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Chapter 14

BAYONNE is a Town strong by Nature; yet the Fortifications have been very much neglected, since the building of the Citadel, on the other Side the River; which not only commands the Town, but the Harbour too. It is a noble Fabrick; fair and strong, and rais'd on the side of a Hill, wanting nothing that Art could furnish, to render it impregnable. The Marshal Bouflers had the Care of it in its erection; and there is a fine Walk near it, from which he us'd to survey the Workmen, which still carries his Name. There are two noble Bridges here, tho' both of Wood, one over that River which runs on one side the Town; the other over that, which divides it in the middle, the Tide runs thro' both with vast Rapidity; notwithstanding which, Ships of Burden come up, and paying for it, are often fasten'd to the Bridge, while loading or unloading. While I was here, there came in four or five English Ships laden with Corn, the first, as they told me, that had come in to unlade there, since the beginning of the War.

On that Side of the River where the new Citadel is built, at a very little distance lies Pont d' Esprit, a Place mostly inhabited by Jews, who drive a great Trade there, and are esteemed very rich, tho' as in all other Countries mostly very rogueish. Here the Queen Dowager of Spain has kept her Court ever since the Jealousy of the present King reclus'd her from Madrid. As Aunt to his Competitor Charles (now Emperor) he apprehended her Intrigueing; for which Reason giving her an Option of Retreat, that Princess made choice of this City, much to the Advantage of the Place, and in all Appearance much to her own Satisfaction. She is a Lady not of the lesser Size; and lives here in suitable Splendour, and not without the Respect due to a Person of her high Quality: Every time she goes to take the Air, the Cannon of the Citadel saluting her, as she passes over the Bridge; and to say Truth, the Country round is extremely pleasant, and abounds in plenty of all Provisions; especially in wild Fowl. Bayonne Hams are, to a Proverb, celebrated all over France.

We waited here near five Months before the expected Transports arrived from England, without any other Amusements, than such as are common to People under Suspence. Short Tours will not admit of great Varieties; and much Acquaintance could not be any way suitable to People, that had long been in a strange Country, and earnestly desired to return to our own. Yet one Accident befell me here, that was nearer costing me my Life, than all I had before encounter'd, either in Battle or Siege.

Going to my Lodgings one Evening, I unfortunately met with an Officer, who would needs have me along with him, aboard one of the English Ships, to drink a Bottle of English Beer. He had been often invited, he said; and I am afraid our Countryman, continued he, will hold himself slighted, if I delay it longer. English Beer was a great rarity, and the Vessel lay not at any great distance from my Lodgings; so without any further Persuasion I consented. When we came upon the Bridge, to which the Ship we were to go aboard was fastened, we found, as was customary, as well as necessary, a Plank laid over from the Ship, and a Rope to hold by, for safe Passage. The Night was very dark; and I had cautiously enough taken care to provide a Man with a Lanthorn to prevent Casualties. The Man with the Light went first, and out of his abundant Complaisance, my Friend, the Officer, would have me follow the Light: But I was no sooner stept upon the Plank after my Guide, but Rope and Plank gave way, and Guide and I tumbled both together into the Water.

The Tide was then running in pretty strong: However, my Feet in the Fall touching Ground, gave me an opportunity to recover my self a little; at which Time I catch'd fast hold of a Buoy, which was plac'd over an Anchor on one of the Ships there riding: I held fast, till the Tide rising stronger and stronger threw me off my Feet; which gave an Opportunity to the poor Fellow, our Lanthorn-bearer, to lay hold of one of my Legs, by which he held as fast as I by the Buoy. We had lain thus lovingly at Hull together, strugling with the increasing Tide, which, well for us, did not break my hold (for if it had, the Ships which lay breast a breast had certainly sucked us under) when several on the Bridge, who saw us fall, brought others with Ropes and Lights to our Assistance; and especially my Brother Officer, who had been Accessary as well as Spectator of our Calamity; tho' at last a very small Portion of our Deliverance fell to his share.

As soon as I could feel a Rope, I quitted my hold of the Buoy; but my poor Drag at my Heels would not on any account quit his hold of my Leg. And as it was next to an Impossibility, in that Posture to draw us up the Bridge to save both, if either of us, we must still have perished, had not the Alarm brought off a Boat or two to our Succour, who took us in.

I was carry'd as fast as possible, to a neighbouring House hard by, where they took immediate care to make a good Fire; and where I had not been long before our intended Host, the Master of the Ship, came in very much concern'd, and blaming us for not hailing the Vessel, before we made an Attempt to enter. For, says he, the very Night before, my Vessel was robb'd; and that Plank and Rope were a Trap design'd for the Thieves, if they came again; not imagining that Men in an honest way would have come on board without asking Questions. Like the wise Men of this World, I hereupon began to form Resolutions against a Thing, which was never again likely to happen; and to draw inferences of Instruction from an Accident, that had not so much as a Moral for its Foundation.

One Day after this, partly out of Business, and partly out of Curiosity, I went to see the Mint here, and having taken notice to one of the Officers, that there was a difference in the Impress of their Crown Pieces, one having at the bottom the Impress of a Cow, and the other none:

"Sir," reply'd that Officer, "you are much in the right in your Observation. Those that have the Cow, were not coin'd here, but at Paw, the chief City of Navarr; where they enjoy the Privilege of a Mint, as well as we. And Tradition tells," says he, "that the Reason of that Addition to the Impress was this: A certain King of Navarr (when it was a Kingdom distinct from that of France) looking out of a Window of the Palace, spy'd a Cow, with her Calf standing aside her, attack'd by a Lyon, which had got loose out of his Menagery. The Lyon strove to get the young Calf into his Paw; the Cow bravely defended her Charge; and so well, that the Lyon at last, tir'd and weary, withdrew, and left her Mistress of the Field of Battle; and her young one. Ever since which, concluded that Officer, by Order of that King, the Cow is plac'd at the bottom of the Impress of all the Money there coined."

Whether or no my Relator guess'd at the Moral, or whether it was Fact, I dare not determine; But to me it seem'd apparent, that it was no otherways intended, than as an emblematical Fable to cover, and preserve the Memory of the Deliverance of Henry the Fourth, then the young King of Navarr, at that eternally ignominious Slaughter, the Massacre of Paris. Many Historians, their own as well as others, agree, that the House of Guise had levell'd the Malice of their Design at that great Prince. They knew him to be the lawful Heir; but as they knew him bred, what they call'd a Hugonot, Barbarity and Injustice was easily conceal'd under the Cloak of Religion, and the Good of Mother Church, under the veil of Ambition, was held sufficient to postpone the Laws of God and Man. Some of those Historians have deliver'd it as Matter of Fact, that the Conspirators, in searching after that young King, press'd into the very Apartments of the Queen his Mother; who having, at the Toll of the Bell, and Cries of the Murder'd, taken the Alarm, on hearing 'em coming, plac'd her self in her Chair, and cover'd the young King her Son with her Farthingale, till they were gone. By which means she found an opportunity to convey him to a Place of more Safety; and so preserv'd him from those bloody Murderers, and in them from the Paw of the Lyon. This was only a private Reflection of my own at that Time; but I think carries so great a Face of Probability, that I can see no present Reason to reject it. And to have sought after better Information from the Officer of the Mint, had been to sacrifice my Discretion to my Curiosity.

While I stay'd at Bayonne, the Princess Ursini came thither, attended by some of the King of Spain's Guards. She had been to drink the Waters of some famous Spaw in the Neighbourhood, the Name of which has now slipt my Memory. She was most splendidly entertain'd by the Queen Dowager of Spain; and the Mareschal de Montrevel no less signaliz'd himself in his Reception of that great Lady, who was at that Instant the greatest Favourite in the Spanish Court; tho' as I have before related, she was some Time after basely undermined by a Creature of her own advancing.

BAYONNE is esteem'd the third Emporium of Trade in all France. It was once, and remain'd long so, in the Possession of the English; of which had History been silent, the Cathedral Church had afforded evident Demonstration; being in every respect of the English Model, and quite different to any of their own way of Building in France.

PAMPELONA is the Capital City of the Spanish Navarr, supposed to have been built by Pompey. 'Tis situated in a pleasant Valley, surrounded by lofty Hills. This Town, whether famous or infamous, was the Cause of the first Institution of the Order of the Jesuits. For at the Siege of this Place Ignatius Loyola being only a private Soldier, receiv'd a shot on his Thigh, which made him uncapable of following that Profession any longer; upon which he set his Brains to work, being a subtle Man, and invented the Order of the Jesuits, which has been so troublesome to the World ever since.

At Saint Stephen near Lerida, an Action happened between the English and Spaniards, in which Major General Cunningham bravely fighting at the Head of his Men, lost his Life, being extreamly much lamented. He was a Gentleman of a great Estate, yet left it, to serve his Country; Dulce est pro Patria Mori.

About two Leagues from Victoria, there is a very pleasant Hermitage plac'd upon a small rising Ground, a murmuring Rivulet running at the bottom, and a pretty neat Chapel standing near it, in which I saw Saint Christopher in a Gigantick Shape, having a Christo on his Shoulders. The Hermit was there at his Devotion, I ask'd him (tho' I knew it before) the reason why he was represented in so large a Shape: The Hermit answered with great Civility, and told me, he had his Name from Christo Ferendo, for when our Saviour was young, he had an inclination to pass a River, so Saint Christopher took him on his Shoulders in order to carry him over, and as the Water grew deeper and deeper, so he grew higher and higher.

At last we received News, that the Gloucester Man of War, with two Transports, was arrived at Port Passage, in order for the Transporting of all the remaining Prisoners of War into England. Accordingly they march'd next Day, and there embark'd. But I having before agreed with a Master of a Vessel, which was loaded with Wine for Amsterdam, to set me ashoar at Dover, stay'd behind, waiting for that Ship, as did that for a fair Wind.

In three or four Days' Time, a fine and fair Gale presented; of which the Master taking due Advantage, we sail'd over the Bar into the Bay of Biscay. This is with Sailors, to a Proverb, reckon'd the roughest of Seas; and yet on our Entrance into it, nothing appear'd like it. 'Twas smooth as Glass; a Lady's Face might pass for young, and in its Bloom, that discover'd no more Wrinkles; Yet scarce had we sail'd three Leagues, before a prodigious Fish presented it self to our View. As near as we could guess, it might be twenty Yards in Length; and it lay sporting it self on the surface of the Sea, a great Part appearing out of the Water. The Sailors, one and all, as soon as they saw it, declar'd it the certain Forerunner of a Storm. However, our Ship kept on its Course, before a fine Gale, till we had near passed over half the Bay; when, all on a sudden, there was such a hideous Alteration, as makes Nature recoil on the very Reflection. Those Seas that seem'd before to smile upon us, with the Aspect of a Friend, now in a Moment chang'd their flattering Countenance into that of an open Enemy; and Frowns, the certain Indexes of Wrath, presented us with apparent Danger, of which little on this Side Death could be the Sequel. The angry Waves cast themselves up into Mountains, and scourg'd the Ship on every Side from Poop to Prow: Such Shocks from the contending Wind and Surges! Such Falls from Precipices of Water, to dismal Caverns of the same uncertain Element! Although the latter seem'd to receive us in Order to skreen us from the Riot of the former, Imagination could offer no other Advantage than that of a Winding-Sheet, presented and prepared for our approaching Fate. But why mention I Imagination? In me 'twas wholly dormant. And yet those Sons of stormy Weather, the Sailors, had theirs about them in full Stretch; for seeing the Wind and Seas so very boisterous, they lash'd the Rudder of the Ship, resolv'd to let her drive, and steer herself; since it was past their Skill to steer her. This was our Way of sojourning most Part of that tedious Night; driven where the Winds and Waves thought fit to drive us, with all our Sails quite lower'd and flat upon the Deck. If Ovid, in the little Archipelagian Sea, could whine out his jam jam jacturus, &c. in this more dismal Scene, and much more dangerous Sea (the Pitch-like Darkness of the Night adding to all our sad Variety of Woes) what Words in Verse or Prose could serve to paint our Passions, or our Expectations? Alas! our only Expectation was in the Return of Morning; It came at last; yet even slowly as it came, when come, we thought it come too soon, a new Scene of sudden Death being all the Advantage of its first Appearance. Our Ship was driving full Speed, towards the Breakers on the Cabritton Shore, between Burdeaux and Bayonne; which filled us with Ideas more terrible than all before, since those were past, and these seemingly as certain. Beside, to add to our Distress, the Tide was driving in, and consequently must drive us fast to visible Destruction. A State so evident, that one of our Sailors, whom great Experience had render'd more sensible of our present Danger, was preparing to save one, by lashing himself to the main Mast, against the expected Minute of Desolation. He was about that melancholy Work, in utter Despair of any better Fortune, when, as loud as ever he could bawl, he cry'd out, a Point, a Point of Wind. To me, who had had too much of it, it appear'd like the Sound of the last Trump; but to the more intelligent Crew, it had a different Sound. With Vigour and Alacrity they started from their Prayers, or their Despair, and with all imaginable Speed, unlash'd the Rudder, and hoisted all their Sails. Never sure in Nature did one Minute produce a greater Scene of Contraries. The more skilful Sailors took Courage at this happy Presage of Deliverance. And according to their Expectation did it happen; that heavenly Point of Wind deliver'd us from the Jaws of those Breakers, ready open to devour us; and carrying us out to the much more wellcome wide Sea, furnished every one in the Ship with Thoughts, as distant as we thought our Danger.

