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The Old Manor House:

CHAPTER XXXVII.

By the care of this excellent man, aided by the medical skill of the surgeon of the regiment, Orlando in about a fortnight arose as it were from the grave. His senses returned long before his strength, and with them all the sad recollection of his disastrous voyage:—almost the first use he made of his returning reason, was to implore the 111 lieutenant to inquire for Captain Warwick, of whom he found, with inexpressible sorrow, that no intelligence had been received, and that he was believed by his brother officers to be in one of those transports that had gone to the bottom. In a few days a negro servant inquired for Ensign Somerive, and Orlando in a moment recollected that it was Perseus, the man who had served Warwick some years.—He now hoped to have heard some account of his sister and his friend that might have quieted his extreme uneasiness: but the sight of Perseus only served to increase it; for he learned from him that Captain Warwick arrived at Portsmouth the evening the first transports sailed, and that, by his interest with the captain of the frigate in which the negro embarked, and some persons still higher in power, that ship was delayed for some days, at the end of which Warwick promised to appear; but as he did not, nor even at the end of some hours longer than the time he required, the captain would have incurred too great a risk by waiting longer; and therefore got under weigh with so strong and favourable a wind, that they overtook the rest of the fleet two days before they made the Pike of Teneriffe. This circumstance, however, Perseus said, was the only one that gave him hope; for he knew his master, thus missing his passage, would hire a vessel to convey him, which would probably not only take up some days, but hardly sail as they did, and therefore there was reason to hope that he might have escaped the storm in which they suffered, and it was improbable that the lady whom Orlando had seen perish, and afterwards heard was the wife of an officer of foot, was his sister.

On being questioned farther, the negro, who was very intelligent, said, that Captain Warwick had 112 ordered him, with a great part of his baggage, on board; and that he knew his master expected a lady to go with him—but he knew not whom. The baggage was landed, and put into Orlando’s lodging, where Perseus desired leave to wait upon him; and where the attention of this faithful fellow, and the hopes he gave him that Isabella and her husband were safe, contributed greatly to his recovery.

A fortnight had now elapsed since his landing, and no news of his sister reached him, nor had he a single line from England as he had been taught to expect. The sad scene at home, where he feared Isabella’s elopement had created insupportable sorrow, cruelly tormented him; and the image of Monimia in continual tears and hopeless solitude, pursued him incessantly. A thousand times during the paroxysms of his fever he had insisted upon having pen and ink to write to her and to his family; and he began many letters to his father, recommending Monimia to his protection, and apologising for his conduct in regard to his sister; but the Lieutenant, Mr. Fleming, had never sent any of these incoherent letters.—Orlando had now strength of body and of mind enough to look them over; but, circumstanced as he was about Isabella, he now hardly knew better than he did then, what to say that should not aggravate all the pain he lamented: something, however, it was necessary to write, as ships were now daily returning to England; and not to send some intelligence of himself would be more distressing to his friends, than the ignorance he must avow as to the fate of his sister.

Another idea struck him, that some discovery, or even her own fears, as the moment arrived when she was to leave her father’s house, might have prevented the departure of Isabella from home; and that even her intention of doing so might be 113 unknown.—This made him hesitate whether to name her at all; and at length he determined he would not, since it would be only giving to his father an exchange, but not an alleviation of uneasiness.

He wrote then these unsatisfactory letters to his family; and afterwards one to Monimia.—He gave in all of them the best account he could of himself, described his voyage as tedious and stormy; and said, slightly, that he had been ill on his first landing; but was now recovered, and should soon proceed to join the body of his regiment with the northern army under Burgoyne.—But such was the agitation of his spirits while he was writing, from the lively idea he had of the sensations his letters would give to those to whom they were addressed, that it brought on an access of fever, and he was confined for a few days: nor had he quite recovered his usual health, when the commander of the two companies, despairing of seeing the men who were missing arrive, was ordered to muster all that remained of the two companies; and, with a party of dismounted dragoons, to find their way to the army, which was now on its march from Canada to Albany, in order to form a junction, or at least to open a communication between that army and New York. The whole body, thus destined to force its way through an enemy’s country, consisted, including American volunteers, of about two hundred and fifty men; but they were not incumbered with artillery, and were almost all young men, eager for actual service, and in haste to join an army, of whose brilliant success they formed the greatest expectations.

