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"Yet never seaman more serenely brave Led Britain's conquering squadrons o'er the wave."
"Friends are not always the best biographers," said Mr. Walsingham; "but I will try to be impartial. My ward's first desire to be a sailor was excited, as he has often since told me, by reading Robinson Crusoe. When he was scarcely thirteen he went out in the Resolute, a frigate, under the command of Captain Campbell. Campbell was an excellent officer, and very strict in all that related to order and discipline. It was his principle and his practice never to forgive a first offence; by which the number of second faults was considerably diminished. My ward was not much pleased at first with his captain; but he was afterwards convinced that this strictness was what made a man of him. He was buffeted about, and shown the rough of life; made to work hard, and submit to authority. To reason he was always ready to yield; and by degrees he learned that his first duty as a sailor was implicit obedience. In due time he was made lieutenant: in this situation, his mixed duties of command and obedience were difficult, because his first-lieutenant, the captain's son, was jealous of him.
"Walsingham found it a more difficult task to win the confidence of the son than it had been to earn the friendship of the father. His punctuality in obeying orders, and his respectful manner to the lieutenant, availed but little; for young Campbell still viewed him with scornful yet with jealous eyes, imagining that he only wanted to show himself the better officer.
"Of the falsehood of these suspicions Walsingham had at last an opportunity of giving unquestionable proof. It happened one day that Lieutenant Campbell, impatient at seeing a sailor doing some work awkwardly on the outside of the vessel, snatched the rope from his hand, and swore he would do it himself. In his hurry, Campbell missed his footing, and fell overboard:--he could not swim. Walsingham had the presence of mind to order the ship to be put about, and plunged instantly into the water to save his rival. With much exertion he reached Campbell, supported him till the boat was lowered down, and got him safe aboard again."
"Just like himself!" cried young Beaumont; "all he ever wanted was opportunity to show his soul."
"The first-lieutenant's jealousy was now changed into gratitude," continued Mr. Walsingham; "and from this time forward, instead of suffering from that petty rivalship by which he used to be obstructed, Walsingham enjoyed the entire confidence of young Campbell. This good understanding between him and his brother officer not only made their every day lives pleasant, but in times of difficulty secured success. For three years that they lived together after this period, and during which time they were ordered to every quarter of the globe, they never had the slightest dispute, either in the busiest or the idlest times. At length, in some engagement with a Dutch ship, the particulars of which I forget, Lieutenant Campbell was mortally wounded: his last words were--'Walsingham, comfort my father.' That was no easy task. Stern as Captain Campbell seemed, the loss of his son was irreparable. He never shed a tear when he was told it was all over, but said, 'God's will be done;' and turning into his cabin, desired to be left alone. Half an hour afterwards he sent for Walsingham, who found him quite calm. 'We must see and do our duty together to the last,' said he.
"He exerted himself strenuously, and to all outward appearance was, as the sailors said, the same man as ever; but Walsingham, who knew him better, saw that his heart was broken, and that he wished for nothing but an honourable death. One morning as he was on deck looking through his glass, he called to Walsingham; 'Your eyes are better than mine,' said he; 'look here, and tell me, do you see yonder sail--she's French? Le Magnanime frigate, if I'm not mistaken. 'Yes,' said Walsingham, 'I know her by the patch in her main sail.'--'We'll give her something to do,' said Campbell, 'though she's so much our superior. Please God, before the sun's over our heads, you shall have her in tow, Walsingham.' 'We shall, I trust,' said Walsingham.--'Perhaps not we; for I own I wish to fall,' said Campbell. 'You are first-lieutenant now; I can't leave my men under better command, and I hope the Admiralty will give you the ship, if you give it to his Majesty.'--Then turning to the sailors, Captain Campbell addressed them with a countenance unusually cheerful; and, after a few words of encouragement, gave orders to clear decks for action. 'Walsingham, you'll see to every thing whilst I step down to write.' He wrote, as it was afterwards found, two letters, both concerning Walsingham's interests. The frigate with which they had to engage was indeed far superior to them in force; but Campbell trusted to the good order and steadiness as well as to the courage of his men. The action was long and obstinate. Twice the English attempted to board the enemy, and twice were repulsed. The third time, just as Captain Campbell had seized hold of the French colours, which hung in rags over the side of the enemy's ship, he received a wound in his breast, fell back into Walsingham's arms, and almost instantly expired. The event of this day was different from what Campbell had expected, for Le Succès of fifty guns appeared in sight; and, after a desperate engagement with her, in which Walsingham was severely wounded, and every other officer on board killed or wounded, Walsingham saw that nothing was left but to make a wanton sacrifice of the remainder of his crew, or to strike.
"After a contest of six hours, he struck to Le Succès. Perfect silence on his deck; a loud and insulting shout from the enemy!
"No sooner had Walsingham struck, than La Force, the captain of Le Succès hailed him, and ordered him to come in his own boat, and to deliver his sword. Walsingham replied, that 'his sword, so demanded, should never be delivered but with his life.' The Frenchman did not think proper to persist; but soon after sent his lieutenant on board the Resolute, where the men were found at their quarters with lighted matches in their hands, ready to be as good as their word. La Force, the captain of Le Succès, was a sailor of fortune, who had risen by chance, not merit."
