Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

CHAPTER V.

On the 31st of July, 1816, Captain Heywood married Frances, the only daughter of Francis Simpson, Esq., of Plean-House, Stirlingshire, and the writer may be permitted to say, that in this lady Captain Heywood found a companion who could sympathize cordially in his mental and moral tastes. Mrs. Heywood well appreciated the treasure of which she became possessed, and valued, as they deserved, the manly independence, the unaffected goodness, the pure and simple manners, which were the distinguishing charm of her husband's character ; it formed her chief happiness to share in his enjoyments while he lived, and it is her chief consolation to reflect that she soothed, with every faithful and sedulous attention, the sufferings of his latest hours. Possessed, then, of all that his heart desired-with a moderate competency, which, to his chastened wishes and simple habits, was affluence; self-justified in the recollection of the past, if not adorned with the honours which he carried with him, (yet what greater honour could such a mind desire than the grateful and affectionate regards of his fellowbeings ?) he withdrew into the bosom of domestic retirement. For many years he lived at Highgate, enjoying, in elegant hospitality, the visits of his select friends, purifying by his refined taste, and elevating by his intellectual pursuits, the society of that home, over which his mind threw a charm like the mild light of a descending sun upon a landscape, after the storm and the cloud have passed away.

Captain Heywood had no family, but his home had an additional ornament in a daughter of Mrs. Heywood's, for whom he felt parental attachment, and who reflected, with every feminine grace and accomplishment, the purity and amiableness of her father-in-law's character. This lady is now united to Lieut. Belcher, R. N., who, as Commander of the Ætna, is at present surveying the coast of Africa.

The feelings which animated him at this season are, however, best known, as they are beautifully exhibited in a letter to Lord Melville, written on declining the honour of a Commodore's Broad Pendant, –a letter which the reader will doubtless appreciate as highly as it deserves.

· On the 18th of May, 1818, Lord Melville, without any solicitation of mine, or that of

any

of my friends, that I am aware of,' says Captain Heywood, in a brief summary of his career, made me the offer of the command on the Lakes of Canada, with a Commodore's Broad Pendant. He was so good as to allow me to accept or refuse it, as well

х

as a week to consider it. I had, however, no hesitation in writing him the following letter the next day :

• My LORD, • I hope your Lordship will give me credit for feeling, as I sincerely do, highly honoured by the offer which you were pleased to make to me; truly grateful for a mark of estimation so far above my deserving, and no less thankful for the permission conceded to me to accept or decline it.

• In deciding on a question of this kind, it behoves an officer, in the first place, to divest his mind of every private inducement that can possibly influence his judgment. I have endeavoured to do so, though, I must confess, under difficulties arising from domestic circumstances, which could not have presented themselves to a bachelor. Were the country at war, there could be no option left. Duty would point to immediate acceptance; but a state of peace may, perhaps, be allowed to render the duty somewhat less imperative, and to sanction a different resolve. It was ever my determination to serve, if able, during war, when and wherever the authorities of my country should require me; a determination that nothing but inability will ever alter. At the same time, he who would never lend a deaf ear to his country's call, nor evade demanded service in time of war, cannot, perhaps, be justly blamed for withstanding those allurements which tempt so many to seek employment in the service, even in profound peace, nor be censured for desiring to enjoy, with humility and content, the fruits of many former years of professional anxiety and fatigue.

Professing myself to be one of these, and as it has pleased God, through the means of many friends, and more. especially yourself, my Lord, to enable me to realize a small competency, fully equal to my limited desires, far beyond my most sanguine expectations, and infinitely beyond my deserving; and being now also in possession of every thing which I hold of most intrinsic value in this life, I candidly confess that I feel little disposed to quit these things, even for a short time, except to contribute the little measure in my power to the defence of my country in time of war, or under a conviction, that my humble professional endeavours may possibly be more useful to her in some particular case and time than those of another. This, in the present instance, is, of course, entirely out of the question.

· The distinction, attached to the command which your Lordship has done me the honour to deem me worthy to hold, would be no inducement to me to accept it at this time of peace; and the salary* still less. Both these, however, would, no doubt, have due weight with many officers, whose talents and

* About £1200 per annum.

[ocr errors]

qualifications for such a command, I am very sure greatly surpass mine, though, in point of zeal, I trust I may be allowed to say that I feel no inferiority to any.

Having no private views to promote by serving during peace, and being entirely deaf to the suggestions of vanity, or the desire of distinctions, (of rank and command I mean,) merely for their own sakes, I would therefore willingly hope, if the service will admit of it, that your Lordship will be pleased to permit me to decline the honour of this command, in favour of some one of the numerous meritorious and distinguished officers, to whom those distinctions are objects of high ambition and regard, if not of envy, and who, I have no doubt, will be more fully competent to the discharge of its various duties, with superior benefit to the public service.

• I trust further, my Lord, that my thus, most respectfully, soliciting to be permitted to decline an offer which I consider so highly honourable to me, and for which I shall feel most grateful as long as I live, will not be imputed to dereliction of my duty, but, on the contrary, to motives founded on right principles, and fully justified by the circumstances. . Under this hope and trust, I beg leave to subscribe myself, with every feeling of respect, duty, and gratitude,

· My Lord, your Lordship's most faithful and obliged humble servant,

· Peter Heywood.'

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »