[From the Shanghai Mercury, April 13, 1887.]
The steamship "Kiang-yu," Captain Knights, left the Kin-lee-yuen Wharf for Hankow, at 2 o'clock on the morning of the 1st instant. On account of the fog prevailing, she anchored at Halfway Point till 6 A. M., when she got under way and ran as far as Lin-ho Point, where she anchored again until 11 o'clock. The wind had been fresh from the south, but at noon it changed in a squall to north, and continued very strong all day. At 4 P. M., when about 75 miles up the Yangtse, a junk that had been capsized was seen. A boat was lowered and six men, two women, and two children were taken off, who were all got safely on board the "Kiang-yu." A change of clothes was raised for them among the Chinese passengers, and over thirty dollars were subscribed for the unfortunates, who were landed at Kiang-yin. Their home was about five miles lower down the river. They had left there in the morning, and were capsized in the sudden change of wind. The poor creatures appeared to be very grateful for their rescue.
This is not the first time that Captain Knights has been instrumental in saving life. During the last six years, he has picked up over thirty people on the Yangtse, and in November, 1858, when second officer of the tea-clipper "Northfleet," he performed a gallant action in going in charge of a boat during a cyclone to the rescue of the crew of the brig "Hebe." This happened about four hundred and fifty miles southwest of the Scilly Islands, Land's End. The "Northfleet" was bound for Portsmouth with some four hundred and fifty soldiers and sailors, invalids from Hongkong, and twenty-four saloon passengers, mostly naval and military officers. The "Hebe" was laden with grain from Alexandria, and was in a sinking condition.
The following testimonial, signed by several of the military and naval officers on board the "Northfleet," who witnessed the rescue, and by the captain and mate of the "Hebe," speaks for itself:
Ship "Northfleet" (at sea),
November 18th, 1858.
We take much pleasure in awarding to Mr. Knights, 2nd officer of this ship, this unsolicited testimonial, expressive of our high sense of the coolness, judgment and courage he displayed on the morning of November the 13th, 1858, when, under circumstances of great difficulty and imminent danger, when in charge of the cutter, with five men, in a gale of wind and high tumultuous sea running, he was, by the interposition of Divine Providence, mercifully allowed to be the means of rescuing the master, mate, and crew (9 in all) of the brig "Hebe," of Southampton, reported to be in a sinking state.
J. R. Fittock, Master, R. N.
W. J. Stuart, Lieutenant, R. N.
H. J. Tribe, Captain, R. N.
R. Picken, M. D., R. N.
H. Ward, Captain, R. N.
James Driver, Engineer, R. N.
G eo. A. F. Day, 2nd Master, R. N.
Wm. Donnelly, F. W., R. N.
A. W. Stratton (late Master and Owner of brig "Hebe").
Chas. Clarke, Mate.
The first signature to the testimonial is that of Mr. J. B. Fittock, Master, R. N., father of Mr. Consul Fittock, well known in China. The following letter on the subject was also written to the London Times by the master of the "Hebe":--
Heroism at Sea.
To the Editor of "The Times."
Sir: I wish to acknowledge, through the medium of your journal, my sincere thanks to Captain B. Freeman, of the ship "Northfleet," of London, for having rescued myself and eight men, the crew of the brig "Hebe," of Southampton, when in a sinking state, and at the same time blowing a gale of wind, with a high sea, in latitude 48° 80' N. and longitude 12° 20' W. At the same time, I cannot pass by the courage displayed by Mr. Knights, second mate, and five of the crew of the "Northfleet," in the management of the boat which took us off. Yours respectfully,
A. W. Stratton, Master.
12 Wood Street, Ryde, Isle of Wight, Nov. 30.
The Board of Trade recognized Captain Knights's gallantry by presenting him with a telescope (by Troughton & Sons, London) and recording the fact on his certificate in the following terms:--
"Certified that a telescope was presented by the British Government to Arthur E. Knights for gallantry in saving life at sea."
Recently, Captain Knights received from his old chief, Captain Freeman, who was master of the "Northfleet" when the rescue of the crew of the "Hebe" took place, a large oil-painting descriptive of the scene, accompanied by a letter, from which we take the following extract:
South Hackney, Feb. 25th, 1887.
I have sent you (by favour of Mr. W. Howell, the chief officer of the "Glenroy") the painting that Captain Stratton gave me of the "Northfleet" rescuing the crew of the brig "Hebe," of Southampton, and I beg your acceptance of it. I am sure you will like to have it, as you were the principal actor in the scene--and I have a copy of it done by the same artist. I well remember (as if it was only yesterday) how anxious I was during the time you were away on the job, and how my heart was frequently in my mouth (as the saying goes) when the old ship gave an extra heavy lurch, and you and the dear old cutter were out of sight for a few seconds in the trough of the sea; and I often think now what a wonderful and merciful thing it was that we got that boat up without accident,--but you see we had so many willing hands on board that they ran away with her as soon as she was hooked on.
The painting represents the "Northfleet" in a storm under close-reefed topsails, fore staysail, and main trysail, and the "Hebe" under close-reefed topsails, with heavy seas breaking over her, her boats and house washed away, her stern-post (struck by a heavy sea) started, and the brig in a sinking condition. The cutter, manned by a crew of five, with Captain Knights in charge, and with the rescued crew of the "Hebe" in her, appears under the stern of the "Northfleet," one man of the "Hebe's" crew being hoisted on board by a bowline running from the spanker-boom. The whole of the "Hebe's" crew were got on board the "Northfleet" in the same way,--the cutter, containing Captain Knights and the crew from the "Northfleet" being then hooked on and run up without accident.
It may be mentioned that the "Northfleet" was the ill-fated vessel which some years afterwards was run down, while at anchor under Dungeness, by the Spanish steamer "Murillo," when over three hundred lives were lost.