Chapter 36696390

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Chapter NumberXXXVIII
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Full Date1868-03-07
Page Number2
Word Count4163
Last Corrected2020-01-30
Newspaper TitleLaunceston Examiner (Tas. : 1842 - 1899)
Trove TitleThe Maxwells of Bremgarten
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THE MAXWELLS OF BREMGARTEN. A STORY OF TASMANIA. [Founded on Facts.] (ALL RIGHTS ARE RESERVED.) (Continued from Saturday, Feb. 22.) CHAPTER XXXVIII. JORGEN JORGENSON. Here they came suddenly upon the body of the poor sailor who had been killed by the natives on the previous evening. There were at least a dozen spears sticking in his body, and so great had been the rage of his mur- dern that his skull, arms, and legs were beaten into splinters. While Tomnkins com- menced digging a grave for the unfortunate man, Jorgenson turned to Edwin and said " You see, Sir, what would have been your fate if it was not for my providential bullet." " Yes," replied Edwin, " it was a dreadful fate, and I am deeply sensible of the exceed- ing great service you have rendered me. Yet, in strict justice, what right have I to live more than the ignorant savage who has been slain within the boundaries of his own proper home ? Do you not think that if I, who am one of those come to deprive these people of their country, had been killed, it would have served me right ?" " It is a metaphysical question," answered Jorgenson ; " it in one of those great revolu- tions ordered by One who never errs, you may depend on it,—that the savage races of the world are destined to recede either rapidly or slowly before white men and civili- zation, until all are nearly equally civilized." " Well, without going into metaphysical questions," said Edwin, " may I ask to what fortunate circumstance I was indebted for your opportune assistance yesterday ?" " My profession as a bush constable ought to be a sufficient answer," replied Jorgenson. " I have to obey the orders of my superiors ; my superiors suspect that the bushrangers are hovering about this coast in the hope of capturing a vessel, and making their escape ; and I am sent here to watch them, and co- operate with the military. You did not know that on the evening on which the Betty sailed I and six soldiers were planted under the rocks within a stone's throw of the boat. It is well for you that they did not make their appearance, for you might have had a bullet in your body in mistake in no time." " I have certainly," said Edwin, taking his seat on a log at some distance from the grave which the hairy laborer was digging, " to use the words of Smollett, an English author, brought my pigs to a fine market. I landed in this island full of buoyant hopes and de- lightful anticipations of happiness and inde- pendence, not for myself alone, but embracing many whom I dearly love in the pleasing dream. I go by express invitation to reside in the house of a relative, but after awhile am obliged to leave his house though from no fault of mine. I come here with a few pounds, my boxes of clothing, books, and other property, and embark on board the cutter. I am now destitute and miserable. Death refuses to release me from my suffer- ings—the raging sea vomits one up alive !— the murdering hand of the savage is suddenly arrested ! After such escapes, is it strange that I should wonder for what fate am I re- served ?" " Not for a bloody one, I hope," said Jorgenson ; " you must keep up your spirits until you get into some settled situation. You are young, and may yet enjoy many happy days. Is this the first time you have been destitute ?" " Yes—I was never before without money ; I have now neither money nor friends." " I have been just in the same position myself fifty times and more," said Jorgenson, and never despaired,—something always turned up in my favor. There is this differ- ence between us—that you are destitute through no fault of your own, but because fortune is unpropitious for a while, whereas I have gone like an infatuated fool as I was, and tempted Providence, reducing myself time after time from comparative wealth to poverty and misery. You would scarcely be- lieve how recklessly I have squandered the gifts of a beneficent Creator, and the number of lies I have been compelled to tell, to justify myself to my patrons and friends." " I can scarcely believe," said Edwin, " that I, the son of a simple citizen of Dublin, really sit here on this wild shore, and amidst these dark woods in the company of an author and historical personage like your- self." " It will beguile the time until the coroner comes if I relate a few of my personal adven- tures ; only tell me if such will be agreeable, as I have no idea of wasting words on tired or unwilling ears." " I shall derive much pleasure from hearing them, that is if in my present condition I am susceptible of any pleasure at all," answered Edwin." " Well, the recital will have one good effect —that of diverting your attention from your own miserable estate. I have been told that I was born in Copenhagen in the year 1780. My father was a maker of mathematical in- struments, and a highly respectable man. He sent me early to school, where I made con- siderable progress. We have this advantage over you in England, that our schools are patronised by the Government, and the Ministers of State themselves distribute re- wards to the best scholars. I remember on one occasion being insulted by a boy whom I had repeatedly beaten in class. I offered him battle, but he, instead of meeting me like a man (though we were only children), ran through the gateway of the Round Tower, I following at full speed. This tower was built as an observatory by Christian IV., and, though very high, is ascended by a spiral road up which carriages may travel. I pur- sued my adversary up to the very top of the tower, when whom should we meet on the road but the King and one of his ministers

