« ForrigeFortsett »
"Weel, but noo your brither's dead, ye're heir o' the auld house, an' ye're a major-what's to forbid the banns noo?"
"I have never heard of Miss Mowbray from that hour to this; in all probability she is married to some lucky fellow".
"She wasna married when I saw Mrs Carmichael four months since; she was in what leddies ca' delicate health though; she had aye been melancholy since the time of the water business. Mrs Carmichael thought ye were a great fool for rinnin' awa'."
"Mrs Carmichael is very kind." ""Deed is she," replied the Laird, as kind-hearted a woman as ever lived. She's maybe a thocht owre auld, or I dinna doubt she wad be very happy to marry ye hersell.”
I hope her gratitude would not carry her to such an alarming length," said Charles, laughing. "It would make young men rather tender of saving ladies' lives."
"If I knew whar she was just now, I wad soon put every thing to rights. It's no owre late yet, though ye maun get fatter before the marriage-ye wad be mair like a skeleton than a bridegroom. But, save us! what's the matter wi' ye? are ye no weel? -head-ach ? —gout?-what is't, man?—confoond my legs, I cannot stir-Sit down and rest ye."
But Charles, with his eyes intently fixed on some object in the street, gazed as if some horrible apparition had met his sight. Alternately flushed and pale, he continued as if entranced, and then deeply sighing, sunk senseless on the floor.
"Rory, Rory!" screamed the Laird "'ugh, 'ugh! oh! that I could get at the bell?-Cheer up, Chairlie. Fire! fire!-'ugh, ugh! the lad will be dead before a soul comes near him-Rory! Rory !" And luckily the ancient henchman, Rory MacTaggart, made his appearance in time to save his master from choking through mingled fear and surprise. Charles was soon recovered, and,
when left again alone with the Laird, he said, "As I hope to live, I saw her from this very window, just as we were speaking of her. Even her face I saw! oh, so changed and pale! But her walk!-no two can have such a graceful carriage !”
"Seen wha?" said the Laird; "Mrs Carmichael? for it was her we were speakin' o'—aye, she's sair changed; and her walk is weel kent; only I thocht she was a wee stiffer frae the rheumatism last year. But whar is she ?"
"It was Miss Mowbray I saw. She went into that house opposite-"
"What! the house wi' the brass knocker, green door-the veranda with the flower-pots, an' twa dead geraniums ?"
"Then, just ring the bell, and tell that English creatur to pu' me in the wee whirligig across the street-" Impossible, my dear Laird! recollect your gout-"
"Deil hae the gout and the cough too! Order the chair; I'll see if it's her in five minutes.”
And away, in spite of all objections and remonstrances, went the Laird to pay his visit. Now, if any one should be in doubt as to the success of his negotiations, I-the writer of this story-Charles Melville, late major -th regiment, will be happy to convince him of it, if he will drop in on me any day at Mowbray-Hall, by my own evidence, and also that of my happy and still beautiful Madeline, though she is the mother of three rosy children, who at this moment are making such an intolerable noise, that I cannot understand a sentence I am writing. I may just mention, that the Laird attended the wedding, and that his cough entirely left him. He does not suffer an attack of the gout more than once a-year. He has adopted my second boy, and every autumn we spend three months with him at Strath Lugas. Oh! that all match-makers were as innocent and disinterested as jolly old Simon Kirkton!
How he would neither be young nor wise, and what he had buckled on his back.
BY THE TRANSLATOR OF HOMER'S HYMNS.
WITH his face to the glade, and his back to the bole
Sat a merry old soul, and his silvery poll
And his cheeks were edged by the summery sheen;
Then thrice the old man rubbed his eyes,
Quoth he, I surmise more mysteries
May be going on here than suit me quite.
