Contents Back Chapter IV Home Exmouth
Edward Pellew - By Parkinson, C. Northcote, London, 1934
CHAPTER III - Promotion
'The Admiralty,' he continued, 'entertain themselves, now and then, with sending a few hundred men to sea in a ship not fit to be employed. But they have a great many to provide for; and among the thousands that may just as well go to the bottom as not. it is impossible for them to distinguish the very set who may be least missed.' - 'Persuasion,' Jane Austen.
(47) THE North American Indians are not described in flattering terms by those in a position to know them. One eighteenth-century European who had made himself familiar with their customs finished his description of their filthy dwellings, nauseous diet, and disgusting un-cleanliness, with the remark that few persons 'would feel the least inclination to pass much of their time in such a society.' These more than usually uninteresting savages, however, justified their existence, to some extent, by producing the following saying
'The King of England is like a fish - when he is in the water he can wag his tail; when he comes on land he lays down on his side.' To the student of naval history the Saratoga campaign is chiefly interesting as an illustration of this proverb. It is a demonstration of the possibilities and imitations of sea power; and especially the limitations. It shows how, under certain conditions, the command of the sea may be useless when coupled with a fish-like helplessness on shore.
To one attempting to follow the career of Edward Pellew the events of this campaign are significant, not as determining his character but as a proof of its early development. Long before he came of age his rise in the navy might have been predicted. Even at this early period of his life the causes of his later success are apparent. Of these causes three are particularly worthy of attention. In so far as each of them may be described in a word, they might be called Perseverance, Courage, Seamanship.
As here used, the word 'perseverance' is intended to include a number of physical and mental qualities which, taken together, had the effect of giving full scope to Pellew's (48) courage and skill. The qualities of great endurance, energy, physical strength will-power, intense application - all these are comprehended. They combined to ensure his continued presence on the scene of action. No emergency ever found him absent or ill or drunk or asleep - still less worn-out, retired, or dead. The constitution which neither navy rations nor a Canadian winter could undermine was, in itself, an excellent foundation for a successful career afloat. Allied to an ordinary degree of courage it was enough to have brought him to the higher ranks of his profession. By remaining active for half a century he outlived most of his rivals and would have risen higher than they even had he not shown himself superior to them. His energy and powers of concentration were shown in the amateur shipbuilding at St. John's; and they must have been remarkable to have impressed a man like Schanck who, having been nineteen years in the navy before receiving his commission, was unlikely to be enthusiastic about junior officers without reason. It was, finally, no common degree of perseverance and determination which led Pellew to see the campaign through to its finish. This quality of application or perseverance is enough to advance a man in any profession. It is much less common than is often supposed.
His courage is sufficiently demonstrated by his part in the different actions at which he had been present before he was twenty-one years old. It is enough to say that courage was usual in seamen of his day, so that to be conspicuous for bravery (among so many brave men) was no small thing.
Pellew's seamanship, his professional skill, is shown both by events and by the opinion of others. Captain Pownoll was a man of outstanding ability and a good judge of men. Pellew came to him disrated, in disgrace. In a few months Pownoll not only reinstated him but chose him for an important service. Of Brown and Pellew he afterwards wrote: 'I can with great truth say I have never seen two better young men in the service.' This testimony clearly indicates that Pellew knew his trade, that he was not given to making mistakes. From the first he had a capacity for doing the right thing at the right time.
Besides these three qualities of perseverance, courage, and skill, his career is marked by another characteristic which one hesitates to record, namely Luck. It is hardly a virtue or a quality to be placed alongside his mental powers or personality, but it would be radically false to ignore it. Throughout this account of Pellew's life many instances of (49) his good fortune will be chronicled, and some comment on this aspect of his career is inevitable. Good fortune is not the term he would have used. In later life especially, he would have called it the singular mercy shown him by Providence. But whether it be called luck, destiny, or God's blessing on his labours, the fact remains that he was, in some respects, extremely favoured by circumstances for which he was in no way responsible; above all, the circumstance of his not being killed.
Pellew spent about thirty-six years of his life in almost continuous danger of sudden death by drowning, by disease, or by battle. After he came to command a ship his own skill averted many of these dangers, of shipwreck and the like. But from dangers of another kind he seemed equally immune. From one perilous situation after another he emerged unharmed. Bullets might pass through his coat, men might be killed by his side and wreckage might fall within a few inches of his head. But whoever else was killed it was not Pellew. In some thirty years of warfare he was never even seriously wounded. This continued safety in the midst of danger is a separate factor in his life and must be considered as such. It was never shown more clearly than in the first action on Lake Champlain. Indeed, this, his first fight, was easily the bloodiest he ever saw. Half the crew of his ship and two of the three officers were killed or wounded. But Pellew, who was certainly more exposed than any one else, emerged unscathed. At the end of the fight he was without a scratch. He lived to run comparable risks a lifetime later, and finally died of old age. Consistent good fortune, in this respect at least, had something to do with his success. It enabled him to outlive those he did not excel.
Of his personality, as opposed to his efficiency, little is known with respect to this early period of his life. In appearance he was well-grown, strongly built, and, by his own account, 'pock Marked, Ugly, Uninteresting and Uneducated.' Perhaps this description is rather too strongly drawn. It dates from a later time of life when he wanted to point a contrast. Nevertheless, he was probably unattractive and not especially popular. A certain lack of popularity rather than definite unpopularity dogged him to the end of his days. But, to set against this, he had always a habit of lasting friendship. In his second ship he made at least one friendship which lasted as long as his friend was alive. And in this, his first campaign, he made two lifelong (50) friends. One was a midshipman from another ship called Alexander Broughton. The other was the shipbuilding enthusiast, Schanck. It is a good thing to say of any man that those who know him best like him the most. This was true of Pellew from his boyhood until his death.
Energy and concentration on the immediate problem were the qualities in him which his generation recognized first and foremost. The qualities which were to make him eminent in his calling were those of his profession, his country, and his time. And in so much that he carried to an extreme the peculiar virtues of the English seamen of his generation he is, above all, representative of the Nelson era. Far more truly than Nelson, he was the ideal sea-officer of his age.
'When he was a very young boy at Penzance, a party of soldiers marched out of the town with drums beating, and fifes playing, and colours flying. Some boys followed them to the end of the town, some to Chyandour, some half-way over the green to Marazion; but Pellew and another boy ran after them all the way to Helston.'
It is right that this story should have survived as a tradition in the Penzance district, for it is eminently characteristic and certainly true. This incident of his childhood repeated itself in Burgoyne's expedition. Of the sea-officers who aided that army some went as far as Quebec, some as far as Ticonderoga, and some as far as the head of Lake George. But Pellew went all the way to Saratoga. And this time he was alone.
