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Frank Leward: Memorials

Lord Pennis to Mrs. Leward

page 31

Lord Pennis to Mrs. Leward.

House of Lords, July 15, 1838.

My dear Madam,—If your boy was here and gave me one or two good cuts with his whip I could take it, old as I am, without flinching. I now go down on my knees before you to ask your pardon and I hasten to tell you all I know about him.

I was on board my yacht off Southampton on the morning of about the 19th I think of last month and was just starting for Greenwich when one of my men came on board with two young fellows, whom he brought up to me. They asked me to take them to London, and said they had run away from school. You perhaps know what a careless dog I have been, and I suppose always shall be, and I thought it would be an excellent joke to help the young fellows to get away. I didn't stop to think that there might be a mother spoiling her bright eyes over her young scapegrace's escapade.

A finer lad never stepped on board a ship, he's naturally a sailor every inch, and believe me my dear lady I am not trying to defend my conduct, which I know admits of no defence, when I say it would be a sin to keep such a fellow from the sea. Our country now-a-days needs all like him to keep up her old wooden walls. It was of such stuff as he's got in him that our sailors in old days were made. My family have always been half-salt, and it did my eyes good to see the boy's delight when he found he could help my men set sail. page 32Why didn't you send to me before? I'd have got him a commission in the Navy like a shot, that's the place for him. His friend Brown or whatever his name is seems a rum un, walked into my old port like a man and seemed to like it.

If I wasn't such a blundering blockhead I might have seen the likeness to my old friend Herbert. I've been in a good many scrapes in my day but never a worse one than that your father got me out of at Bath more than thirty years ago now I suppose, Dam it, how the time goes ! It was the year Pitt was there, the conceited cursed ass, he would have liked to see me scotched, we were always Whigs you know. But it was the way your father did it that struck me. I never met a finer gentleman nor more courtly manners though he would live all his life at Bath. But I'm rambling I fear.

Well, we got to Greenwich, and as we were getting there we saw a bark-rigged craft, about a thousand tons coming down the river ahead of us. I challenged her and found it was the "Leura" commanded by Capt. Davies whom I knew,—brought up indeed on our place in Cornwall not at all a bad sort when he's sober. I told the boys that was there chance and took them on board and told Davies to look after them, and as I had to dine at Greenwich I left them to their fate.

I know Davies will do all he can for them but it's a rough life on board those merchant ships. She was bound for one of the West India ports, I forget which, and then for Van Diemen's Land so your son will see plenty of the world before he comes back. You don't page 33know how the boy took my fancy. We had a good dinner at Greenwich but I'm dashed if I could do much with it. They gave three cheers as they went past and my fellows on the little "Emily" replied and by Jove I had to take a glass of wine to hide my feelings. I've a good mind to go on a tour round the world myself in the little "Emily" to bring the boys back, only it's such a deuced long, way, and I suppose I must stop to vote against these Radical scoundrels. Can it be now I think of it that I am really writing to Herbert's handsome daughter whose fine eyes were the toast of all the young bloods at Bath not so very many years ago? No wonder the young blackguard's so good looking.

If this confession does not get me absolution from so fair a saint, I shall come to worship at her shrine, and leave there an offering of the warmest tears ever shed by the now devout and repentant


Mrs. Leward

, Southampton.