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Ken Spelman Books Ltd

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Exhibitor's profile

Eborall, Lieut Samuel.

A wonderfully candid account of his schooling, and life in the navy in the early 19th century; written in retrospect from a journal he had earlier “committed to the flames.”


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Lieut. Samuel Eborall. A wonderfully candid account of his schooling, and life in the navy in the early 19th century; written in retrospect from a journal he had earlier “committed to the flames.” His schoolmaster was “slave to a passion which, had he submitted more openly to, its inclination would instantly have robbed him of that fair name he carried with him to the grave.” His early days in the navy saw him bullied and accused of unnatural behaviour, and he gives vivid accounts of naval engagements, especially in the Bay of Naples. 120 pages, with additional leaves left blank. Two passages excised, most probably removing sensitive material. Bound in contemporary half calf, marbled boards, some wear to the corners and the head of the spine, and slight crack to the upper joint. 205mm x 170mm. Paper watermarked 1812, and most probably written c1820. I regret now that I have committed to the flames a journal which I persevered in keeping for many years, and which now would have greatly assisted the retrospect I am about to make of the time passed... Born 13th May, 1790 - 'from the chaos of the womb I came...' The first school I went to was kept by an old woman at Litchfield named Onions, next to a free school, kept by Clifford. At 8 years of age I went with my mother down to Knowle in Warwickshire as a boarder to Mr Trehern, to whom my father, his brothers and mine had all been.... he was a kind master but not a nice one, and since I have come to the age when we can better judge if good or evil, I can now decidedly condemn him as a most unfortunate slave to a passion which, had he submitted more openly to, its inclination would instantly have robbed him of that fair name he carried with him to the grave & left upon his monument; a most dangerous man for a school-master - [the next paragraph has been excised]. He enters the navy as a midshipman, rather than returning home, choosing the sea through "shame and a wandering inclination." He joins the Ceres, and on Sept 1st 1805, the Inspector, commanded by Captain Hodgson, travellings to Malta, Alexandria, and the Holy Land, Crete, Cyprus, and Greece. He gets drunk on Christmas Day, "and a corporal of marines, for some diabolical purpose, propagated a report the next day of having seen me in a most indecent manner laying with my trousers down carrying a Newfoundland dog we had on board." Lack of evidence cleared him, the dog disappeared and the "Corporal was ever afterwards a detested character on the ship." February 10th 1808 he joins the frigate Spartan in the Mediterranean, and sees action, but is in Naples when the ship was attacked, losing 30 men. "My station would have been on the forecastle, had I been on board, on which one quarter of the people were killed or wounded." “I was in the Spartan at the disgraceful expedition to create diversion on the coast of Naples, when the Islands of Ischea and Procita were taken by our troops, and in which I saw one of the greatest instances of apathy in human nature I ever could have imagined, an Englishman could not no! Nothing but a Scotchman could have acted so unfeeling a part. An artillery man had been blown up in demolishing the fort and was brought alongside in a dreadful mutilated state, but life was not extinct, the surgeon was called to his assistance and went to the gangway, but refused, as he supposed his duty in the service did not oblige him to go down into the boat, for the more immediate attention to this poor man, stonehearted! Inhuman monster!” The journal continues in a lively and spirited manner, and concludes in Kingston, Jamaica on 20th July 1820 when he is just sailing out on the Aerial from Port Royal. “Entered the Navy, 2 Sept 1805, as Midshipman on board the Inspector, Capt. Brian Hodgson, and after cruising for a short period in the North Sea, joined the Plyades, Capt. George Miller Bligh, in which vessel, and the Spartan he actively served, on the Mediterranean station, until Aug 1810. In consequence of him being invested, after the reduction of the Ionian Islands, with the temporary command of the Zantios armed brigantine, he appears to have been deprived of an opportunity of sharing in the brilliant victory gained by the Spartan over the Franco-Neapolitan squadron in the Bay of Naples, 3 May 1810. Between Nov 1810 and Dec 1815 he was employed, as Master’s Mate and Acting-Lieutenant on the Home, West India, and Newfoundland Stations in the Leveret, Stirling Castle, Bellerophon, Galatea, Harlequin, and Prospero. He was promoted 24 Feb 1815, and from 1817-1829 he was in command of various merchantmen from the port of Liverpool.” Ref: A Naval Biographical Dictionary, William R. O’Byrne. 2012.


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