Copyright
Frederick Marryat.

Poor Jack; and The settlers in Canada online

. (page 32 of 58)
Online LibraryFrederick MarryatPoor Jack; and The settlers in Canada → online text (page 32 of 58)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


found out that it was very sultry indoors, and that he would
take his pipe on the beach. He left me alone with Bessy ;
and now, for the first time, I plainly told her the state of my
affections, and asked her to consent to be my wife. I did
not plead in vain, as the reader may suppose from what he
has already been made acquainted with.

After Bessy had retired, and I was sitting with Bramble,
who had his glass of grog and pipe as usual, I made him
acquainted with my success.

" All right, Tom," said he, " I'm thankful and God bless
you both."

And had I not reason also to be thankful ? When I had
retired to my room that night, I thought over the various
passages in my life. What might I have been if Providence
had not watched over me ? When neglected in my youth,
in a situation which exposed me to every temptation, had
not old Anderson been sent as a guardian to keep me in the
right path, to instruct me, and to give me that education,
without which my future success might have turned out a
disadvantage instead of a source of gratitude ? In Bramble,
again, I had met with a father, to supply the place of one
who was not in a situation to do his duty to me or forward
me in life. In old Nanny I had met with a kind friend, one
who, at the same time that she would lead me right, was a
warning to me from her sufferings. To Mrs. St. Felix I was
equally indebted, and had I not been permitted to pay the
debt of gratitude to both of them ? Even my mother's
harshness, which appeared at first to my short-sightedness to
have been so indefensible, was of great advantage to me, as
it had stimulated me to exertion and industry, and pointed
out to me the value of independence. W T as I not also most
fortunate in having escaped from the entanglement of Janet,
who, had I married her, would, in all probability, have proved
an useless if not a faithless helpmate ; and still more so, in
finding that there was, as it were, especially reserved for me
the affection of such a noble, right-minded creature as Bessy ?
My life, commenced in rags and poverty, had, by industry
and exertion, and the kindness of others, step by step pro-

356



POOR JACK

gressed to competence, and every prospect of mundane
happiness. Had I not, therefore, reason to be grateful, and
to feel that there had been a little cherub who had watched
over the life of poor Jack ? On my bended knees I acknow-
ledged it fervently and gratefully, and prayed that, should it
please Heaven that I should in after life meet any reverse,
I might bear it without repining, and say, with all humility,
"Thy will and not mine, O Lord, be done ! "

How bright was the next morning, and how cheerful did
the dancing waves appear to me ! and Bessy's eyes were
radiant as the day, and her smiles followed in rapid succes-
sion ; and Bramble looked so many years younger he was
almost too happy to smoke it was really the sunshine of
the heart which illumined our cottage. And thus did the
few days pass, until Anderson and my father made their
appearance. They were both surprised at Bessy's beauty,
and told me so : they had heard that she was handsome,
but they were not prepared for her uncommon style ; for
now that her countenance was lighted up with joy, she
was indeed lovely.

" Well, Tom/' observed my father, "there's only one thing
which surprises me."

" What is that ? "

" Why, how, with such a fine craft in view, you could ever
have sailed in the wake of such a little privateer as but I
must not mention her never mind, don't answer me that ;
but another question when are you going to be spliced ? "

" Very soon, I hope ; but I really don't exactly know : all
I can say is the sooner the better."

" And so say I. Shall I bring up the subject on the plea
of my leave being only for ten days ? "

" Yes, father, I wish you would, as it is really a good
reason to allege for its taking place immediately."

"Tom, my dear boy," said old Anderson, "from what I
can perceive, you have great reason to be thankful in having
obtained this young woman for your future partner in life.
I admire her exceedingly, and I trust in Heaven that you
will be happy."

" I ought to be," replied I, " and grateful also, particu-
larly to you, to whom, under Providence, I am so much
indebted."