On receiving his commission, Pellew was appointed fourth lieutenant of the Princess Amelia, a guard ship of eighty guns, stationed at Spithead and flying the flag of Admiral Sir Thomas Pye. For a young man intent on promotion this situation was very unwelcome, for it afforded no chance of distinction or even activity. A little work with the pressgang and the guarding of French prisoners was all that was required of the crew of a guard ship. It was the sort of post coveted by elderly lieutenants with large families and no ambition. But for Pellew it was torment. His promotion had not been rapid, owing to the year's delay brought about by his remaining with Burgoyne's force in 1777. And now he had to waste a whole year performing routine duties at Spithead - from January 9th, 1778 until October 24th of the same year; which meant that he was not at sea again until the beginning of 1779. This delay in giving him active employment was due to his having been included in the (51) terms of the capitulation at Saratoga. But he was now a commissioned officer with the privilege of applying directly to the Admiralty - a privilege junior officers seldom neglected. They were reputed, indeed, to avail themselves of it about once a month. No notice whatever was taken of these applications. A meaningless ritual reply was sent and there the matter ended. Pellew, who besieged the Admiralty for the greater part of a year, must have received a great many of these before the Admiralty relented or else forgot the original objection to employing him.
At last his persistence had some effect, and on October 25th, 1778, he joined the frigate La Licorne as second lieutenant. That ship was then commanded by Captain Bellew, and was engaged in refitting at the Chains in Blockhouse Hole, Portsmouth. On the 11th of February, 1779, La Licorne sailed for a two months' cruise in the Channel, which resulted in the taking of a single prize, off the Lizard, on February 28th. On March 24th, at Plymouth, Bellew was superseded by Captain the Hon. T. Cadogan.
The Licorne seems to have been in a bad state in some respects. The crew was chiefly composed of landsmen, and Cadogan found it necessary to confine the gunner for insolence and neglect of duty before the ship went out of harbour on the 30th. Cadogan had orders to take a convoy out to Newfoundland which was then collecting at Waterford, after first impressing the best men from the merchantmen composing it. On the way over to Ireland an English privateer was met with, and seventeen of her crew were taken to remedy the Licorne's deficiencies; but the men found at Waterford were wanted at Portsmouth. On April 22nd Cadogan 'Very strongly Prefsed 131 men;' some of these were, however, discharged as 'Unserviceable men.' The remainder were put on board a sloop at Portsmouth on the 1st of May. The convoy sailed on the 24th of that month, and on the 31st the Licorne engaged and took a privateer off Kinsale Head. The summer was spent on the Newfoundland station, at St. John's Harbour and at Halifax, until, in November, an escort was needed for a homeward-bound convoy. The Licorne was at Spithead by December and spent the winter at Sheerness.
In the following spring Pellew, while still at Sheerness, had a welcome offer from his only patron in the service, Captain Pownoll. The latter had been in command of the 32-gun frigate Apollo ever since he left the Blonde in January 1777. During the winter of 1779- 80 Pownoll was (52) cruising off Cape St. Vincent and Cape Spartel, and in March 1780, the Blonde put into Plymouth with her foremast and bowsprit sprung. There was a vacancy for a lieutenant, and while the rigging was being repaired alongside the Chichester Hulk in Barn Pool, Pownoll wrote offering it to Pellew. As Pownoll's follower, Pellew instantly accepted. He arrived at Plymouth on April 10th and found the Apollo working out of the Sound. On that day he assumed duty as first lieutenant. When it is remembered that he had served under Pownoll no longer than six months, this appointment is significant. It shows how quickly Pellew's talents gained the respect of one of the ablest officers in the Service:
The Apollo did not sail at once. On the 14th, six 18-pounder carronades were brought on board, and four days later Pownoll received the doubtful reinforcement of '37 Supernumeraries from the Cambridge and Fanny Tender being Old Lame and Almost Blind.' As he was to cruise on the French coast, Pownoll sailed first to Guernsey to procure a pilot. By the 22nd he was off Cherbourg, in company with H.M.S. Portland, another frigate. In that neighbourhood they cruised for some days. On the 30th they sighted what they took to be a French frigate with a prize in tow, and chased her on shore at Cherbourg, coming under fire from the forts while doing so. They afterwards learnt from an English cartel out of Cherbourg that it was not a frigate they had chased on shore but a privateer of twenty-six guns.
With other ships in company the Apollo haunted Cherbourg for another fortnight, occasionally attracting the attention of the forts but without any further success. Then the cruise came to an end, for a convoy had to be escorted from Plymouth to the Downs. After this duty had been performed the Apollo was one of a frigate squadron of four ships, the senior captain being that of the Cleopatra. The other frigates were the Pegasus and Seaford. For some days the squadron scoured the North Sea. All the ships they chased turned out to be neutrals or English collier brigs. On June 9th the squadron, having drawn blank farther westwards, began to try for better luck off the Dutch coast. On the 15th, when the four frigates were off Blankenburg, it being a day of 'Fresh Gales from the W. by S., West & WNW,' the Apollo lost touch with her consorts when in chase of a ship (which proved to be English) at half-past ten. And immediately afterwards another sail was sighted. 'Saw a Ship steering NE, She bearing WSW. (53) She haul'd her wind to the Nor'd and tacked to the Sou'd. Saw the Steeple of Ostend SSW, ab't 4 Lgs. Comming up with the Ship very fast but to Leeward. Supposed him a French Privateer of 24 Guns. All clear for action at Noon having forereached on him as to fetch him, tack'd Ship.' Oddly enough, just as they had been wrong in supposing the vessel driven on shore at Cherbourg to be a frigate, here they made the opposite mistake. For the ship they now took for a privateer of twenty-four guns was actually a frigate of equal force, the Stanislaus.
'Fresh breezes, ab't 15 Mins past noon Crofsed each other on Diff't Tacks, she hoisted her Colours and Fired her broad side which was Returned & in a few minutes more we tacked, ab't 30 mins after Noon. Came up alongside of Him and Began the Action - he Running right in for the Land.' The French ship was trying to run into Ostend, a neutral port, but gave a good account of herself nevertheless, as the following entry in the 'Captain's Log' shows: 'after the first or Second Broad Side our braces, Clew garnets etc was shot away. ˝ past 1 P.M., our Captain was Killed and the 1st Lieut. Mr Pellew took the Command and Continued the Action until almost 3 P.M., when being in Shoal Water & only 2 miles to the West'd of Ostend, were obliged to leave her, the Garrison having fired 3 Guns.'
Apart from the mysterious remark 'by Capt. Philemon Pownoll Deceas'd' with which it closes, the above account, probably written by the master, is clear enough. It requires, however, a little elaboration.
