Captain George Cartwright. "Labrador Cartwright".
Captain George Cartwright. "Labrador Cartwright".

The second brother advanced but to a captain's rank in the army, but fame came to him with a surname. He is Labrador Cartwright. Born at Marnham in 1739, 'a pair of colours,' as the saying of his day went, was procured him, and he sailed to the East Indies, coming back in 1757 as ensign of the 39th. He went to the German wars in 1758 and 1759 as aide-de-camp to that popular hero, Marquess of Granby. As a captain of a company of the 37th he was sent back to England from Minorca in failing health, and from this time he gave himself to sport and travel. The young officer, whose health would not allow him to stay with his regiment, hardened into a mighty hunter, who spent sixteen years trapping and exploring amongst the snows of Labrador, to which coast he made five voyages, and lived to hearty old age, dying at Mansfield in 1819.

From one of his voyages he brought home five Innuits of Labrador, whose arrival in eighteenth century London was more than a nine days' wonder. The life of the Innuits inspired half Grub Street to tales of the frozen lands, and doubtless even good Mr. Barlow's anecdotes of Esquimaux life and the social moral to be drawn from it came to Master Sandford and Master Merton at secondhand from Captain Cartwright.

Like a good son of the house, Captain Cartwright first delighted the home at Marnham with his Innuits. In a little diary book in faded red morocco with silver clasps his sister Catherine tells the story of the Innuit invasion. Under the date of 16 April 1770 'my brother George left Marnham after breakfast to go upon his Labrador scheme.' On 13 December 1772 brother George landed at Gravesend from Cape Charles in Labrador, bringing with him five fur-clad visitors. These were Ittuiack, aged forty, and Econgoke his wife, aged twenty-four, with Ikkyana their daughter, whose years were two, Tooklawinia, aged nineteen, brother of Ittuiack, and Cauboic his wife, aged seventeen. On a never-to-be-forgotten 18 March 'my brother George came to Marnham with his five Indians in their proper habits, which are very curious and ingeniously form'd and ornamented with bead. All the Indians have bright black eyes and dark complexions. Cauboic is very handsome, has a regular face with an uncommon degree of sense, sweetness, sprightliness and sensibility in her countenance, and of ease and gentility in all her actions and notions.'

The party stayed at Marnham until 9 April, when they departed 'with mutual regret.' The kindly spinster sister at home took the whole party to her heart, and although she came at the last to admit that the natures of Ittuiack and Tooklawinia were rude, and that Econgoke was something wanting in the esteemed quality of 'gentility,' her affection for the beautiful Cauboic never failed, and it is evident that only the constraints of genteel language keep her from describing brown baby Ikkyana as a duck. 'For Cauboic,' says Miss Catherine Cartwright, 'I conceived such a love and friendship as I am convinced neither time or absence can ever efface.'

Two post-chaises carried Captain Cartwright and his friends to London, where the town seized upon them. King George received them at his Court of St. James's, and the sights of the town were at their feet. Five wondering Innuits walked with Captain Cartwright amongst the fiddlers and coloured lamps of Ranelagh, the crowd in its floured wigs and hooped petticoats pressing with giggling amazement upon these beings so strangely clad in deerskin coats and moccassins. They must have supped in one of the arbours on the famous Ranelagh punch and the transparent slices of ham, for they stayed until half past eleven at night, by which hour we may hope that Ikkyana was asleep in somebody's arms.

On 4 May they embarked in the Thames on a ship named, after Captain George's aunt, the Lady Tyrconnell, and began coasting towards the west, whence bad news comes to Marnham to be recorded in the red leather diary with the silver clasps. The London crowd of the eighteenth century might not be mingled with without risk, and off Lymington or Weymouth the beautiful Cauboic sickened of a fever. Smallpox declared itself, and Econgoke was the next to take the disease. With putrid fever and small-pox aboard, the Lady Tyrconnett became foul as a plague pit, and her crew were fain to run for Plymouth, where 'Ikkyana, that sweetest of babes, resigned her innocent soul.' The baby was buried in the sand of 'that-neck of land which helps to form the harbour of Catwater. She was in her sealskin dress, wrapped up in a deerskin, and had all her cloaths, beads and ornaments, sewing implements and a knife and spoon inter'd with her.' After her death her father and mother lost hold on life. Econgoke died. Miss Cartwright, when the news came, 'wished her well, but could not love her.' Ittuiack died, and within half an hour of him, Tooklawinia.

Captain George had been summoned to London by urgent affairs, and hurried back fearful of news of Cauboic, but the news was good. As he came before the house Cauboic's window was open and the curtain drawn. In our grandfather's time the physician boxed the sick man in his room to struggle with the pestilence behind closed doors and sealed windows. The open window told the captain that all was over for good or ill, and in another minute he was wished joy of the recovery of his daughter, 'for so he calls that amiable Innuit.'

