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Personal Narrative of Events From 1799 to 1815

211 pages
Library of Alexandria
My father and uncle both served their king and country in the American war of independence; the former was with Lord Cornwallis’s army when it surrendered at York to the American forces under the command of General Washington (he was at that time an officer in the 6th Regiment of Foot); and the latter in the 4th Dragoons. Both were magistrates for the county of Buckinghamshire, and served the office of high sheriff for the same. When scarcely ten years old, I joined H.M. ship Renown (74) in Torbay, bearing the flag (blue at the mizen) of one of the most amiable men in the service, Sir John Borlase Warren, Bt, K.B., who had commanded a squadron of dashing frigates during all the early part of the war, and had taken and destroyed several French ships, and finished his glorious flying squad career by capturing most of those, which, under the command of Monsieur Bompart, had been sent with troops to assist the Irish during the rebellion of 1798, thereby saving the blood of thousands in Ireland, if not Ireland itself. A better or braver officer than the late Admiral Sir J. B. Warren never lived; he was that perfect model of a gentleman that every one might take as a pattern. I had the melancholy honour of following him to his grave, and wept over it tears of unfeigned sorrow. But to commence my peregrinations. I still recollect the delight that a letter from my father gave me when at school, informing me I was to leave Latin and Greek, which classical knowledge was all blown overboard and forgotten the first gale of wind at sea; and after spending a short time at Little Missenden Abbey (which then belonged to my father) with my mother and two sisters, I proceeded to Portsmouth, thence to find a passage to join the before-mentioned ship in Torbay. I bore the parting with my kind, dear, excellent mother and sisters pretty well, because my father accompanied me to Portsmouth to see me safely launched into a new world; but when he took leave, I thought my heart would burst with grief. Time, however, reconciles us to everything, and the gaiety and thoughtlessness of youth, added to the cocked hat, dirk, spy-glass, etc., of a nautical fit out, assisted wonderfully to dry my tears, and, in a manner, reconciled me to a new scene of life. Captain Pickmore, who at that period commanded the Royal William, at Spithead, very kindly sent me on board the Montague (74) with all my baggage, in the admiral’s tender, to join my ship to the westward. The first night on board was not the most pleasant; the noises unusual to a novice—sleeping in a hammock for the first time—its tarry smell—the wet cables for a bed carpet, and a somersault or two from my lubberly manner of getting into it, made me draw comparisons between sleeping on beds of down ashore, and my new abode, by no means very favourable to the latter.