Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – Panama

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Lord Charles Beresford (1846-1919) was a British Admiral and Member of Parliament, he was a hero in battle and a champion of the Navy in Parliament.  Below is another installment in our series of his memoirs – taken from ‘The Memoirs of Admiral Lord Charles Beresford’ written by himself and published in 1914.

This excerpt covers his time onboard HMS Clio.

Catch-up with earlier posts in this series here.

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – Panama

After touching at Acapulco, which was all heat and flies, we landed the Queen of the Sandwich Islands at Panama. Some years afterwards, I went to call upon her Majesty. In all my voyages, I carried with me a set of tandem harness; and on this occasion, I hired a light cart and a couple of ponies, and drove them tandem. Approaching the royal residence, I took a corner too sharply, the cart capsized, I was flung out, and found myself sitting on the ground in the Queen’s presence.

But before we quitted the Sandwich Islands, an event occurred (of which I was the humble and unwitting instrument) which nearly brought about what are called international complications. I should explain that feeling ran pretty high between the English and the Americans in the Sandwich Islands with regard to the American Civil War, which was then waging. It was none of our business, but we of the Clio chose to sympathise with the South. Now that these unhappy differences have been so long composed, there can be no harm in referring to them. But it was not resentment against the North which inspired my indiscretion. It was the natural desire to win a bet. A certain lady; her name does not matter; bet me that I would not ride down a steep pass in the hills, down which no horse had yet been ridden. I took the bet and I won it. Then the same fair lady bet me; it was at a ball; that I would not pull down the American flag. That emblem was painted on wood upon an escutcheon fixed over the entrance to the garden of the Consulate. I took that bet, too, and won it.

Having induced two other midshipmen to come with me, we went under cover of night to the Consulate. I climbed upon the backs of my accomplices, leaped up, caught hold of the escutcheon, and brought the whole thing down upon us. Then we carried the trophy on board in a shore-boat. Unfortunately the boatman recognised what it was, and basely told the American consul, who was naturally indignant, and who insisted that the flag should be nailed up again in its place. I had no intention of inflicting annoyance, and had never considered how serious might be the consequences of a boyish impulse. My captain very justly said that as I had pulled down the flag I must put it up again, and sent me with a couple of carpenters on shore. We replaced the insulted emblem of national honour, to the deep delight of an admiring crowd. The Clio put to sea. We heard afterwards that the American Government dispatched a couple of ships of war to capture me, but I do not think the report was true.

Excerpt from The Memoirs of Admiral Lord Charles Beresford written by himself and published in 1914.

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Further Reading and External Links

Lord Charles Beresford on Wikipedia

Lord Charles Beresford on The Dreadnought Project

HMS Clio