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Lord Camelford's Body

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To those who take their ideas of charcter from fiction alone such a sketch as this must seem incredible; for flction is forcecl to suppress many of the anomalies that nature presents. David was even more unlike David than Oamelford varied from Oamelford, and the chivalrous Joab, who dashed, with his life in his hand, into the camp of the Phüistines, to get his parched general and king a cup of water, afterward assassinated a brother soldier in a way so base and dastardly as merited the gibbet, and the lash to boot. Imagine a fellow hanging in chains by the roadside, with the Victoria cross upou his bosom, both cross and gibbet justly earned ! Such a man was, in his day, the son of Zeruiah. But were fiction to present such bold anomalies they would be dubbed inconsistencies, and Horace would fly out of his grave at our throats, crying, amphora coepit In 8titui, curret te rota cur urceus exit? It is all the more proper that the mixed characters of historyshouldbeimpressed on the mind, lest in our estímate of mankind men's inconsistencies should be f orgolten, and puzzle us beyond measure some fine day when they turn up in real Ufe. Lord Camelford went to school first at Berne ia Switzerland, and passed for a thoughtful boy; thence to Charterhouse. He took a fancy to the sea, and was indulged in it ; at fourteon years oíd he went out as midshipman in the Guardian frigate, bound for Botany bay with stores. She met with disasters, and her condition was so desperate that the Captain (Biou) permitted the ship's company to take to the boats. He hiniself, ho wever, with a fortitude and pride British commanders have of ten shown in the face of death, refused to leave the ship. Then Camelford and ninety more gallant spirits stood by him, to share his fate. However they got the wreek - for such she is described - by a miracle, to the Cape, and Ca melford went home in a packet. Next year, 1791, he sailed with Vancouver in the Discovery. But, on this voyage, he showed insubordination, and Vancouver was obliged to subject him to discipline. He got transferred to the Kesistance, then cruising in the Indian seas, and remained at sea until 1796, when his father died, and he returned home to take his estates and title. Though years had elapsed, he could not forgive Captain Vancouver, but sent him a challenge. Vancouver was then retired, and in poor health. The old captain appealed to the young man's reason, and urged the necessity of discipline on board a ship of war, but offered to submit the case to any flag j officer in the navy, and said that if the referee shouid decide this to be a question of honor, he would resign his own opinión and go out with Lieutenant Camelford. Camelford, it is to be feared, thought no sane offleer would allow a duel on such grounds, for he did not accept the proposal, but waited his opportunity, and meeting Vancouver in Bond street, insulted him and tried to strike him. The mortification and humiliation of this outrage preyed upon Vnneouver s heart, and shortened the life of a deserving officer and very distinguished navigator. Little more than a year after this Camelford took a very different view of discipline, and a more sanguinary one. Yet there was one key to these discordant views, his own egotism. Peers of the realm fast in the King's service at that date, and ford, though only a lieuenant, soon got ! a command. Isow it so happened that, I on a certain day at the end of the year 1797 or beginning of 1798, his sloop, the Favorito, and a largo vessel, tho Perdrix, Captain Fahie, were both lying ín English harbor, Antigua. Fahie was away at St. Kitts, and Peterson, First Lieutenant, was in charge of the Perdrix. Lord Camelford issued an order, which Peterson refused to obey, because it affocted his vessel, and he represented Fahie, who was Comelford's senior. There were high words, and threats of arrest on Camelford's part; and twelve of Peterson's crew carne up armed. Il; is not quite olear whetihöï Peterson sent for them; but he certainly drewthem up in line, and barod his own cutlass. Camelf ord immediately drew out his own marines and ranged them in line opposite Peterson's men. He then carne up to Peterson, with a pistol, and said, " Lieutenant Peterson, do you still persist ia not obeying my orders ?" "Yes, my Lord," said Peterson, "I do persist." Thereupon Camelford put his pistol to Peterson's very breast and shot kim dead on the spot. He feil backward and never spoke nor moved. Upon this bloody deed the men retired to their respective ships, and Camelford surrendered to Capt. Matson, of the Beaver sloop, who put kim under parole arrest. He lost little by that, for the populace of St. John 's wanted to tear him to pieces. A coioner's jury was summone, and gave a cavalier verdict