'Mid the motionless boughs of ash and beech,
Gaffer Maurice, come hither to me,
In thy merry eye good sooth I read;
Here's a flower for thee, from the fairy-tree,
Oh my good old age, it is better by half,
'Tis because my old Loves are out of date-
Oh! fie on thee now, thou cold Dervise-
Anan, Anan! was it ever known,
That aught but a fool would mind such things?
Ah! no, now, Gaffer Maurice, not so,
Then Gaffer Maurice hied home in a freak,
But little wot she, the old crone so blythe,
Hast taken a leaf from the knowledge-tree?
How understandings get nipt in the bud!
Then the Fairy laugh'd. Oh, Gaffer Maurice,
I thought thou wert free from woman's charms
A sorry release, when burdens increase,
To bear on your back what you spurn from your arms! But there's one to teach thy old bones remorse,
For the grey mare's ever the better horse.
So Gaffer Maurice he was burden'd sore,
But her spirit the more it rose therefore,
For she very soon put her stumps in stilts.
Hence, Ladies, prefer a frosty pate,
And a good old soul, to a whisker'd rake;
VOL. XXXI. NO. CXCII.
You have occasionally intimated a wish for a detail of some of the scenes which I have witnessed. In a life so diversified as mine, to make a selection is not easy. Though I could go farther back into the vale of years, not without interest, perhaps, to you and to some of your friends, yet more recent events, as lying within the field of general knowledge, and therefore exciting a livelier interest, may suffice for the present. The far bygone scenes may lie aside till more leisure on my part, and perhaps in clination on yours, may invite us to a retrospection: Olim meminisse juvabit. Nautical adventures seem more congenial to my present mood, and with these I have had so much to do, that I have, as by instinct, learned, whenever a favourable breeze springs up, to make the best of it. With your consent, therefore, I shall ease off my sheets and square my yards, after the example of our old acquaintance,-Quo me cunque rapit tempestas, deferor hospes.
Scarcely any thing has made a more vivid and powerful impression upon my memory, and perhaps hardly any ever created a stronger sensation throughout the world, or produced more important results on the state of society, than the naval achievements of Great Britain under her favourite Nelson, against the gigantic strides which proud Gallia, at the instigation and under the conduct of Napoleon Bonaparte, was beginning to make towards universal empire. At the time to which I now refer, I was on board the Leander, of fifty guns, Captain Thomas Boulden Thompson, a gentleman whose kindness and affability, no less than his skill and bravery, endeared him to every officer and man on board our ship.
The fleet of Earl St Vincent had now been cruising off Cadiz for upwards of a month with twenty-two sail of the line, hoping that the Spanish fleet, which consisted of twentysix, and which were lying at anchor in that port, would be induced to make another trial of their prowess, and endeavour to regain the laurels
they had lately lost off Cape St Vincent. All his hopes were vain. They were safely moored, and shewed no disposition to get under way, though frequently dared to it by insults the most vexatious and annoying from the British men-of-war. Towards the latter end of May, [1797,] St Vincent determined to make himself as much at home as his neighbours, and came to an anchor with his whole fleet, so as to place the enemy, whose force by this time amounted to thirty sail of the line, in a condition of complete blockade. Nothing now remained to give even exercise to any part of his men, except two or three bombardments of the town of Cadiz, and some of the Spanish ships that were within range of the British guns, to provoke, if possible, the Spanish admiral to revenge the injury inflicted. This was attempted about the beginning of July. No, every effort failed to dislodge Don Massaredo from his snug retreat. On the contrary, early in the morning of the 6th of July, to the no small merriment of our whole fleet, whom no restraints could withhold from the most vociferous expressions of scorn and indignation, ten sail of the line-the flag-ships of Admirals Massaredo and Gravina leading the way-with all the haste they possibly could, were seen warping their ships out of harm's way.
