The Esmeralda

A text sometimes attributed to James Fenimore Cooper, but not written by him. Actually written, 1829, by John H. B. Latrobe (1803-1891), under the pseudonym of Godfrey Wallace.

Placed online, November 2013, by Hugh C. McDougall, Corresponding Secretary, James Fenimore Cooper Society

First published in The Atlantic Souvenir; A Christmas and New Year’s Offering, pp. 306-327, as by “Godfrey Wallace,” a pseudonym of John H.B. Latrobe (1803-1892). Philadelphia: Carey, Lea & Carey, 1829, on which this text is based. For evidence, see John E. Semmes, John H.B. Latrobe and His Times, p. 104. Baltimore: The Norman, Remington, Co., 1917, and Edward Stabler, Jr., “Godfrey Wallace,” in Maryland Historical Magazine, Volume V, pp. 375-376 (correspondence with John Latrobe).

A number of re-printings of this story attributed it to James Fenimore Cooper, including:

  • New-York Mirror, and Ladies’ Literary Gazette, Volume VI, No. 30, January 31, 1829, pp. 236-239, which prefaces the story with the following statement: “The following admirable story — for which we are indebted to the Atlantic Souvenir‐is said to be from the pen of Mr. Cooper, the distinguished American novelist.”
  • The Moss Rose, for 1852, New York: Cornish, Lamport & Co., 1851, pp. 96-116, which baldly credits it, “By J. F. Cooper.”

It was also picked up quickly elsewhere, even in London:

The attribution to Cooper may have been due, in part, to the fact that the original version in The Atlantic Souvenir was published by Cooper’s publisher, Matthew Carey. In later years, the Cooper attribution may have been given weight by the involvement of US Frigate Macedonian, with which Cooper was later connected through his friend Capt. William Branford Shubrick.

The story of The Esmeralda is based on an incident on November 5, 1820, when the First Chilean Navy Squadron, commanded by British Lord Thomas Cochrane entered the bay of Callao, Peru, and boarded and captured the Spanish Navy frigate Esmeralda, thus helping ensure the independence of Chile and Peru. The United States frigate Macedonian, then at Callao under the command of the corrupt Captain John Downes, though bombarded and damaged by the Spanish fort, notoriously failed to react.

Hugh C. McDougall, Corresponding Secretary, James Fenimore Cooper Society


The brilliant exploit upon which this tale is founded, was performed in the early part of the revolution in Peru. San Martin, after freeing Chili from the Spanish yoke, had pushed his army to the very gates of Lima, and, with the co-operation of Lord Cochrane by sea, took possession of the ancient capital of Peru, soon after the occurrences here detailed.