It was on the 6th of August that this small party left New York; and now Orlando, who had hitherto been in garrison, began to perceive all the horrors and devastations of war. The country lately so 114 flourishing, and rising so rapidly into opulence, presented nothing but the ruins of houses, from whence their miserable inhabitants had either been driven entirely, or murdered!—or had, of the burnt rafters and sad relics of their former comfortable dwellings, constructed huts on their lands, merely because they had no where else to go.—Even from these wretched temporary abodes they were often driven, to make way for the English soldiers; and their women and children exposed to the tempest of the night, or, what was infinitely more dreadful, to the brutality of the military. In a war so protracted, and carried on with such various success, these scenes of devastation had occurred so often, that the country appeared almost depopulated, or the few stragglers, who yet lingered round the places most eagerly contended for, had been habituated to suffer till they had almost lost the semblance of humanity. The party had now marched about seventy miles; and as they carried their provisions with them, which it was not possible to do in a great quantity, it became necessary for them to encamp, and send out foraging parties to obtain a supply before it was actually wanted. It was on the edge of one of those morasses which are called by the natives savannahs, encircled on all sides by woods, that they formed this small camp; where the Colonel, to whom the conduct of this expedition was entrusted, fortified it as well as such a situation would admit; but Lieutenant Fleming, whose attachment to Orlando a long intercourse of mutual kindness had now greatly strengthened, pointed out to him, in confidence, the defects of the station thus chosen; and declared that if any body of American troops, or rebels as they were then called, was in the country, they must be surrounded, and either compelled to surrender or fight their way through. 115 It happened, however, that for many days they remained unmolested—some recruit of provisions was obtained, and the plan of their future march settled. The parties who went out saw no enemies to oppose them; and Orlando had now an opportunity of observing this wonderful country, so extremely unlike England, that it appeared to him to be indeed a new world.

Every object seemed formed upon a larger scale. The rivers, more frequent than in England, were broader than the most boasted of ours, even on their approach to the sea; and the woods, larger than the oldest European forests, even those that kings have reserved for their pleasure in France or England, consisted often of trees of such magnitude and beauty as must be seen before a perfect idea can be formed of them. What Orlando had often seen cherished in English gardens as beautiful shrubs here rose into plants of such majestic size and foliage as made the British oak poor in comparison; and under them innumerable shrubs, of many of which he knew not the names, grew in profusion. These woods, however, had in many places suffered like the rest of the country; and in some had been set on fire—in others the trees had been felled, as means of temporary defence.—And Orlando, whose early and ingenuous philanthropy had of late been often injured by a painful sensation of disgust, could not help remarking with a sigh, that man seemed not only a creature born to consume the fruits of the earth, but to wound and deform the bosom of that earth! and he found himself almost involuntarily assenting to some of the most gloomy aphorisms of Rousseau.

But he was yet a novice: and had only of late understood, as well as a partial repre­sentation of the cause by his otherwise candid friend Fleming 116 would let him under­stand, the origin of the quarrel in which he had drawn his sword.

The scenes however he had already been witness to, were, he thought, not to be justified by any cause: but his fellow soldiers seemed to see them in a very different light; and to consider the English Americans as men of an inferior species, whose resistance to the measures, whatever those might be, of the mother country, deserved every punishment that the most ferocious mode of warfare could inflict; and even the brave and generally humane Fleming endeavoured to convert Orlando, whose scruples as to the justice of the war became greater the more he heard of its origin.—He assured him that a soldier never thought of examining into such matters—It is, said he, our business to fight; never to ask for what—for if every man, or even every officer in the service were to set about thinking, it is ten to one if any two of them agreed as to the merits of the cause. A man who takes the king’s money is to do as he is bid, and never debate the matter. For my part, I have heard while I was in England a great deal of clamour upon the subject, and it has been called a war upon the people, and therefore an unpopular war.—I am no politician, nor do I desire to enter into a discussion about taxation and repre­sentation, which these fellows have made the ground for their resistance. There is no end of the nonsense that may be talked in favour of their rebellion, nor the pleas of the ministerial party. For myself, as I was brought up in the army, I have always cut the matter very short—the sword is my argument; and I have sold that to my king, and therefore must use it in his service, whatever and wherever it may be pointed out to me.

This way of settling the matter was, however, so far from being convincing to Orlando, that it gave 117 him new cause for reflection. He had always been told, that the will of the people was the great resort in the British Government; and that no public measure of magnitude and importance could be decided upon, but by the agreement of the three Estates. Yet the present war, carried on against a part of their own body, and in direct contradiction of the right universally claimed, was not only pursued at a ruinous expence, but in absolute contradiction to the wishes of the people who were taxed to support it. Orlando did not comprehend how this could be—he could not, however, though so often assured that it was no part of his business, help thinking about it: and an American prisoner, who was brought to their little camp by a scouting party just before it broke up, assisted very much to clear up his ideas on this subject. He was a man in middling life, and had kept a store at New York; but having taken part with his own countrymen, had been sent by them to Congress, where, being a man of strong plain under­standing, he had joined heartily in all the measures of resistance, and afterwards gone into the field for the same purpose: but hearing that his wife, an English woman, whom he passionately loved, and his only son, a boy of seven years old, were arrived at New York from England, whither they had gone two years before, he had obtained leave to quit his command for a short time, and had set out alone, and in disguise, in the intention of reaching the neighbourhood of New York; where, at the house of one of his temporising friends, he had appointed his wife and child to meet him—in the hope of conveying them himself, through a country abounding in perils, to a place of present safety.

