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Frederick Marryat.

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too busy ; nor at their watch below, for they're too tired ;
nor at meal-times, for they must look after their share of
the victuals ; indeed, there is not any time to think on
board ship, and that's a fact. But, Tom, since I've been
laid up here I have thought a good deal ; all is calm and
quiet, and one day passes just like the other, and no fear
of interruption when one don't wish it, and I have
thought a good deal. At first I thought it a hard case
to be shoved on the shelf at my age, but I don't think so
now, I'm quite satisfied."

" I'm glad to hear you say so, father."

"Yes, Tom. And then, you see, when I was afloat, 1
didn't think any good of your mother, and 1 was glad to
keep out of her way ; and then I didn't care about my
children, for I didn't know them ; but now I've other
thoughts, Tom. I don't think your mother so bad, after
all ; to be sure, she looks down upon me 'cause I'm not
genteel ; but I suppose I aren't, and she has been used to
the company of gentlefolks ; besides, she works hard, and
now that I don't annoy her by getting tipsy, as I used to
do, at all events she's civil ; and then I never knew what
it was to have children until I came here, and found
Virginia and you ; and I'm proud of you both, and love
you both better than anything on earth ; arid, although
I may not be so well brought up or so well taught as you
both are, still, Tom, I'm your father, and all I can say is,
I wish for your sakes I was better than I am."

" Don't say so, father : you know that Virginia and I are
both as fond of you as you are of us."

" Well, mayhap you are ; I don't say no : you are both
good children, and at all events would try to like me ; but
still I do feel that you can't look up to me exactly ; but
that's my misfortune, Tom, more than my fault. I haven't
laming like Anderson, or gentility like your mother : I've
only a true heart to offer to you. You see, Tom, I've said
all this because you are always after Anderson ; not but
that I like Anderson, for he's a good man, and has been

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POOR JACK

of sarvice to me, and I don't think he would ever say any-
thing to you that would make you think less of me."

" No, indeed, father ; on the contrary, I once asked him
his opinion about you, and he spoke most highly of you ;
and whenever I go to him for advice, he always sends me
to you to approve of what he has said."

" Well, he is a good man, and I'm very sorry to have
any feeling of envy in me, that's the truth ; but still a
father must have a father's feelings. Don't let us say
anything more about it, Tom ; only try next time, when
you want advice, whether I can't give it. You can always
go to Peter afterwards, and see whether I'm right or
wrong."

" I will indeed, my dear father, now I know that you
wish it."

I never felt so warm towards my father as after this
conversation ; there was so much affection towards me,
and yet so much humility shown by him, as respected
himself, that I was quite touched with it, and I began
to think that he really had had occasion to complain,
and that I had not treated him with that respect which he
deserved.

" Now, Tom, I've something to say to you. When
Anderson, Bramble, and I were taking a pipe together last
night, Bramble said that he had a letter from the captain
of the Indiaman, offering you a berth on board as guinea-
pig, or midshipman. He said that he had not shown it to
you as yet, because it was of no use, as he was sure you
would not accept it. Well, Anderson and I said that at
least you ought to know it, and have the refusal; and
your mother pricked up her ears and said that it was
much more genteel than being a pilot; so I now put the
question to you."

" Thank you, father ; but Bramble was right. I shall
not accept of it, although I am much obliged to the
captain."

Here my father stopped me. " First, Tom," said he,
"we must overhaul the pros and cons, as people call them.
Old Anderson weighed them very closely, and now you
shall hear them." Here my father commenced a long
story, with which I shall not tire the reader, as to the

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POOR JACK

prospects on either side ; but as soon as he had finished
I replied

" That all he said was very true ; but that I had made
up my mind that, if ever I were regularly to serve, it
should be in a man-of-war, not in a merchant vessel ; that
it was certainly possible that I might, after serving many
years, become a captain of an Indiaman, which was a high
position, but I preferred being a pilot, and more my own
master ; that if there were no other objections, that of
being absent for three years at a time from him and
Virginia would be more than sufficient, and that I was
very happy where I was, as Bramble and little Bessy
were almost equal to another father and another sister.
A rolling stone gathers no moss, they say, father. I have
entered into the pilot service, and in that I hope to
remain."

" Well, you're right, Tom ; Bramble said you would
decide so. There's nothing like being contented with what
we are and what we have got."