IT was on a bright and sunny evening, that a curious cavalcade was seen issuing from the gate of Lima, and taking the road to Callao. It was composed of the “liberty men”* (* Sailors on shore with leave) of the American frigate Macedonian, then lying in the harbor. A crowd of Peruvian boys followed it; and the very sentinels forgot their military gravity, and indulged in the irrepressible laughter which it excited. First came some half dozen sailors, arm-in-arm, whom a tiny midshipman in vain strove to keep in order. Then followed some dozen mules, each carrying two drunken sailors, slung like panniers, amid-ships, and guided by a stout Peruvian lad, seated en croupe. Two or three midshipmen, with some twenty steady fellows of the crew, brought up the rear. The pinioned tars had no idea of the propriety of their mode of conveyance, and vented all their tipsy rage on the “after-guard,” as they styled the driver. But once on shore during a three years’ cruise, the sailors had gone from the extreme of temperance and abstinence, to the extreme of excess; and having spent their last dollar, were now literally carried back to their vessel. Those in front, as they passed the soldiers, cocked their eyes, thrust their tongues into their cheeks, and throwing out their legs horizontally, perform the mock military to perfection : then bursting into a roar of laughter at their own wit, trod on each other’s heels, kicked each other’s shins, shouted, “heads up, ye lubbers!” and set order at complete defiance. The living panniers were less noisy, and groaned and hiccuped their discontent at being “triced up” to such heavy sailers, as they termed the mules; kicked the sides of the animals, aimed ineffectual blows at the “after-guard,” and ran desperate risk of life, as some restive beast, throwing his heels in the air, threatened to dislodge them. The rear, exhilarated, but not tipsy, with just enough aboard to show off the sailor to perfection, cracked their jokes, trolled their songs, practised their manual fun upon the drunkards, and moved most merrily along. By dint of driving and swearing, the procession was urged over the seven miles from Lima to the sea, and reached Callao just as the sun flashed his last rays upon the Chilian brig, which was cruising, hull down, in the offing. The wharf, or quay, alongside of which the frigate’s boats were lying in readiness to receive the “liberty men,” was crowded with people. Sailors, soldiers, guarda-costas, Indians, and idlers of all descriptions, were collected there. The clattering of the oars of newly arrived boats, the roll and splash of those leaving the landing, the voice of command, the English and American “damn,” the Spanish “caramba,” the French “sacre,” and the Dutch “derteufel,” were all heard, were all mingled in the general clamor and hurry at the close of day. These sounds were dying away as the Americans approached the quay; and by the time that the “liberty men” were tumbled aboard the two cutters and pinnace, nobody remained to witness their departure but a few guarda-costas, whose duty detained them along the shore.

It was a beautiful and tranquil bay across which the Macedonian’s boats now pulled. On the right lay the castles of Callao, the long line of ramparts serried with the bayonets of the Spanish soldiers. On the left, anchored head and stern, were the frigates Macedonian and Esmeralda; the latter a new ship, fully armed, provisioned, manned, and equipped for a six months’ cruise; and a little farther out lay the British frigate Hyperion; all three within half gun-shot of the castles. Within the men-of-war the merchantmen were securely moored. A few black whale ships dotted the bay; and far off, in the shadow of the island of San Lorenzo, lay the patriot blockading squadron of Lord Cochrane.

The stern sheets of the pinnace were occupied by two midshipmen. At home, by his own fireside on the Roanoke, the youngest would have been called a boy; but here, in the Pacific, the officer of a Yankee frigate, it would have been sword and pistol work to have rated him anything but a man. There was an air, too, of command about him, which sustained his pretensions to the character; and the sailors at the oars regarded him with that respectful kindness and ready obedience, that showed he was a favorite among the crew. In place of a chapeau bras, like that worn by his companion, the large straw sombrero of the Peruvians lay beside him, while a black handkerchief, twisted around his head, shielded it from the damp air, which already began to float over the water. “In the name of sense, Hal,” said his companion, taking up the sombrero, and measuring its immense brim against the sky, “where did you get this upper rigging? and what boot did you give in exchanging a chapeau?” “It is too long a yarn to spin now,” said the Virginian, evidently willing to avoid the subject; “put the broad brim down, and mind the yoke ropes. Here we are athwart the hawse of a merchantman.” The sudden shock, which threw the oars out of the rowlocks, created a confusion on board the pinnace, which effectually interrupted the conversation. The hail from the merchantman was answered. The commands, “back water;” steady;” “pull ye’r starboard oars;” “altogether now;” “give way, boys,” followed in quick succession, and the pinnace shot by the obstacle which had momentarily checked its progress. All the vessels which the boat had hitherto passed, had hailed it at the usual distance, and it was now directly under the bows of the Esmeralda. “Strange that the Spanish frigate does not hail,” said the Virginian. “So fine a ship should have a livelier watch on board. A sleepy dog that, whose bayonet I see just abaft the mainmast.” “They’re deep in frolic,” replied his companion. “I met a crowd of Spanish gentlemen going on board to dine, as I came ashore this morning, and the guarda-costa at the landing told me that they had not returned at sun down.” “The more fools they,” answered the other, “to blow it out with Cochrane at two gun-shots of them.” “He is not the man to interrupt them,” was the reply; “he lies so idly under the island, that his men will soon not know brace from buntline.” “I don’t know,” continued the Virginian; “his vessels showed their teeth pretty plainly as we made the land here, and his flag ship walked across our forefoot in as gallant a style as I have seen this many a day.” “Nothing but show,” said the other. “The commodore did not think so, however, or else all hands would not have beat to quarters, the ship cleared for action, bulk heads down, decks sanded, and matches smoking. No, no. Cochrane will be alongside of the Esmeralda yet, and that before long. It may be superstition, Will, but for a commodore’s broad pennant I would not sling my hammock to-night to the best battens on board of her. In my eye, she looks like a doomed ship. Her sails bent, her guns run out, and yet so still not a living soul to speak to us from her decks; no sound about her but the rippling of the tide against her hawse.” The further remarks of the Virginian were interrupted by the loud hail from the Macedonian. It was promptly answered, and in a short time the sailors and their officers stood upon the deck of the frigate.

