Imatges de pÓgina

than my bars or bolts : till midnight, therefore, I am perfectly easy."

This tells highly for both parties—nor is this all. When they arose from table, the keeper took Sir Sidney aside, and said to him,

« Commodore, the Boulevard is not far off. If you are inclined to take the air, I will conduct you thither.” This proposition struck the prisoner with the utmost astonishment, as he could not conceive how this man, who, but lately, appeared so severe and so uneasy, should thus suddenly come to the resolution of making such a proposal. He accepted it, however, and, in the evening, they went out. From that time forward, this mutual confidence always continued. Whenever the distinguished prisoner was desirous to enjoy perfect liberty, a suspension of hostilities was offered until a certain time, and this was never refused by his generous enemy; but, immediately the armistice terminated, his vigilance was unremitting. Every post was scrupulously examined, and every fitful order of the Directory that, at times, he should be kept more closely, was enforced with a rigid scrupulosity.

[ocr errors][merged small]
[ocr errors]

The renewed rigour of Sir Sidney's confinement-M. T.'s exchange effected—The successful plan of escape devised

-Is put in execution—Sir Sidney proceeds to RouenArrives safely in London-His reception by his sovereign and his countrymen.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

UNDER these circumstances of restraint, Sir
Sidney again found himself free only to contrive

for freedom, and the jailer again to treat him with the utmost rigour. Sir Sidney did not lack amusement. We are sadly afraid that this exquisite race of jailers is extinct. Sir Sidney Smith has himself placed upon record this man's creed of honour; we rather think that he gave his superiors too much credit. He would not have found all prisoners of rank like Sir Sidney. It was thus that he frequently addressed his captive :-“If you were under sen

_ tence of death, I would permit you to go out on

[merged small][ocr errors]

your parole, because I should be certain of your return. Many very honest prisoners, and I myself among the rest, would not return in the like case; but an officer, and especially an officer of distinction, holds his honour dearer than his life. I know this to be a fact, commodore, therefore 1 should be less uneasy


you desired the gates always to be open."

This was just, so far as regarded his chivalrous prisoner, but how prudent as a general maxim, let the list of parole-breakers testify. This amiable trustiness has called forth the following remark from our officer, in the accuracy of which we implicitly trust. “My keeper was right. Whilst I enjoyed my liberty, I endeavoured to lose sight of the idea of my escape; and I should have been averse to employ, for that object, means that occurred to my imagination during my hours of liberty. One day I received a letter containing matters of great importance, which I had the strongest desire immediately to read; but as the contents related to my intended deliverance, I asked leave to return to my room, and break off the truce. The keeper, however, refused, saying, with a laugh, that he wanted to take some sleep, and I accordingly postponed the perusal of my letter till the evening."

In the midst of these exchanges of courtesy and confidence, the Directory again thought proper to have Sir Sidney treated with the utmost rigour. No opportunity of flight now occurred, and the keeper punctually obeyed his orders; and he who, on the previous evening had granted him the greatest liberty, now doubled the guards in order to exercise the greatest vigilance. Cessations of hostilities were at end, promenades on the Boulevards to be enjoyed only in the imagination.

Among the prisoners was a man condemned for certain political offences to ten years' confinement, and who was suspected by the other prisoners of acting in the detestable character of a spy on his companions. These suspicions Sir Sidney thought well founded, and therefore experienced the greatest anxiety on account of his disguised friend, John the jockey. From these fears he was relieved, for, he was so fortunate as, soon after, to obtain John's liberty. An exchange of prisoners being about to take place, our officer was able to obtain for him that which was pertinaciously and unjustly refused to himself, getting his supposed servant included in the cartel : had the shadow of a suspicion existed of his real character, he would have been most assuredly detained ; yet, luckily, no difficulty arose, and he was liberated. When the day of his departure arrived, this kind and affectionate friend could scarcely be prevailed upon to leave his benefactor and protector, and it was long before he yielded to the most urgent entreaties. They parted with tears, which were those of unfeigned pleasure on the part of Sir Sidney, seeing that his friend was leaving a situation of the greatest danger.

In the whole of this part of the transaction there is much that is truly comic. The amiable jockey was regretted by every one. The turnkeys' hearts softened, and their lips opened, for they heartily and piously drank a good journey to him. The girl he had been courting wept bitterly for his departure, whilst her good mother, who thought John a very hopeful youth, felt fully assured that, one day, she should call him her son-in-law. In the midst of all these ludicrous ambiguities, we must say that there was a little dash of needless cruelty in the deception practised on the confiding girl; but we must wait for the march of improvement extending still farther, before the softer sex are fully included in man's laws of honour.

Sir Sidney had soon the extreme satisfaction

« AnteriorContinua »