Saturday, 19 July 2008

Never on a Sabbath

I don't think there are many people around these days who would turn down a visit from a member of the royal family just because the date fell on a Sunday. Source: Grey River Argus. 17 May 1873.

OK this one I'm pretty sure is no relation, though it's a nice little vignette nonetheless (and I kept the Saratoga Belle and her old man paragraph because it's weird: that's all there is of that story).

Spelling during the nineteenth century was to a large degree left to the writer. The John Pascoe here is actually John Pasco, famous for his signal during the battle of Trafalgar. He was seriously wounded during the battle and spent most of the time laying next to Nelson as they bled out together. He had many children, and most of them I believe ended up staying in Australia, where descendents still live, spelling their name as he did: "Pasco". I wonder if the telescope is still in their possession?
There's a story that the different spellings in the name are associated with religious and/or political beliefs, but I don't know what they may be: perhaps Catholic/Methodist or Royalist/Parliamentarian. There are plenty of both spellings in the graveyard of the famous Anglican Church in Roseland.

Mr Pasco (that's him at right of the picture with his head in the signals book) was a bit short of readies and had a big family, so when he was made Commodore of the trip to deliver New South Wales' new governor (Lachlan Macquarie - Bligh's replacement) to Port Jackson, he took a lot of privateering detours, chasing strange ships to earn himself some extra cash. This annoyed the governor's wife Elizabeth who wrote about it in her diary at the time. I rather like her diaries, she has no particular axe to grind (as opposed to a politian, trader, or missionary) so her observations seem rather clear and she writes in an entertaining manner. She appears to have a sense of humour too when describing other people, and though her social class does show, she does her best to avoid snobbery.

From Elizabeth Macquarie's journal of the voyage to Australia. 1809:

On John Pasco:
Sunday 4th June, ... We have been much detain'd on our voyage by the desire in the Commodore to make Prizes; we go off our course in pursuit of every Sail we See, by which we have lost many a fair breeze, and encounter'd many a foul one – we have however, once succeeded in taking a Prize – an American Ship which had been taken some days before by a French Privateer, by which I am happy to find that Captn.. Pascoe will derive a considerable sum of money.

Wedy.. 18th.. Octr.. the wind having come round to the northward & westward in the course of yesterday, we were this day at noon in East Longd
.. 17d. 40s_; and going almost due East at 6 miles an hour, we must have doubled the Cape between 8 & 9 o'clock this night. [T]his chase was a trial of patience to us, & Captain Pascoe also, we felt ourselves detain'd at a most critical part of the voyage for the sole purpose of his emolument, and he poor Man, made himself sure that the Strange Sail was French, that she would turn out a Rich Prize, and make his fortune; his disappointment was very great when we lost sight of her; our superior sailing was in many respects a great comfort to us, but if there had been any fighting, we should have had all the blows and none of the profit; this is comparatively.

On Mrs Pasco during the stopover in Cape town:
... to my great joy we had a quiet party at dinner, not so with Mr.. & Mrs.. Pascoe who I fancy must have exchanged the canter of their horse into a gallop to enable them to reach the Town in time to dine with the Governor; Mrs.. P being desirous of enjoying as much of his Lordship[']s company as she could, declined playing cards, but sat down most boldly to attack him at Chess; to his great consternation he soon found that his willing antagonist hardly knew the moves, he did all he could to lose the game, but that he found quite impossible; on which the Lady wish'd to renew the attack, but his Lordship had quite enough of it, & beg'd leave to resign his place to some other person. – Lord Calledon sent home his Carriage with Mrs.. Alexander & the other Ladies; by this time poor Mrs.. Pascoe herself so much gratified what with the morning drive, dining at a Lords house; playing chess with the great Man, & being sent home in his grand Coach with a coronet, that she fairly burst out in an exclamation of joy, clapping her hands & dancing with her feet, I vow! I vow! this has been the happiest – & the best day of my life. –this is all very vulgar no doubt, but who can avoid being pleased at this natural conduct, call'd forth by sensations of gratitude, & satisfaction.

Shades of Austen's Mrs Bennett there!

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