The deaths of all her folk had next to be broken to Cauboic, and George, who was setting about it with an anxious mind, found that Cauboic bore the news with calmness. 'That amiable Innuit' confessed to him that 'she hated them all excepting the child,' and begged to be allowed to live with him. Once again in the open air of Plymouth she mended fast, and Miss Cartwright, far away at Marnham, records thankfully how she had eaten in the morning a whole chicken roasted with pease, and was to eat another in broth before night.

Captain George stayed at her side, and brought amusements to divert her. A fiddler played by her bed, and on one memorable day her guardian 'obtain'd the Old Buffs' band of music, consisting of nine hands, with which she was so delighted that she kept the band for twelve hours, and never shed another tear for her relations.'

The Lady Tyconnell was cleansed and re-manned, the voyage was taken up again, and before the end of August the captain and his adopted daughter were landed at Cape Charles, where they were well received by Cauboic's people, who, listening to her tale, forbore to lay the deaths of their kinsfolk at the captain's door. It was probably not long before the wildest beliefs concerning Ranelagh and its coloured lamps had passed into the tribal lore of the Innuits.

Southey's fat Commonplace Book gives us a picture of Captain George Cartwright eighteen years later. He was then a guest at the house of his brother-in-law Hodges, and the amazing appetite of the man kept the eyes of the young Southey upon him. With this mighty hunter the phrase of a hunter's hunger was indeed justified. The footman, who knew his manner of life, carved for him at the sideboard a plate of beef piled so high that Southey believed it a lackey's insult to a stranger, but the plate returned empty to the joint not once or twice. Satisfied at last, the captain admitted that he was an earnest trencherman, and boasted that a leg of mutton was with him an affair of but two slices, the first slice taking one side away, and the other clearing the bone. Before he left in the morning he ate a breakfast with three cucumbers and much bread and cheese in it, and Southey thought he had never before met so extraordinary a man. Few of us to-day have read George Cartwright's Journal of Transactions and Events during a Residence of nearly Sixteen Tears on the Coast of Labrador (three volumes quarto, 1793), but Southey read them with delight:—

The annals of his campaigns amongst the foxes and beavers interested me more than ever did the exploits of Marlboro' and Frederic; besides, I saw plain truth and the heart in Cartwright's boot, and in what history could I look for them?

The third son of the Marnham family was John Cartwright of Wyberton, born in 1740. This was the 'Major Cartwright' the reformer, very famous in his day and accursed of his brother squires. He began life in the navy, and saw service under Lord Howe, was first lieutenant of the Guernsey in 1766, and explored part of Newfoundland. The restless spirit of his brothers was upon him in good measure, and his popularity in the navy may have suffered through his being one of the first Englishmen to take up the cry of 'efficiency.' Towards efficiency he himself contributed improvements in the gun exercise, but by 1775 he was ashore and addressing a letter to Edmund Burke, Esquire, 'controverting the principles of American Government laid down in his lately published tract.' If his ancestor were indeed that Cartwright who, in 1671, was asking justice and consideration for the claims of the American colonists, we must recall this when we learn that John Cartwright left the navy and all hope of advancement in 1777 rather than join Lord Howe's new command on the American station. As a naval officer ashore he had busied himself in the Notts militia, and by his militia majority he was henceforward to be known, even after his commission had been taken from him by reason of a public meeting in which he had cheered for the fall of the Bastille.

The busy life was before this sailor ashore, this major from the sea. At once he thrust both hands into politics, and the descendant on both sides of a line of squires declared boldly for the people. He was the father of reform, and more than two generations before the coming of the Chartists he was fighting in and out of season for annual parliaments, universal suffrage and the ballot, demands which, to the ears of most of his astonished class, must have sounded as the blasphemings of the restless pit.

In those anxious times when a troubled government was wont to see Armageddon and red revolution awaiting it round the very next corner, it is at least remarkable that the major came so safely away from his political adventures, but the hemp was never heckled for him, and the loss of his militia commission and a hundred pound fine for sedition were the worst that he came by.

Politics were not enough to fill his life with. He made experiments in husbandry on his Lincolnshire lands, he fought against slavery with Clarkson and Granville Sharp, and when his old calling of the navy was to be honoured with a public monument by a people in high delight over Nelson's doings at sea, this handy sailor man was ready with marvellous designs for a Hieronauticon or Naval Temple, which came to a quarto volume, but never rose in stone and bronze.

In this red radical our little Englanders can have no pleasure, for he was full of schemes for the better defence of England and her coasts. He had good counsel for the Spanish patriots, and Greeks were helped with his money and with tracts on the proper use of the pike when bayonets may not be obtained.

He wrote eighty political tracts, and saved four lives from drowning. He was a generous soul, a dull and troublesome writer and orator. Mr. Francis Place did not love the major, but others found him a cheerful man and good companion. He died in Burton Crescent, where now his grimy monument looks upon the windows of that encampment of paying guests.