"Ay, ay," interrupted Mr. Palmer, "so I thought; and there was no great merit, or glory either, in a French fifty gun taking an English frigate, after standing a six hours' contest with another ship. Well, my dear sir, what became of poor Walsingham? How did this rascally Frenchman treat his prisoners?"
"Scandalously!" cried Beaumont; "and yet Walsingham is so generous that he will never let me damn the nation, for what he says was only the fault of an individual, who disgraced it."
"Well, let me hear and judge for myself," said Mr. Palmer.
"La Force carried the Resolute in triumph into a French port," continued Mr. Walsingham. "Vain of displaying his prisoners, he marched them up the country, under pretence that they would not be safe in a sea-port. Cambray was the town in which they were confined. Walsingham found the officers of the garrison very civil to him at first; but when they saw that he was not fond of high play, and that he declined being of their parties at billiards and vingt-un, they grew tired of him; for without these resources they declared they should perish with ennui in a country town. Even under the penalty of losing all society, Walsingham resisted every temptation to game, and submitted to live with the strictest economy rather than to run in debt."
"But did you never send him any money? Or did not he get your remittances?" said Mr. Palmer.
"My dear sir, by some delays of letters, we did not hear for two months where he was imprisoned."
"And he was reduced to the greatest distress," pursued Beaumont; "for he had shared all he had, to the utmost farthing, with his poor fellow-prisoners."
"Like a true British sailor!" said Mr. Palmer. "Well, sir, I hope he contrived to make his escape?"
"No, for he would not break his parole," said Beaumont,
"His parole! I did not know he was on his parole," said Mr. Palmer. "Then certainly he could not break it."
"He had two tempting opportunities, I can assure you," said Beaumont; "one offered by the commandant's lady, who was not insensible to his merit; the other, by the gratitude of some poor servant, whom he had obliged--Mr. Walsingham can tell you all the particulars."
"No, I need not detail the circumstances; it is enough to tell you, sir, that he withstood the temptations, would not break his parole, and remained four months a prisoner in Cambray. Like the officers of the garrison, he should have drunk or gamed, or else he must have died of vexation, he says, if he had not fortunately had a taste for reading, and luckily procured books from a good old priest's library. At the end of four months the garrison of Cambray was changed; and instead of a set of dissipated officers, there came a well-conducted regiment, under the command of M. de Villars, an elderly officer of sense and discretion."
"An excellent man!" cried Beaumont: "I love him with all my soul, though I never saw him. But I beg your pardon for interrupting you, Mr. Walsingham."
"A prattling hairdresser at Cambray first prepossessed M. de Villars in Walsingham's favour, by relating a number of anecdotes intended to throw abuse and ridicule upon the English captain, to convict him of misanthropy and economy; of having had his hair dressed but twice since he came to Cambray; of never having frequented the society of Madame la Marquise de Marsillac, the late commandant's lady, for more than a fortnight after his arrival, and of having actually been detected in working with his own hand with smiths' and carpenters' tools. Upon the strength of the hairdresser's information, M. de Villars paid the English captain a visit; was pleased by his conversation, and by all that he observed of his conduct and character.
"As M. de Villars was going down stairs, after having spent an evening with Walsingham, a boy of twelve years old, the son of the master of the lodging-house, equipped in a military uniform, stood across the landing-place, as if determined to, stop him. 'Mon petit militaire,' said the commandant, 'do you mean to dispute my passage?' 'Non, mon général,' said the boy; 'I know my duty too well. But I post myself here to demand an audience, for I have a secret of importance to communicate.' M. de Villars, smiling at the boy's air of consequence, yet pleased with the steady earnestness of his manner, took him by the hand into an antechamber, and said that he was ready to listen to whatever he had to impart. The boy then told him that he had accidentally overheard a proposal which had been made to facilitate the English captain's escape, and that the captain refused to comply with it, because it was not honourable to break his parole. The boy, who had been struck by the circumstance, and who, besides, was grateful to Walsingham for some little instances of kindness, spoke with much enthusiasm in his favour; and, as M. de Villars afterwards repeated, finished his speech by exclaiming, 'I would give every thing I have in the world, except my sword and my honour, to procure this English captain his liberty.'
"M. de Villars was pleased with the boy's manner, and with the fact which he related; so much so, that he promised, that if Walsingham's liberty could be obtained he would procure it. 'And you, my good little friend, shall, if I succeed,' added he, 'have the pleasure of being the first to tell him the good news.'
"Some days afterwards, the boy burst into Walsingham's room, exclaiming, 'Liberty! liberty! you are at liberty!'--He danced and capered with such wild joy, that it was some time before Walsingham could obtain any explanation, or could prevail on him to let him look at a letter which he held in his hand, flourishing it about in triumph. At last he showed that it was an order from M. de Villars, for the release of Captain Walsingham, and of all the English prisoners, belonging to the Resolute, for whom exchanges had been effected. No favour could be granted in a manner more honourable to all the parties concerned. Walsingham arrived in England without any farther difficulties."
"Thank God!" said Mr. Palmer. "Well, now he has touched English ground again, I have some hopes for him. What next?"