But when he was within an hundred miles of the place he wished to reach (a distance that in America 118 is reckoned a trifle), he had been met by a party of Indians, whom the British commanders had lately let loose upon the Americans; and having narrowly escaped being scalped, by promises, and some deceptions very allowable in such a situation, he was brought by the Red Warriors to the small camp of their allies the English, of which they had just received intelligence. As this unfortunate American immediately disclosed to the commanding officer who he really was, and for what purpose going to New York, he was deemed of consequence enough to be sent thither a prisoner, and till this could be done, he was alternately guarded by the British officers:—a circumstance that gave Orlando an opportunity he never before had of hearing the American party tell their own story, which served only to excite his pity for them, and a pity not unmixed with respect; while his astonishment increased as he considered the infatuation of the British Cabinet, or rather the easy acquiescence of the British People.

If his concern was called forth by witnessing the anguish of mind endured by his new acquaintance when he thought of his wife and child—anguish with which Orlando well knew how to sympathize—his surprise and curiosity were not less awakened by the appearance of the native American auxiliaries who had been called to the aid of the English. They consisted of a party of near forty, most of them young men; and headed by a celebrated veteran warrior, who was distin­guished by a name which expressed in their language, “The bloody Captain!” Their savage appearance, and the more savage thirst of blood which they avowed—that base avidity for plunder, with an heroic contempt of danger, pain, and death, made them altogether objects of abhorrence, mingled 119 with something like veneration: but the former sentiment altogether predominated when Mr. Jamieson (the prisoner) informed him, that among all the unfair advantages which the Colonists complained of in the manner of carrying on the war, there was none that seemed so unjustifiable as that of sending forth the Indians* against them. And when Orlando 120 saw in the hands of the Bloody Captain eleven scalps, some of them evidently those of women and children, others of very old, and consequently defenceless men; many of them fresh, which he said, with an air of triumph, he had taken from the enemies of the King of England within three weeks—the young unhardened Englishman shuddered with horror, and blushed for his country.

* “Several nations of savages were induced to take up arms as allies to his Britannic Majesty. Not only the humanity, but the policy of employing them, was questioned in Great Britain. The opposers of it contended, that Indians were capricious, inconstant, and intractable; their rapacity insatiate, and their actions cruel and barbarous. At the same time their services were represented as uncertain, and that no dependence could be placed on their engagements. On the other hand, the zeal of the British Ministers for reducing the revolted Colonies was so violent as to make them, in their excessive wrath, forget that their adversaries were men. They contended that, in their circumstances, every appearance of lenity, by inciting to disobedience, and thereby increasing the objects of punishment, was eventual cruelty. In their opinion, partial severity was general mercy; and the only method of speedily crushing the rebellion was to envelope its abettors in such complicated distress, as by rendering their situation intolerable, would make them willing to accept the proffered blessings of peace.” Ramsay’s History of the American Revolution.—The happy effects of this barbarous policy never appeared. Of the tragical scenes it occasioned, the reader, if he or she delight in studying circumstances in this war redounding to the honour of British humanity, is referred to the Annual Register for 1779, where an account is given of the expedition of sixteen hundred men, among whom one fourth were Indians, the rest British Americans in the interest and service of Government (these Americans were then called Tories), to the forts Kingston and Wilkesborough, in the settlement of Wyoming on the Susquehanna. Those who have so loudly exclaimed against a whole nation struggling for its freedom, on account of the events of the summer of 1792 (events terrible enough, God knows!), are entreated to recollect how much the exploits of this expedition (even as related by our own historian) exceed any thing that happened on the 10th of August, the 2d of September, or at any one period of the execrated Revolution in France—and own, that there are savages of all countries even of our own!

He could not help speaking warmly on this subject to Fleming, who answered calmly, it was very true that arming the Indians was a very severe measure—and their cruelty what we ourselves, said he, so loudly complained of in the last war; but after all, my friend, in war every advantage is taken by both sides; and our Government has considered that if by this dreadful sort of warfare they can the sooner conquer the rebels and reduce them to obedience, it is in fact best for them*. Orlando, still unable to digest or approve such doctrine, could never hear of the ferocity with which these red warriors treated their prisoners without disgust. With some of the younger among them, however, who were less inured to blood, he formed some kind of acquaintance, and learned some of their words. One of these he had distin­guished from the rest, by remarking his more open countenance—his more gentle manners; and by hearing that he had, at the risk of his own life, saved a woman from the fury of his relation the Bloody Captain, when he was on the point of killing her with his tomahawk. This woman, whom they had found wandering in the woods, whither she had been driven by the British 121 troops who had burned her little farm and killed her husband, the young Indian, who was known by the name of the Wolf-hunter, had conducted in safety to a fort garrisoned by her own countrymen—again hazarding his own life to preserve hers.

