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still at Portsmouth:—but this is among the numberless uncertainties of my present calling. “Upon receiving our instructions to repair on board the Bridgewater, Dr. Henderson and myself took a boat and went off to Spithead, with the intention of joining her, but after sailing and rowing amidst the fleets there, and at St. Helen's, throughout nearly the whole of the day, we at last returned without being able to find our ship. “Previous to going into the boat we had been informed at the Transport-Office, that the vessel we inquired for, had received instructions to sail without delay: it is therefore probable, that she might be getting under weigh at the very moment we went off in search of her. The following morning we learned that she had actually sailed for Cork. “The weather continues to be very unsettled. It has been stormy and tempestuous beyond all that is usual, even at the the roughest season of the year. Between 10 and 11 o'clock, on the morning of the 29th, a tremendous gale began to blow. The sky blackened. The tumid clouds rolled in heavy masses, darting forth quick lightning, followed by loud bursts of thunder. The tearing gusts of wind brought with them violent showers of hail, and deluging torrents of rain. The whole elements seemed to be moved in one convulsive effort. The vivid lightning traced its path in broad and fiery flashes, and the terrific thunder instantly followed, as if raging to overtake them. . At one instant it rolled in oppressed and convulsive sound, seeming to struggle against some great impediment that confined it to the clouds, and at the next it burst forth in full explosion, as though a match had suddenly fired the whole ordnance of heaven. Hailstones of uncommon magnitude beat down with a force and, rapidity, as if contending which should first reach the earth: and scarcely had they fallen, before the sweeping violence of the wind forced them into heaps like deep-drifted snow; in which state they remained for hours after the storm; notwithstanding the heavy torrents of rain which followed them. - ** The hollow sound of the wind, and the heavy beatings of the hail and rain, through the thick forest of shipping lying Vol. I. 3 E
in the harbour, together with the tremendous dashings of the sea, and the troubled motion of the vessels, upon its restless surface, all combined to render the scene greatly awful; but too high a degree of the terrific was intermixed with it, for the spectator to regard its grandeur and sublimity in quiet contemplation.—To convey any just idea of it would require the pen of a Milton, or a Shakespeare.
“The injuries done were less than might have been expected. Some of the ships and boats necessarily suffered; a few houses were unroofed; and, amidst the devastation, the windmill at Gosport was blown to the ground. It was at first said that many lives were lost,--but happily we do not find this report confirmed.
“The repeated delays to which we have been subjected have proved the means of completing our party, by converting our harmonious trio into a still more social quartette: a circumstance which has happened from our being joined by Dr. Cleghorn, who is now arrived, at this place, on his way to join the St. Domingo hospital staff. He is a pleasant, well-informed man, and of good professional abilities; is brother to the professor of anatomy at the university of Dublin, and nephew to the celebrated author on the diseases of Minorca. His society is a great acquisition to us, and we are thuch gratified in having such an agreeable addition to our party. We now look, more anxiously than ever, to the arrival of the Ulysses, in the hope of being allowed to establish a pleasant mess for the voyage.
‘Spithead, November 12. ‘GREETINGs from the Ulysses! Our suspense is at length relieved. A few days after I last wrote to you, our long looked for Ulysses arrived, with a fleet from the Downs, and yesterday, Henderson, Master, Cleghorn, and myself, took our births on board, finding Master's and my baggage stowed in great safety. ‘We left Portsmouth in a grand scene of hurry and confusion, in consequence of it being reported, on the arrival of the
fleet from the Downs, that every ship belonging to the expepedition was to sail without further delay; those of the Leeward island division for Barbadoes, and those of the St. Domingo division for Cork. The transports, with troops from Southampton, happening to drop down the river at the same time, to rendezvous at the Motherbank and Spithead, seemed to confirm the report; and suddenly, all was converted into extreme hurry and activity. Multitudes, both from the newly arrived ships, and those which had been long waiting, thronged on shore to purchase provisions and stores, to complete their stock for the voyage. Many, who had passed their hours of suspense in the town, had also their marketings to make; and hence the demand becoming suddenly greater than the supply, it introduced all the confusion of a general scramble. Each seized upon whatever provisions he could find, asking no questions, but paying any money that was demanded. * Not aware of the tumultuous pressure of such a moment, and considering ours to be only a short passage, we had purposely delayed purchasing our meat, bread, and other fresh provisions, until we should be certain that the ship, in which we were to make the voyage, was arrived. But should