Page images


“In God's name, what do you mean?”.

357 Washington felt neglected and stood apart from the gay throng, ·

· 373 Montcalm, . . .

382 “See! they run! They run !" . . . . . 426 “L'amour me réveille,"

444 Map of the period, . . . . . . .

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]




Hark! heard ye not that piercing cry,
Which shook the waves, and rent the sky?
E'en now, e'en now, on yon western shores,
Weeps pale Despair, and writhing anguish roars.



AIL, ho!”

The captain rushed upon deck, exclaiming:

“Mast-head there!"
“Where away is the sail ?”

The precise answer to this question, the sailors, tumbling up out of berths and

from mess rooms, did not catch; but the captain proceeded to

ask: “What does she look like?”

"A square-rigged vessel, sir," was the answer of the lookout.

It was early morning, December 25th, 1702, and a stiff breeze was driving a saucy New England privateer along at the rate of ten knots an hour. The officers and sailors usually made a sort of holiday of this sacred day. After breakfast it was common to muster the entire crew on the spardeck, dressed as the fancy of their captain might dictate, where church service was read by the captain, after which the remainder of the day was devoted to idleness. This Christmas morn, however, they were destined to spend in a very different manner. They had hardly finished breakfast, when the man at the mast-head gave utterance to the cry which always thrills a privateer,—“Sail, ho!”

Among those to crowd the forward deck were two boys aged respectively twelve and sixteen years, who, from their strong family resemblance, were, beyond doubt, brothers. Their blue jackets, ornamented with bright anchor buttons, which glistened in the sun, their blue trousers, their sailor hats and flowing ribbons indicated that they were young midshipmen. These two boys were Elmer and George Stevens, the sons of a wealthy Virginian, Robert Stevens. The boys early expressed a strong desire to enter the navy, and, at their urgent and repeated solicitation, the father secured for them commissions as midshipmen on board the New England privateer Elizabeth. The times were never peaceful, for even while nations were smiling on each other and holding out the olive branch, as did England and France, their vessels were at sea waging a warfare little better than piracy.

After the sailors crowded the deck, waiting with breathless eagerness, the captain again shouted:

“Mast-head there!”.
“ Aye, aye, sir.”
“ What does she look like?”
“ A large ship, sir, standing toward us.”

By this time nearly all of the crew were on deck, eagerly straining their eyes to obtain a glimpse of the approaching ship, and expressing in whispers their opinions as to her probable character. These whispers became so loud and annoying that the captain shouted:

“Keep silence, fore and aft!”

Silence being secured, he once more hailed the lookout and asked:

“What does she look like?” “A large frigate, bearing down upon us, sir!”

A whisper ran over the deck that the strange ship was a French frigate.

The English crew had cause to become excited

by the appearance of a vessel, for the feelings between France and England were anything but pleasant. The Earl of Bellamont, reached Boston as governor of Massachusetts in 1699. The encroachments of the French, who had outgeneraled the English in securing the control of the mouth of the Mississippi River, and were then preparing to extend their territorial jurisdiction in the east as far westward as the Kennebec River, greatly annoyed him.

According to the opinions of the English courts, the St. Croix River, now the eastern boundary of the United States, was to be the western boundary of the French dominion in that quarter; but the French king had an entirely different understanding of the matter, and his representative in Nova Scotia gave notice to the authorities of Massachusetts that it was their intention to assert jurisdiction. as far westward as the Kennebec. The British ministry were at once informed of the threatened invasion by Bellamont; but they paid no heed to his notice. No doubt the invasion would have been successfully carried out, had not war between England and France begun soon after.

In the month of May, 1702, Queen Anne and her allies, the Emperor of Germany and the StatesGeneral of Holland, declared war against France and Spain. When hostilities began in Europe, they were the signal for the English colonists in

« PreviousContinue »