" I might probably become a richer man if I were to
be a captain of an Indiaman," observed I; "but I'm sure
if ever I'm able to buy a little farm, as Bramble is now
able to do, I shall think myself quite rich enough."

" You see, Tom, it all depends upon what people's
ideas are. One man thinks himself rich with what another
would think that he was a beggar. Now I dare say old
Nanny thinks that shop of old iron and rubbish that she
has got together the finest shop in all Greenwich."

" I believe she does, and the prettiest," replied I,
laughing.

" Well now, Tom, an odd thing happened the other
day while you wei*e away, just to prove how true that is.
You may recollect a little old man in our ward, Phil
Nobbs they called him, who walked with his chin half a
yard before him. Well, he took to the sick ward and
died, since you have been gone. I went to see him, of
course, and he was always talking about his property ; and
none of us knew where it was, but we supposed that he
had it somewhere. One day, as I was sitting by his bed,
he says, 'Saunders, the doctor's coming round, just tell
him I want to make my will, for I feel as if I were

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POOR JACK

slipping my wind.' Well, the doctor and the chaplain
both came to his bedside with the paper, and Nobbs
raised himself on his elbow, and said, 'Are you ready,
sir? Well, then, I'll make short work of it. This is my
last will and testament : first, I wish a white pall over
me when I'm buried, and that expense must be deducted,
after which I bequeath to my nephews and nieces, James
Strong, Walter Strong, Ellen Strong, Mary Williams, the
one married, Peter Strong, all of Rotherhithe, and to
Thomas Day, Henry Day, and Nicholas Day, of Eltham,
the whole of my money and personal effects, share and
share alike, equally divided among them all. There, sir,
that will do. I can't write, but I'll put my cross to it.'
Well, the old fellow died that night, and notice of his
will was sent to his nephews and nieces, who all came
on the day of his burial dressed in their best, for they
were all mechanics and labourers, poor people, to whom,
1 suppose, a legacy was a great object. The chaplain
had asked Nobbs where his money was, and he replied

that it was in the hands of Lieutenant , who knew all

about his affairs. After the funeral they all went in a
body to the lieutenant, who stated that he had ten
shillings belonging to Nobbs, out of which seven shillings
were to be deducted for the white pall ; and that as for
his other effects, they must be in his cabin, as he never
heard of his having anything but what was there. So we
went to his cabin, and there we found five or six penny
prints against the wall, two pair of old canvas trousers,
and an old hat, six cups and saucers, cracked and
mended ; and this was all his property, altogether not
worth (with the three shillings) more than seven or eight
at the outside, if so much. You may guess the dis-
appointment of his nephews and nieces, who had lost a
good day's work and come so far for nothing ; and I
must say they were not very dutiful in their remarks upon
their old uncle as they walked off. Now you see, Tom,
this oUl fellow had been in the hospital for more than
twenty years, and had been able to save no more than
what he had out of his shilling per week, and in his
eyes this small property was very large, for it was the
saving of twenty years. He thought so, poor fellow,

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POOR JACK

because he probably had never saved so many shillings
in his life. There was no joking about it, I can assure
you."

" Well, father, I hope I may be able to save more than
seven shillings before I die ; but no one knows. I have
made my decision as I think for the best, and we must
leave the rest to Providence. We never know whether we
do right or wrong."

" Never, Jack ; things which promise well turn out bad,
and things which look very bad often turn out just as
well. I recollect an instance which was told me, which
I'll give you as a proof that we never know what is best
for us in this world. A man may plan, and scheme, and
think in his blindness that he has arranged everything so
nicely that nothing can fail, and down he lies on his bed
and goes to sleep quite satisfied that affairs must turn out
well as he has ordered them, forgetting that Providence
disposes as it thinks fit. There was a gentleman by birth,
fo the name of Seton, who lived at Greenock ; he was very
poor, and although he had high friends and relations well-
to-do, he was too proud to ask for assistance. His wife
was equally proud ; and at last one day he died, leaving
her with hardly a penny, and two fine boys of the names
of Archibald and Andrew. Well, the widow struggled on,
how she lived no one knew, but she fed the boys and
herself, and was just as stately as ever. Her relations did
offer to educate the boys and send them to sea, but she
refused all assistance. There was a foundation or chartered
school at Greenock, to which she was entitled to send her
children to be educated without expense, and to that school
they went. I don't know why, but they say the master
had had a quarrel with their father when he was alive,
and the master had not forgotten it now he was dead, and
in consequence he was very severe upon these two boys,
and used to beat them without mercy : at all events it did
them good, for they learnt faster than any of the others
who were at all favoured, and they soon proved tjie best
boys in the school. Well, time ran on till Archibald was
thirteen and Andrew twelve years old, and, being very
tired of school, they asked their mother what profession
they were to be of, and she answered, ' Anything except

