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Pursued by a Privateer

Leave Cadiz

Tuesday 16th March – fine weather but foul wind. As we were proceeding out of the Bay, having received the Mail, we met the Osborne Packet, Leslie, from England.

Wednesday 17th – fine weather – Wind favourable in the forenoon but foul in the afternoon. Saw coast of Spain about Cape St. Vincent.

Thursday 18 – beautiful weather – wind favourable till the afternoon when it became contrary & in the evening fell away to a calm. Land in sight.

Friday 19th – fair wind in the morning – in sight of the entrance to the Tagus and the Rock of Lisbon. Delightful weather.

Apprehension of a Privateer

Saturday 20 – beautiful weather. This morning the Steam Packet (Meteor) which I have mentioned passed us on her way to England. Alternate calms and variable breezes all day. In the afternoon spoke a brig, which gave her name Havannah Packet London. I should not have thought it necessary to put this down, except from the circumstances which occurred afterwards respecting her. At 11 P.M. to our astonishment she bore down right for us, and passed close under our stern while the deepest silence prevailed. At last the same voice as before said ‘be kind enough to report us on your arrival’ to which a ready ‘Ay Ay’ was given. Now there were certain suspicious appearances. She told she was bound for London, and as she sailed infinitely better than us, it was surprising that we should meet her out of her course & so far behind. Her appearance also was not very satisfactory – she was painted black, & was what our Master called a “Yankee Clipper” or very fast sailing vessel. After passing us, however, she kept on her course & we on ours. [7]

Preparations of Defence

Sunday 21st March – fine weather – fresh breeze but unfavourable. Great alarm was excited but the appearance of the same brig we spoke yesterday a long way behind us. She was evidently following in the same track, and as little doubt was entertained, but that she was a Privateer, as we seemed to be her object from keeping so close to our wake, defensive & offensive preparations were judged to be necessary. With the assistance of a Colonel our Passenger & M.r Geach all arrangements were soon completed. Our only two cannons were loaded, the one with round ball and grape shot, the other with round ball & canister. A sufficient number of boarding pikes and tomahawks were dragged from their dark recesses, where they lay rusting and neglected, and placed in their proper places. An ample supply of ammunition for our musquets & cannon was taken from the Magazine, while at the same time the cutlasses & pistols, & musquets were, tho’ not removed from the Arms Chest, in readiness for use at a minutes warning. Every man was appointed to his station, and knew precisely what he had to do. The Mail had weights attached to it, that in case matters should come to such an extremity it might be sunk to escape the hands of the Pirates. For my own part I overhauled my instrument case – cleaned my amputating & other apparatus – procured rope & pieces of wood for tourniquets – and did every thing, which the hurry of circumstances would allow. During the afternoon & Evening we were all in a constant state of excitement and I must say for our crew that not one shewed any signs of faint heartedness, but on the contrary all expressed their determination to fight to the last well knowing what their fate would be if taken alive. The night however passed over without any alarm.

Monday 22nd  March – fine weather – fresh but unfavourable breeze – same Brig in sight some way to leeward.

Tuesday 23rd March – cloudy but pleasant weather – breezes variable but unfavourable. Same Brig in sight, but a long way before us. From the admirable sailing properties of the vessel, our men have called her the ‘Flying Dutchman.’ & really it is astonishing how she moves round & round us at pleasure, going fast, or going slow – to windward to leeward.

Wednesday 24th – fine cloudy w.r fresh breezes & nearly favourable.

Thursday 25th – cloudy but pleasant w.r – fresh breeze nearly favourable.

Friday 26th – fine weather but foul wind.

Saturday 27th – very fine weather – wind foul. We were obliged to go to the Northward of Scilly, up the Bristol Channel. In the evening we tacked to the Southward & at 11 P.M. saw the Scilly lights.

Sunday 28th – very fine weather – still foul wind. To day saw Scilly & Lands End.

Monday 29th – very fine weather – foul wind – notwithstanding which we made pretty progress, having worked up with the tide nearly as far as the Blackhead.

Arrive at Falmouth – Colonel Pearson – Mrs Pearson – Mrs Henry

Tuesday 30th – at 12 oClock we came to anchor in our old station. Weather beautiful. Shortly afterwards all our passengers went ashore, to Selly’s Hotel, viz. Colonel and M.rs Pearson, their servant Thomas. – M.rs Henry, her daughter, Ellen, and waiting maid Mary, all from Gibraltar.

Colonel Pearson, of the 23rd Royal Welsh Fusiliers, was one whom from his upright figure and measure & step you would at once pronounce to be a military person in whatever dress you might see him. He had been about 33 years in the service, and now enjoys a pension for the numerous wounds which he has received. Our Captain was once under him with a party of seamen, I think at Copenhagen, and of all the officers then in the regiment the Colonel and another are the only survivors. Colonel Pearson was a complete martinet, as I have heard, in other words so strict a disciplinarian, that he was regarded with no very good will by the men of the regiment. When he first came on board I considered him to be very stern & haughty – but having afterwards occasion to come into frequent contact and conversation with him in my professional capacity, I discovered my mistake, and that he was, if he chose, very pleasant and polite. He came with to England the expectation of being raised to the rank of a General, to which his long services might well be considered to entitle him.

M.rs Pearson the lady of the Colonel was a very pleasant woman but presented no marked distinction of character –

M.rs Henry was likewise a very pleasant lady, and was the wife of the American Consul at Gibraltar. She was coming to England to see two of her children who were in a boarding school, and likewise for the purpose of placing another in the same establishment. The very serious illness of the latter served to place the maternal character of M.rs Henry in a most admirable light. – her anxiety was very great – her care & attention unremitting, and I am persuaded that had the indisposition of little Ellen terminated fatally, the loss of reason or of life would have been the consequence to M.rs Henry. The child after leaving Gibraltar became very sea sick, but recovered perfectly at Cadiz. For two or three days after leaving the latter port, she was very sea sick and vomited frequently – but as yet no application was made to me. On the fourth day, the sickness and vomiting continuing severe, no nourishment being retained on the stomach, the bowels being constipated, and the girl being much reduced, the Mother spoke to me. It was with the utmost difficulty that I checked the vomiting by means of Camphor, opium & Ether rubbed over the region of the Stomach – a remedy which I had determined to try, because the cessation of motion in the vessel seemed to have no effect in checking the irregular motion of the stomach. And after checking the vomiting, great care was taken at to diet – and by these means she began to improve. By the time we reached Falmouth she was in her usual health, & full of her usual cheerful spirits.

End of Voyage to Mediterranean