On sighting the Apollo right ahead of her as she sailed up the Dutch coast towards Flushing, the Stanislaus had instantly changed her course from north-east to south. She was thus sailing on a wind and heading away from the Apollo towards Ostend or Dunkirk. The English frigate was much the faster of the two and came up with her in less than two hours. Now, as it was the object of the Stanislaus to escape, each ship would want first of all to damage her opponent's rigging. By bringing down one of the Apollo's masts the Stanislaus could avoid action. By inflicting that damage on the Stanislaus the Apollo could force her to fight. Pownoll, therefore, deliberately engaged her to leeward. Both ships were heeling to larboard and this position prevented the Frenchman from aiming at his rigging while it enabled the English gunners to aim where they would.
The Apollo's fire did considerable damage to the French frigate's rigging but failed to bring down a mast, while (54) the English ship's rigging was, by comparison, fairly intact. But this comparative immunity was dearly bought, for the French shot, flying unusually low, killed Captain Pownoll after an hour's fighting; and the Apollo so winged her opponent that she could not avoid running ahead of her.
Pellew's problem when he succeeded to the command was a difficult one. The Stanislaus was at once sailing too fast and not fast enough. Both her main and mizzen courses were shot away, and so were her fore and main topsails; but her foresail, mizzen topsail, and main topgallant sail were still drawing, and under them she was steadily nearing her goal. The Apollo, on the other hand, with all her sails more or less unharmed, was careering ahead and would soon be out of range. Nor was it easy to stop her, for the clew garnets and buntlines being shot away prevented Pellew from getting her courses hauled up. He was forced to leave the courses alone - there was no time for knotting and splicing with Ostend a few miles away - and content himself with getting the topgallant sails down and most of the staysails. This was not enough. He still out sailed the Stanislaus. All he could do was to steer a zigzag course ahead of her, raking her as he crossed. But before any material damage was done this way, the shoaling of the water and the cowardice of the pilot (who refused to come on deck) combined with the fact that it was half-ebb, made him afraid to pursue any further for fear of getting aground on a falling tide. He brought to, and he had hardly done so before the Stanislaus ran hard aground with her foremast overboard. Then it was that the garrison fired the three shots which put an end to the fight. This was a signal that the French ship was protected by the neutrality of the port, and Pellew could not disregard it. The Stanislaus was brought off and taken into Ostend, and eventually found her way into the English Navy by purchase. Although Pellew had not taken her she was lost to France.
The Apollo sailed to the Nore, and from there Pellew took her up to Sheerness, considerably damaged between wind and water and leaking at the rate of two feet an hour. He was in command of her for about three weeks, and left her on July 7th, after receiving the following letter from Lord Sandwich
18th June, 1780.
SIR - After most sincerely condoling with you on the lofs (55) of your much-lamented Patron and Friend Captain Philemon Pownoll, whose bravery and services have done so much honour to himself and his Country, I will not delay informing you, that I mean to give you immediate promotion, as a reward for your Gallant conduct upon this occasion as well as many others which entitle you to Consideration.
I am etc etc
His Majesty's Ship Apollo
This meant promotion to the rank of 'Master and Commander' at the age of twenty-three. But it was a small consolation for the loss of his only patron in the service.
Considering that he never rose above the rank of captain, Philemon had made an extraordinary impression on his contemporaries. Years after his death - more than twenty years, in fact - St. Vincent promoted a young officer on the grounds that he was 'grandson to the gallant Pownoll whose fate though glorious deprived his Country of a most able Partisan.' Jervis and Pownoll had been shipmates under Boscawen, and the word 'Partisan' is perhaps the relic of some jealousy between them. The term is not altogether complimentary and implies a bent for independent operations. Jervis used it of Nelson among others. But this very touch of jealousy shows how well he remembered his early rival.In the same way Pellew never forgot him. His eldest son was called after him and Pownoll has remained a name in the family ever since. And yet, in the ten years Pellew had been at sea, he had served with Pownoll for no more than nine months. Perhaps Reynolds's portrait of Captain Pownoll goes some way to explain this lasting impression he made on those who sailed with him. The impression he made on Pellew was not only lasting but exclusive of any other. Pellew was himself a strong character and Pownoll was the last as well as the first man to have any influence over him.
This early death of the man whose follower he had become had important results on Pellew's career. It left him very much alone in the Service. In the ordinary course of events Pownoll would have become an admiral and Pellew would have been his flag-captain. As things were, Pellew lost his patron at the very outset of his career; and, what is quite as important, he lost his idol when the latter was still a (56) frigate-captain. This had the effect of keeping him away from the big fleets for the greater part of his life. As the follower of a dead man he was not wanted by admirals who did not know him. As the disciple of a frigate-captain he had no ambition to be anything but an 'able Partisan.' He had neither opportunity nor inclination for serving in the line of battle, and from Pownoll's death until the end of his career he was hardly ever in a fleet. He never was in a ship of the line until the age of forty-two, and never saw a general action until he was nearly sixty. Independence was the keynote of his career.
His first command was the Hazard, to which he was appointed on his promotion to the rank of commander. The most junior officers naturally had the smallest and worst ships, so that he probably knew beforehand that the sloop he was to command was not likely to be the finest vessel of her class in the Service. But as the Hazard was on the east coast of the north of England her reputation was very likely unknown to him.
He had no money to buy himself the uniforms and cabin outfit his promotion rendered necessary, and he was lucky to be able to get his equipment on credit from a Cornish tailor in London, Mr. Vigurs of Southampton Street. Naval officers were then very much underpaid, and his poverty was not exceptional. It was not that they were expected to have private means but that they were known to make money in other ways. 'If you wish animals to fight, they must not be over-fed; and if a nation wishes to have good officers, it must swell their pride by decorations, and keep them poor . . . . The strongest incitement to courage is withdrawn by the possession of wealth.' This was the principle on which officers were paid, as stated by one of them in after life. Thus it was that, fully equipped, but largely in debt, Pellew posted northward to assume his first command.
The cruising ground of the Hazard was not a promising one. The north-east coast offered few attractions to ambitious officers. The French cruisers were hardly ever seen there. There was nothing for them to attack. A large number of collier brigs sailed from the Tyne to London River with coal, and from London River to the Tyne in ballast. This trade was very dangerous as it involved the risk of falling to leeward of a line drawn from Spurn Head to Cromer, which, in a north-easterly gale, meant certain destruction. An apprenticeship in this trade was what every (57) merchant seaman was ideally supposed to have had. So that a systematic attack on the Newcastle coal trade might have repaid the French as a blow against the principal English school of seamanship. But the profits from the pursuit of collier brigs would have been negligible so that nothing of the sort was ever attempted. An English cruiser on the Yorkshire coast could not expect to find Frenchmen there. She was much more likely to find English smugglers; and it was against these that a sloop like the Hazard was expected to operate.
