Page images
PDF
EPUB

looking round him with blended surprise and anger, "some of ye are of Saint Clement's Inn! how came ye here, sirs? Is this the way, Master Shallow, and you other students, to learn the king's laws by breaking them, or to practice the laws of virtue by brawling in your cups at midnight, in a dishonest and lonely mill? Shame on ye, shame on ye! How would this guilt have been concealed, if fortune had not driven me, storm-beaten, on my return from his highness prince Edward, at Fauqueshall, to seek shelter in this mill? but now it cometh forth, and on all over whom I possess any authority shall penance fall. And what art thou?" continued he, addressing Evans. "Even, goot Master Filliam Gascoigne, a poor Welsh student of definity at Saint Chiles's Hospital." "And a wretched practiser of what thou studiest," replied Gascoigne, "what says thy Psalterium? Beati sunt vir qui ambulant."" "Oh! yes, inteet, it is fery goot remembrances," interrupted Evans,

6

"That man for ever plest shall pe

Who doth the sinner's haunts eschew,
The scoffer's chair his feet do flee,

Put pious acts hur loves to do.'

"It is all in my prain, and I will sing the rest if hur please." "Let it live in thine heart and life," said Gascoigne turning from him to Falstaff, "Sir Thomas Mowbray's page, Master Falstaff, as I guess?" "The same, honoured Master Gascoigne," returned he, "tis a name I will never deny, for 'twill yet be famous in England till a far distant age, and I'll make it so!" "It must be by another course of life than this; else perchance even I may live to condemn thee for thy neglect of all honest manners, thy despite of all virtuous counsel. But the storm has now howled itself to rest; I leave ye with an assurance that this night's brawling shall be answered; and I leave four of mine Apparitors to watch your courses: more shall immediately follow them from London, and until they come ye are prisoners here." He then departed, and "a night of stupid repentance," as Falstaff said, "followed a day of gallant enjoyment." Early in the morning the Apparitors conducted each of them home, and Gascoigne kept his word with all; for the miller was imprisoned, as his character was notorious; the law-students were fined, Falstaff was suspended by his patron, and Evans was macerated by a long penance of fasting. Master Shallow never forgot this adventure; and Shakspeare relates, that fifty-five years afterwards, when he was an Esquire and a Justice of the peace in Gloucestershire, under king Henry IV. he said to Falstaff, then Sir John, who was levying soldiers in that county, "Do you remember since we lay all night in the Windmill in Saint George's Fields?"

For the Port Folio.

THE PILOT.*

On the very threshhold of these volumes, we are encountered by a caution, which it behoves us to treat with all possible respect. The ingenious author, not having the fear of criticism before his eyes, and reckless of the resentment of the class of writers, who pursue that ungainful calling, has not scrupled to designate them as a parcel of "Lubbers." "If they have common discretion," he says, "they will beware of exposing their ignorance." This we consider as an allusion to that right, which critics have claimed from time immemorial, to stop and search all those "little barks" which endeavour, on the high seas of literature, to

pursue the triumph and partake the gale.

If they have not the regular countersign, we burn, sink and destroy, without remorse; but when we find them committing only what the lawyers call a deviation, we are always ready to lead them back to the true course, and furnish them with ample instructions for their future voyage. We do not think the author before us can fairly complain of "lubberly" treatment, from any quarter deserving his regard; except, indeed, in the instance of a notice of one of his former works, which was intended to be favourable, but which was couched in such terms as to be mistaken for a sentence of disapprobation.

But if he has not written for the ignorant race of critics, we should be glad to learn what description of persons, his book is intended to please. Not the ordinary class of novel readers, we supposes, because they never pretend to form an opinion of a volume, until they consult the oracles of the periodical press, who a e now lords of the ascendant:-neither can we imagine that he calculated upon any other portion of the "land-lubbers," since those scenes upon which he seems to have chiefly expended his strength, are described in a dialect which is intelligible only on salt water. We confess, we are at a loss to reconcile this course with the invocation,

"List! ye landsmen all to me,"

which we find on his title page. The volumes, however, contain a variety of adventures, which lead us from page to page, with anxious expectation, as long as we remain on land; but the author's tempests, his fights, his breakers, his wrecks, and, indeed, all

*The Pilot; a Tale of the Sea. By the author of the Pioneers, &c. &c.3 vols. 12mo. pp. 293, 258. New York, Charles Wiley.

his nautical operations, we fear, will be thrown away upon many of those whose attention he has invoked.