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POOR JACK

going to sea, for there you will never get on.' But times
became harder with the widow ; she had not enough to
give the boys to eat, and they complained bitterly ; but
it was of no use, so they got on how they could, until
one day Archy says to Andrew, ' Why, brother, we have
nothing but ferrule for breakfast, dinner, and supper, and
I see little chance of our getting anything more. Mother,
poor soul ! has not enough for herself to eat, and she
very often gives us her dinner and goes without. I can't
stand it any longer ; what shall we do ? shall we seek our
fortunes?' 'Yes,' says Andrew, ' and when we are gone
mother will have enough for herself.'

" ' Well, they say anything is better than going to sea,
but I don't know how we can do anything else.'

" ' Well, Archy, going to sea may be the worst of all, but
it's better than taking the victuals out of poor mother's
mouth.'

" ' That's very true, so we'll be off, Andrew.'

" They walked down to the pier, and then they fell in
with the captain of a vessel going foreign, and they asked
him whether he wanted any boys on board.

" ' Why,' says he, ' I wouldn't care, but you've never
been to sea before.'

" ' No,' said Archy ; ' but there must be a beginning to
everything.'

" ' Well,' said the captain, ' I suppose you've run away
from your friends, and, as I can't get apprentices now, I'll
tell you what I'll do. I'll take you on board, and as soon
as we get round to another port in the Channel, I'll bind
you as apprentices for three years. Will you agree to
that ? '

" The boys said ' yes,' and the captain told them that
he should sail the next morning about daylight, and that
they must be down at the pier by that time ; so they
went back again to their mother, and said nothing about
what had passed. There was no supper that night, which
confirmed them in their resolution ; they kissed their mother,
and went up to bed, packed up all their clothes, and before
she was downstairs the next morning they were on board
of the vessel.

" Well, they were duly apprenticed when the ship ar-

209 o



POOR JACK

rived at Weymouth, and then off they went. The other
men on board were, as usual, very much afraid of being
pressed, and every plan was hit upon for stowing away
when they were boarded by a man-of-war. Well, time
passed, and after many voyages they had both nearly served
their time ; they were tall stout young men, and looked
older than they really were. At last, one day when off
the Western Isles, they were boarded by a frigate, and
the officer who came in the boat asked Archy what he
was, and he replied he was an apprentice.

" ' You an apprentice ! ' cried he ; ' that won't do.'

" ' But here are the indentures.'

" f All forged,' cried the officer; 'just get into the boat,
my lad.' (You see that's a very common trick of officers ;
if a boy's grown up and fit for service, they don't care
about indentures.) ' Well, Archy found it was of no use,
so he gets his kit and steps into the boat, shaking hands
with Andrew, who was shedding tears at the thoughts of
parting with his brother.

" ' It's no use crying, Andrew,' says he ; ' I might have
been second mate in three months, as the captain promised
me when my time was up, and then I should have been
protected, and might have risen from mate to captain ;
but now it's all over with me. May you have better luck,
and I hope the captain will give you tbe berth instead of
me.' Well, away went Ai'chy on board of the man-of-war,
looking very gloomy, as you may suppose. When he went
aft on the quarter-deck the captain asked him his name
and where he came from.

" ' Ah,' said the captain, ' and who are your friends ? '
So Archy told him that he had only his mother left. The
captain asked him a good many more questions as to
whether he had been educated or not, and what he knew,
and then rated him A.B., and put him into the main- top.
Well, Archy remained there for about six months, and
found that a man-of-war was not so bad a place after all ;
and he was well treated by the captain and officers, the
more so as he was a. good scholar. After the cruise was
over the frigate ran into the Channel, and anchored in
Portland Roads, where there were a great many vessels
wind-bound. As usual, they sent round to press the men.

