The Privateersman

Frederick Marryat
The Privateersman, by Frederick

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Title: The Privateersman
Author: Frederick Marryat
Release Date: May 22, 2007 [EBook #21576]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ASCII

Produced by Nick Hodson of London, England

The Privateersman
by Captain Marryat.

To Mistress ---.
Respected Madam,
In compliance with your request I shall now transcribe from the journal
of my younger days some portions of my adventurous life. When I
wrote, I painted the feelings of my heart without reserve, and I shall not
alter one word, as I know you wish to learn what my feelings were then,
and not what my thoughts may be now. They say that in every man's
life, however obscure his position may be, there would be a moral
found, were it truly told. I think, Madam, when you have perused what
I am about to write, you will agree with me, that from my history both
old and young may gather profit, and I trust, if ever it should be made
public, that, by Divine permission, such may be the result. Without
further preface I shall commence with a narrative of my cruise off
Hispaniola, in the Revenge privateer.
The Revenge mounted fourteen guns, and was commanded by Captain
Weatherall, a very noted privateer's-man. One morning at daybreak we
discovered a vessel from the masthead, and immediately made all sail
in chase, crowding every stitch of canvass. As we neared, we made her
out to be a large ship, deeply laden, and we imagined that she would be
an easy prize; but as we saw her hull more out of the water, she proved
to be well armed, having a full tier of guns fore and aft. As it afterwards
proved, she was a vessel of 600 tons burden, and mounted twenty-four
guns, having sailed from Saint Domingo, and being bound to France.
She had been chartered by a French gentleman (and a most gallant
fellow we found him), who had acquired a large fortune in the West
Indies, and was then going home, having embarked on board his whole
property, as well as his wife and his only son, a youth of about
seventeen. As soon as he discovered what we were, and the
impossibility of escape from so fast a sailing vessel as the Revenge, he

resolved to fight us to the last. Indeed he had everything to fight for; his
whole property, his wife and his only child, his own liberty, and
perhaps life, were all at stake, and he had every motive that could
stimulate a man. As we subsequently learnt, he had great difficulty in
inspiring the crew with an equal resolution, and it was not until he had
engaged to pay them the value of half the cargo, provided they
succeeded in beating us off and forcing their way in safety to France,
that he could rouse them to their duty.
Won by his example, for he told them that he did not desire any man to
do more than he would do himself, and perhaps more induced by his
generous offer, the French crew declared they would support him to the
last, went cheerfully to their guns, and prepared for action. When we
were pretty near to him, he shortened sail ready for the combat, having
tenderly forced his wife down below to await in agony the issue of a
battle on which depended everything so dear to her. The resolute
bearing of the vessel, and the cool intrepidity with which they had
hove-to to await us, made us also prepare on our side for a combat
which we knew would be severe. Although she was superior to us in
guns, yet, the Revenge being wholly fitted for war, we had many
advantages, independent of our being very superior in men. Some few
chase-guns were fired during our approach, when, having ranged up
within a cable's length of her, we exchanged broadsides for half an hour,
after which our captain determined upon boarding. We ran our vessel
alongside, and attempted to throw our men on board, but met with a
stout resistance. The French gentleman, who was at the head of his men,
with his own hand killed two of our stoutest seamen, and mortally
wounded a third, and, encouraged by his example,
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