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nearly a twelvemonth since I left Malta. I have five months of all sorts on board, and intend to make the fortune this cruise, which my friends in Norfolk have long since made for me.
I am settling an unpleasant business with the Imperialists relative to their marine. They wanted to give it to France: I have put in my veto, and have prevented it.
TO MRS. HOSTE.
Amphion, at Sea, Adriatic, Dec. 24th, 1809.
MY DEAR MOTHER,
I wish I was one of your snug Christmas fireside party, instead of being half frozen to death by one of these cold north-east winds, that literally blow through my lantern sides, and I never felt it so cold in England. Here I am still cruising, and the 4th of next month will complete my twelvemonth's cruise. It is now very near four months since I have heard any English news : now that all the late Imperial ports belong to France, we are entirely lost to news of any kind, and I really know no more of what has been going on in the world since I
quitted Fiume on the 7th of November, than if I did not belong to it.
I have let my Adriatic friends know that I am still in these parts though, and a month's cruise from Fiume has enabled us to capture twentyfour prizes, but extreme severe weather, and constant gales, have lost us all the profits, and I could only send one to Malta, worth about £3000.
I have not had a line from Edward since he quitted me; indeed, there has been no opportunity; they appear to have quite forgotten us in this part of the station, for I am left with only one small sloop to cope against treble the force but there is no fear of the enemy coming out to attack us. They are very snug in port, and like sensible people, they take good care of themselves and ships.
I have suffered a great loss in the death of poor
Sir Alexander Ball ; he was a most worthy man, and the service has suffered materially by losing him. He was a great friend of Lord Nelson's, and of course much looked up to by all our gallant conntryman's élèves ; he was particularly kind and attentive to me, and being so high in command at Malta, was of great use.
last letter to you, I have received a letter from Lord Collingwood, which I am sure will give my dear father great pleasure ; it is in answer to mine relative to the Cortellazzo affair, and his lordship is pleased to express in animated terms the satisfaction he received from the conduct of the Amphion. To me there is no credit due; only the plan was mine; the executive part fell to the duty of those who had the happiness to command, and who I well knew were fully equal to it. The praise of the Commander-in-chief confers honour upon all, and is a spur (though none be wanting) to further enterprise.
I wish you all, the old story, a merry Christmas and a happy new year.
TO THE REV. DIXON HOSTE.
Amphion, off Trieste, Dec. 27th, 1809. MY DEAR FATHER,
It is so long since I have had any tidings from Old England, that I begin to fidget not a little. I do not mean that it is owing to your not having written, but that no vessel has been sent here from Malta since the peace with Austria, and we have no communication with the
Continent at present, nor likely to have; our sole dependance for news and letters is by way of Malta. You may suppose that constant seawork does not furnish much variety for a letter. If I was to give you one day's occurrence, you would have a month's work at least of what constantly goes forward on board the Amphion.
We are daily taking prizes, and very good ones too, had we a port to send them to; but possessing no place in the Adriatic, and the prizes being so small that it is dangerous at this season of the year to send them to Malta, leave us only the alternative of destroying them. We have taken eight this day alone, loaded with valuable cargoes that would fetch a great deal of hard cash, could I ensure them to Malta. But it has blown a constant severe gale of wind, and I have been obliged to sink all but one, and she is so bad that I must take the cargo out.
You will hardly believe that since the 18th of November, when our cruising began, that is to say from the day of the Austrians having stopped all communication, we have taken thirty-four vessels; and from the 23rd of June 1808 to Christmas-day 1809, Amphion has taken and destroyed two hundred and eighteen vessels of the enemy. It looks well on paper, but has not put much cash in our pockets, owing to the difficulty attending their being sent to port. I am left senior officer here at present, God knows whether I shall remain here as such. There are so many senior captains of frigates on the Mediterranean station, that I cannot have any right to expect it. Lord Collingwood is my friend, and that is all my chance. I have not heard from dear Edward since he
I hope you approve of my sending him with Brenton; be assured he will receive better instruction there than I could give him. I miss him much; he is a good brave boy as ever stepped, and, be assured, will do you credit wherever he goes ; besides, my dear father, his being with Brenton will ensure him a friend, and a man like Brenton is as likely, and much more so than our friend Lord Nelson was when I first went with him, to turn out as great a character. Everybody knows him as one of the best officers in our service, and if I had not thought so myself, I would not have put him there (that is Edward): besides, should any accident befall me, he has a sheet anchor in