Whenever the wind is foul, which it now most certainly is, for I am writing anything but “Newton Forster,” and which will account for this rambling, stupid chapter, made up of odds and ends, strung together like what we call “skewer pieces” on board of a man-of-war; when the wind is foul, as I said before, I have, however, a way of going a-head by getting up the steam, which I am now about to resort to—and the fuel is brandy. All on this side of the world are asleep, except gamblers, house-breakers, the new police, and authors. My wife is in the arms of Morpheus—an allegorical crim. con., which we husbands are obliged to wink at; and I am making love to the brandy-bottle, that I may stimulate my ideas, as unwilling to be roused from their dark cells of the brain as the spirit summoned by Lochiel, who implored at each response, “Leave, oh! leave me to repose.”
Now I’ll invoke them, conjure them up, like little imps, to do my bidding:—
By this glass which now I drain,
By this spirit, which shall cheer you,
As its fumes mount to my brain,
From thy torpid slumbers rear you.
By this head, so tired with thinking,
By this hand, no longer trembling,
By these lips, so fond of drinking,
Let me feel that you’re assembling.
By the bottle placed before me,
(Food for you, ere morrow’s sun),
By this second glass, I pour me,
Come, you little beggars, come.
“British sailors have a knack,
Haul away, yo ho, boys.
Of hauling down a Frenchman’s jack
’Gainst any odds, you know, boys.”
There was, I flatter myself, some little skill in the introduction of the foregoing chapter, which has played the part of chorus during the time that the Bombay Castle has proceeded on to Canton, has taken in her cargo, and is on her passage home, in company with fifteen other East Indiamen and several country ships, all laden with the riches of the East, and hastening to pour their treasures into the lap of their country. Millions were floating on the waters, entrusted to the skill of merchant-seamen to convey them home in safety, and to their courage to defend them from the enemy, which had long been lying in wait to intercept them. By a very unusual chance or oversight, there had been no men-of-war despatched to protect property of such enormous value.
The Indian fleet had just entered the Straits of Malacca, and were sailing in open order, with a fresh breeze and smooth water. The hammocks had been stowed, the decks washed, and the awnings spread. Shoals of albicore were darting across the bows of the different ships; and the seamen perched upon the cat-heads and spritsail-yard, had succeeded in piercing with their harpoons many, which were immediately cut up, and in the frying-pans for breakfast. But very soon they had “other fish to fry;” for one of the Indiamen, the Royal George, made the signal that there were four strange sail in the S.W.