ABOUT the end of February 1746 a party of young Scotsmen took the packet for Harwich from Helvoetsluis. One of them afterwards wrote his autobiography. He was called Alexander Carlyle, was twenty-three years old, and destined for the ministry. He had spent two winters studying at Glasgow University and was due for a third, at Leyden, when Prince Charles Edward had arrived in Scotland, whereupon he had become a volunteer for the defence of Edinburgh. Edinburgh had let the Prince come in quietly, so, despite the very unsettled state of the country, Alexander had left Scotland, as always arranged, in November '45.
The rascal of a landlord at the Helvoetsluis inn had told Dr Monckley, treasurer and director of the young travellers, who was very fat, that he had often known packets becalmed at sea for a week, so Monckley had provided them with a cold ham, a couple of fowls, a sirloin, nine bottles of wine and three of brandy. They never touched anything, except a little of the brandy, as they were soon so sea-sick that they could hardly lift up their heads.
We had one cabin-passenger, who was afterwards much celebrated. When we were on the quarter-deck in the morning, we observed three foreignors of different ages who had under their care a young person of about sixteen, very handsome indeed, whom we took for a Hanoverian baron coming to pay his court at St James's. The gale freshened so soon that we had not an opportunity of conversing with these foreignors, when we were obliged to take to our beds in the cabin. The young person was the only one of the strangers who had a berth there, because, as we supposed, it occasioned an additional freight. My bed was directly opposite to that of the stranger but we were so sick that there was no conversation among us till the young foreignor became very frightened, in spite of the sickness, and called out to me in French, if we were not in danger. The voice betrayed her sex at once, no less than her fears. I consoled her as well as I could.
Next morning, at Harwich, the eldest of the three attendants on this lady in disguise introduced himself as her father, explained that she was Violetti, the dancer, engaged to appear at the Opera at the Haymarket, and expressed a hope that the young Scottish gentlemen would witness her first night and benefit. The whole party spent the night at Colchester