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A Strange Character

Mr. Synnington

Monday 8th February – at 8 oClock A.M. the Master went to the Governors palace for the Mail, and as there was nothing better to be done, I accompanied. We `had expected that the Mail would be ready for us at once, and that in little more than an hour we would be able to return on board. But here an unexpected difficulty occurred, to be able to understand which, I must enter into some explanation and mention some things which took place prior to this morning. You must know, then, that a Gentleman of the name of Synnington, belonging to the Ordinance Department and holding the rank of Clerk to the Works came on board on Saturday for the purpose of taking his passage with us to Malta or England, he was uncertain which. In this gentleman we recognised one, whom together with his lady, we had had the pleasure of meeting, when we drank with M.r James, the Brother of M.rs Lowndes, last year. We were rejoiced to find that one whom we had so agreeable intended to accompany us – we chatted together, and after fixing every thing definitely with the Captain, he left us. Next day, when I was on shore I met him in the streets, & he told me that he proposed to go [on] board with all his luggage that evening to prevent any confusion or delay next morning. I agreed with him as to the propriety of his plan and moreover added that we would be happy to meet him on board the Duke, when we returned. Nothing further took place at this time – we parted till evening, and in the meantime M.r Geach and I repaired to M.r Lowndes, where for the first time we were led to suspect that all was [not] right with M.r Synnington, who, he informed us had become unsettled in his mind since the death of his fondly beloved wife. With this intelligence very gently and cautiously hinted to us, we observed his conduct, when we met him on our return on board. This was amply sufficient to convince us of the truth of what we had heard. He talked wildly – told us how he had cheated the Doctor into giving him a certificate of bad health by a statement of fictitious symptoms – how certain persons wanted him to pay their bills twice over, whilst said he, I have their receipts, which they don’t know – but I shan’t produce. He told us also, a variety of other things, which were either absurd, or regarding which he had formed wrong notions – so that we were of the same opinion as his Colonel, that he was as mad as a march hare.

Mr. Synnington - Delay in getting Bill of health

With this preliminary explanation you will understand the nature of the difficulty, which occurred before we could get the Mails. At the palace we found the Letter bags all ready – but the Bill of Health had not yet been sent. To expedite this M.r Geach and I walked down as far as the Pratique Office, where we were told that it would [be] immediately dispatched after us to the palace, to which therefore we returned. There we found M.r Synningtons Colonel, who had just come from seeing him – and he disclosed to us some particulars which proved that there was method in his madness. It seems that he was indebted to a considerable amount to various people and that he had refused to pay them as he had their receipts, which nevertheless he refused to produce. In vain the Colonel urged him to justify himself in the eyes of honourable men – as, however, he had no military control over him, M.r Synnington disregarded what he said. When we saw him, the old Colonel was in a fine _ating and regretted the inutility of his interference – but added that if no detention was lodged against him – no person could stop him, as he had already obtained his passport. Some time having now elapsed and yet no tidings of the bill of health, we again strolled as far as the pratique office, where we found that the Bill only wanted the insertion of the name of our passenger. This was soon done and we got under weigh a third time for the Governors residence – received our Mail and returned on board. The news respecting M.r Synnington had got before us, and we were only in time to receive his good-bye, before he was removed by an order from the Police at the insistence of his creditors – and I strongly suspect that the delay which occurred ere we could get our clean Bill of Health, was only a ‘ruse de guerre’ to give time to his creditors to take steps for his apprehension.

Monday 8th Leave Corfu

At 11 oClock all preparations were made for setting sail - but from the state of the wind the Master felt some indecision as to which passage we should go, at the Northern or Southern. In the morning the wind blew very fresh from the SE – but in the forenoon subsided into a calm. Had the breeze kept up we would [have] gone out by the Northern route, but as it was M.r Geach decided upon the Southern, the same by which we had come to Corfu. In the afternoon we had a favourable breeze and by 8 oClock we were abreast of Cape Bianco.

Tuesday 9th February – beautiful weather and favourable breeze. Saw coast of Calabria and Sicily.

Wednesday 10th – very fine weather – foul wind in the morning. At 10.30 light and favourable breezes. Land of Sicily and Italy in sight.

Thursday 11th – delightful weather. In the morning wind light and unfavourable – in the afternoon it became more favourable and continued so all day.