that Peterson ' ' lost his lif e in a mutiny," the vagueness of which makes it rather suspicious. Camelford was then taken in the Bèaver sloop to Martinque, andacourt-martial sat on him, by order oí Bear-Admiral Hervej'v The court was composed of the flve captains upon that station, viz., Caley, Brown, Ekers, Burney, and Main waring, and the judgment was delivered in these terms af ter the usual preliminary phrases : " The court are imanimously of opinión that the very extraordinary and manifest disobedience of Lieüt. Peterson to the lawful commands of Lord Camelford, the senior officer at English harbor, and his arming the ship's company, were acts of mutiny highly in jurious to his Majesty's service ; the court do theref ore unanimolisly adjudge that Lord Camelford be honorably acquitted,' fcivich was the judgment of sailors sitting in a secret tribunal. But I think a judge and a jury sitting under the public eye and sitting next day in the newspapers wonld have decided somewhat differently. Camelford may or may not have been the senior officer in the harbor ; Peterson, in what pertained to the Perdrix, was Fahie, aDd Fahie was not only Camelford's senior, but his superior in every way, being a post-captaku " Lieutenant" is a Frenen word, with a clear meaning, which did not apply to Camelford, but did to Peterson ; lieu tenant, or loeuni tenens. I think, therefore, Petereon had a clear right to resist in all that touched thePerdrix ; and that Cameiford would never have ventured to bring him to a court-martial for mere disobedience of his order. In the courtmartial Camelford is called a commander ; but that is a term of courtesy, and its use, under the peculiar ciroumstances, seems to indicate a bias ; he had only a lieutenant's grade, and in that grade was Peterson's junior. Much turns, however, on the measure and manner even of a just resistance, and here Peterson was prima facie to blame. But suppose Camelford had threatened violence ! The thing looks like an armed defense, not a meditated attacK. For the lieutenant in command of the Favorite to put a pistol to the lieutenant in charge of the Perdrix and slaughter him like a dog, when the matter could nave been referred on the spot by these two lieutenants to their undoubted superiors, was surely a most rash and bloody deed. Indeed opinión in the navyitself negativedthe judgment of the court-martial. So many offleers who respected discipline looked so coldly on this one-sided disciplinarían, Camelford, that he resigned his ship and retired from the service soon after. THE OAPBICCIOS OF CAHELFORD. It was his good pleasure to cut a ruaty figure in his Majesty's service. He would not wear the epauletts of a commander, but went about in an old lieutenant's coat, the buttons of which, according to one of his biographers, "were as green with verdigris as the ship's bottom." He was a tartar, but attentive to the comforts of the men and very humane to the sick. He studied hard in two kinds, mathematical scienco and theology : the first was to make him a good captain, the second to enable him to puzzle the cha; lains, who in that day were not so versed in controversy as the Jesuit fathers. Keturning home with Peterson's blood on his hands, he seems to have burned to recover his own esteem by some act of higher courage than shooting a brother officer a ' bout portant, and he hit upon an enterprise that certainly would not have occurred to a coward. He settled to invade France singlehatided and shoot some of her rulers, pour encourager les autres. He went to Dover and hired a boat. He was sly enough to say at first he was bound for Deal ; but after a bit, says our adventurer, in tones appropriately light and cheerful, "Wefi, no ; on second thoughts, let us go to Calais ; I have some watches and muslins I can sell there. Going to France in that light and cheerful way, was dancing to the gallows ; so Adams, the skipper of the boat, agreed to go with him for L10, and went directly to the authorities. They concluded the strange gentleman was going to deliver up theisland to France ; so they let him get into the boat and then arrested him. They searched him, and found him armed with a brace of pistols, a dagger, and a letter of introduction in Frenen. They sent him up to the privy council, and France escaped invasión that bout. At that time, as I have hinted, it was a capital crime to go to France from Englaad. So the gallows yearned for Camelford. But the potent, grave and reverend seniora of his Majesty's Council examined him, and advised the King to pardon him under the Royal Seal ; they pronounced that "his only motive had been to render a service to his country." This was strictly true, for whoever fattens on the plans of France with a pestilent English citizen, or consigns him to a French dungeon for lif e, confers a benefit on England, and this benefit Camelford did his best to