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Strategy Of A Quaker Captain

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Early in the sumnier of 1754 the goot! ship Grampus left the harbor of Nantncket, bomid for London with a cargo of oü. She was a new ship, built after the most improved modela, staunch and trim, for those days, of great speed. Her owner, Jethro Coñin, a near relative of the English Admiral of that nanio, was on board ; and sho was commanded by Seth Macy, a friend and companion of Jethro's from boyhood. These two men, as well as most of the crew, were Quakers. But the greater part of Seth's Ufe had been spent on the high seas, and his experience in ill-governed Spanish porta and among savage islunders had tanght him that, though non-resistance did very well in Nantucket, it was neither a safe nor easy road to travel anywhere else ; and while the Grampus was loading for her voyage he had urged Jethro to arm her with four six-pounders ; for England was at that time at ■war with France, and of course the coloniea were dragged into it also. But Jethro, true to his principies, rejected the proposal with righteous indignation, and they set sail, much to Seth's disgust, armed only with lances and harpoons for warfare with whales, in search of whioh they were to proceed after (ÜJ3posing of their cargo in London. ïhey had accomplished about two- thirds of their voyage, and, the ship being under easy sail, some of the men were lounging about the deck, and some ■were gathered on the forecastle listening to a yarn from a man-of -war's-man who had been in the English navy. "Forward there!" shouted the first mate, who had been sweeping the horizon with his glass. "Ay, ay 1" answered the men, readily, and the ■ rnarvellous story was cut short. "Jump aloft, one of you who has good eyes, continued he, "and teil me what you make out of that craft with such raking maats on our weather bow." "Ay, ay 1" and several men sprang sloft. "Main-top-galLmt there I" hailed the mate. "Ay, ay !" replied the man with the glass. (These Quakers did not use the affix sir in addressing their officers ; every man, high or low, was ealled by his given name, and titles of all kinds were eschewed from religious principies.) "What sort of a craft is to windward, and how is she standing ?" cried the mate. "It is a small black schooner, all legs and arms," replied the sailor ; "and she is bearing down for us under a presa of sail. Now she runs up a flap1 and by the flash and sinoke slie spits, sko has jual Credagun." A dull, heavy report came booming on the breezo, aud a thundoring sound echoed against the ship's side. The inate's glass was bent upon the schooner, whose huil was not yet visible, but the flag was found to be French. "Steward, cali the captain I" criedthe mate, in alarm. "Forward there !" cali all hands on deck ; stand by to put the ship about." "Ay, ay !" responded the well-trained sailors, and every man stood at his post, ready for prompt action. Both Macy and Coffin appeared upon the deck, wondering at being sent for, and surprised to find every man ready for the word of command to change the course of the ship. "What does this mean ?" asked the captain ; "why dost thou change the ship's course ?" "I don't intend to without thy orders," said the mate, "but I thought best to have everything handy for prompt manoeuvring. We have a suspicious-looking saü on our weather-bow, and she shows French colors. By the rake of her masts and her general rig, I tliink she's a clipper, with a long-tom amidships ; she has given us a gun already." "Kather a dangerousneighbor for us," said the captain, "and I think she wil] prove one of thoBe pirática! rascáis that cut up the commerce of these seas ; but keep the ship away," continued he, raising his glass again, "and see if she follows us." Away went the Grampus, with a free wind and the rush of a race-horse, turn. ing the spray from her bows handsoinely, on her altered course. The Frenchman turued also, and gained steadily upon her. The ship was deeply laden with oil, and would be a prize of great value, and, as Seth thought, was eminently worth preserving, though the Frenchman was determined she should change owners. They managed their little craft with great skill, altering their course with Macy's, and gaining all the time. The breeze was only brisk, but it just suited the schooner, while the ladened ship, though the fleetest of her class, couldn't show her heels to advantage without a stronger wind. Macy tried her on every tack, but escape he could not - the wedge-like schooner gained upon hun at evory turn. "Now I would give half our cargo for a few guns to speak to that sancy rascal in his own language," said Macy, turning bitterly to Jethro. "Now is the time for those six-pounders I urged thee about before we left port ; I fear thou wil! pay" dearly for not taking my advice. Ah ! there comes salute number twa" A gnn was flrod by tho Frenchman across the bow of the Grampus, waruing her to heave to. Macy paced the deck in agony of spirit, muttering words as he went that sounded much like "damnation." He ordered the Grampus to be kept off two or tliree points and a fore-top mast studding-Rail set ; but in the hurry by sorne mishap the tao.k pot unrove. A cuiiple of uauds were ordered aloft to rig in the boom and reeve in the tack anew. Isaac Coffin, son of Jethro, who had smuggled himself on board against his father's expTess orders, and who had hardly made his peace with him yet, heard the order, and seizing the end of the rope with his teeth ran up the foreshrouds, crept out on the top of the foreyard like a monkey, and then out on the bare boom. But before he had half done his task the Frenchman brought their long-tom, charged with small shot, to bear upon the yard, and let fiy at Isaac ; thinking, probably, the additional sail might euable the Grampus to escapo. Young