Smuggling on the Yorkshire coast was, however, a very different thing from the Cornish smuggling with which Pellew had presumably been familiar as a boy. The Cornishmen relied on dark nights and sou'westerly gales to run their cargoes of gin across the Channel in small luggers and sloops. And, if pursued, they threw the cargo overboard. But the gentlemen who pursued an unostentatious trade between Ostend and the smaller ports on the coast of northern England were dealing in a different kind of goods. Their cargoes were too valuable to throw overboard, and were, therefore, carried in larger vessels prepared to fight if need should arise - fast, well-manned cutters. Some carried as many as sixteen guns and well over a hundred men.
As a check on smuggling of this kind the Hazard left something to be desired. She was an ancient sloop mounting eight or ten guns, very slow, unhandy and un-seaworthy.
'She would neither steer, nor stay, nor wear
She shipped it green and she made us swear. . .'
In Pellew's life this happily named vessel is chiefly to be noticed as nearly causing his death by drowning. His experiences in her constituted a series of humiliating surprises.
He found her in Bridlington Bay on July 25th, 1780, a little more than a fortnight after he left the Apollo. He probably saw at a glance what a 'wretched excuse for a man of war' he was to risk his life in. He sailed, however, a month later; patrolled the coast as far north as Sunderland and then turned south again. Then it was that he encountered his first smuggler. It was off Flamborough Head, in broad daylight. She was a large cutter with English colours hoisted, and instead of fleeing she waited for Pellew to come up, fired two guns through his sails and so proceeded on her voyage. The Hazard laboured in her wake for an hour and a half before giving up the chase as hopeless. This was his worst experience. The Hazard was well known (58) and all the other cutters merely ignored her. 'Gave Chase to a Cutter and left off Chase' is the commonest entry in the Hazard's log. But as the winter approached this crazy sloop ceased to be a joke. The climax came on November 6th off Robin Hood's Bay: 'Fresh breezes and Hazy 2 P.M. saw a Ship in the NE Quarter Made Sail and Gave chase 6 P.M., Lost sight of the Chasce. Saw alight bearing ENE Gave Chase 2 A.M. gave over Chase & stood to the N'd g A.M. Handed Top Gall't Sls and reef't the Tpsls, 6 Close reef't Tpsls 8 Handed Do. a heavy sea from the NE it Reef'd the Courses and CLew'd them up. Hove all the Guns & Swivells overboard to lighten the Sloop she being full of Water. Robin Hood's Bay W 3 or q Lgs.' Next day there were ' Hard gales & snow - a heavy sea from the N'd,' but the sloop managed to struggle into Bridlington Bay (which is sheltered from northerly gales) and there she anchored.
There was much of the martinet in Edward Pellew as a young man. It was a family characteristic. His brother Israel was once put on shore by a mutinous crew, and his son Fleetwood goaded two ships into mutiny and was forced in consequence to leave the Service. In Edward a similar strictness was qualified by exceptional ability. But all his powers of coercion must have been strained to the uttermost on this occasion. For his next act was an extraordinary feat of discipline as well as courage. He actually sailed again on the 10th !
Before doing so he read the Articles of War to his crew - perhaps to remind them that their ship was a man-of-war, a fact no longer obvious. The following day he was off Scarborough ; and there he found that, if his men could be coerced, his ship could not. His main top-mast ' Rolled over the Side, by which accident 2 men went Overboard. Hoisted the boat out and saved them.' He then got up another top-mast, and put into Shields on the 13th to mend the main-topsail. But this time he had learnt his lesson. When he sailed again it was for the south. He reached Lowestoft on January 8th, 1781, the Gunfleet on the 9th, and anchored at Sheerness on the 10th. And it is for that day that the Hazard's log has the pathetic entry 'Saluted the Conquistador with 3 Cheers.' At that moment Pellew would have given anything to have had a gun left to salute with.
On the 22nd the Hazard's crew were turned over to the Magnanime, and on the 24th he quitted his command. (59)
He was not employed again until the spring of that year, when he was appointed to another small vessel, the Pelican, of twenty-four guns. She was fitted out in Hamoaze and sailed from Plymouth Sound on April 19th and at once gave chase to a lugger, which turned out to be a French privateer 'of four 4-pounders, ten Swivils & 38 men.' He caught her by means of using sweeps in a calm and took her into Plymouth the same day. It was his first capture, and he must have been annoyed at seeing the frigate Artois come in simultaneously with seven sail of French prizes. He sailed again on the 24th and arrived off the Isle of Bass or Batz, on the coast of Brittany, in pursuit of another lugger, which he failed to overtake. But while in that vicinity, on the 28th, he saw 'several sail of Vefsels in Bas Road, made sail & stood for them. A Brigg sliped and run into Roskow [Roskoff] Harbour were She Joined a Lugger and five sail of Merch't Vefsels. The Lugger and Brigg appeared to have 10 or 12 Guns Each, they laid their Broadsides to the Entrance of the Harbour. We stood in and pafsed them firing, they cut and ran Close under a Battery which open'd and fired upon us. We then tkd and Stood out returning their fire, we had 2 men wounded.' Although he was unsuccessful in taking any of these privateers or merchantmen, three of them had been driven on shore; and this skirmish gave him just enough advertisement to secure his promotion. Nothing further happened while in this ship. He brought her into Plymouth on the 20th of May and she went out of commission a week later. But before he left her the following letter reached him:
Admiralty Office, May 25, 1782.
SIR - I am so well pleased with the reports I have received of your Gallant and Seaman-like Conduct in the sloop you command, in your spirited attack on three privateers inside the Isle of Bafs, and your succefs in driving them all on Shore, that I am induced to bestow on you the rank of a Post-Captain, in the service to which your universal good Character and conduct do Credit: and for this purpose I have named you to the command of the Suffolk, and will give you a frigate whenever I can find one, having promised that ship to a Captain of old Standing.
I am etc.
To CAPTAIN EDWARD PELLEW
His Majesty's Ship Pelican
(60) Both the significance and importance of this letter require a little elucidation. The promotion to the rank of post-captain was, in those days, the most important step in a naval officer's career. It was the highest rank to which either his exertions or his interest could raise him. Once on the list of post-captains promotion was a matter of seniority. In peace time there was an enormous gulf between the captain on the post list and the 'captain,' by courtesy, who commanded some small ship. Whereas the former would probably become an admiral, there was no reason why the other should ever be promoted at all unless he had influential friends to press his claims at the Admiralty. An officer's career was largely determined by his age on attaining post-rank. Pellew and Nelson entered the navy simultaneously, but Nelson, who was slightly the younger of the two, was posted at the age of twenty-one, while Pellew was posted at the age of twenty-five. This was one of the chief reasons why Nelson was a flag-officer and a viscount at a time when Pellew was still a post-captain and a baronet. On the other hand, had Pellew failed to reach post-rank before the end of the War of American Independence, he would never have had a command of importance until all the serious fighting of the Napoleonic Wars was over.
