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Title: Thrilling Narratives of Mutiny, Murder and Piracy
       A weird series of tales of shipwreck and disaster, from
              the earliest part of the century to the present time, with
              accounts of providential escapes and heart-rending
              fatalities

Author: Anonymous

Release Date: July 6, 2008 [EBook #25982]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1

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Front cover of the book - Arlington Edition

THRILLING NARRATIVES
OF
MUTINY, MURDER AND PIRACY,

A WEIRD SERIES OF

Tales of Shipwreck and Disaster,

FROM THE EARLIEST PART OF THE CENTURY TO THE PRESENT TIME,

WITH ACCOUNTS OF

Providential Escapes

AND

HEART-RENDING FATALITIES.

NEW YORK:
HURST & CO., Publishers,
122 NASSAU ST.


A ship running aground on rocks in high seas

[Pg v]

PREFACE.

Shipwreck may be ranked among the greatest evils which man can experience. It is never void of danger, frequently of fatal issue, and invariably productive of regret. It is one against which there is the least resource, where patience, fortitude and ingenuity are in most cases, unavailing, except to protract a struggle with destiny, which, at length, proves irresistible.

But amidst the myriads unceasingly swallowed up by the deep, it is not by the numbers that we are to judge of the miseries endured. Hundreds may at once meet an instantaneous fate, hardly conscious of its approach, while a few individuals may linger out existence, daily in hope of succor, and at length be compelled to the horrible alternative of preying on each other for the support of life. Neither is it by the Narratives about to be given that we are to calculate on the frequency of shipwreck. It is an event that has been of constant occurrence since a period long anterior to what the earliest records can reach. In England it is calculated that about 5000 natives of the British Isles yearly perish at sea.

This perpetual exposure to peril, however, materially contributes to the formation of character, and hence are sailors preeminently distinguished by courage, endurance, and ready invention. Habituated to the instability of the ocean, they make little account of danger, and are invariably the first in [Pg vi] matters of the most daring enterprise. Incessantly subjected to toil, they labor long and patiently without murmur, and the prompt and vigorous measures which are indispensable to their security, teach them the immediate application of whatever means are within their power.

A natural desire to know the fate of their fellow creatures seems implanted in the breast of mankind, and the most powerful sympathies are excited by listening to the misfortunes of the innocent. To record some impressive examples of calamity, or unlooked for deliverance, is the object of these pages; and it will be seen of what astonishing advantage are the virtues of decision, temperance, perseverance and unwavering hope in moments of extreme peril and despair.


[Pg vii]

CONTENTS.

  Page
Adventures of Capt. Woodward and Five Seamen in the island of Celebes, 7
An Occurrence at sea, 14
Loss of H. B. M ship Phœnix, off Cuba, 16
An account of the Whale Fishery, with anecdotes of the dangers attending it, 30
Loss of the Brig Tyrrel, 49
Loss of the Peggy, 58
Loss of H. B. M. ship Litchfield, 64
Wreck of the Rothsay Castle Steamer, 74
Loss of the French ship Droits de L’Homme, 78
Loss of H. B. M. ship Queen Charlotte, 82
A Scene on the Atlantic Ocean, 84
Wreck of the French Frigate Medusa, on the Arguin Bank, 87
Loss of the Royal George, 146
Loss of the Æneas, transport, 148
The Absent Ship, 152
Loss of the Halsewell, East Indiaman, 155
An account of Four Russians, abandoned on the Island of East Spitzbergen, 166
Loss of the Amphitrite, Female Convict Ship, 173
The Mutineers, a Tale of the Sea, 176
Fate of Seven Sailors, left on the island of St. Maurice, 182
Seamen wintering in Spitzbergen, 185
A Man Overboard, 190
An Escape through the Cabin-Windows, 192
Tom Cringle’s Log, 197
Loss of the Nautilus, Sloop of War, 201
Wreck of a Slave Ship, 212
The Wrecked Seamen, 213
Adventures of Philip Ashton, 219
Explosion of H. B. M. ship Amphion, 220
[Pg viii] Loss of H. B. M. ship La Tribune, 245
Burning of the Prince, a French East Indiaman, 250
Wreck of the Schooner Betsey, 259
Early American Heroism, 262
Fingal’s Cave, 264
Loss of H. B. M. ship Ramillies, 267
Preservation of Nine Seamen, 276
Capt. Ross’s Expedition, 281
Loss of the Catharine, Venus, and Piedmont, transports, and three Merchant Ships, 288
Wreck of the Ship Sidney, 298
Loss of the Duke William, transport, 303
Commodore Barney, 320
Naval Battles of the United States, 324
Address to the Ocean, 336

[Pg 7]

THE

BOOK OF THE OCEAN.

ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN WOODWARD AND FIVE SEAMEN IN THE ISLAND OF CELEBES.

In the year 1791, Woodward sailed from Boston in the ship Robert Morris, Captain Hay, for the East Indies. On his arrival there he was employed in making country voyages until the 20th of January, when he sailed as chief-mate in an American ship from Batavia bound to Manilla.

In passing through the straits of Macassar, they found the wind and current both against them, and after beating up for six weeks they fell short of provision. Captain Woodward and five seamen were sent to purchase some from a vessel about four leagues distant. They were without water, provisions, or compass,—having on board only an axe, a boat hook, two penknives, a useless gun and forty dollars in cash.

They reached the ship at sunset, and were told by the captain that he had no provision to spare as he was bound to China and was victualled for only one month. He advised them to stay until morning, which they did. But when morning dawned, their own ship was out of sight even from the mast head, and with a fair wind for her to go through the straits of Macassar. Being treated coolly by the captain, they agreed with one voice to leave the ship in search of their own. On leaving the vessel, the captain gave them twelve musket cartridges and a round bottle of brandy, but neither water nor provision of any sort.

[Pg 8] They rowed till twelve o’clock at night, in hopes of seeing their own vessel, and then drawing near an island they thought it prudent to go there to get some fresh water.—They landed and made a large fire in hopes their ship might see it. But not being able to see any thing of her in the morning and finding no water or provisions on the island, they continued their course in the middle of the straits six days longer, without going on shore or tasting of any thing but brandy. They soon had the shore of Celebes in sight, where they determined to go in search of provisions and then to proceed to Macassar.

As they approached the shore they saw two proas full of natives, who immediately put themselves in a posture of defence. The sailors made signs to them that they wanted provisions, but instead of giving it the Malays began to brandish their cresses or steel daggers. Three of the men jumped on board a proa to beg some Indian corn, and got three or four small ears. The chief seemed quite friendly and agreed to sell captain Woodward two cocoa nuts for a dollar, but as soon as he had received the money, he immediately began to strip him in search of more. Captain Woodward defended himself with a hatchet and ordered the boat to be shoved off, the chief levelled a musket at him, but fortunately it missed him.

They then stood off, went round a point of land and landed out of sight of the proas, when they found a plenty of cocoa nut trees. Captain Woodward while engaged in cutting them down, heard the man whom he had left to take care of the boat, scream out in a most bitter manner. He ran immediately to the beach where he saw his own boat off at some distance full of Malays and the poor fellow who guarded it lying on his back with his throat cut, and his body stabbed in several places.

They now fled immediately to the mountains, and finding that they had lost their boat, money, and most of their clothes, they concluded that their only chance of escape was to get to Macassar by land. Being afraid to travel in the day time they set out in the evening, taking a star for their guide bearing south. But they soon lost sight of the star and at daylight found themselves within a few rods of the place, where they had set out. They had travelled on the side of a mountain, and had gone quite round it instead of going straight over it. They started again and travelled by the sea shore [Pg 9] six nights successively, living on berries and water found in the hollows of trees.

On the sixth they arrived at a bay where they saw a party of the Malays fishing. Here Captain Woodward found some yellowish berries which were to him quite palatable, but his men not liking them eat some of the leaves. On the next day they concluded to make a raft and go to the small island on which they first landed, thinking that they might be taken off from it by some ship passing that way. But they were obliged to abandon this project, for in the evening the men who had eaten the leaves, were attacked with violent pains and were crying out in torture during the whole night.—Although they got better towards evening yet they were so weak and dejected that Captain Woodward was convinced that they could not reach the island and asked them if they were willing to surrender themselves to the Malays. On reflection they all thought this the best course which they could take; and forthwith proceeded to the bay where they had seen the Malays in the morning, in order at once either to find friends or to meet their fate. At first they saw no one, but Captain Woodward soon saw three of the natives approaching him; and ordering his men to keep quiet, he advanced alone until he had come within a short distance of them, where they stopped and drew out their cresses or knives.—Captain Woodward fell on his knees and begged for mercy. The Malays looked at him for about ten minutes with their knives drawn, when one of them came towards him, knelt in the same manner and offered both his hands. More natives now came up and stripped them of their hats and handkerchiefs and even the buttons on their jackets, which they took for money.

They were now taken to Travalla and carried to the court-house or judgment hall, accompanied by a great concourse of people, including women and children who made a circle at some distance from them. The chief soon entered, looking as wild as a madman, carrying in his hand a large drawn cress or knife, the blade of which was two feet and half long and very bright. Captain Woodward approached so near to him as to place the foot of the chief on his own head, as a token that he was completely under his power and direction. The chief after holding a short consultation, returned to his house and brought out five pieces of betel nut, which he gave to the sailors as a token of friendship.

[Pg 10] They were now permitted to rest until about eight o’clock when they were carried to the Rajah’s house, where they found a supper provided for them of sago-bread and peas, but in all hardly enough for one man. Their allowance afterwards was for each man a cocoa nut and an ear of Indian corn at noon, and the same at night. In this manner they lived about twenty days, but were not allowed to go out except to the water to bathe. The natives soon began to relax their vigilance over them, and in about four months, they were conveyed to the head Rajah of Parlow. They had not been there long when the head Rajah sent to a Dutch port called Priggia, which is at the head of a deep bay on the east side of the island and which is under the care of a commandant who was a Frenchman, and had been thirty years in the Dutch service. He arrived at Parlow and sent for Capt. Woodward. He wished him to go with him to Priggia where he resided, but Captain Woodward refused, being apprehensive that he should be forced into the Dutch service. The commandant then enquired where he intended to go. He answered to Batavia or Macassar and thence to Bengal. He did not offer Captain Woodward or his people either money, assistance, or clothes, but seemed quite affronted.

The Rajah now gave him the liberty of returning to Travalla, taking care, however, to send him in the night for fear that he should get sight of Dungally, where there lived a Mahomedan priest called Juan Hadgee. This priest had been at Travalla, and offered a ransom for Captain Woodward and his men, but the natives were unwilling to take it, and were fearful that their captives would try to escape to the town where the priest lived. It happened however, that they were becalmed off Dungally, so that Captain Woodward could observe its situation. On arriving at Travalla, he attempted to escape alone by water, but the canoe being leaky, he came very near losing his life. But not discouraged, he started immediately for Dungally by land, and reached it just as the day dawned.

Juan Hadgee received him kindly and provided him with food and clothing. In the course of three days the chief of Travalla learning that he had gone to Dungally, sent after him, but the old priest and the Rajah of Dungally refused to let him go. They told him that in the course of three months they would convey him to Batavia or Macassar, and also desired him to send for the four men he had left at Travalla.—This he did by means of a letter which he wrote with a pen [Pg 11] of bamboo, and sent by the captain of a proa, who delivered it secretly. The men made their escape from Parlow at the time of a feast, early in the evening, and arrived at Dungally at twelve o’clock the next day. They were received with great rejoicing by the natives, who immediately brought them plenty of victuals. And this fortunate circumstance revived their hopes of reaching some European settlement, after many narrow escapes and difficulties.

Juan Hadgee now informed Capt. Woodward that he should set off in about two months, but that he must first make a short voyage for provisions, which he did, leaving Captain Woodward in his house with his wife and two servants.

They soon began to suffer exceedingly for the want of provisions, so that the natives were obliged to convey them up the country, there to be supplied by some of the same tribe, who regularly went from the village into the country at a certain season to cultivate rice and Indian corn. But the Rajah of Parlow making war on the Rajah of Dungally, because the latter would not deliver them up, they were soon brought back to Dungally. There was but one engagement, and then the men of Parlow were beaten and driven back to their own town.

Provisions again growing scarce, Juan Hadgee was bound for another port called Sawyah, situated about two degrees north of the line. He gave Captain Woodward permission to accompany him, provided the Rajah was willing, but the latter refused, saying that he must stay there and keep guard. Captain Woodward now mustered his men, and taking their guns they went to the house of the Rajah and told him they would stand guard no longer for they wished to go to Macassar. He immediately replied that they should not. Being determined not to live longer in this manner, and finding no other means of escaping, Captain Woodward came to the resolution of stealing a canoe, to which all the men agreed. They were lucky enough to obtain one and seemed in a fair way to make their escape, but just as they were getting into it they were surrounded by about twenty natives and carried before the Rajah, who ordered them to account for their conduct. They told him that they could get nothing to eat, and were determined to quit the place on the first opportunity that offered. Nothing of consequence resulted from this.—Knowing the language and people they had now become fearless of danger.

[Pg 12] The Rajah refusing to let them go with Juan Hadgee they determined to run away with him, which they were enabled to do, as the old man set out at twelve o’clock at night, and there happened luckily to be a canoe on the beach near his own.—This they took and followed him as well as they could, but they soon parted from him, and in the morning discovered a proa close by them filled with Malays. They told them that they were bound with the old man to Sawyah. The Malays took them at their word and carried them there instead of to Dungally, which was a lucky escape to them for that time.—Whilst residing at Sawyah the old priest carried Captain Woodward to an island in the bay of Sawyah, which he granted to him, and in compliment called it Steersman’s Island, steersman being the appellation by which Captain Woodward was distinguished by the natives. After staying some time in Sawyah and making sago, which they bartered for fish and cocoa-nuts, they left the place and proceeded to Dumpolis, a little to the southward of Sawyah. Juan Hadgee soon left the place for Tomboo about a day’s sail south, where he had business. Here Captain Woodward and his men also followed him. The old priest was willing to assist them to escape from here, but was evidently unable to do it. Tomboo being under the direction of the Rajah of Dungally.

Fortunately they succeeded in stealing a canoe in the night, and once more shoving off, they directed their course to a small island in the bay, where they landed at daybreak. Not being able to find water here as they expected, they landed at another point of land, which they knew to be uninhabited.—Having obtained water and repaired their canoe, they directed their course to Macassar, which was then about five degrees to the southward. After coasting along the island for the space of eight days, during which time they were twice very nearly taken by the Malays, they arrived at a part of the island of Celebes, which was very thickly inhabited.

They passed many towns and saw many proas within the harbors. Having observed a retired place, they landed to procure some fresh water, but they had hardly got a draught each, when two canoes were seen coming to the very place where they were. They immediately shoved off and kept on their course all day. Just as the sun went down they discovered two canoes not far from them fishing. As soon as the natives saw them they made the best of their way to the shore. Captain Woodward wished to inquire the distance to Macassar, but not being able to stop them he made for one of two [Pg 13] canoes which he saw at a distance lying at anchor. Being told that the captain was below and asleep he went down and awakened him. He came on deck with three or four men all armed with spears, and inquired where they were going. Captain Woodward told him to Macassar and inquired of him the distance to that place. He answered that it would take a month and a day to reach it. Captain Woodward told him it was not true and made the best of his way off. The Malays however made chase, but Captain Woodward and his men by putting out to sea and making great exertion, soon lost sight of them and were able again to stand in towards the land.

At daylight they discovered a number of fishing canoes, two of which made towards them. They let them come alongside as there was only one man in each. One of them came on board and Captain Woodward put the same question to him respecting Macassar. He first said it would take thirty days to reach there and asked them to go on shore and see the Rajah. But they declined doing this, and he afterwards acknowledged that a proa could go there in two days.

They then left the canoe and sailed along the coast. At evening they perceived a proa full of Malay men set off from the shore. It was soon along side, and four of them jumping into the boat nearly upset her, and thus Captain Woodward and his men were again prisoners of the Malays. They were carried to a town called Pamboon and then conducted to the Rajah’s house. The Rajah demanded of them whence they came and whither they were going. Captain Woodward answered the same as before; he also told him that they must go immediately, and must not be stopped. They had now become so familiar with dangers and with captures, and were also so much nearer Macassar, than they could have expected after so many narrow escapes, that they became more and more desperate and confident, from the persuasion that they should at last reach their destined port.

In the morning Captain Woodward again waited on the Rajah, and begged to be sent to Macassar; telling him that the Governor had sent for them, who would stop all his proas at Macassar if he detained them. After thinking on it a short time, he called the captain of a proa, and delivered the prisoners to him, telling him to carry them to Macassar, and if he could get anything for them to take it, but if not to let them go. The proa not being ready they stayed in the canoe three days, quite overcome by their many hardships and fatigues. Captain Woodward having had no shirt, the sun had [Pg 14] burnt his shoulder so as to lay it quite bare and produce a bad sore. Here he caught cold, and was attacked with a violent fever, so that by the time the proa was ready to sail he was unable to stand. He was carried and laid on the deck without a mat or any kind of clothing. The cold nights and frequent showers of rain would without doubt have killed him, had he not been kept alive by the hopes of reaching Macassar, the thoughts of which kept up all their spirits.

They landed at Macassar on the 15th of June 1795, after a voyage of about nineteen days from Tomboo, and after having been two years and five months in captivity; the reckoning which Captain Woodward kept during that time, being wrong only one day.


AN OCCURRENCE AT SEA.

In June, 1824, I embarked at Liverpool on board the Vibelia transport with the head-quarters of my regiment, which was proceeding to Halifax, Nova Scotia. Our passage across the Atlantic was smooth, though long and tedious. After passing over the great bank of Newfoundland, catching large quantities of codfish and halibut, and encountering the usual fogs, we were one morning, about the end of July, completely becalmed. All who have performed a voyage, know the feeling of listlessness to which a landsman abandons himself during a calm. The morning was slowly passed in looking for appearances of a breeze—whistling for a wind, and the other idle pursuits usual on such occasions. Towards noon, a sailor from aloft pointed out to our observation a vessel at a distance, also, of course, becalmed. All eyes and glasses were immediately directed towards her, but she was too far off for the most experienced to determine whether she was English or foreign, man-of-war or merchantman. After a time it occurred to me, that it was a favorable opportunity for breaking in upon the monotony of the day. My influence with our captain [Pg 15] obtained permission for the small cutter to be lowered, but he would not allow a single seaman to leave the ship. I therefore became coxswain of the boat, and, accompanied by four of my brother officers as rowers, we pushed off, determined to pay a visit to the strange sail. To our landsmen’s eyes and judgment, she had appeared to be about four miles from us, but we found ourselves very much out in our calculation—it was more than double that distance. The rowers, however, pulled on bravely—we neared the stranger, making her out to be a large American merchantman, and as he was approached, we observed a number of persons on deck reconnoitring us through glasses. At length we were alongside, and I passed on board, followed by three of my companions, one remaining in charge of the boat. On reaching the deck, we found it crowded with men, who seemed to regard us with wondering looks. I stepped forward and was received by the Captain, who acquainted me that his vessel was the American ship Cadmus, on her passage from Havre-de-grace to New York, with General the Marquis de Lafayette and suite as passengers. A noble, venerable looking veteran advanced from the poop towards us, and offered his greetings with the courtesy of the old French school. He was Lafayette. My explanation of who we were, and the motive of our visit, appeared to excite his surprise. That five officers of the land service, unaccompanied by a single sailor, should leave their vessel on the open ocean, and from mere curiosity, visit a strange sail at such a distance, was, he declared, most extraordinary. He said they had observed our ship early in the morning—had been occupied (like ourselves) in vain endeavors to make us out—had remarked an object, a mere speck upon the sea, leave the vessel and move towards them, and when at length it was made out to be a boat, the probable cause of such a circumstance had given rise to many surmises. I told him in mitigation of what he deemed our rashness, that we were, as a nation, so essentially maritime, that every man in England was more or less a sailor. At all events, I ventured to add if we had encountered some little risk, we had been amply repaid in seeing a man so celebrated, and of whom we had all heard and read. Our comrade being relieved by an American sailor in the care of the boat, we accepted the General’s offer of refreshment, proceeded to the cabin, and passed a most agreeable hour. The fast approach of evening and appearances of a breeze springing up induced us to take leave. We separated from the old chief, not as the acquaintance of an hour, [Pg 16] but with all the warmth—the grasp and pressure of hand—of old friends. As I parted from him at the gangway, he mentioned having caused a case of claret to be lowered into our boat, which he begged us to present to our Colonel and the other officers of our mess. We pulled cheerily back, but it was not until long after dark that we reached the ‘Vibelia,’ and which we perhaps could not have accomplished, but for their having exhibited blue lights every few minutes to point out her position. We found our comrades had been in great alarm for our safety. Various had been the surmises. That we had boarded a pirate, and been sacrificed, or made prisoners, was most prevalent, and a breeze was anxiously prayed for, that they might bear down, and release or revenge us. Half an hour after we returned to our ship, a light wind sprang up, which very shortly freshened into a gale, so that in the morning we had completely lost sight of the ‘Cadmus.’


ACCOUNT OF THE LOSS OF HIS MAJESTY’S SHIP PHŒNIX.

The Phœnix of 44 guns, Capt. Sir Hyde Parker was lost in a hurricane, off Cuba, in the West Indies, in the year 1780. The same hurricane destroyed the Thunderer, 74; Stirling Castle, 64; La Blanche, 42; Laurel, 28; Andromeda, 28; Deas Castle, 24; Scarborough, 20; Beaver’s Prize, 16; Barbadoes, 14; Cameleon, 14; Endeavour, 14; and Victor, 10 guns. Lieut. Archer was first-lieutenant of the Phœnix at the time she was lost. His narrative in a letter to his mother, contains a most correct and animated account of one of the most awful events in the service. It is so simple and natural as to make the reader feel himself as on board the [Pg 17] Phœnix. Every circumstance is detailed with feeling, and powerful appeals are continually made to the heart. It must likewise afford considerable pleasure to observe the devout spirit of a seaman frequently bursting forth, and imparting sublimity to the relation.

At Sea, June 30, 1781.

My dear Mother,

I am now going to give you an account of our last cruise in the Phœnix; and must premise, that should any one see it besides yourself, they must put this construction on it—that it was originally intended for the eyes of a mother, and a mother only—as, upon that supposition, my feelings may be tolerated. You will also meet with a number of sea-terms, which, if you don’t understand, why, I cannot help you, as I am unable to give a sea description in any other words.

To begin then:—On the 2d of August, 1780, we weighed and sailed for Port Royal, bound for Pensacola, having two store-ships under convoy, and to see safe in; then cruise off the Havana, and in the gulf of Mexico, for six weeks. In a few days we made the two sandy islands, that look as if they had just risen out of the sea, or fallen from the sky; inhabited, nevertheless, by upwards of three hundred English, who get their bread by catching turtle and parrots, and raising vegetables, which they exchange with ships that pass, for clothing and a few of the luxuries of life, as rum, &c.

About the 12th we arrived at Pensacola, without any thing remarkable happening except our catching a vast quantity of fish, sharks, dolphins, and bonettos. On the 13th sailed singly, and on the 14th had a very heavy gale of wind at north, right off the land, so that we soon left the sweet place, Pensacola, at a distance astern. We then looked into the Havana, saw a number of ships there, and knowing that some of them were bound round the bay, we cruised in the track: a fortnight, however, passed, and not a single ship hove in sight to cheer our spirits. We then took a turn or two round the gulf, but not near enough to be seen from the shore. Vera Cruz we expected would have made us happy, but the same luck still continued; day followed day, and no sail. The dollar bag began to grow a little bulky, for every one had lost two or three times, and no one had won: this was a small gambling party entered into by Sir Hyde and ourselves; every one put a dollar into a bag, and fixed on a day when we [Pg 18] should see a sail, but no two persons were to name the same day, and whoever guessed right first was to have the bag.

Being now tired of our situation, and glad the cruise was almost out, for we found the navigation very dangerous, owing to unaccountable currents; we shaped our course for Cape Antonio. The next day the man at the mast head, at about one o’clock in the afternoon, called out: “A sail upon the weather bow! Ha! Ha! Mr. Spaniard, I think we have you at last. Turn out all hands! make sail! All hands give chase!” There was scarcely any occasion for this order, for the sound of a sail being in sight flew like wild fire through the ship and every sail was set in an instant almost before the orders were given. A lieutenant at the mast head, with a spy glass, “What is she?” “A large ship studding athwart right before the wind. P-o-r-t! Keep her away! set the studding sails ready!” Up comes the little doctor, rubbing his hands; “Ha! ha! I have won the bag.” “The devil take you and the bag; look, what ’s ahead will fill all our bags.” Mast head again: “Two more sail on the larboard beam!” “Archer, go up, and see what you can make of them.” “Upon deck there; I see a whole fleet of twenty sail coming right before the wind.” “Confound the luck of it, this is some convoy or other, but we must try if we can pick some of them out.” “Haul down the studding-sails! Luff! bring her to the wind! Let us see what we can make of them.”

About five we got pretty near them, and found them to be twenty-six sail of Spanish merchantmen, under convoy of three line of battle ships, one of which chased us; but when she found we were playing with her (for the old Phœnix had heels) she left chase, and joined the convoy; which they drew up into a lump, and placed themselves at the outside; but we still kept smelling about till after dark. O, for the Hector, the Albion, and a frigate, and we should take the whole fleet and convoy, worth some millions! About eight o’clock perceived three sail at some distance from the fleet; dashed in between them, and gave chase, and were happy to find they steered from the fleet. About twelve came up with a large ship of twenty-six guns. “Archer, every man to his quarters! run the lower deck guns out, and light the ship up; show this fellow our force; it may prevent his firing into us and killing a man or two.” No sooner said than done. “Hoa, the ship ahoy, lower all your sails down, and bring to instantly, or I’ll sink you.” Clatter, clatter, went the blocks, and away flew all their sails in proper confusion. “What ship is that?” [Pg 19] “The Polly.” “Whence came you?” “From Jamaica.” “Where are you bound?” “To New York.” “What ship is that?” “The Phœnix.” Huzza, three times by the whole ship’s company. An old grum fellow of a sailor standing close by me: “O, d—m your three cheers, we took you to be something else.” Upon examination we found it to be as he reported, and that they had fallen in with the Spanish fleet that morning, and were chased the whole day, and that nothing saved them but our stepping in between; for the Spaniards took us for three consorts, and the Polly took the Phœnix for a Spanish frigate, till we hailed them. The other vessel in company was likewise bound to New York. Thus was I, from being worth thousands in idea, reduced to the old 4s. 6d. a day again: for the little doctor made the most prize money of us all that day, by winning the bag, which contained between thirty and forty dollars; but this is nothing to what we sailors sometimes undergo.

After parting company, we steered south-south-east, to go round Antonio, and so to Jamaica, (our cruise being out) with our fingers in our mouths, and all of us as green as you please. It happened to be my middle watch, and about three o’clock, when a man upon the forecastle bawls out: “Breakers ahead, and land upon the lee-bow;” I looked out, and it was so sure enough. “Ready about! put the helm down! Helm a lee!” Sir Hyde hearing me put the ship about, jumped upon deck. “Archer, what ’s the matter? you are putting the ship about without my orders!” “Sir, ’tis time to go about! the ship is almost ashore, there ’s the land.” “Good God so it is! Will the ship stay?” “Yes, Sir, I believe she will, if we don’t make any confusion; she’s all aback—forward now?”—“Well,” says he, “work the ship, I will not speak a single word.” The ship stayed very well. “Then, heave the lead! see what water we have!” “Three fathom.” “Keep the ship away, west-north-west.”—“By the mark three.” “This won’t do, Archer.” “No, Sir, we had better haul more to the northward; we came south-south-east, and had better steer north-north-west.” “Steady, and a quarter three.” “This may do, as we deepen a little.” “By the deep four.” “Very well, my lad, heave quick.” “Five Fathom.” “That ’s a fine fellow! another cast nimbly.” “Quarter less eight.” “That will do, come, we shall get clear by and by.”—“Mark under water five.” “What ’s that?” “Only five fathom, Sir.” “Turn all hands up, bring the ship to an anchor, boy!” “Are the anchors clear!” “In a moment, Sir.” “All clear!” “What water have you in the chains [Pg 20] now!” “Eight, half nine.” “Keep fast the anchors till I call you.” “Ay, ay, Sir, all fast!” “I have no ground with this line.” “How many fathoms have you out? pass along the deep-sea line!” “Ay, ay, Sir.” “Come are you all ready?” “All ready, Sir.” “Heave away, watch! watch! bear away, veer away, no ground Sir, with a hundred fathom.” “That ’s clever, come, Madam Phœnix, there is another squeak in you yet—all down but the watch; secure the anchors again; heave the main-top-sail to the mast; luff, and bring her to the wind!”

I told you, Madam, you should have a little sea-jargon: if you can understand half of what is already said, I wonder at it, though it is nothing to what is to come yet, when the old hurricane begins. As soon as the ship was a little to rights, and all quiet again, Sir Hyde came to me in the most friendly manner, the tears almost starting from his eyes—“Archer, we ought all, to be much obliged to you for the safety of the ship, and perhaps of ourselves. I am particularly so; nothing but that instantaneous presence of mind and calmness saved her; another ship’s length and we should have been fast on shore; had you been the least diffident, or made the least confusion, so as to make the ship baulk in her stays, she must have been inevitably lost.” “Sir, you are very good, but I have done nothing that I suppose any body else would not have done, in the same situation. I did not turn all the hands up, knowing the watch able to work the ship; besides, had it spread immediately about the ship, that she was almost ashore, it might have created a confusion that was better avoided.” “Well,” says he, “’t is well indeed.”

At daylight we found that the current had set us between the Collarado rocks and Cape Antonio, and that we could not have got out any other way than we did; there was a chance, but Providence is the best pilot. We had sunset that day twenty leagues to the south-east of our reckoning by the current.

After getting clear of this scrape, we thought ourselves fortunate, and made sail for Jamaica, but misfortune seemed to follow misfortune. The next night, my watch upon deck too, we were overtaken by a squall, like a hurricane while it lasted; for though I saw it coming, and prepared for it, yet, when it took the ship, it roared, and laid her down so, that I thought she would never get up again. However, by keeping her away, and clewing up every thing, she righted. The remainder of the night we had very heavy squalls, and in the [Pg 21] morning found the mainmast sprung half the way through: one hundred and twenty-three leagues to the leeward of Jamaica, the hurricane months coming on, the head of the mainmast almost off, and at short allowance; well, we must make the best of it. The mainmast was well fished, but we were obliged to be very tender of carrying sail.

Nothing remarkable happened for ten days afterwards, when we chased a Yankee man of war for six hours, but could not get near enough to her before it was dark, to keep sight of her; so that we lost her because unable to carry any sail on the mainmast. In about twelve days more made the island of Jamaica, having weathered all the squalls, and put into Montego Bay for water; so that we had a strong party for kicking up a dust on shore, having found three men of war lying there. Dancing, &c. &c. till two o’clock every morning; little thinking what was to happen in four days’ time: for out of the four men of war that were there, not one was in being at the end of that time, and not a soul alive but those left of our crew. Many of the houses, where we had been so merry, were so completely destroyed, that scarcely a vestige remained to mark where they stood. Thy works are wonderful, O God! praised be thy holy Name!

September the 30th weighed; bound for Port Royal, round the eastward of the island; the Bardadoes and Victor had sailed the day before, and the Scarborough was to sail the next. Moderate weather until October the 2d. Spoke to the Barbadoes off Port Antonio in the evening. At eleven at night it began to snuffle, with a monstrous heavy appearance from the eastward. Close reefed the top-sails. Sir Hyde sent for me: “What sort of weather have we, Archer!” “It blows a little, and has a very ugly look: if in any other quarter but this, I should say we were going to have a gale of wind.” “Ay, it looks so very often here when there is no wind at all; however, don’t hoist the top-sails till it clears a little, there is no trusting any country.” At twelve I was relieved; the weather had the same rough look: however, they made sail upon her, but had a very dirty night. At eight in the morning I came up again, found it blowing hard from the east-north-east, with close-reefed top-sails upon the ship, and heavy squalls at times. Sir Hyde came upon deck: “Well, Archer, what do you think of it?” “O, Sir, ’t is only a touch of the times, we shall have an observation at twelve o’clock; the clouds are beginning to break; it will clear up at noon, or else—blow very hard afterwards.” “I [Pg 22] wish it would clear up, but I doubt it much. I was once in a hurricane in the East Indies, and the beginning of it had much the same appearance as this. So take in the top-sails, we have plenty of sea-room.”

At twelve, the gale still increasing, wore ship, to keep as near mid-channel between Jamaica and Cuba, as possible; at one the gale increasing still; at two, harder yet, it still blows harder! Reefed the courses, and furled them; brought to under a foul mizen stay-sail, head to the northward. In the evening no sign of the weather taking off, but every appearance of the storm increasing, prepared for a proper gale of wind; secured all the sails with spare gaskets; good rolling tackles upon the yards; squared the booms; saw the boats all made fast; new lashed the guns; double breeched the lower deckers; saw that the carpenters had the tarpawlings and battens all ready for hatchways; got the top-gallant-mast down upon the deck; jib-boom and sprit-sail-yard fore and aft; in fact every thing we could think of to make a snug ship.

The poor devils of birds now began to find the uproar in the elements, for numbers, both of sea and land kinds, came on board of us. I took notice of some, which happening to be to leeward, turned to windward, like a ship, tack and tack; for they could not fly against it. When they came over the ship they dashed themselves down upon the deck, without attempting to stir till picked up, and when let go again, they would not leave the ship, but endeavoured to hide themselves from the wind.

At eight o’clock a hurricane; the sea roaring, but the wind still steady to a point; did not ship a spoonful of water. However, got the hatchways all secured, expecting what would be the consequence, should the wind shift; placed the carpenters by the mainmast, with broad axes, knowing, from experience, that at the moment you may want to cut it away to save the ship, an axe may not be found. Went to supper: bread, cheese, and porter. The purser frightened out of his wits about his bread bags; the two marine officers as white as sheets, not understanding the ship’s working so much, and the noise of the lower deck guns; which, by this time, made a pretty screeching to people not used to it; it seemed as if the whole ship’s side was going at each roll. Wooden, our carpenter, was all this time smoking his pipe and laughing at the doctor; the second lieutenant upon deck, and the third in his hammock.

[Pg 23] At ten o’clock I thought to get a little sleep; came to look into my cot; it was full of water; for every seam, by the straining of the ship, had began to leak. Stretched myself, therefore, upon deck between two chests, and left orders to be called, should the least thing happen. At twelve a midshipman came to me: “Mr. Archer, we are just going to wear ship, Sir!” “O, very well, I’ll be up directly, what sort of weather have you got?” “It blows a hurricane.” Went upon deck, found Sir Hyde there. “It blows damned hard Archer.” “It does indeed, Sir.” “I don’t know that I ever remember its blowing so hard before, but the ship makes a good weather of it upon this tack as she bows the sea; but we must wear her, as the wind has shifted to the south-east, and we were drawing right upon Cuba; so do you go forward, and have some hands stand by; loose the lee yard-arm of the fore-sail, and when she is right before the wind, whip the clue-garnet close up, and roll up the sail.” “Sir! there is no canvass can stand against this a moment; if we attempt to loose him he will fly into ribands in an instant, and we may lose three or four of our people; she’ll wear by manning the fore shrouds.” “No, I don’t think she will.” “I’ll answer for it, Sir; I have seen it tried several times on the coast of America with success.” “Well, try it; if she does not wear, we can only loose the fore-sail afterwards.” This was a great condescension from such a man as Sir Hyde. However, by sending about two hundred people into the fore-rigging, after a hard struggle, she wore; found she did not make so good weather on this tack as on the other; for as the sea began to run across, she had not time to rise from one sea before another lashed against her. Began to think we should lose our masts, as the ship lay very much along, by the pressure of the wind constantly upon the yards and masts alone: for the poor mizen-stay-sail had gone in shreds long before, and the sails began to fly from the yards through the gaskets into coach whips. My God! to think that the wind could have such force!

Sir Hyde now sent me to see what was the matter between decks, as there was a good deal of noise. As soon as I was below, one of the Marine officers calls out: “Good God Mr. Archer, we are sinking, the water is up to the bottom of my cot.” “Pooh, pooh! as long as it is not over your mouth, you are well off; what the devil do you make this noise for?” I found there was some water between decks, but nothing to be alarmed at; scuttled the deck, and let it run into the [Pg 24] well—found she made a good deal of water through the sides and decks; turned the watch below to the pumps, though only two feet of water in the well; but expected to be kept constantly at work now, as the ship labored much, with scarcely a part of her above water but the quarter-deck, and that but seldom “Come, pump away, my boys. Carpenters, get the weather chain-pump rigged.” “All ready, Sir.” “Then man it and keep both pumps going.”

At two o’clock the chain-pump was choked; set the carpenters at work to clear it; the two head pumps at work upon deck; the ship gained on us while our chain-pumps were idle; in a quarter of an hour they were at work again, and we began to gain upon her. While I was standing at the pumps, cheering the people, the carpenter’s mate came running to me with a face as long as my arm: “O, Sir! the ship has sprang a leak in the gunner’s room.” “Go, then, and tell the carpenter to come to me, but don’t speak a word to any one else.” “Mr. Goodinoh, I am told there is a leak in the gunner’s room; go and see what is the matter, but don’t alarm any body, and come and make your report privately to me.” In a short time he returned: “Sir, there ’s nothing there, ’tis only the water washing up between the timbers that this booby has taken for a leak.” “O, very well; go upon deck and see if you can keep any of the water from washing down below.” “Sir, I have had four people constantly keeping the hatchways secure, but there is such a weight of water upon the deck that nobody can stand it when the ship rolls.” The gunner soon afterwards came to me: “Mr. Archer, I should be glad if you would step this way into the magazine for a moment:” I thought some damned thing was the matter, and ran directly: “Well, what is the matter here?” “The ground-tier of powder is spoiled, and I want to show you that it is not out of carelessness in stowing it, for no powder in the world could be better stowed. Now, Sir, what am I to do? if you don’t speak to Sir Hyde, he will be angry with me.” I could not forbear smiling to see how easy he took the danger of the ship, and said to him: “Let us shake off this gale of wind first, and talk of the damaged powder afterwards.”

At four we had gained upon the ship a little, and I went upon deck, it being my watch. The second lieutenant relieved me at the pumps. Who can attempt to describe the appearance of things upon deck? If I was to write for ever I could not give you an idea of it—a total darkness all above, the sea on fire, running as it were in Alps, or Peaks of [Pg 25] Teneriffe; (mountains are too common an idea); the wind roaring louder than thunder, (absolutely no flight of imagination), the whole made more terrible, if possible, by a very uncommon kind of blue lightning; the poor ship very much pressed, yet doing what she could, shaking her sides, and groaning at every stroke. Sir Hyde upon deck lashed to windward! I soon lashed myself alongside of him, and told him the situation of things below, saying the ship did not make more water than might be expected in such weather, and that I was only afraid of a gun breaking loose. “I am not in the least afraid of that; I have commanded her six years, and have had many a gale of wind in her; so that her iron work, which always gives way first, is pretty well tried. Hold fast! that was an ugly sea; we must lower the yards, I believe, Archer; the ship is much pressed.” “If we attempt it, Sir, we shall lose them, for a man aloft can do nothing; besides their being down would ease the ship very little; the mainmast is a sprung mast; I wish it was overboard without carrying any thing else along with it; but that can soon be done, the gale cannot last for ever; ’twill soon be daylight now.” Found by the master’s watch that it was five o’clock, though but a little after four by ours; glad it was so near daylight, and looked for it with much anxiety. Cuba, thou art much in our way! Another ugly sea: sent a midshipman to bring news from the pumps: the ship was gaining on them very much, for they had broken one of their chains, but it was almost mended again. News from the pump again. “She still gains! a heavy lee!” Back-water from leeward, half-way up the quarter-deck; filled one of the cutters upon the booms, and tore her all to pieces; the ship lying almost on her beam ends, and not attempting to right again. Word from below that the ship still gained on them, as they could not stand to the pumps, she lay so much along. I said to Sir Hyde: “This is no time, Sir, to think of saving the masts, shall we cut the mainmast away?” “Ay! as fast as you can.” I accordingly went into the weather chains with a pole-axe, to cut away the lanyards; the boatswain went to leeward, and the carpenters stood by the mast. We were all ready, when a very violent sea broke right on board of us, carried every thing upon deck away, filled the ship with water, the main and mizen masts went, the ship righted, but was in the last struggle of sinking under us.

As soon as we could shake our heads above water, Sir Hyde exclaimed: “We are gone, at last, Archer! foundered [Pg 26] at sea!” “Yes, Sir, farewell, and the Lord have mercy upon us!” I then turned about to look forward at the ship; and thought she was struggling to get rid of some of the water; but all in vain, she was almost full below “Almighty God! I thank thee, that now I am leaving this world, which I have always considered as only a passage to a better, I die with a full hope of the mercies, through the merits of Jesus Christ, thy son, our Saviour!”

I then felt sorry that I could swim, as by that means I might be a quarter of an hour longer dying than a man who could not, and it is impossible to divest ourselves of a wish to preserve life. At the end of these reflections I thought I heard the ship thump and grinding under our feet; it was so. “Sir, the ship is ashore!” “What do you say?” “The ship is ashore, and we may save ourselves yet!” By this time the quarter-deck was full of men who had come up from below; and ‘the Lord have mercy upon us,’ flying about from all quarters. The ship now made every body sensible that she was ashore, for every stroke threatened a total dissolution of her whole frame; found she was stern ashore, and the bow broke the sea a good deal, though it was washing clean over at every stroke. Sir Hyde cried out: “Keep to the quarter-deck, my lads, when she goes to pieces, ’t is your best chance!” Providentially got the foremast cut away, that she might not pay round broad-side. Lost five men cutting away the foremast, by the breaking of a sea on board just as the mast went. That was nothing; every one expected it would be his own fate next; looked for daybreak with the greatest impatience. At last it came; but what a scene did it show us! The ship upon a bed of rocks, mountains of them on one side, and Cordilleras of water on the other; our poor ship grinding and crying out at every stroke between them; going away by piecemeal. However, to show the unaccountable workings of Providence, that which often appears to be the greatest evil, proved to be the greatest good! That unmerciful sea lifted and beat us up so high among the rocks, that at last the ship scarcely moved. She was very strong, and did not go to pieces at the first thumping, though her decks tumbled in. We found afterwards that she had beat over a ledge of rocks, almost a quarter of a mile in extent beyond us, where, if she had struck, every soul of us must have perished.

I now began to think of getting on shore, so stripped off my coat and shoes for a swim, and looked for a line to carry the end with me. Luckily could not find one, which gave me [Pg 27] time for recollection. “This won’t do for me, to be the first man out of the ship, and first lieutenant; we may get to England again, and people may think I paid a great deal of attention to myself and did not care for any body else. No, that won’t do; instead of being the first, I’ll see every man, sick and well, out of her before me.”

I now thought there was no probability of the ship’s soon going to pieces, therefore had not a thought of instant death: took a look round with a kind of philosophic eye, to see how the same situation affected my companions, and was surprised to find the most swaggering, swearing bullies in fine weather, now the most pitiful wretches on earth, when death appeared before them. However, two got safe; by which means, with a line, we got a hawser on shore, and made fast to the rocks, upon which many ventured and arrived safe. There were some sick and wounded on board, who could not avail themselves of this method; we, therefore, got a spare top-sail-yard from the chains and placed one end ashore and the other on the cabin-window, so that most of the sick got ashore this way.

As I had determined, so I was the last man out of the ship; this was about ten o’clock. The gale now began to break. Sir Hyde came to me, and taking me by the hand was so affected that he was scarcely able to speak “Archer, I am happy beyond expression, to see you on shore, but look at our poor Phœnix!” I turned about, but could not say a single word, being too full: my mind had been too intensely occupied before; but every thing now rushed upon me at once, so that I could not contain myself, and I indulged for a full quarter of an hour in tears.

By twelve it was pretty moderate; got some nails on shore and made tents; found great quantities of fish driven up by the sea into the holes of the rocks; knocked up a fire, and had a most comfortable dinner. In the afternoon made a stage from the cabin-windows to the rocks, and got out some provisions and water, lest the ship should go to pieces, in which case we must all have perished of hunger and thirst; for we were upon a desolate part of the coast, and under a rocky mountain, that could not supply us with a single drop of water.

Slept comfortably this night and the next day, the idea of death vanishing by degrees, the prospect of being prisoners, during the war, at the Havana, and walking three hundred miles to it through the woods, was rather unpleasant. [Pg 28] However, to save life for the present, we employed this day in getting more provisions and water on shore, which was not an easy matter, on account of decks, guns and rubbish, and ten feet water that lay over them. In the evening I proposed to Sir Hyde to repair the remains of the only boat left, and to venture in her to Jamaica myself; and in case I arrived safe, to bring vessels to take them all off; a proposal worthy of consideration. It was, next day, agreed to; therefore got the cutter on shore, and set the carpenters to work on her; in two days she was ready, and at four o’clock in the afternoon I embarked with four volunteers and a fortnight’s provision, hoisted English colors as we put off from the shore, and received three cheers from the lads left behind, which we returned, and set sail with a light heart; having not the least doubt, that, with God’s assistance, we should come and bring them all off. Had a very squally night, and a very leaky boat, so as to keep two buckets constantly bailing. Steered her myself the whole night by the stars, and in the morning saw the coast of Jamaica distant twelve leagues. At eight in the evening arrived at Montego Bay.

I must now begin to leave off, particularly as I have but half an hour to conclude; else my pretty little short letter will lose its passage, which I should not like, after being ten days, at different times, writing it, beating up with the convoy to the northward, which is a reason that this epistle will never read well; as I never set down with a proper disposition to go on with it; but as I knew something of the kind would please you, I was resolved to finish it; yet it will not bear an overhaul; so don’t expose your son’s nonsense.

But to proceed—I instantly sent off an express to the admiral, another to the Porcupine man of war, and went myself to Martha Bray to get vessels; for all their vessels here, as well as many of their houses, were gone to Moco. Got three small vessels, and set out back again to Cuba, where I arrived the fourth day after leaving my companions. I thought the ship’s crew would have devoured me on my landing; they presently whisked me up on their shoulders and carried me to the tent where Sir Hyde was.

I must omit many little occurrences that happened on shore, for want of time; but I shall have a number of stories to tell when I get alongside of you; and the next time I visit you I shall not be in such a hurry to quit you as I was the last, for then I hoped my nest would have been pretty well feathered:—But my tale is forgotten.

[Pg 29] I found the Porcupine had arrived that day, and the lads had built a boat almost ready for launching, that would hold fifty of them, which was intended for another trial, in case I had foundered. Next day embarked all our people that were left, amounting to two hundred and fifty; for some had died of their wounds they received in getting on shore; others of drinking rum, and others had straggled into the country.—All our vessels were so full of people, that we could not take away the few clothes that were saved from the wreck; but that was a trifle since we had preserved our lives and liberty. To make short of my story, we all arrived safe at Montego Bay, and shortly after at Port Royal, in the Janus, which was sent on purpose for us, and were all honorably acquitted for the loss of the ship. I was made admiral’s aid-de-camp, and a little time afterwards sent down to St. Juan’s as captain of the Resource, to bring what were left of the poor devils to Blue Fields, on the Musquito shore, and then to Jamaica, where they arrived after three month’s absence, and without a prize, though I looked out hard off Porto Bello and Carthagena. Found in my absence that I had been appointed captain of the Tobago, where I remain his majesty’s most true and faithful servant, and my dear mother’s most dutiful son,

——ARCHER

Two sailors in a rowboat pursue and shoot at a man, armed with a bow, in a canoe

[Pg 30]

A whale, surfacing, breaks a rowboat by throwing it into the air

AN ACCOUNT OF THE WHALE FISHERY

WITH ANECDOTES OF THE DANGERS ATTENDING IT.

Historians, in general, have given to the Biscayans the credit of having first practiced the fishery for the Whale; the English, and afterwards the Dutch are supposed to have followed in the pursuit. It was prosecuted by the Norwegians so early as the ninth century, and by the Icelanders about the eleventh. It was not till the seventeenth century however, that the whale fishery was engaged in by the maritime nations of Europe as an important branch of commerce.

The crew of a whale ship usually consists of forty to fifty men, comprising several classes of officers, such as harpooners, boat-steerers, line-managers, &c. together with fore-mastmen, landmen and apprentices. As a stimulus to the crew in the fishery, every individual, from the master down to the boys, besides his monthly pay, receives either a gratuity for every size fish caught during the voyage, or a certain sum for every ton of oil which the cargo produces. Masters and harpooners receive a small sum before sailing, in place of monthly wages; and if they procure no cargo whatever, they [Pg 31] receive nothing more for their voyage; but in the event of a successful fishing, their advantages are considerable.

The crow’s nest is an apparatus placed on the main-top-mast, or top-gallant-mast head, as a watch tower for the officer on the lookout. It is closely defended from the wind and cold, and is furnished with a speaking trumpet, a telescope and rifle. The most favorable opportunity for prosecuting the fishery in the Greenland seas, commonly occurs with north, north-west or west winds. At such times the sea is smooth, and the atmosphere, though cloudy and dark, is generally free from fog and snow. The fishers prefer a cloudy to a clear sky; because in very bright weather, the sea becomes illuminated, and the shadows of the whale-boats are so deeply impressed in the water by the beams of the sun that the whales are apt to take the alarm. Fogs are only so far unfavorable as being liable to endanger the boats by shutting out the sight of the ship.—A well constructed whale-boat floats lightly and safely on the water,—is capable of being rowed with great speed, and readily turned round,—it is of such capacity that it carries six or seven men, seven or eight hundred weight of whale-lines, and various other materials, and yet retains the necessary properties of safety and speed. Whale-boats being very liable to receive damage, both from whales and ice, are always carver-built,—a structure which is easily repaired. The instruments of general use in the capture of the whale, are the harpoon and lance. There is, moreover, a kind of harpoon which is shot from a gun, but being difficult to adjust, it is seldom used. Each boat is likewise furnished with a “jack” or flag fastened to a pole, intended to be displayed as a signal whenever a whale is harpooned. The crew of a whale-ship are separated in divisions, equal in number to the number of the boats. Each division, consisting of a harpooner, a boat-steerer, and a line-manager, together with three or four rowers, constitutes a “boats crew.”

On fishing stations, when the weather is such as to render the fishery practicable, the boats are always ready for instant service. The crow’s nest is generally occupied by one of the officers, who keeps an anxious watch for the appearance of a whale. The moment that a fish is seen, he gives notice to the “watch upon deck,” part of whom leap into a boat, are lowered down, and push off towards the place. If the fish be large, a second boat is despatched to the support of the other; and when the whole of the boats are sent out, the ship is said to have “a loose fall.” There are several rules observed [Pg 32] in approaching a whale to prevent the animal from taking the alarm. As the whale is dull of hearing, but quick of sight, the boat-steerer always endeavors to get behind it; and, in accomplishing this, he is sometimes justified in taking a circuitous rout. In calm weather, where guns are not used, the greatest caution is necessary before a whale can be reached; smooth careful rowing is always requisite, and sometimes sculling is practiced. It is a primary consideration with the harpooner, always to place his boat as near as possible to the spot in which he expects the fish to rise, and he conceives himself successful in the attempt when the fish “comes up within a start,” that is, within the distance of about two hundred yards.

Whenever a whale lies on the surface of the water, unconscious of the approach of its enemies, the hardy fisher rows directly upon it; and an instant before the boat touches it, buries his harpoon in his back. The wounded whale, in the surprise and agony of the moment, makes a convulsive effort to escape. Then is the moment of danger. The boat is subjected to the most violent blows from its head, or its fins, but particularly from its ponderous tail, which sometimes sweeps the air with such tremendous fury, that boat and men are exposed to one common destruction.

The head of the whale is avoided, because it cannot be penetrated with the harpoon; but any part of the body, between the head and the tail, will admit of the full length of the instrument, without danger of obstruction. The moment that the wounded whale disappears, a flag is displayed; on sight of which, those on watch in the ship, give the alarm, by stamping on the deck, accompanied by shouts of “a fall.”—At the sound of this, the sleeping crew are roused, jump from their beds, rush upon deck, and crowd into the boats. The alarm of “a fall,” has a singular effect on the feelings of a sleeping person, unaccustomed to hearing it. It has often been mistaken as a cry of distress. A landsman, seeing the crew, on an occasion of a fall, leap into the boats in their shirts, imagined that the ship was sinking. He therefore tried to get into a boat himself, but every one of them being fully manned, he was refused. After several fruitless endeavors to gain a place among his comrades, he cried out, in evident distress, “What shall I do?—Will none of you take me in?”

