Imatges de pÓgina

monastery at Acre, and at which all the superior officers of both the English and Turkish service were present, with every other civilian of note, that part of the ornaments that consisted of Sir Sidney Smith's rings was lost. He was in the habit, just before he washed his hands after dining, to take from off his hands his bijouterie, and place the trinkets under the tablecloth-a very provident plan, when the guests happen to be numerous and miscellaneous. This custom he put in practice on this day, but unfortunately, when he rose from the table, he totally forgot the treasure that he had left beneath the tablecloth, and retired as happy as if his fingers had displayed their wonted effulgence.

It was usual, on these high occasions, for Sir Sidney Smith's bodyguard, consisting of a party of the royal marines, to place themselves at the vacated table, when the guests had withdrawn, and finish the fare provided for their superiorsa munificent regulation, highly creditable to Sir Sidney.

On this day, the custom was honoured, not by the breach, but the observance; for not only did the fragments of the feast disappear, but the rings also, as, shortly after the viands were consumed, Sir Sidney missed his ornaments, and a strict but ineffectual search ensued.

The Greeks have a bad character, and on this occasion they received the full benefit of it, as it was supposed that the attending descendants of Homer's heroes had made to themselves the lucky appropriation; and being Greeks, the English very wisely deemed that search would be fruitless, and recovery hopeless.

For two years the stigma lay with the Athenians, when, in 1801, the marines disembarked from the Tigre to assist Abercromby in his operations. After the action of the 13th of March, it fell to the duty of these marines narrowly to invest the Castle of Aboukir. One day, four of these marines, (we do not know why posterity should not be acquainted with their names,) Clark, Stanton, West, and James Close, were taking their ease in their hut, which an envious shot from the castle disturbed, by killing Clark and Stanton, and thus naturally causing the two survivors narrowly to search, as is the laudable custom on such occasions, the dead bodies of their comrades. Among other good things that they possessed, there were found in Stanton's pockets (at least Close said so) two rings, of which the said Close took particular care.

Some little time after, Close was again ordered on shore on military duty, and he then entrusted these rings to the care of another of his com

rades, named Connor-Close, thinking this Connor to be a particularly steady man, and consequently that they would be more safe in his keeping, on board, than in his own, on shore.

In order to do full justice to this opinion, Connor goes on board on the same day, and very carefully gets gloriously drunk, and “ appetite increasing by what it fed on," that is to say, the act of drinking making him much athirst for more, he sells the heaviest of the rings, the veritable King of Sweden, for a mere thimbleful of the poison, to his messmate, who, having the spirit of barter strongly upon him, sells it again to Sir Sidney Smith's steward for the enormous value of half a gallon of bad wine. The steward immediately recognised it as the great diamond, "the right royal Gustavus," as Sir Sidney was wont to call it, and of whose majesty no tidings had been heard for two years.

Investigation immediately followed discovery, and it was speedily traced up to James Close, who was sent on board and interrogated strictly. Of course, he laid the primal theft at the door of the departed, well knowing and acting upon the proverb, that" dead men tell no tales," at least on this side of the grave. It was never known exactly what degree of credence Sir Sidney gave to this account; but as it was certain that even dead



men ought not to be robbed, James Close stood within the terrors of the law, and, consequently, Close found himself immediately in close custody.

The officers of the Tigre endeavoured to prevail upon their commander to bring the prisoner to a trial by court-martial, but his heroic conduct towards Captain Wright operated strongly in his favour; so after a few days' confinement Sir Sidney sent for him on deck, and ordering him to be released, thus addressed him :

"You're Close by name, and Close in every thing,

And Close you've kept, O Close, my diamond ring."

It was very fortunate for the culprit that his captain was more in the rhyming than the flogging vein, for we think it not unlikely that the fecundity of Sir Sidney's head saved the marine's back. However, the lines were looked upon as a monument of poetical genius, and the distich stuck as closely to poor Close as any punster of a reasonable good-nature could have wished.

As faithful chroniclers of the events connected with these Memoirs, we feel bound to state the general impression among the officers and seamen of the English squadron respecting the real character of Wright. Before Sir Sidney commenced his renowned defence of Acre, Wright was the second lieutenant of the Tigre. It is well known

that he was landed by Sir Sidney Smith, in his own barge, at a short distance from Alexandria, in the night-time, not openly as a British naval officer, but bearded, moustachioed, and shawled à la Turque, and for the express purpose of obtaining valuable information. Conscious of the dubiety of his mission, on stepping on shore he thus addressed the boat's crew: Men, beware of your words! I am going to serve my king and country, if, by the help of God, I can." Then turning to his commander, he exclaimed, "Sir Sidney, do not forget the boat's crew."


The vulgar belief may have been erroneous, but it was asserted that he was constantly employed by Sir Sidney as a spy, and the fact was neither concealed nor denied on board the Tigre.

But to resume. Sir Sidney, after bombarding Alexandria in the vain hope of arresting the march of Bonaparte towards Acre, which was not then sufficiently strengthened to stand a siege, sailed for that devoted place, off which he anchored on the 15th of March. He immediately landed, and proceeded to inspect the fortifications. These he found in a dilapidated and most ruinous state, and almost destitute of artillery. Making the best arrangements that the shortness of the time until the attack would be expected, and the pau· city of the materials for a defence permitted, on

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