CHAPTER I. THE VOYAGE.
"The sails were fill'd, and light the fair winds blew,
As glad to waft us from our native home;
And fast the white rocks faded from our view,
And soon were lost in circumambient foam."
MONDAY, April 24th, 1854. - Left the New London Inn at Exeter at ten o'clock in the evening, with sad heart and eyes full of tears. The near approach of this long voyage, and the prospect of unknown trials and hardships to be endured for I know not how long, overwhelmed me at the last moment; and the remembrance of dear friends left behind, whom I never more might return to see, made me shrink most nervously from the new life on which I was to embark. We reached the Royal Hotel at Plymouth at midnight, after a bitterly cold journey.
Tuesday, 25th. - After making a few purchases necessary for our comfort during the voyage, we embarked about three o'clock on board the "Shooting Star," lying in the Plymouth dockyard; and towards evening, amid indescribable hurry, confusion, and noise, we weighed our anchor, and dropped down the river, where we lay till three o'clock on Wednesday morning; and then, with a fair and gentle breeze, and every prospect of a prosperous voyage, we stood out to sea.
Friday, 28th. - The breeze, which had been gradually freshening during yesterday, increased last night. I, sick and almost helpless in my cabin, was told the disastrous news that both the mizen-top and main-top gallant-masts were carried away; that fragments of the wreck - masts, ropes, and spars - strewed the deck: one poor fellow was lying seriously injured, having broken his leg, and crushed the bone.
Saturday, 29th. - Weak and nervous, I staggered up on deck, to see it strewn with spars, ropes, and blocks. During the night the gale had fearfully increased, and the morning sun found two of our poor horses dead. The groans of the boy, who was lying in one of the cabins, and the gloom caused by the death of our horses, threw us all into depressed spirits, which were not cheered by looking at the ugly, broken mast aloft. I heartily thank God, who brought us safely through last night's gale.
Although weakened almost to delirium by sea-sickness and awed by the tremendous force of wind and sea, I could not but exult in the magnificent sailing of our noble ship, which bounded over the huge waves like a wild hunter springing at his fences, and breasted her gallant way at the rate of sixteen knots an hour.
Sunday, 30th. - How unlike the quiet Sundays at home! How sadly we thought of them - of pleasant walks to church, through sunny fields and shady lanes! After we had read the service, Henry and I went on deck, and sat there quietly. The wind had dropped to a dead calm; and our good ship, as though resting after her late effort, dozed lazily along at barely two knots an hour Towards evening, we saw several whales and porpoises, and phosphorescent lights gleamed like stars on the calm, dark sea.
Monday, May 1st. - The wind still very quiet, and our ship hardly making any way.
Tuesday, 2nd. - We signalled a vessel which, after much delay, replied that she was the "Blundel," from Portsmouth, bound to Gallipoli. At ten o'clock to-night we arrived off Gibraltar. For some hours previously we were in sight of the Spanish coast; and, notwithstanding the lateness of the hour, the clear atmosphere and brilliant moon enabled us to discern the town of Gibraltar and the Rock rising behind it. It was a cause of much disappointment to us that we had not passed it earlier, as we hoped to have conveyed to our friends at home the news of our safe arrival thus far. Another horse died from inanition, having eaten nothing since he came on board.
Wednesday, 3rd. - An almost entire calm. Our lazy ship scarcely vouchsafed to move at all. Such a glorious day, succeeded by a night which realised all one's dreams of the sweet south! - the Spanish and African coasts still visible, and on the former, mountains capped with snow. We put up an awning on the deck, as the heat was very great. During the night, however, a fresh breeze sprung up, filling our flapping sails, and bearing us on at the rate of fifteen knots an hour.
Thursday, 4th. - The breeze continued, and our good ship went cheerily on her course. A fourth horse died last night. They tell me he went absolutely mad, and raved himself to death. The hold where our horses are stored, although considered large and airy, appears to me horrible beyond words. The slings begin to gall the horses under the shoulder and breastbone; and the heat and bad atmosphere must be felt to be understood. Every effort to alleviate their sufferings is made; their nostrils are spunged with vinegar, which is also scattered in the hold. Our three horses bear it bravely, but they are immediately under a hatchway where they get air.
Friday, 5th. - A day of much sorrow and suffering to me, as I was awoke by our servant (Connell) coming to our door at seven o'clock, and saying that the "Grey Horse" - "Missus's Horse" - my own dear horse, was very ill. Henry ran to him directly, and after examining him, fancied his attack was different from that of the others, and that he might live.
How deeply one becomes attached to a favourite horse! Never was a more perfect creature, with faultless action, faultless mouth, and faultless temper.
