Dialogue Between Captain Ross and Captain Humphreys


(From the Leeds Mercury.)

Capt. Ross: I have been thinking, Humphreys, what Lord Melville, and Croker, and my old enemy, Barrow, will say to my discoveries. I have prepared despatches for the Admiralty at least ten times, sealed them firmly, and enclosed them in a small wooden box, in the hope that that might be found if I perished.

Capt. Humphreys: Lord Melville and Croker! why, man, they are out long since; don’t you know Sir James Graham is First Lord now.

Capt. R. What Sir James Graham? Of course it is not the radical member for Cumberland, who makes the motions about sinecures.

Capt. H. The very same, and as stingy in office as he was snarling out. Even the King, though so fond of the service, can’t stop his pruning and lopping.

Capt. R. The King! why I thought he preferred the army, and neglected the navy.

Capt. H. Ah! I forgot to tell you. Old George is gone. We’ve got William IV. now,—the Duke of Clarence -that was.

Capt. R. Indeed I what sort of a king does he make? Is he a strict disciplinarian? I hope he has not infringed on the liberties of the people, nor ordered Brougham and Denman, who abused him so at the Queen’s trial, to be strung up at the yard-arm? Why, what a horrible renegade Sir James Graham must be! I wonder the Duke would take him in.

Capt. H. The Duke! Brougham and Denman! Renegade! Strict disciplinarian! Ah, my good fellow, I see you are a thousand leagues out of your reckoning; we’ve changed the poles of the earth since you left us.

Capt. R. I hope you’ve not had a revolution.

Capt H. Oh no, but we’ve had Reform.

Capt. R. What! has Lord John Russell carried his motion to give Members to Manchester, Leeds, and Birmingham? Did the Duke and Peel consent?

Capt. H. The Duke has been turned to the right-about three years since. Earl Grey and the Whigs are now in office.

Capt. R. Is it possible? Grey is a fine fellow, but rather proud of his order: however, you say reform is carried; how do Grey and the boroughmongers go on together?

Capt. H. Just as the dog Billy and the hundred rats did; he has worried them every one; there is no such thing as a boroughmonger in the kingdom —they are all gone to Davy’s Locker.

Capt. R. Nonsense, you make game of me. Why, what has become of the Tory majorities of Parliament?

Capt. A. Reduced to a miserable minority in the Commons, and kept in decent order in the Lords. AU the large towns have representatives; the rotton boroughs are annihilated. The King turned reformer, and then it was up with the Tories. The Reformed Parliament has emancipated the West India slaves, opened the China trade, and reformed the Irish Church.

Capt. R. What! why these are miracles! Pray have the Whigs found out a way to pay off the National Debt?

Capt. H. No, that and the North West passage will be discovered together. 

Capt. R. But tell me, has the King forgiven Brougham and Denman?

Capt. H. Judge for yourself: the first is a Lord, and keeps the King’s conscience; the second is Lord Chief Justice of the King’s Bench.

Capt. R. Good Humphreys, tell me next, do people walk on their hands or their feet now in England?

Capt. H. The fashion had not changed in that respect when I sailed; but what think you of their travelling at the rate of thirty knots an hour—a hundred people or so drawn by one engine?

Capt. R. Now, Humphreys, don’t bounce; no tricks upon travellers; you at home are turning Munchausens now.

Capt. H. As I live, it’s true; the Duke of Orleans went the other day from Liverpool to Manchester in an hour and five minutes.

Capt. R. The Duke of Orleans! I hope the French have not invaded us; yet old Charles X must have hated the English Reform.

Capt. H. To be sure he did; he was running as fast as possible the other way, that is, towards pure despotism; so the French capsized him, and put his cousin the Duke of Orleans at the helm. They call him Louis Philip, and he makes a moderately good King, and keeps the French quiet, though the liberals say he does not go far enough. His daughter married Leopold.

Capt. R. Prince Leopold, you mean; do they live in England, then?

Capt. H. Prince Leopold! No, lack-a-day, one has to teach you the whole alphabet over again. King Leopold— King of Belgium; that is a new kingdom sprung up, separated from Holland ; the Belgians did not like playing second fiddle to the Dutchmen, so they mutinied, and chose a Captain of their own, and they’ve got our Prince Leopold.

Capt. R. And what said the Holy Alliance to that?

Capt H. Said! Why, Nic was beginning to be saucy, and talked of sending an army to France; but the Poles revolted, and it took a twelvemonth to lick them; they fought like lions, but what signifies, when they were surrounded by such a set of devils ? At last Nic got them down, and then he cut their throats. As to Austria and Prussia, they did not like the look of things, as the Frenchmen were clearing for action, and calling all hands on deck. So they thought it better to sheer off.

Capt. R. Why, Humphreys, you stop my breath; I can’t receive all this at once, and I fear you’re bouncing, Humphreys, or else the world has turned topsy-turvy, whilst I have been locked up in ice these four, years, almost as fast as a toad in a block of freestone. I thought if any body had climbed to the top of the tree in England, it would have been Huskisson.

Capt. H. Poor Huskisson, he’s gone; he was run down by an engine at the opening of the Liverpool railway, and killed.

Capt R. What? Oh! horrible! I am almost afraid to ask who is alive. But tell me, how is my old neighbour ———, and his daughter, a pretty little girl just left school.

Capt. H. Little girl! She is Mrs. ———, and has a fine boy a year old.

Capt R. You don’t say so: the chit. Well, I see the world’s going on upon the old principles still; but every thing seems to be done quicker in England than it used to be. What is Walter Scott’s last tale?

Capt. H. Ah! he has told his last; we have got to the Finit: the bright star has set. But I have news for you, the course of the Niger has been discovered.

Capt. R. The Niger? Who is the lucky man?

Capt. H. Two young chaps called Lander; one of them was the attendant of poor Clapperton. They are well-behaved steady lads, and they have done what so many fine fellows perished in attempting. They have traced the river to the Bight of Benin. One of them has gone out again; and it will be well if the dysentry does not catch him this time.

Capt. R. (sighing) I was not born under so fortunate a star. But I have done what man could do, and suffered more than most. Even Barrow will confess that.

Capt. H. Every body will confess it. Cheer up, ‘man, you have solved the problem one way at least: you could not find a passage where there was none. Four winters in the ice is what no man ever endured before. The world will give you every credit for bravery, perseverance, and skill, not to be outdone.

Capt. R. Do you think so?