The tale opens in an impressive manner. The scene shifts from the German ocean, to the shore which it immediately washes, in Northumberland county, in the north of England. The time is about the conclusion of the war of the Revolution; when the name of Paul Jones had carried dismay into the very havens of our oppressors. A few labourers, who have just concluded the toils of the day, are alarmed by the appearance of a large vessel and a schooner on the coast. Presently a whale-boat is descried among the rocks, cautiously making its way, through the surf, to the shore. We conjecture, from the conversation of the party in this boat, that the perils by which they are surrounded are of the most imminent character.

The object we are told is to procure a pilot; and Barnstable, the commander of the schooner, (the Ariel) mutters to himself, "this is droll navigation; first we run into an unfrequented bay that is full of rocks, and sand-pits, and shoals, and then we get off our pilot." When they reach land, Barnstable, accompanied by some of the men, well-armed, is sent ashore, with the proper countersign, in search of the important Palinurus. Here we are quickly introduced to one of those "traits" in the life of a seaman, which it is the ambition of our author to exhibit. Scarcely has the Lieut. stepped upon the beach, before a sweetheart throws herself into his arms, disguised, as sailors' sweethearts often are, in male attire. She had heard of a vessel being on the coast, answering the description of that to which her lover belonged; and she had been wandering on the shore for a whole week, in order "to have a communication" with him, for the purpose of hearing some tidings of "a devoted cousin!" Their tet-a-tete, in which the officer talks very pressingly of the chaplain, is interrupted by the cockswain, who announces the approach of a storm. The Pilot then suddenly appears, and while he is proceeding to the boat, the lieutenant makes a second fruitless effort to persuade his mistress to elope with him. She delivers to him a letter, to be perused at a more convenient season; and as a fearful night is setting in,-"every minute threatening new dangers,"-they are compelled to separate. We have now a very minute account of the manner in which the boats and vessels are extricated from their hazardous situation, in which they had placed themselves, to get their pilot. We have Juffing, and squaring, and tacking, and heaving, under the orders of this person, until even the seamen seem to be astonished. All this, no doubt, is done according to rule, and would pass the board of admiralty with approbation; but we "landsmen" would rather enjoy the fruits of Mr. Cooper's fertile genius in another element.

On the following morning, Barnstable is summoned from the Ariel, to attend a council of war on board the frigate. Before the officers are convened, he finds an opportunity to communicate to