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POOR JACK

Now Archy was one of those sent in the boats, and by
this time, being a man-of-war's man all over, he was just
as eager to get the men as the others were. They
boarded several vessels, and got some men ; about dark
they boarded one which laid well in the offing. The
captain was not on board, and the men were tumed up,
but they were very few, and all protected. Now Archy,
who was up to the hiding-places on board a merchant
vessel, goes down with his cutlass, and crawls about in the
dark, until at last he gets hold of a man by the heels.
'Come out, you thief/ cries he, 'come out directly, or I'll
give you an inch of my cutlass ; ' so the man, finding that
he could not help himself, backs out, stem foremost. Archy
collars him and takes him on deck, when who should it
prove to be but his own brother Andrew !

" ' Oh, Archy, Archy, I didn't think this of you ! '

"'Well, Andrew, I didn't know it was you, but there's
no help for it ; you must come and serve in the main-top
along with me, and give up all chance of being a mate or
captain of a merchant vessel. We're in bad luck, that's
clear, but it can't be helped.' There was a good laugh
on board of the man-of-war at Archy pressing his own
brother, and the captain was very much amused. ' I'm
very sorry for it,' said Ai'chy.

" Now the captain was short of midshipmen, and, being
obliged to sail immediately, he determined to put Archy
on the quarter-deck, and so he did, while Andrew served
in the main-top. But this did not last long : the captain,
who liked Andrew quite as well, and who knew their
family and connections, put Andrew also on the quarter-
deck ; and what was the consequence ? Why, they are
now both post-captains, commanding fine frigates : so you
see, going on board of a man-of-war, which they conceived
as their ruin, was the means of their rising to rank and
riches, for they have been very lucky in the service. I
heard Captain Archibald tell the story himself one day as
I helped at dinner in the cabin when I was coxswain
with Sir Hercules."

" Well, father, that's a good story to the point, but I
do not see that I ever have any chance of being a post-
captain."

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POOR JACK

" Don't seem much like it, certainly ; but you've a good
chance of being a pilot."

" Yes, that I certainly have ; and a pilot is always re-
spected, go on board what ship he may."

"To be sure he is, because he is supposed to have more
knowledge than any one on board."

"Then I am contented, father, with the prospect of
being respectable ; so there's an end of that business,
except that I must write and thank the captain for his
kindness."

" Just so, Tom. Do you dine with me ? "

" No, father. I promised to meet Bramble at the ' Jolly
Sailors.' We are going up to Mr. Wilson's."

"Ay, about the farm he wants to buy. Well, the clock
is striking, so good-bye till this evening."

I must explain to the reader that Mr. Wilson, having
heard of Bramble's intention to purchase the farm, very
kindly interfered. He had a son who was a solicitor at
Dover, and he recommended Bramble not to appear
personally, but let his son manage the affair for him,
which he promised should be done without expense. The
next morning Bramble and I took our leave and quitted
Greenwich, taking the coach to Dover ; for Bramble,
having a good deal of money in his pocket, thought it
better to do so, than to wait till he could take a ship
down the river. On our arrival at Dover we called upon
Mr. Wilson's son, who had already made inquiries, and
eventually obtained the farm for Bramble for two hundred
pounds less than he expected to give for it, and, very
handsomely, only charged him for the stamps of the
conveyance. When we arrived at Deal we found Mrs.
Maddox quite recovered, and sitting with little Bessy in
the parlour below.

After Mrs. Maddox and Bessy went upstairs to bed,
Bramble said to me, as he knocked the ashes out of his
pipe, "Tom, I've got this farm for Bessy for two hundred
pounds less than I expected to give for it. Now, I've
been thinking about this two hundred pounds, which I
consider in a manner as her property, and what d'ye
think I mean to do with it ? I'll tell you. I'll give her
education as well as money. This sum will keep her at a

212



good school for a matter of four years, and I've made up
my mind that she shall go. I don't like to part with her,
that's certain ; but it's for her good, so all's right. Don't
you think so ? "

" I do, indeed, father," replied I. " I shall miss her as
much as you do ; but, as you say, it's all right, and I'm
very glad that you have so decided."



CHAPTER XXXH

In which there is a hop, skip, and a jump.