bestow on his island home. It was his obstructors who should have been hanged. His well-meant endeavor reminds ono of the convicts' verses bound for Botany bay : True patriotB we, for be it understood We left our country for our country's good. The nation that had retained him against his will now began to suffer for its f olly by his habitual breaches of the public peace. After endlesa skirmishes with the constables my lord went into Drury Lane theater, drunk, with others of the same kidney, broke the windows in the boxes a?id the chandeliers, and Mr. Humphries' head. Hunrphries had him before a magistrate. Camelford lied, but was not believed ; and then dragged the magistrate to ask Mr. Humphiïes if he would accept an apology ; but ointment was not the balm for Humphries, who had been twiee knocked down the steps into the hall, and got his eye hearly beate-j out of hls liead. He prepared au indictrnent, but afterward changed his tacties judiciously, and sued the offender for damages. The jury, less pliable than captains in a secret tribunal, gave Humphries a verdict and L500 damages. After this, Camelford's principal exploits appenr to have been fights with the constables, engaged in out of sport, but conducted with great spirit by both parties, and without a grain of permanent ill-will on either side. He invariably rewarded their valor with gold when they succeeded in captunng him. When they had got him prisoner, he would give the constable of the night a handsome bribe to resign his place to him. Thus promoted, he rose to a certain sense of duty, and would admonish the delinquents witb groat good sense and even eloquence, but spoiled all by discharging them. Such was his night work. In the daytime he was often surprised into acts of unintentional charity and even of heartedness. HÏS NAME A TEBEOR TO FOP. He uaed tb go to a cofi'ee-housè in Condüit street, shabbily dressed, tö read the paper. One day a dashing beau came into his box, flung himself down on the opposite seat, and called out in a most consequential tone, " Waitaa, bring a couple of wax eandles and a pint of Madeira, and put them in the next boi.' JSn attendant he drew Lord Camelford's candle toward him and began to read. Camelford looked at him, but said nothing. The buck's candles and Madeira were brought, and he lounged into his box to enjoythem. Then Camelford mimicked his tone, anderied out, "Waitaa, bring á pair óf snuffaa." He took the snuffers, walked leisurely round into the beau's box, snuffed out both the candles, and retired gravely to his own seat. The buck began to bluster, and demanded his name of the waiter. " Lord Camelford, sir." " Lord Camelford ! What have I to pay í " He laid down his score and stole away without tasting his Madeira. HIS PLtjOK. When peace was proclaimed the snffering ñation rejoieed. Not so our pugnacioüs peer. He toourned alone, or rather cursed, for he was not one of the sighing sort. London illuminated, Camelford's windows shone 'dark as pitch. This the London citizen always bitterly resents. A mob collected and broke his windows. His first impulse was to come out with a pistol and shoot all he could ; but, luckily, he exoñanged the firearms for a formidable bludgeon. With this my lord sallied out, singlehanded, and broke severa! heads in a singularly brief period. But the mob had eudgels, too, and belabored him thoroughïy, knocked him down, and rolled him so diligently in the kennel, while hammering him, that, at the end of the business, he was just a case of mud with sore bones. All this punishment he received without a single howl ; and it is believed would have taken his death in the same spirit ; so that we might almostsayof him, He took a thonsand raortal woumls As mute as fox 'midat mangliug hound8. The next night his windows were just as dark, but he had fllled his house with boarders, as he called them, viz., armed sailors, and had the mob attacked him again there would have been much bloodshed, followed by a less tumultuous, but wholesale, hanging day. But the mob were content with having thraahed him once, and seem to have thought he had bought a right to his opinions. At all events they conceded the point, and the resolute devil was allowed to darken his house and rebnke " the weakness of the people " in coming to terms with Bony. CHE PITCHER GOES ONCE TOO OFTEN TO THE WEM,. Camelford had a male friend, a Mr. Best, and, unfortunately, a female friend, who had once lived with this very Best. This Mrs. Simmons told Camelford that Best had spoken disparagingly of him. Camelford believed her and took fire. He met Best at a coffee-house and walked up to him and said, in a loud, aggressive way, bef ore several persons, "I find, sir, you have spoken of me in the most unwarrantable terms." Mr. Best replied, with great moderation, that he was quite unconscious of having deserved such a charge. "Ño, sir," says Camelford; "you