Griffith, the first lieutenant of the latter vessel, the letter which had been put in his hands on the preceding evening. From this epistle we learn, that the writer, Miss Kath. Plowden, the ward of Col. Howard, and Miss Cecilia Howard, his niece, are now in the abbey of St. Ruth, on the beach, almost within sight, and that they had been brought thither from Carolina, by the Col.; an inveterate tory, who, in his sixtieth year, had abandoned his native country, and sacrificed half of his fortune, to his mistaken loyalty to the king. The lady positively commands her lover, " on no account, to risk himself on shore;" " neither must blood be spilt" if he loves her. Yet she proceeds to give him a decription of the place in which she and Cecilia have been confined since the hostile vessels were descried on the coast; and the garrison which the Col. had provided for their protection; consisting of a recruiting officer, Capt. Borroughcliffe, and twenty men; to which are added, in a P. S. a signal-book and a drawing of the grounds! The young seamen resolve, of course, to rescue their mistresses from this thraldom; and when they learn, that it is proposed to land a detachment and carry off a few conspicuous individuals, to be held, for certain political purposes, it immediately occurs to them how advantageously their professional duty may be blended with their private inclinations. Love is painted blind, and the truth of the allegory is completely verified in the present instance; since, from this time forward, our heroes seem to shut their eyes to every thing but the case of the ladies. Lieuts. Griffith and Barnstable, accompanied by the Pilot, who, we have been given to understand, is a very important personage, depart in a cutter, manned with twenty men. This Pilot, together with Griffith and Mr. Manual, the captain of Marines, are soon arrested, while skulking under the walls of the abbey, in seamen's attire, and confined in separate apartments. During the night, they are visited individually by Cecilia, Miss Dunscombe and Borroughcliffe. The first recog nizes Griffith, and the second finds an old lover in the Pilot, whom she salutes by the appellation of John. Borroughcliffe had been quaffing the colonel's fine old wine, until they parted for the night; when the former pocketed a bottle and repaired to the chamber of his prisoner, captain Manual, in whom he had discovered, as he surmised, a brother officer. He is easily persuaded that the whole is but an affair of gallantry, and accordingly he permits his prisoners to escape. On the following morning he is aroused from slumber by the arrival of a troop of cavalry, which had been brought to the abbey, by the officious zeal of Mr. Dillon, a mean-spirited and malignant animal, a nephew of Col. Howard, and destined by him to become the husband of Cecilia. Transported with rage at the escape of his rival, Dillon hurries off to the Alacrity, a king's cutter lying in the neighbourhood, in order to intercept the return of the invaders by that means. This vessel immediately weighs anchor and stands for the Ariel. Barnstable, who was waiting, in

the whale-boat, for his comrades, perceiving these motions of the cutter, is obliged to return to his schooner, and prepare for her defence. A desperate conflict speedily ensues, which is terminated by the total discomfiture of the royal vessel.

The escape of Griffith, and the others, was effected shortly after this action, about the time of the morning watch, when the Pilot left them for "some ten hours," in order as he appears to have found necessary, "to look deeper into our scheme before we hazard any thing." Manual brings up his marines, and they are quietly stowed away in one of the vaulted apartments of the ruin. This officer, however, being a very punctilious disciplinarian, had posted a corporal and three men as a picket, in advance of the position, in which the party sought concealment. This, as any "lubber" might have foreseen, soon led to their detection, and they are compelled to surrender to captain Borroughcliffe. As they are marching back into the abbey, they are seen by the Pilot, who immediately repaired to the frigate to procure succour for them. On his way, his boat passes that of Barnstable, who, having found Mr. Dillon, among the prisoners of the Alacrity, had conceived the idea of exchanging him and the crew of his prize for Griffith and his party. Dillon readily pledged his honour to return, if he did not succeed in effecting this exchange; but the miserable wretch had no intention to perform his promise. On the contrary, he invented some specious falsehood, by which his honourable kinsman was induced to assent to a plan, which he had conceived, to detain the old cockswain, who had accompanied him on this embassy, and entrap Barnstable. This villainy is defeated by Long Tom, who contrived to pinion the tipsy captain in his own chamber; and then left the mansion taking with him the faithless ambassador, whom he had the good fortune to surprise in a remote apartment, assigned to the ladies, where it was no difficult matter to terrify him into silence and submission. He found Barnstable on the beach, to whom, in a few words, he communicated the treachery of Dillon, and the danger to which he had learnt that the Ariel would shortly be exposed, in consequence of preparations which had been made on shore. This little favourite, after escaping from a formidable battery, and struggling for several hours against the winds and the ocean, is wrecked. The old cockswain and some of his messmates, together with Dillon, perish with her; and Barnstable, with such of the crew as had escaped, sought shelter amid the mouldering walls, where Griffith's party had just been captured. The second lieutenant, however, cannot rest. By means of his signal-book, he procures an interview with his mistress, to whom he is so communicative on the subject of a projected attack upon the fortress, with the remnant of his crew, that captain B., who had overheard the conversation, takes the proper measures to receive him; and accordingly, in a few hours, afterwards, when they rush into the apartment where Col. Howard, his mili

« PreviousContinue »