The bustle occasioned by the arrival of the boats was soon over. The sailors betook themselves to the fore-castle, and became listeners to an interminable love song, which a sentimental blue jacket was droning forth to his companions. The officers, after reporting themselves on the quarter-deck, either turned in for the night, or joined the different groups that were lounging about the after-part of the ship. Seated on the breech of a gun, with his sombrero on his knee, and surrounded by a crowd of reefers, was the Virginian. The Peruvian hat had already been tried on the heads of all around, and made the subject of sailor jests; and assuming all the dignity of one who was aware of the interest attached to his story, its owner commenced his account of the manner in which he obtained it, and the cause of his wearing it.

“You see, reefers, the purser and I having come to a reckoning, I determined to have a regular blow out in Lima; not a tipsy spree, you understand, but something to recall the Roanoke and old Virginia. So off I started in the cutter, and having reached the shore, I hired the horse of a guarda-costa, to carry me to town, and engaged its master to serve me as a guide. I took the sheep skins, and he trudged it on foot. It was sunset when we left the wharf, and before we had proceeded half-way, the mist came rolling over from the sea, and concealed from our view even the trees which lined the sides of the road. We were the only travellers. Some loaded mules passed us; but, with the exception of these, we were the solitary occupants of the king’s highway. I possessed Spanish sufficient to maintain a broken conversation with the guarda-costa, and we chatted cosily enough, until we heard the clatter of a horse’s hoof upon the road behind us. In another moment, a horseman, nobly mounted, but dressed in the poncho and sombrero of the country, dashed by us at full speed. He came, and he was gone. Here, and away. Lightning could scarcely have been quicker. But still, as on he galloped, I was struck with his appearance. I noticed that he rode with civilized stirrups, and not the wooden shoes of the Peruvians. I thought, too, that he had holsters; and I would swear to the long straight sword which clinked against the stirrup-iron. Small time for observation, you say. Well, so it was; but time enough for all. The guarda-costa saw everything that I did. “Bravo,” he said, as the stranger, unmoved in his saddle, bore the wide leap which his startled horse made in passing, “Bueno Cabullero, that fellow sits well, Signior.” “Like a hero,” replied I, equally pleased with the dexterity of the horseman; but before the words had passed my lips he disappeared, and we again moved solitarily along. When we had proceeded about a mile further, to our great surprise, the single horseman again dashed by us at his utmost speed. But this time he came in the direction of Lima, and rode so furiously as almost to capsize the guarda-costa, After passing us, he turned at right angles to the road, and continued his way far to our left. He had scarcely vanished in the mist, before a vidette of Spanish cavalry came on us, with almost equal speed. The officer commanding it reined his horse upon its haunches beside me, and asked imperatively the direction taken by the single horseman, whose appearance and dress he described. I, however, had no idea of turning informer, so I pretended not to understand him, and talked as fast in English as he did in Spanish. He cursed big and large, and then repeated his questions to the guarda-costa. I was afraid all would be blown now, and was consoling myself by calculating the advantage the delay had given to the fugitive, when I heard my guide log a deliberate lie, in assuring the Spaniard that “Cabullero” had pushed on to Callao; and in a moment more, the vidette were, as they supposed, pushing after him. We now continued our way. The Peruvian chuckled, and did not pretend to conceal his satisfaction at having crossed the trail of the vidette. “Santa Maria! how he rode,” said the guarda-costa, as if thinking aloud; “and those cursed Spaniards to think to overtake him.” “You speak roughly of your friends,” said I. “Friends,” repeated the man, in as fiendish a tone as I ever heard. He laid his hand upon the pummel of the saddle, threw back the broad brim of his straw hat, and rose many inches in height, as he darted his quick keen eyes full on my face, to read in the deep gloom the expression of my countenance. For a moment he looked cautiously around, and then rapidly whispered. “I, Signor, am a Peruvian, but not a free born man. Who made me? who made the Incas slaves? The Spaniards.” The guarda-costa paused; then, pointing first in the direction of San Martin’s camp, and then towards the Chilian fleet, he continued in the same energetic tone, “No, signor, there are our friends.” I scarcely recognized the stupid custom-house drudge in the man who now addressed me. His extended arm-his bold carriage-his upright figure, which loomed large in the evening mist, belonged, I thought, to another being. But the change was momentary. The soldier turned slowly away, and before 1 could reply, he was again as when I hired him.

