However, Linois may have remembered that he who fights and runs away will live to fight another day. He had been compelled to fly before Dance, but this time he got his revenge. You may ask what England was doing to leave those seas unpoliced. The answer is that as a matter of fact Indiamen had to rely on naval convoys when they could be got, and Rear-Admiral Sir Thomas Troubridge, who had been one of Nelson’s captains at the Battle of the217 Nile, was actually escorting, in H.M.S. Blenheim, eleven more Indiamen. The two courses were converging and presently we shall see them meet.

Needless to say, it was with great grief that Captain Grant, all his officers and midshipmen (excepting the chief officer and surgeon) were put on board the Marengo, whilst the frigate went in pursuit of the Sarah. The latter, however, ran herself ashore with all sail set, but the crew were saved. Admiral Linois received Captain Grant with every courtesy, and the Brunswick was ordered to a rendezvous nearer the Cape of Good Hope. Before the month was out, when a fog which had settled down lifted for a while, the Marengo suddenly found herself close to a large convoy of Indiamen. The former instantly cleared for action and firing began. It was Troubridge with his convoy! But nothing much came of this, and the contending forces separated during the night. To cut the story short, Addison and his shipmates were landed in South Africa, whence they were taken to St Helena by an American brig. From there they reached England in a British frigate, landing at Spithead, and so making their way to London. As for the poor old Brunswick, she drove ashore on the South African coast, and so ended her days.


This was one of the finest vessels employed in the East Indian trade.

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If Addison had been unfortunate in the ending of his first voyage, so in this he was again unlucky. According to the Company’s law,” he writes in his journal, having been captured by an enemy, or the ship in any way wrecked or destroyed, the captain, officers and crew forfeit their pay and wages, consequently we have no claim upon the owners of the late Brunswick for at least twenty months’ hard duty218 on board of her.” However, he was now wedded to the sea, and the next time he went in his first ship, the Marquis Wellesley, as fifth mate, with Charles Le Blanc as captain, and in her he served during the following years till he went as second mate in another of the Company’s ships. I make no apology to the reader for giving so much detail in this connection, for Addison’s and Eastwick’s accounts tell us just those intimate details which show the risks of many sorts which had to be encountered in the old days when the sailing ship was still far from perfect, and those handsome, fast China tea-clippers had not yet come into being to startle the world with their record runs. No doubt the captains of these East Indiamen of which we are speaking were often hated by their men for their severity: but those were no kid-glove days, and a voyage was not a thing of certainty as with the modern liner, which maintains a punctuality almost equal to that of a passenger train. If a captain retired after a few voyages with a nice little fortune, he certainly deserved it. For he was a long time before he reached a command, and there was scarcely a day during the whole of those long voyages when he was not plunged into some sort of anxiety. Anything might happen; from having his sails blown out of his ship and carrying away his best spars to losing the ship herself, her cargo, her men. Every force seemed to be up against him—gales of wind, uncharted seas, coasts and rivers, privateers, warships of the enemy: even the warships of his own country snatched out of his vessel his best men. And then, to add insult to injury, he came home to find either his managing owners gone bankrupt or a by-law219 which prevented him from receiving his hard-earned pay Polar .

Yes, taking it by and large, he deserved his good luck when it came his way; but when it was absent, he did his best and more for the British capitalist and merchant princes than the latter ever cared to acknowledge. In the history of Eastern development and civilisation the shipmaster of these old Indiamen ought to occupy a high place of respect and admiration. He has left behind a magnificent example for his successors to follow dermes .

When a passenger in the olden days joined an East Indiaman as she lay in the Downs he had to be rowed off by one of the Deal boatmen. These sharks” often made a fine thing out of such passengers, for the latter were completely at the mercy of the former. In calm weather the boatman was willing to row the passenger aboard for the sum of five shillings (or more if he could get it). But in the case of dirty weather and the nasty lop which gets up here with onshore winds the passenger had to pay as much as three guineas and sometimes even five: it was all a question of bargaining between himself and the boatman. Inasmuch as the passenger had to get aboard the big ship at all costs, and since the only method possible was to employ one of these Deal boatmen, the competition was solely between the boatmen themselves. But these fellows were so closely bound together, owing to the ties of relationship and their co-operation in extensive smuggling, that the passenger could scarcely help being fleeced .

Having at last arrived on board, weary of his coach drive from London, drenched with the sea220-spray scooped up by the Deal galley, the passenger bound for India in those days set forth with not the light heart and eagerness with which the modern traveller embarks on an East-bound liner. If contemporary accounts are to be trusted, the mere anticipation was a kind of terrible nightmare. The passenger often enough would retire at once to his cot, and remain there for days prostrate with sea-sickness. The cuddy would not see him at meals until the Bay of Biscay had been passed and finer, warmer weather encountered. Some of the Company’s cadets bound out to enter this corporation’s Indian army were utter scamps, and the only way to get them out of their cots was to cut the lanyards which kept the latter up. Before they had reached the Equator they had begun to find their sea-legs, and they were compelled to take part in the usual ceremonies of crossing the line. In the accompanying illustration will be found one of these young gentlemen undergoing this initiation in one of the East Indiamen ships.