The first effort of a “fast-fish,” or whale that has been struck, is to escape from the boat by sinking under water. [Pg 33] After this, it pursues its course downward, or reappears at a little distance, and swims with great celerity, near the surface of the water. It sometimes returns instantly to the surface, and gives evidence of its agony by the most convulsive throes. The downward course of a whale is, however, the most common. A whale, struck near the edge of any large sheet of ice, and passing underneath it, will sometimes run the whole of the lines out of one boat. The approaching distress of a boat, for want of line, is indicated by the elevation of an oar, to which is added a second, a third, or even a fourth, in proportion to the nature of the exigence. The utmost care and attention are requisite, on the part of every person in the boat, when the lines are running out; fatal consequences having been sometimes produced by the most trifling neglect.—When the line happens to “run foul,” and cannot be cleared on the instant, it sometimes draws the boat under water; on which, if no auxiliary boat, or convenient piece of ice, be at hand, the crew are plunged into the sea, and are obliged to trust to their oars or their skill in swimming, for supporting themselves on the surface.

Captain Scoresby relates an accident of this kind, which happened on his first voyage to the whale fishery. A thousand fathoms of line were already out, and the fast-boat was forcibly pressed against the side of a piece of ice. The harpooner, in his anxiety to retard the flight of the whale, applied too many turns of the line round the bollard, which, getting entangled, drew the boat beneath the ice. Another boat, providentially was at hand, into which the crew had just time to escape. The whale, with near two miles length of line, was, in consequence of the accident, lost, but the boat was recovered.

The average stay under water of a wounded whale is about thirty minutes. When it reappears, the assisting boats make for the place with their utmost speed, and as they reach it, each harpooner plunges his harpoon into its back, to the amount of three, four, or more, according to the size of the whale. It is then actively plied with lances, which are thrust into its body, aiming at its vitals. The sea to a great extent around is dyed with its blood, and the noise made by its tail in its dying struggle, may be heard several miles. In dying, it turns on its back or on its side; which circumstance is announced by the capturers with the striking of their flags, accompanied with three lively huzzas!

[Pg 34] Whales are sometimes captured, with a single harpoon, in the space of fifteen minutes. Sometimes they resist forty or fifty hours, and at times they will break three or four lines at once, or tear themselves clear off the harpoons, by the violence of their struggles. Generally the capture of a whale depends on the activity of the harpooner, the state of the wind and weather, or the peculiar conduct of the animal itself. Under the most favourable circumstances, the length of time does not exceed an hour. The general average may be stated at two hours. Instances have occurred where whales have been taken without being struck at all, simply by entangling themselves in the lines that had been used to destroy others, and struggling till they were drowned or died of exhaustion.

The fishery for whales, when conducted at the margin of those wonderful sheets of ice, called fields, is, when the weather is fine, and the refuge for ships secure, the most agreeable, and sometimes the most productive of all other ways. When the fish can be observed “blowing” in any of the holes of a field, the men travel over the ice and attack it with lances to turn it back. As connected with this subject, Captain Scoresby relates the following circumstance, which occurred under his own observation.

On the eighth of July, 1813, the ship Esk lay by the edge of a large sheet of ice, in which there were several thin parts, and some holes. Here a whale being heard blowing, a harpoon, with a line fastened to it, was conveyed across the ice, from a boat on guard, and the harpooner succeeded in striking the whale, at the distance of three hundred and fifty yards from the verge. It dragged out ten lines, (2400 yards,) and was supposed to be seen blowing in different holes in the ice. After some time it made its appearance on the exterior, and was again struck, at the moment it was about to go under the second time. About an hundred yards from the edge, it broke the ice where it was a foot thick, with its head, and respired through the opening. It then pushed forward, breaking the ice as it advanced, in spite of the lances constantly directed against it. At last it reached a kind of basin in the field, where it floated on the surface without any incumbrance from ice. Its back being fairly exposed, the harpoon struck from the boat on the outside, was observed to be so slightly entangled, that it was ready to drop out. Some of the officers lamented this circumstance, and wished that the harpoon might be better fast; at the same time observing that if it [Pg 35] should slip out, either the fish would be lost, or they should be under the necessity of flensing it where it lay, and of dragging the blubber over the ice to the ship; a kind and degree of labor every one was anxious to avoid. No sooner was the wish expressed, and its importance explained, than a young and daring sailor stepped forward, and offered to strike the harpoon deeper. Not at all intimidated by the surprise manifested on every countenance at such a bold proposal, he leaped on the back of the living whale, and cut the harpoon out with his pocket knife. Stimulated by his gallant example, one of his companions proceeded to his assistance. While one of them hauled upon the line and held it in his hands, the other set his shoulder against the end of the harpoon, and though it was without a stock, contrived to strike it again into the fish more effectually than at first! The whale was in motion before they had finished. After they got off its back, it advanced a considerable distance, breaking the ice all the way, and survived this novel treatment ten or fifteen minutes. This daring deed was of essential service. The whale fortunately sunk spontaneously after it expired; on which it was hauled out under the ice by the line and secured without farther trouble. It proved a mighty whale; a very considerable prize.

When engaged in the pursuit of a large whale, it is a necessary precaution for two boats at all times to proceed in company, that the one may be able to assist the other, on any emergency. With this principle in view, two boats from the Esk were sent out in chase of some large whales, on the 13th of June 1814. No ice was within sight. The boats had proceeded some time together, when they separated in pursuit of two whales, not far distant from each other; when, by a singular coincidence, the harpooners each struck his fish at the same moment. They were a mile from the ship. Urgent signals for assistance were displayed by each boat, and in a few minutes one of the harpooners was obliged to slip the end of his line. Fortunately the other fish did not descend so deep, and the lines in the boat proved adequate for the occasion. One of the fish being then supposed to be lost, five of the boats out of seven attended on the fish which yet remained entangled, and speedily killed it. A short time afterwards, the other fish supposed to be lost, was descried at a little distance from the place where it was struck;—three boats proceeded against it;—it was immediately struck, and in twenty minutes also killed. Thus were fortunately captured two whales, both of which had been despaired of. They [Pg 36] produced near forty tons of oil, value, at that time £1400. The lines attached to the last fish were recovered with it.

Before a whale can be flensed, as the operation of taking off the fat and whalebone is called, some preliminary measures are requisite. These consist in securing the whale to the boat, cutting away the attached whale-lines, lashing the fins together, and towing it to the ship. Some curious circumstances connected with these operations may be mentioned here.

Whalers prepare their work on the grounded carcass of a whale

In the year 1816, a fish was to all appearance killed by the crew of the Esk. The fins were partly lashed, and the tail on the point of being secured, and all the lines excepting one, were cut away, the fish meanwhile lying as if dead. To the alarm, however, of the sailors, it revived, began to move, and pressed forward in a convulsive agitation; soon after it sunk in the water to some depth, and then died. One line fortunately remained attached to it, by which it was drawn to the surface and secured.

A suspension of labor is generally allowed after the whale has been secured aside of the ship, and before the commencement of the operation of flensing. An unlucky circumstance once occurred in an interval of this kind. At that period of the fishery, (forty or fifty years ago,) when a single stout whale [Pg 37] together with the bounty, was found sufficient to remunerate the owners of a ship for the expenses of the voyage, great joy was exhibited on the capture of a whale, by the fishers. They were not only cheered by a dram of spirits, but sometimes provided with some favorite “mess,” on which to regale themselves, before they commenced the arduous task of flensing. At such a period, the crew of an English vessel had captured their first whale. It was taken to the ship, placed on the lee-side, and though the wind blew a strong breeze, it was fastened only by a small rope attached to the fin. In this state of supposed security, all hands retired to regale themselves, the captain himself not excepted. The ship being at a distance from any ice, and the fish believed to be fast, they made no great haste in their enjoyment. At length, the specksioneer, or chief harpooner, having spent sufficient time in indulgence and equipment, with an air of importance and self-confidence, proceeded on deck, and naturally turned to look on the whale. To his astonishment it was not to be seen. In some alarm he looked a-stern, a-head, on the other side, but his search was useless; the ship drifting fast, had pressed forcibly upon the whale, the rope broke, the fish sunk and was lost. The mortification of this event may be conceived, but the termination of their vexation will not easily be imagined, when it is known, that no other opportunity of procuring a whale occurred during the voyage. The ship returned home clean.

Flensing in a swell is a most difficult and dangerous undertaking; and when the swell is at all considerable, it is commonly impracticable. No ropes or blocks are capable of bearing the jerk of the sea. The harpooners are annoyed by the surge, and repeatedly drenched in water; and are likewise subject to be wounded by the breaking of ropes or hooks of tackles, and even by strokes from each other’s knives. Hence accidents in this kind of flensing are not uncommon. The harpooners not unfrequently fall into the whale’s mouth, when it is exposed by the removal of a surface of blubber; where they might easily be drowned, but for the prompt assistance which is always at hand.

One of the laws of the fishery universally adhered to, is, that whenever a whale is loose, whatever may be the case or circumstances, it becomes a free prize to the first person who gets hold of it. Thus, when a whale is killed, and the flensing is prevented by a storm, it is usually taken in tow; if the rope by which it is connected with the ship should happen to [Pg 38] break, and the people of another ship should seize upon it while disengaged, it becomes their prize. The following circumstance, which occurred a good many years ago, has a tendency to illustrate the existing Greenland laws.

During a storm of wind and snow several ships were beating to windward, under easy sail, along the edge of a pack. When the storm abated and the weather cleared, the ships steered towards the ice. Two of the fleet approached it, about a mile assunder, abreast of each other, when the crews of each ship accidentally got sight of a dead fish at a little distance, within some loose ice. Each ship now made sail, to endeavor to reach the fish before the other; which fish being loose, would be a prize to the first who could get possession of it. Neither ship could out sail the other, but each contrived to press forward towards the prize. The little advantage one of them had in distance, the other compensated with velocity. On each bow of the two ships, was stationed a principal officer, armed with a harpoon in readiness to discharge. But it so happened that the ships came in contact with each other, when within a few yards of the fish, and in consequence of the shock with which their bows met, they rebounded to a considerable distance. The officers at the same moment discharged their harpoons, but all of them fell short of the fish. A hardy fellow who was second mate of the leeward ship immediately leaped overboard and with great dexterity swam to the whale, seized it by the fin, and proclaimed it his prize. It was, however, so swollen, that he was unable to climb upon it, but was obliged to remain shivering in the water until assistance should be sent. His captain elated with his good luck, forgot, or at least neglected his brave second mate; and before he thought of sending a boat to release him from his disagreeable situation, prepared to moor his ship to an adjoining piece of ice. Meanwhile the other ship tacked, and the master himself stepped into a boat, pushed off and rowed deliberately towards the dead fish. Observing the trembling seaman still in the water holding by the fin, he addressed him with, “Well my lad, you have got a fine fish here,”—to which after a natural reply in the affirmative, he added, “but don’t you find it very cold?”—“Yes,” replied the shivering sailor, “I’m almost starved. I wish you would allow me to come into your boat until ours arrives.” This favor needed no second solicitation; the boat approached the man and he was assisted into it. The fish being again loose and out of possession, the captain instantly struck his harpoon [Pg 39] into it, hoisted his flag, and claimed his prize! Mortified and displeased as the other master felt at this trick, for so it certainly was, he had nevertheless no redress, but was obliged to permit the fish to be taken on board of his competitor’s ship, and to content himself with abusing the second mate for want of discretion, and condemning himself for not having more compassion on the poor fellow’s feeling, which would have prevented the disagreeable misadventure.

Those employed in the occupation of killing whales, are, when actually engaged, exposed to danger from three sources, viz. from the ice, from the climate, and from the whales themselves. The ice is a source of danger to the fishers, from overhanging masses falling upon them,—from the approximation of large sheets of ice to each other, which are apt to crush or upset the boats,—from their boats being stove or sunk by large masses of ice, agitated by a swell,—and from the boats being enclosed and beset in a pack of ice, and their crews thus prevented from joining their ships.

On the commencement of a heavy gale of wind, May 11th, 1813, fourteen men put off in a boat from the Volunteer of Whitby, with the view of setting an anchor in a large piece of ice, to which it was their intention of mooring the ship.—The ship approached on a signal being made, the sails were clewed up, and a rope fixed to the anchor; but the ice shivering with the violence of the strain when the ship fell astern, the anchor flew out and the ship went adrift. The sails being again set, the ship was reached to the eastward (wind at north,) the distance of about two miles; but in attempting to wear and return, the ship, instead of performing the evolution, scudded a considerable distance to the leeward, and was then reaching out to sea; thus leaving fourteen of her crew to a fate most dreadful, the fulfilment of which seemed almost inevitable. The temperature of the air was 15 or 16 of Fahr. when these poor wretches were left upon a detached piece of ice, of no considerable magnitude, without food, without shelter from the inclement storm, deprived of every means of refuge except in a single boat, which, on account of the number of men, and the violence of the storm, was incapable of conveying them to their ship. Death stared them in the face whichever way they turned, and a division in opinion ensued. Some were wishful to remain on the ice, but the ice could afford them no shelter to the piercing wind, and would probably be broken to pieces by the increasing swell: others were anxious to attempt to join their ship while she was yet in [Pg 40] sight, but the force of the wind, the violence of the sea, the smallness of the boat in comparison to the number of men to be conveyed, were objections which would have appeared insurmountable to any person but men in a state of despair.—Judging, that by remaining on the ice, death was but retarded for a few hours, as the extreme cold must eventually benumb their faculties, and invite a sleep which would overcome the remains of animation,—they determined on making the attempt of rowing to their ship. Poor souls, what must have been their sensations at that moment,—when the spark of hope yet remaining was so feeble, that a premature death even to themselves seemed inevitable. They made the daring experiment, when a few minutes’ trial convinced them, that the attempt was utterly impracticable. They then with longing eyes, turned their efforts towards recovering the ice they had left, but their utmost exertions were unavailing. Every one now viewed his situation as desperate; and anticipated, as certain, the fatal event which was to put a period to his life. How great must have been their delight, and how overpowering their sensations, when at this most critical juncture a ship appeared in sight! She was advancing directly towards them; their voices were extended and their flag displayed.—But although it was impossible they should be heard, it was not impossible they should be seen. Their flag was descried by the people on board the ship, their mutual courses were so directed as to form the speediest union, and in a few minutes they found themselves on the deck of the Lively of Whitby, under circumstances of safety! They received from their townsmen the warmest congratulations; and while each individual was forward in contributing his assistance towards the restoration of their benumbed bodies, each appeared sensible that their narrow escape from death was highly providential. The forbearance of God is wonderful. Perhaps these very men a few hours before, were impiously invoking their own destruction, or venting imprecations upon their fellow beings! True it is that the goodness of the Almighty extendeth over all his works, and that while ‘Mercy is his darling attribute,’—‘Judgment is his strange work.’

The most extensive source of danger to the whale-fisher, when actively engaged in his occupation, arises from the object of his pursuit. Excepting when it has young under its protection, the whale generally exhibits remarkable timidity of character. A bird perching on its back alarms it; hence, the greater part of the accidents which happen in the course [Pg 41] of its capture, must be attributed to adventitious circumstances on the part of the whale, or to mismanagement or foolhardiness on the part of the fishers.

A whale, harpooned by a nearby whaling crew, spouts water

A harpooner belonging to the Henrietta of Whitby, when engaged in lancing a whale, into which he had previously struck a harpoon, incautiously cast a little line under his feet that he had just hauled into the boat, after it had been drawn out by the fish. A painful stroke of his lance induced the whale to dart suddenly downward; his line began to run out from beneath his feet, and in an instant caught him by a turn round his body. He had but just time to cry out, “clear away the line,”—“O dear!” when he was almost cut assunder, dragged overboard and never seen afterwards. The line was cut at the moment, but without avail. The fish descended a considerable depth, and died; from whence it was drawn to the surface by the lines connected with it, and secured.

While the ship Resolution navigated an open lake of water, in the 81st degree of north latitude, during a keen frost and strong north wind, on the 2d of June 1806, a whale appeared, and a boat put off in pursuit. On its second visit to the surface of the sea, it was harpooned. A convulsive heave of the tail, which succeeded the wound, struck the boat at the stern; and by its reaction, projected the boat-steerer overboard. As the line in a moment dragged the boat beyond his reach, the crew threw some of their oars towards him for his support, one of which he fortunately seized. The ship and boats being at a considerable distance, and the fast-boat being rapidly drawn away from him, the harpooner cut the line with the view of rescuing him from his dangerous situation. [Pg 42] But no sooner was this act performed, than to their extreme mortification they discovered, that in consequence of some oars being thrown towards their floating comrade, and others being broken or unshipped by the blow from the fish, one oar only remained; with which, owing to the force of the wind, they tried in vain to approach him. A considerable period elapsed, before any boat from the ship could afford him assistance, though the men strained every nerve for the purpose. At length, when they reached him, he was found with his arms stretched over an oar, almost deprived of sensation.—On his arrival at the ship, he was in a deplorable condition. His clothes were frozen like mail, and his hair constituted a helmet of ice. He was immediately conveyed into the cabin, his clothes taken off, his limbs and body dried and well rubbed, and a cordial administered which he drank. A dry shirt and stockings were then put upon him, and he was laid in the captain’s bed. After a few hours sleep he awoke, and appeared considerably restored, but complained of a painful sensation of cold. He was, therefore, removed to his own birth, and one of his messmates ordered to lie on each side of him, whereby the diminished circulation of the blood was accelerated, and the animal heat restored. The shock on his constitution, however, was greater than was anticipated.—He recovered in the course of a few days, so as to be able to engage in his ordinary pursuits; but many months elapsed before his countenance exhibited its usual appearance of health.

The Aimwell of Whitby, while cruising the Greenland seas, in the year 1810, had boats in chase of whales on the 26th of May. One of them was harpooned. But instead of sinking immediately on receiving the wound, as is the most usual manner of the whale, this individual only dived for a moment, and rose again beneath the boat, struck it in the most vicious manner with its fins and tail, stove it, upset it, and then disappeared. The crew, seven in number, got on the bottom of the boat; but the unequal action of the lines, which for sometime remained entangled with the boat, rolled it occasionally over, and thus plunged the crew repeatedly into the water.—Four of them, after each immersion, recovered themselves and clung to the boat; but the other three, one of whom was the only person acquainted with the art of swimming, were drowned before assistance could arrive. The four men on the boat being rescued and conveyed to the ship, the attack on the whale was continued and two more harpoons struck.—But [Pg 43] the whale irritated, instead of being enervated by its wounds, recommenced its furious conduct. The sea was in a foam. Its tail and fins wore in awful play; and in a short time, harpoon after harpoon drew out, the fish was loosened from its entanglements and escaped.

In the fishery of 1812, the Henrietta of Whitby suffered a similar loss. A fish which was struck very near the ship, by a blow of its tail, stove a small hole in the boat’s bow. Every individual shrinking from the side on which the blow was impressed, aided the influence of the stroke, and upset the boat. They all clung to it while it was bottom up; but the line having got entangled among the thwarts, suddenly drew the boat under water, and with it part of the crew. Excessive anxiety among the people in the ship, occasioned delay in sending assistance, so that when the first boat arrived at the spot, two survivors only out of six men were found.

During a fresh gale of wind in the season of 1809, one of the Resolution’s harpooners struck a sucking whale. Its mother being near, all the other boats were disposed around, with the hope of entangling it. The old whale pursued a circular route round its cub, and was followed by the boats; but its velocity was so considerable, that they were unable to keep pace with it. Being in the capacity of harpooner on this occasion myself, I proceeded to the chase, after having carefully marked the proceedings of the fish. I selected a situation, in which I conceived the whale would make its appearance, and was in the act of directing my crew to cease rowing, when a terrible blow was struck on the boat. The whale I never saw, but the effect of the blow was too important to be overlooked. About fifteen square feet of the bottom of the boat were driven in; it filled, sunk, and upset in a moment. Assistance was providentially at hand, so that we were all taken up without injury, after being but a few minutes in the water. The whale escaped; the boat’s lines fell out and were lost, but the boat was recovered.

A remarkable instance of the power which the whale possesses in its tail, was exhibited within my own observation, in the year 1807. On the 29th of May, a whale was harpooned by an officer belonging to the Resolution. It descended a considerable depth; and, on its re-appearance, evinced an uncommon degree of irritation. It made such a display of its fins and tail, that few of the crew were hardy enough to approach it. The captain, (Captain Scoresby’s father,) observing their timidity, called a boat, and himself struck a second [Pg 44] harpoon. Another boat immediately followed, and unfortunately advanced too far. The tail was again reared into the air, in a terrific attitude,—the impending blow was evident,—the harpooner, who was directly underneath, leaped overboard,—and the next moment the threatened stroke was impressed on the centre of the boat, which it buried in the water. Happily no one was injured. The harpooner who leaped overboard, escaped certain death by the act,—the tail having struck the very spot on which he stood. The effects of the blow were astonishing. The keel was broken,—the gunwales, and every plank, excepting two, were cut through,—and it was evident that the boat would have been completely divided, had not the tail struck directly upon a coil of lines. The boat was rendered useless.

Instances of disasters of this kind, occasioned by blows from the whale, could be adduced in great numbers,—cases of boats being destroyed by a single stroke of the tail, are not unknown,—instances of boats having been stove or upset, and their crews wholly or in part drowned, are not unfrequent,—and several cases of whales having made a regular attack upon every boat which came near them, dashed some in pieces, and killed or drowned some of the people in them, have occurred within a few years even under my own observation.

The Dutch ship Gort-Moolen, commanded by Cornelius Gerard Ouwekaas, with a cargo of seven fish, was anchored in Greenland in the year 1660. The captain, perceiving a whale a-head of his ship, beckoned his attendants, and threw himself into a boat. He was the first to approach the whale; and was fortunate enough to harpoon it before the arrival of the second boat, which was on the advance. Jacques Vienkes, who had the direction of it, joined his captain immediately afterwards, and prepared to make a second attack on the fish, when it should remount again to the surface. At the moment of its ascension, the boat of Vienkes happening unfortunately to be perpendicularly above it, was so suddenly and forcibly lifted up by a stroke of the head of the whale, that it was dashed to pieces before the harpooner could discharge his weapon.

Vienkes flew along with the pieces of the boat, and fell upon the back of the animal. This intrepid seaman, who still retained his weapon in his grasp, harpooned the whale on which he stood; and by means of the harpoon and the line, which he never abandoned, he steadied himself firmly upon [Pg 45] the fish, notwithstanding his hazardous situation, and regardless of a considerable wound that he received in his leg in his fall along with the fragments of the boat. All the efforts of the other boats to approach the whale, and deliver the harpooner, were futile. The captain, not seeing any other method of saving his unfortunate companion, who was in some way entangled with the line, called to him to cut it with his knife, and betake himself to swimming. Vienkes, embarrassed and disconcerted as he was, tried in vain to follow this counsel. His knife was in the pocket of his drawers; and, being unable to support himself with one hand, he could not get it out. The whale, meanwhile, continued advancing along the surface of the water with great rapidity, but fortunately never attempted to dive. While his comrades despaired of his life, the harpoon by which he held, at length disengaged itself from the body of the whale. Vienkes being thus liberated, did not fail to take advantage of this circumstance; he cast himself into the sea, and by swimming, endeavored to regain the boats which continued the pursuit of the whale. When his shipmates perceived him struggling with the waves, they redoubled their exertions. They reached him just as his strength was exhausted, and had the happiness of rescuing this adventurous harpooner from his perilous situation.

Captain Lyons of the Raith of Leith, while prosecuting the whale-fishery on the Labrador coast, in the season of 1802, discovered a large whale at a short distance from the ship. Four boats were dispatched in pursuit, and two of them succeeded in approaching it so closely together, that two harpoons were struck at the same moment. The fish descended a few fathoms in the direction of another of the boats, which was on the advance, rose accidentally beneath it, struck it with its head, and threw the boat, men, and apparatus about fifteen feet into the air. It was inverted by the stroke, and fell into the water with its keel upwards. All the people were picked up alive by the fourth boat, which was just at hand, excepting one man, who having got entangled in the boat, fell beneath it, and was unfortunately drowned. The fish was soon afterwards killed. The engraving on page 30, is illustrative of this remarkable accident.

In 1822, two boats belonging to the ship Baffin went in pursuit of a whale. John Carr was harpooner and commander of one of them. The whale they pursued led them into a vast shoal of his own species; they were so numerous that their blowing was incessant, and they believed that they did not see [Pg 46] fewer than an hundred. Fearful of alarming them without striking any, they remained for a while motionless. At last one rose near Carr’s boat, and he approached, and fatally for himself, harpooned it. When he struck, the fish was approaching the boat; and, passing very rapidly, jerked the line out of its place over the stern, and threw it upon the gunwale. Its pressure in this unfavorable position so careened the boat, that the side was pulled under water, and it began to fill. In this emergency, Carr, who was a brave, active man, seized the line, and endeavored to relieve the boat by restoring it to its place; but, by some circumstance which was never accounted for, a turn of the line flew over his arm, dragged him overboard in an instant, and drew him under the water, never more to rise. So sudden was the accident, that only one man, who was watching him, saw what had happened; so that when the boat righted, which it immediately did, though half full of water, the whole crew on looking round inquired what had become of Carr. It is impossible to imagine a death more awfully sudden and unexpected. The [Pg 47] invisible bullet could not have effected more instantaneous destruction. The velocity of the whale at its first descent is from thirteen to fifteen feet per second. Now as this unfortunate man was adjusting the line at the water’s very edge, where it must have been perfectly tight, owing to its obstruction in running out of the boat, the interval between the fastening the line about him and his disappearance could not have exceeded the third part of a second of time, for in one second only he must have been dragged ten or twelve feet deep. Indeed he had not time for the least exclamation; and the person who saw his removal, observed that it was so exceeding quick that though his eye was upon him at the moment, he could scarcely distinguish his figure as he disappeared.

INSTRUMENTS USED IN THE WHALE FISHERY.

1. A common Harpoon.
2. A Pricker.
3. A sharp Spade, used in cutting up a Whale.
4. A Harpoon which is fired from a gun.
5. A Lance, to kill the Whale after he has been harpooned.

As soon as the crew recovered from their consternation, they applied themselves to the needful attention which the lines required. A second harpoon was struck from the accompanying boat on the raising of the whale to the surface, and some lances were applied, but this melancholy occurrence had cast such a damp on all present, that they became timid and inactive in their subsequent duties. The whale when nearly exhausted was allowed to remain some minutes unmolested, till having recovered some degree of energy, it made a violent effort and tore itself away from both harpoons. The exertions of the crews thus proved fruitless, and were attended with serious loss.

Innumerable instances might be adduced of the perils and disasters to which our whalemen are subject; of their never tiring fortitude and daring enterprise; but we believe the examples we have given alone will sufficiently convey a full and correct idea of the customs and dangers of the whale-fishery.

A narwal

THE NARWAL, OR SEA-UNICORN,

Is a species of the Whale, and seldom exceeds twenty-two feet long. Its body is slenderer than that of the whale, and its fat not in so great abundance. But this great animal is sufficiently distinguished from all others of the deep, by its [Pg 48] tooth or teeth, which stand pointing directly forward from the upper jaw, and are from nine to ten feet long. In all the variety of weapons with which nature has armed her various tribes, there is not one so large or so formidable as this.—This terrible weapon is generally found single; and some are of opinion that the animal is furnished with but one by nature; but there is at present the skull of a Narwal at the Stadthouse at Amsterdam, with two teeth. The tooth, or, as some are pleased to call it, the horn of the Narwal, is as straight as an arrow, about the thickness of the small of a man’s leg, wreathed as we sometimes see twisted bars of iron; it tapers to a sharp point; and is whiter, heavier, and harder than ivory. It is generally seen to spring from the left side of the head directly forward in a straight line with the body; and its root enters into the socket above a foot and a half. Notwithstanding its appointments for combat, this long and pointed tusk, amazing strength, and matchless celerity, the Narwal is one of the most harmless and peaceful inhabitants of the ocean. It is seen constantly and inoffensively sporting among the other great monsters of the deep, no way attempting to injure them, but pleased in their company. The Greenlanders call the Narwal the forerunner of the whale; for wherever it is seen, the whale is shortly after sure to follow. This may arise as well from the natural passion for society in these animals, as from both living upon the same food. These powerful fishes make war upon no other living creature; and, though furnished with instruments to spread general destruction, are as innocent and as peaceful as a drove of oxen. The Narwal is much swifter than the whale, and would never be taken by the fishermen but for those very tusks, which at first appear to be its principal defence. These animals are always seen in herds of several at a time; and whenever they are attacked they crowd together in such a manner, that they are mutually embarrassed by their tusks. By these they are often locked together, and are prevented from sinking to the bottom. It seldom happens, therefore, but the fishermen make sure of one or two of the hindmost, which very well reward their trouble.


[Pg 49]

LOSS OF THE BRIG TYRREL.

In addition to the many dreadful shipwrecks already narrated, the following, which is a circumstantial account given by T. Purnell, chief mate of the brig Tyrrel, Arthur Cochlan, commander, and the only person among the whole crew who had the good fortune to escape, claims our particular attention.

On Saturday, June 29th, 1759, they sailed from New York to Sandy Hook, and there came to an anchor, waiting for the captain’s coming down with a new boat, and some other articles. Accordingly he came on board early the succeeding morning, and the boat cleared, hoisted in, stowed and lashed. At eight o’clock, A. M. they weighed anchor, sailed out of Sandy Hook, and the same day at noon, took their departure from the High Land Never Sunk, and proceeded on their passage to Antigua. As soon as they made sail, the captain ordered the boat to be cast loose, in order that she might be painted, with the oars, rudder and tiller, which job, he (Captain Cochlan) undertook to do himself.

At four P. M. they found the vessel made a little more water, than usual; but as it did not cause much additional labour at the pump, nothing was thought of it. At eight, the leak did not seem to increase. At twelve it began to blow very hard in squalls, which caused the vessel to lie down very much, whereby it was apprehended she wanted more ballast. Thereupon the captain came on deck, being the starboard watch, and close reefed both top-sails.

At four A. M. the weather moderated—let out both reefs:—at eight it became still more moderate, and they made more sail, and set top-gallant-sails; the weather was still thick and hazy. There was no further observation taken at present, except that the vessel made more water. The captain was now chiefly employed in painting the boat, oars, rudder and tiller.

On Monday, June 30, at four P. M. the wind was at E. N. E. freshened very much, and blew so very hard, as occasioned the brig to lie along in such a manner as caused general [Pg 50] alarm. The captain was now earnestly intreated to put for New York, or steer for the Capes of Virginia. At eight, took in top-gallant-sail, and close reefed both top-sails, still making more water. Afterwards the weather became still more moderate and fair, and they made more sail.

July 1, at four A. M. it began to blow in squalls very hard, took in one reef in each top-sail, and continued so until eight A. M. the weather being still thick and hazy.—No observation.

The next day she made still more water, but as every watch pumped it out, this was little regarded. At four P. M. took second reef in each top-sail,—close reefed both, and sent down top-gallant-yard; the gale still increasing.

At four A. M. the wind got round to N. and there was no appearance of its abating. At eight, the captain well satisfied that she was very crank and ought to have had more ballast, agreed to make for Bacon Island Road, in North Carolina; and in the very act of wearing her, a sudden gust of wind laid her down on her beam-end, and she never rose again!—At this time Mr. Purnell was lying in the cabin, with his clothes on, not having pulled them off since they left land.—Having been rolled out of his bed (on his chest,) with great difficulty he reached the round-house door; the first salutation he met with was from the step-ladder that went from the quarter-deck to the poop, which knocked him against the companion, (a lucky circumstance for those below, as, by laying the ladder against the companion, it served both him and the rest of the people who were in the steerage, as a conveyance to windward); having transported the two after guns forward to bring her more by the head, in order to make her hold a better wind; thus they got through the aftermost gun-port on the quarter-deck, and being all on her broadside, every moveable rolled to leeward, and as the vessel overset, so did the boat, and turned bottom upwards, her lashings being cast loose, by order of the captain, and having no other prospect of saving their lives but by the boat, Purnell, with two others, and the cabin-boy (who were excellent swimmers) plunged into the water, and with difficulty righted her, when she was brim full, and washing with the water’s edge. They then made fast the end of the main-sheet to the ring in her stern-post, and those who were in the fore-chains sent down the end of the boom-tackle, to which they made fast the boat’s painter, and by which they lifted her a little out of the water, so that she swam about two or three inches free, but almost full.

[Pg 51] They then put the cabin-boy into her, and gave him a bucket that happened to float by, and he bailed away as quick as he could, and soon after another person got in with another bucket, and in a short time got all the water out of her.—They then put two long oars that were stowed in the larboard-quarter of the Tyrrel into the boat, and pulled or rowed right to windward; for, as the wreck drifted, she made a dreadful appearance in the water, and Mr. Purnell and two of the people put off from the wreck, in search of the oars, rudder and tiller. After a long while they succeeded in picking them all up, one after another. They then returned to their wretched companions, who were all overjoyed to see them, having given them up for lost. By this time night drew on very fast. While they were rowing in the boat, some small quantity of white biscuit (Mr. Purnell supposed about half a peck,) floated in a small cask, out of the round house; but before it came to hand, it was so soaked with salt water, that it was almost in a fluid state: and about double the quantity of common ship-biscuit likewise floated, which was in like manner soaked. This was all the provision that they had; not a drop of fresh water could they get; neither could the carpenter get at any of his tools to scuttle her sides, for, could this have been accomplished, they might have saved plenty of provisions and water.

By this time it was almost dark; having got one compass, it was determined to quit the wreck, and take their chance in the boat, which was nineteen feet six inches long, and six feet four inches broad; Mr. Purnell supposes it was now about nine o’clock; it was very dark.

They had run abut 360 miles by their dead reckoning, on a S. E. by E. course. The number in the boat was 17 in all; the boat was very deep, and little hopes were entertained of either seeing land or surviving long. The wind got round to westward, which was the course they wanted to steer; but it began to blow and rain so very hard, that they were obliged to keep before the wind and sea, in order to preserve her above water. Soon after they had put off from the wreck the boat shipped two heavy seas, one after another, so that they were obliged to keep her before the wind and sea; for had she shipped another sea, she certainly would have swamped with them.

By sunrise the next morning, July 3, they judged that they had been running E. S. E. which was contrary to their wishes. The wind dying away, the weather became very moderate. [Pg 52] The compass which they had saved proved of no utility, one of the people having trod upon, and broken it; it was accordingly thrown overboard. They now proposed to make a sail of some frocks and trowsers, but they had got neither needles nor sewing twine, one of the people however, had a needle in his knife, and another several fishing lines in his pockets, which were unlaid by some, and others were employed in ripping the frocks and trowsers. By sunset they had provided a tolerable lug-sail; having split one of the boat’s thwarts, (which was of yellow deal,) with a very large knife, which one of the crew had in his pocket, they made a yard and lashed it together by the strands of the fore-top-gallant-halyards, that were thrown into the boat promiscuously.—They also made a mast of one of the long oars, and set their sails, with sheets and tacks made out of the top-gallant-halyards. Their only guide was the North star. They had a tolerable good breeze all night; and the whole of the next day, July 4, the weather continued very moderate, and the people were in as good spirits as their dreadful situation would admit.

July 5, the wind and weather continued much the same, and they knew by the North star that they were standing in for the land. The next day Mr. Purnell observed some of the men drinking salt water, and seeming rather fatigued.—At this time they imagined the wind was got round to the southward, and they steered, as they thought by the North star, to the northwest quarter; but on the 7th, they found the wind had got back to the northward, and blew very fresh. They got their oars out the greatest part of the night, and the next day the wind still dying away, the people laboured alternately at the oars, without distinction. About noon the wind sprung up so that they laid in their oars, and, as they thought, steered about N. N. W. and continued so until about eight or nine in the morning of July 9, when they all thought they were upon soundings, by the coldness of the water.—They were, in general, in very good spirits. The weather continued still thick and hazy, and by the North star, they found that they had been steering about N. by W.

July 10.—The people had drank so much salt water, that it came from them as clear as it was before they drank it; and Mr. Purnell perceived that the second mate had lost a considerable share of his strength and spirits; and also, at noon, that the carpenter was delirious, his malady increasing every hour; about dusk he had almost overset the boat, by attempting [Pg 53] to throw himself overboard, and otherwise behaving quite violent.

As his strength, however, failed him, he became more manageable, and they got him to lie down in the middle of the boat, among some of the people. Mr. Purnell drank once a little salt water, but could not relish it; he preferred his own urine, which he drank occasionally as he made it. Soon after sunset the second mate lost his speech. Mr. Purnell desired him to lean his head on him; he died, without a groan or struggle, on the 11th of July, being the 9th day they were in the boat. In a few minutes after, the carpenter expired almost in a similar manner. These melancholy scenes rendered the situation of the survivors more dreadful; it is impossible to describe their feelings. Despair became general; every man imagined his own dissolution was near. They all now went to prayers; some prayed in the Welch language, some in Irish, and others in English; then, after a little deliberation, they stripped the two dead men, and hove them overboard.

The weather being now very mild, and almost calm, they turned to, cleaned the boat, and resolved to make their sail larger out of the frocks and trowsers of the two deceased men. Purnell got the captain to lie down with the rest of the people, the boatswain and one man excepted, who assisted him in making the sail larger, which they had completed by six or seven o’clock in the afternoon, having made a shroud out of the boat’s painter, which served as a shifting back-stay.—Purnell also fixed his red flannel waistcoat at the mast-head, as a signal the most likely to be seen.

Soon after this some of them observed a sloop at a great distance, coming, as they thought, from the land. This roused every man’s spirits; they got out their oars, at which they laboured alternately, exerting all their remaining strength to come up with her; but night coming on, and the sloop getting a fresh breeze of wind, they lost sight of her, which occasioned a general consternation; however, the appearance of the North star, which they kept on their starboard-bow, gave them hopes that they stood in for land. This night one William Wathing died; he was 64 years of age, and had been to sea 50 years; quite worn out with fatigue and hunger, he earnestly prayed, to the last moment, for a drop of water to cool his tongue. Early the next morning Hugh Williams also died, and in the course of the day another of the crew: entirely exhausted,—they both expired without a groan.

[Pg 54] Early in the morning of July 13, it began to blow very fresh, and increased so much, that they were obliged to furl their sail, and keep the boat before the wind and sea, which drove them off soundings. In the evening their gunner died. The weather now becoming moderate and the wind in the S. W. quarter, they made sail, not one being able to row or pull an oar at any rate; they ran all this night with a fine breeze.

The next morning (July 14) two more of the crew died, and in the evening they also lost the same number. They found they were on soundings again, and concluded the wind had got round to the N. W. quarter. They stood in for the land all this night, and early on July 12 two others died; the deceased were thrown overboard as soon as their breath had departed. The weather was now thick and hazy, and they were still certain that they were on soundings.

The cabin-boy was seldom required to do any thing, and as his intellects, at this time, were very good, and his understanding clear, it was the opinion of Mr. Purnell that he would survive them all, but he prudently kept his thoughts to himself. The captain seemed likewise tolerably well, and to have kept up his spirits. On account of the haziness of the weather, they could not so well know how they steered in the day time as at night; for, whenever the North star appeared, they endeavored to keep it on their starboard bow, by which means they were certain of making the land some time or other. In the evening two more of the crew died, also, before sunset, one Thomas Philpot, an old experienced seaman, and very strong; he departed rather convulsed; having latterly lost the power of articulation, his meaning could not be comprehended. He was a native of Belfast, Ireland, and had no family. The survivors found it a difficult task to heave his body overboard, as he was a very corpulent man.

About six or seven the next morning, July 16, they stood in for the land, according to the best of their judgment, the weather still thick and hazy. Purnell now prevailed upon the captain and boatswain of the boat to lie down in the fore-part of the boat, to bring her more by the head, in order to make her hold a better wind. In the evening the cabin-boy, who lately appeared so well, breathed his last, leaving behind, the captain, the boatswain and Mr. Purnell.

The next morning, July 17, Mr. Purnell asked his two companions if they thought they could eat any of the boy’s flesh; and having expressed an inclination to try, and the body being quite cold, he cut the inside of his thigh, a little [Pg 55] above his knee, and gave a piece to the captain and boatswain, reserving a small piece for himself; but so weak were their stomachs that none of them could swallow a morsel of it, the body was therefore thrown overboard.

Early in the morning of the 18th, Mr. Purnell found both of his companions dead and cold! Thus destitute, he began to think of his own dissolution; though feeble, his understanding was still clear, and his spirits as good as his forlorn situation could possibly admit. By the colour and coldness of the water, he knew he was not far from land, and still maintained hopes of making it. The weather continued very foggy. He lay to all this night, which was very dark, with the boat’s head to the northward.

In the morning of the 19th, it began to rain; it cleared up in the afternoon, and the wind died away; still Mr. Purnell was convinced he was on soundings.

On the 20th, in the afternoon, he thought he saw land, and stood in for it; but night coming on, and it being now very dark, he lay to, fearing he might get on some rocks and shoals.

July 21, the weather was very fine all the morning, but in the afternoon it became thick and hazy. Mr. Purnell’s spirits still remained good, but his strength was almost exhausted; he still drank his own water occasionally.

On the 22d he saw some barnacles on the boat’s rudder, very similar to the spawn of an oyster, which filled him with greater hopes of being near land. He unshipped the rudder, and scraping them off with his knife, found they were of a salt fishy substance, and eat them; he was now so weak, the boat having a great motion, that he found it a difficult task to ship the rudder.

At sunrise, July 23, he became so sure that he saw land, that his spirits were considerably raised. In the middle of this day he got up, leaned his back against the mast, and received succour from the sun, having previously contrived to steer the boat in this position. The next day he saw, at a very great distance, some kind of a sail, which he judged was coming from the land, which he soon lost sight of. In the middle of the day he got up, and received warmth from the sun as before. He stood on all night for the land.

Very early in the morning of the 25th, after drinking his morning draught, to his inexpressible joy he saw, while the sun was rising, a sail, and when the sun was up, found she was a two-mast vessel. He was, however, considerably [Pg 56] perplexed, not knowing what to do, as she was a great distance astern and to the leeward. In order to watch her motions better, he tacked about. Soon after this he perceived she was standing on her starboard tack, which had been the same he had been standing on for many hours. He saw she approached him very fast, and he lay to for some time, till he believed she was within two miles of the boat, but still to leeward; therefore he thought it best to steer larger, when he found she was a top-sail schooner, nearing him very fast.—He continued to edge down towards her, until he had brought her about two points under his lee-bow, having it in his power to spring his luff, or bear away. By this time she was within half a mile, and he saw some of her people standing forwards on her deck and waiving for him to come under their lee-bow.

At the distance of about 200 yards they hove the schooner up in the wind, and kept her so until Purnell got alongside, when they threw him a rope, still keeping the schooner in the wind. They now interrogated him very closely; by the manner the boat and oars were painted, they imagined she belonged to a man of war, and that they had run away with her from some of his Majesty’s ships at Halifax, consequently that they would be liable to some punishment if they took him up; they also thought, as the captain and boatswain were lying dead in the boat, they might expose themselves to some contagious disorder. Thus they kept Purnell in suspense for some time. They told him they had made the land that morning from the mast-head, and that they were running along shore for Marblehead, to which place they belonged, and where they expected to be the next morning. At last they told him he might come on board; which as he said, he could not without assistance, the captain ordered two of his men to help him.—They conducted him aft on the quarter deck, where they left him resting on the companion.

They were now for casting the boat adrift, but Mr. Purnell told them she was not above a month old, built at New York, and if they would hoist her in, it would pay them well for their trouble. To this they agreed, and having thrown the two corpses overboard, and taken out the clothes that were left by the deceased, they hoisted her in and made sail.

Being now on board, Purnell asked for a little water, Captain Castleman (for that was his name) ordered one of his sons, (having two on board) to fetch him some; when he came with the water, his father looked to see how much he was bringing him, and thinking it too much, threw some of it [Pg 57] away, and desired him to give the remainder, which he drank being the first fresh water he had tasted for 23 days. As he leaned all this time against the companion, he became very cold, and begged to go below; the captain ordered two men to help him down to the cabin, where they left him sitting on the cabin-deck, leaning upon the lockers, all hands being now engaged in hoisting in and securing the boat. This done, all hands went down to the cabin to breakfast, except the man at the helm. They made some soup for Purnell, which he thought very good, but at present he could eat very little, and in consequence of his late draughts, he had broke out in many parts of his body, so that he was in great pain whenever he stirred. They made a bed for him out of an old sail, and behaved very attentive. While they were at breakfast a squall of wind came on, which called them all upon deck; during their absence, Purnell took up a stone bottle, and without smelling or tasting it, but thinking it was rum, took a hearty draught of it, and found it to be sweet oil; having placed it where he found it, he lay down.

They still ran along shore with the land in sight, and were in great hopes of getting into port that night, but the wind dying away, they did not get in till nine o’clock the next night. All this time Purnell remained like a child; some one was always with him, to give him whatever he wished to eat or drink.

As soon as they came to anchor, Captain Castleman went on shore, and returned on board the next morning with the owner, John Picket, Esq. Soon after they got Purnell into a boat, and carried him on shore; but he was still so very feeble, that he was obliged to be supported by two men. Mr. Picket took a very genteel lodging for him, and hired a nurse to attend him; he was immediately put to bed, and afterwards provided with a change of clothes. In the course of the day he was visited by every doctor in the town, who all gave him hopes of recovering, but told him it would be some time, for the stronger the constitution, the longer (they said) it took to recover its lost strength. Though treated with the utmost tenderness and humanity, it was three weeks before he was able to come down stairs. He stayed in Marblehead two months, during which he lived very comfortably, and gradually recovered his strength. The brig’s boat and oars were sold for 95 dollars, which paid all his expenses, and procured him a passage to Boston. The nails of his fingers and toes withered away almost to nothing, and did not begin to grow for many months after.


[Pg 58]

THE LOSS OF THE PEGGY.

On the 28th of September, 1785, the Peggy, commanded by Capt. Knight, sailed from the harbor of Waterford, Ireland, for the port of New York, in America.

Here it is necessary to observe, that the Peggy was a large unwieldy Dutch-built ship, about eight hundred tons burden, and had formerly been in the Norway, and timber trade, for which, indeed, she seemed, from her immense bulk, well calculated. There being no freight in readiness for America, we were under the necessity of taking in ballast: which consisted of coarse gravel and sand, with about fifty casks of stores, fresh stock, and vegetables, sufficient to last during the voyage; having plenty of room, and having been most abundantly supplied by the hospitable neighbourhood, of which we were about to take our leave.

We weighed anchor, and with the assistance of a rapid tide and pleasant breeze, soon gained a tolerable offing: we continued under easy sail the remaining part of the day, and towards sunset lost sight of land.

Sept. 29th, made the old head of Kingsale; the weather continuing favorable, we shortly came within sight of Cape Clear, from whence we took our departure from the coast of Ireland.

Nothing material occurred for several days, during which time we traversed a vast space of the Western Ocean.

Oct. 12th, the weather now became hazy and squally;—all hands turned up to reef top-sails, and strike top-gallant-yards.—Towards night the squalls were more frequent, indicating an approaching gale:—We accordingly clued, reefed top-sails, and struck top-gallant-masts; and having made all snug aloft, the ship weathered the night very steadily.

On the 13th the crew were employed in setting up the rigging, and occasionally pumping, the ship having made much water during the night. The gale increasing as the day advanced, occasioned the vessel to make heavy rolls, by which an accident happened, which was near doing much injury to the captain’s cabin. A puncheon of rum, which was lashed [Pg 59] on the larboard side of the cabin, broke loose, a sudden jerk having drawn assunder the cleats to which it was fastened. By its velocity it stove in the state-rooms, and broke several utensils of the cabin furniture. The writer of this, with much difficulty, escaped with whole limbs; but not altogether unhurt, receiving a painful bruise on the right foot: having, however, escaped from the cabin, the people on deck were given to understand that the rum was broken loose. The word rum soon attracted the sailor’s attention, and this cask being the ship’s only stock, they were not tardy (as may be supposed) in rendering their assistance to double lash, what they anticipated—the delight, of frequently splicing the mainbrace therewith during their voyage.

On the 14th the weather became moderate, and the crew were employed in making good the stowage of the stores in the hold, which had given way during the night;—shaking reefs out of the top-sails, getting up top-gallant-masts and yards, and rigging out studding-sails. All hands being now called to dinner, a bustle and confused noise took place on deck. The captain (who was below) sent the writer of this to discover the cause thereof, but before he could explain, a voice was crying out in a most piteous and vociferous tone. The captain and chief mate jumped on deck, and found the crew had got the cook laid on the windlass, and were giving him a most severe cobbing with a flat piece of his own fire wood. As soon as the captain had reached forward, he was much exasperated with them for their precipitate conduct, in punishing without his knowledge and permission, and having prohibited such proceedings in future cases, he inquired the cause of their grievance. The cook, it seems, having been served out fresh water to dress vegetables for all hands, had inadvertently used it for some other purpose, and boiled the greens in a copper of salt water, which rendered them so intolerably tough, that they were not fit for use; consequently the sailors had not their expected garnish, and a general murmur taking place, the above punishment was inflicted.

A steady breeze ensuing, all sails filled and the ship made way, with a lofty and majestic air; and at every plunge of her bows, which was truly Dutch-built, rose a foam of no small appearance.

During four days the weather continued favorable, which flattered the seamen with a speedy sight of land.

On the 19th we encountered a very violent gale, with an unusual heavy sea:—The ship worked greatly, and took in [Pg 60] much water through her seams:—the pumps were kept frequently going. At mid-day, while the crew were at dinner, a tremendous sea struck the ship right aft, which tore in the cabin windows, upset the whole of the dinner, and nearly drowned the captain, mate, and myself, who was at that time holding a dish on the table, while the captain was busily employed in carving a fine goose, which, much to our discomfiture, was entirely drenched by the salt-water. Some of the coops were washed from the quarter-deck, and several of the poultry destroyed.

In consequence of the vessel shipping so great a quantity of water, the pumps were doubly manned, and soon gained on her. The gale had not in the least abated during the night. The well was plumbed, and there was found to be a sudden and alarming increase of water. The carpenter was immediately ordered to examine the ship below, in order to find the cause of the vessel’s making so much water. His report was, she being a very old vessel, her seams had considerably opened by her laboring so much, therefore, could devise no means at present to prevent the evil. He also reported, the mizen-mast to be in great danger.

The heel of the mizen-mast being stepped between decks (a very unusual case, but probably it was placed there in order to make more room for stowage in the after-hold) was likely to work from its step, and thereby might do considerable damage to the ship.

The captain now held a consultation with the officers, when it was deemed expedient to cut the mast away without delay: this was accordingly put into execution the following morning, as soon as the day made its appearance. The necessary preparations having been made, the carpenter began hewing at the mast, and quickly made a deep wound. Some of the crew were stationed ready to cut away the stays and lanyards, whilst the remaining part was anxiously watching the momentary crash which was to ensue; the word being given to cut away the weather-lanyards, as the ship gave a lee-lurch, the whole of the wreck of the mast plunged, without further injury, into the ocean.

The weather still threatening a continuance, our principal employ was at the pumps, which were kept continually going. The sea had now rose to an alarming height, and frequently struck the vessel with great violence. Towards the afternoon part of the starboard bulwark was carried away by the shock of a heavy sea, which made the ship broach-to, and before she could [Pg 61] answer her helm again, a sea broke through the fore-chains, and swept away the caboose and all its utensils from the deck; fortunately for the cook he was assisting at the pumps at the time, or he inevitably must have shared the same fate as his galley.

Notwithstanding the exertions of the crew, the water gained fast, and made its way into the hold, which washed a great quantity of the ballast through the timber-holes into the hull, by which the suckers of the pumps were much damaged, and thereby frequently choaked. By such delays the leaks increased rapidly. We were under the necessity of repeatedly hoisting the pumps on deck, to apply different means which were devised to keep the sand from entering, but all our efforts proved ineffectual, and the pumps were deemed of no further utility. There was now no time to be lost; accordingly it was agreed that the allowance of fresh water should be lessened to a pint a man; the casks were immediately hoisted from the hold, and lashed between decks. As the water was started from two of them, they were sawed in two, and formed into buckets, there being no other casks on board fit for that purpose; the whips were soon applied, and the hands began bailing at the fore and after hatchways which continued without intermission the whole of the night, each man being suffered to take one hour’s rest, in rotation.

The morning of the 22d presented to our view a most dreary aspect,—a dismal horizon encircling—not the least appearance of the gale abating—on the contrary, it seemed to come with redoubled vigor—the ballast washing from side to side of the ship at each roll, and scarce a prospect of freeing her. Notwithstanding these calamities, the crew did not relax their efforts. The main-hatchway was opened and fresh buckets went to work; the captain and mate alternately relieving each other at the helm. The writer’s station was to supply the crew with grog, which was plentifully served to them every two hours. By the motion of the ship the buckets struck against the combings of the hatchways with great violence, and in casting them in the hold to fill, they frequently struck on the floating pieces of timber which were generally used as chocks in stowing the hold. By such accidents the buckets were repeatedly stove, and we were under the necessity of cutting more of the water casks to supply their place. Starting the fresh water overboard was reluctantly done, particularly as we now felt the loss of the caboose, and were under the necessity of eating the meat raw which occasioned us to [Pg 62] be very thirsty. Night coming on, the crew were not allowed to go below to sleep; each man, when it came to his turn, stretched himself on the deck.

