Sunday, August 3, 2014
The remarkable Mrs. Losack
Susannah Losack was the wife of Captain George Losack, commander of HMS Jupiter, which in the late 1790s was on the Cape of Good Hope station. According to Lady Anne Barnard, she was in the habit of wearing a naval uniform jacket with two epaulettes, over a muslin petticoat, which seems eccentric enough. However, her husband's crew, who called her "Lady Losack," or Queen Amphitite," accepted her presence on board with good humor. She had beautiful teeth, Lady Anne decided, but was too spirited to be elegant.
Eliza Fay met her on May 31, 1796, when, as she recounted, "we dined on board the Dort, where we met Captain and Mrs. Losack, Lord Augustus Fitzroy, Captain Holles of the Chichester, and Captain Osborne of the Trusty. We went and returned in Captain L.'s barge.
"Next day we dined on board L'Emperieuse with Lord Augustus Fitzroy. In addition to our yesterday's party were Captain Stevens of the Rattle Snake, Captain Grainger of the Good Hope, Captain Alexander of the Sphinx, Mr. Pownall, Naval Officer, and his wife, and Mr. Trail. His Lordship gave us a most magnificent dinner; and to my great joy was too much the man of fashion to urge the gentlemen to hard drinking, as had been the case on board the Dort. He has an excellent band.
"When we retired, Mrs. Losack and Mrs. Pownall entered into conversation about the Cape, which they both agreed was the vilest place imaginable. Mrs. Losack is a fine dashing lady. Since her marriage, the Jupiter has been on a cruise. I asked her if they were ever fired upon.
"Oh, yes, from a battery, and returned the fire."
"Did you go below?"
"Not I indeed."
"Then I suppose you must have been greatly alarmed for fear of being shot."
"Why, to tell you the truth, I was so much engaged in observing how they loaded the guns that I never once thought of danger."
"There is a courageous lady for you," remarked Eliza.
And Lady Anne emphatically agreed. "A good sailor's wife or a good wife for a sailor," she wrote on January 8, 1799; "for she fears neither the Enemy nor the Elements."