A post-captain was one who commanded or who had commanded a ship large enough to be rated; a sixth rate, that is to say, or some larger vessel. It was to give him this distinction that Pellew was appointed to the Suffolk, for the command was purely nominal. The Suffolk was in process of being overhauled at Plymouth Dock, and Pellew merely commanded her for the six weeks during which she was under repair. This was enough to put him on the list of post-captains, and the fact that he was not employed again during the war was of minor importance.
He was thought at the time very fortunate in being posted at all; not that the promotion was undeserved or premature but that he belonged to the political party in opposition. The First Lord of the Admiralty, Viscount Keppel, was of the opposite party to Lord Falmouth. It was regarded as an extraordinary act of magnanimity to promote the protégé of a political opponent. But Keppel was careful to keep his 'damned nonsense about merit' within bounds. It was quixotic enough for a Rockingham Whig to bestow the least costly favour on an avowed Tory. He could hardly be expected to carry his generosity to the point of (61) lessening his patronage. Search how he would, the Whig First Lord could never find a frigate for Pellew.
Pellew nevertheless succeeded in going to sea again for a short time before the war came to an end. The captain of the forty-gun frigate Artois, John Macbride, was detailed in June 1782 to 'regulate' the impressed men at the Irish ports. That is to say, he had to examine the men in the tenders and receiving ships at Waterford and elsewhere and discharge those unlikely to be of any use. The regulating officer had to be especially skilful in distinguishing between real and feigned lunacy, deafness, epilepsy, and other complaints susceptible of imitation. It was a post for which experience was desirable, and it tended to become permanent. Macbride was not, in fact, released from this duty until the end of the war.
Meanwhile the Artois was without a captain. Instead of leaving his ship to be commanded by his first lieutenant, Macbride appointed Pellew to the command. He did so because Pellew's father had been a friend of his. It is doubtful, however, how long this state of things lasted. In the few months, or weeks, he commanded her, Pellew is said to have captured a French sloop; but whether he was still in command when the Artois retook the Greyhound transport is unknown. If he was, he had the honour of rescuing Lord Cornwallis from a second misfortune while on his way home after Yorktown.
That winter, in January 1783, peace was concluded and the greater part of the navy disbanded. Naval officers could not expect regular employment until the next war began. Pellew's chances were better than those of many other men in that the Whigs' reign had been short, and had been followed by that of the younger Pitt - whom Lord Falmouth supported. As a result, he commissioned two ships during the next ten years, and was afloat for more than four years during that time. But he was ashore for the first three years of this decade of peace, and much of the remainder of this chapter will be concerned with his life 'on the beach.'
Of his two surviving brothers, Samuel and Israel, the latter was now a lieutenant in the navy, and, unlike himself, employed; the former, the eldest, was in practice as a surgeon at Truro. It was in order to be near this brother that Edward went to live at that town. If they lived together it cannot have been for long, for Edward married on May 28th, 1783, very shortly after he came on shore. (62)
Susannah Frowde, the lady he married, was the second daughter of a country squire, Sir James Frowde, who lived at East Knoyle in Wiltshire; and it was while passing through that county that Captain Pellew met her accidentally, it is said. In after life he wrote of this event: 'I roused my Wife out of a snug Corner in a little retired Village before she had ever heard a Gun or seen the Sea.' In spite of occasional differences between them, the marriage was, on the whole, a happy one; and especially so in old age when they came for the first time to live constantly together. She was a year younger than he and apparently much admired. Polwhele speaks of her as 'the fascinating Susan, full of vivacity - pleasing to all, whether at Truro, or Flushing, or Trefusis (or wherever her subsequent residence may have been).' She was a woman of decided character, deeply religious, and always devoted to him. She came to manage most of his affairs, was the mother of a large family, and finally outlived him.
'Many anecdotes of himself and family we Truro folks might be able to relate, from our friendly intercourse with him during his residence here' is what the Rev. Richard Polwhele writes of Pellew; but beyond remarking how cleverly the latter could 'scraunch or masticate a wineglass,' he fails to give much information. This is the more to be regretted in that the connexion between the two men was closer than their distant acquaintance as schoolboys made inevitable. There was at one time a possibility of their becoming brothers-in-law. They were both High Churchmen, both Tories and both henchmen of the house of Boscawen. At this point some description of Truro and its affairs is necessary, in order that Pellew's part in the life of the town may be understood.
Truro was then a small town, smaller than it is now, but deriving a disproportionate importance from being an ancient borough. It sent a member to Parliament, like many other small towns in Cornwall, and was, again characteristically of the county, a 'Close Borough.' The member, that is to say, was elected by a small body of freemen. At Truro this body was co-operative and consisted of the corporation and a limited number of capital burgesses. The borough was 'close' but not 'rotten;' nor was it precisely a 'pocket Borough,' although it came near to being one. The preponderating influence there was that of Viscount Falmouth.
Lord Falmouth, of whose uncle mention has been made earlier in the book, was the youngest but only surviving (63) son of Admiral Boscawen, The admiral had been 'the most obstinate man of an obstinate family' but his son and his grandson were not far behind him in this quality. Their determination was directed, however, to political rather than naval objects. It was their ambition to control a block of Cornish boroughs in the Tory interest, and it is pleasant to record that their efforts were not unfruitful. The local interest they enjoyed is indicated by their hereditary tenure of the Recorder-ships of Truro, Penzance, and Tregony. Nor was their loyalty to Conservative principles without its reward. A half-century of effort turned the Boscawen peerage into an earldom.
But Truro was not a pocket borough, and it gave its Recorder no rest, For another family of the vicinity also had weight in local affairs. The Vyvyans disputed every election, whether local or parliamentary. It is true that the Boscawen nominee was almost invariably elected. But his success was never certain until the last moment. He was not elected without a picturesque struggle and considerable outlay on the part of the noble Recorder.
The Boscawens' difficulty lay in their inability to depose as well as appoint the burgesses. That ancient charter which was to attract criticism early in the next century (on other grounds) had the single defect of making the burgesses removable only by decease. A burgess, once elected, was always a burgess. The Boscawens' perpetual trouble, therefore, was in securing the loyalty of their own nominees. They found, only too often, that the men they appointed to the corporation underwent phases of political doubt as election time drew nearer. Apart from avowed enemies, there was always a body of burgesses subject to profitable vacillation as the crisis approached. A more respectable group of electors did not waver but expected some reward for their unswerving adherence. It was clearly absurd that those who had borne the burden and heat of the day should not be rewarded on a more generous scale than those who had decided to support the House of Tregothnan at the last moment. On the other hand there was no way of punishing the actual traitor except by not rewarding him; and this merely made it doubly necessary to reward everyone else. In short, the relationship between the burgesses and Viscount Falmouth closely resembled that of a group of blackmailers and their victim.