We endeavoured to make Port Passage; but our Ship became unruly, and would not answer her Helm; for which Reason we were glad to go before the Wind, and make for the Harbour of Saint Jean de Luz. This we attain'd without any great Difficulty, and to the Satisfaction of all, Sailors as well as Passengers, we there cast Anchor, after the most terrible Storm (as all the oldest Sailors agreed) and as much Danger as ever People escap'd.

Here I took notice, that the Sailors buoy'd up their Cables with Hogsheads; enquiring into the Reason of which, they told me, that the Rocks at the Bottom of the Harbour were by Experience found to be so very sharp, that they would otherwise cut their Cables asunder. Our Ship was obliged to be drawn up into the Dock to be refitted; during which, I lay in the Town, where nothing of Moment, or worth reciting, happen'd.

I beg Pardon for my Errors; the very Movements of Princes must always be considerable, and consequently worth Recital. While the Ship lay in the Dock, I was one Evening walking upon the Bridge, with the little Island near it, (which I have before spoke of) and had a little Spanish Dog along with me, when at the further End I spy'd a Lady, and three or four Gentlemen in Company; I kept on my Pace of Leisure, and so did they; but when I came nearer, I found they as much out number'd me in the Dog, as they did in the human Kind. And I soon experienced to my Sorrow, that their Dogs, by their Fierceness and Ill-humour, were Dogs of Quality; having, without Warning, or the least Declaration of War, fallen upon my little Dog, according to pristine Custom, without any honourable Regard to Size, Interest or Number. However the good Lady, who, by the Privilege of her Sex, must be allow'd the most competent Judge of Inequalities, out of an Excess of Condescension and Goodness, came running to the Relief of oppressed poor Tony; and, in courtly Language, rated her own oppressive Dogs for their great Incivility to Strangers. The Dogs, in the Middle of their insulting Wrath, obey'd the Lady with a vast deal of profound Submission; which I could not much wonder at, when I understood, that it was a Queen Dowager of Spain, who had chid them.

Our Ship being now repaired, and made fit to go out again to Sea, we left the Harbour of Saint Jean de Luz, and with a much better Passage, as the last Tempest was still dancing in my Imagination, in ten Days' Sail we reach'd Dover. Here I landed on the last Day of March, 1713 having not, till then, seen or touch'd English Shoar from the Beginning of May, 1705.

I took Coach directly for London, where, when I arriv'd, I thought my self transported into a Country more foreign, than any I had either fought or pilgrimag'd in. Not foreign, do I mean, in respect to others, so much as to it self. I left it, seemingly, under a perfect Unanimity: The fatal Distinctions of Whig and Tory were then esteemed meerly nominal; and of no more ill Consequence or Danger, than a Bee robb'd of its Sting. The national Concern went on with Vigour, and the prodigious Success of the Queen's Arms, left every Soul without the least Pretence to a Murmur. But now on my Return, I found them on their old Establishment, perfect Contraries, and as unlikely to be brought to meet as direct Angles. Some arraigning, some extolling of a Peace; in which Time has shown both were wrong, and consequently neither could be right in their Notions of it, however an over prejudic'd Way of thinking might draw them into one or the other. But Whig and Tory are, in my Mind, the compleatest Paradox in Nature, and yet like other Paradoxes, old as I am, I live in Hope to see, before I die, those seeming Contraries perfectly reconcil'd, and reduc'd into one happy Certainty, the Publick Good.


Daniel Defoe

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