Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – 1866 – Landing Party

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 The Sublej.

Catch-up with earlier posts in this series here.

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – 1866 – Landing Party

Charles Beresford
Charles Beresford

So the British and American fleets steamed out to sea, while the Spaniards fired upon Valparaiso from eight in the morning until four in the afternoon, setting the place on fire, and then retired to their anchorage outside. The British and American fleets then returned to the Bay, and I accompanied a landing-party to help to extinguish the conflagration.

Five of us were standing on the top of the high wall of a building whose roof had fallen in, so that the whole interior was a mass of burning wreckage, upon which we were directing the hose, when the men below shouted that the wall was falling. We slid down the ladder, and no sooner had we touched the ground than the whole wall tottered and fell inwards.

We put the fires out, but the inhabitants were so angry with us because we had not prevented the bombardment, that they requested that the landing-party should be sent back to their ships. Then the flames broke out afresh. For years the resentment of the Valparaisians remained so hot that it was inadvisable to land in the town men from British ships.

The meeting of the British and American seamen gave rise to much discussion concerning the respective merits of the British and American theories of gunnery. The Americans advocated the use of round shot to deliver a “racking blow”; the British preferred firing a pointed projectile which would penetrate the target instead of merely striking it. When an American bluejacket asked his British friend to explain the new English system of shell-fire, the British bluejacket said: “We casts our shot for the new gun so many fathoms long, and then, d’ye see, we cuts off a length at a time, regulatin’ the length required according to the ship we uses it against. For your ship, I reckon we should cut off about three and a half inches.”

The Spanish fleet was afflicted with scurvy; and we used to pull over to the Spanish ships in the evenings, bringing the officers presents of chicken, fresh meat and fruit.

Having done with Valparaiso, the Spaniards went to Callao; but there they had a more difficult job; for Callao was fortified, and the Spaniards were considerably damaged by the gun-fire from the forts.

During the progress of hostilities between the Chilians and the Spaniards, the Chilians constructed one of the first submarines. It was an American invention worked by hand and ballasted with water. The Chilians intended, or hoped, to sink the Spanish fleet with it. The submarine started from the beach on this enterprise; but it was never seen again. It simply plunged into the sea, and in the sea it remains to this day.

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

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – 1866 – Valparaiso

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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 The Sutlej.

Catch-up with earlier posts in this series here.

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – 1866 – Valparaiso

When we put into Valparaiso the Spanish fleet was threatening to bombard the town. Rather more than a year previously, in [1864], Spain had quarrelled with Chile, alleging that Chile had violated neutrality, and had committed other offences. In March, [1864], Spain began the diplomatic correspondence with Chile in which she demanded reparation, which was refused. Chile sent artillery and troops to Valparaiso. The Spanish admiral, Pareja, then proclaimed a blockade of the Chilian ports, and Chile declared war.

The European residents in Valparaiso, who owned an immense amount of valuable property stored in the customhouses, were terrified at the prospect of a bombardment, and petitioned Admiral Denman to prevent it. An American fleet of warships was also lying in the Bay. Among them was the Miantonomoh, the second screw ironclad that ever came through the Straits of Magellan, the first being the Spanish ironclad Numancia.

When the Miantonomoh crossed the Atlantic in [1866], The Times kindly remarked that the existing British Navy was henceforth useless, and that most of its vessels “were only fit to be laid up and ‘ painted that dirty yellow which is universally adopted to mark treachery, failure, and crime.'”

The British and American admirals consulted together as to the advisability of preventing the bombardment. The prospect of a fight cheered us all; and we entered into elaborate calculations of the relative strength of the Spanish fleet and the British-American force. As a matter of fact they were about equal The Spanish admiral, Nunez, who had succeeded Pareja, visited the Sutlej and conversed with Admiral Denman. It was reported by the midshipman who was A.D.C. to the admiral that, upon his departure, the Spaniard had said: “Very well, Admiral Denman, you know your duty and I know mine.” The information raised our hopes; but at the critical moment a telegram forbidding the British admiral to take action was received from the British Minister at Santiago.

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

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – 1866 – Old Yarn

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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 The Sutlej.

Catch-up with earlier posts in this series here.

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – 1866 – Old Yarn

In those days we had little bright-work, but plenty of whitewash and blacking. The test of a smart ship was that the lines of white or black should meet with absolute accuracy; and a fraction of error would be visited with the captain’s severe displeasure. For he employed condemnation instead of commendation. There was an old yarn about a mate of the main deck, who boasted that he had got to windward of his captain. We used to take live stock, poultry and sheep to sea in those days. The captain found fault with the mate because the fowls and coops were dirty. The mate whitewashed the chickens and blacked their legs and beaks. Now the poultry in question belonged to the captain. Thereafter the fowls died.