know yery well what you said of me to Mrs. Simmons. You are a scoundrel, a liar, and a rufflan !" In those days such words as these could only be wiped out with blood, and the seconds were at once appointed. Both gentlemen remained at the coffee-house some time, and during that time Mr. Best made a creditable effort ; he sent Lord Camelford a solemn assurance he had been deceived, and said that under those circumstances he would be satisfled if his lordship would withdraw the expressions he had uttered in error. But Camelford absolutely refused, and then Best left the house in considerable agitation and sent his lordship a note. The people of the house justly suspected this was a challenge, and gave information to the pólice ; but they were dilatory, and took no steps until it was too late. Next mornicg, early, the combatants met at a coffee-house in Oxford street, and Best made an unusual and indeed a touching attempt to compose the difference. " Camelford," he said, "we have been friends, and I know the unsuspecting generosity of your nature. Upon my honor you have been imposed upon by a strumpet. Do not insist on expressions under which one of us must f all." Camelford, as it afterward appeared, was by no means unmoved by this appeal. But he answered, doggedly, " Best, this is child's play ; the thing must go on." The truth is, Best had the reputation of being a fatal shot, and this steeled Camelford's pride and courage against all overtures. The duel was in a meadow behind Holland House. The seconds placed the men at thirty-nine yards, and this seems to imply they were disposed to avoid a fatal termination if possible. Camelford üred first, and missed ; Best hesitated, and some think he even then asked Camelford to retract. This, however, is not certain. He fired, and Lord Camelford feil at his full longth, like a man who was never to stand again. They all ran to him ; and it is said he gave Best his hand, and said, "Best, I am a dead man. You have killed me ; but I freely forgive you." This may very well be true, for it certainly accords with words he had already placed on paper the day beforo, aud also with words Jie undoubtedly uttered in the presence of several witnesses soon after. Mr. Best and his second made off to provide for their safety ; one of Lord Holland's gardencrs called out to some men to stop tliem, bnt the wounded man rebnked hini, and said he would not have them stopped - he was the aggressor ; he forgave the gentleman who had shothim, and hoped God would forgivo him, too. He was carried home, his clothes were cut off him, and the surgoon at once pronounced the vound mortal ; the bullet was tmvied in his body, and the lower limb quite paralyzed by its action. It was discovered after his death, embedded in his spinal marrow, having traversed the lungs. He suffered great agonies that day, but obtained some sleep in the night. He spoke often and with great contrition of his past life, and relied on the mercy of his Redeemer. Besides the duel he had done a just and worthy act. He had provided for the safety of Mr. Best, by adding to his will a positivo statement that he was the aggressor in every sense : "Should I therefore lose my life in a contest of my own seeking I solemnly f orbid any of my friends or relations to proceed against my antagonist. " He added that if the law should, pevertlieless, be put in force he hoped this part of hls will would be laid before the King. I have, also, private information, on which I think I can rely, that, when he found he was to die, he aetually wrote to the King, with his own hand, entreating him not to let Best be brought into trouble; Ánd, if we consider that, as death draws near, the best of men generally fall into a mere brutish apathy - whatever you may read to the contrary in tracts - methinks good men and woman may well yield a tear to this poor, foolish, sinful, but heroic creatitre, who, in agonies of pain and the jaws of death, couid yet be so earnest in his anxiety that no injustico should be done to the man who had laid him low. This stamps Camelfprd a man. The best woman who ever breathed was hardly capable of it. She would forgive her enerny ; but she could not trouble herself, and worry herself, and provide, moribunda, against injustice being done to that enemy ; c'etait male, I come now to the particulars which have caused me to revive the memory of Thomas Pitt, Lord Camelford and I divide these particulars into public an d private information. THE PUBLIC INFORMATION. The day before his death Lord Camelford wrote a codicil to his will, which, like his whole character, merits study. He requested his relations not to wear monrning for him, and he gave particular instructions as to the disposal of his remains in their last resting place. In this remarkable document he said that most persons are strongly attached to their native place, and would have