It is a long while ago since this letter was written by a rough old sailor, and its quaint wording may raise a smile, but Hunter was very much in earnest; and if his failure to govern convicts and “officers and gentlemen” who traded in rum is to count against him, leaving but a contemptuous pity for a weak old man as an impression on the mind, go back to his sea-days, when he fought the crazy old Sirius through a hurricane to bring food to these shore-people, and remember him for this closing anecdote of his life:—
In 1801, soon after his arrival in England, Hunter [Sidenote: 1801-1821] commanded the Venerable (74). He was cruising off Torbay, when a man fell overboard. Hunter attempted to put the ship about to pick him up; she missed stays, ran ashore, and became a wreck. At the court-martial (at which Hunter was honourably acquitted) he was asked whether he thought he was justified in putting the ship about in such circumstances, to which question he replied, “I consider the life of a British seaman of more value than any ship in His Majesty’s navy.”
When he returned to England, he was granted a pension, for his services as governor, of L300 per annum; was promoted rear-admiral in October, 1807, and became vice-admiral of the Red in July, 1810. He died in Judd Street, London, in March, 1821, aged eighty-three, and was buried in Hackney churchyard, where a tombstone with a long inscription records his services.
THE MARINES AND THE NEW SOUTH WALES CORPS.
The service of the Marines in the colonization of Australia was, as it always has been, per mare, per terram, such as reflected the highest credit upon the corps. They were not “Royal” in those days, nor were they light infantry; the first title came to them in 1802, when their facings were changed from white to royal blue, and it was not until 1855 that they were designated light infantry.