The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 76
The foregoing pages by Mr David Rough appeared in the Dundee Evening Telegraphy the final instalment being published on the 14th April 1899. Mr Rough died at Bourne-mouth three days thereafter, viz., on 17th April 1899. In the course of publication Mr Rough made various additions to the articles with a view to their appearance in pamphlet form, and these notes, on which he was engaged almost to the hour of his death, are herewith appended.
"The cargo of the brig had to be landed at Kirkcaldy, and I got a chance of visiting Edinburgh for the first time. On reaching the top of Leith Walk I looked round me for the means of getting a meal, for there were no restaurants in those days, and with my pea-jacket in one hand, and a bundle in the other, I walked boldly into the nearest hotel, which at that time happened to be the finest in the page 89 city. The waiter, to whom with sailor-like carelessness I gave an order for a private sitting-room and dinner, first stared at me, and then became very obsequious, showed me into a handsome parlour, and soon after a dinner in courses was served up. What they took me for I don't know. The landlady came with some polite words; but I think only to have a look at me, and a bill was presented, the largest I have ever paid in all my life for a dinner, which made a great hole in my slender finances, but I made no remark. I gave the waiter his fee, smoked a cigar, and retired from my lofty beginnings to seek a humbler lodging, where I spent some days whilst seeing most parts of the city. Since that time I have visited all the capital cities of Europe, and some in Asia and America, and although possessing comparatively few very grand or imposing public buildings, Edinburgh and its environment of castle, crags, and prominent hills, commanding wide panoramic views of land and water scenery, presents so picturesque a combination of ancient and modern streets and edifices as to impress the mind with a sense of unique beauty of site and structure that once seen can never be forgotten or fail to recall most pleasant recollections. During later years I had the good fortune to make the acquaintance and to enjoy the hospitalities of kind friends there. Amongst others that of a gentleman and his family at that time well known in the large circle of literary and page 90 aristic men who have made Edinburgh famous, Mr Montague Stanley, next to Mr Murray the leading actor of the Theatre Royal, which stood where the General Post Office now stands. To his high talents as an actor Mr Stanley combined that of a distinguished painter, and in private life was a most religious and exemplary moral character. Declining health and other circumstances induced him to leave the stage and retire to the Isle of Bute, where he died, and was buried by the side of the church of Ascog, in which his fine voice used to lead the choir. Many years afterwards I had the pleasure of meeting Mrs Stanley in Queensland, Australia, where her sons are in high positions in the public service, and all held in much social respect."
Mr Rough, during his early voyages in the East (page 18) narrowly escaped being attacked by pirates. "One night," he writes, "in the Java Sea, I was called up to witness a very startling and disagreeable sight, a number of large Malay pirate praus bearing down upon us while we were becalmed. We made all the preparations that we could to repel them, and as these miscreants prefer to attack and plunder small native craft rather than attempt to board large vessels, they hesitated to come very near us, and kept beating their tum-tums in signals to each other, and they could hear the sound of our boatswain's pipe as we braced yards to catch the first breath of the land wind page 91 and probably took us to be more formidable than we really were, which gave us time to make use of the breeze that soon filled our sails, and to get away from such threatening company, for it is indeed a terrible fate to fall into their hands, either to be murdered or carried into hopeless slavery in Borneo or some other island of the Archipelago under native rulers. Steam Coastguard cruisers have now cleared them out of those seas."
"Early one fine morning I arrived by boat at the landing-place of the island, and found a carriage and four horses waiting for me. We soon reached the Palace inland, enclosed by a high wall surrounding an extensive court planted with trees, on which the principal apartments have their openings, and in the middle a large pavilion where guests are received and entertained. An officer of the household accompanied by servants brought me tea and refreshments. All at once every one dropped on the floor pavement with their faces to the ground. I soon perceived that this lowly Oriental obeisance was caused by the appearance of a little, grey-haired old gentleman in native attire, His Highness the Sultan, who shook hands with me very affably, and asked to see the letter by which my uncle page 92 had expressed a wish for me to visit his old friend. Being satisfied on this point, he called for his Secretary, and caused him to write a courteous reply. A room was assigned to me, and a riding horse placed at my disposal. The hereditary Prince was very attentive to me—even he went on his knees when addressing his father. The principal meal was in the evening, when the Sultan and all his visitors met at supper. Some of these were Mahomedan missionaries from Arabia, and one or two Dutch officers. Animated conversation in the sweet-sounding Malay language was kept up until late in the refreshing coolness of the tropical night—somewhat like a scene of the Arabian Nights' tales. This visit to an Eastern Court left a pleasant impression on my mind. It is a privilege to which few are admitted, and I had to obtain special authority in writing from the Dutch authorities at Sourabaya before being permitted to make the excursion. Madura, besides the usual tropical productions, possesses some rocky caverns or deep wells, in which a peculiar kind of swallows build their nests, composed of a glutinous substance, which, when carefully cleansed and prepared, are exported to China, and bear a very high price, the wealthy Chinese being very fond of eating them as a great delicacy."
