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yard — round with it; set the jib — that's it — fore-topmast staysail haul never mind if the gale takes it out of the bolt-rope” – a thundering flap, and away it flew in truth down to leeward, like a puff of white smoke. -“Never mind, men, the jib stands. Belay all that down with the helm, now — don't you see she has stern way yet? Zounds! we shall be smashed to atoms if you don't mind your hands, you lubbers — main-topsail sheets let fly — there she pays off, and has headway once more - that's it: right your helm, now — never mind his spanker-boom, the fore-stay will stand it: there — up with helm, sir — we have cleared him — hurrah!"
- And a near thing it was too, but we soon had everything snug; and although the gale continued without any intermission for ten days, at length we ran in and anchored with our prize in Five-Fathom Hole, off the entrance to St. George's Harbour.
It was lucky for us that we got to anchor at the time we did, for that same afternoon one of the most tremendous gales of wind from the westward came on that I ever saw. Fortunately it was steady and did not veer about, and having good ground-tackle down, we rode it out well enough. The effect was very uncommon; the wind was howling over our mast-heads, and amongst the cedar bushes on the cliffs above, while on deck it was nearly calm, and there was very little swell, being a weather shore; but half a mile out at sea all was white foam, and the tumbling waves seemed to meet from north and south, leaving a space of smooth water under the lee of the island, shaped like the tail of a comet, tapering away, and gradually roughening and becoming more stormy, until the roaring billows once more owned allegiance to the genius of the storm.
There we rode, with three anchors ahead, in safety through the night; and next day, availing of a temporary lull, we ran up and anchored off the Tanks. Three days after this, the American frigate President was brought in by the Endymion and the rest of the squadron.
I went on board, in common with every officer in the fleet, and certainly I never saw a more superb vessel; her scantling was that of a seventy-four, and she appeared to have been fitted with great care. I got a week's leave at this time, and, as I had letters to several families, I contrived to spend my time pleasantly enough.
Bermuda, as all the world knows, is a cluster of islands in the middle of the Atlantic. There are Lord knows how many of them, but the beauty of the little straits and creeks which divide them no man can describe who has not seen them. The town of St. George's, for instance, looks as if the houses were cut out of chalk; and one evening the family where I was on a visit proceeded to the main island, Hamilton, to attend a ball there. We had to cross three ferries, although the distance was not above nine miles, if so far. The 'Mudian women are unquestionably beautiful — so thought Thomas Moore, a tolerable judge, before me. By the by, touching this 'Mudian ball, it was a very gay affair — the women pleasant and beautiful; but all the men, when they speak, or are spoken to, shut one eye and spit; a lucid and succinct description of a community.
The second day of my sojourn was fine — the first fine day since our arrival — and with several young ladies of the family, I was prowling through the cedar wood above St. George's, when a dark good-looking man passed us; he was dressed in tight worsted net pantaloons and Hessian boots, and wore a blue frockcoat and two large epaulets, with rich French bullion, and a round hat. On passing, he touched his hat with much grace, and in the evening I met him in society. It was Commodore Decatur. He was very much a Frenchman in manner, or, I should rather say, in look, for although very well bred, he, for one ingredient, by no means possessed a Frenchman's volubility; still, he was an exceedingly agreeable and very handsome man.
The following day we spent in a pleasure cruise amongst the three hundred and sixty-five islands, many of them not above an acre in extent fancy an island of an acre in extent ! — with a solitary house, a small garden, a red-skinned family, a piggery, and all around clear deep pellucid water. None of the islands, or islets, rise to any great height, but they all shoot precipitously out of the water, as if the whole group had originally been one huge platform of rock, with numberless grooves subsequently chiselled out in it by art.
We had to wind our way amongst these manifold small channels for two hours, before we reached the gentleman's house where we had been invited to dine; at length, on turning a corner, with both lateen sails drawing beautifully, we ran bump on a shoal; there was no danger, and knowing that the 'Mudians were capital sailors, I sat still. Not so Captain K—, a round plump little homo, -“Shove her off, my boys, shove her off.” She would not move, and thereupon he, in a fever of gallantry, jumped overboard up to the waist in full fig; and one of the men following his example, we were soon afloat. The ladies applauded, and the captain sat in his wet breeks for the rest of the voyage, in all the consciousness of being considered a hero. Ducks and onions are the grand staple of Bermuda, but there was a fearful dearth of both at the time I speak of — a knot of young West India merchants, who, with heavy purses and large credits on England, had at this time domiciled themselves in St. George's, to batten on the spoils of poor Jonathan, having monopolised all the good things of the place. I happened to be acquainted with one of them, and thereby
had less reason to complain; but many a poor fellow, sent ashore on duty, had to put up with but Lenten fare at the taverns. At length, having refitted, we sailed in company with the Rayo frigate, with a convoy of three transports, freighted with a regiment for New Orleans, and several merchantmen for the West Indies.
“The still vexed Bermoothes"-I arrived at them in a gale of wind, and I sailed from them in a gale of wind. What the climate may be in the summer I don't know; but during the time I was there it was one storm after another.
We sailed in the evening with the moon at full, and the wind at west-north-west. So soon as we got from under the lee of the land the breeze struck us, and it came on to blow like thunder, so that we were all soon reduced to our storm staysails; and there we were, transports, merchantmen, and men-of-war, rising on the mountainous billows one moment, and the next losing sight of everything but the water and sky in the deep trough of the sea, while the seething foam was blown over us in showers from the curling manes of the roaring waves. But overhead, all this while, it was as clear as a lovely winter moon could make it, and the stars shone brightly in the deep blue sky; there was not even a thin fleecy shred of cloud racking across the moon's disc. Oh, the glories of a northwester!
But the devil seize such glory! Glory, indeed! with a fleet of transports, and a regiment of soldiers on board! Glory! why, I daresay five hundred rank and file, at the fewest, were all cascading at one and the same moment,a thousand poor fellows turned outside in, like so many pairs of old stockings. Any glory in that? But to proceed.
Next morning the gale still continued, and when the day broke there was the frigate standing across our bows, rolling and pitching, as she tore her way through the boiling sea, under a close-reefed main-topsail and reefed foresail, with top-gallant-yards and royal masts, and everything that could be struck with safety in war-time, down on deck. There she lay, with her clear black bends, and bright white streak, and long tier of cannon on the maindeck, and the carronades on the quarterdeck and forecastle grinning through the ports in the black bulwarks, while the white hammocks, carefully covered by the hammock-cloths, crowned the defences of the gallant frigate fore and aft, as she delved through the green surge — one minute rolling and rising on the curling white crest of a mountainous sea, amidst a hissing snowstorm of spray, with her bright copper glancing from stem to stern, and her scanty white canvas swelling aloft, and twenty feet of her keel forward occasionally hove into the air and clean out of the water, as if she had been a sea-bird rushing to take wing - and the next, sinking entirely out of sight — hull, masts, and rigging - behind an intervening sea, that rose in hoarse thunder between us, threatening to overwhelm both us and her. As for the transports, the largest of the three had lost her foretopmast, and had bore up under her foresail; another was also scudding under a close-reefed fore-topsail; but the third or head-quarter ship was still lying to windward, under her storm staysails. None of the merchant vessels were to be seen, having been compelled to bear up in the night, and to run before it under bare poles.
At length, as the sun rose, we got before the wind, and it soon moderated so far that we could carry reefed topsails and foresail; and away we all bowled, with a clear, deep, cold, blue sky, and a bright sun overhead, and a stormy leaden-coloured ocean with whitish greencrested billows, below. The sea continued to go down, and the wind to slacken, until the afternoon, when the