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2017年6月14日 (水)

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In addition to the captain, there were the chief officer, three mates and a large crew. In all there were thirty officers and petty officers, the whole complement amounting to 151 dermes , which nowadays would be thought enormous for a ship of her size. The men received two months’ wages in advance before sailing, and in February 1802 made sail down the Thames from Gravesend under the charge of one of the Company’s pilots, who brought her safely into the Downs, where the wind was blowing hard from the south-west, sending in a high sea. Addison was destined at once to have excitement, for about sundown, whilst his Majesty’s frigate Egyptienne was coming to anchor in the Downs, she had shortened sail and left herself too little way to shoot ahead of the Indiaman, with the result that she fell broadside on to the Marquis Wellesley’s bows, tearing away the latter’s cutwater and bowsprit, bringing down the foretopmast also, making in fact a clean sweep of the ship forward. The merchantman was lying to a single anchor at the time, but although it blew most of a gale during the night the ship rode it out all right, and next morning, the weather having moderated, the frigate’s commander sent some hands205 on board to give the ship a temporary refit. After this the Indiaman proceeded to Portsmouth, where she was fully repaired alongside a man-of-war hulk. On the 4th of March she went out of harbour and anchored at Spithead, where she took on board a number of his Majesty’s dragoons, as well as forty-nine of the East India Company’s troops and their wives for India. The next day, having received the Company’s packet from the India House and the despatches for Bengal and Madras, she weighed anchor in the afternoon and proceeded down Channel.

The last of old England was sighted the following day, and then anchors were unbent and all harbour gear stowed away for the long voyage. Madeira was sighted on the 14th of that month—not a bad passage for a sailing ship—and on the 4th of April the Equator was passed, where the usual ceremonies of crossing the line were undergone. It being my own and Newton’s [a young messmate’s] first trip into Neptune’s dominions, we underwent the accustomed and awful ordeal of shaving by the hands of his Majesty’s barber, thereby rendering us free mariners of the ocean.” On 24th April they were off the Cape of Good Hope, and on 21st June sighted Ceylon, and three days later arriving at Madras, Found Admiral Rainier’s squadron riding here, consisting of eight sail. Shortly afterwards a sham fight took place with the fleet and shore, followed by a grand illumination displayed from ships as well as the shore, likewise fireworks and rockets dermes , in commemoration of the Peace of Amiens.”

The Marquis Wellesley left Madras again in February 1803, after visiting ports on the coast, and206 in July fell in with an American bound from Gibraltar to Boston, and learned from her that war had been declared between England and France, so cartridges were filled and every preparation made on board the East Indiaman for defending herself. On the nineteenth of that month a strange sail appeared. The Indiaman made her private signal, but the stranger did not answer and sailed away. But at midnight she returned and was coming up fast, so the Indiaman at once prepared for action, Addison acting as powder-monkey. But presently she was found to be H.M. frigate Endymion, and sent a boat to the Indiaman in charge of a lieutenant and pressed eight of the merchant ship’s men, for the frigate had captured so many prizes that he had more prisoners on board than all his ship’s company. But before the mouth of the English Channel was reached the Marquis Wellesley was to have further exciting experiences. A few days after the previously mentioned incident, two ships were descried one morning while the people were at breakfast. At first Captain Mitchell bore up to assist one which was flying English colours, but one of the passengers (apparently of the sea-lawyer type which still survives) protested against the legal propriety of such proceeding on the part of an Indiaman volunteering her services in such an affair,” so Mitchell put his ship again on her course, much to the indignation of a choleric colonel, for the ship with the English colours was subsequently captured dermes .

Later on a large ship hove in sight on the weather bow and stood down towards the Marquis Wellesley. It was now night and the latter at once cleared for action and showed two tiers of lights. The stranger207 was hailed seven times before it could be ascertained that she was H.M.S. Plantagenet with a sloop-of-war as tender in company. Her captain came on board and complimented Captain Mitchell on the good arrangements made for the defence of the ship, and as he walked round the decks the men remained at quarters. He was good enough also to compliment Mitchell on the clever manner in which he had man?uvred his ship to prevent a raking broadside, but before leaving he impressed a few hands from us.”

On the 1st of August the Indiaman anchored in the Downs, and one of the Company’s pilots came aboard and took charge of her, bringing with him a number of ticket-men” to work the ship up the Thames. These were men who were sent from a man-of-war in place of such as had been impressed. On the third of the month the ship had reached her moorings off the Gun Wharf, Deptford, and four days later discharged the ship’s company and hired gangs to deliver the cargo. And then came the final, dramatic touch to this voyage: Shortly afterwards found that Mr White, managing owner of the Marquis Wellesley, had become bankrupt and was unable to pay the ship’s company.”

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