Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

ing description ; all concurring in portraying the state of the Continent in terms directly contrary to the representations made to us previous to our departure from England: and these statements were doubly dispiriting, inasmuch as they proceeded from persons who were avowedly the friends and well-wishers of the Independent cause; by one and all of whom we were advised in the strongest manner to relinquish the idea of personally engaging in the conflict.

Our situation, in itself sufficiently distressing, was rendered still more critical by the spirit of dissension and jealousy which now subsisted amongst the officers commanding the different corps, who had become so perfectly disunited as scarcely to observe towards each other the common forms of personal recognition. This want of harmony among the superior officers destroyed all exertions for the general cause ; and the Colonels, instead of evincing a solicitude to forward the views and realize, as far as lay in their power, the expectations they had excited in the minds of their followers, appeared to be influenced solely by an

This usurpa

anxiety for personal precedency. The spirit of jealousy and disunion soon extended amongst the officers in general; private pique and quarrelling were the results, more particularly on board the Prince and Emerald. Colonel Hippesley, on his arrival in the West Indies, assumed the rank of Brigadier-general, and had, during the passage, caused every individual, under his command, to take an oath of allegiance to the Independent Government. tion of rank was ill calculated to restore amity or concord; and the general spirit of dissension still continuing, the Governor manifested his displeasure by withdrawing his former attention, and even prohibited several of Colonel Wilson's officers from again proceeding on shore; actually posting sentries upon

the beach, for the purpose of enforcing due obedience to his commands.

The Colonels now became desirous of proceeding to the Continent at all hazards, without permitting any further time to elapse for the arrival of information from the seat of hostilities. To this proposal, however, the Supercargoes of the different ships

positively refused acquiescence. They were very properly tenacious of the

property intrusted to their care, and would not, on any account, hear of departing for the Main, without being first perfectly convinced that the finances of the Patriots were in such a state as to enable them to pay, either in money or produce, for the military stores embarked on board their respective vessels. In order to obtain, if possible, satisfactory information on this particular point, as also to learn how far the various unfavourable rumours, so confidently circulated, were or were not well founded, our Supercargo determined on proceeding to Saint Thomas's, for the purpose of having a personal communication with Mr. Molony, an Agent of the Independents, resident at that island. Mr. Ritchie accordingly, at considerable expense, engaged a sloop, and sailed on the 4th or 5th of February. The period which elapsed between Mr. R.'s departure for, and return from, Saint Thomas's, was, as may be well conceived, one of anxious suspense; the fate of the expedition proba

bly depending upon the nature of the information he might procure—his return was therefore awaited with the greatest impatience.

As this event, however, could not be reasonably expected to take place before the expiration of ten days or a fortnight, leave of absence was readily granted to any of the officers desirous of obtaining it, and, amongst others, I availed myself of this indulgence, and gratified my curiosity by visiting the neighbouring island of Saint Martin's, bearing W. S. W. of Saint Bartholomew's, and distantabout thirteen miles. Having procured the necessary passport, I proceeded in an open boat, accompanied by my constant associate Captain

and Lieut. Y- *, of Colonel Hippesley's corps.

When about mid-way, between the two islands, the rapidity of the current, with a contrary wind and heavy sea, compelled us to abandon our course to Marygott, and drift down

* This officer, having proceeded to Angustura, died shortly after his arrival.

D

to leeward of the island. Evening was now fast approaching, and with it every appearance of tempestuous weather; we however, arrived safe in Great Bay about seven o'clock, in the midst of a heavy gale, with our boat half full of water, and thoroughly drenched by torrents of rain, and the high spray which had been continually dashing over us.

Saint Martin's is in the joint possession of the French and Dutch; and Great Bay, where we had now landed, is the principal town in that quarter of the island belonging to the latter nation. It presented a dreary and comfortless appearance, being, with the exception of a few respectable planters' houses, the most wretched place imaginable. Numbers of

half-naked. negroes surrounded us on the beach, proffering their assistance for conveying our portmanteaus from the boat. On entering the town our first anxiety was to discover an inn, where we could procure refreshment, and change our wet clothes (which are considered more productive of fever than even the natural malignity of the West.

poor

« AnteriorContinuar »