357



POOR JACK

"If the seed is sown upon good ground, it will always
yield a good harvest, Tom. You are a proof of it, so thank
Heaven, and not me. I wish to tell you what your father
has mentioned to me. The fact is, Tom, he is in what may
be called a false position at Greenwich. He is a pensioner,
and has now sufficient not to require the charity, and he
thinks that he ought not to avail himself of it, now that you
have made him independent ; but if he leaves the hospital
and remains at Greenwich, he and your mother would not
agree well together ; they are very good, friends at a certain
distance, but I do not think, with her high notions, that they
could ever live together in the same house. He says that he
should like to live either with you or near you ; and I think
myself, now that he is become so very steady a character, it
does require your consideration whether you ought not to
permit him. He will be a very good companion for Bramble,
and they will get on well together. I do not mean to say
that it might not be more agreeable if he were to remain at
Greenwich, but he is your father, Tom, and you should make
some sacrifice for a parent."

"As far as I am concerned, Anderson, I most gladly
consent. Bramble is to live with us that is arranged, and
if no objections are raised by others you may be sure of my
acceding, and, indeed, if objections should be raised, of
persuading all I can."

" You can do no more, Tom," replied Anderson ; " nor can
more be expected."

This point was very satisfactorily arranged. Bramble and
Bessy both gave their cheerful consent, and it was settled
that as soon as we had a house to receive him, my father
should quit Greenwich, and live with us. The arguments of
my father, added to the persuasions of Bramble and me,
had their due weight, and on the 13th of September 1807,
Bessy and I exchanged our vows, and I embraced her as
ray own.



358



POOR JACK



FINALE

JLF the reader will refer back to the first part of this narra-
tive, he will find that I was born in the year 1786; and as
I am writing this in the year 1840, I am now fifty-four years
old. I was but little more than twenty-one when I married ;
I have, therefore, the experience of thirty-two years of a
married life ; but I will not anticipate. I ended the last
chapter with my own happy union; I must now refer to
those events which followed close upon that period.

Sir James and Lady O'Connor had taken up their resi-
dence at Leamington, then a small village, and not the
populous place which it has since become. After a few
months' residence, during which I had repeated letters from
Lady O'Connor and Virginia, they were so pleased with the
locality and neighbourhood, that Sir James purchased a
property of some hundred acres, and added to a house which
was upon it, so as to make it a comfortable and elegant resi-
dence. Lady O'Connor, after the first year, presented her
husband with a son, and has since that been very assiduous
in increasing his family more so, perhaps, than would have
been convenient to Sir James O'Connor's income at the
time that he purchased the property, had it not been
that the increase of its value, in consequence of a large
portion of it having been taken as building land, has been
so great as to place them in most affluent circumstances.
About a year after my marriage I had notice from Lady
O'Connor that a certain gentleman had arrived there who
had shown great attention to Virginia ; and she added
that he had been very well received by my sister, being
an old acquaintance of the name of Somerville, a clergy-
man with a good living, and a very superior young man.
I immediately recollected him as the preceptor who had
behaved with such propriety when my sister was perse-
cuted by the addresses of the young nobleman ; and I,
therefore, felt very easy upon the subject. A few months
afterwards I had a letter from Virginia, stating that he had

359



POOR JACK

proposed, and that she had conditionally accepted him. I
wrote to her, congratulating her upon the choice she had
made, giving her father's consent and blessing (of my mother
hereafter) ; and shortly after they were married, and I am
happy to say that her marriage has turned out as fortunate
as my own.

We had remained in the cottage for some months after my
own marriage, very undecided what we should do. Bramble
did not like to quit the seaside, nor, I believe, his old habits
and localities. Money was of little value to him ; indeed,
on my marriage, he had insisted upon settling upon Bessy
and her children the whole sum he had received for the
salvage of the Dutch Indiaman, reserving for himself his
farm near Deal. It did so happen, however, that about that
period, while we were still in perplexity, I received a letter
from Mr. Wilson's son, at Dover, telling me that the manor-
house and three hundred acres of land, adjoining to Bramble's
farm, were to be disposed of. This exactly suited, so I made
the purchase and took possession, and then sent for my
father to join us, which he hastened to do. Bramble did not,
however, give up his cottage on the beach. He left Mrs.
Maddox in it, and it was a favourite retirement for my father
and him, who would remain there for several days together,
amusing themselves with watching the shipping, and gaining
intelligence from the various pilots as they landed, as they
smoked their pipes on the shingle beach. It was not more
than half a mile from the great house, so that it was very
convenient ; and Bessy and I would often go with the
children and indulge in reminiscences of the former scenes
which had there occurred.

My father and mother parted very good friends : the fact
was that she was pleased with the arrangement, as she did
not like my father wearing a pensioner's coat, and did not
want his company at her own house. When he left the
hospital, she insisted upon paying him his rent ; and she
did so very punctually until she gave up business. On her
marriage, my sister requested that we would come to
Leamington and be present ; to which we all consented,
particularly as it was a good opportunity of introducing
Bessy to her and Lady O'Connor. My mother was also to
join the party on the occasion. The only circumstance

360



POOR JACK

worth mentioning was the surprise of my mother on being
introduced to Lady O'Connor, and finding that in this great
lady she met with her old acquaintance, Mrs. St. Felix.
Whatever she may have felt, she certainly had tact enough
to conceal it, and was as warm in her congratulations as the
best well-wisher. I must say that I never knew my mother
appear to such advantage as she did during this visit to
Leamington : she dressed remarkably well, and would have
persuaded those who did not know her history that she had
always been in good society ; but she had been a lady's maid
and had learnt her mistress's airs, and as she could dress
others so well, it would have been odd if she did not know
how to dress herself. A good copy will often pass for an
original. It was not till about six years after our marriage
that my mother decided upon retiring from business. She
had made a very comfortable provision for herself, as Mr.
Wilson informed me, and took up her abode at Cheltenham,
where she lived in a very genteel way, was considered quite
a catch at card parties, and when she did ask people to
tea, she always did the thing in better style than anybody
else ; the consequence was she was not only visited by most
people, but in time became rather a person of consideration.
As she never mentioned her husband, it was supposed that
she was a widow, and in consequence of her well-regulated
establishment, she received much attention from several
Irish and foreign bachelors. In short, my mother obtained
almost the pinnacle of her ambition when she was once
fairly settled at Cheltenham. I ought to observe that
when she arrived there she had taken the precaution of
prefixing a name to her own to which by baptismal rite
she certainly was not entitled, and called herself Mrs.
Montague Saunders.

Shortly after Mrs. St. Felix had given notice to the doctor
that she should not return, and that her shop and the good-
will thereof were for sale, I received a letter from my
friend Tom Cobb, the doctor's assistant, telling me that
as he perceived he had now no chance of Mrs. St. Felix,
he had some idea of taking her shop, and setting up as
a tobacconist ; his reasons were that physic was a bore,
and going out of nights when called up a still greater. I
wrote to Lady O'Connor enclosing Mr. Tom's letter, and

361



POOR JACK

pointed out to her that I thought it would be a public
benefit to prevent Tom from killing so many people, as
he certainly would do if he continued in his present pro-
fession, and eventually set up for himself. She replied
that she agreed with me, but at the same time that she
was anxious to benefit fat Jane, who really was a very
good girl ; and that, therefore, she empowered me to
enter into a treaty with Mr. Thomas, by which, provided
he could obtain the lady's consent, he was to wed her,
and receive the stock-in-trade, its contents, and fixtures, and
goodwill, &c., as her portion.

As this was an offer which required some consideration
before it was refused, I wrote to Tom pointing out to him
the advantages of settling down with a good business, with a
wife to assist him, and a cat and dog all ready installed, upon
such advantageous conditions. Tom agreed with me, won
the love of fat Jane, which was easily done as he had no
rival, and in a short time was fairly set down as the successor
of Mrs. St. Felix. As for the doctor, he appeared to envy
Tom his having possession of the shop which his fair friend
once occupied ; he was inconsolable, and there is no doubt
but that he, from the period of her quitting Greenwich,
wasted away until he eventually was buried in the church-
yard. A most excellent man was Doctor Tadpole, and his
death was lamented by hundreds who esteemed his character,
and many hundreds more who had benefited not only by his
advice, but by his charitable disposition. About ten years
after my marriage Ben the Whaler was summoned away.
His complaint was in the liver, which is not to be surprised
at, considering how many gallons of liquor he had drunk
during his life.