It was the custom for the admiral to take a cow or two to sea, and the officers took sheep and fowls. There is a tradition in the Navy that the cow used to be milked in the middle watch for the benefit of the officer on watch; and that, in order that the admiral should get his allowance of milk, the cow was filled up with water and made to leap backwards and forwards across the hatchways. Another tradition ordains that when the forage for the sheep ran short, the innocent animals were fitted with green spectacles, and thus equipped, they were fed on shavings.

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

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – 1866 – The Sutlej

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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 Sutlej.

Catch-up with earlier posts in this series here.

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – 1866 – The Sutlej

We arrived at Valparaiso towards the end of January. I continued to discharge my duties in the Tribune until the middle of February, when I was transferred to the Sutlej. I was as happy on board the Tribune as I had been in the Marlborough and the Clio, and for the same reason: the splendid seamanship and constant sailorising.

The Sutlej was a steam frigate pierced for guns, of 3066 tons and 500 h.p., flagship of the Pacific station. Before I joined her, the commander-in-chief of the station was Admiral Kingcome, who had (as we say) come in through the hawse-pipe. It was the delight of this queer old admiral to beat the drum for night-quarters himself. He used to steal the drum, and trot away with it, rub-a-dub all along the lower deck, bending double beneath the hammocks of the sleeping seamen. On one of these occasions; so runs the yarn; a burly able seaman thrust his bare legs over the edge of his hammock, clipped the admiral under the shoulders, swung him to and fro, and, with an appropriate but unquotable objurgation, dispatched him forward with a kick.

Such (in a word) was the condition of the flagship to which Rear-Admiral the Honourable Joseph Denman succeeded, after the enjoyment of twenty-five years’ profound peace in the command of the Queen’s yacht.

The captain, Trevenen P. Coode, was tall and thin, hooked-nosed and elderly, much bent about the shoulders, with a habit of crossing his arms and folding his hands inside his sleeves. He was a taut hand and a fine seaman. He nearly broke my heart, old martinet that he was; for I was mate of the upper deck and the hull, and took an immense pride in keeping them immaculately clean; but they were never clean enough for Captain Trevenen P. Coode.

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

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – 1866 – Promotion

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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 Tribune.

Catch-up with earlier posts in this series here.

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – 1865 – Promotion

While in the Tribune, two misfortunes occurred to me on the same day. As we all know, misfortunes never come singly. The sailmaker had reported me for skylarking; and it occurred to me that if he was going to put me in the report, he might as well have a better reason for that extreme action. I therefore rove a line attached to a sailmaker’s needle through the holes of the bench upon which he sat. When he seated himself to begin his work, I jerked the line, and he leaped into the air with a loud cry. That was my first misfortune. The second was entirely due to the rude and thoughtless conduct of another midshipman, who, in passing me as I sat at my sailmaker’s bench, industriously working, tilted me over. I took up the first thing which was handy, which happened to be a carpenter’s chisel, and hurled it at his retreating figure. It stuck and quivered in a portion of his anatomy which is (or was) considered by schoolmasters as designed to receive punishment. I had, of course, no intention of hurting him. But I was reported for the second time that day. I was put on watch and watch for a week, a penance which involved being four hours on and four hours off, my duties having to be done as usual during the watch off in the daytime.

We sailed from Vancouver early in December, [1865]. On 2nd January I was promoted to be acting sub-lieutenant I find that Captain Lord Gillford endorsed my certificate with the statement that Lord Charles Beresford had conducted himself “with sobriety, diligence, attention, and was always obedient to command; and I have been much pleased with the zealous manner in which he has performed his duties.”

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

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – 1865 – Pride

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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 Tribune.

Catch-up with earlier posts in this series here.

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – 1865 – Pride

Morrison and I worked together at everything. We turned in new boats’ falls, replaced lanyards in wash-deck buckets, as well as taking our turn at all tricks sailmaker’s crew. We put in new clews to a topsail and course. We roped a jib and other fore-and-aft sails. Both of these jobs require great care and practice, and both of them we had to do two or three times before we got them right. A sailmaker knows how difficult it is to keep the lay of the rope right in roping a sail. We used also to go aloft and repair sick seams in the sails to avoid unbending.

Captain Lord Gillford himself could cut out a sail, whether fore-and-aft or square. I have heard him argue with Flood as to the amount of goring to be allowed, and Lord Gillford was always right. It was he who put it into my head to try to teach myself all that I could, by saying, “If a man is a lubber over a job, you ought to be able to show him how to do it, not tell him how to do it.”