“In the meantime we approached the city. The guarda-costa appeared to have struck upon a train of thought which was far from pleasing, for he strode rapidly along, and occasionally muttered discontented sounds, as thought came unwittingly to his tongue. I tried to catch his meaning, without success. His sullen answers prevented conversation, and we proceeded most unsociably, until challenged by the sentinel at the gate “Que viva?” sounded hoarsely from beneath the old archway. “San Martin,” fiercely replied my guide. In a moment the musket of the Spanish soldier on guard rattled in his hands. I heard the sharp click as he cocked it. Another second, and the guarda-costa had been a dead man. I sprang from my horse in time to strike up the levelled weapon, and shouted “viva le rey,” in tones that brought the whole guard to the spot. My guide was more alarmed than I was. San Martin was uppermost in his thoughts, and the name of the patriot chief, at which the Limanians trembled, was pronounced, instead of the usual reply to the hail of the Spanish sentinel. We were now overhauled by the officers on duty; and after some impertinent examination, I was damned as a North American, and suffered to proceed. My guide, however, was detained. This was unlucky enough. I knew nothing of Lima, and none of those whom the bustle at the gate had collected seemed at all disposed to assist me. Recollecting that Frank Lindesay’s horse, in old Virginia, and I rode it often enough to know, stopped at all the grog-shops, I threw the reins on the neck of my steed, hoping that he would carry me to the place where his master usually put up. The animal’s intentions may have been good; but I soon saw that the crowd were determined to thwart them. To make a long story short, I was in the centre of a Lima mob, led on by a little contemptible looking rascal, who persuaded the people that I was the head spy of San Martin’s army. At first I pretended not to understand what was said, but my valor at last got the better of my discretion, and I could not resist the temptation of putting my fist between the eyes of a villain who was grinning his impudence in my face. This brought things to a crisis : “A la muerte” was the cry, and the last thing I can recollect was a blow on the temple, which brought me to the ground.

