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science and the gallantry of a tried soldier adds all the accomplishments of a sound scholar and the powers of a man of genius.
One incident, which happened at this period of Sir Alexander's life, is so illustrative of his character, and furnishes so strong a presumption that the thoughtful humanity by which he was distinguished was not wholly the growth of his latter years, that, though it may appear to some trifling in itself, I will insert it in this place, with the occasion on which it was communicated to me. In a large party at the Grand Master's palace, I had observed a naval officer of distinguished merit listening to Sir Alexander Ball, whenever he joined in the conversation, with so marked a pleasure, that it seemed as if his very voice, independently of what he said, had been delightful to him: and once as he fixed his eyes on Sir Alexander Ball, I could not but notice the mixed expression of awe and affection, which gave a more than common interest to so manly a countenance. During his stay in the island, this officer honoured me not unfrequently with his visits; and at the conclusion of my last conversation with him, in which I had dwelt on the wisdom of the governor's conduct in a recent and difficult emergency, he told me that he considered himself as indebted to the same excellent person for that which was dearer to him than his life. "Sir Alexander Ball," said he, "has (I dare say) forgotten the circumstances; but when he was Lieutenant Ball, he was the officer whom I accompanied in my first boat expedition, being then a midshipman and only in my fourteenth year. As we were rowing up to the vessel which we were to attack, amid a discharge of musketry, I was overpowered by fear, my knees trembled under me, and I seemed on the point of fainting away. Lieutenant Ball, who saw the condition I was in, placed himself close beside me, and still keeping his countenance directed toward the enemy, took hold of my hand, and pressing it in the most friendly manner, said in a low voice, 'Courage, my dear boy! don't be afraid of yourself! you will recover in a minute or so—I was just the same when I first went out in this way.' to me, "it was as if an angel had put a new soul into me. was not yet dishonoured, the whole burden of agony was moment I was as fearless and forward as the oldest of the boat's crew, and on our return the lieutenant spoke highly of me to our captain. I am scarcely less convinced of my own being, than that I should have been what I tremble to think of, if instead of his humane encouragement, he had at that moment scoffed, threatened, or reviled me. And this was the more kind in him, because, as I afterwards understood, his own conduct in his first trial had evinced to all appearances the greatest fearlessness, and that he said this therefore only to give me heart, and restore me to my own good opinion." This anecdote, I trust, will have some weight with those who may have lent an ear to any of those vague calumnies from which no naval commander can secure his good name, who, knowing the paramount necessity of regularity and strict discipline in a ship of war, adopts an appropriate plan for the attainment of these objects, and remains constant and immutable in the execution. To an Athenian, who in praising a public functionary had said that every one either applauded him, or left him without censure, a philosopher replied-“ How seldom then must he have done his duty!"
"Sir," added the officer With the feeling that I removed; and from that
Of Sir Alexander Ball's character, as Captain Ball, of his measures as a disciplinarian, I have now to speak.* On assuming the command of a man-of-war, he found a mutinous crew, more than one-half of them uneducated Irishmen, and of the remainder no small portion had become sailors by compromise of punishment. What terror could effect by severity and frequency of acts of discipline, had been
This part of Mr. Coleridge's narrative is taken from a previous Section of 'The Friend,' and in this place he requests the reader to re-peruse that passage.
already effected. And what was this effect? Something like that of a polar winter on a flask of brandy. The furious spirit concentered itself with tenfold strength at the heart; open violence was changed into secret plots and conspiracies; and the consequent orderliness of the crew, as far as they were orderly, was but the brooding of a tempest. The new commander instantly commenced a system of discipline as near as possible to that of ordinary law;—as much as possible, he avoided, in his own person, the appearance of any will or arbitrary power to vary, or to remit, punishment. The rules to be observed were affixed to a conspicuous part of the ship, with the particular penalties for the breach of each particular rule: and care was taken that every individual of the ship should know and understand this code. With a single exception in the case of mutinous behaviour, a space of twenty-four hours was appointed between the first charge and the second hearing of the cause, at which time the accused person was permitted and required to bring forward whatever he thought conducive to his defence or palliation. If, as was commonly the casefor the officers well knew that the commander would seriously resent in them all caprice of will, and by no means permit to others what he denied to himself,—no answer could be returned to the three questions-Did you not commit the act? Did you not know that it was in contempt of such a rule, and in defiance of such a punishment? And was it not wholly in your own power to have obeyed the one and avoided the other?-the sentence was then passed with the greatest solemnity, and another, but shorter, space of time was again interposed between it and its actual execution. During this space the feelings of the commander, as a man, wero so well blended with his inflexibility, as the organ of the law; and how much he suffered previously to and during the execution of the sentence was so well known to the crew, that it became a common saying with them, when a sailor was about to be punished, the captain takes it more to heart than the fellow himself. But whenever the commander perceived any trait of pride in the offender, or the germs of any noble feeling, he lost no opportunity of saying, "It is not the pain that you are about to suffer which grieves me. You are none of you, I trust, such cowards as to turn faint-hearted at the thought of that! but that, being a man, and one who is to fight for his king and country, you should have made it necessary to treat you as a vicious beast-it is this that grieves me."
I have been assured, both by a gentleman who was a lieutenant on board that ship at the time when the heroism of its captain, aided by his characteristic calmness and foresight, greatly influenced the decision of the most glorious battle recorded in the annals of our naval history; and very recently by a gray-headed sailor, who did not even know my name, or could have suspected that I was previously acquainted with the circumstances-I have been assured, I say, that the success of this plan was such as astonished the oldest officers, and convinced the most incredulous. Ruffians, who like the old Buccaneers, had been used to inflict torture on themselves for sport, or in order to harden themselves beforehand, were tamed and overpowered, how or why they themselves knew not. From the fiercest spirits were heard the most earnest entreaties for the forgiveness of their commander: not before the punishment, for it was too well known that then they would have been to no purpose, but days after it, when the bodily pain was remembered but as a dream. An invisible power it was, that quelled them, a power, which was therefore irresistible, because it took away the very will of resisting. It was the awful power of law, acting on natures preconfigured to its influences. A faculty was appealed to in the offender's own being; a faculty and a presence, of which he had not been previously made aware-but it answered to the appeal; its real existence therefore could not be doubted, or its reply rendered inaudible; and the very struggle of the wilder passions to keep uppermost, counteracted their own purpose, by wasting in internal contest that energy which
before had acted in its entireness on external resistance or provocation. Strength may be met with strength; the power of inflicting pain may be baffled by the pride of endurance; the eye of rage may be answered by the stare of defiance, or the downcast look of dark and revengeful resolve, and with all this there is an outward and determined object to which the mind can attach its passions and purposes, and bury its own disquietudes in the full occupation of the senses. But who dares struggle with an invisible combatant-with an enemy which exists and makes us know its existence --but where it is, we ask in vain?-No space contains it-time promises no control over it—it has no ear for my threats-it has no substance, that my hands can grasp, or my weapons find vulnerable-it commands and cannot be commanded-it acts and is insusceptible of my reaction-the more I strive to subdue it, the more am I compelled to think of it-and the more I think of it, the more do I find it to possess a reality out of myself, and not to be a phantom of my own imagination; that all, but the most abandoned men, acknowledge its authority, and that the whole strength and majesty of my country are pledged to support it; and yet that for me its power is the same with that of my own permanent self, and that all the choice which is permitted to me, consists in having it for my guardian angel or my avenging fiend! This is the spirit of law! the lute of Amphion, the harp of Orpheus! This is the true necessity, which compels man into the social state, now and always, by a stillbeginning, never-ceasing, force of moral cohesion.