coming down in his carriage. We both brushed past without exciting notice, as I hoped, but when I brought my enemy to an engagement I gave him a good licking, and on the following day, at the public examina- tion, lost my reward on account of my dis- orderly conduct. " I was fourteen years of ago when the King's splendid palace of Christianburgh was burnt to ashes. The flames ascended to an immense height, and were grand and awful beyond description. The palace was situated on an island to which access could only be had by means of drawbridges. The lakes around our fine city reflected the splendour of this conflagration ; and as I stood on an eminence looking on it at night, and heard the fire roaring and the roofs crashing, and saw the pictures of the old Danish knights who had long been dead moving as the devouring element swept over the canvas, so that they seemed again unimated with life, my mind was filled with the strangest emo- tions. All exertions to arrest the progress of the fire were in vain, but the King, Christian VII., refused to believe that his everlasting palace was being consumed, until he was removed from his burning chamber by force. " I was now afflicted with a desire to go to sea, and see something of the world, and my father, worn out by my importunity, bound me apprentice to an English collier. Here I remained for four years, in which time I mastered the English language, read a great many books, and made myself acquainted with nautical matters. At the age of eighteen I left the collier and entered on board the Fanny, a South Sea whaler going to the Cape of Good Hope with stores. When we arrived there I shifted on board the Harbinger, schooner, Captain Black, bound for Algoa Bay, also with stores. The captain had been in many perilous adventures himself : he was an officer on board the Lady Jane Shore when she was piratically seized by the prisoners and soldiers on her way to Botany Bay, and escaped death by leaving his bed in the dark. " When we arrived at Algoa Bay we found two men-of-war, the Rattlesnake, 22 guns, and the Camel, a reduced 44. In the evening another man-of-war entered the harbor and cast anchor near the others. I received an order immediately to pay the new arrival a visit, but on going alongside in the boat, and being about to mount the side, I heard people talking in a foreign language, which I suspected was French. I returned to my vessel with a report of what I had heard, and it was soon discovered that the stranger was the French frigate La Preneuse, of 44 guns, which had watched the Rattle- snake and Camel into the bay, and expected to make prizes of them in the morning. The two English ships lost no time in showing their teeth, though both the captains were on shore. The battle continued for six hours, until the Frenchman spread his sails to the land breeze and bade us good-by. " My next change was to the Lady Nelson, tender to the Investigator discovery ship under Captain Flinders, and we proceeded to Sydney to join that officer. We spent a long time in surveying the coasts of Port Phillip and this island, and then accompanied Cap- tain Flinders to the northern shores of New Holland, when we lost all our anchors and cables on the coral reefs, but saved our vessel by means of a wooden anchor, which may be considered quite as peculiar to the antipodes as the fact that cocks crow to announce that supper is on table. When we got back to Sydney, however, our wooden anchor had lost its most valuable quality and wouldn't sink, so that we were obliged to allow the Lady Nelson to go on shore. " In 1803 we set sail from Sydney with passengers and stores for the Derwent, and after landing them sailed to Port Phillip to bring over Colonel Collins and the persons who had attempted to form a settlement there. The soil was so arid and infertile, and fresh water so scarce, that it was judged necessary to abandon the place altogether. While we were away the settlement on the Derwent was removed from Risdon to its present site. It was a wild uncultivated place then compared to what it is now, for the largest gum trees thickly overshadowed an almost impenetrable scrub. Returning to Sydney to refit, we again came to this island and surveyed the entrance of the Tamar. Then we went to King's Island and amused ourselves hunting the emu and killing sea elephants, and on going back to Sydney, after a trip to the new settlement of New- castle, seventy miles north of Port Jacksdon, I left his Majesty's service. " A voyage to New Zealand next engaged my attention. We filled a vessel with skins and came back to Sydney. I then entered as chief officer of the Alexander, a whaler, and we sailed for the Derwent, where I struck the first whale that was ever struck there. Directing our course now to New Zealand, we filled our ship after nearly losing her in a skirmish with the natives, and sailed for London, taking two of our savage friends with us. Baffled in our at- tempts to double Cape Horn and driven three thousand miles out of our course, we made for Otaheite for provisions. We got plenty of fresh meat but were obliged to manufacture salt to cure it with, which de- tained us two months. Again setting sail with an Otaheitan chief and a friend of his we tried the Horn a second time and suc- ceeded in getting round, though not without suffering many hardships and inconveniences through our stock of biscuit running short. We made for St. Catherine's, in the Brazils, where we safely arrived, and remained over three months putting everything in order. Then we stopped three months more at St. Helena waiting for convoy, and in June, 1806, arrived in the Thames. " You will say that in the voyages I have just enumerated I had gone through personal adventures, the history of which would fill a large volume, and so indeed I had ; but the