“How long I remained insensible I cannot exactly say. When I recovered, I found that I had been laid at the door of a huge church; under the idea, I suppose, that I was dead. I felt miserably stiff and cold, and for some minutes did not attempt to move; at last, after one or two efforts, I got upon my feet, and ascertained that my limbs were unbroken, and that my doubloons were still at the bottom of my fob. Some Peruvian gentleman had taken a fancy to my watch, and to a new chapeau, mounted for the occasion. He might have spared them, for they were borrowed articles. No matter, however; the watch never had any insides, and the hat must have suffered pretty severely in the scuffle. The first thing I did, on turning around, was to peep in at the door of the church, which stood conveniently ajar. As I peeped in, some one from the interior peeped out; for I thrust my nose into the pale face of a tall, monkish-looking person, who was about leaving the building. Both of us were sadly scared, and starting back, we stood staring at each other in the star-light, until, recovering the first from the panic produced by the unexpected rencontre, I turned and ran with the best speed my stiff limbs would admit of. After going a considerable distance, I stopped to listen. No sounds came from the direction of the church; but from the opposite quarter I heard the steps and clattering arms of a relief of soldiers. I stood by a low garden wall, and in a moment I was on the other side of it. The relief passed by, and the noise it made was soon lost in the turnings of the streets. I was now in a large and handsome garden. The smooth walks, the fountain which tossed its waters so coolly on the night, broad grass-plats, the rows of flowers, the neatly trimmed hedges, amused me for some time, and resolving to wait here the return of light, I threw myself upon a garden-bench, and summoned all the recollections of past pleasures to assist the slow progress of time. But time, notwithstanding, took his own way, and jogged most lazily on. 1 got up-I drank at the fountain-I walked about, and at last, attracted by the sound of music, set myself to discover whence it proceeded. After losing it, and recovering it several times, I found myself under the verandah of the house to which the garden was attached, and which some lines of tall hedges had at first prevented me from seeing. Curiosity brought me to the house; curiosity led me into the verandah; and curiosity placed me snugly enough at the window of the very room at which the musician was. Of course I went on tip-toes, and scarcely daring to breathe, ventured to peep into the apartment; intending, if all things permitted, to discover myself, and ask for a night’s lodging, and a hat of some sort or other. The room was a large one, lighted by a shaded lamp, which hung from the ceiling, and made everything appear soft and moonshiny. Next to the window at which I sat, was the door leading to the verandah, directly opposite to which was another door; and in the right-hand wall a third, of a much smaller size, might have led to a sleeping apartment. A table covered with a crimson cloth stood in the centre, and upon a sofa beside it, and opposite to the small door, was reclining the minstrel of the hour. The guitar which had attracted me was lying on the table, and the lady who had touched it was reading what appeared to me to be a letter. I’d tell you what, reefers, she was worth looking at. I could not see her eyes, but then her exquisite figure, and the prettiest little foot you ever beheld, seen to such advantage on the dark covering of the sofa, and her jet black hair, and beautiful mouth, and high commanding forehead-she was a glorious craft, such as I have not seen since I left old Virginia.

“Thinks I, she can’t be hard-hearted enough to refuse me shelter; and I was on the point of giving an introductory “hem!” when “tap, tap, tap,” on the opposite door, announced a visitor. Not at all alarmed, the lady put away the letter, and answering the summons, introduced a tall, strapping fellow, dressed in the common apparel of a guarda-costa. Matters looked promising, I thought, for another adventure, and drawing myself a little farther from the window, I awaited it. The guarda-costa sat down without much ceremony, and had not uttered twenty words before I ascertained the whole secret of the matter, and heard some of the finest love speeches that were ever made to mortal woman, so far as my knowledge of Spanish enabled me to comprehend them.”

“Let us have them, Hal, do,” said the listeners, crowding even closer round the orator. He shook his head, and proceeded.