Coffin was unharined, though, tho balls whistled about him like hail, and he went fearlessly on with his work. "They are charging the gun again," shouted Jethro. "Come down. my boy; creep in ! creep in ! Catch the halïiards, and come down with a run 1" "Ay, ay !" cried Isaac, as he finished reeving the tack, and gathering a few fathoms in his hand threw the coil down on the forecastle, and the men then hoiated the sail instantly. The Fronchman aimed his gun ngam, bxü Isaac was descending like a flash, and as he reachedthe deck the sailors f airlyhugged him in their joy and admiration of his bravery. The hasty strides of Seth were again arrested by another shot which passed through the sail over his head. He clenched his hands and looked up at tho torn sail. "By heavens !" said he "I will not part witli so fine a ship and cargo witliout a deadly struggle." "Swear not !" said Jethro ; "it will not help us in our strait. We liad better yield quietly to the nocessity. Put down thy hoini, Seth, and bring tho ship to." "Yiold quintly, didst thou say ? Did I understand tlioe arilxt wheu thou bidst me bring the ship to ?" The eyes of Seth glaredupon Jethro, and his nostrils distended like a buil at bay. "Pat down th helm, indeed 1 Jothro Coffin, who is oommander of the Grainpus, thou or I ?" demandcd Macy, in a heat of passion. Jethro answercd oalmly, "TViOMSurely art her captain. Sav the ship, if thou canst, bul thou canst not. We have no means of defence, and if ve hd it ■would not be justifiable to oppose with arma. " "Jethro, I will save this ship or Bink in her. "Whiit ! yiéld to that little gadfly - a gallinipper that is scarcely larger than our long-boat ! " Another shot, better direoted, splintered the mammast a little and wounded two men. "There, Jothro ! that ia some of the tender mercy of the Prench pinite - a foretaste of what we may expect if taken." "Yield, Seth ! The longer thou delay, the more hazard to the lives of our people ; he is a man of wur 1" "Go thon below, Jothro ! I command horo ! Yield, indeed!" he muttored, as Jethro began to descend ; "I will sink first !" "Stand by there, men !" Seth shouted, in a voice which made every sailor start. It was evident that he had put off the Quaker, and the men responded heartily to it. "Get the long-boat ready to be launched at a moment's warning ; clear away the quartor boata, and seo all clear to lower them in an instant. Mate, take in all the small sail at once." Macy's voice and mantier were resolute and peremptory, and the men executed the orders promptly and wore ready for the next, thoufjh wondering what the captain moaut to do. The Prenchman was alao at fault, talsinpf tbe msnoeavrinfl of Seth for an intention to give up his diip, and hove the schooner to, and waited the lowering of a boat from the Griimpus. In ronnding to, as Seth had ealontated, the Frenchman had given tlie advantage of the wind to the ship, and while his men stood agape at the management of the larger vessel wliich they lookod upon a a prize, Seth seized the helm in his brawny hand. The men scarcely needed the word, but anticipated his intention as he put the helm hard up, and in a compressed but concentrated voice, which was heard distinctly from stem to stern, he said, "Let go all the bracea and bowlinea, slack off neets and tacks, and square the yards - quick .'" It was done in a twinkling, and Macy jbflped his course as though he would tiruig his ship under the lee quarter of the privateer. This feint completely deceived the enemy, when Seth suddenly changed her course, and brought her head to bear directly upon the huil of tho Frenchman. Her crew discovered now, but too late, the design of the Grampus, and diré confusión ensued upon her crowded decks. "If thou dost intend to run her down," said Jethro to Seth, hurriedly, projecting his head a moment from the cabin gangway - "if - nay, hear me, Seth 1 for the sake of hunianity - if thou art de termined to run her down, eawe thy helm a little, and give them a chance for their lives." "Stand by to lower boats !" thunderec Seth, stamping furiously upon the deck. A groan of horror escaped his own crew, for not tül thia moment had they really Been the design of their captain, and the swartbiest cheek grew a shade paler; bnt it was for their lives, and they knew it. The schooner lay to in the trough of the sea, her decks covered with confusión, and the huge huik of the Grampua poising on the last high wave above her. "Mi-tericorde .'" A wild yell of despair, heard far above the dashing of the ship and rushing of the waters, burst from the doomed Frenchman - an instant - and down came the Gramptia foaminf? and tlrandering upon the privateer. Hor plunging bow, striking her just amidship, cut the small vessel directly in two, and her heavy armament, together with the tremendous force oi the severing blow, sent her beneath the waves to rfee no more ; and her ill-fated crew of one hundred and fifty souls wen! under with her ; a few struggled a moment in the mifhty vortex, but were carried down, and the next wave effaced every bubble of the mass of human life so terribly and instantly quenched. "Down with the boats from the quarter - launch the long-boat !" The command, though it could not have been uttered or executed sooner with safety, carne too late. The aim of Seth had been too fatally sure. His own boat narrowly escaped being sucked into the whirlpool made by the sinkiniij sehooner, and not one of the Frenchman's crew rose or again saw the face of day. Seth entored the cabin, and walking tip to Jethro, said, "The Gramiii.s is naved, bnt it hal been loss costly if thou had been wiser at Kantucket. Hereafter in times like these arm thy ships ; the best way to be at peace is to show thyself ready for war." And bowing his head upon lus hand, Jethro answered nothing.


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Michigan Argus