Mrs Campbell was well matched with him as a wife, as she had all that
energy and decision of character which was sometimes wanting in her
husband. Still there was nothing masculine in her manners or appearance;
on the contrary, she was delicate in her form, and very soft in her
manners. She had great firmness and self-possession, and had brought up
all her children admirably. Obedience to their parents was the principle
instilled into them after their duty to Godfor she knew too well that a
disobedient child can never prosper. If ever there was a woman fitted to
meet the difficulty and danger which threatened then, it was Mrs
Campbell, for she had courage and presence of mind, joined to activity
Henry, the eldest son, was now nearly twenty years of age. He possessed
much of the character of his father, was without vice, but rather
inclined to inaction than otherwise. Much was to be ascribed to his
education and college life, and more to his natural disposition.
Alfred, the sailor, was, on the contrary, full of energy, and active in
everything, patient and laborious, if required, and never taking
anything in hand without finishing it, if possible.
was rough, but not rude, both in his speech and his manners, very
kind-hearted, at the same time very confident in himself and afraid of
Mary Percival was a very amiable, reflective girl, quiet without being
sad, not often indulging in conversation, except when alone with her
sister Emma. She was devotedly attached to her uncle and aunt, and was
capable of more than she had any idea of herself, for she was of a
modest disposition, and thought humbly of herself. Her disposition was
sweet, and was portrayed in her countenance. She was now seventeen years
old, and very much admired.
Her sister Emma, who was but fifteen, was of a very different
disposition, naturally gay, and inclined to find amusement in
everything; cheerful as a lark, and singing from morning to night. Her
disposition, owing to Mrs Campbells care and attention, was equally
amiable as her sisters, and her high spirits seldom betrayed her into
indiscretion. She was the life of the family when Alfred was away: he
only was her equal in high spirits.
Percival, the third boy, was now twelve years old; he was a quiet,
clever lad, very obedient and very attentive to what was told him, very
fond of obtaining information, being naturally very inquisitive.
John, the fourth boy, was ten years old; a sturdy, John Bull sort of
boy, not very fond of learning, but a well-disposed boy in most things.
He preferred anything to his book; at the same time, he was obedient,
and tried to keep up his attention as well as he could, which was all
that could be expected from a boy of his age. He was very slow in
everything, very quiet, and seldom spoke unless first spoken to. He was
not silly, although many people would have thought him so, but he
certainly was a very strange boy, and it was difficult to say what he
would turn out.
have now described the family as they appeared at the time that they
embarked on board of the London
Merchant; and have only to add, that on the third day after their
embarkation, they made sail with a fair wind, and ran down the Irish
The London Merchant sailed
for Cork, where the North American convoy were to assemble. At the time
we speak of, the war had recommenced between this country and the
French, who were suffering all the horrors of the Revolution. On their
arrival at Cork, our party recovered a little from the sea-sickness to
which all are subject on their first embarkation. They found themselves
at anchor with more than a hundred merchant-vessels, among which were to
be perceived the lofty masts and spars of a large fifty-gun ship, and
two small frigates, which were appointed to convoy them to their
The rest of the party, still suffering, soon went down below again, but
Alfred remained on deck leaning against the bulwarks of the vessel, his
eyes and his thoughts intently fixed upon the streaming pennants of the
men-of-war, and a tear rolled down his cheek, as he was reminded that he
no longer could follow up his favourite profession. The sacrifice that
he had made to his family was indeed great. He had talked lightly of it
before them, not wishing them to believe that it was so. He had not told
his father that he had passed his examination for lieutenant before he
had been paid off at Portsmouth; and that his captain, who was very
partial to him, had promised that he should soon be advanced in the
service. He had not told them that all his wishes, all his daily hopes,
the most anxious desire of his existence, which was to become a
post-captain, and in command of a fine frigate, were blighted by this
sacrifice he had made for them and their comfort. He had concealed all
this, and assumed a mirth, which he did not feel; but now that he was
alone, and the pennant was once more presented to his view, his regrets
could not be controlled. He sighed deeply, and turning away with his
arms folded, said to himself, I have done my duty. It is hard, after
having served so long, and now just arrived at the time in which I have
reason to expect my rewardto rise in the servicedistinguish myself by
my zeal, and obtain a reputation, which, if it pleased God, I would have
done very hard, to have to leave it now, and to be hid in the woods,
with an axe in my hand; but how could I leave my father, my mother, and
my brothers and sisters, to encounter so much difficulty and privation
by themselves, when I have a strong arm to help them. No, no!I have
done my duty to those who ever did their duty to me, and I trust that my
own conscience will prove my reward, and check that repining which we
are too apt to feel when it pleases Heaven to blight, what appear to be,
our fairest prospects... I say, my good fellow, said Alfred, after a
while, to a man in a boat, what is the name of that fifty-gun ship?
dont know which ship has fifty guns, or which has a hundred; replied
the Irishman, but if you mean the biggest, she is called the Portsmouth.
