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burst forth more openly: but, when his death was actually announced, restraint gave way to despair; and so strong was the rush to enter the doors, and see the last of their beloved Governor, that it became necessary to augment the sentinels, and call in the aid of the police, to restrain the well-meant but imprudent anxiety of the crowd.”
(The ceremonial of the funeral, which took place on the next day, is here described ; and an abridgement is introduced of the biographical notice which we have already quoted.)
6. From this brief Memoir it appears that Sir Charles was a hero from his youth. Indeed, it would be difficult to find a parallel to his courage, while yet a boy, as displayed in Rodney's victory. But Sir Charles's success in after life did not depend altogether upon bravery; his presence of mind and conduct in cases of danger were equally conspicuous. Among instances of this nature, the quelling of a dangerous mutiny at the Cape of Good Hope was not the least meritorious; but the manner in which he extricated himself from a very perilous situation, the day after the capture of Curaçoa, shows a self-possession and an address equal to any upon record.— The Dutch Naval Commander having fallen in the attack, and being a man of large possessions there, and married, his funeral was conducted the following day with great pomp. To this funeral Commodore Brisbane was invited; and feeling anxious to conciliate the relations of the deceased, and ingratiate himself with the inhabitants, he determined to attend. The house at which the funeral was kept was at a considerable distance from the fort, and, to get to it, it was necessary to cross a lagoon; but the Commodore, not wishing to evince any distrust of the people, took with him no more than the usual crew of his barge, although he was aware that he was acting imprudently. On arriving at the house, he found a multitude collected, and about 500 slaves oft he deceased. He, however, went boldly in, leaving his boat's crew at the door, and encountered the widow, who appears to have been a woman of a masculine mind. She was making loud lamentations over the body of her husband, which was laid out in state; his slaves were
giving vent to their unruly passions, and his friends eyed the Commodore with no friendly feeling; while consultations in whispers were held in different parts of the room, of which Captain Brisbane, by the glances cast at him, plainly saw he was the subject. The hour appointed for the funeral had also arrived, and passed, without any intention being manifested of removing the body. Captain Brisbane felt the imminent peril in which he stood; and knowing that his personal safety and the retention of his conquest depended upon an instant decision, he stepped to the door, and desired his boat's crew to man the barge, and, if they observed any thing wrong, to pull away for the fort, and direct the officer in charge to fire upon the town; then, returning to the widow, he told her he had attended her husband's funeral as a mark of respect; but that, unless the corpse was instantly removed, he could remain no longer, having an arduous duty to perform at the fort at a certain hour, which was fast approaching. This had the desired effect, and threw the agitators off their guard; the corpse was removed, and the Commodore took the first opportunity to reach his barge.
- The capture of the Spanish frigate Pomona was unquestionably the most gallant of Sir Charles Brisbane's exploits. Of that affair the following additional particulars have been communicated to us by an eye-witness, a gentleman who was at the time an officer in an American vessel of war, stationed at the Havannah. The Pomona had on board one million of dollars. She was anchored under the fort, in such a position, and in such shallow water, as to be deemed safe from any attack;
; and, to add to her security, the entrance to the bay in which she took shelter was very narrow. But the Spaniards soon found that British seamen were not to be deterred by difficulties; the Arethusa was quickly anchored alongside, and so judiciously, that the guns from the fort annoyed her but little. The Pomona soon struck, and was taken possession of. Good use, however, had been 'made of the time occupied by the Arethusa in preparing for action ; for the whole of the money was removed into the fort under the superintendence of the Governor of Cuba, assisted by a party of soldiers from the Havannah. So far as the destruction of the Pomona went, the enterprise' had prospered; but, on making sail, Captain Brisbane found his ship exposed to a heavy fire from the fort, while, the wind being against him, it was impossible to beat out, from the narrowness of the passage. Every expectation of escape now seemed hopeless; and the destruction of the Arethusa herself was looked upon as certain by the thousands of spectators from the Havannah who lined the heights over the bay. Fortune, however, favoured the brave; a lucky shot from the 'Arethusa blew up the magazine in the fort ; and, during the consternation thereby occasioned, the ship was warped out by a masterly maneuvre and extraordinary exertions. The Spanish ladies who witnessed the feat (and who partook of the chivalry of their countrymen) were so delighted with the gallantry of Captain Brisbane, that they expressed their sincere sorrow that the “ brave Englishman” had not got the money.