Oct. 23. Notwithstanding the great quantity of water bailed from the vessel, she gained so considerably that she had visibly settled much deeper in the water. All hands were now called aft, in order to consult on the best measures. It was now unanimously resolved to make for the island of Bermudas, it being the nearest land. Accordingly we bore away for it, but had not sailed many leagues before we found that the great quantity of water in the vessel had impeded her steerage so much that she would scarcely answer her helm; and making a very heavy lurch, the ballast shifted, which gave her a great lift to the starboard, and rendered it very difficult to keep a firm footing on deck. The anchors which were stowed on the larboard bow were ordered to be cut away, and the cables which were on the orlop deck to be hove overboard in order to right her; but all this had a very trifling effect, for the ship was now become quite a log.

The crew were still employed in baling; one of whom, in preventing a bucket from being stove against the combings, let go his hold, and fell down the hatchway; with great difficulty he escaped being drowned or dashed against the ship’s sides. Having got into a bucket which was instantly lowered, he was providentially hoisted on deck without any injury.

During the night the weather became more moderate, and on the following morning, (Oct. 25), the gale had entirely subsided, but left a very heavy swell. Two large whales approached close to the ship. They sported around the vessel the whole of the day, and after dusk disappeared.

Having now no further use of the helm, it was lashed down, and the captain and mate took their spell at the buckets. My assistance having been also required, a boy of less strength, whose previous business was to attend the cook, now took my former station of serving the crew with refreshments. This lad had not long filled his new situation of drawing out rum from the cask, before he was tempted to taste it, and which having repeatedly done he soon became intoxicated, and was missed on deck for some time. I was sent to look for him. The spigot I perceived out of the cask, and the liquor running about, but the boy I could not see for some time; however looking down the lazeretto (the trap-door of which was lying open), I found him fast asleep. He had luckily fallen on some sails which were stowed there, or he must have perished.

[Pg 63] On the 26th and 27th of Oct. the weather continued quite clear, with light baffling winds. A man was constantly kept aloft to look out for a sail. The rest of the crew were employed at the whips.

On the 28th the weather began to lower, and appeared inclined for rain. This gave some uneasiness, being apprehensive of a gale. The captain therefore directed the carpenter to overhaul the long-boat, caulk her, and raise a streak which orders were immediately complied with; but when he went to his locker for oakum, he found it plundered of nearly the whole of his stock—all hands were therefore set to picking, by which means he was soon supplied.

It was totally clear on the 29th, with a fresh breeze, but the ship heeled so much that her gunwale at times was under water, and the crew could scarcely stand on deck. All hands were now ordered to assemble aft, when the captain in a short address, pointed out the most probable manner by which they could be saved. All agreed in opinion with him, and it was resolved that the long-boat should be hoisted out as speedily as possible, and such necessaries as could be conveniently stowed, to be placed in her. Determined no longer to labor at the buckets, the vessel, which could not remain above water many hours after we had ceased baling, was now abandoned to her fate.

I now began to reflect on the small chance we had of being saved—twenty-two people in an open boat—upwards of three hundred miles from the land—in a boisterous climate, and the whole crew worn out with fatigue! The palms of the crew’s hands were already so flayed it could not be expected that they could do much execution with the oars—while thus reflecting on our perilous situation, one of our oldest seamen, who at this moment was standing near me, turned his head aside to wipe away a tear—I could not refrain from sympathizing with him—my heart was already full;—the captain perceiving my despondency bade me be of good cheer, and called me a young lubber.

The boat having been hoisted out, and such necessaries placed in her as were deemed requisite, one of the hands was sent aloft to lash the colors downwards to the main-top-mast shrouds; which having done, he placed himself on the crosstrees, to look around him, and almost instantly hallooed out,—“A sail.”—It would be impossible to describe the ecstatic emotions of the crew: every man was aloft, in order to be satisfied; though, a minute before, not one of the crew was able to stand upright.

[Pg 64] The sail was on our weather-bow, bearing right down on us with a smart breeze. She soon perceived us, but hauled her wind several times, in order to examine our ship. As she approached nearer she clearly perceived our calamitous situation, and hastened to our relief.

She proved to be a Philadelphia schooner, bound to Cape Francois, in St. Domingo. The captain took us all on board in the most humane and friendly manner, and after casting our boat adrift, proceeded on his voyage. When we perceived our ship from the vessel on which we were now happily on board, her appearance was truly deplorable.

The captain of the schooner congratulated us on our fortunate escape, and expressed his surprise that the ship should remain so long on her beam ends, in such a heavy sea, without capsizing. We soon began to distance the wreck, by this time very low in the water, and shortly after lost sight of her.

The evening began to approach fast, when a man loosing the main-top-sail, descried a sail directly in the same course on our quarter. We made sail for her, and soon came within hail of her. She proved to be a brig from Glasgow, bound to Antigua. It was now determined, between the captains, that half of our people should remain in the schooner, and the captain, mate, eight of the crew, and myself, should get on board the brig. On our arrival at Antigua we met with much kindness and humanity.


LOSS OF HIS MAJESTY’S SHIP LITCHFIELD.

The Litchfield, Captain Barton, left Ireland on the 11th of November, 1758, in company with several other men of war and transports, under the command of Commodore Keppel, intended for the reduction of Goree. The voyage was prosperous till the 28th, when at eight in the evening I took charge of the watch, and the weather turned out very squally with rain. At nine it was extremely dark, with much [Pg 65] lightning, the wind varying from S. W. to W. N. W. At half past nine, had a very hard squall. Captain Barton came upon deck and staid till ten; then left orders to keep sight of the commodore, and to make what sail the weather would permit. At eleven, saw the commodore bearing south, but the squalls coming on so heavy, were obliged to hand the main-top-sail, and at twelve o’clock, were under our courses.

November the 29, at one in the morning, I left the deck in charge of the first lieutenant; the light, which we took to be the commodore’s right ahead, bearing S. wind W. S. W. blowing very hard; at six in the morning I was awakened by a great shock, and a confused noise of the men on deck. I ran up, thinking some ship had run foul of us, for, by my own reckoning, and that of every other person in the ship, we were at least 35 leagues distant from land; but, before I could reach the quarter-deck, the ship gave a great stroke upon the ground, and the sea broke all over her. Just after this, I could perceive the land, rocky, rugged and uneven, about two cables’ length from us. The ship lying with her broadside to windward, the masts soon went overboard, carrying some men with them. It is impossible for any one but a sufferer to feel our distress at this time; the masts, yards, and sails hanging alongside in a confused heap; the ship beating violently upon the rocks; the waves curling up to an incredible height, then dashing down with such force as if they would immediately have split the ship to pieces, which we, indeed, every moment expected. Having a little recovered from our confusion, saw it necessary to get every thing we could over to the larboard side, to prevent the ship from heeling off, and exposing the deck to the sea. Some of the people were very earnest to get the boats out contrary to advice; and, after much intreaty, notwithstanding a most terrible sea, one of the boats was launched, and eight of the best men jumped into her, but she had scarcely got to the ship’s stern, when she was whirled to the bottom, and every soul in her perished. The rest of the boats were soon washed to pieces on the deck.—We then made a raft of the davit, capstan-bars and some boards, and waited with resignation, for divine Providence to assist us.

The ship soon filled with water, so that we had no time to get any provision up; the quarter-deck and poop were now the only place we could stand on with security, the waves being mostly spent by the time they reached us, owing to the fore part of the ship breaking them.

[Pg 66] At four in the afternoon, perceiving the sea to be much abated, one of our people attempted to swim, and got safe on shore. There were numbers of Moors upon the rocks ready to take hold of any one, and beckoned much for us to come ashore, which, at first we took for kindness, but they soon undeceived us, for they had not the humanity to assist any that was entirely naked, but would fly to those who had any thing about them, and strip them before they were quite out of the water, wrangling among themselves about the plunder; in the mean time the poor wretches were left to crawl up the rocks if they were able, if not, they perished unregarded. The second lieutenant and myself, with about sixty-five others, got ashore before dark, but were left exposed to the weather on the cold sand. To preserve ourselves from perishing of cold, were obliged to go down to the shore, and to bring up pieces of the wreck to make a fire. While thus employed, if we happened to pick up a shirt or handkerchief, and did not give it to the Moors at the first demand, the next thing was a dagger presented to our breast.

They allowed us a piece of an old sail, which they did not think worth carrying off; with this we made two tents, and crowded ourselves into them, sitting between one another’s legs to preserve warmth, and make room. In this uneasy situation, continually bewailing our misery, and that of our poor shipmates on the wreck, we passed a most tedious night, without so much as a drop of water to refresh ourselves, excepting what we caught through our sail-cloth covering.

November the 30th, at six in the morning, went down with a number of our men upon the rocks, to assist our shipmates in coming ashore, and found the ship had been greatly shattered in the night. It being now low water, many attempted to swim ashore; some got safe, but others perished. The people on board got the raft into the water, and about fifteen men placed themselves upon it. They had no sooner put off from the wreck, than it overturned; most of the men recovered it again, but, scarcely were they on, before it was a second time overturned. Only three or four got hold of it again, and all the rest perished. In the mean time, a good swimmer brought with much difficulty a rope ashore, which I had the good fortune to catch hold of just when he was quite spent, and had thoughts of quitting it.

Some people coming to my assistance, we pulled a large rope ashore with that, and made it fast round a rock. We found this gave great spirits to the poor souls upon the wreck, [Pg 67] it being hauled taught from the upper part of the stern, made an easy descent to any who had art enough to walk or slide upon a rope, with a smaller rope fixed above to hold by. This was a means of saving a number of lives, though many were washed off by the impetuous surf, and perished. The flood coming on, raised the surf, and prevented any more from coming at that time, so that the ropes could be of no further use. We then retired from the rocks; and hunger prevailing, set about boiling some of the drowned turkeys, &c. which with some flour mixed into a paste, and baked upon the coals, constituted our first meal upon this barbarous coast. We found a well of fresh water about a half a mile off, which very much refreshed us. But we had scarcely finished this coarse repast, when the Moors, who were now grown numerous, drove us all down to the rocks to bring up empty iron bound casks, pieces of the wreck which had the most iron about them, and other articles.

About three o’clock in the afternoon we made another meal on the drowned poultry, and finding this was the best provision we were likely to have; some were ordered to save all they could find, others to raise a larger tent, and the rest sent down to the rocks to look for people coming ashore. The surf greatly increasing with the flood, and breaking upon the fore-part of the ship, she was divided into three parts; the fore-part turned keel up, the middle part soon dashed into a thousand pieces; the fore-part of the poop likewise fell at this time, and about thirty men with it, eight of whom got ashore with our help, but so bruised, that we despaired of their recovery. Nothing but the after-part of the poop now remained above water, and a very small part of the other decks, on which our captain, and about 130 more remained, expecting every wave to be their last. Every shock threw some off; few or none of whom came on shore alive. During this distress the Moors laughed uncommonly, and seemed much diverted, when a wave larger than usual, threatened the destruction of the poor wretches on the wreck. Between four and five o’clock the sea was decreased with the ebb; the rope being still secure, the people began to venture upon it; some tumbled off and perished, but others reached the shore in safety.

About five, we beckoned as much as possible for the captain to come upon the rope, as this seemed to be as good an opportunity as any we had seen; and many arrived in safety with our assistance. Some told us that the captain [Pg 68] was determined to stay till all the men had quitted the wreck however, we still continued to beckon for him, and before it was dark, saw him come upon the rope. He was closely followed by a good able seaman, who did all he could to keep up his spirits and assist him in warping. As he could not swim, and had been so many hours without refreshment, with the surf hurling him violently along, he was unable to resist the force of the waves, had lost his hold of the great rope, and must inevitably have perished had not a wave thrown him within the reach of our ropes, which he had barely sufficient sense to catch hold of. We pulled him up, and after resting a short time on the rocks, he came to himself, and walked up to the tent, desiring us to continue to assist the rest of the people in coming on shore.

The villains, (the Moors), would have stripped him, though, he had nothing on but a plain waistcoat and breeches, if we had not plucked up a little spirit and opposed them; upon which they thought proper to desist. The people continued to come ashore, though many perished in the attempt. The Moors, at length, growing tired with waiting for so little plunder, would not suffer us to remain on the rocks, but drove us all away. I then, with the captain’s approbation, went, and by signs made humble supplication to the bashaw, who was in the tent, dividing the valuable plunder. He understood us at last, and gave us permission to go down, at the same time sending some Moors with us. We carried fire-brands down to let the poor souls on the wreck see that we were still there in readiness to assist them. About nine at night finding that no more men would venture upon the rope, as the surf was again greatly increased, we retired to the tent, leaving by the account of the last man arrived, between thirty and forty souls still upon the wreck. We now thought of stowing every body in the tent, and began by fixing the captain in the middle. Then made every man lie down on his side, as we could not afford them each a breadth; but, after all, many took easier lodging in empty casks.

The next morning the weather was moderate and fair.—We found the wreck all in pieces on the rocks, and the shore covered with lumber. The people upon the wreck all perished about one in morning. In the afternoon we called a muster, and found the number of the survivors to be 220; so that 130 perished on this melancholy occasion.

On the 2d of December, the weather still continued moderate. We subsisted entirely on the drowned stock, and a little [Pg 69] pork to relish it, and the flour made into cakes; all of which we issued regularly and sparingly, being ignorant whether the Moors would furnish us with any thing, they being still very troublesome, and even wanting to rob us of the canvass which covered our tent.

At two in the afternoon a black servant arrived, sent by Mr. Butler, a Dane, factor to the African Company at Saffy at the distance of about thirty miles, to inquire into our condition and to offer us assistance. The man having brought pens, ink and paper, the captain sent back a letter by him.—Finding there was one who offered us help, it greatly refreshed our afflicted hearts.

In the afternoon of the following day, we received a letter from Mr. Butler, with some bread and a few other necessaries. On the 4th, the people were employed in picking up pieces of sails, and whatever else the Moors would permit them. We divided the crew into messes, and served the necessaries we received the preceding day. They had bread and the flesh of the drowned stock. In the afternoon we received another letter from Mr. Butler, and one at the same time from Mr. Andrews, an Irish gentleman, a merchant at Saffy. The Moors were not so troublesome now as before, most of them going off with what they had got.

On the 5th the drowned stock was entirely consumed, and at low water the people were employed in collecting muscles. At ten in the morning, Mr. Andrews arrived, bringing a French surgeon with medicines and plaisters, of which, some of the men who had been dreadfully bruised, stood in great need.—The following day, we served out one of the blankets of the country to every two men, and pampooses, a kind of slippers, to those who were in most want of them. These supplies were likewise brought us by Mr. Andrews. The people were now obliged to live upon muscles and bread, the Moors, who promised us a supply of cattle, having deceived us, and never returned.

The people on the 7th were still employed in collecting muscles and limpets. The Moors began to be a little civil to us, for fear the emperor should punish them for their cruel treatment to us. In the afternoon, a messenger arrived from the emperor at Sallee, with general orders to the people to supply us with provisions. They accordingly brought us some lean bullocks and sheep which Mr. Andrews purchased for us; but at this time we had no pots to make broth in, and the cattle were scarcely fit for any thing else.

[Pg 70] In the morning of the 10th, we made preparations for marching to Morocco, the emperor having sent orders for that purpose, and camels to carry the lame and necessaries. At nine, set off with about thirty camels, having got all our liquor with us, divided into hogsheads, for the convenience of carriage on the camels. At noon, joined the crews of one of the transports and a bomb-tender, that had been wrecked about three leagues to the northward of us. We were then all mounted upon camels, excepting the captain, who was furnished with a horse. We never stopped till seven in the evening, when they procured two tents only, which would not contain one third of the men, so that most of them lay exposed to the dew, which was very heavy, and extremely cold. We found our whole number to be 388, including officers, men, boys, three women and a child, which one of the women brought ashore in her teeth.

On the 11th, continued our journey, attended by a number of Moors on horseback. At six in the evening we came to our resting place for that night, and were furnished with tents sufficient to cover all our men.

At five in the morning of the 12th, we set out as before, and, at two in the afternoon, saw the emperor’s cavalcade at a distance. At three, a relation of the emperor’s, named Muli Adriz, came to us, and told the captain it was the emperor’s orders, he should that instant write a letter to our governor at Gibraltar, to send to his Britanic Majesty to inquire whether he would settle a peace with him or not. Captain Barton immediately sat down upon the grass and wrote a letter, which, being given to Muli Adriz, he went and joined the emperor again. At six in the evening came to our resting place for the night, and were well furnished with tents, but very little provisions.

We were, the following day, desired to continue on the same spot, till the men were refreshed, and this repose they greatly needed, and we received a better supply of provisions. That morning, Lieutenant Harrison commanding the soldiers belonging to Lord Forbes’s regiment died suddenly in the tent. In the evening, while employed with his interment, the inhuman Moors disturbed us by throwing stones and mocking us. The next day we found that they had opened the grave and stripped the body.

On the 16th, we continued our journey, came to our resting place at four in the afternoon, pitched the tents, and served out the provision. Here our people were ill-treated by [Pg 71] the country Moors. As they were taking water from a brook, the Moors would always spit into the vessel before they would suffer them to take it away. Upon this some of us went down to inquire into the affair, but were immediately saluted with a shower of stones. We ran in upon them, beat some of them pretty soundly, put them to flight, and brought away one who thought to defend himself with a long knife. This fellow was severely punished by the officer who had the charge of conducting us.

The two succeeding days continued our journey, and, at three in the afternoon of the 18th, arrived at the City of Morocco, without having seen a single habitation during the whole journey. Here we were insulted by the rabble, and, at five, were carried before the emperor, surrounded by five or six hundred of his guards. He was on horseback before the gate of his palace, that being the place where he distributes justice to his people. He told Captain Barton, by an interpreter, that he was neither at peace nor war with England, and he would detain us till an ambassador arrived from that country to conclude a permanent treaty. The captain then desired that we might not be treated as slaves. He answered hastily, that we should be taken care of. We were then immediately hurried out of his presence, conveyed to two old ruinous houses, shut up amidst dirt and innumerable vermin of every description. Mr. Butler being at Morocco on business, came and supplied us with victuals and drink, and procured liberty for the captain to go home with him to his lodgings. He likewise sent some blankets for the officers, and we made shift to pass the night with tolerable comfort, being very much fatigued.

At nine in the morning of the 21st, the emperor sent orders for the captain and every officer to appear before him. We immediately repaired to his palace; we remained waiting in an outer yard two hours; in the mean time he diverted himself with seeing a clumsy Dutch boat rowed about in a pond by four of our petty officers. About noon we were called before him, and placed in a line about thirty yards from him. He was sitting in a chair by the side of the pond, accompanied only by two of his chief alcaides. Having viewed us some time, he ordered the captain to come forward, and after asking him a good many questions concerning our navy, and the destination of the squadron to which we had belonged, we were also called forward by two and three at a time as we stood according to our rank. He then asked most of us [Pg 72] some very insignificant questions, and took some to be Portuguese because they had black hair, and others to be Swedes because their hair was light. He judged none of us to be English excepting the captain, the second lieutenant, the ensign of the soldiers, and myself. But assuring him we were all English, he cried Bonno, and gave a nod for our departure, to which we returned a very low bow, and were glad to return to our old ruined houses again. Our total number amounted to thirty.

On the 25th, being Christmas-day, prayers were read to the people as usual in the church of England. The captain this day received a present of tea and loaves of sugar from one of the queens, whose grandfather had been an English renegado.

In the afternoon of the 26th, we received the disagreeable intelligence, that the emperor would oblige all the English to work, like all the other Christian slaves, excepting the officers who were before him on the 21st. The next day this account was confirmed; for, at seven in the morning, an alcaide came and ordered all our people out to work, excepting the sick. Upon our application eight were allowed to stay at home every day to cook for the rest, and this office was performed by turns throughout the whole number. At four in the afternoon the people returned, some having been employed in carrying wood, some in turning up the ground with hoes, and others in picking weeds in the emperor’s garden. Their victuals were prepared for them against their return.

On the 28th all the people went to work as soon as they could see, and returned at four in the afternoon. Two of the soldiers received one hundred bastinadoes each, for behaving in a disrespectful manner while the emperor was looking at their work.

On the 30th, Captain Barton received a kind message from the emperor, with permission to ride out or take a walk in his garden with his officers.

From this time the men continued in the same state of slavery till the arrival, in April, of Captain Milbank, sent as an ambassador to the emperor. He concluded a treaty for the ransom of the crew of the Litchfield, together with the other English subjects in the emperor’s power, and the sum stipulated to be paid for their release, was 170,000 dollars. Our people accordingly set out for Sallee, attended by a bashaw and two soldiers on horseback. On the fourth day of their march, they had a skirmish with some of the country Moors. The dispute began in consequence of some of our men in the [Pg 73] rear stopping at a village to buy some milk, for which, after they had drank it, the Moors demanded an exorbitant price. This our men refused to give, on which the Moors had recourse to blows, which our people returned; and others coming to their assistance, they maintained a smart battle, till the enemy became too numerous. In the meantime some rode off to call the guard, who instantly came up with their drawn scimetars, and dealt round them pretty briskly. During this interval we were not idle, and had the pleasure to see the blood trickling down a good many of their faces. The guards seized the chief man of the village, and carried him before the bashaw, who was our conductor, and who having heard the cause dismissed him without further punishment, in consideration of his having been well drubbed by us.

On the 22d of April, we arrived at Sallee, and pitched our tents in an old castle, whence we soon afterwards embarked on board the Gibraltar, which landed us at Gibraltar on the 27th of June. From that place the captain and crew were put on board the Marlborough store ship, prepared expressly for their reception, and arrived in England in the month of August, 1760.

Tribesmen armed with bows and spears group to attack a sailor shooting from a platform in a tree

[Pg 74]

A paddle-steamer

WRECK OF THE ROTHSAY CASTLE STEAMER.

The Rothsay Castle was a steam packet which formerly traded on the Clyde. She belonged to the line of steamers which sailed from Liverpool to Beaumaris and Bangor, and was furnished with one engine only. She was commanded by Lieut. Atkinson. At ten o’clock on the — of August, 1831 the vessel was appointed to sail from the usual place, George’s Pierhead, but a casual delay took place in starting, and it was eleven o’clock before she had got every thing in readiness. Whilst taking passengers on board, a carriage arrived at the Pierhead for embarkation. It belonged to M. W. Foster, Esq. of Regent’s park, London, who, with his wife and servant, were conveyed in it to the packet, and took their passage at the same time. They were all subsequently drowned, a little dog which accompanied them being the only survivor of this unfortunate group. When the steamer left the Pierhead her deck was thronged with passengers. The captain, crew, musicians, &c. amounted to fifteen, in addition to whom, it was supposed by persons who saw the vessel sail that one hundred and ten or one hundred and twenty souls were on board. The majority of the passengers consisted of holyday and family parties, chiefly from country places; and in one of these companies, who came on a journey of pleasure from Bury, the hand of death committed a merciless devastation. It consisted of twenty-six persons; in the morning, joyous with health and hilarity, they set out upon the waves, and when the shades of that evening approached, every soul but two saw his last of suns go down.

The weather was not particularly boisterous at the time she sailed. A severe storm however, had raged in the morning [Pg 75] and must have agitated the water on the Banks more than usual. The wind too, blew strongly from the north-west, and the vessel had to contend with the tide, which began to flow soon after she passed the rock. When the steamer arrived off the Floating-light, which is stationed about fifteen miles from Liverpool, the roughness of the sea alarmed many of the passengers.—One of the survivors stated, that Mr. Tarry, of Bury, who, with his family, consisting of himself, his wife, their five children, and servant, was on board, being, in common with others, greatly alarmed for his own safety and the safety of those dear to him, went down to the cabin, where the captain was at dinner, and requested him to put back. His reply was, “I think there is a great deal of fear on board, and very little danger. If we were to turn back with passengers, it would never do—we should have no profit.” To another gentleman who urged him to put back, he is reported to have said very angrily, “I’m not one of those that turn back.” He remained in the cabin two whole hours, and peremptorily refused to comply with the repeated requests made to him by the more timid of his passengers to return to Liverpool; observing that if they knew him, they would not make the request. Before dinner, his behavior had been unexceptionable; but, after he had dined, a very striking difference was observed in his conduct. He became violent in his manner, and abusive in his language to the men. When anxiously questioned by the passengers, as to the progress the vessel was making, and the time at which she was likely to reach her destination, he returned trifling, and frequently very contradictory answers. During the early part of the voyage, he had spoken confidently of being able to reach Beaumaris by seven o’clock; but the evening wore away, night came on, and the vessel was still a considerable distance from the termination of her voyage. It was near twelve o’clock when they arrived at the mouth of the Menai Strait, which is about five miles from Beaumaris. The tide, which had been running out of the strait, and which had, consequently, for some time previous retarded the steamer’s progress towards her destination, was just on the turn. The vessel, according to the statement of two of the seamen and one of the firemen saved, had got round the buoy on the north end of the Dutchman’s Bank, and had proceeded up the river as far as the tower on Puffin Island; when suddenly the steam got so low that the engine would not keep her on her proper course. When asked, why there was not steam on, the fireman said that a deal of [Pg 76] water had been finding its way into the vessel all day, and that sometime before she got into the strait, the bilge-pumps were choked. The water in the hold then overflowed the coals; so that, in renewing the fires, a deal of water went in with the coals, and made it impossible to keep the steam up. It was the duty of the fireman to give notice of this occurrence; but he seems not to have mentioned it to the captain. The vessel, which had evidently come fair into the channel, though there was no light on the coast to guide her, now drifted, with the ebb tide and north-west wind, towards the Dutchman’s Bank, on the north point of which she struck, her bows sticking fast in the sand. Lieut. Atkinson immediately ordered the man at the helm to put the helm a starboard. The man refused to do so; but put it to port. The mate, perceiving this, ran aft, took the helm from the man, and put it to starboard again.—In the meantime, the captain and some of the passengers got the jib up.—No doubt he did this intending to wear her round and bring her head to the northward; but in the opinion of nautical men, it could not make the least difference which way her head was turned, as she was on a lee shore, and there was no steam to work her off. The captain also ordered the passengers first to run aft, in the hope, by removing the pressure from the vessel’s stem, to make her float: this failing to produce the desired effect, he then ordered them to run forward. All the exertions of the captain, the crew and passengers united were unavailing. The ill-fated vessel stuck still faster in the sands, and all gave themselves up for lost. The terror of the passengers became excessive. Several of them urged the captain to hoist lights, and make other signals of distress; but he positively refused to do so, assuring the passengers that there was no danger, and telling them several times, that the packet was afloat, and doing well, and on her way; when the passengers knew perfectly well that she was sticking fast in the sand, and her cabins rapidly filling with water. Doubtless the unfortunate man was perfectly aware of the imminence of the danger; but we may charitably suppose, that he held such language for the purpose of preventing alarm which might be fatal. The alarm bell was now rung with so much violence that the clapper broke, and some of the passengers continued to strike it for some time with a stone. The bell was heard, it is said, at Beaumaris, but, as there was no light hoisted on the mast of the steamer, (a fatal neglect!) those who heard the signal were, of course, ignorant whence it proceeded. The [Pg 77] weather, at this awful moment, was boisterous, but perfectly clear. The moon, though slightly overcast, threw considerable light on the surrounding objects.—But a strong breeze blew from the north-west, the tide began to set in with great strength, and a heavy sea beat over the bank on which the steam packet was now firmly and immovably fixed.

We cannot describe the scene which followed. Certain death seemed now to present itself to all on board, and the most affecting scenes were exhibited. The females, in particular, uttered the most piercing shrieks; some locked themselves in each others arms, while others, losing all self-command, tore off their caps and bonnets, in the wildness of despair. A Liverpool pilot, who happened to be in the packet, now raised his voice and exclaimed, “It is all over—we are all lost!” At these words there was a universal despairing shriek. The women and children collected in a knot together, and kept embracing each other, keeping up, all the time, the most dismal lamentations. When tired with crying they lay against each other, with their heads reclined, like inanimate bodies. The steward of the vessel and his wife, who was on board, lashed themselves to the mast, determined to spend their last moments in each other’s arms. Several husbands and wives also met their fate locked in each other’s arms; whilst parents clung to their beloved children,—several mothers it is said, having perished with their dear little ones firmly clasped in their arms. A party of the passengers, about fifteen or twenty, lowered the boat and crowded into it. It was impossible for any open boat to live in such a sea, even though not overloaded, and she immediately swamped and went to the bottom, with all who had made this last hopeless effort for self-preservation.

For some time the vessel, though now irrecoverably lost, continued to resist the action of the waves, and the despairing souls on board still struggled with their doom. But hope had forever fled; the packet was beaten and tossed about by the tumultuous waters with a violence which threatened to dash her into fragments at every shock, and the sea now made a continual breach over her. The decks were repeatedly swept by the boiling ocean, and each billow snatched its victims to a watery grave. The unfortunate captain and his mate were among the first that perished. About thirty or forty passengers were standing upon the poop clinging to each other in hopeless agony, and occasionally uttering the most piteous ejaculations. Whilst trembling thus upon the brink [Pg 78] of destruction, and expecting every moment to share the fate which had already overtaken so many of their companions in misery, the poop was discovered to give way; another wave rolled on with impetuous fury, and the hinder part of the luckless vessel, with all who sought safety in its frail support, was burst away from its shattered counterpart, and about forty wretched beings hurried through the foaming flood into an eternal world.

“Then rose from sea to sky the wild farewell,
Then shrieked the timid, and stood still the brave.”

Those who retained any degree of sensibility endeavored to catch at whatever was floating within their reach, with the vain hope of prolonging their lives though it was certain that life could only lengthen their sufferings. Many grasped with frantic despair, at the slightest object they could find, but were either too weak to retain their hold, or were forced to relinquish their grasp by the raging of the surge. The rudder was seized by eight of the sinking creatures at the same time, and some of them, were ultimately preserved. The number of those who clung to the portion of the wreck which remained upon the bank gradually grew thinner and thinner, as they sunk under their fatigues, or were hurled into the deep by the remorseless waves. At length, about an hour and a half from the time when she struck, the remnant of the Rothsay Castle disappeared from the bosom of the ocean, and the remainder of her passengers and crew were precipitated into the foaming abyss.


SHIPWRECK OF THE FRENCH SHIP DROITS DE L’HOMME.

On the 5th of January, 1797, returning home on leave of absence from the West Indies, in the Cumberland letter of marque, for the recovery of my health, saw a large man of war off the coast of Ireland, being then within four leagues of the mouth of the river Shannon. She hoisted English colours, [Pg 79] and decoyed us within gun-shot, when she substituted the tri-coloured flag, and took us. She proved to be les Droits de L’Homme, of 74 guns, commanded by the ci-devant baron, now citizen La Crosse, and had separated from a fleet of men of war, on board of which were twenty thousand troops, intended to invade Ireland. On board of this ship was General Humbert, who afterwards effected a descent into Ireland (in 1799) with nine hundred troops and six hundred seamen.

On the 7th of January went into Bantry Bay to see if any of the squadron was still there, and on finding none, the ship proceeded to the southward. Nothing extraordinary occurred until the evening of the 13th, when two men of war hove in sight, which afterwards proved to be the Indefatigable and Amazon frigates. It is rather remarkable that the captain of the ship should inform me, that the squadron which was going to engage him was Sir Edward Pellow’s, and declared, as was afterwards proved by the issue, “that he would not yield to any two English frigates, but would sooner sink his ship with every soul on board.” The ship was then cleared for action, and we English prisoners, consisting of three infantry officers, two captains of merchantmen, two women, and forty-eight seamen and soldiers, were conducted down to the cabin tier at the foot of the fore-mast.

The action began with opening the lower deck ports, which, however were soon shut again, on account of the great sea, which occasioned the water to rush in to that degree that we felt it running on the cables. I must here observe, that this ship was built on a new construction, considerably longer than men of war of her rate, and her lower-deck, on which she mounted thirty-two pounders French, equal to forty pounders English, was two feet and a half lower than usual. The situation of the ship, before she struck on the rocks, has been fully elucidated by Sir Edward Pellow, in his letter of the 17th of January, to Mr. Nepeau. The awful task is left for me to relate what ensued.

At about four in the morning a dreadful convulsion, at the foot of the fore-mast, roused us from a state of anxiety for our fate, to the idea that the ship was sinking. It was the fore-mast that fell over the side; in about a quarter of an hour an awful mandate from above was re-echoed from all parts of the ship; Pouvores Anglais! Pouvores Anglais! Montez bien vite nous sommes tous perdus!—“poor Englishmen! poor Englishmen! come on deck as fast as you can, we are all lost!” Every one rather flew than climbed. Though scarcely [Pg 80] able to move before, from sickness, yet I now felt an energetic strength in all my frame, and soon gained the upper deck, but what a sight! dead, wounded and living, intermingled in a state too shocking to describe; not a mast standing, a dreadful loom of the land, and breakers all around us.—The Indefatigable, on the starboard quarter, appeared standing off, in a most tremendous sea, from the Penmark rocks, which threatened her with instant destruction. To the great humanity of her commander, those few persons who survived the shipwreck, are indebted for their lives, for had another broadside been fired, the commanding situation of the Indefatigable must have swept off at least a thousand men. On the starboard side was seen the Amazon within two miles, just struck on the shore. Our own fate drew near. The ship struck and immediately sunk! Shrieks of horror and dismay were heard from all quarters, while the merciless waves tore from the wreck many early victims. Day-light appeared, and we beheld the shore lined with people who could render us no assistance. At low water, rafts were constructed, and the boats were got in readiness to be hoisted out. The dusk arrived, and an awful sight ensued. The dawn of the second day brought with it still severer miseries than the first, for the wants of nature could scarcely be endured any longer, having been already near thirty hours without any means of subsistence, and no possibility of procuring them.

At low water a small boat was hoisted out, and an English captain and eight sailors succeeded in getting to the shore.—Elated at the success of these men all thought their deliverance at hand, and many launched out on their rafts, but, alas! death soon ended their hopes.

Another night renewed our afflictions. The morning of the third, fraught with still greater evils, appeared; our continued sufferings made us exert the last effort, and we English prisoners, tried every means to save as many of our fellow creatures as lay in our power. Larger rafts were constructed, and the largest boat was got over the side. The first consideration was to lay the surviving wounded, the women and helpless men in the boat, but the idea of equality, so fatally promulgated among the French, destroyed all subordination, and nearly one hundred and twenty having jumped into the boat, in defiance of their officers, they sunk her.—The most dreadful sea that I ever saw seemed at that moment to aggravate our calamity; nothing of the boat was seen for a [Pg 81] quarter of an hour, when the bodies floated in all directions; then appeared, in all their horrors, the wreck, the shores, the dying and the drowned! Indefatigable in acts of humanity, an adjutant general, Renier, launched himself into the sea, to obtain succours from the shore, and perished in the attempt.

Nearly one half the people had already perished, when the horrors of the fourth night renewed all our miseries. Weak, distracted, and destitute of every thing, we envied the fate of those whose lifeless corpses no longer wanted sustenance.—The sense of hunger was already lost, but a parching thirst consumed our vitals. Recourse was had to urine and salt water, which only increased the wants; half a hogshead of vinegar indeed floated up, of which each had half a wine glass; it afforded a momentary relief, but soon left us again in the same state of dreadful thirst. Almost at the last gasp, every one was dying with misery, and the ship, now one third shattered away from the stern, scarcely afforded a grasp to hold by, to the exhausted and helpless survivors.

The fourth day brought with it a more serene sky, and the sea seemed to subside, but to behold, from fore to aft, the dying in all directions, was a sight too shocking for the feeling mind to endure. Almost lost to a sense of humanity, we no longer looked with pity on those whom we considered only as the forerunners of our own speedy fate, and a consultation took place, to sacrifice some one to be food for the remainder. The die was going to be cast, when the welcome sight of a man of war brig renewed our hopes.

A cutter speedily followed, and both anchored at a short distance from the wreck. They then sent their boats to us, and by means of large rafts, about one hundred, out of four hundred who attempted, were saved by the brig that evening.—Three hundred and eighty were left to endure another night’s misery, when, dreadful to relate, above one half were found dead the next morning!

I was saved about ten o’clock on the morning of the 18th, with my brother officers, the captain of the ship, and General Humbert. They treated us with great humanity on board the cutter, giving us a little weak brandy and water every five or six minutes, and after that a bason of good soup. I fell on the locker in a kind of trance for near thirty hours, and swelled to such a degree as to require medical aid to restore my decayed faculties. Having lost all our baggage, we were taken to Brest almost naked, where they gave us a rough shift of clothes, and in consequence of our sufferings, and the help [Pg 82] we afforded in saving many lives, a cartel was fitted out by order of the French Government to send us home, without ransom or exchange. We arrived at Plymouth on the 7th of March following.

To that Providence, whose great workings I have experienced in this most awful trial of human afflictions, be ever offered the tribute of my praise and thanksgiving.


THE LOSS OF HIS MAJESTY’S SHIP, QUEEN CHARLOTTE.

The Queen Charlotte was, perhaps, one of the finest ships in the British navy. She was launched in 1790, and her first cruise was with the fleet fitted out against Spain, in consequence of the dispute respecting Nootka Sound. Lord Howe, who was the commander and chief of the fleet, was then on board of her; and she also bore his lordship’s flag on the first of June. After which she was sent to the Mediterranean, and was the flag-ship of the commander in chief on that station. In March, 1800, she was despatched by that nobleman to reconnoitre the island of Cabrera, about thirty leagues from Leghorn, then in the possession of the French, and which it was his lordship’s intention to attack. On the morning of the 17th the ship was discovered to be on fire, at the distance of three or four leagues from Leghorn. Every assistance was promptly forwarded from the shore, but a number of boats, it appears, were deterred from approaching the wreck, in consequence of the guns, which were shotted, and which, when heated by the fire, discharged their contents in every direction.

The only consolation that presents itself under the pressure of so calamitous a disaster is, that it was not the effect either of treachery or wilful neglect, as will appear by the following official statement of the carpenter:—

“Mr. John Braid, carpenter of the Queen Charlotte, reports, that twenty minutes after 6 o’clock in the morning, as he [Pg 83] was dressing himself he heard throughout the ship a general cry of ‘fire.’ On which he immediately ran up the after-ladder to get upon deck, and found the whole half-deck, the front bulk-head of the admiral’s cabin, the main-mast’s coat, and boat’s covering on the booms, all in flames; which, from every report and probability, he apprehends was occasioned by some hay, which was lying under the half-deck, having been set on fire by a match in a tub, which was usually kept there for signal guns.—The main-sail at this time was set, and almost entirely caught fire; the people not being able to come to the clue garnets on account of the flames.

“He immediately went to the fore-castle, and found Lieut. Dundas and the boatswain encouraging the people to get water to extinguish the fire. He applied to Mr. Dundas, seeing no other officer in the fore-part of the ship (and being unable to see any on the quarter-deck, from the flames and smoke between them) to give him assistance to drown the lower-decks, and secure the hatches, to prevent the fire falling down. Lieut. Dundas accordingly went down himself, with as many people as he could prevail upon to follow him: and the lower-deck ports were opened, the scuppers plugged, the main and fore-hatches secured, the cocks turned, and water drawn in at the ports, and the pumps kept going by the people who came down, as long as they could stand at them.

“He thinks that by these exertions the lower-deck was kept free from fire, and the magazines preserved for a long time from danger; nor did Lieut. Dundas, or he, quit this station, but remained there with all the people who could be prevailed upon to stay, till several of the middle-deck guns came through that deck.

“About nine o’clock Lieut. Dundas and he, finding it impossible to remain any longer below, went out at the fore-mast lower deck port, and got upon the fore-castle; on which he apprehends there were then about one hundred and fifty of the people drawing water, and throwing it as far aft as possible upon the fire.

“He continued about an hour on the fore-castle; and finding all efforts to extinguish the flames unavailing, he jumped from the jib-boom, and swam to an American boat approaching the ship, by which he was picked up and put into a Tartan then in the charge of Lieut. Stewart, who had come off to the assistance of the ship.

(Signed) “JOHN BRAID.”
Leghorn, March 18, 1800.

[Pg 84] Capt. Todd remained upon deck, with his First Lieutenant, to the last moment, giving orders for saving the crew, without thinking of his own safety. Before he fell a sacrifice to the flames, he had time and courage to write down the particulars of this melancholy event, for the information of Lord Keith, of which he gave copies to different sailors, entreating them, that whoever should escape might deliver it to the admiral.

Thus fell victims to perhaps a too severe duty, the captain and his first lieutenant, at a time when they still had it in their power to save themselves; but self-preservation is never a matter of consideration in the exalted mind of a British naval officer, when the safety of his crew is at stake.

Lord Keith and some of the officers were providentially on shore, at Leghorn, when the dreadful accident occurred. Twenty commissioned and warrant officers, two servants and 142 seamen, are the whole of the crew that escaped destruction out of nearly 900 souls on board, that for nearly four hours exerted every nerve to avoid that dreadful termination which too surely awaited them.


A SCENE ON THE ATLANTIC OCEAN.

On the morning of the 5th of August, 1833, during a severe gale in lat. 46, lon. 31, Capt. Dempsey, of the ship Kingston, discovered at a short distance to leeward, a brig lying on her beam ends, with flag of distress waving. Capt. D. instantly bore down towards her, when she proved to be the Albion, of Cork, crowded with passengers. Having reached within hail of the unfortunate vessel, a heart-rending scene presented itself. “We beheld,” says Capt. Dempsey, “the brig reeling ere she took the farewell plunge—witnessed the cool intrepidity of the sailors, even at such a moment—and listened, with feelings the most harrowing, to the piercing shrieks of the ill-fated passengers. The crew of the Kingston flung their best boat into the boiling Atlantic, but every exertion was vain—the angry ocean soon made her its prey. The Albion went down with every human soul on board.”


[Pg 86]

DEPARTURE OF THE FRENCH FRIGATE MEDUSA

[Pg 87]

SHIPWRECK OF THE FRENCH FRIGATE MEDUSA.

On the Western Coast of Africa. By Madame Dard, one of the Sufferers.

In the year 1816, an expedition was fitted out by the French to go and resume possession of Senegal, which had been restored to them.—My father was reinstated in his place of resident attorney, and taking with him his family repaired immediately to Rochefort to embark on board the Medusa frigate.

Early on the morning of the 12th of June, we were on our way to the boats that were to convey us on board the Medusa, which was riding at anchor off the island of Aix, distant about four leagues from Rochefort. The field through which we passed was sown with corn. Wishing before I left our beautiful France, to make my farewell to the flowers, and, whilst our family went leisurely forward to the place where we were to embark upon the Charente, I crossed the furrows, and gathered a few blue-bottles and poppies. We soon arrived at the place of embarkation, where we found some of our fellow passengers, who, like myself, seemed casting a last look to Heaven, whilst they were yet on the French soil.—We embarked, however and left these happy shores. In descending the tortuous course of the Charente, contrary winds so impeded our progress, that we did not reach the Medusa till the morrow, having taken twenty-four hours in sailing four leagues. At length we mounted the deck of the Medusa, of painful memory. When we got on board, we found our berths not provided for us, consequently were obliged to remain indiscriminately together till the next day. Our family, which consisted of nine persons, was placed in a berth near the main deck. As the wind was still contrary, we lay at anchor for seventeen days.

On the 17th of June, at four in the morning, we set sail [Pg 88] as did the whole expedition, which consisted of the Medusa frigate, the Loire store-ship, the Argus brig and the Echo corvette. The wind being favorable, we soon lost sight of the green fields of l’Aunis. At six in the morning, however, the island of Rhe still appeared above the horizon. We fixed our eyes upon it with regret, to salute for the last time our dear country. Now, imagine the ship borne aloft, and surrounded by huge mountains of water, which at one moment tossed it in the air, and at another plunged it into the profound abyss.

The waves, raised by a stormy northwest breeze, came dashing in a horrible manner against the sides of our ship.—I knew not whether it was a presentiment of the misfortune which menaced us that had made me pass the preceding night in the most cruel inquietude. In my agitation, I sprang upon deck, and contemplated with horror the frigate winging its way upon the waters. The winds pressed against the sails with great violence, strained and whistled among the cordage; and the great bulk of wood seemed to split every time the surge broke upon its sides. On looking a little out to sea I perceived at no great distance on our right, all the other ships of the expedition, which quieted me very much. Towards ten in the morning the wind changed; immediately an appalling cry was heard, concerning which the passengers, as well as myself, were equally ignorant. The whole crew were in motion. Some climbed the rope ladders, and seemed to perch on the extremities of the yards; others mounted to the highest parts of the mast; these bellowing and pulling the cordages in cadence; those crying, swearing, whistling, and filling the air with barbarous and unknown sounds. The officer on duty, in his turn, roaring out these words, starboard, larboard, hoist, luff, tack, which the helmsman repeated in the same tone. All this hubbub, however, produced its effect; the yards were turned on their pivots, the sails set, the cordage tightened, and the unfortunate sea-boys having received their lesson descended to the deck. Every thing remained tranquil, except that the waves still roared, and the masts continued their creaking. However the sails were swelled, the wind less violent, though favorable, and the mariner, while he caroled his song, said we had a noble voyage.

During several days we did indeed enjoy a delightful passage. All the ships of the expedition still kept together, but at length the breeze became changeable, and they all [Pg 89] disappeared. The Echo, however, still kept in sight, and persisted in accompanying us, as if to guide us on our route. The wind becoming more favorable, we held due south, sailing at the rate of sixty-two leagues a day. The sea was so fine, and our journey so rapid, that I began to think it nearly as agreeable to travel by sea as by land; but my illusion was not of long duration.

On the 28th of June, at six in the morning, we discovered the Peak of Teneriffe, towards the south, the summit of whose cone seemed lost in the clouds. We were then distant about two leagues, which we made in less than a quarter of an hour. At ten o’clock we brought to before the town of St. Croix. Several officers got leave to go on shore to procure refreshments.

While these gentlemen were away, a certain passenger, member of the self-instituted Philanthropic Society of Cape Verd, suggested that it was very dangerous to remain where we were, adding that he was well acquainted with the country, and had navigated in all these latitudes. M. Le Roy Lachaumareys, captain of the Medusa, believing the pretended knowledge of the intriguing Richefort, gave him the command of the frigate. Various officers of the navy, represented to the captain how shameful it was to put such confidence in a stranger, and they would never obey a man who had no character as a commander. The captain despised these wise remonstrances; and, using his authority, commanded the pilots, and all the crew, to obey Richefort; saying he was king, since the orders of the king were, that they should obey him. Immediately the imposter, desirous of displaying his great skill in navigation, made them change the route, for no purpose, but that of showing his skill in manœuvring the ship.—Every instant he changed the tack, went, came and returned, and approached the very reefs, as if to brave them; in short, he beat about so much, that the sailors at length refused to obey him, saying boldly that he was a vile imposter. But it was done. The man had gained the confidence of Captain Lachaumareys, who ignorant of navigation himself, was doubtless glad to get someone to undertake his duty. But it must be told, that this blind inept confidence was the sole cause of the loss of the Medusa frigate, as well as all the crimes consequent upon it.

Towards three in the afternoon, those officers who went on shore in the morning, returned on board loaded with vegetables, fruits and flowers. They laughed heartily at the [Pg 90] manœuvres that had been going on during their absence, which doubtless did not please the captain, who flattered himself he had already found in his pilot Richefort, a good and able seaman; such were his words.

At four in the afternoon we took a southerly direction. M. Richefort, then beaming with exultation for having, as he said, saved the Medusa from certain shipwreck, continued to give his pernicious counsels to the captain, persuading him he had been often employed to explore the shores of Africa, and that he was perfectly well acquainted with the Arguin Bank. The journals of the 29th and 30th afford nothing very remarkable.

The hot winds from the desert of Sahara began to be felt, which told us we approached the tropic; indeed, the sun at noon seemed suspended perpendicularly above our heads, a phenomenon which few among us had ever seen.

On the 1st of July, we recognised Cape Bojador, and then saw the shores of Sahara. Towards ten in the morning, they set about the frivolous ceremony which the sailors have invented for the purpose of exacting something from those passengers who have never crossed the line. During the ceremony, the frigate doubled Cape Barbas hastening to its destruction. Captain Lachaumareys very good humoredly presided at this species of baptism, while his dear Richefort promenaded the forecastle, and looked with indifference upon a shore bristling with dangers. However that may be, all passed on well; nay, it may even be said that the farce was well played off. But the route which we pursued soon made us forget the short lived happiness we had experienced. Every one began to observe the sudden change which had taken place in the color of the sea, as we ran upon the bank in shallow water. A general murmur arose among the passengers and officers of the navy;—they were far from partaking in the blind confidence of the captain.

On the second of July, at five in the morning, the captain was persuaded that a large cloud, which was discovered in the direction of Cape Blanco, was that Cape itself. After this pretended discovery, they ought to have steered to the west, for about fifty leagues, to have gained sea room to double with certainty the Arguin Bank; moreover, they ought to have conformed to the instructions the Minister of Marine had given to the ships which set out for Senegal. The other part of the expedition, from having followed these instructions arrived in safety at their destination. During the preceding [Pg 91] night, the Echo, which had hitherto accompanied the Medusa, made several signals, but being replied to with contempt, abandoned us. Towards ten in the morning, the danger which threatened us was again represented to the captain, and he was strongly urged, if he wished to avoid the Arguin Bank, to take a westerly course; but the advice was again neglected, and he despised the predictions. One of the officers of the frigate, from having wished to expose the intriguing Richefort, was put under arrest. My father, who had already twice made the voyage to Senegal, and who with various persons was persuaded they were going right upon the bank, also made his observations to the unfortunate pilot.—His advice was no better received than those of Messrs. Reynaud, Espiau, Maudet, &c. Richefort, in the sweetest tone, replied, ‘My dear, we know our business; attend to yours, and be quiet. I have already twice passed the Arguin Bank; I have sailed upon the Red Sea, and you see I am not drowned.’ What reply could be made to such a preposterous speech? My father, seeing it was impossible to get our route changed, resolved to trust to Providence to free us from our danger, and descended to our cabin, where he sought to dissipate his fears in the oblivion of sleep.

At noon on the 2d of July, soundings were taken. M. Maudet, ensign of the watch, was convinced we were upon the edge of the Arguin Bank. The captain said to him, as well as to every one, that there was no cause of alarm. In the meanwhile, the wind blowing with great violence, impelled us nearer and nearer to the danger which menaced us.—A species of stupor overpowered all our spirits, and every one preserved a mournful silence, as if they were persuaded we would soon touch the bank. The color of the water entirely changed, a circumstance even remarked by the ladies. About three in the afternoon, being in 19 30 north latitude, and 19 45 west longitude, an universal cry was heard upon deck. All declared they saw sand rolling among the ripple of the sea. The captain in an instant ordered to sound.—The line gave eighteen fathoms; but on a second sounding it only gave six. He at last saw his error, and hesitated no longer on changing the route, but it was too late. A strong concussion told us the frigate had struck. Terror and consternation were instantly depicted on every face. The crew stood motionless; the passengers in utter despair. In the midst of this general panic, cries of vengeance were heard against the principal author of our misfortunes, wishing to [Pg 92] throw him overboard; but some generous persons interposed, and endeavored to calm their spirits, by diverting their attention to the means of our safety. The confusion was already so great, that McPoinsignon, commandant of a troop, struck my sister Caroline a severe blow, doubtless thinking it was one of his soldiers. At this crisis my father was buried in profound sleep, but he quickly awoke, the cries and the tumult upon deck having informed him of our misfortunes. He poured out a thousand reproaches on those whose ignorance and boasting had been so disastrous to us. However, they set about the means of averting our danger. The officers, with an altered voice, issued their orders expecting every moment to see the ship go in pieces. They strove to lighten her, but the sea was very rough and the current strong. Much time was lost in doing nothing; they only pursued half measures and all of them unfortunately failed.

When it was discovered that the danger of the Medusa was not so great as was at first supposed, various persons proposed to transport the troops to the island of Arguin, which was conjectured to be not far from the place where we lay aground. Others advised to take us all successively to the coast of the desert of Sahara, by the means of our boats, and with provisions sufficient to form a caravan, to reach the island of Saint Louis, at Senegal. The events which afterwards ensued proved this plan to have been the best, and which would have been crowned with success; unfortunately it was not adopted. M. Schmaltz, the governor, suggested the making of a raft of sufficient size to carry two hundred men, with provisions; which latter plan was seconded by the two officers of the frigate, and put in execution.

The fatal raft was then begun to be constructed, which would, they said, carry provisions for every one. Masts, planks, boards and cordage were thrown overboard. Two officers were charged with the framing of these together.—Large barrels were emptied and placed at the angles of the machine, and the workmen were taught to say, that the passengers would be in greater security there, and more at their ease, than in the boats. However, it was forgotten to erect rails, every one supposed, and with reason, that those who had given the plan of the raft, had had no design of embarking upon it themselves.

When it was completed, the two chief officers of the frigate publicly promised, that all the boats would tow it to the shore of the Desert; and, when there, stores of provisions [Pg 93] and fire-arms would be given us to form a caravan to take us all to Senegal. Why was not this plan executed?—Why were these promises, sworn before the French flag, made in vain? But it is necessary to draw a veil over the past. I will only add, that if these promises had been fulfilled, every one would have been saved, and that, in spite of the detestable egotism of certain personages, humanity would not now have had to deplore the scenes of horror consequent on the wreck of the Medusa.

On the 3d of July, the efforts were renewed to disengage the frigate, but without success. We then prepared to quit her. The sea became very rough, and the wind blew with great violence. Nothing now was heard but the plaintive and confused cries of a multitude, consisting of more than four hundred persons, who, seeing death before their eyes, deplored their hard fate in bitter lamentations.

On the 4th, there was a glimpse of hope. At the hour the tide flowed, the frigate, being considerably lightened by all that had been thrown overboard, was found nearly afloat; and it is very certain, if on that day they had thrown the artillery into the water, the Medusa would have been saved; but M. Lachaumareys said, he would not thus sacrifice the king’s cannon, as if the frigate did not belong to the king also.—However, the sea ebbed, and the ship sinking into the sand deeper than ever, made them relinquish that on which depended our last ray of hope.

On the approach of night, the fury of the winds redoubled, and the sea became very rough. The frigate then received some tremendous concussions, and the water rushed into the hold in the most terrific manner, but the pumps would not work. We had now no alternative but to abandon her for the frail boats, which any single wave might overwhelm.—Frightful gulfs environed us; mountains of water raised their liquid summits in the distance. How were we to escape so many dangers? Whither could we go? What hospitable land would receive us on its shores? My thoughts then reverted to our beloved country. Then starting suddenly from my reverie, I exclaimed: ‘O terrible condition! that black and boundless sea resembles the eternal night which will engulf us! All those who surround me seem yet tranquil, but that fatal calm will soon be succeeded by the most frightful torments. Fools, what had we to find in Senegal, to make us trust to the most perfidious of elements! Did France not afford every necessary for our happiness? Happy! yes, thrice [Pg 94] happy, they who never set foot on a foreign soil! Great God! succor all these unfortunate beings; save our unhappy family!’

My father perceived my distress, but how could he console me? What words could calm my fears, and place me above the apprehensions of those dangers to which we were exposed? How, in a word, could I assume a serene appearance, when friends, parents and all that was most dear to me were, in all human probability, on the very verge of destruction?—Alas! my fears were but too well founded. For I soon perceived that, although we were the only ladies, besides the Misses Schmaltz, who formed a part of the Governor’s suit, they had the barbarity of intending our family to embark upon the raft, where were only soldiers sailors and planters of Cape Verd, and some generous officers who had not the honor (if it could be accounted one) of being considered among the ignorant confidants of MM. Schmaltz and Lachaumareys. My father, indignant at a proceeding so indecorous, swore we would not embark upon the raft, and that, if we were not judged worthy of a place in one of the six boats, he would himself, his wife and children, remain on board the wreck of the frigate. The tone in which he spoke these words, was that of a man resolute to avenge any insult that might be offered to him. The governor of Senegal, doubtless fearing the world would one day reproach him for his inhumanity, decided we should have a place in one of the boats. This having in some measure quieted our fears concerning our unfortunate situation, I was desirous of taking some repose, but the uproar among the crew was so great I could not obtain it.

Towards midnight, a passenger came to inquire of my father if we were disposed to depart; he replied, we had been forbid to go yet. However, we were soon convinced that a great part of the crew and various passengers were secretly preparing to set off in the boats. A conduct so perfidious could not fail to alarm us, especially as we perceived among those so eager to embark unknown to us, several who had promised, but a little while before, not to go without us.

M. Schmaltz, to prevent that which was going on upon deck, instantly rose to endeavor to quiet their minds; but the soldiers had already assumed a threatening attitude, and holding cheap the words of their commander, swore they would fire upon whosoever attempted to depart in a clandestine manner. The firmness of these brave men produced the desired effect, and all was restored to order. The governor [Pg 95] returned to his cabin; and those who were desirous of departing furtively were confused and covered with shame. The governor, however, was ill at ease; and as he had heard very distinctly certain energetic words which had been addressed to him, he judged it proper to assemble a council.—All the officers and passengers being collected, M. Schmaltz, there solemnly swore before them not to abandon the raft, and a second time promised that all the boats would tow it to the shore of the Desert, where they would all be formed into a caravan. I confess this conduct of the governor greatly satisfied every member of our family; for we never dreamed he would deceive us, nor act in a manner contrary to what he had promised.

About three in the morning, some hours after the meeting of the council, a terrible noise was heard in the powder room; it was the helm which was broken. All who were sleeping were roused by it. On going on deck every one was more and more convinced that the frigate was lost beyond all recovery. Alas! the wreck was for our family but the commencement of a horrible series of misfortunes. The two chief officers then decided with one accord, that all should embark at six in the morning, and abandon the ship to the mercy of the waves. After the decision, followed a scene the most whimsical, and at the same time the most melancholy that can be well conceived. To have a more distinct idea of it, let the reader transport himself in imagination to the midst of the liquid plains of the ocean: then let him picture to himself a multitude of all classes, of every age, tossed about at the mercy of the waves upon a dismasted vessel, foundered, and half submerged, let him not forget these are thinking beings with the certain prospect before them of having reached the goal of their existence.

Separated from the rest of the world by a boundless sea, and having no place of refuge but the wreck of a grounded vessel, the multitude addressed at first their vows to heaven, and forgot, for a moment, all earthly concerns. Then suddenly starting from their lethargy, they began to look after their wealth, the merchandise they had in small ventures, utterly regardless of the elements which threatened them. The miser, thinking of the gold contained in his coffers, hastening to put it in a place of safety, either by sewing it into the lining of his clothes, or by cutting out for it a place in the waistband of his trowsers. The smuggler was tearing his hair at not being able to save a chest of contraband which he had [Pg 96] secretly got on board, and with which he had hoped to have gained two or three hundred per cent. Another, selfish to excess, was throwing overboard all his hidden money, and amusing himself by burning all his effects. A generous officer was opening his portmanteau, offering caps, stockings, and shirts, to any who would take them. These had scarcely gathered together their various effects, when they learned that they could not take anything with them; those were searching the cabin and store-rooms to carry away everything that was valuable. Ship-boys were discovering the delicate wines and fine liquors, which a wise foresight had placed in reserve. Soldiers and sailors were penetrating even into the spirit-room, broaching casks, staving others and drinking till they fell exhausted. Soon the tumult of the inebriated made us forget the roaring of the sea which threatened to engulf us. At last the uproar was at its height; the soldiers no longer listened to the voice of the captain. Some knit their brows and muttered oaths; but nothing could be done with those whom wine had rendered furious. Next, piercing cries mixed with doleful groans were heard—this was the signal of departure.

At six o’clock on the morning of the 5th, a great part of the military were embarked upon the raft, which was already covered with a large sheet of foam. The soldiers were expressly prohibited from taking their arms. A young officer of infantry, whose brain seemed to be powerfully affected, put his horse beside the barricadoes of the frigate, and then, armed with two pistols, threatened to fire upon any one who refused to go upon the raft. Forty men had scarcely descended when it sunk to the depth of about two feet. To facilitate the embarking of a greater number, they were obliged to throw over several barrels of provisions which had been placed upon it the day before. In this manner did this furious officer get about one hundred and fifty heaped upon that floating tomb; but he did not think of adding one more to the number by descending himself, as he ought to have done, but went peaceably away, and placed himself in one of the best boats. There should have been sixty sailors upon the raft, and there were but about ten. A list had been made out on the 4th, assigning each his proper place: but this wise precaution being disregarded, every one pursued the plan he deemed the best for his own preservation. The precipitation with which they forced one hundred and fifty unfortunate beings upon the raft was such, that they forgot to give them one morsel of biscuit. However, they threw towards them twenty-five pounds in a [Pg 97] sack, while they were not far from the frigate; but it fell into the sea, and was with difficulty recovered.

During this disaster, the governor of Senegal, who was busied in the care of his own dear self, effeminately descended in an arm-chair into the barge, where were already various large chests, all kinds of provisions, his dearest friends, his daughters and his wife. Afterwards the captain’s boat received twenty-seven persons, among whom were twenty-five sailors, good rowers. The shallop, commanded by M. Espiau, ensign of the ship, took forty-five passengers, and put off. The boat, called the Senegal, took twenty-five; the pinnace thirty-three; and the yawl, the smallest of all the boats, took only ten.

Almost all the officers, the passengers, the mariners and supernumeraries, were already embarked—all, but our weeping family, who still remained upon the boards of the frigate, till some charitable souls would kindly receive us into a boat. Surprised at this abandonment, I instantly felt myself roused, and, calling with all my might to the officers of the boats, besought them to take our unhappy family along with them. Soon after, the barge, in which were the governor of Senegal and all his family, approached the Medusa, as if still to take some passengers, for there were but few in it. I made a motion to descend, hoping that the Misses Schmaltz, who had, till that day, taken a great interest in our family, would allow us a place in their boat; but I was mistaken: those ladies, who had embarked in a mysterious incognito, had already forgotten us; and M. Lachaumareys, who was still on the frigate, positively told me they would not embark along with us. Nevertheless I ought to tell, what we learned afterwards, that the officer who commanded the pinnace had received orders to take us in, but, as he was already a great way from the frigate, we were certain he had abandoned us. My father however hailed him, but he persisted on his way to gain the open sea. A short while afterwards we perceived a small boat among the waves, which seemed desirous to approach the Medusa; it was the yawl. When it was sufficiently near, my father implored the sailors who were in it to take us on board, and to carry us to the pinnace, where our family ought to be placed. They refused. He then seized a firelock, which lay by chance upon deck, and swore he would kill every one of them if they refused to take us, adding that it was the property of the king, and that he would have advantage from it as well as another. The sailors murmured, but [Pg 98] durst not resist, and received all our family, which consisted of nine persons, viz. four children, our step-mother, my cousin, my sister Caroline, my father and myself. A small box filled with valuable papers, which we wished to save, some clothes, two bottles of ratafia, which we had endeavored to preserve amidst our misfortunes, were seized and thrown overboard by the sailors of the yawl, who told us we would find in the pinnace everything we could wish for our voyage. We had then only the clothes which covered us, never thinking of dressing ourselves in two suits; but the loss which affected us most was that of several MSS, at which my father had been laboring for a long while. Our trunks, our linen and various chests of merchandize of great value, in a word, everything we possessed, was left in the Medusa. When we boarded the pinnace, the officer who commanded it began excusing himself for having set off without forewarning us, as he had been ordered, and said a thousand things in his justification. But without believing the half of his fine protestations, we felt very happy in having overtaken him; for it is most certain they had no intention of encumbering themselves with our unfortunate family. I say encumber, for it is evident that four children, one of whom was yet at the breast, were very indifferent beings to people who were actuated by a selfishness without all parallel. When we were seated in the long boat, my father dismissed the sailors with the yawl, telling them he would ever gratefully remember their services. They speedily departed, but little satisfied with the good action they had done. My father hearing their murmurs and the abuse they poured out against us, said, loud enough for all in the boat to hear, ‘We are not surprised sailors are destitute of shame, when their officers blush at being compelled to do a good action.’ The commandant of the boat feigned not to understand the reproaches conveyed in these words, and, to divert our minds from brooding over our wrongs, endeavored to counterfeit the man of gallantry.

All the boats were already far from the Medusa, when they were brought to, to form a chain in order to tow the raft.—The barge, in which was the governor of Senegal, took the first tow, then all the other boats in succession joined themselves to that. M. Lachaumareys embarked, although there yet remained upon the Medusa more than sixty persons.—Then the brave and generous M. Espiau, commander of the shallop, quitted the line of boats, and returned to the frigate, with the intention of saving all the wretches who had been [Pg 99] abandoned. They all sprung into the shallop; but as it was very much overloaded, seventeen unfortunates preferred remaining on board, rather than expose themselves as well as their companions to certain death. But alas! the greater part afterwards fell victims to their fears or their devotion.—Fifty-two days after they were abandoned, no more than three of them were alive, and those looked more like skeletons than men. They told that their miserable companions had gone afloat upon planks and hen-coops, after having waited in vain forty-two days, for the succor which had been promised them, and that all had perished.

The shallop, carrying with difficulty all those she had saved from the Medusa, slowly rejoined the line of boats which towed the raft, M. Espiau earnestly besought the officers of the other boats to take some of them along with them; but they refused, alleging to the generous officer that he ought to keep them in his own boat, as he had gone for them himself. M. Espiau, finding it impossible to keep them all without exposing them to the utmost peril, steered right for a boat which I will not name. Immediately a sailor sprung from the shallop into the sea, and endeavored to reach it by swimming; and when he was about to enter it, an officer who possessed great influence pushed him back, and, drawing his sabre, threatened to cut off his hands, if he again made the attempt. The poor wretch regained the shallop, which was very near the pinnace, which we were in, my father supplicated M. Laperere, the officer of the boat, to receive him on board, and had his arms already out to catch him, when M. Laperere instantly let go the rope which attached us to the other boats, and tugged off with all his force. At the same instant every boat imitated our execrable example; and wishing to shun the approach of the shallop, which sought for assistance, stood off from the raft, abandoning, in the midst of the ocean, and to the fury of the waves, the miserable mortals whom they had sworn to land on the shores of the Desert.

Scarcely had these cowards broken their oath, when we saw the French flag flying upon the raft. The confidence of those unfortunate persons was so great, that when they saw the first boat which had the tow removing from them, they all cried out the rope is broken! the rope is broken! but when no attention was paid to their observation, they instantly perceived the treachery of the wretches who had left them so basely.—Then the cries of Vive le Roi arose from the raft, as if the poor fellows were calling to their father for assistance; or, as [Pg 100] if they had been persuaded that, at that rallying word, the officers of the boats would return, and not abandon their countrymen. The officers repeated the cry of Vive le Roi, without a doubt, to insult them; but, more particularly, M. Lachaumareys who, assuming a martial attitude, waved his hat in the air. Alas! what availed these false professions? Frenchmen, menaced with the greatest peril, were demanding assistance with the cries of Vive le Roi; yet none were found sufficiently generous nor sufficiently French, to go to aid them. After a silence of some minutes, horrible cries were heard; the air resounded with the groans, the lamentations, the imprecations of these wretched beings, and the echo of the sea frequently repeated, alas! how cruel you are to abandon us!!! The raft already appeared to be buried under the waves, and its unfortunate passengers immersed. The fatal machine was drifted by currents far behind the wreck of the frigate; without cable, anchor, mast, sail or oars; in a word, without the smallest means of enabling them to save themselves. Each wave that struck it, made them stumble in heaps on one another.—Their feet getting entangled among the cordage, and between the planks, bereaved them of the faculty of moving. Maddened by these misfortunes, suspended, and adrift upon a merciless ocean, they were soon tortured between the pieces of wood which formed the scaffold on which they floated.—The bones of their feet and their legs were bruised and broken, every time the fury of the waves agitated the raft; their flesh covered with contusions and hideous wounds, dissolved, as it were, in the briny waves, while the roaring flood around them was colored with their blood.

As the raft, when it was abandoned, was nearly two leagues from the frigate, it was impossible these unfortunate persons could return to it; they were soon after far out to sea. These victims still appeared above their floating tomb; and, stretching out their supplicating hands towards the boats which fled from them, seemed yet to invoke, for the last time, the names of the wretches who had deceived them. O horrid day! a day of shame and reproach! Alas! that the hearts of those who were so well acquainted with misfortune, should have been so inaccessible to pity.

After witnessing that most inhuman scene, and seeing they were insensible to the cries and lamentations of so many unhappy beings, I felt my heart bursting with sorrow. It seemed to me that the waves would overwhelm all these wretches, and I could not suppress my tears. My father, exasperated [Pg 101] to excess, and bursting with rage at seeing so much cowardice and inhumanity among the officers of the boats, began to regret he had not accepted the place which had been assigned for us upon the fatal raft. ‘At least,’ said he, ‘we would have died with the brave, or would have returned to the wreck of the Medusa; and not have had the disgrace of saving ourselves with cowards.’ Although this produced no effect upon the officers, it proved very fatal to us afterwards; for, on our arrival at Senegal, it was reported to the Governor, and very probably was the principal cause of all those evils and vexations which we endured in that colony.

Let us now turn our attention to the several situations of all those who were endeavoring to save themselves in the different boats, as well as to those left upon the wreck of the Medusa.

We have already seen, that the frigate was half sunk when it was deserted, presenting nothing but a hulk and wreck.—Nevertheless, seventeen still remained upon it, and had food, which, although damaged, enabled them to support themselves for a considerable time; while the raft was abandoned to float at the mercy of the waves, upon the vast surface of the ocean. One hundred and fifty wretches were embarked upon it, sunk to the depth of at least three feet on its fore part, and on its poop immersed even to the middle. What victuals they had were soon consumed, or spoiled by the salt water; and perhaps some, as the waves hurried them along, became food for the monsters of the deep. Two only of all the boats which left the Medusa, and these with very few people in them, were provisioned with every necessary; these struck off with security and despatch. But the condition of those who were in the shallop was but little better than those upon the raft; their great number, their scarcity of provisions, their great distance from the shore, gave them the most melancholy anticipations of the future. Their worthy commander, M. Espiau, had no other hope but of reaching the shore as soon as possible. The other boats were less filled with people, but they were scarcely better provisioned; and as by a species of fatality, the pinnace, in which were our family, was destitute of everything. Our provisions consisted of a barrel of biscuit, and a tierce of water; and, to add to our misfortune, the biscuit being soaked in the sea, it was almost impossible to swallow one morsel of it. Each passenger in our boat was obliged to sustain his wretched existence with a glass of water, which he could get only once a day. To tell how this happened, how this boat [Pg 102] was so poorly supplied, while there was abundance left upon the Medusa, is far beyond my power. But it is at least certain, that the greater part of the officers commanding the boats, the shallop, the pinnace, the Senegal boat, and the yawl, were persuaded, when they quitted the frigate, that they would not abandon the raft, but that all the expedition would sail together to the coast of Sahara; that when there, the boats would be again sent to the Medusa to take provisions, arms, and those who were left there; but it appears the chiefs had decided otherwise.

After abandoning the raft, although scattered, all the boats formed a little fleet, and followed the same route. All who were sincere hoped to arrive the same day at the coast of the Desert, and that every one would get on shore; but MM. Schmaltz and Lachaumareys gave orders to take the route for Senegal. This sudden change in the resolutions of the chiefs was like a thunderbolt to the officers commanding the boats. Having nothing on board but what was barely necessary to enable us to allay the cravings of hunger for one day, we were all sensibly affected. The other boats, which, like ourselves, hoped to have got on shore at the nearest point, were a little better provisioned than we were; they had at least a little wine, which supplied the place of other necessaries. We then demanded some from them, explaining our situation, but none would assist us, not even the captain, who, drinking to a kept mistress, supported by two sailors, swore he had not one drop on board. We were next desirous of addressing the boat of the Governor of Senegal, where we were persuaded were plenty of provisions of every kind, such as oranges, biscuit, cakes, comfits, plums and even the finest liquors; but my father opposed it, so well was he assured we would not obtain anything.

We will now turn to the condition of those on the raft, when the boats left them to themselves.

If all the boats had continued dragging the raft forward, favored as we were by the breeze from the sea, we would have been able to have conducted them to the shore in less than two days. But an inconceivable fatality caused the generous plan to be abandoned which had been formed.

When the raft had lost sight of the boats, a spirit of sedition began to manifest itself in furious cries. They then began to regard one another with ferocious looks, and to thirst for one another’s flesh. Some one had already whispered of having recourse to that monstrous extremity, and of [Pg 103] commencing with the fattest and youngest. A proposition so atrocious filled the brave Captain Dupont and his worthy Lieutenant M. L’Heureux with horror; and that courage which had so often supported them in the field of glory, now forsook them.

Among the first who fell under the hatchets of the assassins, was a young woman who had been seen devouring the body of her husband. When her turn was come, she sought a little wine as a last favor, then rose, and without uttering a word threw herself into the sea. Captain Dupont, being prescribed for having refused to partake of the sacrilegious viands with which the monsters were feeding on, was saved by a miracle from the hands of the butchers. Scarcely had they seized him to lead him to the slaughter, when a large pole, which served in place of a mast, fell upon his body; and believing that his legs were broken, they contented themselves by throwing him into the sea. The unfortunate captain plunged and disappeared, and they thought him already in another world.

Providence, however, revived the strength of the unfortunate warrior. He emerged under the beams of the raft, and clinging with all his might, holding his head above water, he remained between two enormous pieces of wood, while the rest of his body was hid in the sea. After more than two hours of suffering, Captain Dupont spoke in a low voice to his lieutenant, who by chance was seated near the place of his concealment. The brave L’Heureux, with eyes glistening with tears, believed he heard the voice, and saw the shade of his captain; and trembling, was about to quit the place of horror; O wonderful! he saw a head which seemed to draw its last sigh, he recognized it, he embraced it, alas! it was his dear friend! Dupont was instantly drawn from the water, and L’Heureux obtained for his unfortunate comrade again a place upon the raft. Those who had been most inveterate against him, touched at what Providence had done for him in so miraculous a manner, decided with one accord to allow him entire liberty upon the raft.

The sixty unfortunates who had escaped from the first massacre, were soon reduced to fifty, then to forty, and at last to twenty-eight. The least murmur, or the smallest complaint, at the moment of distributing the provisions, was a crime punished with immediate death. In consequence of such a regulation, it may easily be presumed the raft was soon lightened. In the meanwhile the wine diminished sensibly, and the [Pg 104] half-rations very much displeased a certain chief of the conspiracy. On purpose to avoid being reduced to that extremity, the executive power decided it was much wiser to drown thirteen people, and to get full rations, than that twenty-eight should have half rations.

Merciful Heaven! what shame! After the last catastrophe, the chiefs of the conspiracy, fearing, doubtless of being assassinated in their turn, threw all the arms into the sea, and swore an inviolable friendship with the heroes which the hatchet had spared. On the 17th of July, in the morning, Captain Parnajon, commandant of the Argus brig, still found fifteen men on the raft. They were immediately taken on board, and conducted to Senegal. Four of the fifteen are yet alive, viz. Captain Dupont, residing in the neighborhood of Maintenon, Lieutenant L’Heureux, since Captain at Senegal, Savigny, at Rochefort, and Correard, I know not where.

On the 5th of July, at ten in the morning, one hour after abandoning the raft, and three after quitting the Medusa, M. Laperere, the officer of our boat, made the first distribution of provisions. Each passenger had a small glass of water and nearly the fourth of a biscuit. Each drank his allowance of water at one draught, but it was found impossible to swallow one morsel of our biscuit, it being so impregnated with sea-water. It happened, however, that some was found not quite so saturated. Of these we eat a small portion, and put back the remainder for a future day. Our voyage would have been sufficiently agreeable, if the beams of the sun had not been so fierce. On the evening we perceived the shores of the Desert; but as the two chiefs (MM. Schmaltz and Lachaumareys) wished to go right for Senegal, notwithstanding we were still one hundred leagues from it, we were not allowed to land. Several officers remonstrated, both on account of our want of provisions and the crowded condition of the boats, for undertaking so dangerous a voyage. Others urged with equal force, that it would be dishonoring the French name if we were to neglect the unfortunate people on the raft, and insisted we should be set on shore, and whilst we waited there, three boats should return to look after the raft, and three to the wreck of the frigate, to take up the seventeen who were left there, as well as a sufficient quantity of provisions to enable us to go to Senegal by the way of Barbary. But MM. Schmaltz and Lachaumareys whose boats were sufficiently well provisioned, scouted the advice or their subalterns, and ordered them to cast anchor till the following morning. [Pg 105] They were obliged to obey these orders, and to relinquish their designs. During the night, a certain passenger who was doubtless no doctor, and who believed in ghosts and witches, was suddenly frightened by the appearance of flames, which he thought he saw in the waters of the sea, a little way from where our boat was anchored. My father, and some others, who were aware that the sea is sometimes phosphorated, confirmed the poor credulous man in his belief, and added several circumstances which fairly turned his brain. They persuaded him the Arabic sorcerers had fired the sea to prevent us from travelling along their deserts.

On the morning of the 6th of July, at five o’clock, all the boats were under way on the route to Senegal. The boats of MM. Schmaltz and Lachaumareys took the lead along the coast, and all the expedition followed. About eight, several sailors in our boat, with threats, demanded to be set on shore; but M. Laperere, not acceding to their request, the whole were about to revolt and seize the command; but the firmness of this officer quelled the mutineers. In a spring which he made to seize a firelock which a sailor persisted in keeping in his possession, he almost tumbled into the sea. My father fortunately was near him, and held him by his clothes, but he had instantly to quit him, for fear of losing his hat, which the waves were floating away. A short while after this slight accident, the shallop, which we had lost sight of since the morning, appeared desirous of rejoining us. We plied all hands to avoid her, for we were afraid of one another, and thought that that boat, encumbered with so many people, wished to board us to oblige us to take some of its passengers, as M. Espiau would not suffer them to be abandoned like those upon the raft. That officer hailed us at a distance, offering to take our family on board, adding, he was anxious to take about sixty people to the Desert. The officer of our boat, thinking that this was a pretence, replied, we preferred suffering where we were. It even appeared to us that M. Espiau had hid some of his people under the benches of the shallop. But alas; in the end we deeply deplored being so suspicious, and of having so outraged the devotion of the most generous officer of the Medusa.

Our boat began to leak considerably, but we prevented it as well as we could, by stuffing the largest holes with oakum, which an old sailor had had the precaution to take before quitting the frigate. At noon the heat became so strong—so intolerable, that several of us believed we had reached our last [Pg 106] moments. The hot winds of the Desert even reached us; and the fine sand with which they were loaded, had completely obscured the clearness of the atmosphere. The sun presented a reddish disk; the whole surface of the ocean became nebulous, and the air which we breathed, depositing a fine sand, an impalpable powder, penetrated to our lungs, already parched with a burning thirst. In this state of torment we remained till four in the afternoon, when a breeze from the northwest brought us some relief. Notwithstanding the privations we felt, and especially the burning thirst which had become intolerable, the cool air which we now began to breathe, made us in part forget our sufferings. The heavens began again to resume the usual serenity of those latitudes, and we hoped to have passed a good night. A second distribution of provisions was made; each received a small glass of water, and the eighth part of a biscuit. Notwithstanding our meagre fare, every one seemed content, in the persuasion we would reach Senegal by the morrow. But how vain were all our hopes, and what sufferings had we yet to endure!

At half past seven, the sky was covered with stormy clouds. The serenity we had admired a little while before, entirely disappeared, and gave place to the most gloomy obscurity. The surface of the ocean presented all the signs of a coming tempest. The horizon on the side of the Desert had the appearance of a long hideous chain of mountains piled on one another, the summits of which seemed to vomit fire and smoke. Bluish clouds, streaked with a dark copper color, detached themselves from that shapeless heap, and came and joined with those which floated over our heads. In less than half an hour the ocean seemed confounded with the terrible sky which canopied us. The stars were hid. Suddenly a frightful noise was heard from the west, and all the waves of the sea rushed to founder our frail bark. A fearful silence succeeded to the general consternation. Every tongue was mute; and none durst communicate to his neighbor the horror with which his mind was impressed. At intervals the cries of the children rent our hearts. At that instant a weeping and agonized mother bared her breast to her dying child, but it yielded nothing to appease the thirst of the little innocent who pressed it in vain. O night of horrors! what pen is capable to paint thy terrible picture! How describe the agonizing fears of a father and mother, at the sight of their children tossed about and expiring of hunger in a small boat, which the winds and waves threatened to engulf at every instant! Having [Pg 107] full before our eyes the prospect of inevitable death, we gave ourselves up to our unfortunate condition, and addressed our prayers to Heaven. The winds growled with the utmost fury; the tempestuous waves arose exasperated. In their terrific encounter a mountain of water was precipitated into our boat, carrying away one of the sails, and the greater part of the effects which the sailors had saved from the Medusa. Our bark was nearly sunk; the females and the children lay rolling in its bottom, drinking the waters of bitterness; and their cries, mixed with the roaring of the waves and the furious north wind, increased the horrors of the scene. My unfortunate father then experienced the most excruciating agony of mind. The idea of the loss which the shipwreck had occasioned to him, and the danger which still menaced all he held dearest in the world, plunged him into a swoon. The tenderness of his wife and children recovered him; but alas! his recovery was to still more bitterly deplore the wretched situation of his family. He clasped us to his bosom; he bathed us with his tears, and seemed as if he was regarding us with his last looks of love.

Every soul in the boat was seized with the same perturbation, but it manifested itself in different ways. One part of the sailors remained motionless, in a bewildered state; the other cheered and encouraged one another; the children, locked in the arms of their parents, wept incessantly. Some demanded drink, vomiting the salt water which choked them; others, in short, embraced as for the last time, intertwining their arms, and vowing to die together.

In the meanwhile the sea became rougher and rougher. The whole surface of the ocean seemed a vast plain furrowed with huge blackish waves fringed with white foam. The thunder growled around us, and the lightning discovered to our eyes all that our imagination could conceive most horrible. Our boat, beset on all sides by the winds, and at every instant tossed on the summit of mountains of water, was very nearly sunk in spite of our every effort in baling it, when we discovered a large hole in its poop. It was instantly stuffed with everything we could find:—old clothes, sleeves of shirts, shreds of coats, shawls, useless bonnets, everything was employed, and secured us as far as it was possible. During the space of six hours, we rowed suspended alternately between hope and fear, between life and death. At last towards the middle of the night, Heaven, which had seen our resignation, commanded the floods to be still. Instantly the sea became less [Pg 108] rough, the veil which covered the sky became less obscure, the stars again shone out, and the tempest seemed to withdraw. A general exclamation of joy and thankfulness issued at one instant from every mouth. The winds calmed, and each of us sought a little sleep, while our good and generous pilot steered our boat on a still very stormy sea.

The day at last, the day so desired, entirely restored the calm; but it brought no other consolation. During the night, the currents, the waves, and the winds had taken us so far out to sea, that, on the dawning of the 7th of July, we saw nothing but sky and water, without knowing whither to direct our course; for our compass had been broken during the tempest. In this hopeless condition, we continued to steer sometimes to the right and sometimes to the left, until the sun arose, and at last showed us the east.

On the morning of the 7th of July, we again saw the shores of the Desert, notwithstanding we were a great distance from it. The sailors renewed their murmurings, wishing to get on shore, with the hope of being able to get some wholesome plants, and some more palatable water than that of the sea; but as we were afraid of the Moors, their request was opposed. However, M. Laperere proposed to take them as near as he could to the first breakers on the coast; and when there, those who wished to go on shore should throw themselves into the sea, and swim to land. Eleven accepted the proposal; but when we had reached the first waves, none had the courage to brave the mountains of water which rolled between them and the beach. Our sailors then betook themselves to their benches and oars, and promised to be more quiet for the future. A short while after, a third distribution was made since our departure from the Medusa; and nothing more remained than four pints of water, and one half dozen biscuits. What steps were we to take in this cruel situation? We were desirous of going on shore, but we had such dangers to encounter. However we soon came to a decision, when we saw a caravan of Moors on the coast. We then stood a little out to sea. According to the calculation of our commanding officer, we would arrive at Senegal on the morrow. Deceived by that false account, we preferred suffering one day more, rather than be taken by the Moors of the Desert, or perish among the breakers. We had now no more than a small half glass of water, and the seventh of a biscuit.

Exposed as we were to the heat of the sun, which darted [Pg 109] its rays perpendicularly on our heads, that ration, though small would have been a great relief to us; but the distribution was delayed to the morrow. We were then obliged to drink the bitter sea water, ill as it was calculated to quench our thirst. Must I tell it! thirst had so withered the lungs of our sailors, that they drank water salter than that of the sea. Our numbers diminished daily, and nothing but the hope of arriving at the colony on the following day sustained our frail existence. My young brothers and sisters wept incessantly for water. The little Laura, aged six years lay dying at the feet of her mother. Her mournful cries so moved the soul of my unfortunate father, that he was on the eve of opening a vein to quench the thirst which consumed his child; but a wise person opposed his design, observing that all the blood in his body would not prolong the life of his infant one moment.

The freshness of the night wind procured us some respite. We anchored pretty near to the shore, and though dying of famine, each got a tranquil sleep. On the morning of the 8th of July, at break of day, we took the route for Senegal. A short while after the wind fell, and we had a dead calm.—We endeavored to row, but our strength was exhausted. A fourth and last distribution was made, and in the twinkling of an eye, our last resources were consumed. We were forty-two people who had to feed upon six biscuits and about four pints of water, with no hope of a farther supply. Then came the moment for deciding whether we were to perish among the breakers, which defended the approach to the shores of the Desert, or to die of famine in continuing our route.—The majority preferred the last species of misery. We continued our progress along the shore, painfully pulling our oars. Upon the beach were distinguished several downs of white sand and some small trees. We were thus creeping along the coast, observing a mournful silence, when a sailor suddenly exclaimed, behold the Moors! We did, in fact, see various individuals upon the rising ground, walking at a quick pace, and whom we took to be the Arabs of the Desert. As we were very near the shore, we stood farther out to sea, fearing that these pretended Moors, or Arabs, would throw themselves into the sea, swim out, and take us. Some hours after, we observed several people upon an eminence, who seemed to make signals for us.

We examined them attentively, and soon recognized them to be our companions in misfortune. We replied to them by [Pg 110] attaching a white handkerchief to the top of our mast. Then we resolved to land at the risk of perishing among the breakers, which were very strong towards the shore, although the sea was calm. On approaching the beach, we went towards the right, where the waves seemed less agitated, and endeavored to reach it, with the hope of being able more easily to land. Scarcely had we directed our course to that point, when we perceived a great number of people standing near to a little wood surrounding the sand-hills. We recognized them to be the passengers of that boat, which, like ourselves, were deprived of provisions.

Meanwhile we approached the shore, and already the foaming surge filled us with terror. Each wave that came from the open sea, each billow that swept beneath our boat, made us bound into the air; so we were sometimes thrown from the poop to the prow, and from the prow to the poop. Then, if our pilot had missed the sea, we would have been sunk; the waves would have thrown us aground, and we would have been buried among the breakers. The helm of the boat was again given to the old pilot, who had already so happily steered us through the dangers of the storm. He instantly threw into the sea the mast, the sails, and everything that could impede our proceedings. When we came to the first landing point, several of our shipwrecked companions, who had reached the shore, ran and hid themselves behind the hills, not to see us perish; others made signs not to approach at that place, some covered their eyes with their hands; others, at last despising the danger, precipitated themselves into the waves to receive us in their arms. We then saw a spectacle that made us shudder. We had already doubled two ranges of breakers; but those which we had still to cross raised their foaming waves to a prodigious height, then sunk with a hollow and monstrous sound, sweeping along a long line of the coast.—Our boat sometimes greatly elevated, and sometimes engulfed between the waves, seemed, at the moment, of utter ruin. Bruised, battered and tossed about on all hands, it turned of itself, and refused to obey the kind hand which directed it.—At that instant a huge wave rushed from the open sea, and dashed against the poop; the boat plunged, disappeared, and we were all among the waves. Our sailors, whose strength had returned at the presence of danger, redoubled their efforts, uttering mournful sounds. Our bark groaned, the oars were broken; it was thought aground, but it was stranded; it was upon its side. The last sea rushed upon us with the impetuosity [Pg 111] of a torrent. We were all up to the neck in water; the bitter sea-froth choked us. The grapnel was thrown out.—The sailors threw themselves into the sea; they took the children in their arms; returned, and took us upon their shoulders; and I found myself seated upon the sand on the shore, by the side of my step-mother, my brothers and sisters, almost dead. Every one was upon the beach except my father and some sailors; but that good man arrived at last, to mingle his tears with those of his family and friends.

Instantly our hearts joined in addressing our prayers and praises to God. I raised my hands to heaven, and remained sometime immoveable upon the beach. Every one also hastened to testify his gratitude to our old pilot, who next to God, justly merited the title of our preserver. M. Dumege, a naval surgeon, gave him an elegant gold watch, the only thing he had saved from the Medusa.

Let the reader now recollect all the perils to which we had been exposed in escaping from the wreck of the frigate to the shores of the Desert—all that we had suffered during our four days’ voyage—and he will perhaps have a just notion of the various sensations we felt on getting on shore on that strange and savage land. Doubtless the joy we experienced at having escaped, as by a miracle, the fury of the floods, was very great; but how much was it lessened by the feelings of our horrible situation! Without water, provisions, and the majority of us nearly naked, was it to be wondered at that we should be seized with terror on thinking of the obstacles which we had to surmount, the fatigues, the privations, the pains and sufferings we had to endure, with the dangers we had to encounter in the immense and frightful Desert we had to traverse before we could arrive at our destination? Almighty Providence! it was in Thee alone I put my trust.

After we had a little recovered from the fainting and fatigue of our getting on shore, our fellow-sufferers told us they had landed in the forenoon, and cleared the breakers by the strength of their oars and sails; but they had not all been so lucky as we were. One unfortunate person, too desirous of getting quickly on shore, had his legs broken under the shallop, and was taken and laid on the beach, and left to the care of Providence. M. Espiau, commander of the shallop, reproached us for having doubted him when he wished to board us to take our family along with him. It was most true he had landed sixty-three people that day. A short while after our refusal, he took the passengers of the yawl, who would [Pg 112] infallibly have perished in the stormy nights of the 6th and 7th. The boat named the Senegal, commanded by M. Maudet, had made the shore at the same time with M. Espiau. The boats of MM. Schmaltz and Lachaumareys were the only ones which continued the route for Senegal, while nine-tenths of the Frenchmen intrusted to these gentlemen were butchering each other on the raft, or dying of hunger on the burning sands of Sahara.

About seven in the morning, a caravan was formed to penetrate into the interior, for the purpose of finding some fresh water. We did accordingly find some at a little distance from the sea, by digging among the sand. Every one instantly flocked round the little wells, which furnished enough to quench our thirst. This brackish water was found to be delicious, although it had a sulphurous taste: its color was that of whey. As all our clothes were wet and in tatters, and as we had nothing to change them, some generous officers offered theirs. My step-mother, my cousin, and my sister, were dressed in them; for myself, I preferred keeping my own. We remained nearly an hour beside our beneficent fountain, then took the route for Senegal; that is, a southerly direction, for we did not know exactly where that country lay. It was agreed that the females and children should walk before the caravan, that they might not be left behind. The sailors voluntarily carried the youngest on their shoulders, and every one took the route along the coast. Notwithstanding it was nearly seven o’clock, the sand was quite burning, and we suffered severely, walking without shoes, having lost them while landing. As soon as we arrived on the shore, we went to walk on the wet sand, to cool us a little. Thus we traveled during all the night, without encountering anything but shells, which wounded our feet.

On the morning of the 9th, we saw an antelope on the top of a little hill, which instantly disappeared, before we had time to shoot it. The Desert seemed to our view one immense plain of sand, on which was seen not one blade of verdure. However, we still found water by digging in the sand. In the forenoon, two officers of marine complained that our family incommoded the progress of the caravan. It is true, the females and the children could not walk so quickly as the men. We walked as fast as it was possible for us, nevertheless, we often fell behind, which obliged them to halt till we came up. These officers, joined with other individuals, considered among themselves whether they would wait for us, or to abandon us [Pg 113] in the Desert. I will be bold to say, however, that but few were of the latter opinion. My father being informed of what was plotting against us, stepped up to the chiefs of the conspiracy, and reproached them in the bitterest terms for their selfishness and brutality. The dispute waxed hot. Those who were desirous of leaving us drew their swords, and my father put his hand upon a poignard, with which he had provided himself on quitting the frigate. At this scene, we threw ourselves in between them, conjuring him rather to remain in the Desert with his family, than seek the assistance of those who were, perhaps, less human than the Moors themselves. Several people took our part, particularly M. Begnere, captain of infantry, who quieted the dispute by saying to his soldiers, ‘My friends, you are Frenchmen, and I have the honor of being your commander; let us never abandon an unfortunate family in the Desert, so long as we are able to be of use to them.’ This brief, but energetic speech, caused those to blush who wished to leave us. All then joined with the old captain saying they would not leave us on condition we would walk quicker. M. Begnere and his soldiers replied, they did not wish to impose conditions on those to whom they were desirous of doing a favor; and the unfortunate family of Picard were again on the road with the whole caravan.

About noon hunger was felt so powerfully among us, that it was agreed upon to go to the small hills of sand which were near the coast, to see if any herbs could be found fit for eating; but we only got poisonous plants, among which were various kinds of euphorbium. Convolvaluses of a bright green carpeted the downs; but on tasting their leaves we found them as bitter as gall. The caravan rested in this place, while several officers went farther into the interior. They came back in about an hour, loaded with wild purslain, which they distributed to each of us. Every one instantly devoured his bunch of herbage, without leaving the smallest branch: but as our hunger was far from being satisfied with this small allowance, the soldiers and sailors betook themselves to look for more. They soon brought back a sufficient quantity, which was equally distributed, and devoured upon the spot, so delicious had hunger made that food to us. For myself, I declare I never eat anything with so much appetite in all my life. Water was also found in this place, but it was of an abominable taste. After this truly frugal repast, we continued our route. The heat was insupportable in the last degree. The sands on which we trod were burning, nevertheless several of [Pg 114] us walked on these scorching coals without shoes; and the females had nothing but their hair for a cap. When we reached the sea-shore, we all ran and lay down among the waves. After remaining there some time, we took our route along the wet beach. On our journey we met with several large crabs, which were of considerable service to us. Every now and then we endeavored to slake our thirst by sucking their crooked claws. About nine at night we halted between two pretty high sand hills. After a short talk concerning our misfortunes, all seemed desirous of passing the night in this place, notwithstanding we heard on every side the roaring of leopards. We deliberated on the means of securing ourselves, but sleep soon put an end to our fears. Scarcely had we slumbered a few hours when a terrible roaring of wild beasts awoke us, and made us stand on our defence. It was a beautiful moonlight night, and in spite of my fears and the horrible aspect of the place, nature never appeared so sublime to me before. Instantly something was announced that resembled a lion. This information was listened to with the greatest emotion. Every one being desirous of verifying the truth, fixed upon something he thought to be the object: one believed he saw the long teeth of the king of the forest; another was convinced his mouth was already open to devour us: several, armed with muskets, aimed at the animal, and advancing a few steps, discovered the pretended lion to be nothing more than a shrub fluctuating in the breeze. However, the howlings of ferocious beasts had so frightened us, being yet heard at intervals that we again sought the sea-shore, on purpose to continue our route towards the south.

Some of our companions were desirous of making observations in the interior, and they did not go in vain. They instantly returned, and told us they had seen two Arab tents upon a slight rising ground. We instantly directed our steps thither. We had to pass great downs of sand very slippery, and arrived in a large plain streaked here and there with verdure; but the turf was so hard and piercing, we could scarcely walk over it without wounding our feet. Our presence in these frightful solitudes put to flight three or four Moorish shepherds, who herded a small flock of sheep and goats in an oasis. At last we arrived at the tents after which we were searching, and found in them three Mooresses and two little children, who did not seem in the least frightened by our visit. A negro servant, belonging to an officer of marine, interpreted between us; and the good women, who, when they had heard of our misfortunes, offered us millet and water for [Pg 115] payment. We bought a little of that grain at the rate of thirty pence a handful; the water was got for three francs a glass; it was very good, and none grudged the money it cost. As a glass of water, with a handful of millet, was but a poor dinner for famished people, my father bought two kids, which they would not give him under twenty piastres. We immediately killed them, and our Mooresses boiled them in a large kettle. While our repast was preparing, my father, who could not afford the whole of the expense, got others to contribute to it, but an old officer of marine, who was to have been captain of the port of Senegal, was the only person who refused, notwithstanding he had about him nearly three thousand francs which he boasted of in the end. Several soldiers and sailors had seen him count it in round pieces of gold, on coming ashore on the Desert, and reproached him for his sordid avarice; but he seemed insensible to their reproaches, nor eat the less of his portion of the kid with his companions in misfortune.

When about to resume our journey, we saw several Moors approaching us armed with lances. Our people instantly seized their arms, and put themselves in readiness to defend us in case of an attack. Two officers, followed by several soldiers and sailors, with our interpreter, advanced to discover their intentions. They instantly returned with the Moors, who said, that far from wishing to do us harm, they had come to offer us their assistance, and to conduct us to Senegal. This offer being accepted of with gratitude by all of us, the Moors, of whom we had been so afraid, became our protectors and friends, verifying the old proverb, there are good people everywhere! As the camp of the Moors was at some considerable distance from where we were, we set off altogether to reach it before night. After having walked about two leagues through the burning sands, we found ourselves again upon the shore. Towards night, our conductors made us strike again into the interior, saying we were near their camp which is called in their language Berkelet. But the short distance of the Moors was found very long by the females and the children, on account of the downs of sand which we had to ascend and descend every instant, also of prickly shrubs over which we were frequently obliged to walk. Those who were barefooted, felt most severely at this time the want of their shoes. I myself lost among the bushes various shreds of my dress, and my feet and legs were all streaming with blood. At length, after two long hours of walking and suffering, we arrived at the camp of that tribe to which belonged our Arab [Pg 116] conductors. We had scarcely got into the camp, when the dogs, the children, and the Moorish women, began to annoy us. Some of them threw sand in our eyes, others amused themselves by snatching at our hair, on pretence of wishing to examine it. This pinched us, that spit upon us; the dogs bit our legs, whilst the old harpies cut the buttons from the officers coats, or endeavored to take away the lace. Our conductors, however, had pity on us, and chased away the dogs and the curious crowd, who had already made us suffer as much as the thorns which had torn our feet. The chiefs of the camp, our guides, and some good women, at last set about getting us some supper. Water in abundance was given us without payment, and they sold us fish dried in the sun, and some bowlsful of sour milk, at a reasonable price.

We found a Moor in the camp who had previously known my father at Senegal, and who spoke a little French. As soon as he recognised him, he cried, ‘Tiens toi Picard! ni a pas conneitre moi Amet?’ Hark ye, Picard, know you not Amet? We were all struck with astonishment at these French words coming from the mouth of a Moor. My father recollected having employed long ago a young goldsmith at Senegal, and discovering the Moor Amet to be the same person, shook him by the hand. After that good fellow had been made acquainted with our shipwreck, and to what extremities our unfortunate family had been reduced, he could not refrain from tears; and this perhaps was the first time a Mussulman had ever wept over the misfortunes of a Christian. Amet was not satisfied with deploring our hard fate; he was desirous of proving that he was generous and humane, and instantly distributed among us a large quantity of milk and water free of any charge. He also raised for our family a large tent of the skins of camels, cattle and sheep, because his religion would not allow him to lodge with Christians under the same roof. The place appeared very dark, and the obscurity made us uneasy. Amet and our conductors lighted a large fire to quiet us; and at last, bidding us good night, and retiring to his tent, said, ‘Sleep in peace; the God of the Christians is also the God of the Mussulman.’

We had resolved to quit this truly hospitable place early in the morning; but during the night, some people who had probably too much money, imagined the Moors had taken us to their camp to plunder us. They communicated their fears to others, and pretending that the Moors, who walked up and down among their flocks, and cried from time to time to keep [Pg 117] away the ferocious beasts, had already given the signal for pursuing and murdering us. Instantly a general panic seized all our people, and they wished to set off forthwith. My father, although he well knew the perfidy of the inhabitants of the Desert, endeavored to assure them we had nothing to fear, because the Arabs were too frightened for the people of Senegal, who would not fail to avenge us if we were insulted; but nothing could quiet their apprehensions, and we had to take the route during the middle of the night. The Moors being soon acquainted with our fears, made us all kinds of protestations; and seeing we persisted in quitting the camp, offered us asses to carry us as far as the Senegal. These beasts of burden were hired at the rate of 12 francs a day, for each head, and we took our departure under the guidance of those Moors who had before conducted us to the camp. Amet’s wife being unwell, he could not accompany us, but recommended us strongly to our guides. My father was able to hire only two asses for the whole of our family; and as it was numerous, my sister Caroline, my cousin, and myself, were obliged to crawl along, whilst my unfortunate father followed in the suite of the caravan, which in truth went much quicker than we did.

A short distance from the camp, the brave and compassionate Capt. Begnere, seeing we still walked, obliged us to accept of the ass he had hired for himself, saying he would not ride when young ladies exhausted with fatigue, followed on foot. The King afterwards honorably recompensed this worthy officer, who ceased not to regard our unfortunate family with a care and attention I will never forget.

During the remainder of the night, we travelled in a manner sufficiently agreeable, mounting alternately the ass of Captain Begnere.

At five in the morning of the 11th of July we regained the sea-shore. Our asses, fatigued with the long journey among the sand, ran instantly and lay down among the breakers, in spite of our utmost exertions to prevent them. This caused several of us to take a bath we wished not; I was myself held under my ass in the water, and had great difficulty in saving one of my young brothers who was floating away. But, in the end as this incident had no unfortunate issue, we laughed, and continued our route, some on foot and some on the capricious asses. Towards ten o’clock, perceiving a ship out at sea, we attached a white handkerchief to the muzzle of a gun, waiving it in the air, and soon had the satisfaction of seeing it was noticed. The ship having approached [Pg 118] sufficiently near the coast, the Moors who were with us threw themselves into the sea and swam to it. It must be said we had very wrongfully supposed that these people had had a design against us, for their devotion could not appear greater than when five of them darted through the waves to endeavor to communicate between us and the ship, notwithstanding it was still a good quarter of a league distant from where we stood on the beach. In about half an hour we saw these good Moors returning, making float before them three small barrels. Arrived on shore, one of them gave a letter to M. Espiau from M. Parnajon. This gentleman was the captain of the Argus brig, sent to seek after the raft, and to give us provisions. This letter announced a small barrel of biscuit, a tierce of wine, a half tierce of brandy, and a Dutch cheese. O fortunate event! We were very desirous of testifying our gratitude to the generous commander of the brig, but he instantly set out and left us. We staved the barrels which held our small stock of provisions, and made a distribution.—Each of us had a biscuit, about a glass of wine, a half glass of brandy, and a small morsel of cheese. Each drank his allowance of wine at one gulp; the brandy was not even despised by the ladies. I however preferred quantity to quality, and exchanged my ration of brandy for that of wine. To describe our joy, while taking this repast, is impossible. Exposed to the fierce rays of a vertical sun; exhausted by a long train of suffering; deprived for a long while, the use of any kind of spirituous liquors, when our portions of water, wine and brandy mingled in our stomachs we became like insane people.

Life, which had lately been a great burden, now became precious to us. Foreheads, lowering and sulky, began to unwrinkle; enemies became most brotherly; the avaricious endeavored to forget their selfishness and cupidity; the children smiled for the first time since our shipwreck; in a word, every one seemed to be born again from a condition, melancholy and dejected. I even believe the sailors sung the praises of their mistresses.

This journey was the most fortunate for us. Some short while after our delicious meal, we saw several Moors approaching, who brought milk and butter, so that we had refreshments in abundance. It is true we paid a little dear for them; the glass of milk cost not less than three francs. After reposing about three hours, our caravan proceeded on its route.

[Pg 119] About six in the evening, my father finding himself extremely fatigued, wished to rest himself. We allowed the caravan to move on, while my step-mother and myself remained near him, and the rest of the family followed with their asses. We all three soon fell asleep. When we awoke we were astonished at not seeing our companions. The sun was sinking in the west. We saw several Moors approaching us, mounted on camels; and my father reproached himself for having slept so long.

Their appearance gave us great uneasiness, and we wished much to escape from them, but my step-mother and myself fell quite exhausted. The Moors with long beards having come quite close to us, one of them alighted and addressed us in the following words. “Be comforted, ladies; under the costume of an Arab, you see an Englishman who is desirous of serving you. Having heard at Senegal that Frenchmen were thrown ashore upon these deserts, I thought my presence might be of some service to them, as I was acquainted with several of the princes of this arid country.” These noble words from the mouth of a man we had at first taken to be a Moor, instantly quieted our fears.

Recovering from our fright, we rose and expressed to the philanthropic Englishman the gratitude we felt. Mr. Carnet, the name of the generous Briton, told us that our caravan which he had met, waited for us at about the distance of two leagues. He then gave us some biscuit, which we eat; and we then set off together to join our companions. Mr. Carnet wished us to mount his camels, but my step-mother and myself, being unable to persuade ourselves we could sit securely on their hairy haunches, continued to walk on the moist sand, whilst my father, Mr. Carnet and the Moors who accompanied him, proceeded on the camels. We soon reached a little river, called in the country Marigot des Maringoins. We wished to drink of it, but found it as salt as the sea. Mr. Carnet desired us to have patience, and we should find some at the place where our caravan waited. We forded that river knee deep.

At last, having walked about an hour, we rejoined our companions, who had found several wells of fresh water. It was resolved to pass the night in this place, which seemed less arid than any we saw near us. The soldiers, being requested to go and seek wood to light a fire, for the purpose of frightening the ferocious beasts which were heard roaring around us, refused; but Mr. Carnet assured us, that the Moors who [Pg 120] were with him knew well how to keep all such intruders from our camp. In truth, during the whole of the night these good Arabs promenaded round our caravan, uttering cries at intervals like those we had heard in the camp of the generous Amet.

