Tuesday, March 26

The Captain's Background, part I

As told in conversation to Dr. Roberts whilst dining in Plymouth during the repair of the Acasta in April, 1811.

"I was born in Poole, Hampshire on the 15th of June 1754, my father having served as Captain of Marines, most recently aboard the HMS Centurion.  As my family had long been in the service of the Elector of Hanover, German was spoken as much as, if not more, English, in my childhood home, which is why Doctor you found assorted works by Schiller and Göthe amongst the volumes in my cabin.  When I was twelve years of age, through the efforts of my father and the influence of Capt. Augustus Hervey, I embarked on my nautical career as midshipman aboard the HMS Dolphin under the command of Capt. Wallis.  The strict upbringing imposed upon me by my parents, with its keen attention to detail and commitment to duty, proved to be invaluable in allowing me to quickly adapt to the rigors and structure of service in His Majesty's navy.  On the 24th of June, 1766 the Dolphin set sail for the South Pacific, a most remarkable journey of survey and exploration which lasted two years.  My fondest memories are of approaching the southern tip of South America and passing through the Straits of Magellan, during which I had the opportunity to witness first-hand the aboriginal people of Patagonia, several of who dined aboard the Dolphin at the request of the Captain.  During the course of the meal, a question arose as to whether or not one of the natives, who possessed a very refined and gracile face, was female as there was absolutely nothing about their clothing, essentially being identical, as to suggest gender.  Amid much speculation, and wagering amongst the Wardroom members, the native in question was persuaded to open the garment thereby ending the debate!

Upon the return of the Dolphin to Plymouth in May of 1768, the ship, being in a state of repair, was assigned to the Channel Squadron, and I was posted as Master's Mate, a practice not uncommon for those individuals seeking to improve their knowledge and skills in order to receive their Passing Certificate.  After serving in this capacity for four years, I took my examination and although I received my Passing Certificate, as there were no available berths for a newly minted Lieutenant, I remained with the Dolphin in my previous capacity.  Though relatively uneventful, and often times monotonous, service with the Channel Squadron did afford me the opportunity to have ample time ashore, enabling to visit my parents at their home and grounds near Poole, which they christened "Friedlichkeit", and which I was to later inherit.

With the outbreak of civil unrest and rebellion in the American colonies in 1775, I at last received my commission as Third Lieutenant aboard the frigate HMS Melampe under the able command of Capt. William Hotham, whose friendship and patronage has served me well over the years."

3 comments:

  1. Delightful! I cannot wait to hear more!

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  2. When you take pen in hand, you create a masterpiece of word and vision.

    ReplyDelete