We were never so proud as when Lord Gillford sent for us and told us that we had made a good job of roping the new jib. Among other things, I learned from the “snob,” as the shoemaker was called, to welt and repair boots. In after years, I made a portmanteau, which lasted for a long time, for my old friend, Chief Engineer Roffey; and I made many shooting and fishing bags for my brother officers.

Merely for the sake of knowing how to do and how not to do a thing, in later years I have chipped a boiler (a devil of a job), filled coal-sacks, trimmed bunkers, stoked fires and driven engines.

We used up all our spare canvas in the Tribune; and I remember that on one occasion we were obliged to patch the main-royal with a mail-bag, so that the main-royal bore the legend “Letters for England” on it thereafter.

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

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – 1865 – Sailmaker

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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 Tribune.

Catch-up with earlier posts in this series here.

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – 1865 – Sailmaker

I can never be too grateful for the seamanship I learned on board the Tribune. The captain lost no opportunity of teaching us. On one occasion, for instance, we carried away the starboard foremast swifter, in the fore rigging;  the Tribune had rope lower rigging. Captain Lord Gillford, instead of splicing the shroud to the masthead pennants, chose, in order to educate us, to strip the whole foremast to a gantline. We got the whole of the lower rigging over the masthead again. I was in the sailmaker’s crew; and another midshipman and myself, together with the forecastle men, fitted in the new shroud, turned it in, wormed, parcelled, and served it; put it over the masthead, and got the fore rigging all a-taunto again. I also helped to make a new foresail and jib out of number one canvas, roped them, put the clews in, and completed the job. Lord Gillford’s object was to teach those under him to carry out the work in the proper shipshape manner. The sailmaker’s crew, among whom was another midshipman, named Morrison, and myself, numbered 15 or 20 men, including able seamen, and we were all as happy as possible. We were taught by one of the best sailmakers in the Service, who was named Flood. We always worked in a sailmaker’s canvas jumper and trousers made by ourselves. I could cut out and make a seaman’s canvas working suit, jumper and trousers, in 30 minutes, using the sailmaker’s stitch of four stitches to the inch.

I had a complete sailmaker’s bag with every sailmaker’s tool necessary; serving and roping mallets, jiggers, seaming and roping palms, all-sized marling-spikes, fids, seam-rubbers, sail-hooks, grease-pot, seaming and roping twine, etc. etc.

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

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – 1865 – The Tribune

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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 Tribune.

Catch-up with earlier posts in this series here.

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – 1865 – The Tribune

CAPTAIN Lord Gillford, afterwards Lord Clanwilliam, was one of the finest seamen, and his ship was one of the smartest ships, in the Service. The Tribune was what we used to call a jackass frigate. She was pierced for 31 guns, was of [1570] tons burthen, and 300 h.p.; not that anything could ever induce the captain to use steam.

Before I joined the Tribune, she had sprung her foremast, so she went up the Fraser River to cut a new spar out of the forest. Such things were done in those days. But on the way up she grounded on the bar. Everything; guns, coal, stores; was taken out of her; anchors were got out; and every effort was made to warp her off. Still she would not move. In this desperate pass, when every man in the ship, except one, was hauling on the purchases, it is on record that when the chaplain put his weight on the rope, away she came. The power of the man of God is remembered even unto this day. Then the Tribune sailed up the river, and they cut a new spar, set it up and rigged it, and she came home with it.

Captain Lord Gillford prided himself on the speed of his ship under sail. He had fitted her with all sorts of extra gear, such as they had in the famous tea-clippers. His tacks and sheets were much thicker than was usual; strengthening pieces were fitted to the sails; there were gaffs for topgallant backstays, and extra braces. His order book was a curiosity. Day after day it bore the same entry: “The course. Carry sail” Sailing from Vancouver to Valparaiso, the Tribune beat the Sutlej, another fine sailing ship commanded by another first-class seaman, by two days.

Captain Lord Gillford’s orders were that sail should never be shortened without his permission. One night when it was blowing hard I went down to the captain’s cabin to ask him if we might take in the topmast studding-sail. The ship was then heeling over. The captain stuck one leg out of his cot and put his foot against the side of the ship. “I don’t feel any water here yet,” says he, and sent me on deck again. The next moment the sail blew away.

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

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – 1865 – Vancouver

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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 Tribune.

Catch-up with earlier posts in this series here.

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – 1865 – Vancouver

Having landed the Queen of the Sandwich Islands at Panama, as I have said, about the middle of June, [1865], we left the Bay early in July, and proceeded to Vancouver, arriving there in the middle of August. There we remained until early in December.

