Page images
[ocr errors]

which the very nature of the service renders necessary, should make every good officer desirous of establishing the comfort of his crew. Temper discipline with kindness. Endeavour to grant some respite in port, if the tenour of your instructions will admit it. The refitting, stowing stores, squaring yards, working boats, and drying sails, with all the minor minutiae, leave but little leisure. And yet I know many smart gentlemen who torment themselves to find constant labour for their ships' companies; and who would be astonished to discover that it was not considered a proof of knowledge. Jack knows well enough what is necessary, and therefore does not relish a too frequent mustering of hammocks and bags, polishing of iron work, and other artificial modes of teasing the time.'-pp. 171, 172.

Such were his feelings regarding the comfort of his crew; and, as respecting their lives

Remarking one day, in conversation, upon the dangers to which many, from a mistaken sense of courage, sometimes expose themselves and their crews, where no corresponding advantage could be gained,he said he had sinned occasionally in that way himself, but was cured of the propensity by an incident, which, though trifling in itself, had made a strong impression upon his mind. He had stood close in under one of the batteries of Martinique, when a shot fired from it fell at the feet of a midshipman, whom he had received under the anxious solicitations of a parent, to be as careful of him as circumstances would permit. "I asked myself seriously whether I had fulfilled the entreaties of my friend? I had no business to be where I then was, for no object could be accomplished by it; and had this boy been killed, I should have considered his death to have lain at my door. The same feeling has influenced me since; and as, however I may risk my own life, I have no right, unnecessarily, to endanger that of others, I take care to avoid it."'

The truth is, that Beaver was beloved by his men, and not by his officers. Captain Smyth observes, that he could not understand, and found it difficult to excuse, either indifference or idleness in either. His discipline, in the early part of his career, was, like that in which he had himself been trained, severe; but he soon saw his error, acknowledged, and corrected it. It then became strict, but never tyrannical, never unjust, never capricious. 'Yet,' says his biographer, the pardonable weakness of forgiving a little more frequently would, perhaps, have brought the commander's character nearer to perfection. But with him the punishment of slight transgressions could not be imputed to heat of temper, cloaked under the necessities of official discipline: it was what he considered a conscientious discharge of his duty.' Such the men knew it to be: they saw that he was exceedingly careful of their health; that he was sparing of their lives; and, what they would feel more than either, that he saved them from the annoy


ance of unnecessary labour. They therefore loved, as well as respected and admired him. But with the officers he was not popular, except with those who were capable of appreciating his character: for, when he commanded, he rarely, if ever, consulted any one. There was a degree of moral as well as physical magnanimity about him, which rather sought than shrunk from responsibility.' He could as easily have lowered his stature, as have concealed his consciousness of superiority to most of those by whom he was surrounded; and, wherever incapacity was evident, he evinced contempt, even towards senior officers.' But he had no other pride than this, which he deemed requisite for his station and necessary in his profession. Both in his life and conversation he was a strictly moral man-rather, it should be said, a religious one; for his life bore testimony to the sincerity and efficacy of his belief. He read prayers regularly and solemnly to the ship's company, and set them the best example, in the regularity and temperance of his habits.

Beaver was not unsuccessful in the Acasta, but his agent at Barbadoes died insolvent; and he was thus defrauded of more than 3000l. prize-money. He bore a distinguished part in the capture of Martinique and of the Saintes,-having, at both places, the charge of conducting and landing the troops; opened a communication with the Caraccas, upon the commencement of the Spanish war against the French; and, in 1809, sailed for England in his crazy frigate, literally freighted with Frenchmen,' his crew being so weak, that he not only thought it prudent to sleep with loaded fire-arms himself, but recommended a captain and lieutenant, who were his passengers, to do the same. The Acasta was paid off, and he remained about six months unemployed, when Lord Mulgrave appointed him to the Nisus, a frigate just completed; and he took leave of his friends and family for ever, and sailed for the Cape. The disembarkation at the Isle of France was entirely managed by him; and it was one of the most perfect as well as most arduous operations of the kind. As a reward for his exertions, the admiral left him senior officer on the station. Being thus obliged frequently to have men of high rank with their staff on board, he entreated that he might be permitted to draw for the trifling allowance generally accompanying a broad pendant; this, although inadequate to his expenses, would have diminished the accumulation of debt, in which the very nature of his distinguished services necessarily involved him; but his request was unheeded.' Commodore Beaver's next service was the capture of the Seychelles: after which he sailed for Madras, for treasure, taking the degree and a half channel, in consequence of a manuscript chart which he obtained in his conquest, and


thus saving nearly a thousand miles of route. In the reduction of Java he bore a conspicuous part, as he had always done wherever his services were required.