We passed a very good night, and at four in the morning continued our route along the shore, Mr. Carnet left us to endeavor to procure some provisions. Till then our asses had been quite docile; but, annoyed with their riders so long upon their backs, they refused to go forward. A fit took possession of them, and all at the same instant threw their riders on the ground, or among the bushes. The Moors, however, who accompanied us, assisted to catch our capricious animals, who had nearly scampered off, and replaced us on the hard backs of these headstrong creatures. At noon the heat became so violent, that even the Moors themselves bore it with difficulty. We then determined on finding some shade behind the high mounds of sand which appeared in the interior; but how were we to reach them! The sands could not be hotter. We had been obliged to leave our asses on the shore, for they would neither advance nor recede. The greater part of us had neither shoes nor hats; notwithstanding we were obliged to go forward almost a long league to find a little shade. The heat reflected by the sands of the Desert could be compared to nothing but the mouth of an oven at the moment of drawing out the bread; nevertheless, we endured it; but not without cursing those who had been the occasion of all our misfortunes. Arrived behind the heights for which we searched, we stretched ourselves under the Mimos-gommier, (the acacia of the Desert), several broke branches of the asclepia (swallow-wort), and made themselves a shade. But whether from want of air, or the heat of the ground on which we were seated, we were nearly all suffocated. I thought my last hour was come. Already my eyes saw nothing but a dark cloud, when a person of the name of Berner, who was to have been a smith at Senegal, gave me a boot containing some muddy water, which he had had the precaution to keep. I seized the elastic vase, and hastened to swallow the liquid in large draughts.

One of my companions equally tormented with thirst, envious of the pleasure I seemed to feel, and which I felt effectually, drew the foot from the boot, and seized it in his turn, but it availed him nothing. The water which remained was so disgusting, that he could not drink it, and spilled it on the [Pg 121] ground. Captain Begnere, who was present, judging, by the water which fell, how loathsome must that have been which I had drank, offered me some crumbs of biscuit, which he had kept most carefully in his pocket. I chewed that mixture of bread, dust and tobacco, but I could not swallow it, and gave it all masticated to one of my young brothers, who had fallen from inanimation.

We were about to quit this furnace, when we saw our generous Englishman approaching, who brought us provisions.—At this sight I felt my strength revive, and ceased to desire death, which I had before called on to release me from my sufferings. Several Moors accompanied Mr. Carnet, and every one was loaded. On their arrival we had water, with rice and dried fish in abundance. Every one drank his allowance of water, but had not ability to eat, although the rice was excellent. We were all anxious to return to the sea, that we might bathe ourselves, and the caravan put itself on the road to the breakers of Sahara. After an hour’s march of great suffering, we regained the shore, as well as our asses, who were lying in the water. We rushed among the waves, and after a bath of half an hour, we reposed ourselves upon the beach. My cousin and I went to stretch ourselves upon a small rising ground, where we were shaded with some old clothes which we had with us. My cousin was clad in an officer’s uniform, the lace of which strongly attracted the eyes of Mr. Carnet’s Moors. Scarcely had we lain down, when one of them, thinking we were asleep, came to endeavor to steal it; but seeing we were awake, contented himself by looking at us very steadily.

About three in the morning, a northwest wind having sprang up and a little refreshed us, our caravan continued its route; our generous Englishman again taking the task of procuring us provisions. At four o’clock the sky became overcast, and we heard thunder in the distance. We all expected a great tempest, which happily did not take place.—Near seven we reached the spot where we were to wait for Mr. Carnet, who came to us with a bullock he had purchased. Then quitting the shore, we went into the interior to seek a place to cook our supper. We fixed our camp beside a small wood of acacias, near to which were several wells or cisterns of fresh water. Our ox was instantly killed, skinned, cut to pieces and distributed. A huge fire was kindled, and each was occupied in dressing his meal. At this time I caught a smart fever; notwithstanding I could not help laughing [Pg 122] at seeing every one seated round a large fire holding his piece of beef on the point of his bayonet, a sabre or some sharp-pointed stick. The flickering of the flames on the different faces, sun-burned and covered with long beards, rendered more visible by the darkness of the night, joined to the noise of the waves and the roaring of ferocious beasts, which we heard in the distance, presented a spectacle at once laughable and imposing.

While these thoughts were passing across my mind, sleep overpowered my senses. Being awakened in the middle of the night, I found my portion of beef in the shoes which an old sailor had lent me for walking among the thorns; although it was a little burned and smelt strongly of the dish in which it was contained, I eat a good part of it, and gave the rest to my friend the sailor. That seaman, seeing I was ill, offered to exchange my meat for some which he had had the address to boil in a small tin-box. I prayed him to give me a little water if he had any, and he instantly went and fetched me some in his hat. My thirst was so great that I drank it out of his nasty hat without any repugnance.

At nine o’clock we met upon the shore a large flock herded by young Moors. These shepherds sold us milk, and one of them offered to lend my father an ass for a knife which he had seen him take out of his pocket. My father having accepted the proposal, the Moor left his companion to accompany us as far as Senegal, from which we were yet two good leagues.

Suddenly we left the shore. Our companions appearing quite transported with joy, some of us ran forward, and having gained a slight rising ground, discovered the Senegal at no great distance.

We hastened our march, and for the first time since our shipwreck, a smiling picture presented itself to our view.—The trees always green, with which that noble river is shaded, the humming birds, the red birds, the paroquets, the promerops, &c. who flitted among their long yielding branches, caused in us emotions difficult to express. We could not satiate our eyes with gazing on the beauties of this place, verdure being so enchanting to the sight, especially after having travelled through the Desert. Before reaching the river we had to descend a little hill covered with thorny bushes. My ass stumbling threw me into the midst of one, and I tore myself in several places, but was easily consoled when I at length found myself on the banks of a river of fresh water. [Pg 123] Every one having quenched his thirst, we stretched ourselves under the shade of a small grove, while the beneficent Mr. Carnet and two of our officers set forward to Senegal to announce our arrival, and to get us boats. In the meanwhile some took a little repose, and others were engaged in dressing the wounds with which they were covered.

At two in the afternoon, we saw a small boat beating against the current of the stream with oars. It soon reached the spot where we were. Two Europeans landed, saluted our caravans, and inquired for my father. One of them said he came on the part of MM. Artigue and Laboure, inhabitants of Senegal, to offer assistance to our family; the other added, that he had not waited for the boats which were getting ready for us at the island of St. Louis, knowing too well what would be our need. We were desirous of thanking them, but they instantly ran off to the boat and brought us provisions, which my father’s old friends had sent him.—They placed before us a large basket containing several loaves, cheese, a bottle of Madeira, a bottle of filtered water and dresses for my father. Every one, who, during our journey, had taken any interest in our unfortunate family, and especially the brave Captain Begnere, had a share of our provisions. We experienced a real satisfaction in partaking with them, and giving them this small mark of our gratitude.

A young aspirant of marine, who had refused us a glass of water in the Desert, pressed with hunger, begged of us some bread; he got it, also a small glass of Madeira.

It was four o’clock before the boats of the government arrived, and we all embarked. Biscuit and wine were found in each of them, and all were refreshed.

That in which were our family was commanded by M. Artigue, captain of the port, and one of those who had sent us provisions. My father and he embraced as two old friends who had not seen one another for eight years, and congratulated themselves that they had been permitted to meet once more before they died. We had already made a league upon the river when a young navy clerk (M. Mollien) was suddenly taken ill. We put him ashore, and left him to the care of a negro to conduct him to Senegal when he should recover.

It would be in vain for me to paint the various emotions of my mind at that delicious moment. I am bold to say all the colony, if we accept MM. Schmaltz and Lachaumareys, were at the port to receive us from our boats. M. Artigue going on shore first to acquaint the English governor of our arrival, [Pg 124] met him coming to us on horseback, followed by our generous conductor Mr. Carnet, and several superior officers.—We went on shore carrying our brothers and sisters in our arms. My father presented us to the English governor, who had alighted; he appeared to be sensibly affected with our misfortunes, the females and children chiefly excited his commiseration. And the native inhabitants and Europeans tenderly shook the hands of the unfortunate people; the negro slaves even seemed to deplore our disastrous fate.

The governor placed the most sickly of our companions in a hospital; various inhabitants of the colony received others into their houses; M. Artigue obligingly took charge of our family. Arriving at his house we there found his wife, two ladies and an English lady, who begged to be allowed to assist us. Taking my sister Caroline and myself, she conducted us to her house, and presented us to her husband, who received us in the most affable manner; after which she led us to her dressing-room, where we were combed, cleansed, and dressed by the domestic negresses, and were most obligingly furnished with linen from her own wardrobe, the whiteness of which was strongly contrasted with our sable countenances. In the midst of my misfortunes my soul had preserved all its strength; but this sudden change of situation affected me so much, that I thought my intellectual faculties were forsaking me. We were so confused by our agitation, that we scarcely heard the questions which were put to us, having constantly before our eyes the foaming waves and the immense tract of sand over which we had passed.


The following is the substance, abridged from MM. Correard and Savigny, of what took place on the raft during thirteen days before the sufferers were taken up by the Argus Brig.

After the boats had disappeared, the consternation became extreme. All the horrors of thirst and famine passed before our imagination; besides, we had to contend with a treacherous element, which already covered the half of our bodies.—The [Pg 125] deep stupor of the soldiers and sailors instantly changed to despair. All saw their inevitable destruction, and expressed by their moans the dark thoughts which brooded in their minds. Our words were at first unavailing to quiet their fears, which we participated with them, but which a greater strength of mind enabled us to dissemble. At last an unmoved countenance, and our proffered consolations, quieted them by degrees, but could not entirely dissipate the terror with which they were seized.

When tranquility was a little restored, we began to search about the raft for the charts, the compass, and the anchor, which we presumed had been placed upon it, after what we had been told at the time of quitting the frigate.

These things of the first importance, had not been placed upon our machine. Above all, the want of a compass the most alarmed us, and we gave vent to our rage and vengeance. M. Correard then remembered he had seen one in the hands of the principal workmen under his command; he spoke to the man, who replied, ‘Yes, yes, I have it with me.’ This information transported us with joy, and we believed that our safety depended upon this futile resource; it was about the size of a crown-piece, and very incorrect. Those who have not been in situations in which their existence was exposed to extreme peril, can have but a faint knowledge of the price one attaches then to the simplest objects—with what avidity one seizes the slightest means capable of mitigating the rigor of that fate against which they contend. The compass was given to the commander of the raft, but an accident deprived us of it forever; it fell and disappeared between the pieces of wood which formed our machine. We had kept it but a few hours, and, after its loss, had nothing to guide us but the rising and setting of the sun.

We had all gone afloat without taking any food. Hunger beginning to be imperiously felt, we mixed our paste of sea-biscuit with a little wine, and distributed it thus prepared.—Such was our first meal, and the best we had, during our stay upon the raft.

An order, according to our numbers, was established for the distribution of our miserable provisions. The ration of wine was fixed at three quarters a day. We will speak no more of the biscuit, it having been entirely consumed at the first distribution. The day passed away sufficiently tranquil. We talked of the means by which we would save ourselves; we spoke of it as a certain circumstance, which reanimated [Pg 126] our courage; and we sustained that of the soldiers, by cherishing in them the hope of being able, in a short time, to revenge themselves on those who had abandoned us. This hope of vengeance, it must be avowed, equally animated us all; and we poured out a thousand imprecations against those who had left us a prey to so much misery and danger.

The officer who commanded the raft being unable to move, M. Savigny took upon himself the duty of erecting the mast. He caused them to cut in two one of the poles of the frigate’s masts, and fixed it with the rope which had served to tow us, and of which we made stays and shrouds. It was placed on the anterior third of the raft. We put up for a sail the main-top-gallant, which trimmed very well, but was of very little use, except when the wind served from behind; and to keep the raft in this course, we were obliged to trim the sail as if the breeze blew athwart us.

In the evening, our hearts and our prayers, by a feeling natural to the unfortunate, were turned towards Heaven.—Surrounded by inevitable dangers, we addressed that invisible Being who has established, and who maintains the order of the universe. Our vows were fervent, and we experienced from our prayers the cheering influence of hope. It is necessary to have been in similar situations, before one can rightly imagine what a charm is the sublime idea of a God protecting the unfortunate to the heart of the sufferer.

One consoling thought still soothed our imaginations. We persuaded ourselves that the little divisions had gone to the isle of Arguin, and that after it had set a part of its people on shore, the rest would return to our assistance; we endeavored to impress this idea on our soldiers and sailors, which quieted them. The night came without our hope being realized; the wind freshened, and the sea was considerably swelled. What a horrible night! The thought of seeing the boats on the morrow, a little consoled our men, the greater part of whom, being unaccustomed to the sea, fell on one another at each movement of the raft. M. Savigny, seconded by some people who still preserved their presence of mind amidst the disorder, stretched cords across the raft, by which the men held, and were better able to resist the swell of the sea; some were even obliged to fasten themselves. In the middle of the night the weather was very rough; huge waves burst upon us, sometimes overturning us with great violence. The cries of the men, mingled with the flood, whilst the terrible sea raised us at every instant from the raft, and threatened [Pg 127] to sweep us away. This scene was rendered still more terrible, by the horrors inspired by the darkness of the night. Suddenly we believed we saw fires in the distance at intervals.

We had had the precaution to hang at the top of the mast, the gunpowder and pistols which we had brought from the frigate. We made signals by burning a large quantity of cartridges; we even fired some pistols, but it seems the fire we saw, was nothing but an error of vision, or, perhaps, nothing more than the sparkling of the waves.

We struggled with death during the whole of the night, holding firmly by the ropes which were made very secure.—Tossed by the waves from the back to the front, and from the front to the back, and sometimes precipitated into the sea; floating between life and death, mourning our misfortunes, certain of perishing; we disputed, nevertheless, the remainder of our existence, with that cruel element which threatened to engulf us. Such was our condition till daybreak. At every instant were heard the lamentable cries of the soldiers and sailors; they prepared for death, bidding farewell to one another, imploring the protection of Heaven, and addressing fervent prayers to God. Every one made vows to him, in spite of the certainty of never being able to accomplish them. Frightful situation! How is it possible to have any idea of it, which will not fall far short of the reality!

Towards seven in the morning the sea fell a little, the wind blew with less fury; but what a scene presented itself to our view! Ten or twelve unfortunates, having their inferior extremities fixed in the openings between the pieces of the raft, had perished by being unable to disengage themselves; several others were swept away by the violence of the sea. At the hour of repast, we took the numbers anew; we had lost twenty men. We will not affirm that this was the exact number; for we perceived some soldiers who, to have more than their share, took rations for two, and even three; we were so huddled together that we found it absolutely impossible to prevent this abuse.

In the midst of these horrors a touching scene of filial piety drew our tears. Two young men raised and recognized their father, who had fallen, and was lying insensible among the feet of the people. They believed him at first dead, and their despair was expressed in the most affecting manner. It was perceived, however, that he still breathed, and every assistance was rendered for his recovery in our power. He [Pg 128] slowly revived, and was restored to life, and to the prayers of his sons, who supported him closely folded in their arms.—Whilst our hearts were softened by this affecting episode in our melancholy adventures, we had soon to witness the sad spectacle of a dark contrast. Two ship-boys and a baker feared not to seek death, and threw themselves into the sea, after having bid farewell to their companions in misfortune. Already the minds of our people were singularly altered; some believed that they saw land, others ships which were coming to save us; all talked aloud of their fallacious visions.

We lamented the loss of our unfortunate companions. At this moment we were far from anticipating the still more terrible scene which took place on the following night; far from that, we enjoyed a positive satisfaction so well were we persuaded that the boats would return to our assistance. The day was fine, and the most perfect tranquility reigned all the while on our raft. The evening came and no boats appeared. Despondency began again to seize our men, and then a spirit of insubordination manifested itself in cries of rage. The voice of the officers was entirely disregarded. Night fell rapidly in, the sky was obscured by dark clouds; the wind which, during the whole day, had blown rather violently, became furious and swelled the sea, which in an instant became very rough.

The preceding night had been frightful, but this was more so. Mountains of water covered us at every instant, and burst with fury into the midst of us. Very fortunately we had the wind from behind, and the strongest of the sea was a little broken by the rapidity with which we were driven before it. We were impelled towards the land. The men, from the violence of the sea, were hurried from the back to the front; we were obliged to keep to the centre, the firmest part of the raft, and those who could not get there almost all perished. Before and behind the waves dashed impetuously, and swept away the men in spite of all their resistance. At the centre the pressure was such, that some unfortunates were suffocated by the weight of their comrades, who fell upon them at every instant. The officers kept by the foot of the little mast, and were obliged every moment to call to those around them to go to the one or the other side to avoid the waves; for the sea coming nearly athwart us, gave our raft nearly a perpendicular position, to counteract which, they were forced to throw themselves upon the side raised by the sea.

[Pg 129] The soldiers and sailors, frightened by the presence of almost inevitable danger, doubted not that they had reached their last hour. Firmly believing they were lost, they resolved to soothe their last moments by drinking till they lost their senses. We had no power to oppose this disorder. They seized a cask which was in the centre of the raft, made a little hole in the end of it, and, with small tin cups, took each a pretty large quantity; but they were obliged to cease, for the sea water rushed into the hole they had made. The fumes of the wine failed not to disorder their brains, already weakened by the presence of danger and want of food. Thus excited, these men became deaf to the voice of reason. They wished to involve, in one common ruin, all their companions in misfortune. They avowedly expressed their intention of freeing themselves from their officers, who they said, wished to oppose their design; and then to destroy the raft, by cutting the ropes which united its different parts. Immediately after they resolved to put their plans into execution. One of them advanced upon the side of the raft with a boarding axe, and began to cut the cords. This was the signal of revolt. We stepped forward to prevent these insane mortals, and he who was armed with the hatchet, with which he even threatened an officer, fell the first victim; a stroke of a sabre terminated his existence.

This man was an Asiatic, and a soldier in a colonial regiment. Of a colossal stature, short hair, a nose extremely large, an enormous mouth and dark complexion, he made a most hideous appearance. At first he had placed himself in the middle of the raft, and, at each blow of his fist, knocked down every one who opposed him; he inspired the greatest terror, and none durst approach him. Had there been six such, our destruction would have been certain.

Some men anxious to prolong their existence, armed and united themselves with those who wished to preserve the raft; among this number were some subaltern officers and many passengers. The rebels drew their sabres, and those who had none armed themselves with knives. They advanced in a determined manner upon us; we stood on our defence; the attack commenced. Animated by despair, one of them aimed a stroke at an officer; the rebel instantly fell, pierced with wounds. This firmness awed them for an instant, but diminished nothing of their rage. They ceased to advance, and withdrew, presenting to us a front bristling with sabres and bayonets, to the back part of the raft to execute their plan.—One [Pg 130] of them feigned to rest himself on the small railings on the sides of the raft, and with a knife began cutting the cords. Being told by a servant, one of us sprung upon him. A soldier, wishing to defend him, struck at the officer with his knife, which only pierced his coat; the officer wheeled round, seized his adversary, and threw both him and his comrade into the sea.

There had been as yet but partial affairs; the combat became general. Some one cried to lower the sail; a crowd of infuriated mortals threw themselves in an instant upon the haulyards and the shrouds, and cut them. The fall of the mast almost broke the thigh of a captain of infantry, who fell insensible. He was seized by the soldiers, who threw him into the sea. We saved him, and placed him on a barrel, whence he was taken by the rebels, who wished to put out his eyes with a penknife. Exasperated by so much brutality, we no longer restrained ourselves, but pushed in upon them, and charged them with fury. Sword in hand we traversed the line which the soldiers had formed, and many paid with their lives the errors of their revolt. Various passengers, during these cruel moments, evinced the greatest courage and coolness.

M. Correard fell into a sort of swoon; but hearing at every instant the cries, To Arms! with us comrades; we are lost! joined with the groans and imprecations of the wounded and dying, was soon roused from his lethargy. All this horrible tumult speedily made him comprehend how necessary it was to be upon his guard. Armed with his sabre, he gathered together some of his workmen on the front of the raft, and there charged them to hurt no one, unless they were attacked. He almost always remained with them; and several times they had to defend themselves against the rebels, who, swimming round to that point of the raft, placed M. Correard and his little troop between two dangers, and made their position very difficult to defend. At every instant he was opposed to men armed with knives, sabres and bayonets. Many had carabines which they wielded as clubs. Every effort was made to stop them, by holding them off at the point of their swords; but, in spite of the repugnance they experienced in fighting with their wretched countrymen, they were compelled to use their arms without mercy. Many of the mutineers attacked with fury, and they were obliged to repel them in the same manner. Some of the laborers received severe wounds in this action. Their commander could show a great [Pg 131] number received in the different engagements. At last their united efforts prevailed in dispersing this mass who had attacked them with such fury.

During this combat, M. Correard was told by one of his workmen who remained faithful, that one of their comrades, named Dominique, had gone over to the rebels, and that they had seized and thrown him into the sea. Immediately forgetting the fault and treason of this man, he threw himself in at the place whence the voice of the wretch was heard calling for assistance, seized him by the hair, and had the good fortune to restore him on board. Dominique had got several sabre wounds in a charge, one of which had laid open his head. In spite of the darkness we found out the wound, which seemed very large.

One of the workmen gave his handkerchief to bind and stop the blood. Our care recovered the wretch; but, when he had collected strength, the ungrateful Dominique, forgetting at once his duty and the signal service which we had rendered him, went and rejoined the rebels. So much baseness and insanity did not go unrevenged; and soon after he found, in a fresh assault, that death from which he was not worthy to be saved, but which he might in all probability have avoided, if, true to honor and gratitude, he had remained among us.

Just at the moment we finished dressing the wounds of Dominique, another voice was heard. It was that of the unfortunate female who was with us on the raft, and whom the infuriated beings had thrown into the sea, as well as her husband, who had defended her with courage. M. Correard in despair at seeing two unfortunates perish, whose pitiful cries, especially the woman’s pierced his heart, seized a large rope which he found on the front of the raft, which he fastened round his middle, and throwing himself a second time into the sea, was again so fortunate as to save the woman, who invoked, with all her might, the assistance of our Lady of Land. Her husband was rescued at the same time by the head workman, Lavilette. We laid these unfortunates upon the dead bodies, supporting their backs with a barrel. In a short while they recovered their senses. The first thing the woman did was to acquaint herself with the name of the person who saved her, and to express to him her liveliest gratitude.—Finding, doubtless, that her words but ill expressed her feelings, she recollected she had in her pocket a little snuff, and instantly offered it to him,—it was all she possessed. Touched [Pg 132] with the gift, but unable to use it, M. Correard gave it to a poor sailor, which served him for three or four days. But it is impossible for us to describe a still more affecting scene, the joy this unfortunate couple testified, when they had sufficiently recovered their senses, at finding that they were both saved.

The rebels being repulsed, as it has been stated above, left us a little repose. The moon lighted with her melancholy rays this disastrous raft, this narrow space, on which were found united so many torturing anxieties, so many cruel misfortunes, a madness so insensate, a courage so heroic, and the most generous, the most amiable sentiments of nature and humanity.

The man and wife, who had been but a little before stabbed with swords and bayonets, and thrown both together into a stormy sea, could scarcely credit their senses when they found themselves in one another’s arms. The woman was a native of the Upper Alps, which place she had left twenty-four years before, and during which time she had followed the French armies in the campaigns in Italy, and other places, as a sutler. ‘Therefore preserve my life,’ said she to M. Correard, ‘you see I am an useful woman. Ah! if you knew how often I have ventured upon the field of battle, and braved death to carry assistance to our gallant men. Whether they had money or not I always let them have my goods. Sometimes a battle would deprive me of my poor debtors; but after the victory, others would pay me double or triple for what they had consumed before the engagement. Thus I came in for a share of their victories.’ Unfortunate woman! she little knew what a horrible fate awaited her among us! They felt, they expressed so vividly that happiness which they alas so shortly enjoyed, that would have drawn tears from the most obdurate heart. But in that horrible moment, when we scarcely breathed from the most furious attack,—when we were obliged to be continually on our guard, not only against the violence of the men, but a most boisterous sea, few among us had time to attend to scenes of conjugal affection.

After this second check, the rage of the soldiers was suddenly appeased, and gave place to the most abject cowardice. Several threw themselves at our feet, and implored our pardon, which was instantly granted. Thinking that order was re-established, we returned to our station on the centre of the raft, only taking the precaution of keeping our arms. We, however, had soon to prove the impossibility of counting on [Pg 133] the permanence of any honest sentiment in the hearts of these beings.

It was nearly midnight; and after an hour of apparent tranquility, the soldiers rose afresh. Their mind was entirely gone; they ran upon us in despair with knives and sabres in their hands. As they yet had all their physical strength, and besides were armed, we were obliged again to stand on our defence. Their revolt became still more dangerous, as, in their delirium, they were entirely deaf to the voice of reason. They attacked us, we charged them in our turn, and immediately the raft was strewed with their dead bodies. Those of our adversaries who had no weapons endeavored to tear us with their sharp teeth. Many of us were cruelly bitten.—M. Savigny was torn on the legs and the shoulder; he also received a wound on the right arm which deprived him of the use of his fourth and little finger for a long while. Many others were wounded; and many cuts were found in our clothes from knives and sabres.

One of our workmen was also seized by four of the rebels, who wished to throw him into the sea. One of them had laid hold of his right leg, and had bit most unmercifully the tendon above the heel; others were striking him with great slashes of their sabres, and with the butt end of their guns, when his cries made us hasten to his assistance. In this affair, the brave Lavilette, ex-serjeant of the foot artillery of the Old Guard, behaved with a courage worthy of the greatest praise. He rushed upon the infuriated beings in the manner of M. Correard, and soon snatched the workman from the danger which menaced him. Some short while after, in a fresh attack of the rebels, sub-lieutenant Lozach fell into their hands. In their delirium, they had taken him for Lieutenant Danglas, of whom we have formerly spoken, and who had abandoned the raft at the moment when we were quitting the frigate. The troop, to a man, eagerly sought this officer, who had seen little service, and whom they reproached for having used them ill during the time they garrisoned the Isle of Rhe. We believed this officer lost, but hearing his voice, we soon found it still possible to save him. Immediately MM. Clairet, Savigny, L’Heureux, Lavilette, Coudin, Correard, and some workmen, formed themselves into small platoons, and rushed upon the insurgents with great impetuosity, overturning every one in their way, and retook M. Lozach, and placed him on the centre of the raft.

The preservation of this officer cost us infinite difficulty. [Pg 134] Every moment the soldiers demanded he should be delivered to them, designating him always by the name of Danglas. We endeavored to make them comprehend their mistake, and told them that they themselves had seen the person for whom they sought return on board the frigate. They were insensible to everything we said; everything before them was Danglas; they saw him perpetually, and furiously and unceasingly demanded his head. It was only by force of arms we succeeded in repressing their rage, and quieting their dreadful cries of death.

Horrible night! thou shrouded with thy gloomy veil these frightful combats, over which presided the cruel demon of despair.

We had also to tremble for the life of M. Coudin. Wounded and fatigued by the attacks which he had sustained with us, and in which he had shown a courage superior to everything, he was resting himself on a barrel, holding in his arms a young sailor boy of twelve years of age, to whom he had attached himself. The mutineers seized him with his barrel, and threw him into the sea with the boy, whom he still held fast. In spite of his burden, he had the presence of mind to lay hold of the raft, and to save himself from this extreme peril.

We cannot yet comprehend how a handful of men should have been able to resist such a number so monstrously insane. We are sure we were not more than twenty to combat all these madmen. Let it not, however, be imagined, that in the midst of all these dangers we had preserved our reason entire. Fear, anxiety, and the most cruel privations, had greatly changed our intellectual faculties. But being somewhat less insane than the unfortunate soldiers, we energetically opposed their determination of cutting the cords of the raft. Permit us now to make some observations concerning the different sensations with which we were affected. During the first day, M. Griffon entirely lost his senses. He threw himself into the sea, but M. Savigny saved him with his own hands. His words were vague and unconnected. A second time he threw himself in, but, by a sort of instinct, kept hold of the cross pieces of the raft, and was again saved.

The following is what M. Savigny experienced in the beginning of the night. His eyes closed in spite of himself, and he felt a general drowsiness. In this condition the most delightful visions flitted across his imagination. He saw around him a country covered with the most beautiful plantations, and found himself in the midst of objects delightful to his senses. [Pg 135] Nevertheless, he reasoned concerning his condition, and felt that courage alone could withdraw him from this species of non-existence. He demanded some wine from the master-gunner, who got it for him, and he recovered a little from this stupor. If the unfortunates who were assailed with these primary symptoms had not strength to withstand them, their death was certain. Some became furious; others threw themselves into the sea, bidding farewell to their comrades with the utmost coolness. Some said—‘Fear nothing; I am going to get you assistance, and will return in a short while.’ In the midst of this general madness, some wretches were seen rushing upon their companions, sword in hand, demanding a wing of a chicken and some bread to appease the hunger which consumed them; others asked for their hammocks to go, they said, between the decks of the frigate to take a little repose. Many believed they were still on the Medusa, surrounded by the same objects they there saw daily. Some saw ships, and called to them for assistance, or a fine harbor, in the distance of which was an elegant city. M. Correard thought he was travelling through the beautiful fields of Italy. An officer said to him—‘I recollect we have been abandoned by the boats; but fear nothing. I am going to write to the governor, and in a few hours we shall be saved.’ M. Correard replied in the same tone, and as if he had been in his ordinary condition.—‘Have you a pigeon to carry your orders with such celerity?’ The cries and the confusion soon roused us from this languor; but when tranquility was somewhat restored, we again fell into the same drowsy condition. On the morrow, we felt as if we had awoke from a painful dream, and asked our companions, if, during their sleep, they had not seen combats and heard cries of despair. Some replied, that the same visions had continually tormented them, and that they were exhausted with fatigue. Every one believed he was deceived by the illusions of a horrible dream.

After these different combats, overcome with toil, with want of food and sleep, we laid ourselves down and reposed till the morrow dawned, and showed us the horror of the scene. A great number in their delirium had thrown themselves into the sea. We found that sixty or sixty-five had perished during the night. A fourth part at least, we supposed, had drowned themselves in despair. We only lost two of our own numbers, neither of whom were officers. The deepest dejection was painted on every face; each, having recovered himself, could [Pg 136] now feel the horrors of his situation; and some of us, shedding tears of despair, bitterly deplored the rigor of our fate.

A new misfortune was now revealed to us. During the tumult, the rebels had thrown into the sea two barrels of wine, and the only two casks of water which we had upon the raft. Two casks of wine had been consumed the day before, and only one was left. We were more than sixty in number, and we were obliged to put ourselves on half rations.

At break of day, the sea calmed, which permitted us again to erect our mast. When it was replaced, we made a distribution of wine. The unhappy soldiers murmured and blamed us for privations which we equally endured with them. They fell exhausted. We had taken nothing for forty-eight hours, and we had been obliged to struggle continually against a strong sea. We could, like them, hardly support ourselves; courage alone made us still act. We resolved to employ every possible means to catch fish, and, collecting all the hooks and eyes from the soldiers, made fish-hooks of them but all was of no avail. The currents carried our lines under the raft, where they got entangled. We bent a bayonet to catch sharks, one bit at it, and straitened it, and we abandoned our project. Something was absolutely necessary to sustain our miserable existence, and we tremble with horror at being obliged to tell that of which we made use. We feel our pen fall from our hands: a mortal cold congeals all our members, and our hair bristles erect on our foreheads. Readers! we implore you, feel not indignant towards men already overloaded with misery. Pity their condition, and shed a tear of sorrow for their deplorable fate.

The wretches, whom death had spared during the disastrous night we have described, seized upon the dead bodies with which the raft was covered, cutting them up by slices, which some even instantly devoured. Many nevertheless refrained. Almost all the officers were of this number. Seeing that this monstrous food had revived the strength of those who had used it, it was proposed to dry it, to make it a little more palatable. Those who had firmness to abstain from it, took an additional quantity of wine. We endeavored to eat shoulder-belts and cartouch-boxes, and contrived to swallow some small bits of them. Some eat linen; others the leathers of their hats, on which was a little grease or rather dirt. We had recourse to many expedients to prolong our miserable existence, to recount which would only disgust the heart of humanity.

[Pg 137] The day was calm and beautiful. A ray of hope beamed for a moment to quiet our agitation. We still expected to see the boats or some ships, and addressed our prayers to the Eternal, on whom we placed our trust. The half of our men were extremely feeble, and bore upon their faces the stamp of approaching dissolution. The evening arrived, and we found no help. The darkness of the third night augmented our fears, but the wind was still, and the sea less agitated. The sun of the fourth morning since our departure shone upon our disaster, and showed us ten or twelve of our companions stretched lifeless upon the raft. This sight struck us most forcibly, as it told us we would be soon extended in the same manner in the same place. We gave their bodies to the sea for a grave, reserving only one to feed those who, but the day before, had held his trembling hands, and sworn to him eternal friendship. This day was beautiful. Our souls, anxious for more delightful sensations, were in harmony with the aspect of the heavens, and got again a new ray of hope. Towards four in the afternoon, an unlooked for event happened which gave us some consolation. A shoal of flying fish passed under our raft, and as there were an infinite number of openings between the pieces which composed it, the fish were entangled in great quantities. We threw ourselves upon them, and captured a considerable number. We took about two hundred and put them in an empty barrel; we opened them as we caught them, and took out what is called their milt. This food seemed delicious: but one man would have required a thousand. Our first emotion was to give to God renewed thanks for this unhoped for favor.

An ounce of gunpowder having been found in the morning, was dried in the sun during the day, which was very fine; a steel, gunflints, and tinder made also a part of the same parcel. After a good deal of difficulty we set fire to some fragments of dry linen. We made a large opening in the side of an empty cask, and placed at the bottom of it several wet things, and upon this kind of scaffolding we set our fire; all of which we placed on a barrel that the sea-water might not extinguish it. We cooked some fish and eat them with extreme avidity; but our hunger was such, and our portion so small, that we added to it some of the sacrilegious viands, which the cooking rendered less revolting. This some of the officers touched for the first time. From this day we continued to eat it; but we could no longer dress it, the means of making a fire having been entirely lost; the barrel having caught fire we [Pg 138] extinguished it without being able to preserve anything to rekindle it on the morrow. The powder and tinder were entirely gone. This meal gave us all additional strength to support our fatigues. The night was tolerable, and would have been happy, had it not been signalized by a new massacre.

Some Spaniards, Italians, and negroes, had formed a plot to throw us all into the sea. The negroes had told them that they were very near the shore, and that, when there, they would enable them to traverse Africa without danger. We had to take to our arms again, the sailors, who had remained faithful to us, pointing out to us the conspirators. The first signal for battle was given by a Spaniard, who, placing himself behind the mast, holding fast by it, made the sign of the Cross with one hand, invoking the name of God, and with the other held a knife. The sailors seized him and threw him into the sea. An Italian, servant to an officer of the troops, who was in the plot, seeing all was discovered, armed himself with the only boarding axe left on the raft, made his retreat to the front, enveloped himself in a piece of drapery he wore across his breast, and of his own accord threw himself into the sea. The rebels rushed forward to avenge their comrades; a terrible conflict again commenced; both sides fought with desperate fury; and soon the fatal raft was strewed with dead bodies and blood, which should have been shed by other hands, and in another cause. In this tumult we heard them again demanding, with horrid rage, the head of Lieut. Danglas! In this assault the unfortunate sutler was a second time thrown into the sea. M. Coudin, assisted by some workmen, saved her, to prolong for a little while her torment and her existence.

In this terrible night Lavilette failed not to give proofs of the rarest intrepidity. It was to him and some of those who had survived the sequel of our misfortunes, that we owed our safety. At last, after unheard of efforts, the rebels were once more repulsed, and quiet restored. Having escaped this new danger, we endeavored to get some repose. The day at length dawned upon us for the fifth time. We were now no more than thirty in number. We had lost four or five of our faithful sailors, and those who survived were in the most deplorable condition. The sea-water had almost entirely excoriated the skin of our lower extremities; we were covered with contusions or wounds, which, irritated by the salt water, extorted from us the most piercing cries. About twenty of us only were capable of standing upright or walking. Almost all our [Pg 139] fish was exhausted; we had but four days’ supply of wine: in four days, said we, nothing will be left, and death will be inevitable. Thus came the seventh day of our abandonment. In the course of the day two soldiers had glided behind the only barrel of wine that was left; pierced it, and were drinking by means of a reed. We had sworn that those who used such means should be punished with death; which law was instantly put in execution, and the two transgressors were thrown into the sea.

This same day saw the close of the life of a child named Leon, aged twelve years. He died like a lamp which ceases to burn for want of aliment. All spoke in favor of this young and amiable creature, who merited a better fate. His angelic form, his musical voice, the interest of an age so tender increased still more by the courage he had shown, and the services he had performed, for he had already made in the preceding year a campaign in the East Indies, inspired us all with the greatest pity for this young victim, devoted to so horrible and premature a death. Our old soldiers and all our people in general did everything they could to prolong his existence, but all was in vain. Neither the wine which they gave him without regret, nor all the means they employed, could arrest his melancholy doom, and he expired in the arms of M. Coudin, who had not ceased to give him the most unwearied attention. Whilst he had strength to move, he ran incessantly from one side to the other, loudly calling for his unhappy mother, for water and food. He trod indiscriminately on the feet and legs of his companions in misfortune, who, in their turn, uttered sorrowful cries, but these were very rarely accompanied with menaces; they pardoned all which the poor boy had made them suffer. He was not in his senses, consequently could not be expected to behave as if he had had the use of his reason.

There now remained but twenty-seven of us. Fifteen of that number seemed able to live yet some days; the rest, covered with large wounds, had almost entirely lost the use of their reason. They still, however, shared in the distributions, and would, before they died, consume to thirty or forty bottles of wine, which to us were inestimable. We deliberated, that by putting the sick on half allowance was but putting them to death by halves: but after a counsel, at which presided the most dreadful despair, it was decided they should be thrown into the sea. This means, however repugnant, however horrible it appeared to us, procured the survivors six [Pg 140] days wine. But after the decision was made, who durst execute it? The habit of seeing death ready to devour us; the certainty of our infallible destruction without this monstrous expedient; all, in short, had hardened our hearts to every feeling but that of self-preservation. Three sailors and a soldier took charge of this cruel business. We looked aside and shed tears of blood at the fate of these unfortunates. Among them were the wretched sutler and her husband. Both had been grievously wounded in the different combats. The woman had a thigh broken between the beams of the raft, and a stroke of a sabre had made a deep wound in the head of her husband. Every thing announced their approaching end. We consoled ourselves with the belief that our cruel resolution shortened but a brief space the term of their existence. Ye who shudder at the cry of outraged humanity, recollect, that it was other men, fellow-countrymen, comrades who had placed us in this awful situation!

This horrible expedient saved the fifteen who remained; for when we were found by the Argus brig, we had very little wine left, and it was the sixth day after the cruel sacrifice we have described. The victims, we repeat, had not more than forty-eight hours to live, and by keeping them on the raft, we would have been absolutely destitute of the means of existence two days before we were found. Weak as we were, we considered it as a certain thing, that it would have been impossible for us to have lived only twenty-four hours more without taking some food. After this catastrophe, we threw our arms into the sea; they inspired us with a horror we could not overcome. We only kept one sabre, in case we had to cut some cordage or some piece of wood.

A new event, for everything was an event to wretches to whom the world was reduced to the narrow space of a few toises, and for whom the winds and waves contended in their fury as they floated above the abyss; an event happened which diverted our minds from the horrors of our situation. All on a sudden a white butterfly, of a species common in France, came fluttering above our heads, and settled on our sails. The first thought this little creature suggested was, that it was the harbinger of approaching land, and we clung to the hope with a delirium of joy. It was the ninth day we had been upon the raft; the torments of hunger consumed our entrails; and the soldiers and sailors already devoured with haggard eyes this wretched prey, and seemed ready to dispute about it. Others looking upon it as a messenger from Heaven, [Pg 141] declared that they took it under their protection, and would suffer none to do it harm. It is certain we could not be far from land, for the butterflies continued to come on the following days, and flutter about our sail. We had also on the same day another indication not less positive, by a Goeland which flew around our raft. This second visitor left us no doubt that we were fast approaching the African soil, and we persuaded ourselves we would be speedily thrown upon the coast by the force of the currents.

This same day a new care employed us. Seeing we were reduced to so small a number, we collected all the little strength we had left, detached some planks on the front of the raft, and, with some pretty long pieces of wood, raised on the centre a kind of platform, on which we reposed. All the effects we could collect were placed upon it, and rendered to make it less hard; which also prevented the sea from passing with such facility through the spaces between the different planks, but the waves came across, and sometimes covered us completely.

On this new theatre we resolved to meet death in a manner becoming Frenchmen, and with perfect resignation. Our time was almost wholly spent in speaking of our unhappy country. All our wishes, our last prayers, were for the prosperity of France. Thus passed the last days of our abode upon the raft.

Soon after our abandonment, we bore with comparative ease the immersions during the nights, which are very cold in these countries; but latterly, every time the waves washed over us, we felt a most painful sensation, and we uttered plaintive cries. We employed every means to avoid it. Some supported their heads on pieces of wood, and made with what they could find a sort of little parapet to screen them from the force of the waves; others sheltered themselves behind two empty casks. But these means were very insufficient: it was only when the sea was calm that it did not break over us.

An ardent thirst, redoubled in the day by the beams of a burning sun, consumed us. An officer of the army found by chance a small lemon, and it may be easily imagined how valuable such a fruit would be to him. His comrades, in spite of the most urgent entreaties, could not get a bit of it from him. Signs of rage were already manifested, and had he not partly listened to the solicitations of those around him, they would have taken it by force, and he would have perished the victim of his selfishness. We also disputed about thirty cloves of garlic which [Pg 142] were found in the bottom of a sack. These disputes were for the most part accompanied with violent menaces, and if they had been prolonged, we might perhaps have come to the last extremities. There was found also two small phials, in which was a spirituous liquid for cleaning the teeth. He who possessed them kept them with care, and gave with reluctance one or two drops in the palm of the hand. This liquor which, we think, was a tincture of guiacum, cinnamon, cloves, and other aromatic substances, produced on our tongues an agreeable feeling, and for a short while removed the thirst which destroyed us. Some of us found some small pieces of powder, which made, when put into the mouth, a kind of coolness. One plan generally employed was to put into a hat a quantity of sea-water with which we washed our faces for a while, repeating it at intervals. We also bathed our hair and held our hands in the water. Misfortune made us ingenious, and each thought of a thousand means to alleviate his sufferings. Emaciated by the most cruel privations, the least agreeable feeling was to us a happiness supreme. Thus we sought with avidity a small empty phial which one of us possessed, and in which had once been some essence of roses; and every one as he got hold of it respired with delight the odor it exhaled, which imparted to his senses the most soothing impressions. Many of us kept our ration of wine in a small tin cup, and sucked it out with a quill. This manner of taking it was of great benefit to us, and allayed our thirst much better than if we had gulped it off at once.

Three days passed in inexpressible anguish. So much did we despise life, that many of us feared not to bathe in sight of the sharks which surrounded our raft; others placed themselves naked upon the front of our machine, which was under water. These expedients diminished a little the ardor of their thirst. A species of molusca, known to seamen by the name of gatere, was sometimes driven in great numbers on our raft; and when their long arms rested on our naked bodies, they occasioned us the most cruel sufferings. Will it be believed, that amidst these terrible scenes, struggling with inevitable death, some of us uttered pleasantries which made us yet smile, in spite of the horrors of our situation? One, besides others, said jestingly, ‘If the brig is sent to search for us, pray God it has the eyes of Argus,’ in allusion to the name of the vessel we presumed would be sent to our assistance. This consolatory idea never left us an instant, and we spoke of it frequently.

[Pg 143] On the 16th, reckoning we were very near land, eight of the most determined among us resolved to endeavor to gain the coast. A second raft, of smaller dimensions, was formed for transporting them thither: but it was found insufficient, and they at length determined to await death in their present situation. Meanwhile night came on, and its sombre veil revived in our minds the most afflicting thoughts. We were convinced there were not above a dozen or fifteen bottles of wine in our barrel. We began to have an invincible disgust at the flesh which had till then scarcely supported us; and we may say, that the sight of it inspired us with feelings of horror, doubtless produced by the idea of our approaching destruction.

On the morning of the 17th, the sun appeared free from clouds. After having addressed our prayers to the Eternal, we divided among us a part of our wine. Each, with delight, was taking his small portion, when a captain of infantry, casting his eyes on the horizon, perceived a ship, announced it to us by an exclamation of joy. We knew it to be a brig, but it was at a great distance; we could distinguish the masts. The sight of this vessel revived in us emotions difficult to describe. Each believed his deliverance sure, and we gave a thousand thanks to God. Fears, however, mingled with our hopes. We straightened some hoops of casks, to the ends of which we fixed handkerchiefs of different colors. A man, with our united assistance, mounted to the top of the mast, and waved these little flags. For more than half an hour, we were tossed between hope and fear. Some thought the vessel grew larger, and others were convinced its course was from us. These last were the only ones whose eyes were not blinded by hope, for the ship disappeared.

From the delirium of joy, we passed to that of despondency and sorrow. We envied the fate of those whom we had seen perish at our sides; and we said to ourselves, ‘When we shall be in want of everything, and when our strength begins to forsake us, we will wrap ourselves up as well as we can, we will stretch ourselves on this platform, the witness of the most cruel sufferings, and there await death with resignation.’ At length, to calm our despair, we sought for consolation in the arm of sleep. The day before, we had been scorched by the beams of a burning sun: to-day, to avoid the fierceness of his rays, we made a tent with the main-sail of the frigate. As soon as it was finished, we laid ourselves under it; thus all that was passing without was hid from our eyes. We [Pg 144] proposed then to write upon a plank an abridgement of our adventures, and to add our names at the bottom of the recital, and fix it to the upper part of the mast, in the hope it would reach the government and our families.

After having passed two hours, a prey to the most cruel reflections, the master gunner of the frigate, wishing to go to the front of the raft, went out from below the tent. Scarcely had he put out his head, when he turned to us, uttering a piercing cry. Joy was painted upon his face; his hands were stretched towards the sea; he breathed with difficulty. All he was able to say was; ‘Saved! see the brig upon us!’ and in fact it was not more than half a league distant having every sail set, and steering right upon us. We rushed from our tent; even those whom enormous wounds in their inferior extremities had confined for many days, dragged themselves to the back of the raft, to enjoy a sight of the ship which had come to save us from certain death. We embraced one another with a transport which looked much like madness, and tears of joy trickled down our cheeks, withered by the most cruel privations. Each seized handkerchiefs, or some pieces of linen, to make signals to the brig, which was rapidly approaching us. Some fell on their knees, and fervently returned thanks to Providence for this miraculous preservation of their lives. Our joy redoubled when saw we at the top of the fore-mast a large white flag, and we cried, ‘It is then to Frenchmen we will owe our deliverance.’ We instantly recognised the brig to be the Argus; it was then about two gunshots from us. We were terribly impatient to see her reef her sails, which at last she did, and fresh cries of joy arose from our raft. The Argus came and lay-to on our starboard, about half a pistol-shot from us. The crew, ranged upon the deck and on the shrouds, announced to us, by the waving of their hands and hats, the pleasure they felt at coming to the assistance of their unfortunate countrymen. In a short time we were all transported on board the brig, where we found the lieutenant of the frigate, and some others who had been wrecked with us. Compassion was painted on every face, and pity drew tears from every eye which beheld us.

We found some excellent broth on board the brig, which they had prepared, and when they had perceived us they added to it some wine, and thus restored our nearly exhausted strength. They bestowed on us the most generous care and attention; our wounds were dressed, and on the morrow many of our sick began to revive. Some, however, still suffered [Pg 145] much, for they were placed between decks, very near the kitchen, which augmented the almost insupportable heat of these latitudes. This want of space arose from the small size of the vessel. The number of the shipwrecked was indeed very considerable. Those who did not belong to the navy were laid upon cables, wrapped in flags, and placed under the fire of the kitchen. Here they had almost perished during the course of the night, fire having broken out between decks about ten in the evening; but timely assistance being rendered, we were saved for the second time. We had scarcely escaped when some of us became again delirious. An officer of infantry wished to throw himself into the sea, to look for his pocket book, and would have done it had he not been prevented. Others were seized in a manner not less frenzied.

The commander and officers of the brig watched over us, and kindly anticipated our wants. They snatched us from death, by saving us from our raft; their unremitting care revived within us the spark of life. The surgeon of the ship, M. Renaud, distinguished himself for his indefatigable zeal. He was obliged to spend the whole of the day in dressing our wounds; and during the two days we were in the brig, he bestowed on us all the aid of his art, with an attention and gentleness which merit our eternal gratitude.

In truth, it was time we should find an end of our sufferings; they had lasted thirteen days, in the most cruel manner. The strongest among us might have lived forty-eight hours or so, longer. M. Correard felt that he must die in the course of the day; he had, however a presentiment we would be saved. He said, that a series of events so unheard of would not be buried in oblivion; that Providence would at least preserve some of us to tell to the world the melancholy story of our misfortunes.

Such is the faithful history of those who were left upon the memorable raft. Of one hundred and fifty, fifteen only were saved. Five of that number never recovered from their fatigue, and died at St. Louis. Those who yet live are covered with scars; and the cruel sufferings to which they have been exposed, have materially shaken their constitutions.


[Pg 146]

THE LOSS OF THE ROYAL GEORGE.

On the 29th of August, 1782, it was found necessary that the Royal George, a line-of-battle ship of 108 guns, which had lately arrived at Spithead from a cruise, should, previously to her going again to sea, undergo the operation which seamen technically call a Parliament heel. In such cases the ship is inclined in a certain degree on one side, while the defects below the water-mark on the other side are examined and repaired. This mode of proceeding is, we believe at the present day, very commonly adopted where the defects to be repaired are not extensive, or where (as was the case with the Royal George) it is desirable to avoid the delay of going into dock. The operation is usually performed in still weather and smooth water, and is attended with so little difficulty and danger, that the officers and crew usually remain on board, and neither the guns nor stores are removed.

The business was commenced on the Royal George early in the morning, a gang of men from the Portsmouth Dock-yard coming on board to assist the ship’s carpenters. It is said that, finding it necessary to strip off more of the sheathing than had been intended, the men in their eagerness to reach the defect in the ship’s bottom, were induced to heel her too much, when a sudden squall of wind threw her wholly on her side; and the gun-ports being open, and the cannon rolling over to the depressed side, the ship was unable to right herself, instantaneously filled with water, and went to the bottom.

The fatal accident happened about ten o’clock in the morning. Admiral Kempenfeldt was writing in his cabin, and the greater part of the people were between decks. The ship, as is usually the case upon coming into port, was crowded with people from the shore, particularly women, of whom it is supposed there were not less than three hundred on board. Amongst the sufferers were many of the wives and children of the petty officers and seamen, who, knowing the ship was shortly to sail on a distant and perilous service, eagerly embraced the opportunity of visiting their husbands and fathers.

[Pg 147] The Admiral, with many brave officers and most of those who were between decks, perished; the greater number of the guard, and those who happened to be on the upper deck, were saved by the boats of the fleet. About seventy others were likewise saved. The exact number of persons on board at the time could not be ascertained; but it was calculated that from 800 to 1000 were lost. Captain Waghorn whose gallantry in the North Sea Battle, under Admiral Parker, had procured him the command of this ship, was saved, though he was severely bruised and battered; but his son, a lieutenant in the Royal George, perished. Such was the force of the whirlpool, occasioned by the sudden plunge of so vast a body in the water, that a victualler which lay alongside the Royal George was swamped; and several small craft, at a considerable distance, were in imminent danger.

Admiral Kempenfeldt, who was nearly 70 years of age, was peculiarly and universally lamented. In point of general science and judgment, he was one of the first naval officers of his time; and, particularly in the art of manœuvring a fleet, he was considered by the commanders of that day as unrivalled. His excellent qualities, as a man, are said to have equalled his professional merits.

This melancholy occurrence has been recorded by the poet Cowper, in the following beautiful lines:—

Toll for the brave!
The brave, that are no more:
All sunk beneath the wave,
Fast by their native shore.
Eight hundred of the brave,
Whose courage well was tried,
Had made the vessel heel,
And laid her on her side.
A land-breeze shook the shrouds,
And she was overset;
Down went the Royal George,
With all her crew complete.
Toll for the brave!
Brave Kempenfeldt is gone;
His last sea-fight is fought;
His work of glory done.
[Pg 148] It was not in the battle;
No tempest gave the shock,
She sprang no fatal leak;
She ran upon no rock.
His sword was in its sheath;
His fingers held the pen,
When Kempenfeldt went down,
With twice four hundred men.
Weigh the vessel up,
Once dreaded by our foes!
And mingle with our cup
The tear that England owes.
Her timbers yet are sound,
And she may float again,
Full charg’d with England’s thunder
And plough the distant main.
But Kempenfeldt is gone,
His victories are o’er;
And he, and his eight hundred,
Shall plough the wave no more.

LOSS OF THE ÆNEAS TRANSPORT.