6. Sir Charles received his commission as Governor of St. Vincent and its dependencies, on the 14th of November, 1808, and as Vice-Admiral on the 18th. He arrived there on the 21st of January, 1809, in his Majesty's ship Glory, and was sworn in on the 23d. On the 25th the two Houses of Legislature met, when his Excellency briefly addressed them, informing them of his appointment, and expressing a hope that he would be cordially supported by them in all matters relating to the welfare of the colony. On the 15th of February the legislature again met; when his Excellency's salary was fixed at 4000l. currency. It was afterwards increased to 5000l.
“ Sir Charles went to Europe on leave of absence in July, 1810, and returned in August, 1812: he again went in July, 1816, and returned in December, 1817; and from that time to the day of his death resided continually in the colony.
“ It requires a much abler pen than ours to do any thing like justice to the wise administration of Sir Charles Brisbane during his unprecedented and fatherly sway over this colony.
His merits, however, and his valuable services, are so deeply engraven on every class of society, we may say on the heart of every individual in the community capable of estimating them, that the task becomes comparatively easy. Under him, St. Vincent's has been blessed with plenty and domestic quiet. The first was the gift of the Ruler of the Universe; the last was the effect of his prudent measures: and did Sir Charles's claim to the gratitude of this community rest upon no other foundation, the fact of his having for twenty-one years preserved his government from internal discord, and reconciled conflicting wishes and conflicting interests, would well entitle him to it. But he has other claims equally as potent: he has stood as a rampart against the attacks of our inveterate foes in the mother-country; who, finding all efforts to turn him aside from the paths of honour and truth ineffectual, have assailed him with scurrility; railing at that which they cannot imitate. By his firmness, St. Vincent's has been put in a position to take a proud stand, and to repel the aspersions of the common enemy of the West Indies. In all other matters connected with his government, Sir Charles also deserves the warmest commendations : the success of his administration kept pace with its duration ; and the one, as well as the other, is beyond all precedent.”
6 His Excellency well understood the true method of governing to advantage: he had studied mankind successfully, and knew exactly how to comport himself to the character with whom he came in contact. It was to this judiciousness that those singular and unexpected revolutions in the sentiments of many who commenced their political career with a determination to oppose him, but who suddenly sided with him, are to be ascribed. There was an indescribable something in his bearing that disarmed opposition: the manners of the gentleman were so blended with the open manly freedom of the true British seaman, that it was impossible to leave his presence dissatisfied. If a favour within his power were asked, the kindness of his nature insured success to the applicant ; but if it could not be granted consistently, the refusal was so couched as to wear more the appearance of an obligation than a denial. By harmonising the machinery of his government, its duties were rendered easy, and conducted without difficulty;
, and this accounts for the little cause for interference that his Majesty's government ever had with our internal affairs while under his control. During the multifariousness of Sir Charles's duties, and the various interests of suitors who came to his court, it cannot be expected that all went away content: he had, however, the satisfaction to find that in almost every case his judgments were confirmed when appealed against. His attention to the duties of his high station was proverbial; never was he behind-hand with an appointment; never was an applicant neglected; never was justice withheld. But Sir Charles appeared to the greatest advantage on public occasions. There he stood unrivalled. No hollow osten-, tation marked his presence; no ridiculous pride damped conviviality. His graceful mien and address were remarkably pleasing; and while his affability and condescension banished restraint, his dignified appearance forbade improper familiarity.. His were pre-eminently the singular properties of commanding respect and inspiring attachment at the same moment. Yet, pleased, as he certainly was, and as he had cause to be, with his government, he often sighed for the choice his youthful mind had made. The sea was his natural element; Neptune the sovereign of his heart. With what tenacity he clung to his early predilections, may be learned from the following touching circumstance. When he found his end approaching, he clasped the hand of a friend, and exclaimed, · Would that I had ended my days on the quarter-deck of a British man-of-war, fighting for my country!'
“ In stature, Sir Charles Brisbane was about the middle size, with a frame strong, active, and light; in manner the perfect courtier, in appearance elegant. From the early period at which he embarked in his profession, his education could