The Portsmouth! the
very ship Captain Lumley was appointed to, cried Alfred. I must go on
Alfred ran down to the cabin, and requested the captain of the
transport, whose name was Wilson, to allow him the small boat to go on
board the man-of-war. His request was granted, and Alfred was soon up
the side of thePortsmouth. There were some of his old messmates
on the quarter-deck, who welcomed him heartily, for he was a great
favourite. Shortly afterwards, he sent down a message by the steward,
requesting that Captain Lumley would see him, and was immediately
afterwards ordered to go into the cabin.
Well, Mr Campbell, said Captain Lumley, so you have joined us at
last; better late than never. Youre but just in time. I thought you
would soon get over that foolish whim of yours, which you mentioned in
your letter to me, of leaving the service, just after you had passed,
and had such good chance of promotion. What could have put it in your
Nothing, sir, replied Alfred, but my duty to my parents. It is a most
painful step for me to take, but I leave you to judge whether I can do
Alfred then detailed to Captain Lumley all that had occurred, the
resolution which his father and mother had taken, and their being then
on board the timber-ship, and about to proceed to their new destination.
Captain Lumley heard Alfreds story without interruption, and then,
after a pause, said, I think you are right, my boy, and it does you
honour. Where you are going to, I have no doubt that your courage and
your protection will be most important. Yet it is a pity you should be
lost to the service.
feel most sincerely, sir, I assure you, but
But you sacrifice yourself; I know that. I admire the resolution of
your father and mother. Few could have the courage to have taken such a
stepfew women, especially. I shall call upon them, and pay my respects.
In half an hour I shall be ready, and you shall accompany me, and
introduce me. In the meantime you can go and see your old messmates.
Alfred left the cabin, much flattered by the kindness of Captain Lumley,
and went down to his former messmates, with whom he remained until the
boatswain piped away the crew of the captains barge. He then went on
deck, and as soon as the captain came up, he went into the boat. The
captain followed, and they were soon on board of the London
Merchant. Alfred introduced Captain Lumley to his father and mother;
and in the course of half an hour, being mutually pleased with each
other, an intimacy was formed, when Captain Lumley observedI presume,
that much as you may require your sons assistance on your arrival at
Canada, you can dispense with his presence on board of this vessel. My
reason for making this observation is, that no chance should ever be
thrown away. One of my lieutenants wishes to leave the ship on family
concerns. He has applied to me, and I have considered it my duty to
refuse him, now that we are on the point of sailing, and I am unable to
procure another. But for your sons sake, I will now permit him to go,
and will, if you will allow him to come on board of thePortsmouth,
give Alfred an acting lieutenants order. Should anything occur on the
passage out, and it is not at all impossible, it will insure his
promotion; even if nothing occurs, I will have his acting order
confirmed. At Quebec, he shall, of course, leave the ship, and go with
you. I dont pretend to detain him from his duty; but you will observe,
that if he does obtain his rank, he will also obtain his half-pay,
which, if he remains in Canada with you, will be a great assistance; and
if things should turn out so well, that you can, after a year or two, do
without him, and allow him to return to the service, he will then have
already gained the most important step, and will, I have no doubt, soon
rise to the command of a ship. I will give you till to-morrow to decide.
Alfred can come on board in the morning, and let me know.
think I may say, Captain Lumley, replied Mrs Campbell, that my husband
could have but one reason in hesitating a moment, and that is, to
ascertain whether I would like to part with my son during our passage
out. I should, indeed, be a very weak woman, if I did not make such a
trifling sacrifice for his benefit, and at the same time, feel most
grateful to you for your kind intentions towards him. I rather think
that Mr Campbell will not find it necessary to have till to-morrow
morning to consider the proposal; but I leave him to answer for
can assure you. Captain Lumley, that Mrs Campbell has only expressed my
own feelings, and, as far as we are concerned, your offer is most
Then, replied Captain Lumley, Alfred has only to make his appearance
on board of the Portsmouth to-morrow
morning, and he will find his acting order ready for him. We sail, I
believe, the day after, if the weather is at all favourable; so, if I
have not another opportunity to pay my respects to you, you must allow
me to say farewell now. I shall keep my eye upon your vessel during the
passage; at all events, Alfred will, Im very sure.
