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LETTER FROM BILL TRUCK, INCLOSING THE MAN-OF-WAR'S-MAN."
DEAR MR CHRISTOPHER,
EVER since my return to my native city, I have found nothing half so relishing, nothing that smacks so well with my taste, as a lounge over your inimitable Monthly, at my evening's allowance. With a jolly long ripe, and a cann of stuff before me, and old Buchanan planted in my dexter, I am as merry an old fellow as ever the devil shook a cudgel over. In fact, so many happy evenings have you made me spend, with still renewed and unabating delight, that I have not only formed the highest opinion of yourself, but have determined, out of sheer gratitude, to sniggle for your future acquaintance, by cheerfully volunteering to your service a few scraps of a work of my own, which, when finished, I intend to dedicate to your excellent correspondent E., of whose clear and pithy reasoning, I think it will furnish no contemptible an illustration.
Without any farther whiffling about the matter then, as I love to do a thing smartly, I herewith inclose as large a portion as I think you'll have room for; and if my terra et mare phraseology is not too rude for the finer and more delicate ears of your many thousand readers, of which I hope you'll inform me, you shall again hear from me long before my second appearance is wanted. On the other hand, if you like me not, you may either transmit me to Constable, or the Lion's Head, or dedicate me to any other pleasurable or necessary purpose you think proper, for I am in such good humour with Mr C. N., that which ever way he opines, he can never offend
In the month of July, 1811, at an earlier hour than that appropriated by the Leith burghers to their morning walk on the pier, the sound of a gun and display of a foretop-sail, not only announced that a vessel of war was getting under weigh, but hurried a party of ladies and gentlemen from the Britannia Inn to the landing place. "What a delightful morning you have got, Farrell!" said one of the ladies to a gentleman in full naval uniform-"I declare I almost envy you. The sea is so smooth and gentle, and the sun sparkles so beauteously athwart that fine bay there, that could I only persuade myself of a continuance of such charming weather and smooth water, I dare say, I don't know, though"-continued she, smiling and blushing—“ but I might almost be
"I thought as much, my good girl. But come, you will surely give me your hand at parting?"
66 O, certainly, Captain," said the lady, "and wish you fine weather, and a successful cruize into the bargain.'
The Captain thanked her and bowed; and having taken leave and made his obeisance to the rest of the party, he stepped into his gig, which immediately shoved off, and darted from the harbour with all that celerity, for which these boats are so famed.
The commander of his Majesty's sloop of war Whippersnapper, was speedily on board, and the vessel was already under way, when the Admiral telegraphed him to lay to, and send a midshipman on board the guardship, an order which was instantly obeyed, while the Captain impatiently exclaimed to his First Lieutenant, "What the deuce does the old fellow want now, Toddrell, think you?"
"Heaven knows, sir! for he's troublesome enough at times. However, I can soon tell you,” replied the Lieutenant, snatching a telescope from the capstan. "Oho! the old boy is going to send us his last quarter's gatherings, for a passage to Yarmouth, I suppose.
"Confound him and his rubbish," said Captain Farrell, peevishly. "Why the devil don't he kept a tender for his own use, like any other guardo, and not be continually disgracing his Majesty's officers and vessels with the transportation of all the felons and jail-sweepings of Scotland. Are there many of them ?"
"No, not above a dozen, I think," replied the Lieutenant;"yet the cutter is completely crowded; but that may be owing to the luggage, you know. You'll see them all directly.'
The cutter was soon along side, discharged of her cargo, and hoisted on board; whilst the Whippersnapper, taking a sweeping stretch round the islet of Inch Keith, stood down the Forth under all the sail she could carry.
From his antipathy to what he phrased rubbish and jail-sweepings, Captain Farrell was too much engrossed in crowding every inch of canvass upon his vessel his ingenuity could suggest, in order to give her a more imposing appearance from the shore, to pay the smallest attention to his new comers; and the petty officers seeing them stand
ing idle and unnoticed, instantly hurried them to work. This very inattention on his part, however, proved the very means of bringing them all the sooner under his notice; for having at last got the Whippersnapper something to his mind, he was hurrying aft to indulge himself with a stern-forward view of her, when, in passing a solid mass of fellows, who were tugging away at a weather-brace, the whole suddenly lost footing by a yaw of the vessel, and tripping up his heels, rolled him before them into the lea scuppers. From this awkward and ignoble situation he was speedily released by the exertions of a young man, who, with great alacrity, flew to his assistance, and succeeded in dragging him from the embraces, and from under some hundreds weight of sturdy terrestrial matter, ere his astonished subalterns could come to his relief; then, assisting him to his feet, and modestly expressing his hope that he had sustained no injury, he rapidly mixed among the crew. Captain Farrell looked after the stranger in silence, surveyed his crest-fallen and uprising levellers with an angry eye, and having bestowed upon them a few passionate epithets, which we shall not stop to repeat, retired to his cabin to adjust his soiled clothes.