Saturday, 6th. - My horse still lives, and they tell me he is a thought easier; but last night was most unfavourable to him, there being a fresh wind and rolling sea. During the forenoon I came on deck, heavy at heart. We passed the island of Galita, of volcanic formation and rocky appearance: it appears to be covered with a rusty brown moss.
During the afternoon we exchanged signals with vessels which had been respectively twenty-eight, seventeen, and fourteen days at sea. We have been ten.
Sunday, 7th. - A lovely morning, and a quiet sea. Although the "Shooting Star" makes but seven knots an hour, we hope to arrive at Malta by dark. Had the wind held, we should have been off the town in time for afternoon service. My letters are ready for S., W., and Mrs. F. Would that we could receive news from home! I hear we passed the Island of Pantelaria this morning, but was not on deck in time to see it; indeed, I had no heart for the distractions of outward objects, for my horse, though he still lives, is at the point of death.
Monday, 8th. - We were awoke at four o'clock by the sound of a matin bell, and knew by it that we were off Malta. Looking through the stern windows, we found ourselves at anchor in the harbour; the massive fortifications bristling with guns were close on either side of us, as we lay quiet and motionless on the waveless sea. At eight o'clock Henry went on deck, and soon after returning, put his arms round me, and I knew that my darling horse was out of pain !
Henry went ashore with Captain Fraser, and, amid the sultry heat, sweltered up the "Nix mangiare" stairs, and through the blinding streets of the town. At ten we received orders to put to sea forthwith; but the wind lay ahead of us, and at five we were barely moving out of port. Shortly after, when the calm evening was dressed in all the gorgeous colours of a southern sunset, and whilst the military calls were sounding those stirring notes he loved to hear, my good horse was lowered to his rest among the nautili and wondrous seaflowers which floated round the ship.
A small French brig, containing a detachment of the Chasseurs d'Afrique, lay becalmed close to us. They told us that their vessel was one of 150 tons; that they had twenty-eight horses on board, and had lost none, although they provided no stalls for them, but huddled them into the hold as closely as they could stow them away.
Tuesday, 9th. - Our orders are to proceed to Cape Matapan, where, if the wind should be against us, a steamer will tow us to Scutari. Some of our crew, having bought spirits from the bumboats off Malta, became mutinous, and several passed the night in irons.
Friday, 12th. - Last night ominous banks of clouds loaded the horizon, and soon proved the truth of my quotation -
"There's tempest in yon horned moon,
And lightning in yon cloud."
A hurricane of wind thundered in our rigging, and a deluge of rain came down. Endeavouring to make head against the gale, Captain Fraser tried our good ship to the utmost, but was at last obliged to let her drive before the storm
It was a fearful night to us who are unaccustomed to the sea; the rolling was very heavy and wearisome. Neither Henry nor I undressed all night. To-day has been a day of as much suffering as I ever wish to experience. Sick incessantly, too weak to turn, I was lying towards night almost unconscious, when I was roused by a most tremendous roll. The ship had heeled over till her deck was under water. Candlesticks, falling from the table, rolled at their leisure into the corners. Captain Fraser rushed on deck, Captain Tomkinson into the hold, where every horse was down, one being pitched half over the manger. I was shot from the stern locker, on which I was lying, to the far corner of my cabin, and every box and portmanteau came crushing over me.
Saturday, 13th. - Happily, the violent motion abated during the night, though the thunder and lightning were terrific. And this is the "Sweet South! whose sky rains roses and violets, and whose weary, fragrant heat, combined with gorgeous colours, dazzles the senses so that one feels like a phoenix burning on spice wood." This is all very fine, but Singleton Fontenoy must have been more fortunate in his time of year. To me, for the last three days, the Mediterranean has been arid and sickly as the first approach of fever - heaving, nauseating, as the deadly approach of plague. Those who are good sailors may linger over it if they will. Give me the smallest house in England, with a greenhouse and a stable, and I will sigh no more for the violet waves of a Mediterranean sea, nor the brilliant stars of a sometimes golden heaven.
Sunday 14th. - Ran on deck to take my first longing look at Greece. We were close under the Arcadian shore, about four miles from the Island of Stamphane. The high, bold coast lay hazy and crowned with misty clouds in the early sunlight. I watched for an hour, my mind dreaming poetic fancies: " I, too, have been in Arcadia." A brilliant day coloured the blue waves once more. We had service for all hands on deck. Mr. Coull, the Admiralty agent, officiated; and being somewhat unaccustomed to acting chaplain, he read the prayer for Queen Adelaide straight through.