"The first thing he did, of course, was to announce his return to the Admiralty. A court-martial was held at Portsmouth; and, fortunately for him, was composed of officers of the highest distinction, so that the first men in his profession became thoroughly acquainted with the circumstances of his conduct. The enthusiasm with which his men bore testimony in his favour was gratifying to his feelings, and the minutes of the evidence were most honourable to him. The court pronounced, that Lieutenant Walsingham had done all that could be effected by the most gallant and judicious officer in the defence of His Majesty's ship Resolute. The ministry who had employed Captain Campbell were no longer in place, and one of the Lords of the Admiralty at this time happened to have had some personal quarrel with him. A few days after the trial, Walsingham was at a public dinner, at which Campbell's character became the subject of conversation. Walsingham was warned, in a whisper, that the first Lord of the Admiralty's private secretary was present, and was advised to be prudent; but Walsingham's prudence was not of that sort which can coolly hear a worthy man's memory damned with faint praise; his prudence was not of that sort which can tamely sit by and see a friend's reputation in danger. With all the warmth and eloquence of friendship, he spoke in Captain Campbell's defence, and paid a just and energetic tribute of praise to his memory. He spoke, and not a word more was said against Campbell. The politicians looked down upon their plates; and there was a pause of that sort, which sometimes in a company of interested men of the world results from surprise at the imprudent honesty of a good-natured novice. Walsingham, as the company soon afterwards broke up, heard one gentleman say of him to another, as they went away, 'There's a fellow now, who has ruined himself without knowing it, and all for a dead man.' It was not without knowing it: Walsingham was well aware what he hazarded, but he was then, and ever, ready to sacrifice his own interests in the defence of truth and of a friend. For two long years afterwards, Walsingham was, in the technical and elegant phrase, left on the shelf, and the door of promotion was shut against him."
"Yes, and there he might have remained till now," said Beaumont, "if it had not been for that good Mr. Gaspar, a clerk in one of their offices; a man who, though used to live among courtiers and people hackneyed in the political ways of the world, was a plain, warm-hearted friend, a man of an upright character, who prized integrity and generosity the more because he met with them so seldom. But I beg your pardon, Mr. Walsingham; will you go on and tell Mr. Palmer how and why Gaspar served our friend?"
"One day Walsingham had occasion to go to Mr. Gaspar's office to search for some papers relative to certain charts which he had drawn, and intended to present to the Admiralty. In talking of the soundings of some bay he had taken whilst out with Captain Campbell, he mentioned him, as he always did, with terms of affection and respect. Mr. Gaspar immediately asked, 'Are you, sir, that Lieutenant Walsingham, of the Resolute, who at a public dinner about two years ago made such a disinterested defence of your captain? If it is in my power to serve you, depend upon it I will. Leave your charts with me; I think I may have an opportunity of turning them to your advantage, and that of the service.' Gaspar, who was thoroughly in earnest, took a happy moment to present Walsingham's charts before the Admiralty, just at a time when they were wanted. The Admiralty were glad to employ an officer who had some local information, and they sent him out in the Dreadnought, a thirty-six gun frigate, with Captain Jemmison, to the West Indies."
"And what sort of a man was his new captain?" said Mr. Palmer.
"As unlike his old one as possible," said Beaumont.
"Yes," continued Mr. Walsingham; "in every point, except courage, Captain Jemmison was as complete a contrast as could be imagined to Captain Campbell. Whatever else he might be, Jemmison was certainly a man of undaunted courage."
"That's of course, if he was a captain in the British navy," said Mr. Palmer.
"From his appearance, however, you would never have taken him for a gallant sailor," said Mr. Walsingham: "abhorring the rough, brutal, swearing, grog-drinking, tobacco-chewing, race of sea-officers, the Bens and the Mirvans of former times, Captain Jemmison, resolving, I suppose, to avoid their faults, went into the contrary extreme of refinement and effeminacy. A superlative coxcomb, and an epicure more from fashion than taste, he gloried in descanting, with technical precision, on the merits of dishes and of cooks. His table, even on shipboard, was to be equalled in elegance only by his toilet."
"The puppy!" exclaimed Mr. Palmer. "And how could Captain Walsingham go on with such a coxcomb?"
"Very ill, you may be sure," said Beaumont; "for Walsingham, I'll answer for it, never could conceal or control his feelings of contempt or indignation."