"By G―d, my lads,” cried an old seaman, addressing these unfortunate aggressors on dignity," you had better keep a good look out in future. The skipper, I can tell you, is not the lad that will allow himself to be floundered about in that there sort of manner even by us, who are sea-goers, far less by the like of you mere landlubbers, who are good for nothing but emptying a bread bag. I would therefore have you stand clear the next time, otherwise you'll catch it."
"Catch what?" asked one of the recruits, with great simplicity.
"A broom-stick, you scoundrel!" replied old Bluff, walking away and eyeing his querist with infinite contempt.
But Captain Farrell had been bred in too hardy a school to allow his good humour to be invaded by trifles, and no sooner had consigned his clothes into the hands of his servant, than he was again upon deck, with no other remembrance of his fall than a cer tain degree of curiosity to see and know something of his passengers, &
he termed them—a desire, which was no doubt a little heightened by the modest gallantry and genteel address of the young stranger by whom he had been so opportunely aided. Seating himself, therefore, on the tafferail, he was proceeding to examine the hitherto neglected list of the guardship, when he discovered it enclosed a note, addressed to himself, which he immediately opened and read as follows:
"H. M. S. Adamant,
"ALONG with a few law customers, hospital impressed, and other as-usual articles, which it is my orders to transmit you for a passage to Yarmouth, I send you a single volunteer, who is certainly the most complete and clever unaccountable I have ever met with since we entered on the guardo service, and who, by my honour, has constantly foiled me in every attempt I have hitherto made to discover who or what the devil he is. Pray God he may'nt turn out to be a king's-yarn of the old fellow himself after all!
"Now, my dear Frank, as I confess my curiosity is not trifling to know who or what he is, and as I know you of old to be a cool, studious, boring sort of a fellow, I have pointed him thus out to you as a famous subject on which to try your fist; and shall cheerfully hold myself your debtor for any thing under a gallon of Rhenish, if you can give me a rational account of him when you return. Certain I am
he is far above the common grade; for not only has he got all the language and polite manners of an admiral about him, but positively puts me down in the way of talking with as much ease as I could tip me a glass of grog. In my own eye, I have thought him many things; but not to my own satisfaction by half; for I think him by far too modest for a player, and a devilish sight too free of his fists for one of your psalm-singing lubbers.
"He first came under my notice from a complaint made against him by our first boatswain's mate. It would appear that our young volunteer had not been long on board before old Brady, who you know for a scoundrel of the first water, had thought proper to cut away the skirts of his coat; which was no sooner done than he, far from relishing so simple a mode of VOL. X.
procuring patches, directly up fist, and levelled old Silver Whistle with the deck. The battle thus commenced, raged so violently, that first the garrison and then the gun room were up in arms; and when at last he was secured and brought before me, he laid down the law and defended himself in such a spirited gentlemanly manner, that, d- -n me, Frank, if I did'nt applaud the fellow, while I was obliged to condemn him. Since that time, by way of some small compensation, I have employed him constantly in the clerk's office, where I have always found him quite at home, and can warmly recommend him to you, if you are in want; and I part with him now at his own request, somewhat reluctantly, for no other reason than that he and Brady seem to be irreconcileable.
"By the way of finish for this time, my lad, should you go into Bressay, as you likely will, I will thank you to tell my old friend Kate of Lerwick, that I'll not expect her here this summer, though the good old girl may send me as many stockings and geese as she pleases, you know. If you want a reason for this sudden shift of wind, I will honestly tell you, that the blessed effects of my last cruise on shore has so completely drained me with my agents, as will fairly compel me to hoist the yellow flag till a future quarter day. Then, my boy, the word shall be Bout ship! for none shall be merrier than your friend and messmate,
RALPH HIGHGATE, "Lieut. and Commanding Officer."
