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a stray shot, one person deficient in his duty, and all is lost, save honour. Be it remembered always, that seamen fight over, and almost in contact with, their magazines. Truly it is a mighty game of chance, but a game that is sure to be lost for want of skill, and yet, with the greatest skill, may be gloriously lost for the want of fortune. It seems, then, most wise to dare all, but dare wisely; and few, nay none, have been more wise in their daring than Sir Sidney Smith.
Sir Sidney Smith's personal appearance at this time—Cuts
out a French lugger near Havre-Is drifted with his prize up the Seine-With his party is captured—Speculations of the French upon his conduct.
At this period, when the Diamond came into harbour to refit for service after her various cruises, Sir Sidney Smith used frequently to come up to London, and mingle with the abounding festivities of the metropolis. Though he had his peculiarities, yet, with many and strong temptations, he might justly be denominated “ a steady man.” At this time he was decidedly handsome, and, though not tall, of a compact, well-built, symmetrical frame, with a dark and somewhat Hebraical countenance, and a profusion of jet-black curling hair. Notwithstanding the fierce bravery of his character, his features were always remarkable for a degree of refinement, not often found either in the pale student
or the silken courtier. In his character, mind predominated.
He had his singularities, and where is the thorough-bred seaman who has not? He had himself trained a beautiful and docile horse into an amusing playmate, as well as a valuable servant.
When told to give a prance for “ King George,” he would rear on his hind legs, and dance like a well-educated dog. When requested to pay the like compliment to Bonaparte, he would take the request as an insult; stiffen out his limbs into an attitude of defiance, and snort indignantly. When mounting his favourite Bucephalus at the door of his hotel, Captain Smith would do it in the most approved style of the fashionable equestrians of the day, and preserve all the proprieties of equitation, until he was fairly clear of the suburbs. Then would he fling the stirrups across the back of his horse, settle himself sailor-fashion in his saddle, and ride as if he were chasing the wind, and the wind-chasing promises of amendment.
We are now approaching one of the principal events of our hero's life; but our friends must not suppose that we use the term hero in the novel, but in the historical, acceptation of the word. This act, which terminated so unfortunately for him, seems to have been of a nature much less hazardous than that which we have just narrated, which took place off Herqui, and to have been planned with scientific foresight; yet the results were not only disastrous to our gallant commander, but also highly detrimental to the interests of his country, in depriving it, for a length of time, of his invaluable services. On the 8th of March, being near the shore off Havre, with his boats, on a reconnoissance, he fell in with and took possession of a French lugger privateer, which, by the strong influx of the tide, was, with its captors and their boats, carried a considerable way up the Seine, and far beyond the numerous forts. Thus unpleasantly situated, it may be fạirly said, in the interior of the country, he found himself in a situation not very dissimilar from that of the renowned nephew of Gil Perez.
Thus entrapped, Sir Sidney Smith remained during the whole night. The first breaking of the morning presented to the French a very curi
curious and unaccustomed picture. There lay in the middle of their own river the long black hull of the lugger, lately theirs, in tow by a string of English boats, the crews of which were pulling with a strength
that British seamen only can display. Great was the Gallic commotion. Amid the incessant crowing of their national cocks, which
were doing their matutinal duty this fine spring morning, in announcing the commencement of another day, was heard the clamour of the national guard, the shouting of the peasantry on the river, and the shriller cries of the females, mingled with the baying of innumerable dogs. and the calling of the canonniers to each other, as they rushed into their various forts and unlimbered the guns.
In this crisis, the enemy seems to have wanted neither courage nor conduct; for in addition to the fire from the batteries, which played upon the boats and the prize, several gunboats and other armed vessels attacked this little party, and, in less than an hour, another lugger, of force superior to the one captured, was warped out and made to engage her late consort. This unequal fight lasted a considerable time, although Sir Sidney Smith was exposed to the fire of much heavier metal, and had, at the same time, to guard the captive Frenchmen.
Never was a combat more unequal, or an unequal combat more obstinately sustained. At this period our officer seems to have been gifted with a charmed life, for the grape-shot was poured into his vessel literally in showers. After having, of his little force, seen eleven men put hors de combat, that is to say, four killed and seven badly wounded,