"Yet, as Captain Jemmison's lieutenant, he always behaved with perfect propriety," said Mr. Walsingham, "and bore with his foppery and impertinence with the patience becoming a subordinate officer to his superior. Jemmison could not endure a lieutenant whose character and manners were a continual contrast and reproach to his own, and he disliked him the more because he could never provoke him to any disrespect. Jemmison often replied even to Walsingham's silent contempt; as a French pamphleteer once published a book entitled, Réponse au Silence de M. de la Motte. On some points, where duty and principle were concerned, Walsingham, however, could not be silent. There was a lad of the name of Birch on board the Dreadnought, whom Walsingham had taken under his immediate care, and whom he was endeavouring to train up in every good habit. Jemmison, to torment Walsingham, made it his pleasure to counteract him in these endeavours, and continually did all he could to spoil Birch by foolish indulgence. Walsingham's indignation was upon these occasions vehement, and his captain and he came to frequent quarrels. Young Birch, who had sense enough to know which was his true friend, one day threw himself on his knees to beseech his lieutenant not to hazard so much on his account, and solemnly swore that he would never be guilty of the slightest excess or negligence during the remainder of the voyage. The young man was steady to his promise, and by his resolution and temper prevented Walsingham and his captain from coming to a serious rupture. When they arrived at their place of destination, Jamaica, Captain Jemmison went on shore to divert himself, and spent his time in great dissipation at Spanish Town, eating, dressing, dancing, gallanting, and glorying in its being observed by all the ladies that he had nothing of a sea-captain about him. The other officers, encouraged by his precept and example, left the ship; but Walsingham stayed on board, and had severe duty to perform, for he could not allow the crew to go on shore, because they got into riots with the townspeople. Soon after their arrival, and even during the course of their voyage, he had observed among the sailors something like a disposition to mutiny, encouraged probably by the negligence and apparent effeminacy of their captain. Though they knew him to be a man of intrepidity, yet they ridiculed and despised his coxcombry, and his relaxation of discipline gave them hopes of succeeding in their mutinous schemes. Walsingham strongly and repeatedly represented to Captain Jemmison the danger, and remonstrated with him and the other officers upon the imprudence of leaving the ship at this juncture; but Jemmison, in a prettily rounded period, protested he saw no penumbra of danger, and that till he was called upon by Mars, he owned he preferred the charms of Venus.
"This was vastly elegant; but, nevertheless, it happened one night, when the captain, after having eaten an admirable supper, was paying his court to a Creole lady of Spanish Town, news was brought him, that the crew of the Dreadnought had mutinied, and that Lieutenant Walsingham was killed. One half of the report was true, and the other nearly so. At midnight, after having been exhausted during the preceding week by his vigilance, Walsingham had just thrown himself into his cot, when he was roused by Birch at his cabin-door, crying, 'A mutiny! a mutiny on deck!'--Walsingham seized his drawn cutlass, and ran up the ladder, determined to cut down the ringleader; but just as he reached the top, the sailors shut down the hatchway, which struck his head with such violence, that he fell, stunned, and, to all appearance, dead. Birch contrived, in the midst of the bustle, before he was himself seized by the mutineers, to convey, by signals to shore, news of what had happened. But Captain Jemmison could now be of no use. Before he could take any measures to prevent them, the mutineers weighed anchor, and the Dreadnought, under a brisk breeze, was out of the bay; all the other vessels in the harbour taking it for granted that her captain was on board, and that she was sailing under orders. In the mean time, whilst Walsingham was senseless, the sailors stowed him into his cabin, and set a guard over him. The ringleader, Jefferies, a revengeful villain, who bore malice against him for some just punishment, wanted to murder him, but the rest would not consent. Some would not dip their hands in blood; others pleaded for him, and said that he was never cruel. One man urged, that the lieutenant had been kind to him when he was sick. Another suggested, that it would be well to keep him alive to manage the ship for them, in case of difficulties. Conscious of their ignorance, they acceded to this advice; Jefferies' proposal to murder him was overruled: and it was agreed to keep Walsingham close prisoner till they should need his assistance. He had his timekeeper and log-book locked up with him, which were totally forgotten by these miscreants. Never seaman prayed more fervently for fair weather than Walsingham now did for a storm. At last, one night he heard (and he says it was one of the pleasantest sounds he ever heard in his life) the wind rising. Soon it blew a storm. He heard one of the sailors say--'A stiff gale, Jack!' and another--'An ugly night!' Presently, great noise on deck, and the pumps at work. Every moment he now expected a deputation from the mutineers. The first person he saw was the carpenter, who came in to knock in the dead lights in the cabin windows. The man was surly, and would give no answer to any questions; but Walsingham knew, by the hurry of his work, that the fellow thought there was no time to be lost. Twice, before he could finish what he was about, messages came from Captain Jefferies, to order him to something else. Then a violent crash above from the fall of a mast; and then he heard one cry--'I'll be cursed if I should care, if we did but know where-abouts we are.' Then all was in such uproar, that no voices could be distinguished. At last his cabin-door unlocked, and many voices called upon him at once to come upon deck that instant and save the ship. Walsingham absolutely refused to do any thing for them till they returned to their duty, delivered up to him their arms, and their ringleader, Jefferies. At this answer they stood aghast. Some tried entreaties, some threats: all in vain. Walsingham coolly said, he would go to the bottom along with the ship rather than say a word to save them, till they submitted. The storm blew stronger--the danger every moment increasing. One of the mutineers came with a drawn cutlass, another levelled a blunderbuss at Walsingham, swearing to despatch him that instant, if he would not tell them where they were. 'Murder me, and you will be hanged; persist in your mutiny, you'll be drowned,' said Walsingham. 'You'll never make me swerve from my duty--and you know it--you have my answer.' The enraged sailors seized him in their arms, and carried him by force upon deck, where the sight of the danger, and the cries of 'Throw him overboard!--over with him!' only seemed to fortify his resolution. Not a word, not a sign could they get from him. The rudder was now unshipped! At this the sailors' fury turned suddenly upon Jefferies, who between terror and ignorance was utterly incapacitated. They seized, bound, gave him up to Walsingham, returned to their duty; and then, and not till then, Walsingham resumed his command. Walsingham's voice, once more heard, inspired confidence, and with the hopes revived the exertions of the sailors. I am not seaman enough to tell you how the ship was saved; but that it was saved, and saved by Walsingham, is certain. I remember only, that he made the ship manageable by some contrivance, which he substituted in the place of the rudder that had been unshipped. The storm abating, he made for the first port, to repair the ship's damages, intending to return to Jamaica, to deliver her up to her captain; but, from a vessel they spoke at sea, he learned that Jemmison was gone to England in a merchantman. To England then Walsingham prepared to follow."