The Æneas transport sailed with 347 souls on board, including a party of men belonging to the 100th regiment of foot, as also some officers, together with several women and children. About four in the morning of the 23d of Oct. 1805, the vessel struck violently on a rock, and received such damage that her total wreck soon became evident to all on board. For the first few minutes after this alarming occurrence, the [Pg 149] women and children clung to their husbands and fathers; but in a short time, a prodigious wave swept not less than 250 of those miserable people into the ocean. The rock whereon the vessel had struck, speedily forced its way through the decks, and then it appears, from her parting, thirty-five of the survivors were driven on a small island before eight in the morning, about a quarter of a mile distant, but when she had entirely gone to pieces.

The narrative of these events was collected from one of the survivors, a soldier of the 100th regiment, who could give no correct account of how he and the others got ashore, but he supposed they were floated in by part of the wreck. He remembered to have observed one of the boys endeavoring to save Major Bertram, whose arm was broken by some timber, and he was on the point of sinking; he held him up as long as his strength permitted; but to save his own life, was forced to let go his hold, and the Major perished.

The thirty-five men who gained the shore, consisted of part of the regiment, two of whom were officers, Lieutenant Dawson and Ensign Faulkner, and seven sailors. Immediately on landing, the wind unfortunately changed, so that not an article of any kind was saved from the wreck. Mr. Faulkner was aware of the real situation they had reached, judging the main-land, which they saw about a mile distant, to be Newfoundland, and that they were about 300 miles distant from the town of St. John’s.

After passing one night on the little island, they constructed a raft, by means of which, thirty of them arrived on the main-land. Previous to this, however, four survivors of the shipwreck had died, among whom was the poor fellow who had endeavored to save Major Bertram. Another, who had both his legs broken, was missing, as he had crawled away from his comrades, that he might die in quiet. But eight days afterwards, he was found alive, though in a shocking state, as his feet were frozen off. Yet he survived all this, and reached Quebec at a future period. Most of the party set out, leaving three behind them, who were unable to walk from bruises, and directed their course towards the rising sun, but when the first day had elapsed, Lieutenant Dawson became incapable of keeping up with the remainder; and two soldiers staid to attend him. These three toiled onwards without any food, except the berries which they found; and Lieutenant Dawson was then unable to stand, unless supported.—On reaching the banks of a river, one of the soldiers attempted [Pg 150] to carry him across on his back; but having waded up to the neck, he was obliged to return, and lay him down on the bank. There Mr. Dawson entreated his faithful attendants to make the best of their way, and leave him to his fate; and at the same time, affectionately squeezing their hands, he entreated them to inform his father of his melancholy end.—Here the soldier, who was one of them, and who related these affecting incidents, burst into a flood of tears before he could proceed. “We staid with him,” said he, “until we did not know whether he was alive or dead.”

The two survivors continued wandering in a weak and feeble state for twelve days longer, making twenty-six in all from the period of their shipwreck, and subsisting on what they could find on a barren and inhospitable land. But after the first four or five days, they suffered no hunger, for, as they themselves said, their misfortunes were so great as to banish its influence, and to deprive them of the sense of feeling.—The snow besides was so deep during the last two days, as to prevent them from getting the berries as usual.

At last they were found by a man belonging to a hunting party, who, little suspecting to see human beings in that desolate region, took them at a distance for deer, and had concealed himself behind a fallen tree, with his gun pointed towards one of them, when his dog, leaping towards them, began to bark, and shewed his error. When they related their shipwreck, and the sufferings they had endured, tears stole down the cheeks of the huntsman, and, taking the moccasins from his feet, gave them to the poor miserable creatures. He invited them to his hunting cabin, saying it was only a mile off, though the real distance was at least twelve miles; but, by degrees he enticed them to proceed, and at length they gained it. On approaching the hut, four or five men came out with long bloody knives in their hands, when the narrator, turning to his comrade, exclaimed, “After all we have escaped, are we brought here to be butchered and ate up?”—But they soon discovered their mistake, for the men had been cutting up some deer, the fruit of their chase; and the appearance of the unfortunate soldiers quickly exciting sentiments of pity in their breast, they produced a bottle of rum, wherewith they were refreshed.

Every possible comfort was ministered by the hunters to the unfortunate wanderers, and, from the accounts and description given to them, they set out in quest of the others. They luckily succeeded in finding the man who remained the first [Pg 151] day on the island, and also the other two who were unable to leave the shore.

The two men who had accompanied Lieutenant Dawson, appeared to have made but little progress during twenty-six days of travelling, for they were discovered in a place not very remote from whence they set out. Thus, involved among the woods, they must have returned over the same ground that they had passed.

Those who the huntsman first met endeavored to make them understand where they might find the remains of Lieutenant Dawson, and Ensign Faulkner and his party, but they could speak too vaguely of where they had themselves been, to give any pointed directions on the subject. But two of the latter were found by a man on another hunting excursion, about 90 miles distant, apparently lifeless; though on being carried to an adjacent settlement they recovered. Of the whole 35 who survived the wreck of the transport, accounts could be heard only of these five.

Ensign Faulkner was a strong, active, enterprising man, and fully capable of adopting whatever means could be devised for preservation. Both he and Lieutenant Dawson, who was scarce more than 17 years of age, were of the greatest promise. While the transport lay about three miles from Portsmouth, they are said to have swam to the ship, when the former climbed up her side, but the latter was nearly exhausted.

A brig from Port, which touched at Newfoundland, carried five of the survivors from thence to Quebec; and when they arrived there in the barrack square, a most affecting scene ensued. Men and women eagerly flocked around them, with anxious inquiries for some friend or brother who was on board the ill-fated vessel. But all they could answer was, “If you do not see him here, be assured he has perished; for, of 347 souls, we five Irish lads and two sailors are all that remain alive.” The tears and exclamations following these words can scarce be described.


[Pg 152]

THE ABSENT SHIP.

Fair ship, I saw thee bounding o’er the deep,
Thy white wings glancing in the morning ray
And many a sparkling eye in vain did weep
For the bold hearts that steer’d thee on thy way:
Long days of grief have lingered into years:
Return! return! and charm away their tears.
I listen’d till the music and the song
Died on the waters as she swept along;
I watch’d her stately beauty, till it grew
A fading shadow on the distant blue;
Less, and still less—the waters are alone!
Queen of the ocean! whither art thou gone?
The wintry storm hath sighed itself to sleep,
Yet still thou lingerest on the faithless deep;
Have calmer seas, and skies of deeper blue,
Charm’d thee to bid thine island home adieu!
Long has yon dark-eye’d maiden wept in vain:
Return! return! and bid her smile again.
Long may’st thou weep, but never shalt thou see
Thy fair-hair’d mariner return to thee,
Clasp thy young beauty in a long embrace,
And read his pardon in thy happy face;
Thy gentle prayers, fair mourner, could not save!
Thy sailor sleeps within the stormy wave.

[Pg 153]

WRECK OF THE HALSEWELL, ON THE COAST OF ENGLAND


[Pg 155]

LOSS OF THE HALSEWELL.

The catastrophe which is now about to be related made a deep impression on the public mind. The circumstances attending it were too aggravating not to excite the highest degree of commiseration, whether from the flattering prospects held forth in the outset of the voyage, or from a peculiar feeling towards the condition of the sufferers.

The Halsewell East Indiaman, of 758 tons burthen, commanded by Captain Richard Pierce, was taken up by the directors of the East India Company to make her third voyage to Coast and Bay. On the 16th of November 1785, she fell down to Gravesend, where she completed her lading. Ladies and other passengers being taken on board at the Hope, she sailed through the Downs on Sunday the 1st of January 1786; and, when abreast of Dunnose next morning, the weather fell calm.

This was one of the finest ships in the service, and judged to be in the most perfect condition for her voyage. Her commander was of distinguished ability and exemplary character; his officers of approved fidelity and unquestionable knowledge in their profession, and the crew not only as numerous as the East India establishment admits, but the best seamen that could be collected. To these were added a considerable body of soldiers, destined to recruit the forces of the East India Company in Asia.

The passengers were seven ladies, two of whom were daughters to the captain, and other two his relations. Miss Elizabeth Blackburne, daughter of Captain Blackburne; Miss Mary Haggard, sister to an officer on the Madras establishment, and Miss Anne Mansel, a child of European parents residing in Madras, returning from her education in England. There was also Mr. John George Schutz, returning to collect part of his fortune, which he had left behind him in India.

The ladies were equally distinguished by their beauty and accomplishments; the gentlemen of amiable manners, and of a highly respectable character. Mr. Burston, the chief mate, [Pg 156] was also related to Captain Pierce’s lady, and the whole formed a happy society united in friendship. Nothing could be more pleasing or encouraging than the outset of the voyage.

On Monday the 2d of January, a breeze from the south sprung up at three in the afternoon, when the ship ran in shore to land the pilot. Very thick weather coming on in the evening, and the wind baffling, she was obliged to anchor, at nine o’clock, in eighteen fathom water. The topsails were furled, but the people could not furl the courses, the snow falling thick and freezing as it fell.

Next morning at four a strong gale came on from east-north-east, and the ship shivering, they were obliged to cut the cables and run out to sea. At noon they spoke with a brig bound to Dublin, and, having put the pilot on board of her, immediately bore down channel. The wind freshening at eight in the evening, and coming round to the southward, such sails were reefed as were judged necessary. It blew a violent gale at ten o’clock from the south, whence they were obliged to carry a press of sail to keep the ship off shore.—In doing this, the hawse-plugs, which according to a late improvement, were put inside, were washed in, and the hawse-bags washed away, in consequence of which the vessel shipped a large quantity of water on the gun-deck.

On sounding the well, and finding the ship had sprung a leak, and now had five feet water in the hold, the people clewed up the main-topsail, hauled up the mainsail, and immediately endeavored to furl both, but could not effect it. On discovering the leak all the pumps were set to work.

At two in the morning of Wednesday the fourth, they tried to wear the ship, but without success, and judging it necessary to cut away the mizen-mast, this was immediately done, when another attempt made to wear her was equally fruitless as the former. The ship had now seven feet water in the hold which was gaining fast on the pumps, therefore, for her preservation it was considered expedient to cut away the mainmast, as she appeared to be in immediate danger of foundering.

In the fall of the mast, Jonathan Moreton, coxswain, and four men, were either drawn along with the wreck, or fell overboard and were drowned. By eight in the morning the wreck was cleared, and the ship got before the wind, in which position she was kept two hours. Meantime the pumps reduced the water in the hold two feet, and the ship’s head was brought to the eastward with the foresail only.

[Pg 157] At ten in the morning the wind abated considerably, but the ship labouring extremely, rolled the fore-topmast over on the larboard side, and, in the fall, the wreck went through the foresail, tearing it to pieces. At eleven the wind came to the westward, and the weather clearing up, the Berryhead was distinguishable, bearing north and by east, distant four or five leagues. Another foresail was now immediately bent, a jury-mainmast erected and a top-gallantsail set for a mainsail, under which sail Captain Pierce bore up for Portsmouth, and employed the remainder of the day in getting up a jury-mizen-mast.

At two next morning, the wind came to the southward, blowing fresh, the weather being very thick. Portland was seen at noon, bearing north and by east, distant two or three leagues. At night, it blew a strong gale at south, at which time the Portland lights were then seen, bearing north-west, distant four or five leagues. The ship was then wore, and her head got round to the westward; but finding she lost ground on that tack, the captain wore her again, and kept stretching on to the eastward, in hopes to have weathered Peverel Point, in which case he intended to have anchored in Studland Bay. It cleared at eleven at night, and St. Alban’s Head was seen a mile and a half to the leeward, on which, sail was instantly taken in, and the small bower anchor let go, which brought up the ship at a whole cable. She rode for about an hour, but then drove; the sheet anchor was now let go, and a whole cable wore away, and the ship rode for about two hours longer, when she drove again.

While in this situation, the captain sent for Mr. Henry Meriton, the second mate, and asked his opinion as to the probability of saving the lives of those on board; to which he replied with equal calmness and candor, that he apprehended there was very little hope of it, as the ship was driving fast on shore, and might every moment be expected to strike. The boats were then mentioned, but it was agreed, that although at that time they could be of very little use, yet in case an opportunity of making them serviceable should present itself, it was proposed that the officers should be confidentially requested to reserve the long boat for the ladies and themselves; and this precaution was immediately taken.

About two in the morning of Friday the sixth of January, the ship still driving, and approaching very fast to the shore, the same officer went again into the cuddy, where the captain then was. Another conversation taking place, Captain [Pg 158] Pierce expressed extreme anxiety for the preservation of his beloved daughters, and earnestly asked the officer if he could devise any method of saving them. On his answering with great concern, that he feared it would be impossible, but that their only chance would be to wait for morning, the captain lifted up his hands in silent and distressful ejaculation.

At this dreadful moment, the ship struck, with such violence as to dash the heads of those standing in the cuddy against the deck above them, and the shock was accompanied by a shriek of horror that burst at one instant from every quarter of the ship.

Many of the seamen, who had been remarkably inattentive and remiss in their duty during a great part of the storm, now poured upon deck, where no exertions of the officers could keep them, while their assistance might have been useful.—They had actually skulked in their hammocks, leaving the working of the pumps and other necessary labours to the officers of the ship, and the soldiers, who had made uncommon exertions. Roused by a sense of their danger, the same seamen, at this moment, in frantic exclamations, demanded of heaven and their fellow sufferers, that succour which their own efforts timely made might possibly have procured.

The ship continued to beat on the rocks, and soon bilging, fell with her broadside towards the shore. When she struck, a number of men climbed up the ensign-staff, under an apprehension of her immediately going to pieces.

Mr. Meriton, the second mate, at this crisis offered to these unhappy beings the best advice which could be given; he recommended that all should come to the side of the ship lying lowest on the rocks, and singly to take the opportunities which might then offer, of escaping to the shore.

Having thus provided to the utmost of his power, for the safety of the desponding crew, he returned to the round-house, where, by this time, all the passengers, and most of the officers had assembled. The latter were employed in offering consolation to the unfortunate ladies, and with unparalleled magnanimity, suffering their compassion for the fair and amiable companions of their misfortunes, to prevail over the sense of their own danger.

In this charitable work of comfort, Mr. Meriton now joined, by assurances of his opinion, that the ship would hold together till the morning, when all would be safe. Captain Pierce observing one of the young gentlemen loud in his exclamations of terror, and frequently cry that the ship was [Pg 159] parting, cheerfully bid him be quiet, remarking, that though the ship should go to pieces, he would not, but would be safe enough.

It is difficult to convey a correct idea of the scene of this deplorable catastrophe, without describing the place where it happened.

The Halsewell struck on the rocks near Seacombe, on the island of Purbeck, between Peverel Point and St. Alban’s Head, at a part of the shore where the cliff is of vast height, and rises almost perpendicular from its base. But at this particular spot, the foot of the cliff is excavated into a cavern of ten or twelve yards in depth, and of breadth equal to the length of a large ship. The sides of the cavern are so nearly upright as to be of extremely difficult access; and the bottom is strewed with sharp and uneven rocks, which seem, by some convulsion of the earth, to have been detached from its roof.

The ship lay with her broadside opposite to the mouth of this cavern, with her whole length stretched almost from side to side of it. But when she struck, it was too dark for the unfortunate persons on board to discover the real magnitude of their danger, and the extreme horror of such a situation.—Even Mr. Meriton entertained a hope that she might keep together till day-light; and endeavored to cheer his drooping friends, and in particular the unhappy ladies, with this comfortable expectation, as an answer to the captain’s inquiries what he thought of their condition.

In addition to the company already in the round-house, they had admitted three black women and two soldier’s wives, who, with the husband of one of them, had been allowed to come in, though the seamen, who had tumultuously demanded entrance to get the lights, had been opposed and kept out by Mr. Rogers and Mr. Brimer, the third and fifth mates. The numbers there were therefore now increased to near fifty. Capt. Pierce sat on a chair, a cot or some other moveable, with a daughter on each side, whom he alternately pressed to his affectionate breast. The rest of the melancholy assembly were seated on the deck, which was strewed with musical instruments, and the wreck of furniture and other articles.

Here also Mr. Meriton, after having cut several wax candles in pieces and stuck them up in various parts of the round-house, and lighted up all the glass lanthorns he could find, took his seat, intending to wait the approach of dawn; and then assist the partners of his danger to escape. But observing that the poor ladies appeared parched and exhausted, [Pg 160] he brought a basket of oranges and prevailed on some of them to refresh themselves by sucking a little of the juice. At this time they were all tolerably composed, except Miss Mansel, who was in hysteric fits, on the floor of the deck of the round-house.

But on Mr. Meriton’s return to the company, he perceived a considerable alteration in the appearance of the ship; the sides were visibly giving way; the deck seemed to be lifting and he discovered other strong indications that she could not hold much longer together. On this account, he attempted to go forward to look out, but immediately saw that the ship had separated in the middle, and that the fore-part having changed its position, lay further towards the sea. In such an emergency, when the next moment might plunge him into eternity, he determined to seize the present opportunity, and follow the example of the crew and the soldiers, who were now quitting the ship in numbers, and making their way to the shore, though quite ignorant of its nature and description.

Among other expedients, the ensign-staff had been unshipped, and attempted to be laid between the ship’s side and some of the rocks, but without success, for it snapped assunder before it reached them. However, by the light of a lanthorn which a seaman handed through a sky-light of the round-house to the deck, Mr. Meriton discovered a spar which appeared to be laid from the ship’s side to the rocks, and on this spar he resolved to attempt his escape.

Accordingly lying down upon it, he thrust himself forward; however, he soon found that it had no communication with the rock; he reached the end of it and then slipped off, receiving a very violent bruise in his fall, and before he could recover his legs, he was washed off by the surge. He now supported himself by swimming, until a returning wave dashed him against the back part of the cavern. Here he laid hold of a small projection in the rock, but was so much benumbed that he was on the point of quitting it, when a seaman, who had already gained a footing, extended his hand, and assisted him until he could secure himself a little on the rock; from which he clambered on a shelf still higher, and out of the reach of the surf.

Mr. Rogers, the third mate, remained with the captain, and the unfortunate ladies and their companions, nearly twenty minutes after Mr. Meriton had quitted the ship. Soon after the latter left the round-house, the captain asked what was [Pg 161] become of him, to which Mr. Rogers replied, that he was gone on deck to see what could be done. After this, a heavy sea breaking over the ship, the ladies exclaimed, “O poor Meriton! he is drowned! had he staid with us he would have been safe!” and they all, particularly Miss Mary Pierce, expressed great concern at the apprehension of his loss. On this occasion Mr. Rogers offered to go and call in Mr. Meriton, but it was opposed by the ladies, from an apprehension that he might share the same fate.

The sea was now breaking in at the fore-part of the ship, and reached as far as the mainmast. Captain Pierce gave Mr. Rogers a nod, and they took a lamp and went together into the stern-gallery, where, after viewing the rocks for some time, Captain Pierce asked Mr. Rogers if he thought there was any possibility of saving the girls; to which he replied, he feared there was none; for they could only discover the black face of the perpendicular rock, and not the cavern which afforded shelter to those who escaped. They then returned to the round-house, where Mr. Rogers hung up the lamp, and Captain Pierce sat down between his two daughters, struggling to suppress the parental tears which burst into his eyes.

The sea continuing to break in very fast, Mr. Macmanus, a midshipman, and Mr. Schutz, asked Mr. Rogers what they could do to escape. “Follow me,” he replied, and they all went into the stern gallery, and from thence to the upper-quarter-gallery on the poop. While there, a very heavy sea fell on board and the round-house gave way; Mr. Rogers heard the ladies shriek at intervals, as if the water reached them; the noise of the sea, at other times, drowning their voices.

Mr. Brimer had followed him to the poop, where they remained together about five minutes; when on the breaking of this heavy sea, they jointly seized a hen-coop. The same wave which proved fatal to some of those below, carried him and his companion to the rock, on which they were violently dashed and miserably bruised.

Here on the rock were twenty-seven, but it now being low water, and as they were convinced that on the flowing of the tide all must be washed off, many tried to get to the back or the sides of the cavern, beyond the reach of the returning sea. Scarcely more than six, besides Mr. Rogers and Mr. Brimer, succeeded; of the others, some shared the fate which they had apprehended, and others perished in their efforts to [Pg 162] get into the cavern. Mr. Rogers and Mr. Brimer both reached it, however, and scrambled up the rock, on narrow shelves of which they fixed themselves. Mr. Rogers got so near his friend, Mr. Meriton, as to exchange mutual congratulations with him. A warm friendship, indeed, subsisted between these two gentlemen; they had made a long and painful voyage together, in another Indiaman, where they survived an uncommon mortality by which the crew were visited. They returned to England, and an interval of only twenty-five days elapsed, before they again embarked in the Halsewell.

Mr. Rogers on gaining this station, was so nearly exhausted, that had his exertions been protracted only a few minutes longer, he must have sunk under them. He was now prevented from joining Mr. Meriton, by at least twenty men between them, none of whom could move without the imminent peril of his life.

They found that a very considerable number of the crew, seamen, and soldiers, and some petty officers, were in the same situation as themselves, though many who had reached the rocks below, perished in attempting to ascend. They could yet discern some part of the ship, and in their dreary station solaced themselves with the hope of its remaining entire until day-break; for in the midst of their own distress, the sufferings of the females on board affected them with the most poignant anguish; and every sea that broke, inspired them with terror for their safety.

But, alas, their apprehensions were too soon realized!—Within a very few minutes of the time that Mr. Rogers gained the rock, an universal shriek, which long vibrated in their ears, in which the voice of female distress was lamentably distinguished, announced the dreadful catastrophe. In a few moments all was hushed, except the roaring of the winds and the dashing of the waves; the wreck was buried in the deep, and not an atom of it was ever afterwards seen.

The shock which this gave to the trembling wretches in the cavern was awful. Though themselves hardly rescued from the sea, and still surrounded by impending dangers, they wept for the destiny of their unhappy companions. But this was not all. Many who had gained a precarious station, weakened with injuries, benumbed and battered by the tempest, forsook their hold-fasts, and, tumbling on the rocks below, perished beneath the feet of their miserable companions. Their dying groans and exclamations for pity, only tended to awaken more painful apprehensions, and increase the terror of the survivors.

[Pg 163] At length after three hours, which appeared so many ages, day broke, but instead of bringing relief to the sufferers, it only served to disclose the horrors of their situation. They now found, that had the country been alarmed by the guns of distress which they had continued to fire for many hours before the ship struck, but which were not heard, owing to the violence of the storm, they could neither be observed by the people from above, nor could any boat live below. They were completely overhung by the cliff, so that no ropes let down could reach them; nor did any part of the wreck remain as a guide to their retreat.

The only prospect of saving themselves, was to creep along the side of the cavern to its outward extremity, and on a ledge scarcely as broad as a man’s hand, to turn the corner, and endeavor to clamber up the precipice, almost perpendicular, and nearly 200 feet high from the bottom.—And in this desperate effort some did succeed, while others, trembling with fear, and exhausted by the preceding conflict, lost their footing and perished in the attempt.

The first who gained the top, were the cook and James Thompson, a quarter-master; the moment they reached it, they hastened to the nearest house and made known the condition of their comrades. This was Eastington, the habitation of Mr. Garland, steward to the proprietors of the Purbeck quarries. He immediately collected the workmen, and procuring ropes with all possible despatch, made the most humane and zealous exertions for the relief of the surviving people.

Mr. Meriton made a similar attempt to that of the two others, and almost reached the edge of the precipice. A soldier who preceded him had his feet on a small projecting rock or stone on which also Meriton had fastened his hands to aid his progress. At this critical moment the quarrymen arrived, and seeing a man so nearly within their reach, they dropped a rope to him, of which he immediately laid hold; and in a vigorous effort to avail himself of this advantage, loosened the stone on which he stood, and which supported Mr. Meriton. It giving way, Mr. Meriton must have been precipitated to the bottom, had not a rope at that instant providentially been lowered to him, which he seized, when absolutely in the act of falling, and was safely drawn to the summit.

But the fate of Mr. Brimer was peculiarly severe. Only nine days before the ship sailed, he had been married to a beautiful young lady, the daughter of Captain Norman of the [Pg 164] royal navy, in which service he was a lieutenant, and now on a visit to an uncle at Madras; after getting ashore with Mr. Rogers and up the side of the cavern, he remained until morning, when he crawled out. A rope being thrown to him, he was either so benumbed with cold as to fasten it insecurely about his body, or from some other cause or agitation, to neglect doing it completely; at the moment when about to be rescued from his perilous stand, he fell and was dashed to pieces in the presence of his companions.

More assistance was obtained as the day advanced; and as the efforts of the survivors permitted, they crawled to the extremities of the cavern and presented themselves to their preservers above, who stood prepared to assist them. The means of doing so, was by two men boldly approaching the very brink of the precipice, a rope being tied round them and fastened to a strong iron bar fixed in the ground; behind them were two more, the like number further back and so on. A strong rope also properly secured, passed round them, by which they might hold, and preserve themselves from falling. They then let down a rope with a noose ready made, below to the cavern, and the wind blowing hard, it was in some instances forced under the projecting rock, sufficiently for the sufferers to reach it, without creeping out. Whoever caught it, put the noose round his body, and was drawn up. The distance from the top of the rock to the cavern, was at least an hundred feet, and the rock projected about eight; ten feet formed a declivity to the edge, and the rest was perpendicular.

Many, however, in attempting to secure themselves, shared the fate of Mr. Brimer, and, unable, from weakness or perturbation, to benefit by the assistance offered from above, they were at last precipitated from the cliff, and were either dashed to pieces on the rocks below, or perished in the waves.—Among those unhappy sufferers was one who being washed off the rock, or falling into the sea, was carried out by the return of the waves beyond the breakers, within which his utmost efforts could never again bring him, but he was always further withdrawn by the sea. He swam remarkably well, and continued to struggle in sight of his companions, until his strength being exhausted, he sunk to rise no more.

It was late in the day before all the survivors gained the land; one indeed a soldier, remained in this precarious station until the morning of Saturday the 7th of January; exposed to the utmost danger and distress. When the officers, [Pg 165] seamen and soldiers, were mustered at the house of Mr. Garland, they were found to amount to seventy-four; and these were the only persons saved out of rather more than two hundred and forty that were on board when the ship sailed through the Downs, including the passengers. It was supposed that above fifty of the remainder reached the rocks, but were then washed off or fell from the cliffs; and that fifty, or more, sunk with the captain and the ladies in the round-house, when the after-part went to pieces. An accurate account of the whole numbers in the ship could never be obtained, as the last returns dispatched from her did not arrive.

The whole who reached the summit of the rock survived, excepting two or three who were supposed to have expired while drawing up, and a black who died soon afterwards; though many were severely bruised.

Mr. Meriton and Mr. Rogers having been supplied with the necessary means of making their journey by Mr. Garland, set off for London to carry the tidings of this disaster to the India House, where they arrived at noon, on Sunday the 8th. On the way they acquainted the magistrates of the towns through which they passed, that a number of shipwrecked seamen would soon be on the road to the metropolis. This they did to avert any suspicions of their travelling for some other intent. It is truly deserving of communication, that the master of the Crown-Inn at Blandford, Dorsetshire, not only sent for all the distressed seamen to his house, where he liberally refreshed them, but presented each with half a crown on his departure.

By this unfortunate shipwreck, all the passengers perished. The ladies were peculiarly endowed with beauty and accomplishments. The captain was a man of distinguished worth; humane and generous. (He left, besides those two daughters who suffered along with him, six other children and a widow to deplore his loss.) Most of the officers also perished; one of them, Mr. Thomas Jeane, a midshipman, who was under the immediate care of Captain Pierce, after gaining the rock was swept off by the waves. Swimming well he again reached it; but unable to support the weakness which assailed him, and the beating of the storm, he yielded his hold and perished in the sea.


[Pg 166]

AN ACCOUNT OF FOUR RUSSIAN SAILORS,

ABANDONED ON THE ISLAND OF EAST SPITZBERGEN.

In the year 1743, a merchant of Mesen, in Russia, fitted out a vessel for the Greenland whale-fishery. She carried fourteen men, and was destined for Spitzbergen. For eight successive days after their sailing the wind was fair, but on the ninth it changed; so that instead of getting to the coast of Spitzbergen, the usual rendezvous of the Dutch ships, they were driven eastward, and after some days elapsed they found themselves near an island, called by the Russians Little Broun. Approaching within three versts, or two English miles of this island, the vessel was suddenly surrounded by ice and the crew were reduced to an extremely dangerous situation.

In this alarming state, a council was held when the mate, Alexis Himkof, informed his comrades that some of the people of Mesen formerly intended wintering on this island, and for that purpose had carried timber hither, fit for building a hut, and actually erected one at some distance from the shore.

The whole crew, therefore, concluded to winter there, if the hut, as they hoped, still existed, because they were exposed to imminent danger by remaining in the ship, and they would infallibly perish if they did so. Four of the crew were on that account, dispatched in search of it, or any other assistance they might meet with.

The names of these four were, Alexis Himkof, Iwan Himkof, Stephen Scharapof and Feoder Weregin. Two miles of ice intervened between them and the shore, which being loose and driven together by the wind, rendered their approach difficult and dangerous. Providing themselves with a musket, a powder-horn containing twelve charges of powder, with as many balls, an axe, a kettle, about twenty pounds of flour, a knife, a tinder-box, some tobacco and each his wooden pipe, they soon arrived on the island.

Their first employment was exploring the country, when they discovered the hut alluded to, about a mile and a half from the shore. It was thirty-six feet long, eighteen broad [Pg 167] and eighteen high; and consisted of two chambers. Rejoicing greatly at their success, they passed the night in it; though having been built a considerable time, it had suffered much from the weather.

Next morning the four men hastened to the shore, impatient to communicate their good fortune to their comrades; likewise designing to get such stores, ammunition and necessaries from the vessel, as to enable them to winter on the island. But the reader may conceive their sorrow and astonishment, when on reaching the place where they had landed nothing was to be seen but an open sea, instead of the ice which only the day preceding had covered it. Doubtless a violent storm, which arose during the night, had operated the change. It was not known, however, whether the vessel had been beat to pieces by the ice, or whether she had been carried by the current to the ocean; not an uncommon event in Greenland. Whatever accident befel her, certain it is they saw her no more; whence it is probable that she sunk, and that all on board perished.

This unfortunate occurrence deprived them of the hope of ever being able to quit the island, and full of horror and despair, they returned to the hut. But their first attention was directed to the means of providing subsistence, and repairing their habitation. The twelve charges of powder procured them as many rein-deer, for the island, fortunately for them abounded with these animals.

Though there were many crevices in the building, the wood of the hut was still sound and unimpaired, therefore the deficiency was supplied and done the more easily, because the lower class of Russians are expert carpenters. Here they had plenty of moss to assist them.

The intense cold of the climate prevents the growth of vegetables, and no species of tree or shrub is found on the islands of Spitzbergen. The Russians, however, collected a quantity of wood on the shore, which at first consisted of the wrecks of vessels, and afterwards of whole trees with their roots, the produce of some more hospitable climate, though unknown. Fortunately they found several bits of old iron, some nails, five or six inches long, and an iron hook, on a few wooden boards washed in by the sea. They likewise found the root of a fir tree, bent and nearly fashioned into the shape of a bow.

By the help of a knife, a bow was soon formed but wanting a string and arrows. Unable at present to procure either, [Pg 168] they resolved to make two lances to defend themselves against the white bears. The iron hook was therefore fashioned into a hammer, by widening a hole which it happened to have about the middle, with one of the largest nails. A large pebble served for an anvil, and a couple of rein-deer horns served for the tongs.

By means of such tools, two spear heads were made, which were tied fast with thongs to sticks about the thickness of a man’s arm. Thus equipped, the Russians ventured to attack a white bear, and, after a most dangerous encounter, succeeded in killing it. This was a new supply of provisions; they relished the flesh exceedingly, and easily divided the tendons into filaments, which, besides other uses, served for strings to their bow.

A sailor, armed with a spear, fights off a bear

The Russians, in the next place, proceeded to forge some bits of iron into smaller pieces, resembling the head of spears; and these were fitted to arrows, by fastening them to fir rods.

They had thus a complete bow and arrows, and were more easily enabled to obtain food.

With these, during their abode on the island, they killed no less than two hundred and fifty rein-deer, and a great number of blue and white foxes. They fed on the flesh of the animals and used their skins for clothing. They killed only ten white bears during their residence, and that at the utmost hazard, for these creatures are amazingly strong, and defended themselves with surprising vigour and fury. The first was attacked intentionally; the other nine were killed in self-defence, for the animals even ventured to enter the outer room of the hut to devour them. Some, less ferocious than others, [Pg 169] were repulsed on the first attempt, but a repetition of their attacks exposed the sailors to the continual apprehension of being destroyed.

As they could not afford wood for a constant fire, they dried a portion of their provision in the open air, and afterwards hung it up in the hut, which was always full of smoke. Prepared in this way, they used it for bread, because they were under the necessity of eating their other flesh half raw.

Unfortunately, one of the Russians was attacked by the scurvy. Iwan Himkof, who had wintered several times on the coast of West Spitzbergen, advised his companions to swallow raw and frozen meat in small pieces; to drink the blood of the rein-deer, as it flowed warm from the veins of the animal, and to eat scurvy-grass, although it was not very abundant. Those who followed his injunctions found an effectual antidote, but Feoder Weregin, being naturally of an indolent disposition, averse to drinking the rein-deer blood, and, unwilling to leave the hut when he could possibly avoid it, was soon seized with the scurvy. Under this afflicting distemper he passed nearly six years, enduring the greatest sufferings. At length he became so weak that he could not sit erect, nor even raise his hand to his mouth, so that his humane companions were obliged to attend on, and feed him like a new born infant, until the hour of his death.

In the course of their excursions through the island, the seamen had met with a slimy loam, or kind of clay, of which they contrived to make a lamp, and proposed to keep it constantly burning with the fat of the animals they should kill.—Thus they filled it with rein-deer’s fat, and stuck a bit of twisted linen for a wick. But, to their mortification, always as the fat melted, it not only was absorbed by the clay, but fairly run through it on all sides. On this account they formed another lamp, which they dried thoroughly in the air, and heated red hot. It was next quenched in their kettle, wherein they had boiled a quantity of flour down to the consistence of thin starch. When filled with melted fat, they found to their great joy that it did not leak. Encouraged by this attempt, they made another, that, at all events, they might not be destitute of light, and saved the remainder of their flour for similar purposes. Oakum thrown ashore, as also cordage found among the wrecks of vessels, served for wicks; and when these resources failed, they converted their shirts and drawers to the same purpose. By such means they kept a [Pg 170] lamp burning from soon after their arrival on the island, until the day of their embarkation for their native country.

Clothes, in so rigorous a climate, next became an object of necessity. The uses to which they had applied what they had brought with them exposed them still more to its severity. The skins of rein-deer and foxes had hitherto served for bedding. It was essential to devise some method of tanning them, the better to withstand the weather. This was accomplished, in a certain degree, by soaking the skins in water until the hair could be rubbed off, and then putting rein-deer fat upon them. The leather, by such a process, became soft and pliant. The want of awls and needles was supplied by bits of iron occasionally collected; of them they made a kind of wire, which, being heated red hot, was pierced with a knife, ground to a sharp point, which formed the eye of a needle.—The sinews of bears and rein-deer, split into threads, served for sewing the pieces of leather together, which enabled the Russians to procure jackets and trowsers for summer dress, and a long fur gown with a hood for their winter apparel.

The wants of these unfortunate persons being thus provided for, the only reflections disturbing them were regret for those left behind at home, or the apprehensions of some one of them surviving all his companions, and then either famishing for want of food, or becoming a prey to wild beasts. The mate, Alexis Himkof, had a wife and three children, who were constantly in his mind, and he was unhappy from the dread of never seeing them more.

Excepting white bears, foxes and rein-deer, with which the island abounds, no other animals inhabit it. A few birds are seen in summer, such as geese, ducks and other water-fowl. Whales seldom approach the shore; but there are great numbers of seals; other fish are scarce, and indeed their being in plenty would little avail the Russians, who were unprovided with the means of taking them. Sometimes they found the teeth and jaws of seals on the shore, but never an entire carcase; for when these animals die on land, the white bears immediately eat them. The common food of this ferocious creature, however, is the flesh of dead whales, which are frequently seen floating about in the polar regions, and are sometimes cast on shore. When this provision fails, they fall upon seals, devouring them and other animals sleeping on the beach.

The island had many mountains and steep rocks of stupendous height, perpetually covered with snow and ice; not a tree nor even the poorest shrub was to be met with; neither is there [Pg 171] any vegetable but scurvy-grass, although plenty of moss grows in every part. The Russians found no river; however, there were many small rivulets rising among the rocks and mountains, which afforded a quantity of water.

They saw the sun moving for months together round the horizon during summer, and in winter they were an equal length of time in total darkness; but the Aurora Borealis, which was then frequent, contributed to lessen the gloominess of so long a night. Thick cloudy weather, great quantities of snow, and almost incessant rain at certain seasons, often obscured the stars. The snow totally covered the hut in winter, and left them no way of getting out of it, excepting by a hole which they had made in the roof of one of the chambers.

When the unfortunate mariners had passed nearly six years in this dismal abode, Feoder Weregin, who had all along been in a languid state, died, after suffering the most excruciating pains. Though his companions were thus freed of the trouble of attending on him, and the grief of witnessing his misery, they were deeply affected by his death. They saw their number lessened, and each wished to be the next to follow him. Having died in winter, a grave as deep as possible was dug in the snow to receive his corpse, and the survivors then covered it over to the best of their power, to prevent the white bears from getting at it.

While the melancholy reflections excited by Weregin’s death were still fresh in the minds of his comrades, and while each expected to pay the like duties to the companions of his misfortunes that they had done to him, or to be himself the first to receive them, a Russian vessel unexpectedly came in view on the 15th of August 1749.

This vessel belonged to a trader who had come to Archangel, and intended to winter in Nova Zembla; but fortunately it was proposed to him to winter at West Spitzbergen, to which, after many objections, he assented. Contrary winds on the passage prevented the ship from reaching the place of her destination, and drove her towards East Spitzbergen, directly opposite to the residence of the mariners. As soon as they perceived her, they hastened to light fires on the nearest hills, and then ran to the beach waving a flag made of a rein-deer’s skin fastened to a pole. The people on board observing these signals, concluded there were men ashore imploring their assistance, and therefore came to an anchor near the island.

[Pg 172] To describe the joy of the unfortunate mariners at seeing the moment of their deliverance so near, is impossible.—They soon agreed with the master of the vessel to take them and all their riches on board, for which they should work during the voyage, and pay him eighty rubles on arriving in Russia. Therefore they embarked, carrying with them two thousand weight of rein-deer fat, many hides of the same animals, the skins of the blue and white foxes and bears they had killed. Neither did they neglect to carry away their spears, their knife and axe, which were almost worn out, or their awls and needles, which were carefully preserved in a box, very ingeniously made of bone.

After spending six years and three months in this rueful solitude, they arrived safe at Archangel on the 25th of September, 1749. But the moment of landing was nearly fatal to the affectionate wife of Alexis Himkof, who happened to be present when the vessel came into port. Immediately recognizing her husband, she ran with such eagerness to embrace him, that she slipped into the water, and very narrowly escaped being drowned.

All the three survivors were strong and healthy; having lived so long without bread, they could not be reconciled to the use of it; neither could they bear spirituous liquors, and drank nothing but water.

As they were vassals of Count Schuwalow, who then had a grant of the whale fishery, M. Le Roy requested of him that they might be sent from Archangel to St. Petersburgh, where he could satisfy himself respecting their adventures.—Accordingly two of them arrived, Alexis Himkof, aged about fifty and Iwan Himkof about thirty. They brought some curious specimens of their workmanship, so neatly executed, that it was doubtful with what tools it could have been done. From their account, both to M. Klingstadt, auditor of the Admiralty at Archangel, and what they now communicated, M. Le Roy composed the preceding narrative.

For centuries past Spitzbergen has been greatly resorted to on account of the profitable whale-fishery of the surrounding seas, and several shipwrecks, as well as incidents similar to the preceding, have occurred there, and in the vicinity.—Spitzbergen is a bleak and barren country, and received its name from the lofty pointed mountains by which it is covered; perpetual snow prevails, few plants spring from the soil, and it is destitute of wood. But to compensate in some measure [Pg 173] for the scanty productions of nature by land, its seas, abundantly stored with fish, can afford a copious supply both of food and clothing to mankind.


LOSS OF THE AMPHITRITE CONVICT SHIP.

The following particulars of the loss of this vessel are copied from a letter dated Boulogne-sur-mer, Sept. 1, 1833.

The shocking event which is announced by the title to this letter, has, I assure you, filled the town with dismay, and must lead to a most narrow and rigid investigation. I cannot attempt to describe the afflictions not only of the English, but the French, at this most distressing event, and I only express the general opinion when I say that the British public demands that an inquiry be instituted into the conduct of all parties concerned in this deplorable affair.

The Amphitrite convict ship sailed for New South Wales from Woolwich on the 25th of August. Capt. Hunter was the commander; Mr. Forrester the surgeon; and there were 108 female convicts, 12 children and a crew of 16 persons. The captain was part owner of the vessel. When the ship arrived off Dungeness, the gale of the 29th began. On Friday morning the captain hove the ship to, the gale being too heavy to sail. The vessel was about three miles to the east from Boulogne harbor on Saturday at noon, when they made land.—The captain set the topsail and main-foresail in hopes of keeping her off shore.

From three o’clock she was in sight of Boulogne, and certainly the sea was most heavy and the wind extremely strong; but no pilot boat went out to her, and no life-boats or other assistance were dispatched. I observed her from three o’clock till about half past four in the afternoon, when she came round into Boulogne harbor and struck on the sands. By four o’clock it was known that it was a British ship, but some [Pg 174] said it was a brig; others said it was a merchant vessel, though all said it was English.

It appears from the statement of three men who have been saved out of the crew—all the rest having perished, that the captain ordered the anchor to be let go, in hopes of swinging round with the tide.

In a few minutes after the vessel had gone aground, multitudes rushed to the beach, and a brave French sailor, named Pierre Henin, who has already received the thanks of the Humane Society of London, addressed himself to the captain of the port, and said that he was resolved to go alone, and to reach the vessel, in order to tell the captain that he had not a moment to lose, but must, as it was low water, send all his crew and passengers on shore.

You will recollect that up to the time of her running aground no measure was adopted, and the captain was not warned from shore of her danger.

As soon as she had struck, however, a pilot-boat, commanded by Francois Heuret, who has on many occasions shown much courage and talent, was dispatched, and by a little after five came under her bows. The captain of the vessel refused to avail himself of the assistance of Heuret and his brave companions, and when a portion of the crew proposed going on shore the captain prevented them. Two of the men saved, state that they knew the boat was under the bows, but that the rest were below making up their bundles. The crew could then have got on shore, and all the unfortunate women and children.

When the French boat had gone, the surgeon sent for Owen, one of the crew, and ordered him to get out the long boat. This was about half past five. The surgeon discussed the matter with his wife and with the captain. They were afraid of allowing the prisoners to go on shore. The wife of the surgeon is said to have proposed to leave the convicts there, and to go on shore without them.

In consequence of this discussion, no long boat was sent out. Three of the convict women told Owen, that they heard the surgeon persuaded the captain not to accept the assistance of the French boat, on account of the prisoners who were on board.

Let us now return to Pierre Henin. The French pilot-boat had been refused by the surgeon and captain—the long-boat had been put out, through a discussion as to saving the convicts—and it was now nearly six o’clock. At that time [Pg 175] Henin went to the beach, stripped himself, took a line, swam naked for about three quarters of an hour or an hour, and arrived at the vessel at a little after seven. On reaching the right side of the vessel, he hailed the crew, and said, “Give me a line to conduct you on land, or you are lost, as the sea is coming in.” He spoke English plain enough to be heard. He touched the vessel and told them to speak to the captain. They threw (that is, some of the crew, but not the surgeon or captain) two lines, one from the stern and one from the bow. The one from the stern he could not seize—the one from the bow he did. He then went towards the shore, but the rope was stopped. This was, it is believed, the act of the surgeon and captain. He (Henin) then swam back, and told them to give him more rope to get on shore. The captain and surgeon would not. They then tried to haul him in, but his strength failed and he got on shore.

You perceive, then, that up to this moment also the same obstacle existed in the minds of the captain and surgeon.—They did not dare, without authority, to land the convicts, and rather than leave them on board, or land them without such authority, they perished with them.

The female convicts, who were battened down under the hatches, on the vessel’s running aground, broke away the half deck hatch, and frantic, rushed on deck. Of course they entreated the captain and surgeon to let them go on shore in the long-boat, but they were not listened to, as the captain and surgeon did not feel authorized to liberate prisoners committed to their care.

At seven o’clock the flood tide began. The crew seeing that there were no hopes, clung to the rigging. The poor 108 women and 12 children remained on deck, uttering the most piteous cries. The vessel was about three quarters of a mile English from the shore, and no more. Owen, one of the three men saved, thinks that the women remained on deck in this state about an hour and a half. Owen and four others were on the spars, and thinks they remained there three quarters of an hour, but, seeing no hope of being saved, he took to swimming, and was brought in a state of insensibility to the hotel. Towsey, another of the men saved, was on a plank with the captain. Towsey asked who he was? He said “I am the captain,” but the next moment he was gone. Rice, the third man, floated ashore on a ladder. He was in the aft when the other men took to the raft. When the French pilot-boat rowed away, after being rejected by the captain, he [Pg 176] (Rice) saw a man waving his hat on the beach, and remarked to the captain that a gentleman was waving to them to come on shore. The captain turned away and made no answer.—At that moment the women all disappeared, the ship broke in two.

These are the facts of this awful case. The French Marine Humane Society immediately placed hundreds of men on the beach; and the office, or lodging, being close to the shore, as soon as the corpses were picked up they were brought to the rooms, where I assisted many of my countrymen in endeavoring to restore them to life. Our efforts were fruitless except in the cases of the three men, Owen, Rice and Towsey. I never saw so many fine and beautiful bodies in my life. Some of the women were the most perfectly made; and French and English wept together at such a horrible loss of life in sight of—ay, and even close to, the port and town.—Body after body has been brought in. More than 60 have been found; they will be buried to-morrow. But alas! after all our efforts, only three lives have been saved out of 136.


THE MUTINEERS, A TALE OF THE SEA.

There is scarce any one, we apprehend, who is in any considerable degree conversant with the shifting scenes of human existence, who does not know that many of the plain narratives of common life possess an indescribable charm. These unvarnished details of human weal and human wo, coming right from the mint of nature, decline the superfluous embellishments of art, and, in the absence of all borrowed lustre, clearly demonstrate that they are “adorned the most when unadorned.” They bear a most diametrical contrast to those figments of diseased fancy, that nauseating romance about virgins betrothed and lady love, which in so many instances elbow decency and common sense from the pages of our periodical literature as “unwelcome guests.”

[Pg 177] It has frequently been said that sailors, above every other class of men, have irrepressible hankerings after the wild and wonderful. Certain it is, that he who will sit on a ship’s forecastle of a bright moonlight evening, will hear of “hair-breadth escapes,” and perilous adventures no less chivalrous and incredible than those which Cervantes and the biographer of Baron Munchausen have attributed to their respective heroes. Although the following incidents may excite no very thrilling interest, they have at least the merit of truth. The actors in this short drama are still on the stage, ready to testify to this narrative of facts.

On the morning of the 14th of April, 1828, the ship Gold Hunter glided majestically out of the Liverpool docks, with fair wind and tide. The Mersey, from Liverpool to Black Rock, a distance of about three miles, was literally covered with vessels of every character and nation, which had taken advantage of the fair wind to clear the harbor. Here might be seen the little French lugger, carrying back to Bordeaux what its fruit and brandy had bought, as frisky in its motions as the nervous monsieur who commanded it. At a little distance, the square-shouldered Antwerper, sitting on the elevated poop of his galliot, was enjoying, with his crew, a glorious smoke. You could almost see them (and that, too, without very keen optics) put care into their tobacco-pipes, anxiety curled in fume over their heads. A not unfrequent sight was the star-spangled banner floating in beauty over the bosom of the wave. The serenity of the atmosphere, the ever-changing brilliancy of the scene, the tout ensemble, were well calculated to excite the most pleasurable emotions. Every thing seemed to give the most flattering assurances of a voyage of unruffled peacefulness.

This large squadron continued comparatively unbroken until it reached Holyhead, where such vessels as were bound for Scotland, or the north of Ireland, bore away from those which were bound down the channel. The Gold Hunter, whose destination was a port in the United States, was, of course, in company with the latter class. Those on board of her very naturally felt great gratification in perceiving that she was not only the most splendid and graceful ship, but the swiftest sailor in sight.

Before we proceed farther, however, we must in some measure acquaint the reader with the inmates of the Gold Hunter. Notwithstanding she was one of those floating palaces yclept “Liverpool packets,” and the captain a finished gentleman [Pg 178] and skilful navigator, there were, on this trip, but two cabin passengers,—an Irish gentleman (who had a short time before sold his lieutenancy in the British army) and his sister. The former had been engaged in some of England’s fiercest battles, and won some of her brightest laurels. The reason which induced him to dispose of his commission, and forsake the hardships and honors of military life, was a desire to visit some near relations, who, at an early period, had emigrated to this country, and who were now enjoying respectability and a competence. It was for this object that Mr. Kelly and his sister had taken passage in the Gold Hunter, at the time of which we are now speaking. It need hardly be said, that they felt towards each other all that deep-toned and romantic affection which in so characteristic a manner pervades Irish relationships.

The captain, who was a man of fine feeling and cultivated intellect, spent most of his leisure moments in their company; and many an evening, when the moon-beams played forth brightly on the rippling water, and the bellying of the canvass seemed to assure them they were hastening to the tender embraces of those they loved, would they sit together on the quarter-deck, while Miss Kelly enhanced the brilliancy of the scene by singing some of those wild, touching melodies which she had learned to warble on her own native hills. Thus, “time trod on flowers,” and the incidental privations and inconveniences of a sea voyage were greatly mitigated.

Nothing worthy of special notice occurred until about the 25th of April, when Mr. Kelly, who was walking on the weather side of the main deck, accidentally overheard the following conversation, between three or four of the crew, engaged in caulking the seams just under the lee of the long-boat.

“I tell you, once for all, a cargo of silks and broadcloths aint a-going to do us any good without the ready cash.”

“Ready cash! why, man, how many times must I tell you that there is specie on board? the old man has two or three thousand dollars, and Kelly has a bag of sovereigns, or my eyes never saw salt water.”—“And the girl,” said a third voice, which Mr. Kelly knew to be the steward’s—“and the girl did not jingle her bag for nothing the other day, when she walked by me: something there, or my head ’s a ball of spun-yarn.”

Kelly was transfixed with utter horror and amazement; but fearful lest some one might perceive him, he crouched under the long-boat, which afforded him a partial concealment. In [Pg 179] this situation, he listened with breathless anxiety, to the development of their plans, so murderous that his very blood ran cold in his veins.

When the villains came to the blackest, most awful, portions of their scheme, their voices were instinctively hushed into almost a whisper; so that it was only the general outline that Kelly could gather. He found that it was their intention to wait until some dark, dismal night, when they would rush on the captain, himself and sister, and murder them in their beds, rifle them of their money, and take possession of the ship. It was their design to spare the life of the mate, whose services they needed as a navigator. After having done all this, they were to steer directly for the coast of Africa, where they hoped to dispose of the cargo to the negroes. If successful, they expected to carry thence to the West Indies a load of slaves—if not, to abandon the ship entirely, taking with them the specie, and whatever light articles of value they conveniently could. They anticipated no difficulty in introducing themselves into some of the settlements on the coast as shipwrecked mariners; and, as vessels frequently left the settlements for the United States, they supposed they might procure a passage without exciting any suspicion.

Kelly was a man of such imperturbable self-command, that he found no difficulty in repressing every symptom which could indicate his knowledge of the diabolical conspiracy. It was no part of his intention, however, to conceal any thing from Capt. Newton; to the captain, therefore, he made an unreserved disclosure of all that had come to his knowledge. At first they were at a loss what measures to take: one thing they thought of the greatest importance, which was to keep Miss Kelly in entire ignorance of what was transpiring on board. Some uncurbed outbreaking of alarm would be almost certain, such was the excitability of her temperament. This, in their present situation, might be attended with the most disastrous consequences.

The captain determined to eye with particular vigilance the motions of Harmon, who, from the part he took in the conversation alluded to above, appeared to be the ring-leader. Here, in order that the reader may fully understand the narrative, it becomes necessary for us to make a very short digression.

The government of a ship is, in the strictest sense of the term, monarchical, the captain holding undivided and absolute authority. The relation he sustains to the sailor resembles very much that of the master to the slave. [Pg 180] Consequently, in order that this relation be not severed by the sailor, even the faintest color of insubordination must be promptly quelled. If any master of a ship suffer a sailor to make an impertinent reply with impunity, he immediately finds his authority prostrate and trampled upon, and his most positive commands pertinaciously disregarded.