Shortly after the general peace was established, Captain Ball, who was now a married man, passed some time with his lady in France, and, if I mistake not, at Nantes. At the same time, and in the same town, among the other English visitors, Lord (then Captain) Nelson happened to be one. In consequence of some punctilia as to whose business it was to pay the compliment of the first call, they never met, and this trifling affair occasioned a coldness between the two naval commanders, or in truth a mutual prejudice against each other. Some years after, both their ships being together close off Minorca, and near Port Mahon, a violent storm nearly disabled Nelson's vessel, and in addition to the fury of the wind, it was nighttime and the thickest darkness. Captain Ball, however, brought his vessel at length to Nelson's assistance, took his ship in tow, and used his best endeavours to bring her and his own vessel into Port Mahon. The difficulties and the dangers increased. Nelson considered the case of his own ship as desperate, and that unless she was immediately left to her own fate, both vessels would be inevitably lost. He, therefore, with the generosity natural to him, repeatedly requested Captain Ball to let him loose; and on Ball's refusal he became impetuous, and enforced his demand with passionate threats. Ball, then himself took the speaking trumpet, which the fury of the wind and waves rendered necessary, and with great solemnity and without the least disturbance of temper called out in reply," I feel confident that I can bring you in safe; I therefore must not, and, by the help of Almighty God, I will not leave you!" What he promised he performed; and after they were safely anchored, Nelson came on board of Ball's ship, and embracing him with all the ardour of acknowledgment, exclaimed-" a friend in need is a friend indeed!" At this time and on this occasion commenced that firm and perfect friendship between these two great men, which was interrupted only by the death of the former. The two men, whom Lord Nelson especially honoured, were Sir Thomas Troubridge, and Sir Alexander Ball; and once, when they were both present, on some allusion made to the loss of his arm, he replied, "Who shall dare tell me that I want an arm, when I have three right arms-this (putting forward his own left one) and Ball and Troubridge?"
In the plan of the battle of the Nile it was Lord Nelson's design that Captains Troubridge and Ball should have led up the attack. The former was stranded; and the latter, by accident of the wind, could not bring his ship into the line of battle
till some time after the engagement had become general. With his characteristic forecast and activity of (what may not improperly be called) practical imagination, he had made arrangements to meet every probable contingency. All the shrouds and sails of the ship, not absolutely necessary for its immediate management, were thoroughly wetted and so rolled up, that they were as hard and as little inflammable as so many solid cylinders of wood; every sailor had his appropriate place and function, and a certain number were appointed as the firemen, whose sole duty it was to be on the watch if any part of the vessel should take fire: and to these men exclusively the charge of extinguishing it was committed. It was already dark when he brought his ship into action, and laid her alongside the French L'Orient. One particular only I shall add to the known account of the memorable engagement between these ships, and this I received from Sir Alexander Ball himself. He had previously made a combustible preparation, but which, from the nature of the engagement to be expected, he had purposed to reserve for the last emergency. But just at the time when, from several symptoms, he had every reason to believe that the enemy would soon strike to him, one of the lieutenants, without his knowledge, threw in the combustible matter; and this it was that occasioned the tremendous explosion of that vessel, which, with the deep silence and interruption of the engagement which succeeded to it, has been justly deemed the sublimest war incident recorded in history. Yet the incident which followed, and which has not, I believe, been publicly made known, is scarcely less impressive, though its sublimity is of a different character. At the renewal of the battle, Captain Ball, though his ship was then on fire in three different parts, laid her alongside a French eighty-four; and a second longer obstinate contest began. The firing on the part of the French ship having at length for some time slackened, and then altogether ceased, and yet no sign given of surrender, the first lieutenant came to Captain Ball and informed him that the hearts of his men were as good as ever, but that they were so completely exhausted, that they were scarcely capable of lifting an arm. He asked, therefore, whether, as the enemy had now ceased firing, the men might be permitted to lie down by their guns for a short time. After some reflection, Sir Alexander acceded to the proposal, taking of course the proper precautions to rouse them again at the moment he thought requisite. Accordingly, with the exception of himself, his officers, and the appointed watch, the ship's crew lay down, each in the place to which he was stationed; and slept for twenty minutes. They were then roused; and started up, as Sir Alexander expressed it, more like men out of an ambush than from sleep, so co-instantaneously did they all obey the summons! They recommenced their fire, and in a few minutes the enemy surrendered; and it was soon after discovered that during that interval, and almost immediately after the French ship had first ceased firing, the crew had sunk down by their guns, and there slept, almost by the side, as it were, of their sleeping enemy. [Mr. Coleridge continues his interesting narrative through the remainder of Sir Alexander Ball's life. He dwells upon the noble services he performed in the two years' siege of Valetta, in the island of Malta, his amazing kindness to the Maltese; his wisdom as the governor of the island when it became a British possession; and the unexampled confidence which he enjoyed from the Maltese, who looked upon him as a father.]