Monday, 15th. - Almost a calm. We sighted the "Maryanne," with Major De Salis and a detachment of 8th Hussars on board. She sailed a week before us, and our having overtaken her is a great triumph to our ship. The Messenian coast lay close to us all day - snowcapped and cloud-wreathed mountains lying in a half indistinct and dreamy haze, a very Eleusinian mystery in themselves.
Tuesday, 16th. - After dark we passed the Straits of Cerigo; and all this morning have been gliding amongst the islands of the Archipelago, leaving Rock St. George upon our left, and the fertile and beautifully cultivated Zea on our right. They lay in beauteous sleep upon the bosom of the ocean, in colouring half intense, half languid, like the tints of the dog-rose and wild violet. Silently and swiftly our good ship held her way. We sighted the "Echinga," which had sailed ten days before us, but we did not overtake her before nightfall (star-rise would be a better word); but we followed on her track as surely as evil destiny follows a foredoomed soul.
Wednesday, 17th. - As I write we are off Mitylene, an apparently uncultivated island, but full of beauty of outline and colour nevertheless; and after coasting for two hours the fertile and well-wooded shores of Asia, we came to the narrow passage between Tenedos and the mainland. This passage is dangerous, from a reef of rocks; but we spanked through it at eleven knots, closely followed by the "Echinga," while they saluted us from the batteries. Three hours later, our favouring breeze had whispered its own lullaby, and we were lying helpless and becalmed at the mouth of the Dardanelles. A strong current, acting on the ship, swung her round broadside to the forts. The glory of the sunset, the gaily painted little Turkish vessels, with the brilliant fez and long pipes of the sailors, the still water, reflecting every beautiful colour like a lake of mother-of-pearl, made a landscape such as I had never hoped to see save in a picture. The current in the night drifted us twelve miles back, and towards morning we "let go our anchor, and prayed for" a steamer.
Thursday, 18th. - Made up our lost way with infinite difficulty, going at the rate of eight knots for five minutes, and then drifting back for ten with the current. We made a triumphant entry into the Dardanelles, in company with the "Maryanne," "Echinga," a man-of-war the name of which we did not know, a French transport, and a steamer. The coast is well wooded and fertile. We saw many Turks assembled on the fort on the lefthand side, and several women, all attracted by the novel sight of so many fine English vessels inside their unknown sea. The current here is so strong that at eight o'clock we cast anchor; and though every eye was strained towards Gallipoli, looking for the steamers, none appeared; and during the night the ship drifted from her moorings, and we were obliged to lower the bower anchor in forty fathoms.
Saturday, 20th. - Yesterday we opened the sealed book of the Dardanelles, and what beauties did it not disclose! - a hilly, rocky coast, with interstices of lovely and fertile valleys clothed in rich green, and shaded with luxuriant trees; forts at every point; some of considerable strength, others more picturesque. Numbers of cattle and mules were grazing on the shore; and a string of camels, led by a mule with a bell, reminded one more forcibly than anything else, that we were really in the East. Gallipoli, which was visible from a long distance, is a large and apparently a good Turkish town, which means an execrable English one, and is finely situated on a high cliff. It is surrounded by a large English and French encampment. Gallipoli has now many French and four English regiments stationed there. We hove to for orders, and were immediately despatched to Scutari, for which place we started with the evening breeze, and by eight-o clock we were well into the Sea of Marmora. At three o'clock to-day we caught our first sight of Constantinople, and by nine at night were anchored in the harbour. A Maltese pilot, who came on board at five o'clock, told us that the "Echinga," "Pride of the Ocean," and "Ganges," had arrived a few hours before. We hear that there are barracks at Scutari capable of holding 6000 men, and that 16,000 can be quartered there by being encamped in the enclosure. Towards sunset we watched the "Imaum" ascend the minaret close to us, and presently the town echoed with the call to prayer. Coming to us across the water, the effect was very musical, and somehow it touched me.
Sunday, 21st. - A cold, wet, miserable day, during which we remained at our anchorage. Every one except myself went on shore: Henry tells me that the filth, stenches, and dogs on shore are indescribable. The prospect from the deck is not tempting certainly. The captain returned with news of a steamboat tomorrow to disembark the horses, and also a quay for them to land on. I never was more completely désillusionée in my life than with my first day in Constantinople.