I was placed in charge of a working party from the Clio, to cut a trail through the virgin forest of magnificent timber with which the island was then covered. I was pleased enough to receive an extra shilling a day check-money. Where the flourishing town of Victoria now stands, there were a few log huts, closed in by gigantic woods. When I revisited the country recently, I found a tramway running along what was once my trail, and I met several persons who remembered my having helped to cut it, nearly fifty years before.

I believe that Canada will eventually become the centre of the British Empire; for the Canadians are a splendid nation, gifted with pluck, enterprise and energy.

The free forest life was bliss to a boy of my age. To tell the truth, we were allowed to do pretty well what we liked. In the Clio, which was so easy-going a ship that she was nicknamed “the Privateer.”  We used to go out fishing for salmon with the Indians, in their canoes, using the Indian hook made of shell. To this day the Indians fish for salmon in canoes, using shell hooks. I made a trot, a night-line with a hundred hooks, and hauled up a goodly quantity of fish every morning. I remember that a party of midshipmen (of whom I was not one) from another ship were playing cricket on the island, when a bear suddenly walked out of the forest. The boys instantly ran for a gun and found one in an adjacent cabin, but there were no bullets or caps. So they filled up the weapon with stones from the beach. In the meantime the bear had climbed a tree. The midshipmen levelled the gun at him and fired it with a lucifer match.

We used to go away into the forest deer-shooting, and on one occasion we were lost for a day and a night. It was at this time that I made the acquaintance of the celebrated Mr. Dunsmuir, who became a mayor and a millionaire, simply because he slept one night in the forest; for the sake of coolness. When he awoke in the morning, he found that he had pillowed his head upon a lump of coal. He subsequently obtained an enormous concession of land from the Government and amassed a huge fortune in coal. Two of our lieutenants put money in the scheme. I wrote at the time to my father, asking him to let me have a thousand pounds to invest in the coal business. But he replied affectionately but firmly that, until I ceased to exceed my allowance, he did not think it right that I should embark in a gambling project. The two lucky lieutenants were eventually bought out by Mr. Dunsmuir for a very large sum of money.

I was very happy in the Clio; but, for reasons, it was considered expedient that I should be transferred to the Tribune. Accordingly, I turned over to the Tribune early in December, by the orders of my constant friend, Admiral Charles Eden. He said it would do me good to serve under Captain Lord Gillford. He was right. It did.

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

James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – 1853 – Commission of Enquiry

James Brooke became the first White Rajah of Sarawak in 1841 after inheriting £30,000 and investing it in the schooner ‘The Royalist’ and sailing for Borneo. 

We are publishing a blog series that covers his adventures – taken from one of the books in our library called Rajah Brooke by Sir Spenser St John published in 1899.

Catch-up with earlier posts in the James Rajah Brooke series here.

James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – 1853 – Commission of Enquiry

So closed the year [1852], and on the 1st January [1853] appeared the list of the new ministers the Coalition Ministry of Lord Aberdeen. England loves not coalitions, said D’Israeli; and we certainly did not love this one. Probably to strengthen their parliamentary majority, and yielding to the influence of Mr Cobden, the new Government decided to grant Mr Hume’s demand and issue a Commission to inquire into the conduct of Sir James Brooke. Sir James himself had always courted inquiry, and therefore the Ministry might have communicated their intention to him before he left England, which he had decided to do during the first week in April. But instead of consulting with him, they tried to keep the whole affair dark, and it was only accidentally that Sir James heard of it. I never could understand how a frank, loyal man like Lord Clarendon could lend himself to such proceedings, but I suppose he was overruled by Lord Aberdeen and Mr Sidney Herbert.

Finding that their determination to issue a Commission of Inquiry could no longer be concealed from Sir James Brooke, they wrote to him officially on the subject, and stated that they would call on the Governor General of India to choose Commissioners. They further assured Sir James that ‘the inquiry should be full, fair and complete.’ But the whole transaction had been so underhand, so humiliating to him personally, so derogatory to him as ruler of Sarawak, that he felt it bitterly, and he closed his despatch to Lord Clarendon, April 4, [1853], the day he left England, with these words: It is with sorrow unmixed with anger that I leave the world to judge the services I have rendered and the treatment I have received.’

On Sir James Brooke’s arrival in Singapore he found that while the Government had been reticent with him, they had been confidential with Mr Hume, who repaid that confidence by divulging all the details of the proposed Commission to the editor of a hostile paper in Singapore. This personage made the most of it, and indulged in violent tirades, in which he gloated over the disgrace which had fallen upon Sir James. But this abuse affected none of the Rajah’s friends, who were the flower of Singapore society.

Excerpt from Rajah Brooke, published in 1899 by Sir Spenser St John

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Further Reading and External Links

James Rajah Brooke on Wikipedia

The Royalist Schooner

35 Thousand recognised books… and counting