"I returned to Europe in an English ship, taking with me two of Mr Wilson's children to be placed under the care of his relatives in Scotland for their education. The voyage was a very lengthy one. When off the Cape of Good Hope we encountered a heavy westerly gale of wind and high sea. The vessel sprung a leak, and we put into Simon's Bay, the naval station of South Africa, which is connected with Cape Town by a pleasant road and drive of a few hours. At that time South Africa was not much before the public mind, and Cape Town was a quiet, agreeable place of resort for members of the East Indian Civil Service on furlough. There were no docks or harbour works, only landing jetties, and vessels had to ride at anchor in Table Bay, exposed to the fury of sudden storms coming down from the great flat-topped Table Mountain standing behind the town. In fine weather this mountain can be seen from a great distance at sea, long before the lower land comes into view, and it seems to rise above the surface of the water like a stupendous altar, which is frequently covered by a tablecloth of dark clouds foretelling coming tempests. Whilst the ship was in Simon's Bay the leak stopped, but soon after we put to sea it began again, keeping the crew hard at the pumps, which produced a page 94 very discordant lullaby to go to sleep with, and the outlook of having possibly to take to the boats was rather serious; but our fine, hardy English seamen worked with a will, only asking for an increase of their allowance of grog, and happily the weather kept fine, so that, with a pilot, we got the ship safely into the Solent during an autumn night. The clanking of the pumps was lessened, and we went to sleep with thankful hearts, to awake next morning and gaze with exquisite delight on one of England's brightest scenes—the pleasant shores of the Isle of Wight, the pretty town of Cowes, and the smooth surface of the Solent enlivened by numerous yachts and other sailing craft of many descriptions, with their white sails reflecting the brilliant sunshine. We soon reached Scotland, and had the happiness of being once more amongst kindred and friends of early days."
"I usually found the senior officers most agreeable to deal with both on duty and socially. Several in later years distinguished Admirals came on our station as Captains of Frigates, amongst others Sir Henry Keppel in the Meander, now in his 90th year, whose racy and amusing book, "A Sailor's Life under Four Sovereigns," has lately been published, page 95 The brave and courteous and cheery Admiral of the Fleet liked to talk of his exploits amongst the pirates of Borneo when he was in command of his favourite ship, the Dido, and as that ship was afterwards on the New Zealand station, and I had a short cruise in her with Captain Maxwell, Sir Henry kindly gave me a fine picture of the Dido running up Channel, which I cherish as a souvenir of those days. The French naval officers in ships that came to Auckland were, like our own, intelligent and gallant specimens of their countrymen. The first ship that called had a band of music on board, and Captain Berard, amongst other courtesies, allowed the musicians to be landed, so that we were able to get up a large ball in a room of the newly-built barracks. A very joyous assembly it was, and the presence of the lively French officers and mixture of gay uniforms made a striking contrast to the primitive condition of things outside. My knowledge of the French language was of good service to myself and others at such times. One French officer returned after five years in command of a corvette, La Brilliante; and in taking a ride with [me about the country near Auckland said none but Les Anglais could have made such advancement in so short a space of time."
"Having been up early to traverse the mountain-top and obtain extensive views of the rich plains below, I returned to the Monastery with sharp appetite for breakfast, but found it was a fast-day, and nothing to eat could be had. This was rather hard lines; but fortunately I had observed in passing the open door of a religious Sisterhood not far from the Monastery that breakfast was being prepared by one of the Sisters, whilst the other ladies were at their morning devotions in the chapel. To my earnest appeal the good elderly Sister compassionately yielded; and, though contrary to all the rules of these Sisters, she kindly told me to slip in whilst no one was looking, and quickly supplied me with a bowl of hot coffee and excellent bread, which I greatly and gratefully enjoyed. Another instance of the kind hearts that are found in all countries and under all phases of faith."
"There are, I believe, many earnest-minded Christians who think as I do, but are unwilling to leave the Church of their fathers and of the society in which they move; but 1 have felt it to be most consistent with my own convictions of what is nearest the truth as it is revealed in the Holy Scriptures, unmixed with page 97 human creeds and dogmas, to become attached to the Unitarian Christian Church, to which I have been led by reading the works of the Rev. Dr Channing, of America, and by the preaching and conversation of devout ministers whom I have met with at home and abroad, especially that of the late Rev. Mr Howe, of Essex-Church, London, so that on coming to Bournemouth in the year 1882 I endeavoured, with others like-minded, to form a small congregation of Unitarians. For some years we had to meet in hired rooms and small halls, and had many changes of ministers and many hindrances to overcome, but at length, by the generous aid of the British and Foreign Unitarian Association in London, and of many friends to the cause in other parts of England, we succeeded in obtaining a suitable site, and in erecting a modest, but tasteful, place of worship which is now free from debt; and we are thankfully united in maintaining the service of the Church and in affording ample accommodation to visitors of our persuasion who come to Bournemouth."
"The success of my public career and happiness in private life have been greatly owing to the loving care and domestic management of my late dear wife. We were married at page 98 Government House, Auckland, before there was a church, in 1841, and lived together for more than fifty years, and had our golden wedding in England. The happiness we so long enjoyed has been much enhanced by the presence in our home of a dear friend who came to us, with her brother, when they were children. For many years she has been to us a source of comfort and consolation in seasons of health and in times of sickness and depression, like the best of daughters; which I regard as not the least of the many Heaven sent blessings which have been granted to us. Her brother gained the New Zealand Cross of Valour for excellent service during war with insurgent natives who had committed great outrages on European settlers."