Captain Lumley shook hands with Mr and Mrs Campbell, bowed to the rest
of the cabin party, and quitted the ship. As he went over the side, he
observed to Alfred, I perceive you have some attractions in your party.
It is quite melancholy to think that those pretty cousins of yours
should be buried in the woods of Canada. To-morrow, at nine oclock,
then, I shall expect you.Adieu!
Although the idea of Alfred leaving them during the passage out was not
pleasant, Mr and Mrs Campbell were most happy at the chance which had
offered itself for their sons advantage, and seemed in good spirits
when he took leave of them on the following morning.
Captain Wilson, you sail so well, that I hope you will keep close to us
all the passage out, observed Alfred, as he was taking leave.
Except you happen to come to action with an enemy, and then I shall
haul off to a respectful distance, Mr Alfred, replied Captain Wilson,
That, of course. Cannon-balls were never invented for ladies, although
they have no objection to ballshave they, Emma? Well, good-bye! once
more. You can often see me with the spy-glass, if you feel inclined.
Alfred shoved off in the boat, and was soon on board of the Portsmouth.
The following day they sailed with a fair wind and moderate weather, the
convoy now increased to 120 vessels.
must leave Mr and Mrs Campbell and family on board the London
Merchant, and follow Alfred in thePortsmouth, during the
passage to Quebec.
For several days the weather was moderate, although the wind was not
always fair, and the convoy was kept together, and in good order. The London
Merchant was never far
from the Portsmouth,
and Alfred employed a large portion of his time, when he was not keeping
his watch, in keeping his spy-glass upon the vessel, and watching the
motions of his cousins and the rest of the family. On board of the London
Merchant they were
similarly occupied, and very often a handkerchief was waved by way of
salute and recognition.
last they arrived off the banks of Newfoundland, and were shrouded in a
heavy fog, the men-of-war constantly firing guns, to inform the
merchant-ships in what direction they were to steer, and the
merchant-vessels of the convoy ringing their bells to warn each other,
that they might not be run foul of.
The fog lasted two days, and was still continuing when the party on
board the London Merchant,
just as they were sitting down to dinner in the cabin, heard a noise and
bustle on deck. Captain Wilson ran hastily up, and found that his vessel
had been boarded by a French boats crew, who had beaten down the men and
taken possession. As there was no help, all he could do was to go down
to the cabin, and inform his passengers that they were prisoners. The
shock of this intelligence was very great, as may be supposed, but still
there was no useless lamentation or weeping. One thing is certain, that
this news quite spoilt their appetite for their dinner, which, however,
was soon despatched by the French officer and his men, after the boat
had left, and the vessels head had been put in an opposite direction.
Captain Wilson, who had returned on deck, came down in about a quarter
of an hour, and informed the party, who were silently brooding over this
sudden change in their prospects, that the wind was very light, and that
he thought the fog was clearing off a little, and that if it did so
before it was dark, he was in great hopes that they should be
recaptured. This intelligence appeared to revive the hopes of Mr and Mrs
Campbell, and they were still more encouraged when they heard the sounds
of guns at no very great distance. In a few minutes afterwards the
cannonading became very furious, and the Frenchmen who were on board
began to show strong signs of uneasiness.
The fact was, that a French squadron, of one sixty-gun ship and two
corvettes, had been on the look-out for the convoy, and had come in
among them during the fog. They had captured and taken possession of
several vessels before they were discovered, but the sixty-gun ship at
last ran very near to the Portsmouth,
and Alfred, who had the watch, and was on a sharp look-out, soon
perceived through the looming fog, that she was not one of the convoy.
He ran down to acquaint the captain, and the men were immediately
ordered to their quarters, without beating the drum, or making any noise
that might let the enemy know they were so near. The yards were then
braced in, to check the way of the Portsmouth,
so that the strange vessel might come up with her. Silence was kept fore
and aft, not a whisper was to be heard; and as the Frenchmen neared
them, they perceived a boat putting off from her to board another vessel
close to them, and also heard the orders given to the men in the French
language. This was sufficient for Captain Lumley: he put the helm down,
and poured a raking broadside into the enemy, who was by no means
prepared for such a sudden salute, although her guns were cast loose,
ready for action, in case of accident. The answer to the broadside was a
cry of Vive la République! and in a few seconds both ships were
hotly engagedthe Portsmouth having
the advantage of lying upon the bow of her antagonist.
is often the case, the heavy cannonading brought on a dead calm, and the
two ships remained in their respective positions, except that the Portsmouths was
the more favourable, having drawn ahead of the French vessel, so that
her broadside was poured into her opponent, without her being able to
return the fire from more than four or five of her guns.
The fog became more opaque than ever; the two ships had neared each
other considerably or it would have been impossible to distinguish. All
that they could see from the deck of the Portsmouth was
the jibboom and cap of the bowsprit of the Frenchman; the rest of her
bowsprit, and her whole hull, were lost in the impenetrable gloom; but
that was sufficient for the men to direct their guns, and the fire from
the Portsmouth was
most rapid, although the extent of its execution was unknown. After half
an hour of incessant broadsides, the two vessels had approached each
other so close, that the jibboom of the Frenchman was pointed between
the fore and main rigging of the Portsmouth. Captain Lumley
immediately gave orders to lash the Frenchmans bowsprit to his
main-mast, and this was accomplished by the first lieutenant, Alfred,
and the seamen, without any serious loss, for the fog was still so thick
that the Frenchmen on their forecastle could not perceive what was doing
at their bowsprits cap.
She is ours now, said Captain Lumley to the first lieutenant.
Yes, sir,fast enough. I think, if the fog were to clear away, they
would haul down their colours.
Not till the last, depend upon it, replied Captain Lumley. Fire away
there, on the main-deck, give them no time to take breath. Mr Campbell,
tell the second lieutenant to let the foremost lower deck guns be
pointed more aft. I say, not till the last, repeated Captain Lumley to
the first lieutenant; these Republicans will take a great deal of
beating, even upon the water.
Its clearing up, air, to the northward a little, said the master.
seeyes, it is, replied Captain Lumley.
Well, the sooner the better; we shall see what has become of all the
shot we have been throwing away.
white silvery line appeared on the horizon, to the northward; gradually
it increased, and as it rose up, became broader, till at last the
curtain was lifted up, and a few feet were to be seen above the clear
blue water. As it continued to approach, the light became more vivid,
the space below increased, and the water was ruffled with the coming
wind, till at last the fog rolled off as if it had been gradually
furled, and sweeping away in a heavy bank to leeward, exposed the state
and position of the whole convoy, and the contending vessels. The
English seamen on board of the Portsmouth cheered
the return of daylight, as it might truly be termed. Captain Lumley
found that they had been contending in the very centre of the convoy,
which was still lying around them, with the exception of fifteen
vessels, which were a few miles apart, with their heads in an opposite
direction. These were evidently those which had been captured. The two
frigates, which had been stationed in the rear of the convoy, were still
two or three miles distant, but making all sail to come up and assist
the Portsmouth. Many
of the convoy, which had been in the direction of the fire, appeared to
have suffered in their masts and sails; but whether any injury had been
received in their hulls it was not possible to say. The French
line-of-battle ship had suffered dreadfully from the fire of the Portsmouth.
Her main-mast and mizen-mast were over the side, her forward ports were
many of them almost beat into one, and everything on board appeared to
be in the greatest confusion.
She cant stand this long, observed Captain Lumley. Fire away, my
The Circe and Vixen are
coming down to us, sir, observed the first lieutenant; we do not want
them, and they will only be an excuse for the Frenchmen to surrender to
a superior force. If they recaptured the vessels taken, they would be of
Very true. Mr Campbell, make their signal to pursue captured vessels.
Alfred ran aft to obey the orders. The flags had just flown out at the
mast-head, when he received a bullet through his arm; for the French,
unable to use the major portion of their guns, had, when the fog cleared
up, poured in incessant volleys of musketry upon the decks of the Portsmouth.
Alfred desired the quarter-master to untie his neck-handkerchief for
him, and bind up his arm. Having so done, he continued to do his duty. A
bold attempt was now made by the French to clear their vessel by cutting
the fastening of the bowsprit, but the marines of the Portsmouth were
prepared for them, and after about twenty gallant fellows had dropped
down on the booms and gangways of the Portsmouth,
the attempt was given up, and four minutes afterwards the French colours
were hauled down. She was boarded from her bowsprit by the first
lieutenant and a party of seamen. The lashings were cast off, and the
vessels cleared of each other, and then the English seamen gave three
cheers in honour of the victory.