The Smugglers [founded on fact - 1834]

THE SMUGGLERS. (For the Wexford Independent) founded on fact. 1834.

Is this just a tale of smuggling, or the cruel account of a father's worst nightmare?

It was in the evening of one of the warmest days in the month of July when all nature teems with innumerable beauties, and the beaux and belles of Cork, taking advantage of a light breeze which had sprung up, had left their respective residences to promenade, which they were unable to do during the day owing to the excessive heat of the weather, and the bright luminary was on the eve of departing for a season from the horizon, lingering only to shed forth. It was such an evening as this, I say, that the look-out on one of the Revenue cutters stationed near Cork, descried a strange and suspicious sail endeavouring to effect a landing on some adjacent part of the coast. He instantly communicated this intelligence to the Commander, who gave order to prepare to chase. The studding sails were set, top and top-gallant sails unreefed, and the additional booms affixed to the yards for setting the chase. In a few minutes everything was ready, and they set sail.

It was not long till the smugglers perceived that she was pursued, and instantly stood out to sea. The cutter immediately followed in her wake, and it was evident to all on board that in a short time she would be alongside of her adversary. The Commander of the cutter was a middle-sized man, aged about 40, but his cheeks furrowed with grief, would lead you to suppose he had long passed 60. He had been several years in the service, and had always been looked on as an officer of great experience. He had only one son, who, on being corrected, when as a youth, for some trifling fault which he had committed, had left his parental roof, and had not since been heard of. His mother died soon after of a broken heart. It was grief for the loss of those which had caused such an alteration in his features. By this time the cutter had so far gained on the strange sail that she was discovered to be a brig engaged in the contraband trade and one which had long eluded the vigilance of the Revenue officers.

When she came within hail, the Commander of the cutter ordered her to heave to, but was only replied to by a broadside which killed two of his men, which reception was answered by a similar one from the cutter and a brief engagement ensued. The Captain of the smugglers, a young man, was seen passing up and down the maindeck, and coolly giving his orders amidst showers of balls, with that nonchalance so characteristic of one of his class .After the fire had been kept up pretty briskly, from both vessels for some time, it entirely ceased on board the smuggler. Fearing it was only a feint the cutter ceased until the smoke was completely cleared away and the appalling state of the deck of the smuggler, covered with dead bodies met their view. As the boats had all been shot away from their lashings, the Commander of the cutter, with that intrepidity proverbial of his class, plunged into the sea, leaving the Lieutenant in charge of her, and swimming followed by a dozen of his men, each with a cutlass in his mouth. After some fruitless endeavours to board the smuggler, they at length effected it. On examining the bodies they found six out of the 20 showed some signs of life, in all the rest the vital spark was extinct.. But what were the feelings of the gallant Commander, when he beheld in the person of the Captain, his long lost son, to describe them would be impossible.

“Horror of horror, what his only son” he who was once the idol of his father, thus deprived of life, while in the act of giving opposition to the laws of his country, it was too much for the veteran to bear, and tears began to flow, which he was unable to restrain. After some time he recovered his composure, and proceeded to inspect the prize. She proved to be laden with tobacco and rum from America. After having seen the dead bodies, (consigned) to the sea, with the exception of his son, whose corpse he reserved for interment on land, and the survivors being taken care of, he gave orders for both vessels to return, and the sun shone bright on their blood stained decks, as the cutter and her prize were brought into Cork harbour. T.D. (author's initials)

New Ross. December 8 1834.

Reference; Wexford Independent Wednesday December 17 1834

1 Comment · 7589 Reads · Print  -> Posted by Tony on April 30 2007


#1 | devondumpling on 19/05/2007 14:17:44
what a touching story!!

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