most interesting and adventurous part of my life had not then commenced. I became desirous of revisiting my native land, and resigning the charge of my New Zealand friends into the hands of an excellent man, Sir Joseph Banks, made my way to Copen- hagen, which I found had been just bom- barded by the English under Lord Cathcart. The most beautiful city in the world was a heap of ruins. Fifteen hundred of my countrymen were destroyed. What would be your feelings if you went home to your city of Dublin and found it half knocked to pieces by British cannon why, you would burn with indignation as I did—you would join your countrymen and inflict vengeance on the hated foe as I did, I took the command of a Danish vessel armed with twenty-eight guns, that was pur- chased by my father and seven other mer- chants of Copenhagen, and presented to the crown. We cut our way through the ice a month before it was expected that any vessel could get out, and coming unawares among the English traders captured eight or nine ships. I then stood boldly over to England, determined to immortalize the name of Jor- genson, and found myself suddenly in sight of Flamborough Head, and at the same time within the reach of the Sappho, sloop of war, commanded by Captain Longford, while a little way beyond lay another, which proved to be the Clio. To save myself was now the word—a sharp one to be sure—but the motion wasn't quick enough. I was obliged to fight. The enemy had a hundred and twenty men, I eighty-three, and in a few minutes we were at it tooth and nail ; the battle lasted three quarters of an hour ; I fired seventeen broadsides, and did not cease until all my powder was gone, and my masts, rig- ging, and sails shot to pieces. To resist any longer was impossible, so I struck my colors as many a brave man did before me. Long- ford was made a post captain, and he deserved his promotion, for it was no mean victory." " Indeed I should think not," said Edwin ; " he had undoubtedly a resolute and formidable antagonist to contend with." " Now constable," shouted Tomkins, when he had finished the sailor's grave, " where be these dead savagers ?" Jorgenson proceeded to point out the places where the bodies of the slain creatures lay, and on his return resumed his narrative as follows :—" I was not in England above twenty-four hours when a letter arrived from London, from a gentleman whom I had met in Copenhagen the year before, requesting me to go to London to meet a gentleman con- nected with the ministry. Having my liberty, though not on parole, I lost no time in complying with his request. I soon became known to several high official charac- ters of those stirring times, and renewed my acquaintance with Sir Joseph Banks, of whose friendship I shall feel proud to the end of my life. A great stir was made in London just then about the condition of Iceland, the in- habitants being reduced almost to the horrors of a famine on account of the fierce hostilities carried on between Great Britain and Den- mark. Permission was obtained from the British Government to freight a ship with provisions, and I agreed to take the com- mand of her. We sailed from Liverpool on the twenty-ninth of December—a time when it was considered madness to sail into such a high latitude, when there were only two hours of daylight out of the twenty-four. But we had plenty of light from the aurora borealis, and arrived in perfect safety to the great joy of the starving people. One cargo I foresaw would go but a little way towards supplying their wants, so I hastened back to Liverpool to get another. " On my return to Iceland with more flour and other provisions I discovered that an order had been issued prohibiting further communication with the English ; and not liking the idea of taking my provisions back again I made up my mind to do a bold stroke of business. The next day would be Sun- day ; I waited quietly until the people had gone into church, when taking twelve armed sailors with me I went on shore and walked up to the Governor's house, in front of which I placed six of my men, sending the remainder to watch the rear, with orders to fire on any man who should attempt to interrupt me. I then walked in with a pistol in each hand. His lordship, Count Tramp, had luckily not gone to church, and I found him reposing on the sofa, not in the least expecting such a visitor. His surprise waits very great, but he wisely made a virtue of necessity, and quietly accompanied me on board my vessel. Here was something to be proud of: the government of a large island changed in a moment, and not a drop of blood spilt. The people were astonished, but thinking that I acted with the connivance of the British Government, submitted without a murmur. To strengthen my position I secured the iron chest, and issued a proclamation, wherein I stated roundly that the people being tired of Danish oppression had unanimously called me to the head of the government." " I flatter myself that there have been worse governors in the world than his Excellency Count Jorgen Jorgenson. My proclamation, though written in rather peculiar language, was eminently successful. The English residents never interfered, and the Icelanders made sure it was all right. Not being inclined to tyrannise over my fellow creatures, I resolved to adopt popular measures. I established trial by jury, and a free representative government ; relieved the people from one-half of the taxes, supplying the deficiency by imposing a duty on all British goods imported and exported. I in- creased the salaries of the clergy—even that of the bishop—not forgetting, as richer go- vernments do, the humble curates. Some of the latter had lived on twelve pounds a year,

