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say, that the plan of his American Journal precluded him from detailing many matters intimately connected with Trans-atlantic hostilities, which, he flatters himself, his MEMOIR introduces of course and with propriety. He also expects that the perusal of his obscure adventures and experience (deriving importance from an eventful cause in which the fates of the old and new World were so much involved) will be found entertaining in general, and edifying to ordinary Readers. He has laboured to give, if not the information of regular Travels, at least a correct general idea of North American scenes and affairs, and always interesting accounts and anecdotes of the prominent Actors and Officers employed pending the progress of war with the States. It has, moreover, been his endeavour to demark the right line of duty and behaviour which the soldier in the ranks ought invariably to pursue ; and likewise the valuable and honest conduct becoming the humble hardworking individual in his outset and journey through life. In fine, the end he proposed in this.Essay; has been to in. struct as much as possible the young and unguarded, by furnishing the example of his own : life without self-disguise or vanity. He may lose his ait, but, eden in its failure, he trusts his motive will be thought laudable.
DUBLIN, JULY 15, 1811,
HIS OWN LIFE,
BY R LAMB,
&c. &c. &c.
Motives why individuals make Memoirs of their Lives.
Author's parentage. His inclination for a Seafaring life. Learns to Swim. Recommends the Art of Swimming as useful for the preservation of life in Shipwrecks, &c. Captain Campbell saved by knowing how to float in the Water. Dr. Franklin's Account of Swimming, and curious methods to be used. A Child rescued from the conflagration of the Boyne ship of War. Description of an instrument to save persons from drowning who cannot swim. A Lady saved by means of her Farthingales. Account of a remarkable Shipwreck on the Susser Coast. Bussard's extraordinary Narrative. Directions for recovering drowned persons.
VARIOUS are the causes which induced individuals to commit the incidents of their own lives to writing, and submit them to the world. Vanity has urged several to publish transactions which had been much better reserved
in secret, as matters of repentance and motives to amendment. Avarice has stimulated others, to fabricate tissues of falsehood, palatable to the public taste, but exceedingly injurious to unwary readers. Party and prejudice have had no small share in private memoirs; whilst even religion itself has been so misconceived by weak, though well meaning persons, as to furnish a leading inducement for laying before mankind an indiscreet exposure of their lives and actions, which ultimately proved deeply detrimental to the solid interests of piety and truth.
Fully aware of these powerful objections, the author ruminated much before he ventured to add one to the number of those who have published their own biography. But when he recollects what he was, when he feels what the Almighty has done for him, when he balances his
present comforts against his past transgressions, when he thinks on the probability that his example may not be altogether without its moral and spiritual utility, when he considers the misrepresentations and falsehoods that have gone abroad relative to the important affairs in which he was personally engaged—the many exalted characters under whom he served in the army, and the facts concerning them, of which he is in possession; when he knows that the experience of his life supplies a plentiful harvest of interesting anecdote, he believes he does not assert too much when he declares, that he should hold himself inexcusable to his king, his country, his officers, the public, and himself, if he suffered the grave to close for ever on his story, without leaving some memorial behind him. These considerations induced him to publish a life, in which he has many things to deplore, and more to call forth his gratitude hoth to heaven and earth.
I drew my first breath in the city of Dublin, on the 17th of January, 1756, of humble, industrious, and virtuous parents. I was the youngest of eleven children. My eldest brother sacrificed his life in defence of his country :
he died in consequence of a wound which he received on board one of the king's ships. At the time of his death I was only five years old, but I remember that my father was greatly afflicted at it: and the more so, when he found my inclination of mind was also to the sea. Considering his situation, which though reputable, was far from affluent, and the labour necessary to support his family; he was a man of much reading, which strong native powers of intellect had led him to digest and methodize. He was far from being unacquainted with seafaring matters, I well remember, when a child, walking with him down the North Wall, he would describe to me, in the most easy and interesting manner, a naval engagement, and by the most apt and familiar transition, turn the discourse to the battles which were then fighting between the English and the French. I am aware that my father's motive, while he amused me in these conversations, was to instruct : but he little imagined, that in so doing, he was kindling a martial ardor in my young breast, which might, and ultimately did lead my heedless steps into the very dangers he would have wished me to shun, and against which he would have guarded me with the fondest anxiety. At length he began to perceive his error: for when he discovered my attention engrossed by these subjects, with tears in his eyes, he would say, “Ah, my dear child, I see your little breast is fired with this account. I only relate these things to inform your judgment. I have lost one fine boy already in fighting for his country. Surely you will never leave your father. You must stay with me and your mother; and be our support and comfort in our old days.” Much as I loved my father, and deep as these affectionate speeches sunk in my mind; they had a tendency which he little imagined when he first used them. It was from these discourses of my father that an anxious desire was first raised in my mind for a seafaring life.
Our house being contiguous the the river Liffey, I was a constant frequenter of its quays, and the places where the shipping were moored. There I soon acquired the art of climbing up the masts of the vessels. At the age of six years I began to practice the art of swimming; but by my temerity, I was near losing my life at that tender peçiod. This circumstance occurred in the old dock, near the spot where the new Custom-house now stands. The tide was full in, and, in imitation of some grown lads, who practised these leaps, as feats of activity, I jumped from off the steps. I soon, however found, that what I had before thought swimming, in shallow water, was but the paddling of a child: for I sunk like a stone, in nearly ten feet of water. Among the spectators, providentially for me, were many expert swimmers; one of whom observing that I did not rise to the surface of the water, immediately plunged in, and took me up, almost dead. This circumstance, far from deterring me from going again into the water, only made me more eager to acquire perfection in the art of swimming, in which, after some time, I became such a proficient, that, from off the bowsprits and round-tops of ships, I frequently leaped head foremost into the river. I now recollect the dangers to which I exposed myself on the watery element, even before I had attained my ninth year! I recognize with gratitude, the protecting arm divine, and, in humble adoration of that Providence which has hitherto guided me in safety, through the progress of an eventful life, am led to say with the poet,
66 Oft hath the sea confest thy pow'r,
And given me back to thy command;
Safe in the hollow of thy hand.” It may be necessary here to remark, that the dangers into which boys precipitate, in learning to swim, might