There was nothing remarkable in Edward Pellew becoming a capital burgess and an alderman shortly after he came to (64) live at Truro. It would have been remarkable had it happened otherwise. There were several good reasons why the Boscawens should want to appoint him. In the first place he was a great deal in their debt already. In the second place he was a man of honour who could be relied upon to fulfil his promises. Finally, he was a naval officer and could easily be rewarded at the public expense. The Falmouth interest still lay at the Admiralty, and the promotion of a nephew in the navy was the commonest bribe the viscount had to offer; and for this reason he numbered among his supporters a considerable number of naval officers, fathers of naval officers and uncles of naval officers. Pellew was not the only naval man to become an alderman on certain well-understood conditions. Others received seats in Parliament on similar terms. And there were already one or two who rejected such offers with honest indignation. This last attitude was one which Pellew could never have comprehended. His was not a reflective mind, neither had he any knowledge of history. It would never occur to him that politics ever had been, or ever could be any different. He lived long enough to see the passing of the first Reform Bill but he did not regard it as a change in a system, still less as an improvement. He regarded it as chaos.
His marriage and his becoming a magistrate took place at about the same time, and the single anecdote Polwhele, another alderman, tells of him dates from this period.
'Of my intercourse with Pellew as a brother-magistrate, I think I have given anecdotes in another place . . . . In every undertaking, by sea or land, "his whole mind " as we say "was in it." On a market-day, he, of course, met numbers of people on their way to Falmouth. But all he thought were going to our justice-meeting, when few or none of them were aware that there was any such meeting in existence. Thinking of his good lady, perhaps, he once filled up the blanks in a summons for "fraud" - "Frowde" - So it looked at least: and the gravity of the Bench was indecently relaxed by a burst of laughter.'
The present writer believes Polwhele to have been mistaken in supposing that he had chronicled elsewhere some further stories of his brother-magistrate. But his works are voluminous, and it is a point on which it is difficult to be certain. This anecdote of what was probably a mere matter of bad handwriting is trivial enough; but much may be forgiven Polwhele for providing what might well (65) have been Pellew's epitaph: 'In every undertaking by sea or land his whole mind was in it.'
Pellew had not been living at Truro for long before the Boscawen influence with Pitt's Government secured for his elder brother Samuel the post of Collector of the Customs at Falmouth. This was at once a reward for the family's adherence and an opportunity for further political services. It was no sinecure but an active post carrying with it a great deal of work, ample emolument, and considerable local influence. Samuel went to Falmouth to take up his duties, and Edward moved with him and took up his residence at Flushing, the village his grandfather had partly built. The elder brother also came to live at Flushing, at Woodlane House, which he is said to have built. If this is true, he may possibly have lived at Falmouth itself when he first became collector. A description of this port and its activities must be reserved for a later chapter. It is enough for the present to say that the suppression of smuggling was one of the collector's duties, and that Edward aided his brother by taking command of one of the two revenue luggers the collector had to provide.
The vacancy he filled was brought about by the resignation of one of the commanders, who complained of the new collector keeping him too constantly at sea. There may have been something of the martinet even in the surgeon turned revenue officer.
Early in 1786 Captain Pellew was employed again. He was given the command of the frigate Winchelsea, of thirty-two guns, destined for the Newfoundland station. She was the first frigate he commanded for any length of time. His period in command of her deserves attention in that it shows him at his best as a seaman; it shows what he could do with a good ship, well-manned, when he himself was in the prime of life.
On April 27th, 1786, he came on board his ship at Spithead. In his own words: 'I came on bd His Maj's Ship Winchelsea, superseded Capt'n Montagu, read my Commifsion to the Ship's Company and took upon me the Command of the Ship.' On May 30th a fifteen-gun salute was fired to commemorate the restoration of Charles II, and on the 1st of June he sailed. He had an excellent crew, 'with scarcely a landsman on board,' good officers for the most part, and nearly thirty midshipmen. He ran into Falmouth on the 3rd, and finally took his departure on the 5th. A good deal of rough weather was encountered in the run across (66) the Atlantic, and one of the midshipmen noted that ' at all hours of the day or night, whenever there was exertion required aloft, to preserve a sail or a mast, the captain was foremost at the work, apparently as a mere matter of amusement; and there was not a man in the ship who could equal him in personal activity.' The same midshipman gives, as an instance of Pellew's activity, a remarkable, almost incredible story of how, during a gale, he ordered the main-topsail to be reefed while standing on the quarterdeck, and yet reached the yardarm before any one else by getting to the topmast-head and sliding down the topsail lift.
He made his landfall on the 23rd, but did not reach the narrow entrance of St. John's Harbour until the evening. St. John's was the anchorage of the ships on the station, and Commodore Eliot was in command there, his pendant borne by the Salisbury, of fifty guns. Pellew had hoped to enter the harbour that evening and report to the commodore, but the wind was contrary and the only way for him to reach the anchorage was by warping. Most men would have anchored outside for the night but the tireless Pellew - to the intense annoyance, probably, of his crew - had other ideas. He started to warp in at once, sent the boats to lay out anchors, and was cheerfully prepared to work all night. When it was necessary to cast off the hawser from the chain rock, with no boat handy to do it, it was Pellew himself who went down the hawser hand-over-hand, cast it off, and swung himself on board by means of it - to the dumbfounded astonishment of the seamen who had been afraid to do it themselves. He kept his men hard at work for nine hours, reached the anchorage a little before dawn and anchored there near the Salisbury. Then he sent his whole crew to bed with the exception of the gunner, remaining on deck himself to fire the salute at daybreak.
There is something very characteristic of him in this incident. The whole affair was a piece of boyish bravado, to begin with, He obviously exulted in his own matchless energy and loved proving that he could be his own boatswain. He probably wanted to startle the commodore by a totally unexpected thunder of cannon while that officer was still in his cot. One is morally certain that he did not spoil the effect by taking any sleep in the course of the day, but on the contrary made a point of being more than usually active and cheerful. For all the early part of his life he seems to have retained a love of exertion for its own sake. Again and (67) again this trait appears. He was perpetually performing feats of needless endurance. It is true that the very excess of energy which led to what he himself was later to call 'the wild operations' of his first command, was often the means of saving men's lives. It is also true that there was little harm in overworking his men occasionally. Where the mischief lay was in his habit of trying to do everything himself; in his habit of doing things himself rather than making others do them. It was his only fault as a leader of men. It was apparent in his first command. It partially marred his greatest triumph. It was with him to the end.
From the foregoing account a reader might be misled into thinking his qualities entirely physical, as a young man, at least. This was never the case. Pellew never degenerated into a mere dare-devil at any moment of his life. He was never unintelligently courageous, never unthinking.