"And with this rebel crew!" cried Beaumont; "think, Mr. Palmer, what a situation he was in, knowing, as he did, that every rascal of them would sooner go to the devil than go home, where they knew they must be tried for their mutiny."
"Well, sir, well!" said Mr. Palmer. "Did they run away with the ship a second time? or how did he manage?"
He called them all one morning together on deck; and pointing to the place where the gunpowder was kept, he said--'I have means of blowing up the ship. If ever you attempt to mutiny again, the first finger you lay upon me, I blow her up instantly.' They had found him to be a man of resolution. They kept to their duty. Not a symptom of disobedience during the rest of the voyage. In their passage they fell in with an enemy's ship, far superior to them in force. 'There, my lads!' said Walsingham, 'if you have a mind to earn your pardons, there's your best chance. Take her home with you to your captain and your king.' A loud cheer was their answer. They fought like devils to redeem themselves. Walsingham--but without stopping to make his panegyric, I need only tell you, that Walsingham's conduct and intrepidity were this time crowned with success. He took the enemy's ship, and carried it in triumph into Portsmouth. Jemmison was on the platform when they came in; and what a mortifying sight it was to him, and what a proud hour to Walsingham, you may imagine! Having delivered the Dreadnought and her prize over to his captain, the next thing to be thought of was the trial of the mutineers. All except Jefferies obtained a pardon, in consideration of their return to duty, and their subsequent services. Jefferies was hanged at the yard-arm. The trial of the mutineers brought on, as Jemmison foresaw it must, many animadversions on his own conduct. Powerful connexions, and his friends in place, silenced, as much as possible, the public voice. Jemmison gave excellent dinners, and endeavoured to drown the whole affair in his choice Champagne and London particular Madeira; so his health, and success to the British navy, was drunk in bumper toasts."
"Ay, ay, they think to do every thing now in England by dinners, and bumper toasts, and three times three," said Mr. Palmer.
"But it did not do in this instance," said Beaumont, in a tone of exultation: "it did not do."
"No," continued Mr. Walsingham; "though Jemmison's dinners went down vastly well with a party, they did not satisfy the public. The opposition papers grew clamorous, and the business was taken up so strongly, and it raised such a cry against the ministry, that they were obliged to bring Jemmison to a court-martial."
"The puppy! I'm glad of it, with all my soul. And how did he look then?" said Mr. Palmer.
"Vastly like a gentleman; that was all that even his friends could say for him. The person he was most afraid of on the trial was Walsingham. In this apprehension he was confirmed by certain of his friends, who had attempted to sound Walsingham as to the nature of the evidence he intended to give. They all reported, that they could draw nothing out of him, and that he was an impracticable fellow; for his constant answer was, that his evidence should be given in court, and nowhere else."
"Even to his most intimate friends," interrupted Mr. Beaumont, "even to me, who was in the house with him all the time the trial was going on, he did not tell what his evidence would be."
"When the day of trial came," pursued Mr. Walsingham----
"Don't forget Admiral Dashleigh," said Mr. Beaumont.
"No; who can forget him that knows him?" said Walsingham: "a warm, generous friend, open-hearted as he is brave--he came to Captain Walsingham the day before the court-martial was to sit. 'I know, Walsingham, you don't like my cousin Jemmison (said he), nor do I much, for he is a puppy, and I never could like a puppy, related to me or not; be that as it may, you'll do him justice, I'm sure; for though he is a puppy he is a brave fellow--and here, for party purposes, they have raised a cry of his being a coward, and want to shoot him pour encourager les autres. What you say will damn or save him; and I have too good an opinion of you to think that any old grudge, though you might have cause for it, would stand in his way.' Walsingham answered as usual, that his opinion and his evidence would be known on the day of trial. Dashleigh went away very ill-satisfied, and persuaded that Walsingham harboured revenge against his relation. At last, when he was called upon in court, Walsingham's conduct was both just and generous; for though his answers spoke the exact truth, yet he brought forward nothing to the disadvantage of Jemmison, but what truth compelled him to state, and in his captain's favour; on the contrary, he spoke so strongly of his intrepidity, and of the gallant actions which in former instances he had performed in the service, as quite to efface the recollection of his foppery and epicurism, and, as much as possible, to excuse his negligence. Walsingham's evidence absolutely confuted the unjust charge or suspicion of cowardice that had been raised against Jemmison; and made such an impression in his favour, that, instead of being dismissed the service, or even having his ship taken from him, as was expected, Jemmison got off with a reprimand."