-LJFE has often, and with great truth, been compared to
a river. In infancy a little rill, gradually increasing to
the pure and limpid brook, which winds through flowery
meads, "giving a gentle kiss to every ridge it overtaketh
in its pilgrimage.'" 1 Next it increases in its volume and
its power, now rushing rapidly, now moving along in deep
and tranquil water, until it swells into a bold stream,
coursing its way over the shallows, dashing through the
impeding rocks, descending in rapids swift as thought, or
pouring its boiling water over the cataract. And thus
does it vary its velocity, its appearance, and its course,
until it swells into a broad expanse, gradually checking
its career as it approaches, and at last mingles with the
ocean of Eternity. I have been led into this somewhat
trite metaphor, to account to the reader for the contents
of this chapter. As in the river, after many miles of
chequered and boisterous career, you will find that its
waters will for some time flow in a smooth and tranquil
course as almost to render you unconscious of the never-
ceasing stream ; so in the life of man, after an eventful
and adventurous career, it will be found that for a time
he is permitted to glide gently and quietly along, as if a
respite were given to his feelings preparatory to fresh
scenes of excitement. Such was the case with me for
some time. I had now been under Bramble's tuition for
more than a year and a half, and was consequently

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POOR JACK

between fifteen and sixteen years old. The years from
1800 to the end of 1804 were of this description in my
stream of life, unmarked by any peculiar or stirring events
worthy of occupying the attention of my readers. It is
therefore my intention, in this chapter, to play the part of
the chorus in the old plays, and sum up the events in
few words, so as not to break the chain of history, at the
same time that I shall prepare my readers for what subse-
quently took place.

I will first speak of myself. Up to the age of nineteen
I continued my career under the care of Bramble ; we
seldom remained long on shore, for neither Bramble nor
I found home so agreeable since little Bessy had been
sent to school, and Mrs. Maddox, assisted by a little girl,
had charge of the house ; indeed, Bramble appeared re-
solved to make all the money he could, that he might
the sooner be able to give up his profession. Mrs.
Maddox I have spoken little of, because I had seen but
little of her; now that she was downstairs, I will not say
I saw, but 1 certainly heard too much of her, for she
never ceased talking ; not that she talked loud or
screamed out on the contrary, she was of a mild amiable
temper, but could not hold her tongue. If she could not
find any one to talk to she would talk to any thing; if
she was making the fire she would apostrophise the sticks
for not burning properly. I watched her one morning as
she was kneeling down before the grate :

" Now, stick, you must go in," said she ; " it's no use
your resisting, and what's more, you must burn, and burn
quickly too, d'ye hear ? or the kettle won't boil in time
for breakfast. Be quick, you little fellow burn away and
light the others, there's a good boy." Here she knocked
down the tongs. " Tongs, be quiet ; how dare you make
that noise?" Then, as she replaced them, "Stand up,
sir, in your place until you are wanted. Now, poker,
your turn's coming, we must have a stir directly. Bless
me, smoke, what's the matter with you now ? can't you
go up the chimney ? You can't pretend to say the wind
blows you down this fine morning, so none of your
vagaries. Now, fender, it's your turn stand still till I
give you a bit of a rub. There, now you're all right.

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POOR JACK

Table, you want your face washed your master has spilt
his grog last night there now, you look as handsome as
ever. Well, old chair, how are you this morning ? You're
older than I am, I reckon, and yet you're stouter on
your legs. Why, candle, are you burning all this while ?
Why didn't you tell me ? I would have put you out
long ago. Come, now, don't be making a smell here
send it up the chimney."

Thus would she talk to everything. We only had two
animals in the house a cat and a canary bird : of course
they were not neglected, but somehow or another the cat
appeared to get tired of it, for it would rise and very
gently walk into the back kitchen ; and as for the canary
bird, like all other canary birds, as soon as he was talked
to he would begin to sing, and that so loud that Mrs.
Maddox was beaten out of the field. Bramble bore with
her very well, but at the same time he did not like it :
he once said to me, " Well, if Bessy were at Deal, I
think I would take a short spell now ; but as for that
poor good old soul, whose tongue is hung on the middle
and works at both ends, she does tire one, and that's the



Online LibraryFrederick MarryatPoor Jack; and The settlers in Canada → online text (page 19 of 58)