About the management of a ship Pellew had strong ideas. In general he was much averse to disturbing the rest of the watch below. He saw to it that the watch on deck, with the idlers, should accustom themselves to meet emergencies without assistance. He hated to see any one, and particularly a midshipman, idle. He abhorred drunkenness, and disliked having to issue spirits. He put his faith in beer, especially spruce-beer, as a preventive of scurvy; and he had no sooner reached Newfoundland than he sent a party on shore with the copper to brew - the beer having been expended a few days before reaching St. John's. Spruce-beer was a product of Newfoundland, made from a plant or shrub peculiar to that region. Ships on the Newfoundland station were sometimes provided with special coppers for brewing it. Many thought it as useful, medicinally, as lemon-juice.
Pellew was not long at St. John's. He went for a short cruise and came back there in July to find the commodore still there. In August and September he cruised again on the coast; and it is during this period that two traits of his character first become apparent. The first is his severity on offences such as drunkenness and disobedience - the floggings on board the Winchelsea were far more frequent than they had been on any ship Pellew had served in under another captain; two dozen, three dozen, even four dozen lashes were inflicted on offenders against his discipline. The second is his care to read prayers to the ship's company on nearly every Sunday of the cruise. He clearly held 'Divine Service' whenever the exigencies of the service (68) allowed of it - it was a custom copied from Pownoll. Like other captains he occasionally varied it with the semi-religious act of reading the Articles of War. These articles were no bad substitute for a religious address in that they had a distinctly moral tendency; but, like the precepts of religion they were repeated with ritual veneration rather than observed with any great exactness.
It was not then customary for ships to remain on the Newfoundland station during the winter, and Pellew crossed the Atlantic to Lisbon in October, made the Lizard on November 27th and came into Spithead on the thirtieth. The Winchelsea did not winter there but at Plymouth, alongside the Yarmouth and Chichester hulks in Hamoaze; and to Plymouth she went in December. Pellew, as has been already suggested, was 'a taut hand,' and this period in harbour was one in which his crew gave him a great deal of trouble. Already, at Lisbon, on his voyage home, he punished a quartermaster with four dozen, and a dozen more for contumacy while under punishment. And now, in harbour, his disciplinary methods fell heavily on a whole series of offenders. On December 30th, a week after arriving in 'Hamoaze,' he punished three men with a dozen each for disobedience; and on the same day he 'confined Mr Croxton, Purser, to his Cabin.' On the following day he punished three marines with two dozen lashes each, and another with a dozen, for neglect of duty. On January 14th a seaman received a dozen for drunkenness, and 'the Provost Marshal came on board and took charge of the Prisoner.' Next day 'at 9 the Admiral made the signal for a Court Martial, sent the Prisoner viz. Mr Thos. Croxton (Purser) on board the Powerfull under a Guard to be try'd.' The court martial duly broke Air. Croxton, as convicted of forgery and defraud upon Government - handing him over to the civil power on the former charge. On the 17th, the day after the purser's sentence, Pellew 'put Mr Rofs, Master, under confinement.' On the 23rd he punished a marine with twelve lashes for sleeping on his post. Three days later 'Mr John Rofs, Master' was 'sent on board the Powerfull under a Guard to be try'd. On the following day at 2 the Board ret'd from the Court Martial. The Charge of altering the Log Book being fully proved on Mr Rofs, the Court adjudged that Mr John Rofs be dismifsed his Ship & render'd incapable of ever serving in any post of trust in His Maj's Navy.' On February 2nd, a marine was punished with twelve lashes. On the 14th Pellew 'confined Mr Rotherford (69) 2nd Surgeons mate to his berth for striking the Boatswain of the Hulk.' On the 18th he punished a seaman with three dozen lashes 'for stealing spunyarn out of the Dock Yard, also John Marsden, Marine, with 2 Dozen for theft.' Three days later he 'disrated John Sherlock from being Boatswain's mate & punished him with 72 lashes for going out of the ship without leave' - two other men receiving a dozen each at the same time and for the same offence. On the next day a seaman received a dozen lashes for neglect of duty. Then, on the 26th, the court martial began on the surgeon's mate. It lasted for some days; eventually 'the charge being in part proved, the Court adjudged that Mr George Rotherford, Surgeon's 2nd Mate, be dismifsed His Maj's Service and be imprisoned in the Marshalsea for three months.' On March 7th a seaman was punished for theft with 'running the Gantlet.' And on the next day the Winchelsea began to prepare for sea. On March 19th she was warped through the narrows and sailed for Spithead.
This seems a long list of punishments for a period of about twelve weeks. It shows that Pellew was something of a martinet; or, to say the least, a strict captain little disposed to overlook offences.
The following two months, April and May of 1787, were spent cruising in the Channel; uneventfully, except that on April 3rd, 'the Cutter was sent to look for Smuglers,' and came back 'having taken 2 Ankers of Gin & 1 Do. of Brandy.' These were 'rec'd on board,' and there, as far as the revenue was concerned, the matter ended - for the Winchelsea sailed the next day. Pellew did not finally quit the Channel until June 13th; and then he set off for Newfoundland, in company with the commodore, in the Salisbury. The run across the Atlantic was not without incident. The first tragedy was the discovery on July 1st that the beer in the hold had gone sour. Pellew had anticipated this event, and was able to issue wine instead. He always disliked having to issue spirits, as likely to lead to drunkenness. Two days later the ship sprung her mainmast, twelve feet above the deck, during a squall. Pellew parted company with the commodore while engaged in fishing the damaged mast, and continued the voyage alone.
It was at this point that the officers of the Winchelsea had a rather nerve-racking experience. A dense fog came on them and Pellew did not know exactly where he was for some days. Sounding was at first useless - there was no ground at 120 fathoms. The ship was running the (70) dangers her wintering at Spithead was designed to spare her, chiefly owing to the Canadian spring being delayed. William Cobbett, who knew the country, wrote: 'The St Lawrence, our only channel to Canada from England or from Halifax, is full of Mountains of ice till the month of June. I have seen a large mountain of ice off the mouth of that immense river on the 15th of June. I believe that no vessels of any considerable size ever attempt the navigation of that river much before June.' It is recorded in the last chapter how, in an emergency, a small English squadron managed to break through the ice rather earlier than this. But in 1787 the winter had lasted a little longer than usual, and the Winchelsea had run into a fog at a time when 'Mountains of ice' from the St. Lawrence were still to be feared. The fog was still thick on the 11th when 'an Island of Ice' suddenly loomed out of it. There was no danger from that particular iceberg, but it was enough to make any captain nervous. On the following day the leadsman found ground at seventy-five fathoms and later at sixty-five. The water was gradually shoaling during the next two days, and on the 14th, when the fog was as thick as ever, the leadsman reported twenty-two fathoms. When, at 6 a.m. that day, Pellew 'heard the Surf beating' he instantly anchored and sent the cutter on ahead. 'The cutter spoke a Shallop from Petty Harbour,' and at noon the fog cleared away for an instant - just long enough for them to sight land before it closed in again. Pellew was still uncertain as to his whereabouts and did not up anchor until the 15th, after he had spoken with a ship which had recently been able to take an observation. He had not been far out in his calculations, as it turned out, and he was able to take advantage of a light wind that sprang up from the south-west to creep into St. John's the same day. One Michael Kelly instantly proceeded to get drunk by way of celebrating the event. Pellew as promptly prevented the celebrations becoming general by punishing the luckless Kelly with three dozen. He never had much affection for the Irish. Then he took his ship to Fermouze Harbour to brew beer and cut firewood.