Peter Anderson my father, my friend, my preceptor
was for many years inspecting boatswain of the hospital.
At last he became to a certain degree vacant in mind, and
his situation was filled up by another. He was removed
to what they call the helpless ward, where he was well
nursed and attended. It is no uncommon, indeed I may
say it is a very common thing, for the old pensioners,
as they gradually decay, to have their health quite perfect
when the faculties are partly gone ; and there is a helpless
ward established for that very reason, where those who

362



POOR JACK

are infirm and feeble, without disease, or have lost their
faculties while their bodily energies remain, are sent to,
and there they pass a quiet easy life, well attended, until
they sink into the grave. Such was the case with Peter
Anderson : he was ninety-seven when he died, but long
before that time his mind was quite gone. Still he was
treated with respect, and many were there who attended
his funeral. I erected a handsome tombstone to his
memory, the last tribute I could pay to a worthy, honest,
sensible, and highly religious good man.

Mr. Wilson has been dead some time; he left me a
legacy of five hundred pounds. I believe I have mentioned
all my old acquaintances now, except Bill Harness and
Opposition Bill. In living long certainly Opposition Bill
has beat his opponent, for Harness is in the churchyard,
while Opposition Bill still struts about with his hair as
white as snow, and his face shrivelled up like an old
monkey's. The last time I was at Greenwich I heard
the pensioners say to one another, "Why, you go ahead
about as fast as Opposition Bill." I requested this enigma
to me to be solved, and it appeared that one Greenwich
fair, Opposition Bill had set off home rather the worse
for what he had drunk, and so it happened that, crossing
the road next to the hospital, his wooden leg had stuck
in one of the iron plug-holes of the water conduit. Bill
did not, in his situation, perceive that anything particular
had occurred, and continued playing his fiddle and singing,
and, as he supposed, walking on the whole time, instead of
which he was continually walking round and round the one
leg in the plug-hole with the other that was free. After
about half-an-hour's trotting round and round this way, he
began to think that he did not get home quite so fast as he
ought, but the continual circular motion had made him more
confused than before.

"By Gum!" said Bill, "this hospital is a confounded long
way off. I'm sure I walk a mile, and I get no nearer ; how-
soebber, nebber mind here goes."

Here Billy struck up a tune, and commenced a song
along with it, still walking round and round his wooden
leg which was firmly fixed in the plug-hole, and so he
continued till he fell down from giddiness, and he was



POOR JACK

picked up by some of the people, who carried him home
to the hospital.

I have but one more circumstance to relate. I was one
day sitting with Bessy and my children, at the old cottage on
the beach, Bramble and my father were smoking their pipes
on a bench which they had set up outside, when one of the
Deal boats landed with passengers. As they passed by us
one old gentleman started, and then stopped short as he
beheld Bessy.

" Mine frau ! " he cried, " mine frau dat was in heaven 1 "

We stared very much, as we did not comprehend him ;
but he then came up to me, and said, " I beg your pardon,
mynheer, but what is dat young woman ? "

" She is my wife," replied I.

" I was going to say dat she was my wife, but dat is
impossible. Look you here, sar."

The old man pulled a miniature out of his breast, and
certainly the resemblance to Bessy was most remarkable.

"Now, sar, dat was my wife. Where did you get dis
young woman ? "

I requested him to walk into the cottage, and then told
him the history of Bessy.

" Sar, my wife was coming home with her child in a brig,
and the brig was never heard of. It was supposed that she
did perish, and every one else too. Sar, this lady must be
my daughter."

" I'm sorry that we have no proofs to offer you," re-
plied I ; " she had only bedclothes on when she was
taken into the boat, and there is nothing to establish her
identity."

" I am content, sar ; she must be my daughter. She was
in a brig with her mother, and she was saved the very same
year that her mother come home. There, sar, look at this
picture ; it is the same person. I want no more proof she
is my daughter."

Although this was what might be called only collateral
proof, I did agree with the old gentleman that it was very
strong ; at all events, it was sufficient for him, and he claimed
Bessy as his child. Had he claimed her to take her away, I
might have disputed it ; but as he loaded her with presents,
and when he died, which he did three years afterwards, and



POOR JACK

left twenty thousand rix dollars, of course I was perfectly
satisfied with his relationship.

So much for what has occurred since the time I married ;
and now, as the reader may, perhaps, wish to know some-
thing about the present condition of myself and family, I
must inform him that my father and Bramble are still alive,
and flourishing under their grey hairs. My sister has four
children, and her husband is now a dean : they do say that,
from the interest of his patron, he will in all probability be
a bishop, a distinction not to be envied in these days, and
therefore I do not wish him success. My mother is, however,
of the contrary opinion, having been told that her daughter
as a bishop's lady will take precedence and be led out before
Lady Hercules. Sir James and Lady O'Connor are still
well, and as happy as they well can be. Bessy has blessed
me with three boys and three girls, now all grown up ; but
the boys came first. The eldest is a lieutenant in his
Majesty's service, the second is a captain of an Indiaman,
and the third commands a free trader. They are all well-to-
do, and independent of their father. My girls, who are
much younger, have been well educated, and people say that
they are very handsome ; at all events, they are modest and
good-tempered. I have not attempted to conceal what I
once was, yet Time has called away most of those who knew
me in my profession. I am still considered as having been
a seafaring man, but nevertheless, in consequence of my
property, I am generally addressed by the title of Squire
Saunders. By not assuming a station which does not become
me, I find myself treated not only with respect, but with
friendship, by those who are in birth, as well as other qualifi-
cations, my superiors. My daughters are invited out to all
the balls and fetes in the neighbourhood, and are great
favourites wherever they go ; they all of them are like their
mother, not only in appearance, but in temper and dis-
position. We have plenty of young men who visit the
house, and I am afraid that we shall soon have to part with
two of them, my eldest, Virginia, being engaged to a ship-
builder at Limehouse, and Elizabeth to a young clergyman
in the neighbourhood. Jane thinks she never will marry,
and, as I tell her, I suppose she never will till she is
asked. To wind up, I may say that Bessy and I have

365



POOR JACK

been very happy, and promise still to be as happy as most
people are who pass through this pilgrimage. We have
competence the good opinion of the world a family who
have never caused us one hour's uneasiness (how few can
say that ?), and we have, I trust, a due sense of God's
mercy and kindness towards us, and never lie down in our
beds without thanking Him for the many mercies we have
received, and acknowledging how unworthy we are to have
been so signally blessed.



THE END.



THE SETTLERS IN CANADA



THE SETTLERS IN CANADA



CHAPTER I

JLT was in the year 1794, that an English family went out to
settle in Canada. This province had been surrendered to us
by the French, who first colonised it, more than thirty years
previous to the year I have mentioned. It must, however,
be recollected, that to emigrate and settle in Canada was, at
that time, a very different affair to what it is now. The
difficulty of transport, and the dangers incurred, were much
greater, for there were no steamboats to stem the currents
and the rapids of the rivers ; the Indians were still residing
in Upper and many portions of Lower Canada, and the
country was infested with wild animals of every description
some useful, but many dangerous : moreoveir, the Europeans
were fewer in number, and the major portion of them were
French, who were not pleased at the country having been
conquered by the English. It is true that a great many
English settlers had arrived, and had settled upon different
farms ; but as the French settlers had already possession of
all the best land in Lower Canada, these new settlers were
obliged to go into or toward Upper Canada, where, although
the land was better, the distance from Quebec and Montreal,
and other populous parts, was much greater, and they were
left almost wholly to their own resources, and almost without
protection. I mention all this, because things are so very
different at present : and now I shall state the cause which
induced this family to leave their home, and run the risk and
dangers which they did.

Mr. Campbell was of a good parentage, but, being the
son of one of the younger branches of the family, his father

1 A



THE SETTLERS IN CANADA

was not rich, and Mr. Campbell was, of course, brought up to
a profession. Mr. Campbell chose that of a surgeon ; and
after having walked the hospitals (as it is termed), he set up
in business, and in a few years was considered as a very able
man in. his profession. His practice increased very fast ; and
before he was thirty years of age he married.

Mr. Campbell had an only sister, who resided with him,
for their father and mother were both dead. But about five
years after his own marriage, a young gentleman paid his



Online LibraryFrederick MarryatPoor Jack; and The settlers in Canada → online text (page 32 of 58)