Memoir of the Life and Services of Vice-Admiral Sir Jahleel Brenton, Baronet, K.C.B.
Transcriber’s Note: Evident printing errors have been changed in theEnglish. In the passages in French, accents have been added/removed wherenecessary, but otherwise the spelling, complete with errors, is as printed.
LIFE AND SERVICES OF VICE-ADMIRAL
SIR JAHLEEL BRENTON,
BARONET, K. C. B.
THE REV. HENRY RAIKES,
CHANCELLOR OF THE DIOCESE OF CHESTER.
HATCHARD AND SON, PICCADILLY;
SEACOME AND PRICHARD, CHESTER.
TO LADY BRENTON.
Dear Lady Brenton,
In dedicating to you the Memoir of which I havebeen permitted to be the Editor, I cannot but feel how inadequatethe portrait, which I have been endeavouring to sketch, mustappear to you, to whom it now is offered.
I undertook the work indeed, chiefly from a sense of publicduty; though without much hope that I should satisfy myself,or those by whom the charge was entrusted to me. It seemedfit and proper, that the world should be made acquainted with acharacter of such rare and peculiar excellence as that of your husband;and I felt that it was due to the naval service generally, andin particular to the younger members of it, that they should seehow qualities of a very different kind might be combined in oneman; and might render him, who was the ornament of his profession,a model of what man ought to be in every relation of life.My desire therefore was to do good to others, rather than to dojustice to my subject; and instead of dwelling, as to you mightseem natural and proper; on those various graces which endearedhim to all, and to those most, who knew him best; I have[ii]endeavoured to shew what he was, by describing his behaviourunder the several trials of his eventful life; and to extend thebenefit of his example by making it more generally known.
I dare not suppose, therefore, that the offer of the followingMemoir should have any other value in your eyes, than as atoken of the affectionate remembrance, with which I dwell uponthe character of your much loved husband. In this respect,had I attempted more, I should not have succeeded better;for language never satisfies the requirements of the heart; andyou would still have felt, that the half was yet unsaid; after Ihad written all that I could, in endeavouring to express myadmiration and regard.
My chief anxiety is, that the volume may be in some degreeacceptable to those, whose benefit has been always contemplatedduring its preparation; and that the navy may not lose thebenefit, which the example of Sir Jahleel Brenton is so well calculatedto give. In my solicitude to secure this object, I haveretained as much as possible of the language of the originalmemorial, which forms the basis of the narrative. I havesacrificed all attempt at forming a regular biography, that Imight preserve its originality. I have allowed inequalities ofstyle to remain, which may offend fastidious minds, that I mightnot weaken the effect of particular expressions; and the littlethat I have ventured to add, has chiefly been done for thepurpose of enabling readers to draw those inferences from theevents recorded, which he, writing with another object in view,and regarding what was written as merely a memorial addressedto his children, naturally assumed as certain to be drawn bythose for whom he wrote, and did not think it necessary to add.
In these respects I have endeavoured to speak with thereserve, which should be felt when professional questions arediscussed by one, who is a stranger to them; and trust, that Ihave only said, what he would have wished to have added undersimilar circumstances. It is satisfactory to me, however, to think,that whatever may be the deficiencies of the Memoir, it will atleast draw attention to the man, while his qualities still lingerin the recollection of his friends and his associates; for if thenarrative does but lead to enquiry as to the character of thesubject, I feel that there is no doubt as to the result that maybe expected.
Though I feel it necessary therefore to apologize to you forthe very inadequate portrait that is now presented, I am notwithout hope, that under God’s blessing, the exhibition of sucha life may be beneficial to the world; and if this be the case,I trust that you will merge private disappointment in theconsideration of general good, and be satisfied with what isdone, in the hope it may do good to others. As for the comfortto be derived from such a memorial, I know you need it not;and would not seek it in such monuments as man can raise.Your consolation under loss is drawn from higher sources, andneeds not the support of human praise bestowed on him, whowas dearer to you than life itself. The recollection of his holy,humble walk, of his work of faith, his labour of love, his cheerfulsubmission to pain, his forgetfulness of self, and his zeal forthe good of others, forms for you a source of comfort, which nohuman honour can equal, and no earthly possession rival. Thisis your real consolation, and to the convictions on which thisrests, the opinion of the world can add nothing.
