of the receipts by similar officers of the Customs throughout England, to enhance the importance of the offence to them, as if the act of theft were heinous in proportion to the number of pounds sterling it involved. Gibbs was a snappish narrow-minded creature. I never heard of his possessing a redeeming virtue. He pushed up Gifford, afterwards Lord Gifford, who was his great favourite, the son of an Exeter grocer, where he got much business through his plodding attention, and I used frequently to meet him. He was then in his sphere. He broke down completely when he acted for the Crown on Queen Caroline’s trial. His ignorance was astounding. It seemed as if he had never read anything but a brief in his life. A-propos of Jekyl. I remember a good-natured solicitor, who had a large practice at Tavistock, and kept excellent claret, for whom Jekyl was retained.
This limb of the law wore an enormous white cravat at all times. The witty lawyer began:

“Gentlemen of the jury, I am counsel in this case for a gentleman well known throughout the county of Devon, Mr. Frank W——, remarkable in general for wearing a pillow about his neck, but sometimes a bolster.” I recollect another case by which he set a jury in good humour. An apothecary kept a villa near the town where he practised, Jekyl contended he should have been at his business. “Methinks, gentlemen of the jury, I see this modern Æsculapius retired to his Sabine farm, cultivating his plants with his spatula, watering them with his syringe, and reclining under the shade of his Peruvian bark.” Jekyl had pale small features, his eyes were indicative of acuteness, and humour, but his features spoke nothing of the disposition of the man. He belonged to a race quite extinct at the modern bar.

This was the year of the famous comet. The moment I could leave the court, I posted to Liskeard where I had left a horse. I had seventeen miles to ride from thence, and there was no moon, but the stars were bright, and the magnificent comet, lord of the sky. There was something awe-striking in its appearance, night after night for weeks. I walked to the church-yard, where the tower rose darkling over star-lighted tombs. They were saddling my horse. I fell into a melancholy train of ideas. I thought of some who had died about that time, of others afar off, of death as the term of our pilgrimage. Rogers’s line
“On yon grey stone that fronts the chancel door.”
came into my mind. At that era of life death asso-
ciates more with nature than we are conscious of at particular times in the country, darkness and solitude being aside and around us. The town lay hushed in sleep, and the sound of my footsteps came back from the house fronts. I returned to the stable, I mounted my horse as the clock struck ten, and was quickly on a very solitary road, having to pass scarcely a single hamlet till I was near my journey’s end. Here the road plunged into a dark vale, and there led over a hill summit. From the hollows, the comet outblazed the stars, seeming to double its brightness from the dense gloom that enshrouded me. It appeared to challenge human wisdom to explain its nature, as if it would hint of great mysteries in the illimitable regions of space. Sometimes it seemed more a dream than a reality. I had that and nothing else on my mind the whole way, and what a mystery it was to man.

I reached Crafthole, a miserable hamlet about five miles from my journey’s end, as the sky became thickly overcast, and the comet vanished. From Whitsun Bay sounds broke on my ear like distant thunder. This was the ground-swell on the rocks, for it was a dead calm. Rogers’s lines came up again to recollection, and his “Ode to Superstition.” Then following Bürger’sLeonore.”
“Tramp, tramp across the lea!”
with all the devilry of that ghostly, fiend riding, charnel house procession.

I began to feel superstitious for a moment—then I rallied, what foolery, this fancy must not be indulged, I shall be as bad as an old woman. So I put spurs to my horse, and dashing forward, no witch catching the
animal by the tail, I reached Torpoint, and took it to a small inn, knocking up the people. I intended to cross the water and send for my horse the next day. It was black as the Styx on all sides. Nothing moved, I went to the water’s edge, and called out lustily “Boat a-hoy!” All was still over Hamoaze. Presently I heard “Comet a-hoy!” My mind ran on the comet above. “Comet a-hoy! It’s boat a-hoy! Nobody can see the comet now,” my mind running on the comet in the heavens, not on the earth.

“What, is that you Redding?” said a voice near me.

“Who are you?”

“Lieutenent P—— of his Majesty’s ship ‘Comet,’ which you must know.”

It was the first-lieutenant who told me they were under orders for sea, and he had come to hunt up two or three men who were missing. I told my tale.

“We are off to sea to-morrow, God bless you! here youngster,” he said to a midshipman, “put Redding across.” We shook hands, parted, and met no more. I had been at a ball on board in the preceding week. The first-lieutenant was the captain’s brother-in-law—Captain Blarney. I never met him again.

I lived in a cottage, in a beautiful situation called Mutley, on the Tavistock road. It commanded a fine view of the Sound, Mount Edgcumbe, and the heights. I remember Young, the tragedian, was one of my visitors when he came on his professional tour. Once on Incledon’s coming down, some naval men agreed to invite him to dinner at the Pope’s Head Inn. We had an admiral in the chair. I joined the party. The object was to hear his sea songs, which no one ever
sung like him. He was a coarse man, fond of good eating and drinking. The bottle circulated freely. He gave some of his best songs in excellent style. I had heard that the passage in
Sampson Agonistes, beginning “Total Eclipse,” was admirably given by him. He began it, but in a few minutes, his head sank on his breast, and he ceased to articulate, becoming totally eclipsed himself. It appeared he had been dining out daily for a week before. It is probable that his dinings out, and sacrifices to the bottle which followed, and which he could not resist, aided to shorten his days. He was a Cornishman by birth, and a dutiful son. His mother, too, addicted herself to the bottle. She died about 1808. Incledon allowed her an income out of his professional earnings which was paid her by instalments, in order to prevent her squandering it. I knew the paymaster. She was buried at Kenwyn near Truro; and her son went down to visit her grave.

It was about this time that Spencer Perceval, then Premier, commenced his attempts to reduce the liberty of the press to nihility. His mode of proceeding was worthy of the capacity of the smallest-minded minister England ever saw. In three years he filed forty informations against the press, not half of which were ever intended to be carried out. Ruin by the costs of in terrorem informations was his plan, thus keeping a part of the press tongue-tied. The more bold who dared farther, he pushed to trial, cost, and suffering. The meanness of his mind was seen in all his measures, as well as his short-sightedness as to results, while a varnish of religion covered the man. An intense bigot, whatever was high-minded had no congeniality with
his nature. His treatment of his client
Queen Caroline, with the history of the “Book” he concocted in her defence, said little for his honesty. The poor Queen imprudently made him her confidential adviser. During the turbulent times of the administration of Pitt, covering nearly twenty-two years, the press prosecutions stood as follows, contrasted with those of Perceval.

Twenty-two years Pitt—14 prosecutions, or Pitt 0.631 per annum.

Three years Perceval—40 persecutions, Perceval 13.333 per annum.

The stamp duty was raised to fourpence, and that on advertisements to three and sixpence each. These with the paper, paper-duty, and carriage expenses, pretty well aided the minister’s intention. He would have succeeded, had he not fixed public attention upon the press by overdoing his persecution; the public aroused, rallied round the press. There was no originality about the ministers of that day. Precedent supplied the place of ability. Policy was the lever of power, regardless of justice being combined. The reigns of Addington, Perceval, and in a great degree of Castlereagh, showed this. Neither could be prime minister of England now over a session. I published a letter to Lord Holland in consequence of a notice he had given upon the foregoing subject, in the House of Lords. Lord Holland was then a perfect stranger. I had seen him when I was a youth embarking at Falmouth for Spain, and that was all. His Lordship wrote me;—


“I feel much flattered and obliged by your notice
of my endeavours in Parliament, and the acceptable present of your
letters in their new shape. I was much gratified by the perusal of them in the newspaper, and am happy to have them in a more permanent form.

“You have thrown much new light on the subject, and brought many authorities to the recollection of your readers. Your conclusions seem to me to be generally well founded, and you have not injured your cause as writers on this question are apt to do, by pushing their arguments too far, and drawing from the abuse of prosecutions for libel the necessity of suppressing them altogether. I agree with you completely, in thinking ex officio information unnecessary, as well as liable to abuse, but I know that by attacking their existence altogether, one. is more likely to extend than to diminish the abuse of them.

“I am, Sir,
“With many thanks for your politeness,
“Your very faithful and obedient servant,
Vassal Holland.”
March 23, 1811.

That I should be flattered at such an unexpected approval of my sentiments was natural.

On the prosecution of one Binns for openly supporting parliamentary reform, which I had read of when a youth, Perceval, the counsel against him, had talked of “the monstrous doctrine of men sacrificing themselves for posterity,” declaring it to be “a very false philosophy,” and insisting, as he generally did, on the weakest points of his case. Romilly was employed against him, and was successful. It was on this trial that Judge Ashhurst made the admission, wonderful for a judge in those days,
in addressing the jury, “it would be the bounden duty of every man to take arms, and resist the attempts of the executive power, if it strove to wrest from the people the liberty of the press, and the trial by jury.” I had formed an opinion of Mr. Perceval when he came into power, from recollecting the account of this trial, for I could not agree that love of country was “false philosophy.” I have often thought since of the career of that minister, how correct my boyish notion proved regarding him. Inexperienced youth may, perchance, form correct anticipations. Many years afterwards, the statement of
Sir Egerton Bridges, to whom Perceval had said something insulting, when he took him by the waist-band of the breeches, and placed him on his back upon the drawing-room carpet, diverted me exceedingly. I received the fact in a communication from the Baronet at Geneva, in certain papers he transmitted regarding his own life, which were published in a periodical work with which I was connected.