their remains conveyed home even from a great disiance. His desire, however was the reverse; he wished his body to be conveyed to a country far distant, to a spot not near the haunts of men, but where the surrounding scenery might smile upon his remains. " He then went into details. The place was by the Lake of St. Pierre, in the Cantón Berne, Switzerland. The particular spot had three trees standing on it. He desired the center tree to be taken up and his body deposited in the cavity, and no stone nor monument to mark the place. He gave a reason for the selection, in spite of a standing caution not to give reasons. " At the foot of that tree," said he, "I formerly passed many hours in solitude, contemplating the mutability of human affaire." He left the proprietors and ground L1,000 by way of compensation. OOMMBNT ON THE PUBLIC) INFOEMATION. Considering his penitent frame of mind, his request to his relations not to go into mourning for him may be assigned to humility and the sense that he was no great loss to them. But, as to the detaiis of his interment, J. feel sure he mistook his own mind, and was in reality imitating the vtry persons he thought he difl'ered from. I read him thus by the light of observation. Here was a man whose life had been a storm. At its close he looked back over the dark waves, and saw the placed waters his youthful bark had floated hi before he dashed into the surf. Eccentric in form, it was not eccentric at bottom, this wish to lay his shattered body beneath the tree, where he had sat so often an innocent child, little dreaming theu that he should ever kill poor Peterson with a pistol, and be killed with a pistol himself in exact retribution. That, at eleven years of age he had meditated under that tree on the mutability of human affairs is nonsense. Here is a natural anachronism and confusión of ideas , He was meditating on that subject as he lay a-dying ; but such were never yet the meditations of a child. The matter is far more simple than all this. He, who lay dying by a bloody death, remembered the green meadows, the blue lake, the peaeefel hours, the innocent thoughts, and the sweet spot of nature that now seemed to him a temple. His wish to lie in that pure and peaceful home of his childhood was a natural instinct and a very comnion one. Critics have all observed it, and many a poet sung it, from Virgil to Scott. Occidit, et moriens dulces reminiBcitur Argos. THE PRIVATE INFORMATION. In the year 1858 I did business with a firm of London solicitors, the senior partner of which had, in his youth, been in a house that acted for Lord Camelford. It was this gentleman who told me Camelford really wrote a letter to the King in favor of Best. He told me, further, that preparations were aetually made to carry out Camelford's wishes as to the disposal of his remains. He was embalmed and packed up for transportation. But, at that very nick of time, war was proclaimed again, and the body, which was then deposited, pro tempore, in St. Anne's Chureh, Soho, remained there, awaiting better times. The war lasted a long while, and, naturally enough, Camelford's body was forgotten. After Europe was settled it struck the solicitor in question that Camelford had never been shipped for Switzerland. He had the curiosity to go to St. Ánne's chureh and inquire. He found the sexton in the chureh, as it happened, and asked him what had become of Lord Camelford. " Oh," said the sexton, in a very cavalier way, "hereheis;" and showed him a thing which he described to my friend McLeod as an enormously long èsh basket, fit to pack a shark in. And this, McLeod assures me, was scven or eight years after Camelford's death. Unfortunately, McLeod could not teil nio whether his informant paid a second visit to the chureh, or what took place between 1815 and 1858. The deceased peer may be now lying peacofully in that sweet spot he selected and paid for. But I own to some givings on that head. In things of routine, delay matters little; indeed, it is a part of the system ; but, when an out-ofthe-way thing is to be done, oh, then delay ia dangorotts, the zeal cools, the expense and trouble look bigger, the obligation to inonr them seems fainter. The inertia of mediocrity flops like lead into the scale and turns it. Timo is really edax rerum, and fruitful in destructive accidents. Rectors are sometimess lawless, clmrch warden s deal with dustmen, and dead peers are dust. Even sextons are capable of making away with what nobody seems to value, or it woiüd not lie years forgotten in a corner. These tboughts prey upon my mind, and, as his life and character were remarkable, and bis death very noble and his instructions expücit, and the duty of performing them sacred, I have taken the best way I know to rotise inquiry and iearn, if possible, what has become of Lord Oamelford's body.


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