But though you do not look to such a memorial as this forthe comfort that you need; I am willing to hope, that if it shouldbe the means of doing good; if it should make the memoryof him you loved, as beneficial as his example was, it may beacceptable. The great and the good live not for their owngeneration only, but for those that follow. They bequeath theircharacters to mankind; and it seems an act of justice to themto collect, and to offer to public notice, the record of effortswhich may awaken the emulation, or strengthen the faith ofothers; and lead them to excellence by the knowledge of thevictories achieved by those who went before them.
If it should please God, then, to make this imperfect noticeof Sir Jahleel Brenton’s course useful to that service of whichhe was so bright an ornament while living; you will forgivethe insufficiency of the representation which meets your eye;and I shall be thankful, if in paying this tribute of respect tothe memory of a friend whom I revered and loved, I cancommunicate any of his feelings to that profession, to whichthe country owes so large a debt of gratitude.
Believe me to remain,
Most truly and faithfully your’s,
Chester, Sept. 30th.
|Settlement of the Brenton family in America,—and descent.—Birth of the subject of the memoir.—Breaking out of the war and removal to England.—Education and introduction to Naval Service, in the Dido.—Passes for Lieutenant, and accepts an invitation to serve in the Swedish Fleet.—Adventures on way to join, and conclusion of service.—Appointed as Lieutenant to the Assurance.—Transferred to the Speedy, and sent in command of the Trepassey to Newfoundland.—Return to England and appointed to the Sybil.—Voyage homewards in the Cleopatra, and in a Spanish man of war from Cadiz.||34|
|Service in the Sybil.—Story of the Corfields.—Severe winter at sea.—Story of John Iceberg.—Invalided and comes ashore.—Applies for employment, and appointed to the Alliance.—Feelings on the subject.—Goes out to the Mediterranean.—Made known to Sir John Jervis, and appointed to the Gibraltar.—Storm and extreme danger of the ship.—Made First Lieutenant of the Aigle.—The Aigle being lost, he remains First Lieutenant to the Barfleur.—Interview with Lord St. Vincent and the subsequent decision.||55|
|Service in the Speedy.—Action with gun boats off Gibraltar.—Sent to Penon de Velez.—Action on the coast, and with gun boats.—His brother’s death from wounds received in action in the Peterel.—Letter to his father.—Made Post, and appointed to the temporary command of the Genereux at Port Mahon.—Sails to Genoa.||75|
|Disappointment of promotion.—Applies to Lord St. Vincent, and through him appointed Captain to the Cæsar, under Sir James Saumarez.—Battle at Algesiras.—Exertions of Captain Brenton in refitting the Cæsar, and subsequent victory.—Tempting offer of going to England with dispatches declined.—Definitive treaty of peace signed.—Squadron at Gibraltar.||102|
|Returns to England.—Recollections on the Cæsar and the Chaplain.—Married to Miss Stewart.—Reflections on this event, made after her death.—Hostilities recommenced in 1801, and appointment to the command of the Minerve.—Dangerous accident and injury during the fitting out the frigate.—Sails for the coast of France.—The ship strikes off Cherbourg, and after a gallant defence is surrendered, July 3.||123|
|Commencement of captivity.—Journey from Cherbourg.—Kindness of M. Dubois.—Arrival at Epinal.||151|
|Removal from Epinal to Phalsburg, and thence to Verdun.—Sufferings of the people on the march, and efforts made for their relief and improvement.—The Rev. Robert Wolfe offers his services and assistance.—Mrs. Brenton’s arrival at Verdun.—Residence at Charni.—Illness, and permission granted to reside at Tours.—Conduct of the French Government towards the English prisoners of war.||172|
|The Rev. Mr. Wolfe one of the detenus—hears of the state of the prisoners at Givet, and resolves on going to reside among them.—Extract from his work entitled the “British Prisoners in France.”.||218|
|Journey to Tours, incidents on the road and residence there.—Circumstances attending his exchange, and return to England.||255|