The day after that on which Mr. Kelly had communicated the startling intelligence to the captain, was somewhat squally. The latter was standing on the weather side of the quarter-deck, giving directions to the man at the helm (who happened to be Harmon) respecting the steering of the ship:

“Luff! luff! keep her full and by! Mind your weather helm, or she’ll be all in the wind. Down with it, or she’ll be off! I tell you, if you don’t steer the ship better, I’ll send you from the helm. You don’t keep her within three points of her course either way!”

All this was said, of course, in a pretty authoritative tone, and Harmon impudently replied, “I can steer as well as you, or any other man in the ship.”

Capt. Newton’s philosophy was completely dashed by this daring answer, and he immediately gave Harmon a blow with his fist, which Harmon as promptly returned sprawling the captain on the deck.

Harmon then deserted the helm, leaving the ship to the mercy of the tempest, and hurried forward to the forecastle, hoping there to intrench himself so firmly as to resist all attacks from without.

The captain, as soon as he could recover from his amazement, went to the cabin door and cried out,

“Mr. Kelly, our lives are in danger—will you assist me, my dear sir, to secure one of my men, that cut-throat Harmon. We must blow up this scheme in the outset, or we are gone.”

Kelly had too little coolness in his constitution to stop to discuss the matter, when he knew that the life of a dear sister might depend on the issue. He saw, in a moment, that the conspirators would take courage, unless they were immediately overpowered. He therefore instantly joined Capt. Newton, and they proceeded to the forecastle together.

Threats and commands had not virtue enough to bring Harmon from his hiding-place. Some more effectual expedient must be resorted to. Accordingly, brimstone was introduced into the numerous crevices of the forecastle, and the atmosphere rendered insufferable. Frantic with suffocation, his eyes flashing with rage, he brandished savagely a huge [Pg 181] case-knife:—“You, Newton! and you Kelly! I swear that, if I am obliged to leave this forecastle, I’ll sheath this knife in your breasts, you infernal tormentors!”

Like the chafed, wounded, maddened bull, which his pursuers have surrounded, and which is drawing close about him his dying strength, for one last furious charge, was Harmon, when Kelly, with most provoking coolness, said, “Harmon, you shall leave that forecastle, or die there.”

It soon became evident that he was making preparations to leave: they therefore planted themselves firmly near the gang way through which alone he could possibly come out. Soon he bolted furiously through, making, as he passed, a desperate plunge at Capt. Newton, with his enormous case-knife. Had not Mr. Kelly, at this moment, by a dexterous effort, struck Harmon’s arm, one more immortal spirit would have been disencumbered of this “coil of mortality.” Instead of this, the villain was disarmed, and his dangerous weapon danced about harmlessly on the top of the waves. Harmon was now powerless; and they found no difficulty in putting irons upon him. During the whole of this contest, his associates did not dare to offer him the least assistance: on the contrary, each stood silently apart, eyeing his neighbor with fear and distrust.

When Mr. Kelly returned to the cabin, he found that his sister had fainted away through terror. Volatile salts, and the assurance that all her future fears would be entirely groundless, had the effect of restoring her very speedily. * * *

On the morning of the 23d May, Charleston light-house was descried from the mast-head. Not a remnant of apprehension lurked behind; every pulse beat gladly; anticipated joys filled every bosom. It was not long before the revenue cutter, from which floats the stripes and the stars, was seen bounding over the billows towards the Gold Hunter. She was soon along side, and, after an interchange of salutations between the vessels, the commander of the revenue cutter boarded the ship. After many inquiries, Capt. Newton requested the United States officer to step into the cabin, where he laid open all the circumstances connected with the abortive conspiracy.

“Capt. Morris,” said he, “I shall be obliged to call on you for assistance in bringing these men to punishment.”

“Such as I can grant,” replied Capt. M., “is at your service; but how shall we proceed?”

“Put the men into irons, and then I consign them to your safe keeping.”

[Pg 182] These intentions were announced on deck; and if ever consternation and rueful dismay were depicted in human countenances it was in the case of those who had entered into the conspiracy, but who, till now, had supposed that all their plans were enveloped in midnight secrecy. Manacles were put on them all without difficulty, and they soon found themselves securely lodged on board an United States vessel.

At the fall term of the Supreme Court of South Carolina, four men were arraigned on an indictment of “mutiny on the high seas,” on board the ship Gold Hunter. The evidence was so conclusive, that all the ingenuity of the prisoner’s council, twist itself as it would, could effect nothing. The jury found a verdict of guilty, without leaving their seats. Harmon was sentenced to the penitentiary five years; the others four years each. Thus was a most dangerous indevotion frustrated.


FATE OF SEVEN SAILORS,

WHO WERE LEFT ON THE ISLAND OF ST. MAURICE.

The Dutch who frequented the northern regions during the more favorable season of the year, in pursuit of the whale fishery, became desirous of ascertaining the state of different places while winter prevailed. Various opinions were entertained concerning this subject, and astronomers wished to have their sentiments regarding certain natural phenomena, either realized or controverted. Besides, a more important object was concealed under these ostensible reasons, namely, whether the establishment of permanent colonies in the most remote parts of Greenland was practicable. A proposal was therefore promulgated through the Greenland fleet, for seven seamen to offer to remain a winter in St. Maurice’s Island, and also for other seven to winter in Spitzbergen. We are not [Pg 183] acquainted with the inducements held forth; but it is probable that little hesitation ensued, for we find a party prepared to winter at the different places specified, nearly about the same period.

Seven of the stoutest and ablest men of the fleet having accordingly agreed to be left behind, their comrades sailed from St. Maurice’s Isle on the 26th of August 1633.

The people, two days afterwards, shared half a pound of tobacco, to which they restricted themselves as a weekly allowance. At this time there was no night, and the heat of the sun so powerful through the day, that they pulled off their shirts, and sported on the side of a hill near their abode. Great abundance of sea-gulls frequented the island, and the seamen made a constant practice of seeking for vegetables growing there for salad.

Towards the end of September, the weather began to be tempestuous, and in the earlier part of October, their huts were so much shaken by violent storms of wind, that their nightly rest was interrupted; but they did not resort to firing until the 9th of that month. About a week subsequent, two whales were cast ashore, and the seamen immediately endeavored to kill them with harpoons, lances, and cutlasses, but the tide flowing enabled them to escape.

As winter advanced, bears became so numerous, that the people durst scarce venture abroad from their huts towards night; but in the day time some were occasionally killed, which they roasted. Several of these animals were so strong, however, that they would run off after being shot through. A great many gulls were also seen on the sea-side which retired every night to the mountains, their usual place of retreat.

The first of January 1634, was ushered in with dark and frosty weather; the seamen, after wishing each other a happy new year, and good success in their enterprize, went to prayers. Two bears approached very near their huts, but the darkness of the day, and the depth of the snow, rendered it impossible to take them; not long afterwards the seamen were more successful, and, having shot one, dragged it into a hut, where they skinned it. From the 1st of February these animals became very shy, and were seldom seen.

In the month of March all the people were attacked by scurvy, owing to the scarcity of fresh provisions, and their spirits sunk with the progress of the disease; only two were in health on the 3d of April, while the rest were extremely [Pg 184] ill. Two pullets were at their request killed for them, no more being left; and as their appetites were pretty good, the others entertained hopes of their convalescence. The whole seldom left their hut to examine the appearance of the sea, or the surrounding country; but, on the 15th, they observed four whales in a neighboring bay.

The clerk was now very ill, and died on the 16th, whereupon the surviving mariners invoked Heaven to have mercy on his soul, and also on themselves, for they suffered severely. No fresh provisions whatever were left, and they daily grew worse, partly from want of necessary articles, and partly from the excessive cold. Even when in health they could scarce keep themselves in heat by exercise; and when sick, and unable to stir from their huts, that remedy was at an end. Disease made rapid progress among these unfortunate people, so that on the 23d not more than one individual could give an account of the rest, which is done in these words of his journal: “We are by this time reduced to a deplorable state, none of my comrades being able to help himself, much less another; the whole burden, therefore, lies on my shoulders, and I shall perform my duty as well as I am able, so long as it pleases God to give me strength. I am just now about to assist our commander out of his cabin; he thinks it will relieve his pain, for he is struggling with death. The night is dark, and wind blowing from the south.”

Meantime the Dutch, who repaired in the summer season to Greenland, became impatient to learn the fate of the seven men left in the Isle of St. Maurice. Some of the seamen got into a boat immediately on their arrival, on the 4th of June 1634, and hastened towards the huts. Yet, from none of the others having come to the sea-side to welcome them, they presaged nothing good; and accordingly found that all the unfortunate men had breathed their last. The first, as has been seen, expired on the 16th of April 1634, and his comrades, having put his body in a coffin, deposited it in one of the huts. The remainder were conjectured to have died about the beginning of May, from a journal kept by them, expressing that, on the 27th of April, they had killed their dog for want of fresh provisions, and from its termination on the last of this month.

Near one of the bodies stood some bread and cheese, on which the mariner had perhaps subsisted immediately preceding his decease; a box of ointment lay beside the cabin of another, with which he had rubbed his teeth and joints, and his arm was still extended towards his mouth. A prayer-book, [Pg 185] which he had been reading, also lay near him. Each of the men was found in his own cabin.

The Commodore of the Greenland fleet having got this melancholy intelligence, ordered the six bodies to be put into coffins, and, along with the seventh, deposited beneath the snow. Afterwards, when the earth thawed, they were removed, and interred, on St. John’s day, under a general discharge of the cannon of the fleet.


SEAMEN WINTERING IN SPITZBERGEN.

On the 30th of August 1633, the Dutch fleet sailed from North-Bay, in Spitzbergen, leaving seven men behind, who had agreed to winter there. Immediately, on departure of the vessels, they began to collect a sufficient quantity of provisions to serve their necessities until their comrades should return in the subsequent year. Therefore, at different times, they hunted rein-deer with success, and caught many sea-fowl; and also occasionally got herbs, which proved very salutary.

Excursions both by sea and land were frequently made when the weather would permit; and they endeavored to kill whales and narwhals in the different bays on the east coast of Spitzbergen.

The extreme cold of the climate was announced by the disappearance of all the feathered tribe on the third of October, and from that time it gradually augmented. On the 13th their casks of beer were frozen three inches thick, and very soon afterwards, though standing within eight feet of the fire, they froze from top to bottom. The seamen had broke the ice on the sea, and disposed a net for catching fish below it; but the rigour of the weather constantly increasing, the ice formed a foot thick at the surface in the space of two hours.

From the excessive cold, they remained almost constantly in bed, and, notwithstanding they had both a grate and a stove, [Pg 186] they were sometimes obliged to rise and take violent exercise to keep themselves in heat.

Beautiful phenomena appeared in the sky during winter, consisting of the Aurora Borealis, of surprising splendour and magnitude, and other meteors seeming to arise from the icy mountains.

On the third of March the mariners had an encounter with a monstrous bear, in which one of them very nearly perished. The animal became furious from its wounds; leaping against a seaman, about to pierce it with his lance, it threw him down, and, but for the opportune interposition of another, would have torn him to pieces.

At length, after suffering many hardships and privations the mariners were gladdened with the sight of a boat rowing into the bay, on the 27th of May 1634, announcing the return of a Dutch Greenlandman, which anchored there the same evening.

The Dutch, encouraged by the safety of this party, proposed that other seven people, provided with all necessaries, should pass the following winter in their place; and, accordingly, Andrew Johnson, Cornelius Thysse, Jerome Carcoen, Tiebke Jellis, Nicholas Florison, Adrian Johnson, and Fettje Otters, offered to remain.

The fleet, therefore, sailed for Holland on the 11th of September 1634, leaving these men behind. Numbers of whales were in sight of Spitzbergen on the same day, which the people made an unsuccessful attempt to catch.

Towards the end of November, scurvy beginning to appear among them, they carefully sought for green herbs, but in vain; nor were they more fortunate in the pursuit of bears and foxes for fresh provisions. However, they drank some potions and took other antidotes against the disease, and then set traps for foxes.

A bear being discovered on the 24th of November, three of the people eagerly proceeded to attack it, for their necessities were daily becoming greater. The animal, rising to receive them on its hind legs, was shot through the body, whereupon it began to bleed and roar most hideously, and fiercely bit a halbert. But, likely to be overpowered, it took to flight, and was anxiously pursued by the people a long way, carrying lanthorns, though unsuccessfully; and they were all much dispirited from the disappointment of fresh provision, which they so much required.

[Pg 187]

Appearance of the Aurora Borealis from the Island of East Spitzbergen—page 186.

On the 14th of January, Adrian Johnson died. The whole [Pg 189] of the rest were extremely ill. Fettje Otters died next day, and also Cornelius Thysse on the 17th, a man in whom his comrades rested their chief hope next to God.

Notwithstanding the weakness of the survivors, who could scarce support themselves on their legs, they contrived to make three coffins for the deceased, and put their bodies into them.

In the beginning of February they had the good fortune to catch a fox, an incident which afforded them much satisfaction, but at that time disease had gone too far to admit their deriving material benefit from the flesh. Many bears, even six or ten together were seen; but the people had not strength to manage their guns, nor, had it been otherwise, were they able to pursue them. Now they were seized with excruciating pains about the loins and belly, which were aggravated by cold. One spit blood, and another was afflicted with a bloody flux; yet Jerome Carcoen could still bring in fuel to keep up the fires.

The sun had disappeared on the 20th of October, nor was he seen again until the 24th of February, when the mariners were so weak as to be constantly confined to their cabins. Two days after, they ceased to be able to write, at that time expressing themselves in a journal thus: “Four of us who still survive, lie flat on the floor of our hut. We think we could still eat, were there only one among us able to get fuel, but none can move for pain; our time is spent in constant prayer, that God, in his mercy, would deliver us from this misery; we are ready whenever he pleases to call us. Assuredly we cannot long survive without food or firing; we are unable to assist each other in our mutual afflictions, and each must bear his own burden.”

The seamen of the Dutch fleet arriving at Spitzbergen, in 1635, hastened to inquire after the fate of their comrades; and having found their hut all closed around as a protection against wild beasts, they broke open the back door. A man then entering, ran up stairs, where he discovered part of a dead dog on the floor, laid there to dry, and quickly descending, trod on the carcass of another dog also dead. Thence passing towards the front door, he stumbled in the dark over several dead bodies, which, after the door was opened, were seen lying together. Three were in coffins; Nicholas Florison and another, each in a cabin; and the other two on some sails covering the floor, lying with their knees drawn up to their chins. Therefore the whole of these unfortunate people had perished.

[Pg 190] Coffins were prepared for the four bodies wanting them, and all were buried under the snow, until the ground became more penetrable, when they were deposited in the earth beside each other, and stones laid on their graves, to preserve them from the ravenous beasts of prey.


A MAN OVERBOARD.

Sailors are men of rough habits, but their feelings are not by any means so coarse: if they possess little prudence or worldly consideration, they are likewise very free from selfishness; generally speaking, too, they are much attached to one another, and will make great sacrifices to their messmates or shipmates when opportunities occur.

I remember once, when cruising off Terceira in the Endymion, that a man fell overboard and was drowned. After the usual confusion, and long search in vain, the boats were hoisted up, and the hands called to make sail. I was officer of the forecastle and on looking about to see if all the men were at their station, missed one of the fore-top men. Just at that moment I observed some one curled up, and apparently hiding himself under the bow of the barge, between the boat and the booms. ‘Hillo!’ I said, ‘who are you? What are you doing there, you skulker? Why are you not at your station?’

‘I am not skulking,’ said the poor fellow, the furrows in whose bronzed and weatherbeaten cheek were running down with tears. The man we had just lost had been his messmate and friend, he told me, for ten years. I begged his pardon, in full sincerity, for having used such harsh words to him at such a moment, and bid him go below to his birth for the rest of the day—‘Never mind, sir, never mind,’ said the kind hearted seaman, ‘it can’t be helped. You meant no harm, sir. I am as well on deck as below. Bill’s gone sir, but I must do my [Pg 191] duty.’ So saying, he drew the sleeve of his jacket twice or thrice across his eyes, and mustering his grief within his breast, walked to his station as if nothing had happened.

In the same ship and nearly about the same time, the people were bathing along side in a calm at sea. It is customary on such occasions to spread a studding-sail on the water, by means of lines from the fore and main yard arms, for the use of those who either cannot swim, or who are not expert in this art, so very important to all seafaring people. Half a dozen of the ship’s boys were floundering about in the sails, and sometimes even venturing beyond the leech rope. One of the least of these urchins, but not the least courageous of their number, when taunted by his more skilful companions with being afraid, struck out boldly beyond the prescribed bounds. He had not gone much further than his own length, however, along the surface of the fathomless sea, when his heart failed him, poor little man; and along with his confidence away also went his power of keeping his head above the water. So down he sank rapidly, to the speechless horror of the other boys, who of course, could lend the drowning child no help.

The captain of the forecastle, a tall, fine-looking, hard-a-weather fellow, was standing on the shank of the sheet anchor with his arms across, and his well varnished canvass hat drawn so much over his eyes that it was difficult to tell whether he was awake or merely dozing in the sun, as he leaned his back against the fore-topmast backstay. The seaman, however, had been attentively watching the young party all the time, and rather fearing that mischief might ensue from their rashness, he had grunted out a warning to them from time to time, to which they paid no sort of attention. At last he desisted, saying they might drown themselves if they had a mind, for never a bit would he help them; but no sooner did the sinking figure of the adventurous little boy catch his eye, than, diver fashion, he joined the palms of his hands over his head, inverted his position in one instant, and urging himself into swifter motion by a smart push with his feet against the anchor, shot head foremost into the water. The poor lad sunk so rapidly that he was at least a couple of fathoms under the surface before he was arrested by the grip of the sailor, who soon rose again, bearing the bewildered boy in his hand, and calling to the other youngsters to take better care of their companion, chucked him right into the belly of the sail. The fore-sheet was hanging in the calm, nearly into the water, and by it the dripping seaman scrambled up again to his old birth [Pg 192] on the anchor, shook himself like a great Newfoundland dog, and then jumping on the deck, proceeded across the forecastle to shift himself.

At the top of the ladder he was stopped by the marine officer, who had witnessed the whole transaction, as he sat across the gangway hammocks, watching the swimmers, and trying to get his own consent to undergo the labor of undressing. Said the soldier to the sailor, “That was very well done of you, my man, and right well deserves a glass of grog. Say so to the gun-room steward as you pass; and tell him it is my orders to fill you out a stiff nor-wester.” The soldier’s offer was kindly meant, but rather clumsily timed, at least so thought Jack: for though he inclined his head in acknowledgment of the attention, and instinctively touched his hat when spoken to by an officer, he made no reply till out of the marine’s hearing, when he laughed, or rather chuckled out to the people near him, “Does the good gentleman suppose I’ll take a glass of grog for saving a boy’s life.”


AN ESCAPE THROUGH THE CABIN-WINDOWS.

In the year 18—, said Capt. M——, I was bound, in a fine stout ship of about four hundred tons burden, from the port of l’—— to Liverpool. The ship had a valuable cargo on board and about ninety thousand dollars in specie. I had been prevented, by other urgent business, from giving much of my attention to the vessel while loading and equipping for the voyage, but was very particular in my directions to the chief mate, in whom I had great confidence, he having sailed with me some years, to avoid entering, if possible, any but native American seamen. When we were about to sail, he informed me that he had not been able to comply with my directions entirely in this particular; but had shipped two foreigners as seamen, one a native of Guernsey, and the other a Frenchman [Pg 193] from Brittany. I was pleased, however, with the appearance of the crew generally, and particularly with the foreigners. They were both stout and able-bodied men, and were particularly alert and attentive to orders.

The passage commenced auspiciously and promised to be a speedy one, as we took a fine steady westerly wind soon after we lost soundings. To my great sorrow and uneasiness, I soon discovered in the foreigners a change of conduct for the worse. They became insolent to the mates and appeared to be frequently under the excitement of liquor, and had evidently acquired an undue influence with the rest of the men. Their intemperance soon became intolerable, and as it was evident that they had brought liquor on board with them, I determined upon searching the forecastle and depriving them of it. An order to this effect was given to the mates, and they were directed to go about its execution mildly and firmly, taking no arms with them as they seemed inclined to do, but to give every chest, birth and locker in the forecastle a thorough examination; and bring aft to the cabin any spirits they might find.

It was not without much anxiety that I sent them forward upon this duty. I remained upon the quarter deck myself, ready to go to their aid, should it be necessary. In a few moments, a loud and angry dispute was succeeded by a sharp scuffle around the forecastle companion-way. The steward, at my call, handed my loaded pistols from the cabin, and with them I hastened forward. The Frenchman had grappled the second mate, who was a mere lad, by the throat, thrown him across the heel of the bowsprit, and was apparently determined to strangle him to death. The chief mate was calling for assistance from below, where he was struggling with the Guernsey man. The rest of the crew were indifferent spectators but rather encouraging the foreigners than otherwise. I presented a pistol at the head of the Frenchman, and ordered him to release the second mate, which he instantly did. I then ordered him into the fore top, and the others, who were near, into the maintop, none to come down under pain of death, until ordered. The steward had by this time brought another pair of pistols, with which I armed the second mate, directing him to remain on deck; and went below into the forecastle myself. I found that the chief mate had been slightly wounded in two places by the knife of his antagonist, who, however, ceased to resist as I made my appearance, and we immediately secured him in irons. The search was now made, and a [Pg 194] quantity of liquor found and taken to the cabin. The rest of the men were then called down from the tops, and the Frenchman was made the companion of his coadjutor’s confinement. I then expostulated, at some length, with the others upon their improper and insubordinate conduct, and upon the readiness with which they had suffered themselves to be drawn into such courses by two rascally foreigners, and expressed hopes that I should have no reason for further complaint during the rest of the voyage. This remonstrance I thought had effect, as they appeared contrite and promised amendment. They were then dismissed, and order was restored.

The next day the foreigners strongly solicited pardon, with the most solemn promises of future good conduct; and as the rest of the crew joined in their request, I ordered that their irons should be taken off. For several days the duties of the ship were performed to my entire satisfaction; but I could discover in the countenances of the foreigners, expressions of deep and rancorous animosity to the chief mate, who was a prompt, energetic seaman, requiring from the sailors, at all times, ready and implicit obedience to his orders.

A week perhaps had passed over in this way, when one night, in the mid watch, all hands were called to shorten sail. Ordinarily upon occasions of this kind, the duty was conducted by the mate, but I now went upon deck myself and gave orders, sending him upon the forecastle. The night was dark and squally; but the sea was not high, and the ship was running off about nine knots, with the wind upon the starboard quarter. The weather being very unpromising, the second reef was taken in the fore and main topsails, the mizen handed and the fore and mizen top gallant yards sent down. This done, one watch was permitted to go below, and I prepared to betake myself to my birth again, directing the mate, to whom I wished to give some orders, should be sent to me. To my utter astonishment and consternation, word was brought me, after a short time, that he was no where to be found. I hastened upon deck, ordered all hands up again, and questioned every man in the ship upon the subject; but they, with one accord, declared that they had not seen the mate forward. Lanterns were then brought, and every accessible part of the vessel was unavailingly searched. I then, in the hearing of the whole crew, declared my belief that he must have fallen overboard by accident, again dismissed one watch below, and repaired to the cabin, in a state of mental agitation impossible to be described. For notwithstanding the opinion which I [Pg 195] had expressed to the contrary, I could not but entertain strong suspicions that the unfortunate man had met a violent death.

The second mate was a protegee of mine; and, as I have before observed, was a very young man of not much experience as a seaman. I therefore felt that, under critical circumstances, my main support had fallen from me. It is needless to add, that a deep sense of forlornness and insecurity was the result of these reflections.

My first step was to load and deposit in my state room all the fire arms on board, amounting to several muskets and four pairs of pistols. The steward was a faithful mulatto man, who had sailed with me several voyages. To him I communicated my suspicions, and directed him to be constantly on the alert: and should any further difficulty with the crew occur, to repair immediately to my state room and arm himself. His usual birth was in the steerage, but I further directed that he should, on the following morning, clear out and occupy one in the cabin near my own. The second mate occupied a small state room opening into the passage which led from the steerage to the cabin. I called him from the deck, gave him a pair of loaded pistols, with orders to keep them in his birth; and, during his night watches on deck, never to go forward of the mainmast, but to continue as constantly as possible near the cabin companion-way, and call me upon the slightest occasion. After this, I laid down in my bed, ordering that I should be called at four o’clock, for the morning watch. Only a few minutes had elapsed, when I heard three or four knocks under the counter of the ship, which is that part of the stern immediately under the cabin-windows. In a minute or two they were distinctly repeated. I arose—opened the cabin-window and called. The mate answered!—I gave him the end of a rope to assist him up, and never shall I forget the flood of gratitude which my delighted soul poured forth to that Being who had restored him to me uninjured. His story was soon told. He had gone forward upon being ordered by me, after the calling of all hands and had barely reached the forecastle, when he was seized by the two foreigners, and before he could utter more than one cry, which was drowned in the roaring of the winds and waves, was thrown over the bow. He was a powerful man and an excellent swimmer. The top-sails of the ship were clewed down to reef, and her way, of course, considerably lessened—and in an instant, he found the end of a rope, which was accidentally towing overboard, [Pg 196] within his grasp, by which he dragged in the dead water or eddy, that is created under the stern of a vessel while sailing, particularly if she is full built and deeply laden, as was the case with this. By a desperate effort, he caught one of the rudder chains, which was very low, and drew himself by it upon the step or jog of the rudder where he had sufficient presence of mind to remain without calling out, until the light had ceased to shine through the cabin-windows, when he concluded that the search for him was over. He then made the signal to me.

No being in the ship, but myself, was apprised of his safety, for the gale had increased and completely drowned the sounds of the knocking, opening the window, &c. before they could reach the quarter deck; and there was no one in the cabin but ourselves, the steward having retired to his birth in the steerage. It was at once resolved that the second mate only should be informed of his existence. He immediately betook himself to a large vacant state room, and, for the remainder of the passage, all his wants were attended to by me. Even the steward was allowed to enter the cabin as rarely as possible.

Nothing of note occurred during the remainder of the voyage, which was prosperous. It seemed that the foreigners had only been actuated by revenge in the violence they had committed; for nothing further was attempted by them. In due season we took a pilot in the channel, and, in a day or two, entered the port of Liverpool. As soon as the proper arrangements were made, we commenced warping the ship into dock, and while engaged in this operation, the Mate appeared on deck, went forward, and attended to his duties as usual! A scene occurred which is beyond description: every feature of it is as vivid in my recollection as though it occurred but yesterday, and will be to my latest breath. The warp dropped from the paralysed hands of the horror-stricken sailors, and had it not been taken up by some boatmen on board, I should have been compelled to anchor again and procure assistance from the shore. Not a word was uttered; but the two guilty wretches staggered to the mainmast, where they remained petrified with horror, until the officer, who had been sent for, approached to take them into custody. They then seemed in a measure to be recalled to a sense of their appalling predicament, and uttered the most piercing expressions of lamentation and despair.

They were soon tried, and upon the testimony of the mate capitally convicted and executed.


[Pg 197]

TOM CRINGLE’S LOG.

We had refitted, and been four days at sea, on our voyage to Jamaica, when the gun-room officers gave our mess a blow out.

The increased motion and rushing of the vessel through the water, the groaning of the masts, the howling of the gale, and the frequent trampling of the watch on deck, were prophetic of wet jackets to some of us; still, midshipman-like, we were as happy as a good dinner and some wine could make us, until the old gunner shoved his weather beaten phiz and bald pate in at the door. “Beg pardon Mr. Splinter, but if you will spare Mr. Cringle on the forecastle an hour, until the moon rises.”—(“Spare,” quotha, “is his majesty’s officer a joint stool?”)—“Why, Mr. Kennedy, why? here, man, take a glass of grog.” “I thank you sir.” “It is coming on a roughish night, sir; the running ships should be crossing us hereabouts; indeed, more than once I thought there was a strange sail close aboard of us, the scud is flying so low, and in such white flakes; and none of us have an eye like Mr. Cringle, unless it be John Crow, and he is all but frozen.” “Well, Tom, I suppose you will go.”—Anglice, from a first lieutenant to a mid—

“Brush instanter.”

Having changed my uniform for shag trowsers, pea-jacket and a south-west cap, I went forward and took my station, in no pleasant humor, on the stowed jib, with my arm around the stay. I had been half an hour there, the weather was getting worse, the rain was beating in my face, and the spray from the stern was splashing over me, as it roared through the waste of sparkling and hissing waters. I turned my back to the weather for a moment to press my hands on my straining eyes. When I opened them, I saw the gunner’s gaunt and high-featured visage thrust anxiously forward; his profile looked as if rubbed over with phosphorus, and his whole person as if we had been playing at snap dragon. “What has come over you Mr. Kennedy? who’s burning the blue light now?” “A wiser man than I must tell you that; look [Pg 198] forward Mr. Cringle—look there; what do your books say to that?”

I looked forth, and saw at the extreme end of the jib-boom, what I have read of, certainly, but never expected to see, a pale, greenish, glow-worm colored flame, of the size and shape of the frosted glass shade over the swinging lamp in the gun-room. It drew out and flattened as the vessel pitched and rose again, and as she sheered about, it wavered round the point that seemed to attract it, like a soap suds bubble blown from a tobacco-pipe, before it is shaken into the air; at the core it was comparatively bright, but faded into a halo. It shed a baleful and ominous light on the surrounding objects; the group of sailors on the forecastle looked like spectres, and they shrunk together, and whispered when it began to roll slowly along the spar where the boatswain was sitting at my feet. At this instant something slid down the stay, and a cold clammy hand passed around my neck. I was within an ace of losing my hold and tumbling overboard.—“Heaven have mercy on me what’s that?” “It’s that sky-larking son of a gun, Jem Sparkle’s monkey, sir. You Jem, you’ll never rest till that brute is made shark’s bait of.” But Jacko vanished up the stay again, chuckling and grinning in the ghastly radiance, as if he had been ‘the spirit of the Lamp.’ The light was still there, but a cloud of mist, like a burst of vapor from a steam boiler, came down upon the gale and flew past, when it disappeared. I followed the white mass as it sailed down the wind; it did not, as it appeared to me, vanish in the darkness, but seemed to remain in sight to leeward, as if checked by a sudden flaw; yet none of our sails were taken aback. A thought flashed on me. I peered still more intensely into the night. I was not certain.—“A sail, broad on the lee bow.” The captain answered from the quarter-deck—“Thank you, Mr. Cringle. How shall we steer?” “Keep her away a couple of points, sir, steady.” “Steady,” sung the man at the helm; and a slow melancholy cadence, although a familiar sound to me, now moaned through the rushing wind, and smote upon my heart as if it had been the wailing of a spirit. I turned to the boatswain, who was now standing beside me, “is that you or Davy steering, Mr. Nipper? if you had not been there bodily at my side, I could have sworn that was your voice.” When the gunner made the same remark, it started the poor fellow; he tried to take it as a joke, but could not. “There may be a laced hammock with a shot in it, for some of us ere morning.”

[Pg 199] At this moment, to my dismay, the object we were chasing shortened,—gradually fell abeam of us, and finally disappeared.

“The flying Dutchman.” “I can’t see her at all now.”—“She will be a fore and aft rigged vessel that has tacked, sir.” And sure enough, after a few seconds, I saw the white object lengthened and drew out again abaft our beam. “The chase has tacked, sir; put the helm down, or she will go to windward of us.” We tacked also, and time it was we did so, for the rising moon now showed us a large schooner with a crowd of sail. We edged down on her, when finding her manœuvre detected, she brailed up her flat sails and bore up before the wind. This was our best point of sailing, and we cracked on, the captain rubbing his hands—“It’s my turn to be the big un this time.” Although blowing a strong north-wester, it was now clear moonlight, and we hammered away from our bow guns, but whenever a shot told amongst the rigging, the injury was repaired as if by magic. It was evident we had repeatedly hulled her, from the glimmering white streaks across her counter and along her stern, occasioned by the splintering of the timber, but it seemed to produce no effect.

At length we drew well upon her quarter. She continued all black hull and white sail, not a soul to be seen on deck, except a dark object which we took for the man at the helm. “What schooner is that?” No answer. “Heave to, or I’ll sink you.” Still all silent. “Serjeant Armstrong, do you think you can pick off that chap at the wheel?” The mariner jumped on the forecastle, and levelled his piece, when a musket-shot from the schooner crushed through his skull, and he fell dead. The old skipper’s blood was up. “Forecastle there! Mr. Nipper, clap a canister of grape over the round shot in the bow gun, give it to him.” “Ay, ay, sir!” gleefully rejoined the boatswain, forgetting the augury, and everything else, in the excitement of the moment. In a twinkling the square foresail—topgallant—royal and studding-sail haulyards, were let go on board the schooner, as if to round to. “Rake him, sir, or give him the stern. He has not surrendered. I know their game. Give him your broadside, sir, or he is off to windward of you, like a shot. No, no, we have him now; heave to Mr. Splinter, heave to!” We did so, and that so suddenly, that the studding sail booms snapped like pipe shanks short off by the irons. Notwithstanding, we had shot two hundred yards to the leeward, before we could lay our maintopsail to the mast. I ran to windward. The [Pg 200] schooner’s yards and rigging were now black with men, clustering like bees swarming, her square sails were being close furled, her fore and aft sails set, and away she was, dead to windward of us. “So much for undervaluing our American friends,” grumbled Mr. Splinter.

We made all sail in chase, blazing away to little purpose; we had no chance on a bowline, and when our ‘Amigo’ had satisfied himself of his superiority by one or two short tacks, he deliberately took a reef in his mainsail, hauled down his flying jib and gaff-topsail, triced up the bunt of his foresail, and fired his long thirty-two at us. The shot came in our third aftermost port on the starboard side, and dismounted the carronade, smashing the slide and wounding three men. The second missed, and as it was madness to remain to be peppered, probably winged, whilst every one of ours fell short, we reluctantly kept away on our course, having the gratification of hearing a clear well blown bugle on board the schooner play up “Yankee Doodle.” As the brig fell off, our long gun was run out to have a parting crack at her, when the third and last shot from the schooner struck the sill of the midship port, and made the white splinters fly from the solid oak like bright silver sparks in the moonlight. A sharp, piercing cry rose in the air—my soul identified that death-shriek with the voice that I had heard, and I saw the man who was standing with the lanyard of the lock in his hand drop heavily across the breech, and discharge the gun in his fall. Thereupon a blood-red glare shot up in the cold blue sky, as if a volcano had burst forth from beneath the mighty deep, followed by a roar, and a scattering crash, and a mingling of unearthly cries and groans, and a concussion of the air and the water as if our whole broadside had been fired at once.—Then a solitary splash here, and a dip there, and short sharp yells, and low choking bubbling moans, as the hissing fragments of the noble vessel we had seen, fell into the sea, and the last of her gallant crew vanished forever beneath that pale broad moon. We were alone; and once more all was dark, wild and stormy. Fearfully had that ball sped fired by a dead man’s hand. But what is it that clings, black and doubled, across the fatal cannon, dripping and heavy, and choking the scuppers with clotting gore, and swaying to and fro with the motion of the vessel, like a bloody fleece? “Who is it that was hit at the gun there?” “Mr. Nipper, the boatswain, sir, the last shot has cut him in two.”


[Pg 201]

LOSS OF THE NAUTILUS, SLOOP OF WAR,

ON A ROCK IN THE ARCHIPELAGO.

A misunderstanding having originated between the Court of Great Britain, and the Ottoman Porte, a powerful squadron was ordered to proceed to Constantinople, for the purpose of enforcing compliance with rational propositions. The object, however, proved abortive; and the expedition terminated in a way which did not enhance the reputation of these islands in the eyes of the Turks.

Sir Thomas Louis, commander of the squadron sent to the Dardanelles, having charged Captain Palmer with dispatches of the utmost importance for England, the Nautilus got under weigh at daylight on the third of January 1807. A fresh breeze from N. E. carried her rapidly out of the Hellespont, passing the celebrated castles in the Dardanelles, which so severely galled the British. Soon afterwards she passed the island of Tenedos, off the north end of which, two vessels of war were seen at anchor; they hoisted Turkish colours, and in return the Nautilus showed those of Britain.—In the course of this day, many of the other islands abounding in the Greek Archipelago came in sight, and in the evening the ship approached the island of Negropont, lying in 38 30 north latitude, and 24 8 east longitude; but now the navigation became more intricate, from the increasing number of islands, and from the narrow entrance between Negropont and the island of Andros.

The wind still continued to blow fresh, and as night was approaching, with the appearance of being dark and squally, the pilot, who was a Greek, wished to lie to until morning, which was done accordingly; and at daylight the vessel again proceeded. His course was shaped for the island of Falconera, in a track which has been so elegantly described by Falconer, in a poem as far surpassing the uncouth productions of modern times, as the Ionian temples surpassed those flimsy structures contributing to render the fame of the originals eternal. This island, and that of Anti Milo, were made [Pg 202] in the evening, the latter distant fourteen or sixteen miles from the more extensive island of Milo, which could not then be seen, from the thickness and haziness of the weather.

The pilot never having been beyond the present position of the Nautilus, and declaring his ignorance of the further bearings, now relinquished his charge, which was resumed by the captain. All possible attention was paid to the navigation, and Captain Palmer, after seeing Falconera so plainly, and anxious to fulfil his mission with the greatest expedition, resolved to stand on during the night. He was confident of clearing the Archipelago by morning, and himself pricked the course from the chart which was to be steered by the vessel. This he pointed out to his coxswain, George Smith, of whose ability he entertained a high opinion. Then he ordered his bed to be prepared, not having had his clothes off for the three preceding nights, and having scarce had any sleep from the time of leaving the Dardanelles.

A night of extreme darkness followed, with vivid lightning constantly flashing in the horizon; but this circumstance served to inspire the captain with a greater degree of confidence; for being enabled by it to see so much further at intervals, he thought, that should the ship approach any land, the danger would be discovered in sufficient time to be avoided.

The wind continued still increasing; and though the ship carried but little sail, she went at the rate of nine miles an hour, being assisted by a lofty following sea, which with the brightness of the lightning, made the night particularly awful. At half past two in the morning, high land was distinguished, which, those who saw it supposed to be the island of Cerigotto, and thence thought all safe, and that every danger had been left behind. The ship’s course was altered to pass the island, and she continued on her course until half past four, at the changing of the watch, when the man on the look-out exclaimed, breakers ahead! and immediately the vessel struck with a most tremendous crash. Such was the violence of the shock, that people were thrown from their beds, and, on coming upon deck, were obliged to cling to the cordage. All was now confusion and alarm; the crew hurried on deck, which they had scarce time to do when the ladders below gave way, and indeed left many persons struggling in the water, which already rushed into the under part of the ship. The captain it appeared had not gone to bed, and immediately came on deck when the Nautilus struck; there having examined her situation, he immediately went round, accompanied [Pg 203] by his second lieutenant, Mr. Nesbit, and endeavored to quiet the apprehensions of the people. He then returned to his cabin, and burnt his papers and private signals. Meantime every sea lifted up the ship, and then dashed her with irresistible force on the rocks; and in a short time, the crew were obliged to resort to the rigging, where they remained an hour, exposed to the surges incessantly breaking over them. There they broke out into the most lamentable exclamations, for their parents, children and kindred, and the distresses they themselves endured. The weather was so dark and hazy, that the rocks could be seen only at a very small distance, and in two minutes afterwards the ship had struck.

At this time the lightning had ceased, but the darkness of the night was such, that the people could not see the length of the ship from them; their only hope rested in the falling of the main-mast, which they trusted would reach a small rock, which was discovered very near them. Accordingly, about half an hour before day-break, the main-mast gave way, providentially falling towards the rock, and by means of it they were enabled to gain the land.

The struggles and confusion to which this incident gave birth, can better be conceived than described; some of the crew were drowned, one man had his arm broke, and many were cruelly lacerated; but Captain Palmer refused to quit his station, while any individual remained on board; and not until the whole of his people had gained the rock did he endeavor to save himself. At that time, in consequence of remaining by the wreck, he had received considerable personal injury, and must infallibly have perished, had not some of the seamen ventured through a tremendous sea to his assistance. The boats were staved in pieces; several of the people endeavored to haul in the jolly-boat, which they were incapable of accomplishing.

The hull of the vessel being interposed, sheltered the shipwrecked crew a long time from the beating of the surf; but as she broke up, their situation became more perilous every moment, and they soon found that they should be obliged to abandon the small portion of the rock, which they had reached, and wade to another apparently somewhat larger. The first lieutenant, by watching the breaking of the seas, had got safely thither, and it was resolved by the rest to follow his example. Scarce was this resolution formed, and attempted to be put into execution, when the people encountered an immense quantity of loose spars, which were immediately washed [Pg 204] into the channel which they had to pass; but necessity would admit of no alternative. Many in crossing between the two rocks were severely wounded; and they suffered more in this undertaking than in gaining the first rock from the ship. The loss of their shoes was now felt in particular, for the sharp rocks tore their feet in a dreadful manner, and the legs of some were covered with blood.

Daylight beginning to appear, disclosed the horrors by which those unfortunate men were surrounded. The sea was covered with the wreck of their ill fated ship, many of their unhappy comrades were seen floating away on spars and timbers; and the dead and dying were mingled together without a possibility of the survivors affording assistance to any that might still be rescued. Two short hours had been productive of all this misery, the ship destroyed and her crew reduced to a situation of despair. Their wild and affrighted looks indicated the sensations by which they were agitated; but on being recalled to a sense of their real condition, they saw that they had nothing left but resignation to the will of heaven.

The shipwrecked mariners now discovered that they were cast away on a coral rock almost level with the water, about three or four hundred yards long, and two hundred broad.—They were at least twelve miles from the nearest islands, which were afterwards found to be those of Cerigotto and Pera, on the north end of Candia, about thirty miles distant. At this time it was reported, that a small boat, with several men, had escaped; and although the fact was true, the uncertainty of her fate induced those on the rock to confide in being relieved by any vessel accidentally passing in sight of a signal of distress they had hoisted on a long pole; the neighboring islands being too distant.

The weather had been extremely cold, and the day preceding the shipwreck ice had lain on the deck; now, to resist its inclemency, a fire was made, by means of a knife and a flint preserved in the pocket of one of the sailors; and with much difficulty, some damp powder, from a small barrel washed on shore, was kindled. A kind of tent was next made, with pieces of old canvass, boards, and such things as could be got about the wreck, and the people were thus enabled to dry the few clothes they had saved. But they passed a long and comfortless night, though partly consoled with the hope of their fire being descried in the dark, and taken for a signal of distress. Nor was this hope altogether disappointed.

[Pg 205] When the ship first struck, a small whale-boat was hanging over the quarter, into which, an officer, George Smith the coxswain, and nine men, immediately got, and, lowering themselves into the water, happily escaped. After rowing three or four leagues against a very high sea, and the wind blowing hard, they reached the small island of Pera. This proved to be scarce a mile in circuit, and containing nothing but a few sheep and goats, belonging to the inhabitants of Cerigo, who come in the summer months to carry away their young. They could find no fresh water, except a small residue from rain in the hole of a rock, and that was barely sufficient though most sparingly used. During the night, having observed the fire above mentioned, the party began to conjecture that some of their shipmates might have been saved, for until then they had deemed their destruction inevitable.—The coxswain impressed with this opinion, proposed again hazarding themselves in the boat for their relief, and, although some feeble objections were offered against it, he continued resolute to his purpose, and persuaded four others to accompany him.

About nine in the morning of Tuesday, the second day of the shipwreck, the approach in the little whale-boat was descried by those on the rock; all uttered an exclamation of joy, and in return the surprise of the coxswain and his crew to find so many of their shipmates still surviving is not to be described. But the surf ran so high as to endanger the safety of the boat, and several of the people imprudently endeavored to get into it. The coxswain tried to persuade Captain Palmer to come to him, but he steadily refused, saying, “No, Smith, save your unfortunate shipmates, never mind me.”—After some little consultation, he desired him to take the Greek pilot on board, and make the best of his way to Cerigotto, where the pilot said there were some families of fishermen, who doubtless would relieve their necessities.

But it appeared as if Heaven had ordained the destruction of this unfortunate crew, for, soon after the boat departed, the wind began to increase, and dark clouds gathering around, excited among those remaining behind all their apprehensions for a frightful storm. In a about two hours it commenced with the greatest fury; the waves rose considerably, and soon destroyed the fire. They nearly covered the rock, and compelled the men to fly to the highest part for refuge, which was the only one that could afford any shelter. There nearly ninety people passed a night of the greatest horrors; and the [Pg 206] only means of preventing themselves from being swept away by the surf, which every moment broke over them, was by a small rope fastened round the summit of the rock, and with difficulty holding on by each other.

The fatigues which the people had previously undergone, added to what they now endured, proved too overpowering to many of their number; several became delirious; their strength was exhausted, and they could hold on no longer. Their afflictions were still further aggravated by an apprehension that the wind, veering more to the north, would raise the sea to their present situation, in which case a single wave would have swept them all into oblivion.

The hardships which the crew had already suffered were sufficient to terminate existence, and many had met with deplorable accidents. One in particular, while crossing the channel between the rocks at an unsuitable time, was dashed against them so as to be nearly scalped, and exhibited a dreadful spectacle to his companions. He lingered out the night, and next morning expired. The more fortunate survivors were but ill prepared to meet the terrible effects of famine; their strength enfeebled, their bodies unsheltered and abandoned by hope. Nor were they less alarmed for the fate of their boat. The storm came on before she could have reached the intended island, and on her safety their own depended. But the scene which daylight presented was still more deplorable. The survivors beheld the corpses of their departed shipmates, and some still in the agonies of death. They were themselves altogether exhausted, from the sea all night breaking over them, and the inclemency of the weather, which was such, that many, among whom was the carpenter, perished from excessive cold.

But this unfortunate crew had now to suffer a mortification, and to witness an instance of inhumanity, which leaves an eternal stain of infamy on those who merit the reproach.—Soon after day broke, they observed a vessel with all sail set, coming down before the wind, steering directly for the rock. They made every possible signal of distress which their feeble condition admitted, nor without effect, for they were at last seen by the vessel, which bore to and hoisted out her boat. The joy which this occasioned may be easily conceived, for nothing short of immediate relief was anticipated; and they hastily made preparation for rafts to carry them through the surf, confident that the boat was provided with whatever might administer to their necessities. Approaching still nearer, [Pg 207] she came within pistol-shot, full of men dressed in the European fashion, who after having gazed at them a few minutes, the person who steered, waved his hat to them and then rowed off to his ship. The pain of the shipwrecked people at this barbarous proceeding was acute, and heightened even more by beholding the stranger vessel employed the whole day in taking up the floating remains of that less fortunate one which had so lately borne them.

Perhaps the abandoned wretches guilty of so unfeeling an act may one day be disclosed, and it would surely excite little compassion to learn that they suffered that retribution which such inhuman conduct merits. That people dressed in the habit of Englishmen, though belonging to a different nation, could take advantage of misery instead of relieving it, will scarce seem creditable at the present day, were not some instances of a similar nature related elsewhere than in these volumes.

After this cruel disappointment, and bestowing an anathema which the barbarity of the strangers deserved, the thoughts of the people were, during the remainder of the day, directed towards the return of the boat; and being disappointed there also, their dread that she had been lost was only further confirmed. They began to yield to despondency, and had the gloomy prospect of certain death before them. Thirst then became intolerable; and in spite of being warned against it by instances of the terrific effects ensuing, some in desperation resorted to salt water. Their companions had soon the grief of learning what they would experience by following their example; in a few hours raging madness followed, and nature could struggle no longer.

Another awful night was to be passed, yet the weather being considerably more moderate, the sufferers entertained hopes that it would be less disastrous than the one preceding; and to preserve themselves from the cold, they crowded close together and covered themselves with their few remaining rags. But the ravings of their comrades who had drank salt water were truly horrible; all endeavors to quiet them were ineffectual, and the power of sleep lost its influence. In the middle of the night they were unexpectedly hailed by the crew of the whale-boat; but the only object of the people on the rock was water; they cried out to their shipmates for it, though in vain. Earthen vessels only could have been procured, and these would not bear being conveyed through the surf. The coxswain then said they should be taken off the [Pg 208] rock by a fishing vessel in the morning, and with this assurance they were forced to be content. It was some consolation to know that the boat was safe, and that relief had so far been obtained.

All the people anxiously expected morning, and, for the first time since being on the rock, the sun cheered them with its rays. Still the fourth morning came and no tidings either of the boat or vessel. The anxiety of the people increased, for inevitable death from famine, was staring them in the face. What were they to do for self-preservation? The misery and hunger which they endured, were extreme; they were not ignorant of the means whereby other unfortunate mariners in the like situation had protracted life, yet they viewed them with disgust. Still when they had no alternative, they considered their urgent necessities and found them affording some excuse. Offering prayers to Heaven for forgiveness of the sinful act, they selected a young man who had died the preceding night, and ventured to appease their hunger with human flesh.

Whether the people were relieved is uncertain, for towards evening death had made hasty strides among them, and many brave men drooped under their hardships. Among these were the captain and first lieutenant, two meritorious officers: and the sullen silence now preserved by the survivors, shewed the state of their internal feelings. Captain Palmer was in the 26th year of his age; amidst his endeavors to comfort those under his command, his companions in misfortune, his personal injuries were borne with patience and resignation, and no murmurs escaped his lips; his virtuous life was prematurely closed by the overwhelming severities of the lamentable catastrophe he had shared.

During the course of another tedious night, many suggested the possibility of constructing a raft which might carry the survivors to Cerigotto; and the wind being favorable, might enable them to reach that island. At all events, attempting this seemed preferable to remaining on the rock to expire of hunger and thirst. Accordingly, at daylight they prepared to put their plan in execution. A number of the larger spars were lashed together, and sanguine hopes of success entertained. At length the moment of launching the raft arrived, but it was only to distress the people with new disappointments, for a few moments sufficed for the destruction of a work on which the strongest of the party had been occupied hours. Several from this unexpected failure became still [Pg 209] more desperate, and five resolved to trust themselves on a few small spars slightly lashed together, and on which they had scarce room to stand. Bidding their companions adieu, they launched out into the sea, where they were speedily carried away by unknown currents, and vanished forever from sight.

Towards the same afternoon, the people were again rejoiced by the sight of the whale-boat, and the coxswain told them that he had experienced great difficulty in prevailing on the Greek fishermen of Cerigotto to venture in their boats, from dread of the weather. Neither would they permit him to take them unaccompanied by themselves; he regretted what his comrades had endured, and his grief at not being able yet to relieve them, but encouraged them with hopes, if the weather remained fine, that next day the boats might come. While the coxswain spoke this, twelve or fourteen men imprudently plunged from the rock into the sea, and very nearly reached the boat. Two indeed, got so far as to be taken in, one was drowned and the rest providentially recovered their former station. Those who thus escaped could not but be envied by their companions, while they reproached the indiscretion of the others, who, had they reached the boat, would without all doubt have sunk her, and thus unwittingly consigned the whole to irremediable destruction.

The people were wholly occupied in reflections on the passing incidents; but their weakness increased as the day elapsed; one of the survivors describes himself as feeling the approach of annihilation, that his sight failed, and his senses became confused; that his strength was exhausted, and his eyes turned towards the setting sun, under the conviction that he should never see it rise again. Yet on the morning he survived, and he was surprised that Providence willed it should still be so, as several strong men had fallen in the course of the night. While the remainder were contemplating their forlorn condition, and judging this the last day of their lives, the approach of the boats was unexpectedly announced.—From the lowest ebb of despair, they were now elated with the most extravagant joy; and copious draughts of water, quickly landed, refreshed their languid bodies. Never before did they know the blessings which the single possession of water could afford; it tasted more delicious than the finest wines.

Anxious preparations were made for immediate departure from a place, which had been fatal to so many unhappy sufferers. Of one hundred and twenty-two persons on board the Nautilus when she struck, fifty-eight had perished. Eighteen [Pg 210] were drowned, it was supposed, at the moment of the catastrophe, and one in attempting to reach the boat, five were lost on the small raft, and thirty-four died of famine. About fifty now embarked in four fishing vessels, and landed the same evening at the island of Cerigotto, making altogether sixty-four individuals, including those who escaped in the whale-boat. Six days had been passed on the rock, nor had the people, during that time, received any assistance, excepting from the human flesh of which they had participated.

The survivors landed at a small creek in the island of Cerigotto, after which they had to go to a considerable distance before reaching the dwellings of their friends. Their first care was to send for the master’s mate, who had escaped to the island of Pori, and had been left behind when the whale-boat came down to the rock. He and his companions had exhausted all the fresh water, but lived on the sheep and goats, which they caught among the rocks, and had drank their blood. There they had remained in a state of great uncertainty concerning the fate of those who had left them in the boat.

Though the Greeks could not aid the seamen in the care of their wounds, they treated them with great care and hospitality; but medical assistance being important, from the pain the sufferers endured, and having nothing to bind up their wounds but shirts which they tore into bandages, they were eager to reach Cerigo. The island of Cerigotto, where they had landed, was a dependency on the other, about fifteen miles long, ten broad, and of a barren and unproductive soil, with little cultivation. Twelve or fourteen families of Greek fishermen dwelt upon it, as the pilot had said, who were in a state of extreme poverty. Their houses, or rather huts, consisting of one or two rooms on the same floor, were, in general, built against the side of a rock; the walls composed of clay and straw, and the roof supported by a tree in the centre of the dwelling. Their food was a coarse kind of bread, formed of boiled pease and flour, which was made into a kind of paste for the strangers, with once or twice a bit of kid; and that was all which they could expect from their deliverers. But they made a liquor from corn, which having an agreeable flavour, and being a strong spirit, was drank with avidity by the sailors.