No sooner had Captain Farrell read this elegant production, which, whatever may be thought of it, had cost Lieutenant Highgate no small degree of trouble, than seeing some of his own officers busied in trimming some of the foremast sails, he himself called to the boatswain's mate to send the people from the guard-ship aft to muster-an order which was promptly obeyed by an ear-stunning blast of the whistle, the huge fellow growling out as he went forward, "Do ye hear there, Adamants?-Go aft there on the quarter-deck, man and mother's son of ye, to muster !"-which was no sooner over than the Captain, walking along their front, amused himself with inquiring into the nature of the va rious offences which had consigned X
most of the strangers over to a man of war, and laughed very heartily at the bungling attempts some of them made to palliate their crimes.
He next made some slight inquiries into the respective abilities of the other seamen, and concluded this ceremonial by consigning them all into the hands of the purser's steward, in order to be dressed, retaining only the young volunteer, to whom he signified his intention of having something to say.
He was now joined by his Lieutenant, who, after perusing the aforesaid epistle, burst out into a most immoderate fit of laughter, at what he called the absurdity of Highgate's opinion. "By the Lord Harry, he gets worse and worse: that Guardo will not leave one drop of seaman's blood in him. But why should I be surprised at any of Ralph's freaks or whimsies-it was ever thus with him; he was ever full of romance and poetry, madrigals, players, and skip-jacks. I remember as well as 'twere yesterday, when I was Mid. with him in the Temeraire, he was known to all the fleet by the name of Sentimental Jacky: and it's not the first dozen of times I've seen him grace the cross-trees or topgallantyard for coquetting on paper with some fanciful Daphne or other, when he ought to have been thumbing his Hamilton Moore. He is a brave fellow, however, and a good seaman; and his only fault, if it be one, is, that he is inclined to look on passing matters with eyes that would do more honour to a parson than to a naval officer. As to his notions regarding this lad, I'm convinced they'll be quite of a piece with many others that I've seen him form. However, let us overhaul the fellow-this highflying incognito-'twill be but unkenneling a fox, and will afford some excellent sport."
Captain Farrell smiled at the mischief he saw hatching in Toddrell's brain; but protested against all severity, as the young man, besides having rendered him very essential service that day, was a volunteer, and did not belong to the ship.
"Phoo!" cried the Lieutenant, "a volunteer! that's all in my eye!-and as for not belonging to the vessel, what matters it ?-isn't he in the service? However, take your own way of it; for I am devilishly mistaken indeed if you shan't find me right."
The young stranger, who had all this while stood uncovered at a humble distance, was now ordered to advance by Captain Farrell.-" Come nearer, my lad," said he, leaning his back to the capstan; "I find by this list, that you call yourself Edward Davies?" The stranger bowed in silent assent. "And pray, Mr Davies, d'ye belong to this place?"-" Yes, sir," was the answer. "Were you ever at sea before, my lad ?” "No, sir."
"O well, then, you were probably brought up from childhood in its neighbourhood, and have been accustomed all your life to the noise and bustle of shipping?"
Here the impatient Lieutenant broke in,- "Or perhaps you've had some near relations in the service who were accustomed to spin their yarns?Pshaw! I mean, to tell you marvellous long stories about it when you were a boy?"
No, sir," was still the response. "What!" exclaimed the Lieutenant indignantly, were you neither brought up in the neighbourhood of the sea, nor had some kinsman or other to tell you lies and blarney about it? -Pray what the devil then made you think of it? Was it because the shore would support you no longer? or was it"
"Truce, Toddrell," said Captain Farrell, smiling and interrupting him, "give the lad fair play at least. i asked you, my lad, a plain question, and you have hitherto returned me an evasive answer. I must, and will have a distinct one.-Tell me, and tell me at once, were you ever at sea before?"
No, sir,” replied the young man, with looks of distress.
Ha, ha, ha, ho-a!" burst out the Lieutenant, and stamped his foot for joy. "Come, come, Mister Davies," said the Captain somewhat sternly, "this will never do. I must have more from you than no, sir, when I condescend to ask you questions.".
"I have answered you both, gentlemen, with the most scrupulous regard to truth," replied Edward, modestly, but firmly. "I never lived nearer the sea than Edinburgh where I was born, or the banks of Esk, where I believe I spent the happiest years of my life. As to my reason for beco