Tuesday, 22nd. - Disembarked at last! The tug came alongside very early, and towed us to the quay near Kulali. Such a quay, after our dockyard at Plymouth! - a few old rotten planks, supported on some equally rotten-looking timbers, about three feet above the water's edge. However, they must have been stronger than they looked, for they resisted the plunges and kicks of our horses, as they were tumbled out of the ship, without giving way. No accident befell the disembarkation. Our horses were in wonderfully good condition, and appeared fresh and in good heart. I went ashore, and went up to "Bob;" but the sight of him, and the memory of his lost companion, completely upset me, and I could only lay my head on his neck and cry. A good Greek, who, I suppose, fancied the tears and the horse were someway connected, came and stroked the charger's neck, and said, " Povero Bobo ! After dinner, Mr. Philips, Henry, and I rowed up to the barracks in Mr. Coull's gig. They appear from the outside to be a very fine building, close to the sea, and with a very handsome facade; but the inside - the dilapidation! the dirt! the rats! the fleas!! These last are really so terrible that several officers have been fairly routed by them, and obliged either to pitch their tents on the common, or to sleep on board the ships. No provision whatever has been made for the soldiers; and if Captain Fraser had not put a basket of provisions in the caïque that took the baggage, neither officers nor men would have broken their fast to-night. The stables into which I went first, of course, are more like the crypt of a church than anything else - dark, unpaved, unstalled, of enormous size, and cool: no straw and no mangers !
Wednesday, 24th. - Our orders are to have the ship ready for sea to-morrow, and to re-embark the horses on Friday, to proceed to Varna. We hear that an English frigate has been run on shore by a Greek pilot, and blown up by Russians or Austrians, no one is very clear which. To-day, for the first time since I left England, I induced Mrs. Williams, the sergeant-major's wife, who came out as my maid, to wash a few of the clothes which had accumulated during our voyage. I mention this, as being the first assistance she has ever thought fit to render me since I left England.
Thursday, 25th. - At five this morning a tug came alongside, and took us to the quay at Kulali barracks. Steamers which arrived yesterday evening, confirmed the intelligence respect-the the "Tiger." We are under orders to proceed to Varna without delay. A more brilliant morning never smiled upon the earth; and I think I never can forget the coup d'oeil that presented itself as I ran up on deck. Behind us on either side lay the beautiful city of Constantinople, embowered in trees, and surmounted by its tall and slender minarets. The gay-coloured houses, painted in every imaginable colour, lit up the already brilliant scene; while the picturesque costumes of the Turkish and Greek boatmen, rowing down the current in their gaudy and well-poised caïques, with the long line of Kulali barracks, with its avenue of shady trees, formed a picture of light and shadow truly fascinating. The horse artillery were ranged on the quay, in marching order, with guns mounted, and several pack horses loaded, waiting the signal to embark on their transport, which was moored alongside. Our horses were being exercised beneath the spreading trees.
Turkish dogs, lazy and dirty, were lying about in all directions; while horribly filthy beggars were hovering everywhere, interspersed with Turkish soldiers and Greeks. The little harbour is filled with cabbages, and refuse of every description, - a dead dog floating out, and a dead horse drifting close to the shore, on whose swollen and corrupted flanks three dogs were alternately fighting and tearing off the horrible flesh.
Beyond this lay the sea, - quiet, blue, serene, and beautiful beyond all words !
We hear that our troopers are to return to their stalls in the hold, and that we are to take government horses on our decks. We expected to have to convey an infantry regiment, so we are let off cheaply.
Friday, 26th. - Lord Lucan, who commands the Cavalry, sent an order to Major De Salis, yesterday, to the effect that, "unless Mrs. Duberly had an order sanctioning her doing so, she was not to re-embark on board the 'Shooting Star,' about to proceed to Varna." Major De Salis returned for answer, that "Mrs. Duberly had not disembarked from the 'Shooting Star,' and he had not sufficient authority to order her to do so."
Up to this time (ten o'clock) I have heard nothing further about it. My dear husband has worried himself into a state of the greatest uneasiness. He looks upon the order as a soldier: I look upon it as a woman, and - laugh at it. Uneasy, of course, I am; as, should the crew refuse to assist me, I must purchase a pony, and ride 130 miles (up to Varna) through a strange and barbarous country, and over the Balkan. Should I find that Lord Lucan has taken other steps to annoy me, I have settled with two of the ship's company, who have agreed to put me on shore and bring me off again after dark, and allow me to remain either on the maindeck or in the hold until we reach Varna; and once landed, and once on horseback, I shall be able to smile at this interference; which is in every way unwarrantable, as I left England by permission of the Horse Guards, and with accommodation provided by the Admiralty.
Our horses re-embarked to-day from a temporary quay made of boats and planking. I spent this lovely day imprisoned in my cabin, - thinking it wisest not to appear on deck.