In the posture in which things now stood, there seemed no chance of being able to break the tedious monotony of still life. For, however honourable it was to the British arms, after the severe drubbing which the Spanish fleet had received from our tars, to debar so superior a force to their own from doing mischief to their enemies, by shutting them up in their own port, such was the impatience of the British sailor, that he could not bring himself to believe he was of any value, or that he was doing any service, unless he were in actual conflict with the enemies of his country. Any enterprise, therefore, which looked that way, however hazardous or seemingly impracticable, was sure to be hailed with enthusiasm, both by the officers and men throughout the fleet.
A piece of service was, however, allotted to a small squadron, of which our ship was one. Admiral St Vincent had information of a fleet of merchantmen who had put into the harbour of Vigo, near Cape Finisterre, under convoy of a Spanish man-of-war, of seventy-four guns. For the purpose of cutting these out and capturing them, the Zealous, of seventy-four guns, the Leander, three frigates, and the Aurora, of seventyeight guns, were dispatched. On arriving at the place, we found the fleet so entirely sheltered by the fortifications of the enemy, as to render the attempt extremely perilous, and almost hopeless. A council of war was called by the captain of the Zealous to consider the subject, which, after long and anxious deliberation, came to the conclusion, that such was the hazard to which his Majesty's ships would be exposed, and the lives of the men, by running under the batteries, and in the very teeth of the enemy's fire, that the object, if even attainable, would not be of sufficient importance to warrant the dreadful risk which must be incurred. As soon as this conclusion was announced to the men, such was their eagerness to engage, and so great their vexation and disappointment, that the squadron was thrown nearly into a state of mutiny, till more sober thought made them sensible, that however essential to successful warfare are the prowess and daring of the men, the wisdom and experience of their commanders are equally so to render bravery available. Preparations were accordingly made for returning to the fleet at Cadiz. Captain Hood, however, found it necessary to replenish the exhausted resources of the Zealous, by taking out of the Leander all our provisions, water, and fuel, directing us to put into Lisbon for a fresh supply. This we accomplished in three days, and immediately followed the squadron to rejoin the fleet.
Fortunately, to appearance, about this time the Admiral got scent of an immense treasure in specie, which was reported to be on its way from America to Cadiz, in the Principe d'Asturias, a Manilla ship; but having heard of the state of blockade in which the British fleet had placed the harbour of her ultimate destina
tion, she had put into Santa Cruz, in the island of Teneriffe. This was an inducement sufficiently great, in the judgment of our Admiral, to endeavour to obtain possession-an enterprise which seemed to be still more practicable from the defenceless state in which the place was represented to be. No sooner was this subject broached, than it spread like wildfire through the fleet; every eye sparkled with new life; every bosom beat high for the adventure. Each man looked forward with desire and eager expectation to be of the happy number to whom this golden service should be intrusted. By anticipation, the treasure was already theirs; the proportion of prize-money was accurately ascertained; the joyous doings and advantageous projects for future life, which the expected wealth would enable them to realize, inflamed every imagination, and occupied their whole discourse: the 'tween decks exhibited all the stir and bustle, and all the eagerness of countenance and attitude, of those who are actually dividing the spoil; scenes, alas! as airy and unreal as some of those which allure and deceive the votaries of fortune on shore.
To this state of high excitement, as we speedily learned, the whole fleet had been raised whilst we were on our way from Lisbon. A squadron, under the command of Admiral Nelson, consisting of the Theseus, on board of which he hoisted his flag; the Culloden and the Zealous, ships of the line; the Emerald of fortyfour guns; the Terpsichore of thirtysix; the Seahorse of thirty-two; and the Fox cutter of fourteen guns, had taken their departure three days before our arrival. Scarcely had the Leander hove in sight, when Admiral St Vincent made a signal to us to proceed immediately to Santa Cruz, to join Admiral Nelson. Fearful, however, lest the signal should not be seen by us with sufficient accuracy, and with a view to give our captain more detailed instructions, a lieutenant was dispatched in a cutter, with a letter from the admiral. The moment the object of the expedition was made known to our crew, their enthusiasm exceeded all bounds:
Insequitur clamor que virum, stridorque ru