“Such things always lose in the telling, and are, in fact, arrant nonsense to all but the parties interested. The Peruvian took off his straw hat, and showed a noble countenance, and a head of thick and curling hair. He threw the poncho over his shoulder, and I saw plainly enough the uniform of one of San Martin’s officers; another glance, and I became convinced that this was the stranger whose horsemanship had excited my admiration on my way from Callao. It was not very fair to be a listener, I allow; but I considered the Peruvian as a friend, having seen him before, and curiosity to see a real love affair, after one or two twinges, overcame all scruples of conscience. From what I could gather, the lady was the daughter of a Spanish royalist, and the officer was a lover of unprecedented constancy. Duty to his country had made him join the patriots; duty to her father had retained the lady in Lima, while her lover was conquering with San Martin and approaching the capital of Peru. Arrived at last in its neighbourhood, and fearing for her safety if the place was entered by force, he had obtained admission to the town in disguise, appointed the present hour, in the letter which I had seen her reading, for an interview, and now urged her rapid and immediate flight with him to Valparaiso, in a vessel lying in the harbor. She spoke of her father, his hatred of the patriot cause, and his consequent inveteracy against her lover; she urged her duty, and the danger of flight. To all this my friend pleaded like a hero, as I have no doubt he is. He rose from the seat which he had occupied beside her, and paced the room with impatient steps; and at last stopping before her, with his back turned towards the smaller door, began to repeat his arguments for flight. Suddenly her eye became fixed, the color fled from her face; she looked as if she would have screamed, but could not. Her lover bent forward with anxious eagerness, and vainly solicited the cause of her visible alarm. I saw it, and one moment more found me involved in difficulty and adventure. While the impetuous lover was detailing his plans, the small door had been pushed gently open, and a person, whom I can swear was the father, followed by two others, all well armed, entered the room, and sprang towards the Peruvian. I shrieked aloud, however, before they reached him, and he turned in time for defence. In a moment the broad straight sword was gleaming over the head of the companion of the old man, and would have descended fatally, had it not struck against and extinguished the only light in the chamber, that hanging from the ceiling. All was shrieking and screaming for a moment, when some one jumped from the open window, overturned me, and darted into the garden. I was now very seriously bruised, and, when lights were brought, was discovered lying in the verandah. But the Peruvian was gone, and the lady was nowhere to be found. The broken glass of the lamp, and an immense straw hat, were all that remained in evidence of the occurrence.

“The old don swore at me until he was exhausted, and shut me up for the night in the cellar, as an accomplice of the Peruvian. In the morning, he carried me before a magistrate, who would have committed me to prison, had I not been recognized by a Spanish gentleman who had seen me in the frigate. By his exertions I was released, and with the sombrero of the runaway lover to pay me for bruises and broken bones, I joined the liberty boys; and here I am, spinning long yarns to a parcel of sleepy reefers.”

The attention of many of the listeners had, during the latter portion of the Virginian’s story, been diverted by the crowd which had collected on the quarter-deck, and were leaning over the larboard side of the ship, and the Virginian now joined a group of them himself, with the question “Well, reefers, what’s the go now? Is this the first time you have seen a whaler’s boat towing his casks to the watering-place, after eight bells?” “Devilish big casks those the leading boat has in tow,” said a sailor, who had ascended a few feet in the main shrouds. “Casks!” repeated a midshipman, dropping a night glass at the same time into his left hand. “If those black-looking things are not boats filled with men, and coming on with a long and steady pull, this glass is not worth a rotten rope-yarn.” Every eye was now exerted to its utmost powers of vision; the glass was passed from hand to hand, and in a few minutes all on deck were satisfied that a long line of barges, each crowded with men, was pulling up directly astern of the Macedonian. “The Scotchman is on the waters to-night,” whispered the Virginian. “What did I tell you in the boat? My life for it, Cochrane is in the foremost barge; and see how he keeps us between him and the Esmeralda.” His companion made no reply, but turned to look at the tall masts and taper spars of the Spanish frigate, and then again upon the advancing boats. By this time the word which had been passed below, had brought the whole ship’s crew upon deck, every man of which watched with almost breathless interest the approach of the barges. The topmen stole silently aloft, and most of the sailors and officers instinctively placed themselves in the neighbourhood of their respective posts. Not a wave was upon the waters, and the night breeze, as it passed fore and aft the ship, was scarcely felt against the cheek. The Chilians came on with muffled oars, and their long, steady strokes soon brought them under the stern of the Macedonian. So silently did they move, that, as they passed alongside, no sound of voice or oar could be distinguished, and, clad as they were in white, they seemed like a band of spirits, rather than mortal men moving on the deep. No hail was given by the American ship. Officers, quartermasters, sailors, were spell-bound with intense interest, and the very sentinels seemed to forget their existence, as they gazed on the Chilians, whose approach undiscovered by the Spaniards became every moment more doubtful. Already had they passed, and breaking off alternately to the larboard and starboard of the Esmeralda, clasped the fated vessel in their embrace. Instead of following in the line, the last of Cochrane’s boats pulled under the cabin windows of the Macedonian, and held on to the rudder chains. The officer commanding begged, entreated, threatened his crew. They would not proceed. In sullen cowardice they concealed themselves during the combat which followed. In vain did the officers of the Macedonian order them to let go, and urge them to avoid disgrace; the chaplain even joined his entreaties; they made no answer, but kept their place, the only cowards of that eventful night. When the fight was over, they pulled silently to the Esmeralda, and, preserving the secret of their baseness, participated in the honors of the occasion.