a sum upon which the fox-hound of an English squire would starve. The con- sequence was that I had public eloquence on my side. I took the public schools and fisheries under my care, and compelled all public defaulters to cash up without delay. I next formally released (though without authority) the people from all debts due to the crown of Denmark, which had shamefully withheld the money subscribed for their relief by the nations of Europe, and especially the English, after the terrible eruption of Heela in 1783. Neither was I idle in organising military defences ; I es- tablished an army of eight soldiers well armed and mounted (myself being Field Marshal) and placed six guns in position to defend the harbor. I had some thoughts of building a fleet and appointing myself Lord High Admiral with discretionary powers. I do not joke when I say that the laws and regulations I then made were so good that I have reason to believe they remain unaltered to the present day. " I now thought it advisable to make a tour of the island. I found the country very beautiful, with high and precipitous mountains capped with snow and ice, but trees exceedingly scarce. The people in general paid me the respect due to my ex- alted office ; but I had some trouble with the prefect of one of the northern districts. He was so insolent as to refuse to acknow- lodge me as Governor, or to surrender the iron chest which I was resolute in demanding. But I called from his door to the people around me to collect a quantity of brushwood for the purpose of burning him and his house, too, if he did not quickly submit, and submit he accordingly did, though he eyed me with as much suspicion as if he thought I was a London pick-pocket." Edwin laughed, and observed that he did not blame the worthy prefect for his sub- mission." " I now determined," continued Jorgenson, " to pay London a visit on business of im- portance. I had taken possession of a Danish ship belonging to Count Tramp, and embarked in her, leaving Dr. Hooker and other passengers on board my own vessel. We sailed in company, but my own ship outsailed the prize, and I was obliged to run the latter between a reef and the shore, a passage till then thought impracticable. I thus gained seventeen miles, but by daylight we saw our companion three miles to leeward with a signal of distress flying. We bore down upon her and found that she was on fire. The people on board were making no efforts to stop the fire or to save themselves ; they were in fact paralyzed with terror. With characteristic presence of mind I immediately ordered out the boats and succeeded in getting every living creature safe on board the prize. But I remained close to windward forgetting that the guns of the burning ship were loaded, and presently they went off in a thundering volley sending a storm of shot over our heads. There were on board ten loaded guns and a cargo of wool, feathers, oil, tallow, and tar ; a few barrels of turpentine would have been a handsome addition, but even without them I never saw so fine a sight in my life. The effect was most magnificent. After this catastrophe we returned to Iceland for pro- visions. I transported my passengers to H.M.S. Talbot, which happened to be in the harbor, and resuming my voyage reached Liverpool in eight days. " When I arrived in London I found that the Talbot had got in before me, and that the captain had represented to the ministry that I had established a republican govern- ment in Iceland for the purpose of harboring all the disaffected persons in Europe, though nothing was further from my thoughts, and further, that I was highly unqualified to hold the command of a kingdom because I had been an apprentice on board an English collier and a midshipman in a man-of-war; fine reasons, truly, with which to crush rising genius ! Was not one of the Popes a cow-boy, and Murat, King of Naples, the son of an innkeeper ? Well, at the instance of this false captain I was arrested and charged with having broken my parole, though I had never given it at all. They sent me to Tothill Fields prison, where I met some sparkling fellows who initiated me into the mysteries of gambling, and then to the hulk appointed for the reception of Danish prisoners. After re- siding in both places for twelve months I was allowed to retire to Reading on my parole of honor, and began to devote myself to a life of literature ; but going to London with permis- sion to employ myself as a British subject I fell in with my friends from Tothill Fields and was in the space of six months consider- ately stripped of every farthing I possessed, including the sixteenth share of a £20,000 prize in a state lottery. If you are wise you will never sit down to a gaming table—never even look on while others are gambling. The fascination accompanying this dreadful vice is stronger than that of drunkenness it- self. It absorbs every faculty and steeps the soul in tremulous delight, leading only to dis- appointment, despair, and remorse. The pro- fessed gamester will smile pleasantly and press your hand as he invites you to have a rubber, but he will eye you as a vulture does a lamb. Surrounded by a number of them I have more than once congratulated myself on winning the game when, lo! the cash was suddenly swept off the table, and half-a- dozen eager voices declared that I had lost. Remonstrance was vain. Sir, you are young, and for God's sake remember my story and never enter a gambling house." Jorgenson here paused in his narrative in order to produce some dinner from his knap- sack as it was now mid-day. He invited Edwin to partake with him, and calling Sam Tomkins who had not yet finished his graves, the three sat together on a log and ate of the constable's bread and pork. They ate in

silence, and had scarcely finished their repast when Mr, Fitzfrizzle and half-a-dozen soldiers were seen making their way to the spot. (To be continued.)