* The same sort of sophistry was used by the monster Catherine de Medicis, to urge her son, the infamous Charles the Ninth, to the massacre of the Protestants in 1572.—What pity, said she, do we not shew in being cruel! What cruelty would it not be to have pity!

The secret sympathy between generous minds seems to exist throughout the whole human kind; for this young warrior became soon as much attached to Orlando as his nature allowed him to be to any body; and when they left their camp, and continued their march (after having dispatched their prisoner to New York with as strong an escort as they could spare), the Wolf-hunter constantly marched by the side of his new friend; and between the little English he had picked up, and Orlando’s unusual aptness to learn languages, which had however been little exercised till now, he contrived to acquire a good deal of the customs of the Indians of North America, of which he hitherto had known but little: but in regard to their wars, the more he heard of them, the more unpardonable it seemed to him to be in the managers of the war at home to authorise them to take up the hatchet.

After a very fatiguing march of many days, during which their Indian associates were eminently useful to them in guiding their way through woods and morasses, where they were least likely to meet parties of the Colonists superior to their own, they reached the place of rendezvous, where there was a probability of their finding the army they were to join; but it had pushed forward with so much celerity, that they found themselves three days behind it: its track, however, was sufficiently marked by smoking ruins—by the corn destroyed on the ground—and by the bodies of the dead, with whom they could not either encumber themselves, or always stay to bury. The heart of Orlando 122 sickened at the sight; but he had little time for contemplation—for a strong detachment of Americans, who had harrassed the rear of the British army, were now returning northward; and meeting this body of British, an engagement ensued, in which the Provincials were repulsed with some loss—but at the expence of nine men killed and eleven wounded—among the latter was Lieutenant Fleming: his wound, however, was not dangerous, and Orlando had the satisfaction of shewing, by his unwearied attendance on him, some part of the gratitude he felt for his former friendship. But the care necessary to the wounded, and the difficulties that their own people, in order to prevent their being followed by the enemy, had every where thrown in the way of their march, made it so tedious and so dangerous, that they often despaired of effecting their purpose; and when they at length arrived, quite worn down with fatigue, had the mortification to find the forces they joined in a situation very different from what they had been taught to expect—while the main body was equally disap­pointed that a stronger reinforcement was not sent them from New York, and a supply of provisions, of which they began to apprehend the want. At the same time the march of such a small body of men, for so many hundred miles, through a country every where in arms against them, was a matter of wonder; and in the detail of their expedition given by the commanding officer to the General, the conduct of Orlando was spoken of in such high terms, that he was desired to make him a compliment on the occasion. Orlando, from his ignorance of the country, had entertained a faint hope that he might find Warwick already arrived in the northern army; but he had the mortification not only to discover that this hope was groundless, but 123 his brother officers, who knew him best, were unanimously of opinion that he had perished at sea, from Orlando’s account—They were sure, they said, that nothing but some such disaster would have prevented their friend Warwick from coming back with his company; and Orlando, with increased anguish of heart, assented apparently to this, and forbore to say the reasons he had to feel, that though this might not be exactly the truth, the absence of Warwick was every way to him a subject of uneasy conjecture and bitter regret.

Notes and Corrections: Chapter XXXVII

so strong and favourable a wind, that they overtook the rest of the fleet
[Atlantic winds seem to have been very selective.]

that base avidity for plunder, with an heroic contempt of danger, pain, and death, made them altogether objects of abhorrence
[Since the author has decided to side with the American colonists, she is obligated to portray the Indians, Red Warriors or—really!—“native Americans” in a negative light.]

Ramsay’s History of the American Revolution
[First published in 1789. In case it is not perfectly obvious, Ramsay (1749–1815) was an American.]

Orlando’s unusual aptness to learn languages, which had however been little exercised till now
text has unusal
[Don’t strain your memory. “Little exercised” here means “never mentioned”.]

the customs of the Indians of North America
[All of them, generically? A few chapters later, we will learn that they are Iroquois.]


Exhausted by the fatigue of body and mind


The increasing difficulties to which the British army were exposed

The Old Manor House:
Introduction and Contents

 

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My notes are copyright, as are all under-the-hood elements.
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