The war in the East being thus concluded, he returned to the Isle of France, cruised afterwards in search of an expected enemy in the Southern Indian Ocean, and in 1812 examined the east coast of Africa. On that coast, at Johanna, and at Mozambique, he collected many particulars concerning Benyowski; and believing that he knew more of the betrayal, and consequent fate, of that remarkable adventurer than any other person in the world, he expressed a hope in his journal that he might, at some future day, in his half-pay cottage, relate that tragedy to the world, and expose the villainy of those, who, by the barbarous murder of an adventurous nobleman, had so deeply injured the cause of humanity in those benighted regions.' Beaver had a strong sympathy with Benyowski: to colonize in Africa, for the purpose of civilizing the Africans, was the first wish of his heart. His account of Quiloa is very curious; and his conduct there distinguished by the same promptitude and sense of justice which always characterized him. He returned to the Cape somewhat debilitated by a disorder contracted at Batavia by hard duty, and by exertions at Quiloa, which were deemed imprudent. Beginning now to think with some anxiety concerning the future, and being painfully desirous to rejoin his family, he heard with joy that his ship was ordered, toward the end of December, to St. Helena, to collect a convoy for England; but neglecting, in his habitual reliance upon a strong constitution, to employ any medical aid for an ob struction, which might easily have been removed, he did not apply to his surgeon till it was too late. An interesting account of his death is given by that surgeon, Mr. Prior, now well known as the biographer of Burke: it was such as might have been expected from the whole tenour of his life, composed and manly, in the confidence of one who had always endeavoured to do his duty to the utmost, and in Christian faith.

His last hours were cheered by a persuasion that a valuable American ship, which he had lately captured, would form a provision for his family; for he had no suspicion that the greater part of the cargo would be claimed and awarded as individual property.'

His family, at his death, consisted of Mrs. Beaver and six children; and as fortune had not favoured him in the acquisition of wealth, his widow was, through the kindness of Lord Viscount Melville, appointed matron of Greenwich Hospital School-a situation which she could have little contemplated, when her husband was so conspicuous in the high road to the brightest honours. This nomination, however,


afforded a refuge from pecuniary distress; and procured her an unexpected source of consolation, in the eager desire with which the veteran sailors crowded her door, intreating to see the children, those interesting portraits of their late revered commander."-p. 308.

Captain Smyth has rendered a service to his profession and his country by publishing these Memoirs of his friend. Yet we wish that he may be induced to perform a further service to both, and a further justice to the dead, by giving us more of Beaver's papers, of his journals and his letters; for, if ever there was a man whose secret thoughts would bear exposure to the world, it was this. Were these remains collected and published, with his African Memoranda, in such a form as would put them within reach of that wider public, to whom such a work would be equally acceptable and useful, they ought to be put into the hands of every midshipman, and of every young soldier as well; and they would form for their author a more durable monument than could have been erected to him in Westminster-Abbey or St. Paul's."

ART. VI.-Reise Sr. Hoheit des Herzogs Bernard zu SachsenWeimar-Eisenach durch Nord America, in den Jahren 1825 und 1826. Heraus-gegeben von Heinrich Luden. Weimar.



2. Travels in North America in the Years 1827 and 1828. By Captain Basil Hall, Royal Navy. 3 vols. 12mo. Edin. 1829. a vast number of travellers have visited America of late years, and have communicated to the public a vast body of facts and observations, none of them have contrived to inspire any great confidence in the European public. None of their representations enable even the most attentive readers to trace in the existing condition of manners, education, civilization, and social progress, the actual effects of the system of government adopted in the United States. Most of the travellers have made only hasty flights through the republic; have steamed up the rivers or along the shores, from province to province; or in crowded speedy waggons, misnamed mails, have posted, without intermission, from the capital of one state to that of another-made a short residence in each; conversed at the public tables, or in the boarding-houses, with the persons who sat near them at the rapidly dispatched meals; and then fancied themselves qualified to impart to the European world some information respecting their descendants beyond the Atlantic. Such travellers commonly have had personal objects which engrossed the greater part of their attention. Many of them went out crammed with commercial or agricultural


2 E

cultural projects; and finding the natives quite as acute as themselves in every thing connected with profit and loss, have rather been disposed to come home aud grumble over their own waste of time and of money, than to remain upon, or to draw up candid accounts of, the scene of their disappointments. Political fanatics, filled with fanciful notions of the purity of democratical institutionswarmed with ideas of the happiness to be enjoyed where men are freed from the wholesome restraints of civil, legal, and religious institutions have surveyed the western continent only to discover that noisy patriots are not free on one side of the Atlantic, more than on the other, from venality; that declamations about the glories of liberty are quite compatible with the practical exercise of tyranny; and that the lustiest assertions of independence often come, all the world over, from the lips of the most eager aspirants after the power and emolument of place. A few naval and mili tary officers have looked at the United States; and, having seen what their profession rendered interesting, seem to have taken for granted that the public in Europe would attach as much importance as themselves to accurate sketches of dockyards, forts, and the like. Finally, the projectors of colonization, on lands in which they had speculated in the back woods, wanted the skill to conceal their artifices; and the lucubrations of the Birkbecks, the Flowers, and others of that class, had no more effective operation on the general mind of England, than the wild fanaticism of Mr. Owen of Lanark.

Neither of the travellers, whose works we have placed at the head of this article, were induced to visit America by any low, sinister, or fanatical motives. Their chief inducement seems to have been to gratify the curiosity created by the representations, frequently made, of the necessary effect of the establishment of the so-called principles of freedom; and to make their own observations on the experiment whose process has commenced in the western hemisphere. It is obvious that a predilection, at least, in favour of the success of this experiment existed in the minds of both; that a disposition prevailed to discover a better order of things in the new state of society than existed under the more anciently formed governments of the European world. These notions seem to have been most ardently cherished by the duke, who, on his landing in Boston, says

It is impossible to describe the feeling with which I was impressed at this moment. Two former instants of my life had left most delightful recollections: the first, when, after the battle of Wagram, at seventeen years of age, I received (from the hand of Napoleon) the cross of the Legion of Honour; and the second, on the birth of my son William. My first landing in America-in the country which it

« PreviousContinue »