In the mean time one of the barges glided to a gun-boat under the bows of the American. The clash of sabre upon steel, the words “silencio ò muerte,” a hum of voices, a dead stillness, and the gun-boat had changed masters. This broke the spell on board the Macedonian. A kedge was carried out, the gib {sic}hauled up, the chain slipped, and as the head fell off from the wind, a cloud of canvass dropped from her spars, and solicited the breeze. Long ere these preparations were complete, the Esmeralda was the scene of conflict. The first man who boarded from the main-chains, after cutting down the sentinel at the gangway, was shot by the sentinel at the forecastle. Cochrane was the next, and in a few moments the deck was crowded with his followers. The Spaniards were sleeping on their arms, and as they struggled from below, the contest became fierce and doubtful. There was one pause only in which the assailants ceased to slay, as they watched with intense anxiety the effect of the wind upon the gib. Had the head fallen towards the shore, the Esmeralda must have been deserted and burnt by the Chilians; but fate decreed it otherwise, and there was one loud “hurrah” as the bows gently turned towards the island of San Lorenzo. The Chilian sailors on the spars soon clothed the vessel with her canvass. From royals to courses every sail was set, and falling astern of the Macedonian, the Esmeralda followed her slowly from the shore.

The fight continued while the vessel got under way, and “Jesu,” “Santa Maria,” “caramba,” joined with English oaths and exclamations, came loud through the din of battle. At one time the voice of Lord Cochrane was heard encouraging his men, and ordering more sail to be packed upon the spars. Then came a volley of fire arms, which drowned all sounds besides, and illuminating the deck, showed the rapid gleam of descending sabres. Then there would be a momentary pause, as one party or the other gained a temporary advantage, and then again the wild uproar swelled with redoubled fury. At last, the Chilians, collecting in a dense mass upon the quarter-deck, made a quick and fierce charge upon their opponents. It was met, and for an instant met successfully; but the strength of the Spaniards was broken, and the next moment they were heard dropping into the sea, as their pursuers forced them over the bows. The spar-deck was now still, but below all was confusion. A gun-brig which had repelled its assailants, fired its single piece of artillery directly under the cabin windows of the Esmeralda, and the indiscriminate slaughter of friend and foe was the consequence. This, however, produced no effect upon the combatants, and the victory on the gun-deck was still doubtful, when Cochrane, with his successful followers, rushed down the gangway, and quickly decided the fate of the Spaniards. The wave was their only refuge; and springing from the ports, some gained the shore by swimming, others found their graves where they fell.