28. THE MEASURES AND OFFICES OF FRIENDSHIP.
[JEREMY TAYLOR, Bishop of Down, Connor, and Dromore-one of the most eloquent of the great Divines of the Church of England-was the son of a barber at Cambridge. He was born in 1613. He says himself that he was "solely grounded in grammar and mathematics by his father." In his thirteenth year he was admitted a sizar of Caius College, Cambridge. By a sizar was then understood a poor student, who performed humble offices in the college. Out of this rank have come some of the most eminent of our scholars. Very early he ob
tained the patronage of Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury; who placed him at All Souls' College, Oxford, and nominated him, by a stretch of authority, Fellow of that College. In 1837 he was appointed to the Rectory of Uppingham; but his living was sequestrated in the Civil Wars. For some years he suffered poverty and imprisonment; he kept a school; he was a dependant upon private bounty. But he laboured unremittingly; he preached and he published. Upon the Restoration, in 1660, he was nominated by the king to his Irish Bishopric. Here he resided for seven years, discharging his duties with the most exemplary industry, and endeavouring to win all men to his fold by unremitting love. His period of prosperity was not of long duration. He died of a fever in 1667, in his fifty-fifth year. The character of Taylor's writings which was given by his successor, Dr. Rust, in his funeral sermon, is not an exaggeration:-They "will be famous to all succeeding generations for their greatness of wit, and profoundness of judgment, and richness of fancy, and clearness of expression, and copiousness of invention, and general usefulness to all the purposes of a Christian." Reginald Heber, the admirable Bishop of Calcutta, has prefixed an excellent biography of Jeremy Taylor to the valuable edition of his works in 15 vols. There is also a complete edition sold at a moderate price, in three large volumes, printed by Mr. Childs of Bungay.]
You first inquire, how far a dear and perfect friendship is authorised by the principles of Christianity?
To this, I answer; that the word "friendship," in the sense we commonly mean by it, is not so much as named in the New Testament; and our religion takes no notice of it. You think it strange; but read on before you spend so much as the beginning of a passion or a wonder upon it. There is mention of "friendship with the world," and it is said to be "enmity with God; " but the word is nowhere else named, or to any other purpose, in all the New Testament. It speaks of friends often; but by friends are meant our acquaintance, or our kindred, the relatives of our family, or our fortune, or our sect; something of society, or something of kindness, there is in it; a tenderness of appellation and civility, a relation made by gifts, or by duty, by services and subjection; and I think I have reason to be confident, that the word "friend" (speaking of human intercourse) is no otherwise used in the Gospels, or Epistles, or Acts of the Apostles: and the reason of it is, the word friend is of a large signification; and means all relations and societies, and whatsoever is not enemy. But by friendships, I suppose you mean the greatest love, and the greatest usefulness, and the most open communication, and the noblest sufferings, and the most exemplar faithfulness, and the severest truth, and the heartiest counsel, and the greatest union of minds, of which brave men and women are capable. But then I must tell you that Christianity hath new christened it, and calls this charity. The Christian knows no enemy he hath; that is, though persons may be injurious to him, and unworthy in themselves, yet he knows none whom he is not first bound to forgive, which is indeed to make them on his part to be no enemies, that is, to make that the word enemy shall not be perfectly contrary to friend, it shall not be a relative term, and signify something on each hand, a relative and a correlation; and then he knows none whom he is not bound to love and pray for, to treat kindly and justly, liberally and obligingly. Christian charity is friendship to all the world; and when friendships were the noblest things in the world, charity was little, like the sun drawn in at a chink, or his beams drawn into the centre of a burning-glass; but Christian charity is friendship expanded like the face of the sun when it mounts above the eastern hills and I was strangely pleased when I saw something of this in Cicero; for I have been so pushed at by herds and flocks of people that follow any body that whistles to them, or drives them to pasture, that I am grown afraid of any truth that seems chargeable with singularity: but therefore I say, glad I was when I saw Laelius in Cicero discourse thus :-" Amicitia ex infinitate generis humani To conciliavit ipsa natura, contracta res est, et adducta in angustum; ut omnis tas, aut inter duos, aut inter paucos jungeretur." Nature hath made friendships