Page:Devonshire Characters and Strange Events.djvu/429
RICHARD PARKER, THE MUTINEER
In the early days of May, 1797, Parker reached the Nore, a point of land dividing the mouth of the Thames and the Medway. Probably on account of his former experience as a seaman, he was drafted on board the Sandwich, the guardship that bore the flag of Admiral Buckner, the Port Admiral. The mutinous spirit which afterwards broke out certainly existed on board the Nore squadron before Parker's arrival. Communications were kept up in secret between the various crews, and the mischief was gradually drawing to a head. But though he did not originate the feeling of insubordination, the ardent temper, boldness, and superior intelligence of Parker soon became known to his comrades, and he became a prominent man among them. Their plans being at last matured, the seamen rose simultaneously against their officers, and deprived them of their arms, as well as of all command in the ships, though behaving respectfully to them in all other ways. Each vessel was put under the government of a committee of twelve men, and, to represent the whole body of seamen, every man-of-war appointed two delegates and each gunboat one to act for the common good. Of these delegates Richard Parker was chosen president, and in an unhappy hour for himself he accepted the office. The representative body drew up a list of grievances, of which they demanded the removal, offering return immediately after to their duty. The demands were for increased pay, better and
late, for the tender had just sailed with her husband on board. Her grief was aggravated at this time by the loss of one of her children. Parker's sufferings were shown to be equally acute by his conduct when the vessel sailed, crying out that he saw the body of his child floating upon the waves; he leaped overboard, and was with difficulty rescued and restored to life.