One of the Widow's Sons - Mr. Joseph Stevens, of Mount Pleasant

Rudyard Kipling meant no disrespect to Queen Victoria when he styled her "the Widow of Windsor". The title is the rather one that is full of poetry and pathos, and one that will go down to history with a deep and touching significance. Her widowhood, indeed, is that which has materially helped to give her a secure place in the affections of her people; and that, too, which has made her "sons" of the army and the fleet dare and do so much in her name in all parts of the empire and the world.

We have one of the sons of the Widow of Windsor living among us in the person of Mr. Joseph Stevens. Hailing from Banbury, in Oxfordshire, - famed for its cross and its cakes, - he worked and fought beneath the flag until he had qualified for a pension in the usual way, and is now in receipt of regular remittances from the authorities in London. At the time of the Russian war, when wheat reached a phenomenally high price in these parts, as some of our older readers will remember, he spent over three years on H.M.S. Majestic, cruising in the North Sea and the Baltic. He is the owner of the Baltic medal which he won for battering the Russian town of Sweaborg, bombarding several other places, and taking a Russian trader. This vessel, which was loaded with provisions, - cheese, biscuits, sugar, raisins, etc - furnished the crew of the Majestic with twelve shilling each in prize money.

A couple of years of barrack life followed these exciting experiences, and then our hero went aboard H.M.S. Arrogant and sailed for the south-west coast of Africa with a view of intercepting and capturing Spanish vessels engaged in the slave trade. Without much trouble they took one of these boats immediately on reaching the equator. This proved a valuable prize, netting each man the sum of three pound, twelve and four pence, and was sent off to St Helena. The Arrogant continued for some time to cruise up and down the coast, but Mr. Stevens in September 1860, was invalided home with coast fever. The crew saw little of Africa except what they could discern from the warship, as they never went ashore except for ball-practice, and that was generally in some quiet uninhabited region.

Several years were then spent on the Excellent, a training ship, and on the Achilles, a vessel in the coast-guard service, and at length Mr. Stevens went aboard H.M.S. Amphion, - being sent out in the Caesar to Beirut on the coast of Syria in place of a man who died or deserted.

The Amphion was a vessel belonging to the Mediterranean squadron, which is the most powerful of the nine squadrons that constitute the Royal Navy, and which is, at the present time, formed of no less than forty-two vessels. In her Mr. Stevens cruised along the coasts of Asia Minor, Syria, Cyprus, Candia, Malta, Greece, and Italy, as well as in and out of the Bay of Gibraltar. On one occasion, at Sidon, he and a number of other good conduct men, were allowed a holiday ashore, and they made good use of it by travelling on camel back to the river Jordan, and Jerusalem; bringing back with them polished olive-wood, bottles of Jordan water, and other souvenirs. The quart of Jordan water which our hero owned, he gave to an old friend on his return to England, for use in a baptismal service.

Mr. Stevens endorses all that was said in these columns last week respecting the Rock of Gibraltar. He knows the place well, and describes it as simply "a box of guns and barracks". Moreover, he states that the Home recently opened there by the Rev. Mr. Sarchet is a great boon, - a veritable mercy and a God send for the men, and he can readily understand why they should grow enthusiastic over its opening. It appears that the men are not allowed to go even into Spain, and so are doomed to the close and monotonous life of the barrack-room forever. The Home will mean relief and refreshment, and will be a welcome change indeed.

At that time the Ionian Islands, on the west coast of Greece, were still under the protection of Great Britain (they were not annexed to Greece until May 28th, 1864), and the Amphion was constantly in and out among them. On one occasion, while they lay at Corfu, a sergeant of artillery met with a tragic accident. While washing his feet at the landing steps in the harbour, a shark approached with the rapidity of lightening, cut off one of his legs below the knee, and was gone again in an instant. When in these parts Mr. Stevens visited Athens, the city of Solon, and Socrates, of Themistocles and Pericles. The harbour nearest this classic place is that of Piraeus, and here the vessels ride over submerged buildings. "There setting the tea things down below there" some one on board would say, as he looked into the blue water, "get ready boys, they've got the muffins toasted". He describes the site of Athens as resembling an upturned plate and in those days the place was infested with rebels bent on plunder, who , however, if caught, were summarily beheaded.

While the Amphion was in the Mediterranean, Garabaldi was busily engaged in his life work. In September 1862 he had issued his famous appeal to the English people urging their intervention in the cause of liberty in Italy, and the ships of the Mediterranean fleet were keeping a friendly eye upon him and his operation. It was now they visited Sicily and Naples and saw the belching fires of Etna and Vesuvious, - pictures of which most of the crew purchased and carried to England with them. Pompeii, which they visited when they lay in the Bay of Naples, Mr. Stevens described as lying on the side of the hill and rolling to the south, and the burning lava he says had the appearance of dirty soap-suds pouring from the crater.

A visit to Malta offered an opportunity of inspecting St John's church, and other celebrated places still alive with memories of Napoleon Bonaparte and his de???tations. This great conqueror is said to have carried away, among other treasures a pair of golden gates from St. John's church, which, however, he threw overboard in the Bay of Biscay, when subsequently pursued by the English admiral.

The Amphion was on one occasion at this period ordered to Gibraltar, - whose bay, says Mr. Stevens, is sufficiently commodious to afford shelter for all the shipping of the world. Her mission on this occasion was to be answerable for the good conduct of two American vessels. Hostilities had commenced between the Northern and Southern States, and the Alabama a northern boat, and the Sumpter, a southern one happened in Gibraltar together. The former was a regular man-of-war, fighting ship. So our hero has been directly or indirectly connected with warlike operations in two hemispheres, and he passes the evening of life in his home at Mount Pleasant with the memories of the distant but still exciting past.

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