"Which I am sure he well deserved," said Mr. Palmer.
"But certainly Walsingham was right not to let him be run down by a popular cry, especially as he had used him ill," said Mr. Beaumont.
"Well, well!--I don't care about the puppy," cried Mr. Palmer; "only go on."
"No sooner was the trial over, and the sentence of the court made known, than Admiral Dashleigh, full of joy, admiration, and gratitude, pushed his way towards Walsingham, and stretching out his hand, exclaimed--'Shake hands, Walsingham, and forgive me, or I can't forgive myself. I suspected you yesterday morning of bearing malice against that coxcomb, who deserved to be laughed at, but not to be shot. By Jove, Walsingham, you're an honest fellow, I find.' 'And have you but just found that out, admiral?' said Walsingham, with a proud smile. 'Harkee, my lad,' said Dashleigh, calling after him, 'remember, I'm your friend, at all events.--Take it as you will, I'll make you mine yet, before I've done with you.' Walsingham knew that at this time Admiral Dashleigh's friends were in power, and that Dashleigh himself had great influence with the Admiralty; and he probably treated the admiral thus haughtily, to show that he had no interested views or hopes. Dashleigh understood this, for he now comprehended Walsingham's character perfectly. Immediately after the trial, Walsingham was made commander, in consequence of his having saved the Dreadnought, and his having taken l'Ambuscade. With this appointment Dashleigh had nothing to do. But he never ceased exerting himself, employing all the interest of his high connexions, and all the personal influence of his great abilities, to have Walsingham made post, and to get him a ship. He succeeded at last; but he never gave the least hint that it was done by his interest; for, he said, he knew that Walsingham had such nice notions, and was such a proud principled fellow, that he would not enjoy his promotion, if he thought he owed it to any thing upon earth but his own merit. So a handsome letter was written by the secretary of the Admiralty to Captain Walsingham, by their lordships' desire, informing him, 'that in consideration of his services and merit, his majesty had been pleased to make him post-captain, and to appoint him to the command of l'Ambuscade (the prize he took), which would be sent out on the first occasion.' The secretary 'begged leave to add expressions of his private satisfaction on an appointment so likely to be advantageous to the public,' &c. In short, it was all done so properly and so plausibly, that even Walsingham never suspected any secret influence, nor did he find out the part Dashleigh had taken in the business till several months afterwards, when a discreet friend mentioned it by accident."
"I was that discreet friend," said Mr. Beaumont.
"Well, all this is very good, but there's no love in this Story," said Mr. Palmer. "I hope your hero is not too proud to fall in love?"
"Too proud!--We are told, you know, that the greatest hero, in the intervals of war, resigned
'To tender passions all his mighty mind.'"
"Tender passions!--Captain Walsingham is in love, then, hey?" said Mr. Palmer. "And may I ask--Bless me! I shall be very sorry if it is with any body but--may I ask to whom he is attached?"
"That is a question that I am not quite at liberty perhaps to answer," said Mr. Walsingham. "During the interval between his return in the Dreadnought and his being appointed to l'Ambuscade, an interval of about eighteen months, which he spent in the country here with me, he had time to become thoroughly acquainted with a very amiable young lady--"
"A very amiable young lady! and in this neighbourhood?" interrupted Mr. Palmer; "it must be the very person I mean, the very person I wish."
"Do not ask me any more," said Mr. Walsingham; "for my friend never declared his attachment, and I have no right to declare it for him. He was not, at the time I speak of, in circumstances to marry; therefore he honourably concealed, or rather suppressed, his passion, resolving not to attempt to engage the young lady's affections till he should have made a fortune sufficient to support her in her own rank in life."
"Well, now, that's all done, thank Heaven!" cried Palmer: "he has fortune enough now, or we can help him out, you know. This is excellent, excellent!--Come, is it not time for us to go to the ladies? I'm impatient to tell this to Mrs. Beaumont."
"Stay, my good Mr. Palmer," said Mr. Walsingham. "What are you going to do?"
"Let me alone, let me alone--I'll only tell what I guess--depend upon it, I guess right--and it may do a great deal of good to tell it to Mrs. Beaumont, and it will give her a great deal of pleasure--trust me--trust me."
"I do trust you--but perhaps you may be mistaken."
"Not at all, not at all, depend upon it; so let me go to her this minute."
"But stop, my dear sir," cried Mr. Beaumont, "stop for another reason; let me beg you to sit down again--I am not clear that Captain Walsingham is not at this instant in love with--perhaps, as it is reported, married to a Spanish lady, whom he has carried off out of a convent at ----, and whom I understand he is bringing home with him."
"Heyday! a Spanish lady!" said Mr. Palmer, returning slowly to his seat with a fallen countenance. "How's this?--By St. George, this is unlucky! But how's this, I say?"
"You did not let us finish our story," said Mr. Beaumont, "or we should have told you."
"Let me hear the end of it now," said Mr. Palmer, sitting down again, and preparing himself with several pinches of snuff. But just at this instant a servant came to say that coffee was ready.