we proceed to sea immediately, and the voyage be at all protracted, we shall be reduced by this negleet to salt food, and the ship's allowance; for in the general scramble we were unable to obtain what we wished, and were compelled to repair on board with a very deficient supply. * All the butchers' and bakers' shops were quickly emptied, Not a loaf, not a bit of meat, not even a carrot, nor a cabbage remained, and many went empty away. Neither porters nor servants were required, but every one, who was successful enough to put his hand upon his provisions, gladly became the bearer of his own load. To shew you the extremity to which we were reduced, I may tell you that our party stopped a man upon the street who was carrying home a large giblet pie, hot from the oven, which we tempted him to let us take on board, by offering for the pie and the dish more than double their value—or indeed any money he might demand. “To an unconcerned spectator it must have been a most ludicrous and diverting scene, and such as might have afforded full scope to the all-animating pencil of Hogarth. We were too intimately associated in what was passing, to view it only with an eye of amusement. Still I could not but remark the oddity of the assemblage, and the varied expression of countenance, as actuated by hope, joy, disappointment, hurry, and anxiety. Military and naval officers, passengers, servants, soldiers, sailors, boys, women, and negroes, all crowded together upon the streets, formed one heterogeneous mass—one great and motley groupe, of which every part was in busy motion—each person feeling the apprehension of being left behind... ." a . . From the multitudes of anxious heavy-laden individuals who were seen running with their burdens down to the boats, and scrambling to embark, it might have appeared to a stranger, that the inhabitants of Portsmouth were making one great effort to carry off all the provisions, stores, and furniture of the town, previous to evacuating it to the possession of an enemy. One hurried off with legs and shoulders of mutton, another with half a sheep, a third with a huge piece of beef, and others with different joints of veal and pork. Here was a man running with a cheese, there one with a sugar-loaf. Others were scampering away loaded with rice, or papers of groceries. Some ran off with bags of bread, some with baskets of greens, potatoes, carrots, turnips, and the like. Many were seen bending under heavy bundles of clothes, wet from the wash; others leaded with camp-stools, deal boxes, sea-coffers, pewter utensils, and various other kind of stores; and, amidst the throng, ourselves with the smoking giblet pie, and such other provisions as we had been able to procure. Every one was upon the alert. Necessity made all industrious, and, without any idle or scrupulous objections, each was glad to minister to his own wants. " * Intermixed with the business of this anxious scene, were many other circumstances which increased the general crowd and confusion of the picture; such as multitudes pressing into, and overflowing the shops—people running against, or tumbling over each other upon the streets—loud disputes and quarrelling—the sadness of parting—greeting of friends, unexpectedly met, and as suddenly about to separate—sailors quitting their trulls—drunkards reeling—boatmen wrangling -boats overloaded or upset—the tide beating in heavy sprays. upon the shore—persons running and hurrying in every direction, for something new, or something forgot—some cursing the boatmen for not pushing off with more speed, and others. beseeching and imploring them to stop a minute longer. ‘Such was the state in which we left Portsmouth, after a residence of three weeks, during which we had regarded it as a dull inanimate place; but the change is sudden, and will be only transient; the hurry and tumult will vanish with the sailing of the fleet, and the town will relapse into its tranquil sameness, until the recurrence of a similar occurrence. “Upon reaching the ship we had so anxiously looked for, we were received as people unknown and unregarded—conducted into a large ward-room, strewed with various kinds of lumber, and there left, as in a wilderness. No births had been prepared, nor any kind of arrangement made for our accommodation. Not a cot was slung; nor any sleeping place allotted. The ward-room was open to all, and was to serve for the whole of the passengers. We were turned in loose, with six or eight other persons, and soon found ourselves to be only individuals of the general herd—the whole flock being left at large, like sheep in a common fold. * The vessel is commanded by an officer of the navy, and it was no part of his duty to prepare accommodations for passengers he neither knew nor expected. She is one of the old 44 gun frigates, and carries some of her guns as an armed transport. Had our ship been a common transport, or a merchantman, I should have felt enough at home to have demanded all we required, but from not having before been passengers on board a ship of war, Cleghorn, Master, and myself were quite at a loss how to proceed. Fortunately, Henderson is more au fait to these subjects, and from understanding the necessary etiquette, kindly took upon himself the task of meliorating our condition. Having applied, with all due ceremony, to the governor of our occan-castle, he soon succeeded in bringing one of the lieutenants to our aid, who very