The Virginian, and his companion in the cutter, had watched the progress of the fight from their station in the foretop of the Macedonian, and were still gazing on the deck of the Esmeralda, when a flash from the shore, the howl of a ball passing between the masts, and the dull report of a cannon, drew their attention to another quarter. Lights were seen hurrying along the ramparts of the fortress of Callao, and the sound of drums came faintly from them. Flash after flash succeeded the first in quick succession, until one continued stream of fire gushed from the long line of batteries. To the eyes of the young men, every gun seemed intended especially for them. “What! not a spar gone yet? and only one hole through the main-topsail?” said the Virginian at last, after coolly casting his eyes upwards upon the canvass of the ship. “It can’t be so long, however; the light duck scarcely draws, and the courses and topsails hang like lead. There goes the cross-jack yard,” he continued, as the crash of splintered wood was heard upon the quarter-deck. “The lanterns at the peak and gib-boom end would have distinguished us from the Esmeralda, if Cochrane had not hoisted them as soon as we did.” “By heavens! though, there goes his peak light,” cried his companion, as a shot severed the rope. The lantern fell over into the sea, floated a moment, and was extinguished.

A better aim on the part of the Spanish gunners, or the gradual approach of the vessel within the range of some of the cannon of the fortress, made the situation of the ship more perilous than it had yet been, and three or four balls almost grazed the heads of the fore-top men. Still both spar and sail were uninjured, and the only effect of the shot was to hush the whispered conversation which had been hitherto maintained.

The silence was at last interrupted by an interjectional whistle from the Virginian, as a shot went through the sail immediately above him. “This firing will deaden the wind until canvass nor duck will hold it: and the Scotchman hangs on our quarter, determined that, if he sinks, so shall we.” “Don’t whistle for the wind, mister,” said an old sailor in a superstitious tone; “it never comes when it is called, and we want it too much to anger it.” “That whistle brought it, though,” cried the other. “The Esmeralda’s courses draw, and our heavy sails begin to feel it; we’ll walk yet, if the puff holds.” The communication was accompanied with a visible change in the spirits of the seamen, as the sail, after one or two heaves, swelled steadily before the wind. The progress of the vessel, however, was still slow, although the danger every moment decreased, and it was upwards of an hour before the shot of the fortress fell short. Daylight by this time began to dawn, and showed the sullen batteries, surmounted by a heavy dun cloud, and frowning over a bay which they had so fruitlessly attempted to guard The Macedonian cast anchor far beyond their reach, and the Esmeralda, uninjured, and in gallant style, moved to the island of San Lorenzo.

During this eventful night, the captain of the American frigate had been detained in Lima, and at sunrise of the second day after the fight, the launch and gig were ordered down to Chorillos to meet him, and to receive on board such Americans as feared the consequences of remaining in the city during the first moments of excitement which would follow the intelligence of the capture of the Esmeralda. The gig was commanded by our friend the Virginian, and after a long and heavy pull, he found himself beneath the high and rugged cliffs of Chorillos. Here the boats remained without the surf, while the Indians, wading through it, brought the passengers on board. “All aboard” had been already cried, and the oars were in the rowlocks to return, when the appearance of a troop of San Martin’s cavalry on shore, and their loud shouts and earnest beckonings, delayed their departure. As the sailors rested on their oars, an officer, who appeared to be the commander of the soldiers, came hurrying to the beach, bearing on his arm a female, whose horse he had been seen to guide as his troops came full gallop on. He gave her to the huge Indian who offered his assistance, and followed him into the surf. A short and low conversation was held between San Martin’s officer and the American commander. The former then returned to the shore, and the latter gave his rapid orders to proceed to Callao.

By evening the party were again in their frigate, and a knot was soon seen to assemble round the young Virginian, as on the preceding evening. He seemed to be urging a doubtful point with peculiar energy. “How did I know them? Why, did’nt I see him plain enough in the room, and did’nt I hear his plan of getting her to Valparaiso? The captain ordered me to the launch, but not before I saw her face. No, reefers, no! True love got the weathergauge of the old don, her father, in Lima, and kept it at Chorillos.”