That winter the Winchelsea went back to Spithead as usual; and the next year, if less eventful, differed in no other respect from the last. The summer of 1788 was spent on the Newfoundland coast, which he explored pretty thoroughly, visiting 'every harbour, nook, and corner . . . that the ship could be squeezed into.' He did not reach (71) England until January 1789. His ship was paid off the following month.
One result of Pellew's command of the Winchelsea was the attachment to himself of one of the midshipmen whose idol he had become. This was the younger brother of Frank Cole, who, with Pellew, had been turned out of the Alarm in 1775. It is from this younger brother, Christopher Cole, that a great deal of information concerning this period derives. The elder of the two died early in the next war, but the younger lived to become flag-captain to Pellew, a Member of Parliament and a K.C.B. He was one of the best of Pellew's followers, and saw fulfilled a friend's prediction that Pellew, if he lived, would be at the head of his profession.
So far, no account has been given of Pellew's children. His eldest, a girl, had been born before he had the command of the Winchelsea, in January 1785. She was christened Emma Mary. The next child, and eldest son, was born on the 1st of July, 1786 - just after he sailed for Newfoundland. He was called after Captain Pownoll, and christened Pownoll Bastard. The latter name was given him because Mr. and Mrs. Edmund Bastard were sponsors at his baptism. The Pownolls and Bastards were connected by marriage. Another daughter, Julia, was born in November 1787. Nine months after the Winchelsea was paid off, during the eighteen months he now spent on shore, another child was expected. Pellew was confident that it would be a son; so much so that he begged his friend Alexander Broughton to stand godfather and name the boy long before the child was born.
Broughton has already been mentioned as a midshipman, and a friend of Pellew's in North America. He was disappointed of promotion and had, by this time, retired from the navy. Unlike his friend, he was a man of independent means. He was apparently living at Teignmouth at this time - at least he wrote from there in reply to Pellew's letter asking him to be his son's godfather, on November 26th, 1787. He began by thanking Pellew for trying to procure votes for Sir Charles Bampfield, a friend of Broughton's. He apologized for the misbehaviour of a horse he had either given or sold to his friend: '. . . Poor Fag too, He has got into disgrace as well as his Master. But I am apt to think you have taken the wrong method with him, my good Friend, to make him tractable - you should consider he is a Land Animal, and has not been accustomed to have the Boatswain's Mate at his Tail - (72) treat him with gentlenefs, and I have no doubt of his compliance . . . .' He refused to stand godfather on religious grounds. He knew that he would not be able to do his duty towards the boy; 'were I ever to pass my word in so solemn a way before God, I should expect the Devil would take me if I did not perform what I promised.' He suggested that the boy should nevertheless have one of his family names, Fleetwood.'
Pellew's confidence was justified, and the child born in December 1789 was a second son. He was christened Fleetwood Reynolds Broughton. There were no more children for some years.
Earlier in 1789 - immediately before his arrival in England - Pellew had apparently forgotten that his fellow-burgesses of Truro were land animals. At any rate, a letter from Lord Falmouth, dated from his town house, February 5th, seems to suggest that his horse was not the only sufferer from his quick temper. The letter is one of dignified reproof, coupled with a fear of alienating Pellew altogether. It must be remembered that Falmouth was, by a few months, the younger man of the two; he had not the weight of seniority to add to that of rank.
I must return a few words in reply to the letter I have received from You to day. The omifsion that I made in not acquainting you with my intentions for the 9th of Oct'r was owing to my not being aware that you was a senior Cap'I Burgefs to Mr A. Danick, otherwise I should certainly have settled that matter with you before you sailed. But I could also have wished that instead of speaking to Mr Teppet and Mr Jenney on the subject You had mentioned the matter to me, and left it to my discretion, and it would have been better if you had waited at least 'till your return home, and 'till you had made further enquiry on the subject, before you wrote those violent letters to those Gentlemen. For that you have been grofsly misinformed is most evident: and that the manner in which the affair was done was unhandsome (and such is your phrase) is absolutely false: and I must confefs I am not pleased at such an Exprefsion being applied to any transaction in which I am concerned. I must also add that I differ most widely from you when you suppose that this circumstance can have given a strong Air of probability to such an absurd, stupid Idea that I had engaged with Mr Thomas to turn you out of the Borough. I hope you never could entertain a suspicion that I was capable of making such terms with him. (73) My uniform behaviour towards you which has consisted in doing more to serve you and your family than I have done for all my friends in the Borough of Truro, and for all my Borough connexions indeed put together, should have excited very different Sentiments in you with regard to me: and I have therefore most earnestly to entreat that you will in future refrain from entering into hasty and ill-founded quarrels with my friends and for no other reason than their complying with my requests and wishes: and such conduct cannot but be very prejudicial to my interest, for which you profefs a true and sincere attachment. The inclosed will show you the . . . full attempt I made to obtain . . . for your Brother . . . . I find upon . . . that there is no more chance of [producing that desired effect than ever: but as I thought that a cutter would be an advantageous thing for him, I consented to Mr Leveson's kind hint of applying for it. Whether it is so or no you are the best judge; if you think otherwise I should be glad to know your wishes as I am by no means sure of succeeding in this application and should therefore be glad to withdraw it in time.
I am, Sir
Your most obedient Servant
Either Lord Falmouth's application on behalf of Israel Pellew failed, or, more probably, Edward urged him to withdraw it. For Israel was not given a cutter, but was appointed first lieutenant in the Salisbury, when Edward was placed in command of that ship. The Salisbury, as we have seen was the fifty-gun flagship on the Newfoundland station. In the eighteen months Pellew commanded her, the Salisbury paid two visits to St. John's without incident, bearing the flag of Admiral Milbank. Pellew brought her back to Spithead on November 14th, 1791, and she was paid off on December 2nd. A single voyage in the Salisbury had been sufficient to raise Israel to the rank of commander; and he married, Mary Gilmore, on the strength of it and went to live near his wife's family in Ireland. But he was not destined to be on half-pay for long; and Edward was not on shore for much more than a year. For certain remarkable events had happened in France. Still more astonishing events were yet to happen. And, in the meanwhile, in the spring of 1792, that government of which the French king was still the nominal head but which he was already powerless to control, had declared war on the emperor.