COMMODORE STEWART 21
time she became the wife of Captain Britton, a member of Congress and Commander of Washington's bodyguard. Britton was more than a stepfather to the little Stewarts, and to Charlie he took special fancy, as, growing up, the lad showed a brave spirit and a warm heart. In 1790 Britton introduced him to President Washington, an incident in his life which Charles Stewart never forgot. In old age he often spoke of this famous interview, dwelling particularly upon the effect which it produced on his playmates at Philadelphia. 'Not one of them/ he would say, 'dare knock a chip off my shoulder after that.' Britton intended to have young Stewart trained for some quiet and honourable post in the public service. But the lad had his own plans. He resolved to go to sea. His mother and stepfather protested; but Charlie settled the question one day by running away from school and becoming cabin boy in a coasting schooner. Britton, like a sensible man, accepted the inevitable, and determined to help the youth along the lines he had marked out for himself. With his own brains and grit, and by Britton's influence, Charlie went rapidly ahead, and before he was twenty-one rose to the command of an Indiaman. Then he left the merchant service, and in 1798 entered the navy as lieutenant on board the frigate ' United States.' Thenceforth his success was steady and remarkable.
In 1800 he was sent in the' Experiment' to deal with French privateers in West Indian waters. During this mission he displayed the fighting qualities which were destined to make him famous, seizing privateers and warships, re-capturing American vessels, scouring the seas, and scattering his enemies. Nor was he less mindful of works of humanity, for this same year he