He told me I was to go to the Pacific in the
first ship that left for South America, which would probably
be in a week or two; and he gave me a letter to his friend,
Admiral Thomas, who commanded on that station.
About this time, and for a year or two later, the relations
between England and America were severely strained by what
was called 'the Oregon question.' The dispute was concerning
the right of ownership of the mouth of the Columbia river,
and of Vancouver's Island. The President as well as the
American people took the matter up very warmly; and much
discretion was needed to avert the outbreak of hostilities.
In Sir Edward's letter, which he read out and gave to me
open, he requested Admiral Thomas to put me into any ship
'that was likely to see service'; and quoted a word or two
from my dear old captain Sir Thomas, which would probably
have given me a lift.
The prospect before me was brilliant. What could be more
delectable than the chance of a war? My fancy pictured all
sorts of opportunities, turned to the best account, - my
seniors disposed of, and myself, with a pair of epaulets,
commanding the smartest brig in the service.