King of the Beggars - Chapter XXIV

Chapter XXIV

His Voyage to the Baltic

            We have already mentioned Mr. Carew's being on board the Yarmouth man-of-war up the Baltic; it will not, therefore, be improper here to relate the occasion of that voyage, which was as follows:—He and his friend, Coleman, being at Plymouth, and appearing to be able-bodied men, some officers seeing them there, thought them extremely fit to serve his majesty, therefore obliged them to go on board the Dunkirk man-of-war: but they not liking this, Coleman pricked himself upon the wrists, between his fingers, and other joints, and inflamed it so with gunpowder, that every one thought it to be the itch; he was therefore carried ashore, and put into the hospital, from whence he soon made his escape. Mr. Carew tried the stratagem, but too late; for the Lively and Success men-of-war now arriving from Ireland with impressed men, they were all of them carried immediately (together with the impressed men lying at Plymouth) to the grand fleet, then lying at Spithead; they were first put on board the Bredau, Admiral Hosier, to choose whom he liked of them: and their names being called over, the Irishmen were all refused; which Mr. Carew seeing declared himself, in a true Irish brogue, to be a poor Irish weaver, and disabled in one arm, whereupon he was also refused: the Irish, among whom he was now ranked, were carried from ship to ship, and none would accept of them, which made them all expect to be discharged; but they were disappointed in their hopes, for they were put on board the Yarmouth, Captain O'Brien, being one of the squadron destined for the Baltic. Mr. Carew finding Captain O'Brien refused no Irishmen, when he came to be examined changed his note, and declared himself to be an Englishman, but crippled in one arm: however, the captain accepted of him, and putting a sword in his hand, made him stand sentry at the bitts, which easy post he liked very well; and during all the time he was on board, every one supposed him really disabled in his arm.

            The fleet, sailing from Spithead with a fair wind, anchored safely at Copenhagen, and then the king of Denmark came on board Sir Charles Wager: the moment he set his foot on board, both the flag-ships were covered with an infinite number of colours of every hue, which, waving in the wind, made a most gallant sight: upon his departure, the colours were all taken down in an instant, and every ship fired eighteen or twenty guns. Sailing from Copenhagen, they anchored next in Elson Cape, in Sweden; from hence they sailed to Reval, in a line of battle, in form of a rainbow, and anchored there: the sick men were carried ashore to Aragan island, which Mr. Carew observing, and burning with love to revisit his native country, counterfeited sickness, and was accordingly carried ashore to this island, which lies near Reval, belonging to the Muscovites, from whence boats came every day to fetch wood. He prevailed upon an Englishman, who was a boatswain to one of the Czarina's men-of-war, to give him a passage in his boat from that island to Reval town; when he came there, the boatswain used great endeavours to persuade him to enter her majesty's service, but it was all in vain, being resolved to return to his beloved country; the boatswain, therefore, having entertained him a day and a night at his house, gave him, at his departure, a piece of money, and engaged several Englishmen of his acquaintance to do the same; he likewise furnished him with a bag of provisions, a bottle of excellent brandy, a tinder-box, and a few lines wrote in that country language, which he was to show to those he met, to inform him of the road he was to go; and then conducted him out of the town. That night he took up his lodgings in the woods, and, by the help of his tinder-box, made a large fire all round him, to secure himself from any visits from the wild beasts, then broiled a piece of flesh, drank a dram, and rested very quietly till morning, it being the middle of summer.

            The whole country here is wild, full of large woods and uninhabited deserts, the towns and villages lying very thin. In the morning, finding his way out of the woods, he espied a lonely hut, to which he made up, and making signs of hunger and thirst, they gave him some rusk bread and cabereta, or goat's flesh, to eat, and some goat's milk to drink, which is the usual fare amongst those people, who are most of them Lutherans by religion, and lead very sober lives; of some of them he got small bits of money, which they call campekes, and are of silver, something larger than a barley-corn, being of a penny value; he likewise frequently got drams of excellent brandy amongst them, and his shoes being worn-out by travelling, they gave him a pair of good wooden ones, which sat very awkwardly on his English feet.

            After six or seven days' travel through this wild country he came to Riga, a large town and famous sea-port: here he met with many English merchants and commanders of vessels, who were very kind to him; he tarried two days in Riga, to rest and refresh himself: during which the English merchants and commanders provided lodgings and other accommodations for him, collecting upwards of fifty shillings for him. Having expressed his utmost gratitude towards his good benefactors, he again pursued his journey, subsisting himself sometimes on the charity of the inhabitants of the country, and at other times milking the cows upon the mountains or in the woods. The next place of note he arrived at was the city of Danzig, in the kingdom of Poland: here he found a great number of English merchants who traded to Exeter, and Bristol, and had many correspondents living in those places, several of whom Mr. Carew being acquainted with, he gave a particular account of.

            Having been entertained here very hospitably for several days, he set out again, having first received some handsome presents from the English merchants. From Danzig he got a passage on board an English brigantine bound for Copenhagen, but through stress of weather was obliged to put into Elson Cape, where he went on shore, and travelled by land to Stockholm, the capital of Sweden, but in his road thither he lost his way in this wild and desert country, and for the space of three days and nights saw neither house, hut, nor human creature, the weather being very thick and foggy. Nothing could be more melancholy and dreadful than these three days' travel; his provisions were exhausted, and every step he took he was uncertain whether it might lead him farther into the woods, as he could make no observation how the country lay, the fog intercepting the light of everything. Sometimes fancy would paint to him a hut through the fog at a little distance, to which he would direct his steps with eager haste, but when he came nearer, found it nothing but an illusion of sight, which almost drove him to despair. The fourth day he was exceedingly hungry, when, to his great joy, he espied two she-goats fastened together with ropes of straw: he ran to them with great eagerness, and drunk very heartily of their milk; after this he began to consider that there must be some hut at least hard by, as the goats could not have strayed in that manner any great distance; he therefore resolved to stay upon the spot for some time; and soon after the fog clearing up, he espied a hut just before him, to which he directly repaired, and there got a belly-full of their homely fare, and directions to find his way to Stockholm.

            The religion of this country being chiefly Lutheran, he passed for the son of a Presbyterian parson, and his name Slowly, pretending to have been cast away in a vessel bound for Revel. The Lutherans at Stockholm were exceedingly kind to him and raised a handsome contribution for him. He likewise chanced there to meet with a relation of Dr. Bredaw, a Swiss gentleman, that resided at Dartmouth, in Devonshire, who asked several questions about him; and as Mr. Carew was well acquainted with him, he gave very satisfactory answers, upon which account that gentleman gave him a guinea, a great fur cap, a coat, and a fine dog, with a letter to carry to his relation at Dartmouth.

            From Stockholm he went to Charles-town, and after a short stay there continued his journey to Copenhagen, the metropolis of Denmark; here he met with one Captain Thomas Giles, of Minehead in Somersetshire, who knew him, and was surprised to see him in that part of the world, and not only liberally relieved him himself, but recommended him to several English commanders there, and also to several inhabitants of the city. From Copenhagen he went to Elsinburg, thence to Elsinore, where he got a passage for England, and once more arrived in his native country.

Prev   Next