"I will never stir from this spot for coffee or any thing else," said Mr. Palmer, "till I know the history of the Spanish lady."
"Then the shortest and best way I have of telling it to you is, to beg you to read this letter, which contains all I know of the matter," said Mr. Beaumont. "This letter is from young Birch to his parents; we have never heard a syllable directly from Walsingham himself on this subject. Since he reached Lisbon, we have had no letters from him, except that short epistle which brought us an account of his taking the treasure-ship. But we shall see him soon, and know the truth of this story; and hear whether he prefers his Spanish or his English mistress."
"'Fore George! I wish this Spanish woman had stayed in her convent," said Mr. Palmer; "I don't like runaway ladies. But let us see what this letter says for her."
The letter is the same that Mr. Beaumont read some time ago, therefore it need not here be inserted. Before Mr. Palmer had finished perusing it, a second message came to say that the ladies waited tea, and that Mrs. Beaumont wished not to be late going home, as there was no moon. Mr. Palmer, nevertheless, finished the letter before he stirred: and then, with a heavy sigh, he rose and said, "I now wish, more than ever, that our captain would come home this night, before I go, and clear up this business. I don't like this Spanish plot, this double intrigue. Ah, dear me!--I shall be obliged to sail--I shall be in Jamaica before the fifth act."
"How expectation loads the wings of time!" exclaimed Mrs. Beaumont, as the gentlemen entered the drawing-room. "Here we have been all day expecting our dear Captain Walsingham, and the time has seemed so long!--The only time I ever found long in this house."
"I should like to know," said Mr. Walsingham, after a bow of due acknowledgment to Mrs. Beaumont for her compliment, "I should like to know whether time appears to pass more slowly to those that hope, or those that fear?"
Mrs. Beaumont handed coffee to Mr. Palmer, without attempting to answer this question.
"To those that hope, I should think," said Mr. Palmer; "for hope long deferred maketh the heart sick; and time, I can answer for it, passes most slowly to those who are sick."
"'Slow as the year's dull circle seems to run, When the brisk minor pants for twenty-one,'"
said Mr. Walsingham, smiling, as he looked at young Beaumont. "But I think it is the mixture of fear with hope that makes time appear to pass slowly."
"And is hope ever free from that mixture?" said Miss Walsingham. "Does not hope without fear become certainty, and fear without hope despair? Can hope ever be perfectly free from some mixture of fear?"
"Oh, dear me! yes, to be sure," said Miss Hunter; "for hope's the most opposite thing that ever was to fear; as different as black and white; for, surely, every body knows that hope is just the contrary to fear; and when one says, I hope, one does not ever mean I fear--surely, you know, Mrs. Beaumont?"
"I am the worst metaphysician in the world," said Mrs. Beaumont; "I have not head enough to analyze my heart."
"Nor I neither," said Miss Hunter: "Heigho!" (very audibly.)
"Hark!" cried Mr. Beaumont, "I think I hear a horse galloping. It is he! it is Walsingham!"
Out ran Beaumont, full speed, to meet his friend; whilst, with, more sober joy, Mr. Walsingham waited on the steps, where all the company assembled, Mr. Palmer foremost, with a face full of benevolent pleasure; Mrs. Beaumont congratulating every body, but nobody listening to her; luckily for her, all were too heartily occupied with their own feelings to see how ill her countenance suited her words. The sound of the galloping of the horse ceased for a minute--then recommenced; but before it could be settled whether it was coming nearer or going farther away, Mr. Beaumont returned with a note in his hand.
"Not Walsingham--only Birch--confound him!" said Mr. Beaumont, out of breath. "Confound him, what a race I took, and how disappointed I was when I saw Birch's face; and yet it is no fault of his, poor lad!"
"But why did not he come up to the house? Why did not you let us see him?" said Mr. Walsingham.
"I could not keep him, he was in such a hurry to go home to his father and mother, he would only stop to give this note."
"From Walsingham? Read, quick."
"Plymouth, 5 o'clock, A.M. just landed.
"Dear friends, I cannot have the pleasure of seeing you, as I had hoped to do, this day--I am obliged to go to London instantly on business that must not be delayed--Cannot tell when I can be with you--hope in a few days--Well and happy, and ever yours, H. WALSINGHAM."
All stood silent with looks of disappointment, except Mrs. Beaumont, who reiterated, "What a pity! What a sad pity! What a disappointment! What a terrible disappointment!"
"Business!" said Mr. Beaumont: "curse his business! he should think of his friends first."
"Most likely his business is for his friends," said Miss Walsingham.
"That's right, my dear little defender of the absent," said Mr. Walsingham.
"Business!" repeated Mr. Palmer. "Hum! I like business better than pleasure--I will be patient, if it is really business that keeps him away from us."
"Depend upon it," said Miss Walsingham, "nothing but business can keep him away from us; his pleasure is always at home."
"I am thinking," said Mr. Palmer, drawing Mr. Walsingham aside, "I am thinking whether he has really brought this Spanish lady home with him, and what will become of her--of--him, I mean. I wish I was not going to Jamaica!"
"Then, my dear sir, where is the necessity of your going?"
"My health--my health--the physicians say I cannot live in England."
Mr. Walsingham, who had but little faith in physicians, laughed, and exclaimed, "But, my dear sir, when you see so many men alive in England at this instant, why should you believe in the impossibility of your living even in this pestiferous country?"
Mr. Palmer half smiled, felt for his snuff-box, and then replied, "I am sure I should like to live in England, if my health would let me; but," continued he, his face growing longer, and taking the hypochondriac cast as he pronounced the word, "but, Mr. Walsingham, you don't consider that my health is really--really--"
"Really very good, I see," interrupted Mr. Walsingham, "and I am heartily glad to see it."
"Sir! sir! you do not see it, I assure you. I have a great opinion of your judgment, but as you are not a physician--"
"And because I have not taken out my diploma, you think I can neither see nor understand," interrupted Mr. Walsingham. "But, nevertheless, give me leave to feel your pulse."
"Do you really understand a pulse?" said Mr. Palmer, baring his wrist, and sighing.
"As good a pulse as ever man had," pronounced Mr. Walsingham.
"You don't say so? why the physicians tell me--"
"Never mind what they tell you--if they told you the truth, they'd tell you they want fees."
Mrs. Beaumont, quite startled by the tremendously loud voice in which Mr. Walsingham pronounced the word truth, rose, and rang the bell for her carriage.
"Mr. Palmer," said she, "I am afraid we must run away, for I dread the night air for invalids."
"My good madam, I am at your orders," answered Mr. Palmer, buttoning himself up to the chin.
"Mrs. Beaumont, surely you don't think this gentleman an invalid?" said Mr. Walsingham.
"I only wish he would not think himself such," replied Mrs. Beaumont.
"Ah! my dear friends," said Mr. Palmer, "I really am, I certainly am a sad--sad--"
"Hypochondriac," said Mr. Walsingham. "Pardon me--you are indeed, and every body is afraid to tell you so but myself."
Mrs. Beaumont anxiously looked out of the window to see if her carriage was come to the door.
"Hypochondriac! not in the least, my dear sir," said Mr. Palmer. "If you were to hear what Dr. ---- and Dr. ---- say of my case, and your own Dr. Wheeler here, who has a great reputation too--shall I tell you what he says?"
In a low voice, Mr. Palmer, holding Mr. Walsingham by the button, proceeded to recapitulate some of Dr. Wheeler's prognostics; and at every pause, Mr. Walsingham turned impatiently, so as almost to twist off the detaining button, repeating, in the words of the king of Prussia to his physician, "C'est un âne! C'est un âne! C'est un âne!"--"Pshaw! I don't understand French," cried Mr. Palmer, angrily. His warmth obliged him to think of unbuttoning his coat, which operation (after stretching his neckcloth to remove an uneasy feeling in his throat) he was commencing, when Mrs. Beaumont graciously stopped his hand.
"The carriage is at the door, my dear sir:--instead of unbuttoning your coat, had not you better put this cambric handkerchief round your throat before we go into the cold air?"
Mr. Palmer put it on, as if in defiance of Mr. Walsingham, and followed Mrs. Beaumont, who led him off in triumph. Before he reached the carriage-door, however, his anger had spent its harmless force; and stopping to shake hands with him, Mr. Palmer said, "My good Mr. Walsingham, I am obliged to you. I am sure you wish me well, and I thank you for speaking so freely; I love honest friends--but as to my being a hypochondriac, believe me, you are mistaken!"
"And as to Dr. Wheeler," said Mrs. Beaumont, as she drew up the glass of the carriage, and as they drove from the door, "Dr. Wheeler certainly does not deserve to be called un âne, for he is a man of whose medical judgment I have the highest opinion. Though I am sure I am very candid to acknowledge it in the present case, when his opinion is so much against my wishes, and all our wishes, and must, I fear, deprive us so soon of the company of our dear Mr. Palmer."
"Why, yes, I must go, I must go to Jamaica," said Mr. Palmer in a more determined tone than he had yet spoken on the subject.
Mrs. Beaumont silently rejoiced; and as her son imprudently went on arguing in favour of his own wishes, she leaned back in the carriage, and gave herself up to a pleasing reverie, in which she anticipated the successful completion of all her schemes. Relieved from the apprehension that Captain Walsingham's arrival might disconcert her projects, she was now still further re-assured by Mr. Palmer's resolution to sail immediately. One day more, and she was safe. Let Mr. Palmer but sail without seeing Captain Walsingham, and this was all Mrs. Beaumont asked of fortune; the rest her own genius would obtain. She was so absorbed in thought, that she did not know she was come home, till the carriage stopped at her door. Sometimes, indeed, her reverie had been interrupted by Mr. Palmer's praises of the Walsinghams, and by a conversation which she heard going on about Captain Walsingham's life and adventures: but Captain Walsingham was safe in London; and whilst he was at that distance, she could bear to hear his eulogium. Having lamented that she had been deprived of her dear Amelia all this day, and having arranged her plan of operations for the morrow, Mrs. Beaumont retired to rest. And even in dreams her genius invented fresh expedients, wrote notes of apology, or made speeches of circumvention.
 Life of Admiral Roddam, Monthly Magazine.
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