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in the shape of an angry crowd, who were exasperated at the injury the poor fellow had sustained from the misconduct of the coach
The mob, at this time, was not to be despised ; so Sir Sidney and his friends, taking their portmanteaus in their hands, went off in an instant.
Though they were much noticed by the people, the mob, for once, acted justly, confining themselves to the office of abusing the coachman. Notwithstanding this fracas, before the party could make off, the driver became clamorous for his fare, when W—through an inadvertency that might have compromised the safety of them all, gave the fellow a double louis d'or. Luckily this had no ill effects.
Directly that they quitted the carriage, they separated, and Sir Sidney Smith arrived at the rendezvous, accompanied only by his secretary and M. Phélypeaux, the last-mentioned gentleman having joined them near the prison. Though our officer was most anxious to wait for his two friends, in order to thank and to take his leave of them, M. de Phélypeaux maintained that there was not a moment to be lost. He was, therefore, obliged to defer the expression of his gratitude until fortune should offer him a better opportunity, and they immediately de
parted for Rouen, at which place a gentleman had made every preparation for their reception.
At Rouen, they were obliged to remain several days; but as their passports were perfectly regular, they did not take much care to conceal themselves, for in the evenings they walked about the town, or took the air on the banks of the Seine. Finally, everything having been prepared for their crossing the Channel, they quitted Rouen and reached Havre, from whence they embarked in an open boat, and were picked up by the Argo, 44, Captain Bower, and landed at Portsmouth; and, without encountering any further danger, Sir Sidney arrived in London with his secretary, as well as with M. de Phélypeaux, who could not prevail on himself to leave them.
During our hero's captivity in the Temple, Mrs. Cosway, a well-known artist of the day, and who afterwards published a poem in four cantos, entitled “the Siege of Acre,” contrived to obtain a sight of Sir Sidney from a window or by some other means, and made a sketch of him as he sat by the bars of his prison. The head was in profile, and bore some resemblance to the original, but the features are of too haggard a contour to be acknowledged as an accurate likeness. The extraordinary thinness of the figure may be
accounted for, by the effect of two years' confinement, during which he was overwhelmed with every indignity that oppression could lay upon the subject of its displeasure.
The above is the substance of a quotation from a very valuable publication, but it says too much. It appears, by the foregoing narrative, that Sir Sidney had, during the greater part of his imprisonment, free intercourse with his friends, an unrestricted correspondence, and, at intervals, much personal liberty. That he suffered, at times, most of the miseries of captivity, is certain, but never to the extent of bringing upon him the extreme incarceration for which the author of this paragraph would solicit our pity. Mrs. Cosway, her picture and her poem, are almost totally forgotten, though her subject is so worthy of immortality; and we have only mentioned this fact, in order to show the intense interest which everything connected with Sir Sidney Smith excited at the time.
It was in May, 1798, that Sir Sidney so unexpectedly arrived in London, where he was welcomed by the universal congratulations of the people. So rigid had been the care with which he had been confined, and knowing the value that the French Directory placed upon the boast of having the most active commodore in the English service in their prison, his arrival was looked upon, in some measure, as a miracle, which, at first, but few could prevail upon themselves to believe. We need not state, that he immediately became the first lion of the day.
His sovereign took the lead in these demonstrations of interest, and received him with the warmest affection, and showed in what estimation he held him, not only by his behaviour on his public presentation, but by honouring him with an immediate and private interview at Buckingham-house.
That these demonstrations were more than the offspring of policy, may be proved by the interest that his Majesty took for his officer's liberation, before he effected it so cleverly for himself. He had permitted M. Bergeret, the captain of the Virginie French frigate, which had been captured by Sir Edward Pellew, to go to France and endeavour to negotiate an exchange between Sir Sidney and himself; but, as we have before seen, being unable to succeed, he very honourably returned to England. The King, to give the French Directory a lesson in generosity, commanded his Secretary of State to write to M. Bergeret, to inform him, that, as the object of his mission to his own country was now obtained, his Majesty was graciously pleased, seeing the trouble to