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going to sea from romantic motives at the age of eleven: he had read the story of Robert Drury, the story of Captain Richard Falconer, and other books which fired his imaginations. His first voyage was in 1787, to China and the Dutch Indies; his second (1790) to Bombay, in the Worcester, Captain Hall. Off the high land of Chaul the ship was attacked by pirates of Angria. The Worcester was taking out a hundred John Company's recruits.
Among these was a German, Oberstien, of dissipated fortune, but elegant education. Now did my mind first catch a ray of intellectual light: now was it ordained I should not be all my life illiterate. I began to learn French under Oberstien between the tropics; in my watch upon deck my station was in the main top, to haul down the top gallant studding sail at the approach of a squall, or to go up and hand the royal. For our top gallant masts were fidded, and our royal yards rigged across. When the boatswain's mate piped Starbowlines, I walked
up the main rigging into the top. I always put Le Sage in my pocket; and in the maintop of an East Indianman, under a cloudless tropical sky, when the breeze was so steady that for days we had no occasion to start either tack or sheet, I began to cultivate the language of the court of Lewis the fourteenth.
“I was several months on shore at Bombay. I lodged at the country tavern. It was kept by Mr. Loudwick, and shaded with cocoa nut and bananna trees. My landlord had a complete set of European magazines; I rather devoured than read them; and it is to the perusal of these volumes that I ascribe that love of belles lettres which has always made me loath the mathematicks and other crabbed sciences.
“Neither Mr. Loudwick nor Mrs. Loudwick could talk English. I now thanked my stars that I had learnt French in the maintop of the Worcester, and conversed with my host and hostess in their own idiom.
From Bombay we went twice down the Malabar coast, anchoring at every port. I landed at Cochin where Camoens wrote his Lusiad, and at Anjengo, where Eliza was born; * and I was engaged in the reduction of Cannanore under General Abercrombie. In our passage home I landed at the Cape of Good Hope.”
Returning to Salisbury with a love of literature enkindled, Davis directed his attention to the family library, 'a room full of books.' His pleasure in reading an English book was diminished by not knowing the sources of its classical allusions, of which he could be no judge of the propriety or efficacy. By a happy fortune he hit upon Mant's Phædrus, with a parsing index, which
strewed flowers in his road, and obtained him the rewards of study without its toils.'
“In the beginning of 1793 I was sent into the navy. In the Active frigate, Capt. Nagle I went to the Orkneys, Cadiz, and into the Elbe. Being turned over with the ship's company to the Artois (her former commander lord Charles
* See Sterne's Letters to Eliza, and Raynals' Apostrophe to Anjengo.
Fitzgerald was given the command of the Brunswick, seventy-four) I belonged a year and a half to a flying squadron of frigates; namely the Pomone, Sir John Borlase Warren, the Arethusa, Sir Edward Pellew, and the Diamond, Sir Sidney Smith. Our cruizing ground was the coast of France, and our port of rendezvous was Falmouth.
“The Artois was the fastest sailing frigate of the squadron. She could sail round the others. No ship could touch her, whether going large, or close hauled. We were always first up with the chase; and on the twenty-first of October, 1794, after an action close, vigorous, and persevering, the Revolutionnaire French frigate hauled down her colors to the Artois. Captain Nagle was knighted by his Majesty for the action.
“In 1798 I embarked in a small brig, at Bristol, for the United States. I had before made some progress in Greek, and begun the study of the language of harmony, with the Father of Poetry, and the Bible of the Ancients. In Latin I had looked into every writer of the Julian and Augustan ages; the study of French had always been to me like the cracking of nuts; and in my
vernacular idiom I had neglected no writer from Bunyan to Bolingbroke. Lowth had put me au fait of all the critical niceties of grammar; and when I read it was always with an eye to new combinations of diction.
"I translated at New York Buonaparte's Campaign in Italy, a considerable octavo, and proceeded to the South. I now experienced the advantage of having educated myself. By imparting what I knew of English, French and Latin to others, I was enabled to gratify my disposition to travel, and to subsist comfortably.
“In 1802 I returned to England. I proceeded to London where my time was divided between pleasure and literature. I published a large volume of my own peregrinations. I wrote an American tale called Walter Kennedy, a Life of Chatterton, and a novel entitled The Wooden Walls Well Manned, or a Picture of a British Frigate.
“In the winter of 1804 I returned to America. Our passage in the Cotton Planter was a rough
* The author's books and translations, published in the United States, are as follows:
1) Campaigns of Buonoparte in Italy. New York. H. Caritat. 1798.
2) Ferdinand and Elizabeth. New York. H. Caritat. 1798. 3) Poems. Charleston. 1799.
4) Farmer of New Jersey. New York. Printed by Furman and Loudon. 1800. 70 pp.
5) Wanderings of William. Philadelphia R. T. Rawle. 1801. xii-299 pp.
6) Poems. New York. H. Caritat. 1801.
7) The First Settlers of Virginia : an historical novel. 2nd ed. New York. G. Riley & Co. 1805. xii-284 pp.
8) Berquin-Duvallon: Travels (1802) in Louisiana and the Floridas. New York. G. Riley. 1806. viii-181 pp.
9) Life and Campaigns of Victor Moreau. New York. David Bliss. 56 Maiden Lane. 1806.
10) Captain Smith and Princess Pocahontas. Philadelphia. B. Warner. 1817. iv-90 pp.
The Travels of Four Years and a Half, &c. was issued at London in an amended edition, 1817, ‘For J. Davis, Military Chronicle office. 14 Charlotte St., Bloomsbury.'
The author's last book appears to have been “The American Mariners, or the Atlantic Voyage: a Moral Poem. Prefixed is a vindication of the American character from the Aspersions of the Quarterly Reviewers &c.” Salisbury. 1822.]
I never witnessed severer gales. It was necessary to keep the broad axe sharp, when the ship was lying to, in case she should go on her beam ends; that we might cut away her weather rigging or the masts, in order to enable her to get upon her legs again.
“And now to the keeping of that Great Being, whose protecting arm extends over land and sea, I commend myself and my readers."
A. J. M.