« 上一頁繼續 »
periods. Great and persevering efforts are also made to improve and elevate the morals of the children : they are taught to fear God, and honour the King ; to be grateful to their benefactors, and kind to all. The services of religion are, in fact, so interwoven with the daily practices of the school, that serious impressions, unless in instances of peculiar depravity, can scarcely fail of being made. For this essential and all-important advantage, the institution is indebted chiefly to the uncommon zeal and exertions of the Chaplain, the excellence of whose ministerial and private reputation stands in no need of this feeble tribute. One of the most interesting sights imaginable is, to see the whole body of children assemble at the dinner hour. The perfect order and silence produced by the application of something like military system, the clean and healthy condition of the lads, on whose countenances no shadow of care is cast, the neatness of their simple but comfortable uniform, together with the judicious general arrangement, contribute to form one of the most pleasing spectacles that the world can afford. Not a word is spoken, nor is there the slightest irregularity while in the act of assembling. The dining-tables having been previously arranged, and plates of food for each man being placed upon them, the youths march, in single file and cap in hand, along the floor of the spacious apartment. They step out together with as much trueness as a veteran regiment : indeed, the steadiness of their advance, and simultaneous tread, have a beautiful effect. In this animated procession of health and vigour, imagination almost calls up their fathers' forms, though slain and buried in the battle-field. When the head of each column arrives at the farther end of the tables, which are placed three abreast, and of great length, the word "halt" is given. In that instant every foot is still. Each boy then
places his cap upon the floor, when, on a given signal, the entire corps face about to their respective seats. Having clasped their hands in a devotional form, which is also done together, one of the larger lads, placed at the end, pronounces, in a distinct
and audible voice, the " grace before meat:" at the conclusion the whole of the boys respond a loud Amen. The effect is beautiful, and has often been witnessed by the moistened eye of many a delighted observer. A roll of, or rather a single touch upon, the drum is then heard, when the children take their seats and commence their meal; and, it is needless to add, enjoy the bounty of their benefactors.
A similar ceremony is practised at the close. The accuracy of these arrangements; the efficiency of the institution, by a close and vigilant adherence to the principles and purposes for which it was founded ; and the admirable provision made for the present and future welfare of the children, are to be imputed to the unintermitted care and effort of the Commandant, who acts like the adopted father of an orphan family ; who, to great firmness of mind, unites true benevolence of heart, has the art of securing obedience, and at the same time of making himself beloved, thus fitting him in no ordinary degree for his onerous and responsible situation,
The fleet destined for the north bore away from the Downs with a fine leading breeze. It consisted of forty-two ships of war, twenty-two of which were
the line, several frigates, and a forest of transports, on board of which the forces destined to act on shore were embarked : these amounted to twenty thousand effective men, and were under the command of Lord Cathcart, while Admiral Gambier directed the naval operations. After a rough passage, we came in sight of the Danish coast about the middle of August; and early on the morning of the 16th of that month, the debarkation of the troops, under cover of several gunbrigs, commenced. We landed at Wisbeck, a small place in the island of Zealand, about eight miles from Copenhagen. Just before leaving the vessel in which I had sailed, I had a narrow escape. The weather being warm and fine, several of the soldiers and sailors took the advantage of bathing, and I made one of the number. One morning, after having enjoyed this luxury, and just as I was half-dressed, a cry of distress was heard, and on looking over the ship's side, a sailor, evidently unable to swim, was observed, endeavouring to float on the surface of the water by grasping an oar that happened to be within his reach: unfortunately, he was unable to retain his hold, and immediately disappeared. The sea was calm, and so remarkably clear, that the spot in which he sank was easily recognised. Not a moment was to be lost; and, being an expert swimmer, I divested
myself of the clothing I had put on, and dived after him. On looking about, I saw the poor fellow faintly struggling near the bottom, among some long sedgyweeds : his head being still uppermost, I seized him with one hand by the hair, and with the other was so far able to swim, as to raise both the man and myself to the surface; when on a sudden he fastened on me with a grasp so deadly, that I was incapable of moving hand or foot; and had I not been able to disengage myself, I must inevitably have perished. The struggle between us was terrific, being myself at that time scarcely seventeen years of age, and he a powerful full-grown man. At length, by a desperate effort, I escaped from his grasp. Deprived of my buoyancy, he sank like a stone. On account of the length of time I had been under water, my preservation was little less than miraculous : indeed, one of the officers, and several of the crew, who witnessed the transaction, had given me up for lost; when, to their surprise, I again emerged, and was safely taken on board. Thus was I given back to light and life : but was the deliverance wrought by the prowess of my own arm? So I once thought; but the film is taken from my eyes. It was the Lord who preserved my life, by the agency of his overruling providence. The sea confessed his mighty power, and my days declining like a shadow were graciously renewed. Diligent search was made for the body of the poor man, but without effect : it had no doubt drifted with the current far from the place in which the accident occurred, to be found probably no more till the sea shall give up her dead. .
After the army had made good its landing, which was effected without opposition, one of the first acts of our Commander was to issue a proclamation, in which he announced the object of the expedition, lamented the necessity of the cause of it, and expressed a hope that the Danish fleet, then at anchor in the
roads, would be surrendered without bloodshed ; at the same time declaring, that if it were not given up, force would be used to secure it; in which event, he argued, the innocent blood unavoidably shed would be chargeable on those who advised resistance to a measure dictated by imperious necessity. To this specimen of military logic, rendered so conclusive by the force of arms, the Danes deigned no reply. The Government resolved to defend the capital, and thus convince the world, that the country intended to maintain its honour and property against the assailants, whether they came from the Thames or the Seine, and show the fallacy of the reasoning upon which the British Ministry founded the expediency of their present extraordinary measure. Paper contentions and the rivalry of manifestoes were therefore relinquished ; and as neither party chose to recede, negotiation was succeeded by the rude appeal to arms. On the side of the invaders, the best understanding subsisted between the army and navy, and suitable arrangements were promptly made by the respective Commanders for mutual co-operation. Several frigates and gun-boats took advantage of a favourable wind to place themselves in front of the harbour, taking care to secure a position which enabled them to throw shells into the city, while the troops advanced by land: the operations on both elements were conducted with equal vigour and success. The plan of defence adopted by the Danes was similar to that projected some years previously, in the memorable engagement with Nelson. Strong lines of gun-boats and praams were securely moored for the defence of the harbour flanked at each extremity by the Crown Battery, and a Block-House, in which upwards of an hundred pieces of cannon were mounted : this force, which was judiciously planned, offered formidable resistance to the British squadron. The Danes fired red hot balls,