Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

from whence he took a place in the tide-coach for Rochester; next morning, got on board the Thunder, for which he was appointed, then lying in the harbour at Chatham; and the same day was mustered by the clerk of the cheque. And well it was for him that such expedition was used; for, in less than twelve hours after his arrival, another William Thomson came on board, affirming that he was the person for whom the warrant was expedited, and that the other was an impostor.

My friend was grievously alarmed at this accidentthe more so, as his namesake had very much the advantage over him both in assurance and dress. However, to acquit himself of the suspicion of imposture, he produced several letters, written from Scotland to him in that name, and recollecting that his indentures were in a box on board, he brought them up, and convinced all present that he had not assumed a name which did not belong to him. His competitor, enraged that they should hesitate in doing him justice, (for, to be sure, the warrant had been designed for him,) behaved with so much indecent heat, that the commanding officer, who was the same gentleman I had seen, and the surgeon, were offended at his presumption, and, making a point of it with their friends in town, in less than a week got the first confirmed in his station. "I have been on board,” said he, “ever since, and, as this way of life is become familiar to me, have no cause to complain of

ause to complain of my situation. The surgeon is a good-natured indolent man; the first mate, who is now on shore on duty, is, indeed, a little proud and choleric, as all Welshmen are, but, in the main, a friendly honest fellow. The lieutenants I have no concern with; and as for the captain, he is too much of a gentleman to know a surgeon's mate, even by sight."

II

AN OLD-TIME MATE

While he was thus discoursing to me, we heard a voice on the cock-pit ladder pronounce with great vehemence, in a strange dialect, “The devil and his dam blow me from the top of Mounchdenny, if I go to him before there is something in my pelly; let his nose be as yellow as saffron, or as plue as a pell, look you, or green as a leek, 'tis all one.” To this declaration somebody answered, "So it seems my poor messmate must part his cable for want of a little assistance. His fore-top-sail is loose already; and, besides, the doctor ordered you to overhaul him; but I see you don't mind what your master says. Here he was interrupted with, "Splunter and oons! you lousy tog, who do you call my master? get you gone to the doctor, and tell him my birth, and education, and my abilities, and moreover my behaviour is as good as his, or any shentleman's (no disparagement to him) in the whole world. Got pless my soul! does he think, or conceive, or imagine, that I am a horse, or an ass, or a goat, to trudge backwards and forwards, and upwards and downwards, and by sea and by land, at his will and pleasure ? Go your ways, you rapscallion, and tell Dr. Atkins, that I desire and request that he will give a look to the tying man, and order something for him if he be dead or alive, and I will see him take it by and by, when my craving stomach is satisfied, look you.” At this the other went away, saying, that if they would serve him so when he was dying, by G-d, he would be foul of them in the other world.

Here Mr. Thomson let me know that the person we heard was Mr. Morgan, the first mate, who was just come on board from the hospital, whither he had attended some of the sick in the morning. At the same time I saw him come into the berth. He was a short thick man, with a face garnished with pimples, a snub nose turned up at the end, an excessive wide mouth, and little fiery eyes, surrounded with skin puckered up in innumerable wrinkles. My friend immediately made him acquainted with my case; when he regarded me with a very lofty look, but without speaking, set down a bundle he had in his hand, and approached the cupboard, which, when he had opened, he exclaimed in a great passion, “Cot is my life! all the pork is gone, as I am a Christian!” Thomson then gave him to understand, that as I had been brought on board half-famished, he could do no less than entertain me with what was in the locker; and the rather as he had bid the steward enter me in the

Whether this disappointment made Mr. Morgan more peevish than usual, or he rather thought himself too little regarded by his fellow-mate, I know not, but, after some pause, he went on in this manner, "Mr. Thomson, perhaps you do not use me with all the good manners, and complaisance, and respect, look you, that becomes you, because you have not vouchsafed to advise with me in this affair. I have, in my time, look you, been a man of some weight and substance and consideration, and have kept house and home, and paid scot and lot, and the king's taxes; ay, and maintained a family to boot. And moreover, also, I am your senior, and your elder, and your petter, Mr. Thomson.” “My elder I'll allow you to be, but not my better,” cried Thomson with some heat. “Cot is my Saviour, and witness too,” said Morgan, with great vehemence, "that I am more elder, and therefore more petter, by many years, than you.” Fearing this dispute might be attended with some bad consequence, I interposed, and told Mr. Morgan I was very sorry for having been the occasion of difference between him and the second mate; and that rather than cause the least breach in their good understanding, I would eat my allowance by myself, or seek admission into some other company. But Thomson, with more spirit than discretion, as I thought, insisted upon my remaining where he had appointed me; and observed, that no man possessed of generosity and compassion would have any objection to it, considering my birth and talents, and the misfortunes I had of late so unjustly undergone.

mess.

This was touching Mr. Morgan on the right key, who protested with great earnestness that he had no objection to my being received in the mess; but only complained that the ceremony of asking his consent was not observed. "As for a shentleman in distress," said he, shaking me by the hand, “I lofe him as I lofe my own powels; for, Cot help me! I have had vexations enough upon my own pack.” And, as I afterwards learned, in so saying, he spoke no more than what was true; for he had been once settled in a very good situation in Glamorganshire, and was ruined by being security for an acquaintance. All differences being composed, he untied his bundle, which consisted of three bunches of onions, and a great lump of Cheshire cheese, wrapped up in a handkerchief; and, taking some biscuit from the cupboard, fell to with a keen appetite, inviting us to a share of the repast. When he had fed heartily on his homely fare, he filled a large cup, made of a cocoa-nut shell, with brandy, and drinking it off, told us, "Prandy was the pest menstruum for onion and sheese." His hunger being appeased, he began to be in better humour; and being inquisitive about my birth, no sooner understood that I was descended of a good family, than he discovered a particular good will to me on that account, deducing his own pedigree in a direct line from the famous Caractacus, king of the Britons, who was first the prisoner and afterwards the friend of Claudius Cæsar. Perceiving how much I was reduced in point of linen, he made me a present of two good ruffled shirts, which, with two more of check which I received from Mr. Thomson, enabled me to appear with decency. Meanwhile the sailor whom Mr. Morgan had sent to the doctor, brought a prescription for his messmate, which, when the Welshman had read, he got up to prepare it, and asked if the man was “Tead or alive." Deadl” replied Jack, “if he was dead he would have no occasion for doctor's stuff. No, thank God, death ha'nt as yet boarded him, but they have been yard arm and yard arm these three glasses.” “Are his eyes open?” continued the mate. "His starboard eye,” said the sailor, “is open, but fast jammed in his head; and the haulyards of his under jaw have given way." "Passion of my heart !" cried Morgan, “the man is as pad as one would desire to be! Did you feel his pulses?" To this the other replied with, “Anan?” Upon which this Cambro-Briton, with great earnestness and humanity, ordered the tar to run to his messmate, and keep him alive till he should come with the medicine, “And then," said he, "you shall, peradventure, pehold what you shall see." The poor fellow, with great simplicity, ran to the place where the sick man lay, but, in less than a minute, returned with a woeful countenance, and told us his comrade had struck. Morgan, hearing this, exclaimed, "Mercy upon my salvation! why did you not

« ForrigeFortsæt »