Saturday, 27th. - Major De Salis let me out of durance by telling me that Lord Raglan had been applied to by Lord Lucan, and had stated that he had no intention of interfering with me; so, after luncheon, Henry, Mr. Coull, and I started in Mr. Coull's gig for Pera, and went to Mr. Seager's store, where we met Captain Tomkinson and Dr. Mackay, and all went together to the Stamboul bazaar. What a walk we had! Alas that the beautiful illusion of this fairy city, as seen from the harbour, should vanish the moment one sets foot in the streets, - paved with small rocks, against which you cut your feet while stumbling over every imaginable abomination!
Ownerless dogs lying and prowling about in all directions, - horses and men heavily laden with enormous weights push through the streets, regardless of your shoulders or your toes.
The bazaar is certainly worth seeing, but will be too often and too well described to make it necessary for me to enlarge upon it here. It is amusing, if only to listen to the enormous prices asked, and the very small ones taken. I bought some crimson slippers embroidered in gold, and Henry bought a chibouque, and then we all started to walk up to the Hotel de Bellevue for our dinner. The dinner was a failure, though the walk was not; for it was a scramble up a perpendicular hill, repaid with an exquisite view from a graveyard at the top. The row home at night refreshed me both in body and mind.
Sunday, 28th. - Our orders are to be ready to-morrow to sail for Varna. Some one brought a report that, immediately on landing, we were to go three days' march up the country. Nothing is arranged until the last moment; - the authorities do not appear to know their own minds. The subject was discussed at grog-time, and the clamour of opinions and tongues, - some witty, some discontented, some facetious, and some fuddled, - was the most amusing thing possible.
Monday, 29th. - King Charles's day! And never had King Charles more vexations to encounter on that day than we! At half-past seven came the major, with an order that all extra tents, picket poles, &c., should be landed without delay (they having all been embarked the day before). I, not feeling well, remained in bed until ten o'clock. Although the " Megæra" steam-ship was ordered to be alongside to tow us at nine this morning, she has not made her appearance, and it is now four. Neither the commanding officers afloat or ashore appear to have the least idea of what they are about. The 17th Lancers have had no order to re-embark; while we, who are only part of a regiment, and without our headquarters are sent up to encamp at Varna, within sixty miles of the Russian force. Fifteen ponies are purchased to carry the baggage of the regiment; and the allowance for officers is only sufficient to allow Henry and me a bullock-trunk apiece, - rather different to our notions of the "impedimenta" of a regiment! They report the commissariat at Varna as being so ill-arranged that we must not expect to get anything but salt meat for some weeks after our arrival. The " Megæra" has just passed us with the 7th Fusileers on board. I waved my hand to Colonel Yea as they passed, the decks crammed with soldiers. I find, by the shaking of the ship that we are weighing anchor, and that the "Megæra" is going to take us in tow.
The "Maryanne" and "Echinga" have both passed us on their way up the Bosphorus; - transports are coming up fast alongside Kulali barracks; and, in about an hour, we too shall have looked our last upon the (outwardly) fair city of Stamboul
Wednesday, 31st. - "In about an hour!" Why, we began to weigh anchor at four o'clock on Monday, and at one o'clock to-day it is only just out of the water. Our ship, fitted up in such unseemly haste, has not a rope or a cable on board worth sixpence. The anchor, when half out of the water yesterday, slipped, an the cable breaking disabled two of our best men. Our captain, after running through various courses of rage - swearing and cursing - has become philosophical and smilingly indifferent. Captain Johnson, of the "Megæra," who began at the other end is going rapidly mad. We, the "Clipper," the finest ship afloat, who were the first to receive orders to get under weigh, are the last to leave the harbour. Let me shut up my journal, the subject is too disastrous. Oh, the creaking of that windlass ! the convulsive shivering of the ship ! the grinding of the hawsers ! However, at four o'clock we are off at last; and I think there is not one who does not regret leaving the gay and lovely Bosphorus, and Pera, near which we have been anchored so long, refreshing ourselves with strawberries, oranges, and sherbet, lying lazily on the burning deck, and feeling as though excess of beauty overcame our languid pulses.
Eight o'clock. - We have all been on deck, watching the beauties of the coast as they disappeared behind us: Therapia - where is the Hotel D'Angleterre, the resort of the wives of English naval and military officers, who have "accompanied their husbands to the seat of war;" the stone bridge and plane trees, of seven stems; the noble viaduct overlooking Beikos Bay, and, finally, the broad surface of the Black Sea. The huge engines and filthy smoke of the " Megæra" made our vessel heave and filled us, with nausea.