Cerigo was about twenty-five miles distant, and there, it was also said, an English consul resided. Eleven days elapsed, however, before the crew could leave Cerigotto, from [Pg 211] the difficulty of persuading the Greeks to adventure to sea, in their frail barks, during tempestuous weather. The wind at last proving fair, with a smooth sea, they bade a grateful adieu to the families of their deliverers, who were tenderly affected by their distresses, and shed tears of regret when they departed. In six or eight hours, they reached Cerigo, where they were received with open arms. Immediately on arrival, they were met by the English vice-consul, Signor Manuel Caluci, a native of the island, who devoted his house, bed, credit and whole attention to their service; and the survivors unite in declaring their inability to express the obligations under which he laid them. The governor, commandant, bishop and principal people, all shewed equal hospitality, care and friendship, and exerted themselves to render the time agreeable; insomuch that it was with no little regret that these shipwrecked mariners thought of forsaking the island.

After the people had remained three weeks at Cerigo, they learnt that a Russian ship of war lay at anchor off the Morea about twelve leagues distant, being driven in by bad weather, and immediately sent letters to her commanding officer, narrating their misfortunes and soliciting a passage to Corfu.—The master of the Nautilus determining to make the most of the opportunity, took a boat to reach the Russian vessel; but he was at first so unfortunate as to be blown on the rocks in a heavy gale of wind, where he nearly perished, and the boat was staved in pieces. However, he luckily got to the ship, and after some difficulty, succeeded in procuring the desired passage for himself and his companions to Corfu. Her commander, to accommodate them, came down to Cerigo, and anchored at a small port called St. Nicholas, at the eastern extremity of the island. The English embarked on the 5th, but, owing to contrary winds, did not sail until the 15th of February, when they bade farewell to their friends. They next touched at Zante, another small island, abounding in currants and olives, the oil from the latter of which constitutes the chief riches of the people. After remaining there four days, they sailed for Corfu, where they arrived on the 2d of March 1807, nearly two months after the date of their shipwreck.


[Pg 212]

WRECK OF A SLAVE SHIP.

The following extract of a letter from Philadelphia, dated November 11th, 1762, gives an account of the melancholy disaster that befel the Phœnix, Capt. M’Gacher, in lat. 37 deg. N. and lon. 72 deg. W. from London, bound to Potomac, in Maryland, from the coast of Africa, with 332 slaves on board.

“On Wednesday the 20th of October 1762, at six o’clock in the evening, came on a most violent gale of wind at south, with thunder and lightning, the sea running very high, when the ship sprung a leak, and we were obliged to lie-to under bare poles, the water gained on us with both pumps constantly working. 10 P. M. endeavored to put the ship before the wind to no purpose. At twelve the sand ballast having choked our pumps, and there being seven feet water in the hold, all the casks afloat, and the ballast shifted to leeward, cut away the rigging of the main and mizen masts, both of which went instantly close by the deck, and immediately after the foremast was carried away about twenty feet above. Hove overboard all our guns, upon which the ship righted a little. We were then under a necessity of letting all our slaves out of irons, to assist in pumping and baling.

“Thursday morning being moderate, having gained about three feet on the ship, we found every cask in the hold stove to pieces, so that we only saved a barrel of flour, 10 lbs. of bread, twenty-five gallons of wine, beer, and shrub, and twenty-five gallons of spirits. The seamen and slaves were employed all this day in pumping and baling; the pumps were frequently choked, and brought up great quantities of sand. We were obliged to hoist one of the pumps up, and put it down the quarter deck hatchway. A ship this day bore down upon us, and, though very near, and we making every signal of distress, she would not speak to us.

“On Friday, the men slaves being very sullen and unruly, having had no sustenance of any kind for forty-eight hours, except a dram, we put one half of the strongest of them in irons.

[Pg 213] “On Saturday and Sunday, all hands night and day could scarce keep the ship clear, and were constantly under arms.

“On Monday morning, many of the slaves had got out of irons, and were attempting to break up the gratings; and the seamen not daring to go down in the hold to clear the pumps, we were obliged, for the preservation of our own lives, to kill fifty of the ringleaders and stoutest of them.

“It is impossible to describe the misery the poor slaves underwent, having had no fresh water for five days. Their dismal cries and shrieks, and most frightful looks, added a great deal to our misfortunes; four of them were found dead, and one drowned herself in the hold. This evening the water gained on us, and three seamen dropped down with fatigue and thirst, which could not be quenched, though wine, rum, and shrub were given them alternately. On Thursday morning the ship had gained, during the night, above a foot of water, and the seamen quite worn out, and many of them in despair. About ten in the forenoon we saw a sail; about two she discovered us, and bore down; at five spoke to us, being the King George, of Londonderry, James Mackay, master; he immediately promised to take us on board, and hoisted out his yawl, it then blowing very fresh. The gale increasing, prevented him from saving any thing but the white people’s lives, not even any of our clothes, or one slave, the boat being scarcely able to live in the sea the last trip she made. Capt. Mackay and some gentlemen, passengers he had on board, treated us with kindness and humanity.”


THE WRECKED SEAMEN.

The annexed thrilling sketch is extracted from the “Life of a Sailor, by a Captain in the British Navy.” It relates to the exposures of the crew of the Magpie, who had taken to the boat, after their shipwreck on the coast of Cuba. The boat was upset,—the storm continues:—

[Pg 214] Even in this moment of peril, the discipline of the navy assumed its command. At the order from the lieutenant for the men on the keel to relinquish their position they instantly obeyed, the boat was turned over and once more the expedient was tried—but quite in vain; for no sooner had the two men begun to bail with a couple of hats, and the safety of the crew to appear within the bounds of probability, than one man declared he saw the fin of a shark. No language can convey an idea of the panic which seized the struggling seamen; a shark is at all times an object of horror to a sailor; and those who have seen the destructive jaws of this voracious fish, and their immense and almost incredible power—their love of blood and their bold daring to obtain it, alone can form an idea of the sensations produced in a swimmer by the cry of “a shark! a shark!” Every man now struggled to obtain a moment’s safety. Well they knew that one drop of blood would have been scented by the everlasting pilot-fish, the jackalls of the shark; and that their destruction was inevitable, if one only of these monsters should discover this rich repast, or be led to its food by the little rapid hunter of its prey.—All discipline was now unavailing, the boat again turned keel up; one man only gained his security to be pushed from it by others and thus their strength begun to fail from long continued exertion. However, as the enemy so much dreaded did not make its appearance, Smith once more urged them to endeavor to save themselves by the only means left, that of the boat; but as he knew that he would only increase their alarm by endeavoring to persuade them that sharks did not abound in these parts, he used the wisest plan of desiring those who held on by the gun-wale, to keep splashing in the water with their legs, in order to frighten the monsters at which they were so alarmed. Once more had hope began to dawn:—the boat was clear to her thwarts, and four men were in her hard at work; a little forbearance and a little obedience, and they were safe. At this moment, when those in the water urged their messmates in the boat to continue bailing with unremitted exertion, a noise was heard close to them, and about fifteen sharks came right in amongst them. The panic was ten times more dreadful than before; the boat was again upset by the simultaneous endeavor to escape the danger; and the twenty-two sailors were again devoted to destruction.—At first the sharks did not seem inclined to seize their prey, but swam in amongst the men, playing in the water, sometimes leaping about and rubbing against their victims. This [Pg 215] was of short duration, a loud shriek from one of the men announced his sudden pain; a shark had seized him by the leg, and severed it entirely from the body. No sooner had the blood been tasted than the long dreaded attack took place; another and another shriek proclaimed a loss of limbs; some were torn from the boat to which they vainly endeavored to cling; some, it was supposed, sunk from fear alone; all were in dreadful peril. Mr. Smith, even now, when of all horrible deaths the most horrible seemed to await him, gave his orders with clearness and coolness; and to the everlasting honor of the poor departed crew be it known, they were obeyed; again the boat was righted, and again two men were in her. Incredible as it may appear, still, however, it is true, that the voice of the officer was heard amidst the danger; and the survivors, actually as before, clung to the gun-wale, and kept the boat upright. Mr. Smith himself held to the stern, and cheered and applauded his men. The sharks had tasted the blood, and were not to be driven from their feast; in one short moment, when Mr. Smith ceased splashing as he looked into the boat to watch the progress, a shark seized both legs, and bit them off just above the knees. Human nature was not strong enough to bear the immense pain without a groan; but Mr. Smith endeavored to conceal the misfortune, nature, true to herself, resisted the endeavor, and the groan was deep and audible. The crew had long respected their gallant commander; they knew his worth and his courage:—on hearing him express his pain, and seeing him relinquish his hold to sink, two of the men grasped their dying officer, and placed him in the stern sheets. Even now in almost insupportable agony, that gallant fellow forgot his own sufferings, and thought only on rescuing the remaining few from the untimely grave which awaited them; he told them again of their only hope, deplored their perilous state, and concluded with these words; “if any of you survive this fatal night, and return to Jamaica, tell the admiral (Sir Lawrence Halstead) that I was in search of the pirate when this lamentable occurrence took place, tell him I hope I have always done my duty, and that I—” Here the endeavor of some of the men to get into the boat gave her a heel on one side; the men who were supporting poor Smith relinquished him for a moment, and he rolled overboard and was drowned. His last bubbling cry was soon lost amidst the shrieks of his former companions, he sunk to rise no more.

At eight o’clock in the evening the Magpie was upset; it [Pg 216] was calculated by the two survivors, that their companions had all died by nine. The sharks seemed satisfied for the moment, and they, with gallant hearts, resolved to profit by the precious time in order to save themselves; they righted the boat, and one getting over the bows, and the other over the stern, they found themselves although nearly exhausted, yet alive, and in comparative security, they began the work of bailing, and soon lightened the boat sufficiently not to be easily upset, when both set down to rest. The return of the sharks was a signal for their return to labor. The voracious monsters endeavored to upset the boat; they swam by its side in seeming anxiety for their prey, but after waiting sometime, they separated; the two rescued seamen, found themselves free from their insatiable enemies, and, by the blessing of God, saved.—Tired as they were, they continued their labor until the boat was nearly dry, when both lay down to rest, the one forward, and the other aft; so completely had fear operated on their minds, that they did not dare even to move, dreading that an incautious step might have capsized the boat. They soon, in spite of the horrors they had witnessed, fell into a sound sleep, and day had dawned before they awoke to horrible reflections, and apparently worse dangers. The sun rose clear and unclouded; the cool calm of the night was followed by the sultry calm of the morning, and heat, hunger, thirst and fatigue, seemed to settle on the unfortunate men, rescued by Providence and their own exertions from the jaws of a horrible death. They awoke and looked at each other, the very gaze of despair was appalling; far as the eye could reach, no object could be discerned; the bright haze of the morning added to the strong refraction of light; one smooth, interminable plain, one endless ocean, one cloudless sky and one burning sun, were all they had to gaze upon. The boat lay like the ark, in a world alone! They had no oar, no mast and no sail, nothing but the bare planks and themselves, without provisions or water, food or raiment. They lay upon the calm ocean, hopeless, friendless and miserable. It was a time of intense anxiety, their eyes rested upon each other in silent pity, not unmixed with fear. Each knew the dreadful alternative to which nature would urge them. The cannibal was already in their looks, and fearful would have been the first attack on either side, for they were both brave and stout men, and equals in strength and courage.

It now being about half past six in the morning, the sun was beginning to prove its burning power, the sea was as [Pg 217] smooth as a looking glass, and saving now and then, the slight cat’s paw of air, which ruffled the face of the water for a few yards, all was calm and hushed. In vain they strained their eyes, in vain they turned from side to side to escape the burning rays of the sun; they could not sleep, for now anxiety and fear kept both vigilant and on their guard; they dared not to court sleep, for that might have been the last of mortal repose. Once they nearly quarrelled, but fortunately the better feelings of humanity overcame the bitterness of despair. The foremost man had long complained of thirst, and had frequently dipped his hand into the water, and sucked the fluid; this was hastily done, for all the horrors of the night were still before them, and not unfrequently the sharp fin of a shark was seen not very far from the boat. In the midst of the excruciating torments of thirst, heightened by the salt water, and the irritable temper of the bowman, as he stamped his impatient feet against the bottom boards, and tore his hair with unfeeling indifference, he suddenly stopped the expression of rage and called out—“a sail!”

Whilst they stood watching in silence the approach of the brig, which slowly made her way through the water, and at the very instant that they were assuring each other that they were seen, and that the vessel was purposely steered on the course she was keeping, to reach them, the whole fabric of hope was destroyed in a second; the brig kept away about three points, and began to make more sail. Then was it an awful moment; their countenances saddened as they looked at each other; for in vain they hailed, in vain they threw their jackets in the air; it was evident they had never been seen, and that the brig was steering her proper course.

The time was slipping away, and if once they got abaft the beam of the brig, every second would lessen the chance of being seen, besides, the sea breeze might come down, and then she would be far away, and beyond all hope in a quarter of an hour. Now was it, that the man who had been so loudly lamenting his fate, seemed suddenly inspired with fresh hope and courage, he looked attentively at the brig, then at his companion, and said “by heaven I’ll do it, or we are lost!” “Do what?” said his shipmate. “Though,” said the first man, “it is no trifle to do, after what we have seen and known; yet I will try, for if she passes us, what can we do? I tell you Jack, I’ll swim to her, if I get safe to her, you are saved, if not, why I shall die without adding, perhaps, murder to my crimes.” “What! jump overboard, and leave me all alone!” [Pg 218] replied his companion, “look, look at that shark, which has followed us all night, why it is only waiting for you to get into the water to swallow you, as it did perhaps half of our messmates; no, no, wait, do wait, perhaps another vessel may come, besides, I cannot swim half the distance, and I should be afraid to remain behind, think, Tom, only think of the sharks and of last night.”

He jumped overboard with as much calmness as if he was bathing in security. No sooner had he began to strike out in the direction he intended, than his companion turned towards the sharks. The first had disappeared, and it was evident they had heard the splash, and would soon follow their prey. It is hard to say who suffered the most anxiety. The one left in the boat cheered his companion, looked at the brig, and kept waving his jacket, then turned to watch the sharks; his horror may be imagined when he saw three of these terrific monsters swim past the boat, exactly in the direction of his companion; he splashed his jacket in the water to scare them away, but they seemed quite aware of the impotency of the attack, and lazily pursued their course. The man swam well and strongly. There was no doubt he would pass within hail of the brig, provided the sharks did not interfere, and he, knowing that they would not be long in following him, kept kicking in the water and splashing as he swam. There is no fish more cowardly, and yet more desperately savage than a shark. I have seen one harpooned twice, with a hook in his jaws, and come again to a fresh bait, yet will they suffer themselves to be scared by the smallest noise, and hardly ever take their prey without it is quite still. Generally speaking, any place surrounded by rocks where the surf breaks, although there may be no passage for a ship, will be secure from sharks. It was not until a great distance had been accomplished, that the swimmer became apprized of his danger, and saw by his side one of the terrific creatures; still however, he bravely swam and kicked, his mind was made up for the worst, and he had little hope of success. In the meantime the breeze had gradually freshened, and the brig passed with greater velocity through the water; every stitch of canvas was spread. To the poor swimmer the sails seemed bursting with the breeze, and as he used his utmost endeavor to propel himself so as to cut off the vessel, the spray appeared to dash from the bow and the brig to fly through the sea. He was now close enough to hope his voice might be heard; but he hailed and hailed in vain, not a soul was to be seen on deck; the man [Pg 219] who steered was too intent upon his avocation to listen to the call of mercy. The brig passed, and the swimmer was every second getting further in the distance, every hope was gone, not a ray of that bright divinity remained; the fatigue had nearly exhausted him, and the sharks only waited for the first quiet moment to swallow their victim. It was in vain he thought of returning towards the boat, for he never could have reached her, and his companion had no means of assisting him. In the act of offering up his last prayer ere he made up his mind to float and be eaten, he saw a man looking over the quarter of the brig; he raised both his hands, he jumped himself up in the water, and by the singularity of his motions, fortunately attracted notice. A telescope soon made clear the object; the brig was hove to, a boat sent, and the man saved. The attention of the crew was then awakened to the Magpie’s boat; she was soon alongside, and thus through the bold exertions of as gallant a fellow as ever breathed, both were rescued from their perilous situation.


ADVENTURES OF PHILIP ASHTON,

WHO, AFTER ESCAPING FROM PIRATES, LIVED SIXTEEN MONTHS IN SOLITUDE ON A DESOLATE ISLAND.

On Friday the 15th of June 1722, after being out some time in a schooner with four men and a boy, off Cape Sable, I stood in for Port Rossaway, designing to lie there all Sunday. Having arrived about four in the afternoon, we saw, among other vessels which had reached the port before us, a brigantine supposed to be inward bound from the West Indies. After remaining three or four hours at anchor, a boat from the brigantine came alongside, with four hands, who leapt on deck, and suddenly drawing out pistols, and brandishing cutlasses, demanded the surrender both of ourselves and our vessel. All remonstrance was vain; nor indeed, had we known who they were before boarding us, could we have made any effectual resistance, being only five men and [Pg 220] a boy, and were thus under the necessity of submitting at discretion. We were not single in misfortune, as thirteen or fourteen fishing-vessels were in like manner surprised the same evening.

When carried on board the brigantine, I found myself in the hands of Ned Low, an infamous pirate, whose vessel had two great guns, four swivels, and about forty-two men. I was strongly urged to sign the articles of agreement among the pirates, and to join their number, which I steadily refused, and suffered much bad usage in consequence. At length being conducted, along with five of the prisoners, to the quarter-deck, Low came up to us with pistols in his hand, and loudly demanded, “Are any of you married men?” This unexpected question, added to the sight of the pistols, struck us all speechless; we were alarmed lest there was some secret meaning in his words, and that he would proceed to extremities, therefore none could reply. In a violent passion he cocked a pistol, and clapping it to my head, cried out, “You dog, why don’t you answer?” swearing vehemently at the same time that he would shoot me through the head. I was sufficiently terrified by his threats and fierceness, but rather than lose my life in so trifling a matter, I ventured to pronounce, as loud as I durst speak, that I was not married. Hereupon he seemed to be somewhat pacified, and turned away.

It appeared that Low was resolved to take no married men whatever, which often seemed surprising to me until I had been a considerable time with him. But his own wife had died lately before he became a pirate; and he had a young child at Boston, for whom he entertained such tenderness, on every lucid interval from drinking and revelling, that, on mentioning it, I have seen him sit down and weep plentifully. Thus I concluded, that his reason for taking only single men, was probably, that they might have no ties, such as wives and children, to divert them from his service, and render them desirous of returning home.

The pirates finding force of no avail in compelling us to join them, began to use persuasion instead of it. They tried to flatter me into compliance, by setting before me the share I should have in their spoils, and the riches which I should become master of; and all the time eagerly importuned me to drink along with them. But I still continued to resist their proposals, whereupon Low, with equal fury as before, threatened to shoot me through the head; and though I [Pg 221] earnestly entreated my release, he and his people wrote my name, and that of my companions, in their books.

On the 19th of June, the pirates changed the privateer, as they called their vessel, and went into a new schooner belonging to Marblehead, which they had captured. They then put all the prisoners, whom they designed sending home, on board of the brigantine, and sent her to Boston, which induced me to make another unsuccessful attempt for liberty; but though I fell on my knees to Low, he refused to let me go: thus I saw the brigantine depart, with the whole captives, excepting myself and seven more.

Very short time before she departed, I had nearly effected my escape; for a dog belonging to Low being accidentally left on shore, he ordered some hands into a boat to bring it off. Thereupon two young men, captives, both belonging to Marblehead, readily leapt into the boat, and I considering, that if I could once get on shore, means might be found of effecting my escape, endeavored to go along with them. But the quarter-master, called Russel, catching hold of my shoulder, drew me back. As the young men did not return, he thought I was privy to their plot, and, with the most outrageous oaths, snapped his pistol, on my denying all knowledge of it. The pistol missing fire, however, only served to enrage him the more: he snapped it three times again, and as often it missed fire; on which he held it overboard, and then it went off. Russel on this drew his cutlass, and was about to attack me in the utmost fury, when I leapt down into the hold and saved myself.

Off St. Michael’s the pirates took a large Portuguese pink, laden with wheat, coming out of the road; and being a good sailor, and carrying 14 guns, transferred their company into her. It afterwards became necessary to careen her, whence they made three islands, called Triangles, lying about 40 leagues to the eastward of Surinam.

In heaving down the pink, Low had ordered so many men to the shrouds and yards, that the ports, by her heeling, got under water, and the sea rushing in, she overset: he and the doctor were then in the cabin, and as soon as he observed the water gushing in, he leaped out of the stern port, while the doctor attempted to follow him. But the violence of the sea repulsed the latter, and he was forced back into the cabin. Low, however, contrived to thrust his arm into the port, and dragging him out, saved his life. Meanwhile, the vessel [Pg 222] completely overset. Her keel turned out of the water; but as the hull filled, she sunk, in the depth of about six fathoms.

The yard-arms striking the ground, forced the masts somewhat above the water; as the ship overset, the people got from the shrouds and yards, upon the hull, and as the hull went down, they again resorted to the rigging, rising a little out of the sea.

Being an indifferent swimmer, I was reduced to great extremity; for, along with other light lads, I had been sent up to the main-top-gallant yard; and the people of a boat, who were now occupied in preserving the men refusing to take me in, I was compelled to attempt reaching the buoy. This I luckily accomplished, and as it was large secured myself there until the boat approached. I once more requested the people to take me in, but they still refused, as the boat was full. I was uncertain whether they designed leaving me to perish in this situation: however, the boat being deeply laden, made way very slowly, and one of my comrades, captured at the same time with myself, calling to me to forsake the buoy and swim towards her, I assented, and reaching the boat, he drew me on board. Two men, John Bell, and Zana Gourdon, were lost in the pink.

Though the schooner in company was very near at hand, her people were employed mending their sails under an awning, and knew nothing of the accident until the boat full of men, got alongside.

The pirates having thus lost their principal vessel, and the greatest part of their provisions and water, were reduced to great extremities for want of the latter. They were unable to get a supply at the Triangles, nor on account of calms and currents, could they make the island of Tobago. Thus they were forced to stand for Grenada, which they reached, after being on short allowance for sixteen days together.

Grenada was a French settlement, and Low, on arriving, after having sent all his men, except a sufficient number to manœuvre the vessel, below, said he was from Barbadoes; that he had lost the water on board, and was obliged to put in here for a supply.

The people entertained no suspicion of his being a pirate, but afterwards supposing him a smuggler, thought it a good opportunity to make a prize of his vessel. Next day, therefore, they equipped a large sloop of 70 tons, and four guns, with about 30 hands, as sufficient for the capture, and came alongside, while Low was quite unsuspicious of their design. [Pg 223] But this being evidently betrayed by their number and actions, he quickly called 90 men on deck, and, having 8 guns mounted, the French sloop became an easy prey.

Provided with these two vessels, the pirates cruised about in the West Indies, taking seven or eight prizes, and at length arrived at the island of Santa Cruz, where they captured two more. While lying there, Low thought he stood in need of a medicine chest, and, in order to procure one, sent four Frenchmen, in a vessel he had taken, to St. Thomas’s, about twelve leagues distant, with money to purchase it; promising them liberty, and the return of all their vessels, for the service. But he declared at the same time, if it proved otherwise, he would kill the rest of the men, and burn the vessels. In little more than twenty-four hours, the Frenchmen returned with the object of their mission, and Low punctually performed his promise by restoring the vessels.

Having sailed for the Spanish American settlements, the pirates descried two large ships, about half way between Carthagena and Portobello, which proved to be the Mermaid, an English man-of-war, and a Guineaman. They approached in chase until discovering the man-of-war’s great range of teeth, when they immediately put about, and made the best of their way off. The man-of-war then commenced the pursuit, and gained upon them apace, and I confess that my terrors were now equal to any that I had previously suffered; for I concluded that we should certainly be taken, and that I should no less certainly be hanged for company’s sake: so true are the words of Solomon, “A companion of fools shall be destroyed.” But the two pirate vessels finding themselves outsailed, separated, and Farrington Spriggs, who commanded the schooner in which I was, stood in for the shore. The Mermaid observing the sloop with Low himself to be the larger of the two, crowded all sail, and continued gaining still more, indeed until her shot flew over; but one of the sloop’s crew shewed Low a shoal, which he could pass, and in the pursuit the man-of-war grounded. Thus the pirates escaped hanging on this occasion.

Spriggs and one of his chosen companions dreading the consequences of being captured and brought to justice, laid their pistols beside them in the interval, and pledging a mutual oath in a bumper of liquor, swore, if they saw no possibility of escape, to set foot to foot, and blow out each other’s brains. But standing towards the shore, they made Pickeroon Bay, and escaped the danger.

[Pg 224] Next we repaired to a small island called Utilla, about seven or eight leagues to leeward of the island of Roatan, in the Bay of Honduras, where the bottom of the schooner was cleaned. There were now twenty-two persons on board, and eight of us engaged in a plot to overpower our masters, and make our escape. Spriggs proposed sailing for New England, in quest of provisions, and to increase his company; and we intended on approaching the coast, when the rest had indulged freely in liquor, and fallen sound asleep, to secure them under the hatches, and then deliver ourselves up to government.

Although our plot was carried on with all possible privacy, Spriggs had somehow or other got intelligence of it; and having fallen in with Low on the voyage, went on board his ship to make a furious declaration against us. But Low made little account of his information, otherwise it might have been fatal to most of our number. Spriggs, however, returned raging to the schooner, exclaiming, that four of us should go forward to be shot, and to me in particular he said, “You dog Ashton, you deserve to be hanged up at the yard-arm for designing to cut us off.” I replied, “that I had no intention of injuring any man on board; but I should be glad if they would allow me to go away quietly.” At length this flame was quenched, and, through the goodness of God, I escaped destruction.

Roatan harbour, as all about the Bay of Honduras, is full of small islands, which pass under the general name of Keys; and having got in here, Low, with some of his chief men, landed on a small island, which they called Port Royal Key. There they erected huts, and continued carousing, drinking, and firing, while the different vessels, of which they now had possession, were repairing.

On Saturday the 9th of March 1723, the cooper, with six hands, in the long-boat, was going ashore for water; and coming alongside of the schooner, I requested to be of the party. Seeing him hesitate, I urged that I had never hitherto been ashore, and thought it hard to be so closely confined, when every one besides had the liberty of landing as there was occasion. Low had before told me, on requesting to be sent away in some of the captured vessels which he dismissed, that I should go home when he did, and swore that I should never previously set my foot on land. But now I considered, if I could possibly once get on terra firma, though in ever such bad circumstances, I should account it a happy deliverance, and resolved never to embark again.

[Pg 225] The cooper at length took me into the long-boat, while Low, and his chief people, were on a different island from Roatan, where the watering place lay; my only clothing was an Osnaburgh frock and trowsers, a milled cap, but neither shirt, shoes, stockings, nor any thing else.

When we first landed, I was very active in assisting to get the casks out of the boat, and in rolling them to the watering-place. Then taking a hearty draught of water, I strolled along the beach, picking up stones and shells; but on reaching the distance of a musket-shot from the party, I began to withdraw towards the skirts of the woods. In answer to a question by the cooper of whither I was going? I replied, “for cocoa nuts, as some cocoa trees were just before me;” and as soon as I was out of sight of my companions, I took to my heels, running as fast as the thickness of the bushes and my naked feet would admit. Notwithstanding I had got a considerable way into the woods, I was still so near as to hear the voices of the party if they spoke loud, and I lay close in a thicket where I knew they could not find me.

After my comrades had filled their casks, and were about to depart, the cooper called on me to accompany them; however, I lay snug in the thicket, and gave him no answer, though his words were plain enough. At length, after hallooing loudly, I could hear them say to one another, “The dog is lost in the woods, and cannot find the way out again;” then they hallooed once more, and cried “he has run away and won’t come to us;” and the cooper observed, that, had he known my intention, he would not have brought me ashore. Satisfied of their inability to find me among the trees and bushes, the cooper at last, to show his kindness, exclaimed, “If you do not come away presently, I shall go off and leave you alone.” Nothing, however, could induce me to discover myself; and my comrades seeing it vain to wait any longer, put off without me.

Thus I was left on a desolate island, destitute of all help, and remote from the track of navigators; but compared with the state and society I had quitted, I considered the wilderness hospitable, and the solitude interesting.

When I thought the whole were gone, I emerged from my thicket, and came down to a small run of water, about a mile from the place where our casks were filled, and there sat down to observe the proceedings of the pirates. To my great joy, in five days their vessels sailed, and I saw the schooner part from them to shape a different course.

[Pg 226] I then began to reflect on myself and my present condition. I was on an island which I had no means of leaving; I knew of no human being within many miles; my clothing was scanty, and it was impossible to procure a supply. I was altogether destitute of provision, nor could tell how my life was to be supported. This melancholy prospect drew a copious flood of tears from my eyes; but as it had pleased God to grant my wishes in being liberated from those whose occupation was devising mischief against their neighbors, I resolved to account every hardship light. Yet Low would never suffer his men to work on the Sabbath, which was more devoted to play; and I have even seen some of them sit down to read in a good book.

In order to ascertain how I was to live in time to come, I began to range over the island, which proved ten or eleven leagues long, and lay in about 16 deg north latitude. But I soon found that my only companions would be the beasts of the earth, and fowls of the air; for there were no indications of any habitations on the island, though every now and then I found some shreds of earthen ware scattered in a lime walk, said by some to be the remains of Indians formerly dwelling here.

The island was well watered, full of high hills and deep vallies. Numerous fruit trees, such as figs, vines, and cocoa-nuts are found in the latter; and I found a kind larger than an orange, oval-shaped, of a brownish color without, and red within. Though many of these had fallen under the trees, I could not venture to take them, until I saw the wild hogs feeding with safety, and then I found them very delicious fruit.

Stores of provisions abounded here, though I could avail myself of nothing but the fruit; for I had no knife or iron implement, either to cut up a tortoise on turning it, or weapons wherewith to kill animals; nor had I any means of making a fire to cook my capture, even if I were successful.

Sometimes I entertained thoughts of digging pits, and covering them over with small branches of trees, for the purpose of taking hogs or deer; but I wanted a shovel and every substitute for the purpose, and I was soon convinced that my hands were insufficient to make a cavity deep enough to retain what should fall into it. Thus I was forced to rest satisfied with fruit, which was to be esteemed very good provision for any one in my condition.

In process of time, while poking among the sand with a stick, in quest of tortoise eggs, which I had heard were laid in the [Pg 227] sand, part of one came up adhering to it; and, on removing the sand, I found nearly an hundred and fifty, which had not lain long enough to spoil. Therefore, taking some, I ate them, and strung others on a strip of palmeto, which being hung up in the sun, became thick and somewhat hard; so that they were more palatable. After all, they were not very savoury food, though one, who had nothing but what fell from the trees, behoved to be content. Tortoises lay their eggs in the sand, in holes about a foot or a foot and a half deep, and smooth the surface over them, so that there is no discovering where they lie. According to the best of my observation, the young are hatched in eighteen or twenty days, and then immediately take to the water.

Many serpents are on this and the adjacent islands; one, about twelve or fourteen feet long, is as large as a man’s waist, but not poisonous. When lying at length, they look like old trunks of trees, covered with short moss, though they usually assume a circular position. The first time I saw one of these serpents, I had approached very near before discovering it to be a living creature; it opened its mouth wide enough to have received a hat, and breathed on me. A small black fly creates such annoyance, that even if a person possessed ever so many comforts, his life would be oppressive to him, unless for the possibility of retiring to some small quay, destitute of wood and bushes, where multitudes are dispersed by the wind.

To this place then was I confined during nine months, without seeing a human being. One day after another was lingered out, I know not how, void of occupation or amusement, except collecting food, rambling from hill to hill, and from island to island, and gazing on sky and water. Although my mind was occupied by many regrets, I had the reflection that I was lawfully employed when taken, so that I had no hand in bringing misery on myself: I was also comforted to think that I had the approbation and consent of my parents in going to sea, and trusted that it would please God, in his own time and manner, to provide for my return to my father’s house. Therefore, I resolved to submit patiently to my misfortune.

It was my daily practice to ramble from one part of the island to another, though I had a more special home near the water-side. Here I built a hut to defend me against the heat of the sun by day, and the heavy dews by night. Taking some of the best branches which I could find fallen from the trees, I contrived to fix them against a low hanging bough, by [Pg 228] fastening them together with split palmeto leaves; next I covered the whole with some of the largest and most suitable leaves that I could get. Many of these huts were constructed by me, generally near the beach, with the open part, fronting the sea, to have the better look-out, and the advantage of the sea-breeze, which both the heat and the vermin required.

But the insects were so troublesome, that I thought of endeavoring to get over to some of the adjacent keys, in hopes of enjoying rest. However, I was, as already said, a very indifferent swimmer; I had no canoe, nor any means of making one. At length, having got a piece of bamboo, which is hollow like a reed, and light as cork, I ventured, after frequent trials with it under my breast and arms, to put off for a small key about a gun-shot distant, which I reached in safety.

My new place of refuge was only about three or four hundred feet in circuit, lying very low, and clear of woods and brush; from exposure to the wind, it was quite free of vermin, and I seemed to have got into a new world, where I lived infinitely more at ease. Hither I retired, therefore, when the heat of the day rendered the insect tribe most obnoxious; yet I was obliged to be much on Roatan, to procure food and water, and at night on account of my hut.

When swimming back and forward between the two islands, I used to bind my frock and trowsers about my head, and, if I could have carried over wood and leaves, whereof to make a hut, with equal facility, I should have passed more of my time on the smaller one.

Yet these excursions were not unattended with danger. Once, I remember, when, passing from the larger island, the bamboo, before I was aware, slipped from under me; and the tide, or current, set down so strong, that it was with great difficulty I could reach the shore. At another time, when swimming over to the small island, a shovel-nosed shark, which, as well as alligators, abound in those seas, struck me in the thigh, just as my foot could reach the bottom, and grounded itself, from the shallowness of the water, as I suppose, so that its mouth could not get round towards me. The blow I felt some hours after making the shore. By repeated practice, I at length became a pretty dexterous swimmer, and amused myself by passing from one island to another, among the keys.

I suffered very much from being barefoot; so many deep [Pg 229] wounds were made in my feet from traversing the woods, where the ground was covered with sticks and stones, and on the hot beach, over sharp broken shells, that I was scarce able to walk at all. Often, when treading with all possible caution, a stone or shell on the beach, or a pointed stick in the woods, would penetrate the old wound, and the extreme anguish would strike me down as suddenly as if I had been shot. Then I would remain, for hours together, with tears gushing from my eyes, from the acuteness of the pain. I could travel no more than absolute necessity compelled me, in quest of subsistence; and I have sat, my back leaning against a tree, looking out for a vessel during a complete day.

Once, while faint from such injuries, as well as smarting under the pain of them, a wild boar rushed towards me. I knew not what to do, for I had not strength to resist his attack; therefore, as he drew nearer, I caught the bough of a tree, and suspended myself by means of it. The boar tore away part of my ragged trowsers with his tusks, and then left me. This, I think, was the only time that I was attacked by any wild beast, and I considered myself to have had a very great deliverance.

As my weakness continued to increase, I often fell to the ground insensible, and then, as also when I laid myself to sleep, I thought I should never awake again, or rise in life. Under this affliction I first lost count of the days of the week; I could not distinguish Sunday, and, as my illness became more aggravated, I became ignorant of the month also.

All this time I had no healing balsam for my feet, nor any cordial to revive my drooping spirits. My utmost efforts could only now and then procure some figs and grapes. Neither had I fire; for, though I had heard of a way to procure it by rubbing two sticks together, my attempts in this respect, continued until I was tired, proved abortive. The rains having come on, attended with chill winds, I suffered exceedingly.

While passing nine months in this lonely, melancholy, and irksome condition, my thoughts would sometimes wander to my parents; and I reflected, that, notwithstanding it would be consolatory to myself if they knew where I was it might be distressing to them. The nearer my prospect of death, which I often expected, the greater my penitence became.

Sometime in November 1723, I descried a small canoe approaching with a single man; but the sight excited little emotion. I kept my seat on the beach, thinking I could not expect a friend, and knowing that I had no enemy to fear, nor [Pg 230] was I capable of resisting one. As the man approached, he betrayed many signs of surprise; he called me to him, and I told him he might safely venture ashore, for I was alone, and almost expiring. Coming close up, he knew not what to make of me; my garb and countenance seemed so singular, that he looked wild with astonishment. He started back a little, and surveyed me more thoroughly; but, recovering himself again, came forward, and, taking me by the hand, expressed his satisfaction at seeing me.

This stranger proved to be a native of North Britain; he was well advanced in years, of a grave and venerable aspect, and of a reserved temper. His name I never knew, he did not disclose it, and I had not inquired during the period of our acquaintance. But he informed me he had lived twenty-two years with the Spaniards who now threatened to burn him, though I know not for what crime; therefore he had fled hither as a sanctuary, bringing his dog, gun, and ammunition, as also a small quantity of pork, along with him. He designed spending the remainder of his days on the island, where he could support himself by hunting.

I experienced much kindness from the stranger; he was always ready to perform any civil offices, and assist me in whatever he could, though he spoke little: and he gave me a share of his pork.

On the third day after his arrival, he said he would make an excursion in his canoe among the neighboring islands, for the purpose of killing wild-hogs and deer, and wished me to accompany him. Though my spirits were somewhat recruited by his society, the benefit of the fire, which I now enjoyed, and dressed provisions, my weakness and the soreness of my feet, precluded me; therefore he set out alone, saying he would return in a few hours. The sky was serene, and there was no prospect of any danger during a short excursion, seeing he had come nearly twelve leagues in safety in his canoe. But, when he had been absent about an hour, a violent gust of wind and rain arose, in which he probably perished, as I never heard of him more.

Thus, after having the pleasure of a companion almost three days, I was as unexpectedly reduced to my former lonely state, as I had been relieved from it. Yet through the goodness of God, I was myself preserved from having been unable to accompany him; and I was left in better circumstances than those in which he had found me, for now I had about five pounds of pork, a knife, a bottle of gunpowder, [Pg 231] tobacco, tongs and flint, by which means my life could be rendered more comfortable. I was enabled to have fire, extremely requisite at this time, being the rainy months of winter. I could cut up a tortoise, and have a delicate broiled meal.—Thus, by the help of the fire, and dressed provisions, through the blessings of God, I began to recover strength, though the soreness of my feet remained. But I had, besides, the advantage of being able now and then to catch a dish of cray-fish, which, when roasted, proved good eating. To accomplish this I made up a small bundle of old broken sticks, nearly resembling pitch-pine, or candle-wood, and having lighted one end, waded with it in my hand, up to the waist in water. The cray-fish, attracted by the light, would crawl to my feet, and lie directly under it, when, by means of a forked stick, I could toss them ashore.

Between two and three months after the time of losing my companion, I found a small canoe, while ranging along the shore. The sight of it revived my regret for his loss, for I judged that it had been his canoe; and, from being washed up here, a certain proof of his having been lost in the tempest. But, on examining it more closely, I satisfied myself that it was one which I had never seen before.

Master of this little vessel, I began to think myself admiral of the neighboring seas, as well as sole possessor and chief commander of the islands. Profiting by its use, I could transport myself to the places of retreat more conveniently than by my former expedient of swimming.

In process of time, I projected an excursion to some of the larger and more distant islands, partly to learn how they were stored or inhabited, and partly for the sake of amusement.—Laying in a small stock of figs and grapes, therefore, as also some tortoise to eat, and carrying my implements for fire, I put off to steer for the island of Bornacco, which is about four or five leagues long, and situated five or six from Roatan.

In the course of the voyage, observing a sloop at the east end of the island, I made the best of my way to the west, designing to travel down by land, both because a point of rocks ran far into the sea, beyond which I did not care to venture in the canoe, as was necessary to come a-head of the sloop, and because I wished to ascertain something concerning her people before I was discovered. Even in my worst circumstances, I never could brook the thoughts of returning on board of any piratical vessel, and resolved rather to live and [Pg 232] die in my present situation. Hauling up the canoe, and making it fast as well as I was able, I set out on the journey. My feet were yet in such a state, that two days, and the best part of two nights were occupied in it. Sometimes the woods and bushes were so thick that it was necessary to crawl half a mile together on my hands and knees, which rendered my progress very slow.

When within a mile or two of the place where I supposed the sloop might be, I made for the water side, and approached the sea gradually, that I might not too soon disclose myself to view; however, on reaching the beach, there was no appearance of the sloop, whence I judged that she had sailed during the time spent by me in travelling.

Being much fatigued with the journey, I rested myself against the stump of a tree, with my face towards the sea, where sleep overpowered me. But I had not slumbered long before I was suddenly awakened by the noise of firing.—Starting up in affright, I saw nine periaguas, or large canoes, full of men, firing upon me from the sea; whence I soon turned about and ran among the bushes as fast as my sore feet would allow, while the men, who were Spaniards, cried after me, “O Englishman, we will give you good quarter.” However, my astonishment was so great, and I was so suddenly roused from my sleep, that I had no self-command to listen to their offers of quarter, which, it may be, at another time, in my cooler moments, I might have done. Thus I made into the woods, and the strangers continued firing after me, to the number of 150 bullets at least, many of which cut small twigs off the bushes close by my side. Having gained an extensive thicket beyond reach of the shot, I lay close several hours, until observing, by the sound of their oars, that the Spaniards were departing, I crept out. I saw the sloop under English colors sailing away with the canoes in tow, which induced me to suppose she was an English vessel which had been at the Bay of Honduras, and taken there by the Spaniards.

Next day I returned to the tree, where I had been so nearly surprised, and was astonished to find six or seven shot in the trunk, within a foot or less of my head. Yet through the wonderful goodness of God, though having been as a mark to shoot at, I was preserved.

After this I travelled to recover my canoe at the western end of the island, which I reached in three days, but suffering severely from the soreness of my feet, and the scantiness [Pg 233] of provisions. This island is not so plentifully stored as Roatan, so that during the five or six days of my residence, I had difficulty in procuring subsistence; and the insects were, besides, infinitely more numerous and harassing than at my old habitation. These circumstances deterred me from further exploring the island; and having reached the canoe very tired and exhausted, I put off for Roatan, which was a royal palace to me, compared with Bonacco, and arrived at night in safety.

Here I lived, if it may be called living, alone for about seven months, after losing my North British companion.—My time was spent in the usual manner, hunting for food, and ranging among the islands.

Some time in June 1724, while on the small quay, whither I often retreated to be free from the annoyance of insects, I saw two canoes making for the harbor. Approaching nearer, they observed the smoke of a fire which I had kindled, and at a loss to know what it meant, they hesitated on advancing.—What I had experienced at Bonacco, was still fresh in my own memory, and loth to run the risk of such another firing, I withdrew to my canoe, lying behind the quay, not above 100 yards distant, and immediately rowed over to Roatan. There I had places of safety against an enemy, and sufficient accommodation for any ordinary number of friends.

The people in the canoes observed me cross the sea to Roatan, the passage not exceeding a gun-shot over; and being as much afraid of pirates as I was of Spaniards, approached very cautiously towards the shore. I then came down to the beach, shewing myself openly; for their conduct led me to think that they could not be pirates, and I resolved before being exposed to the danger of their shot, to inquire who they were. If they proved such as I did not like, I could easily retire. But before I spoke, they, as full of apprehension as I could be, lay on their oars, and demanded who I was, and from whence I came? to which I replied, “that I was an Englishman, and had run away from pirates.” On this they drew somewhat nearer, inquiring who was there besides myself? when I assured them, in return, that I was alone. Next, according to my original purpose, having put similar questions to them, they said they had come from the Bay of Honduras; their words encouraged me to bid them row ashore, which they accordingly did, though at some distance, and one man landed, whom I advanced to meet. But he started back at the sight of a poor ragged, wild, forlorn, miserable object so [Pg 234] near him. Collecting himself, however, he took me by the hand, and we began embracing each other, he from surprise and wonder, and I from a sort of ecstacy of joy. When this was over, he took me in his arms, and carried me down to the canoes, when all his comrades were struck with astonishment at my appearance; but they gladly received me, and I experienced great tenderness from them.

I gave the strangers a brief account of my escape from Low, and my lonely residence for sixteen months, all excepting three days, the hardships I had suffered, and the dangers to which I had been exposed. They stood amazed at the recital; they wondered I was alive, and expressed much satisfaction at being able to relieve me. Observing me very weak and depressed, they gave me about a spoonful of rum to recruit my fainting spirits; but even this small quantity, from my long disuse of strong liquors, threw me into violent agitation, and produced a kind of stupor, which at last ended in privation of sense. Some of the party perceiving a state of insensibility come on, would have administered more rum, which those better skilled among them prevented; and after lying a short time in a fit, I revived.

Then I ascertained, that the strangers were eighteen in number, the chief of them named John Hope, an old man, called Father Hope, by his companions, and John Ford, and all belonging to the Bay of Honduras. The cause of their coming hither, was an alarm for an attack from the sea, by the Spaniards, while the Indians should make a descent by land, and cut off the Bay; thus they had fled for safety. On a former occasion, the two persons above named, had for the like reason, taken shelter among these islands, and lived four years at a time on a small one, named Barbarat, about two leagues from Roatan. There they had two plantations, as they called them; and now they brought two barrels of flour, with other provisions, fire-arms, dogs for hunting and nets for tortoises; and also an Indian woman to dress their provisions. Their principal residence was a small key, about a quarter of a mile round, lying near to Barbarat, and named by them the Castle of Comfort, chiefly because it was low and clear of woods and bushes, so that the free circulation of wind could drive away the pestiferous musquitoes and other insects. From hence they sent to the surrounding islands for wood, water and materials to build two houses, such as they were, for shelter.

I now had the prospect of a much more agreeable life than [Pg 235] what I had spent during the sixteen months past; for, besides having company, the strangers treated me with a great deal of civility in their way; they clothed me, and gave me a large wrapping gown as a defence against the nightly dews, until their houses were erected; and there was plenty of provisions. Yet after all, they were bad society; and as to their common conversation, there was but little difference between them and pirates. However, it did not appear that they were now engaged in any such evil design as rendered it unlawful to join them, or be found in their company.

In process of time, and with the assistance afforded by my companions, I gathered so much strength as sometimes to be able to hunt along with them. The islands abounded with wild hogs, deer and tortoise; and different ones were visited in quest of game. This was brought home, where, instead of being immediately consumed, it was hung up to dry in smoke, so as to be a ready supply at all times.

I now considered myself beyond the reach of danger from an enemy, for, independent of supposing that nothing could bring any one here, I was surrounded by a number of men with arms constantly in their hands. Yet, at the very time that I thought myself most secure, I was very nearly again falling into the hands of pirates.

Six or seven months after the strangers joined me, three of them, along with myself, took a four oared canoe, for the purpose of hunting and killing tortoise on Bonacco. During our absence the rest repaired their canoes, and prepared to go over to the Bay of Honduras, to examine how matters stood there, and bring off their remaining effects, in case it were dangerous to return. But before they had departed, we were on our voyage homewards, having a full load of pork and tortoise, as our object was successfully accomplished. While entering the mouth of the harbor, in a moonlight evening, we saw a great flash, and heard a report much louder than that of a musket, proceed from a large periagua, which we observed near the Castle of Comfort. This put us in extreme consternation, and we knew not what to consider; but in a minute we heard a volley from eighteen or twenty small arms, discharged towards the shore, and also some returned from it.—Satisfied that an enemy, either Spaniards or pirates, was attacking our people, and being intercepted from them by periaguas lying between us and the shore, we thought the safest plan was trying to escape. Therefore, taking down our little mast and sail, that they might not betray us, we rowed out of [Pg 236] the harbor as fast as possible, towards an island about a mile and a half distant, to retreat undiscovered. But the enemy either having seen us before lowering our sail, or heard the noise of the oars, followed with all speed, in an eight or ten oared periagua. Observing her approach, and fast gaining on us, we rowed with all our might to make the nearest shore. However, she was at length enabled to discharge a swivel, the shot from which passed over our canoe. Nevertheless, we contrived to reach the shore before being completely within the range of small arms, which our pursuers discharged on us while landing.

They were now near enough to cry aloud that they were pirates, and not Spaniards, and that we need not dread them, as we should get good quarter; thence supposing that we should be the easier induced to surrender. Yet nothing could have been said to discourage me more from putting myself in their power; I had the utmost dread of a pirate, and my original aversion was now enhanced, by the apprehension of being sacrificed for my former desertion. Thus, concluding to keep as clear of them as I could, and the Honduras Bay men having no great inclination to do otherwise, we made the best of our way to the woods. Our pursuers carried off the canoe, with all its contents, resolving, if we would not go to them, to deprive us, as far as possible, of all means of subsistence where we were. But it gave me, who had known both want and solitude, little concern, now that I had company, and there were arms among us to procure provision, and also fire wherewith to dress it.

Our assailants were some men belonging to Spriggs, my former commander, who had thrown off his allegiance to Low, and set up for himself at the head of a gang of pirates, with a good ship of twenty-four guns, and a sloop of twelve, both presently lying in Roatan harbor. He had put in for fresh water, and to refit, at the place where I first escaped; and, having discovered my companions at the small island of their retreat, sent a periagua full of men to take them. Accordingly they carried all ashore, as also a child and an Indian woman; the last of whom they shamefully abused. They killed a man after landing, and throwing him into one of the canoes containing tar, set it on fire, and burnt his body in it.—Then they carried the people on board of their vessels, where they were barbarously treated. One of them turned pirate however, and told the others that John Hope had hid many things in the woods; therefore, they beat him unmercifully to [Pg 237] make him disclose his treasure, which they carried off with them.

After the pirates had kept these people five days on board of their vessels, they gave them a flat of five or six tons to carry them to the Bay of Honduras, but no kind of provision for the voyage; and further, before dismissal, compelled them to swear that they would not come near me and my party, who had escaped to another island.

While the vessels rode in the harbor, we kept a good look out, but were exposed to some difficulties, from not daring to kindle a fire to dress our victuals, lest our residence should be betrayed. Thus we lived for five days on raw provisions.—As soon as they sailed, however, Hope, little regarding the oath extorted from him, came and informed us of what had passed; and I could not, for my own part, be sufficiently grateful to Providence for escaping the hands of the pirates, who would have put me to a cruel death.

Hope and all his people, except John Symonds, now resolved to make their way to the Bay. Symonds, who had a negro, wished to remain some time for the purpose of trading with the Jamaica-men on the main. But thinking my best chance of getting to New England was from the Bay of Honduras, I requested Hope to take me with him. The old man, though he would gladly have done so, advanced many objections, such as the insufficiency of the flat to carry so many men seventy leagues; that they had no provision for the passage, which might be tedious, and the flat was, besides ill calculated to stand the sea; as also, that it was uncertain how matters might turn out at the Bay; thus he thought it better for me to remain; yet rather than I should be in solitude, he would take me in.

Symonds, on the other hand, urged me to stay and bear him company, and gave several reasons why I should more likely obtain a passage from the Jamaica-men to New England, than by the Bay of Honduras. As this seemed a fairer prospect of reaching my home, which I was extremely anxious to do, I assented; and, having thanked Hope and his companions for their civilities, I took leave of them, and they departed.

Symonds was provided with a canoe, fire-arms and two dogs, in addition to his negro, by which means he felt confident of being able to provide all that was necessary for our subsistence. We spent two or three months after the usual manner, ranging from island to island, but the prevalence of [Pg 238] the winter rains precluded us from obtaining more game than we required.

When the season for the Jamaica traders approached, Symonds proposed repairing to some other island to obtain a quantity of tortoise-shell which he could exchange for clothes and shoes; and, being successful in this respect, we next proceeded to Bonacco, which lies nearer the main, that we might thence take a favorable opportunity to run over.

Having been a short time at Bonacco, a furious tempest arose, and continued for three days, when we saw several vessels standing in for the harbor. The largest of them anchored at a great distance, but a brigantine came over the shoals opposite to the watering place, and sent her boat ashore with casks. Recognizing three people who were in the boat, their dress and appearance, for Englishmen, I concluded they were friends, and shewed myself openly on the beach before them. They ceased rowing immediately on observing me, and, after answering their inquiries of who I was, I put the same questions, saying they might come ashore with safety. They did so, and a happy meeting it was for me.

I now found that the vessels were a fleet under convoy of the Diamond man-of-war, bound for Jamaica; but many ships had parted company in the storm. The Diamond had sent in the brigantine to get water here, as the sickness of her crew had occasioned a great consumption of that necessary article.

Symonds, who had kept at a distance, lest the three men might hesitate to come ashore, at length approached to participate in my joy, though at the same time, testifying considerable reluctance at the prospect of my leaving him. The brigantine was commanded by Captain Dove, with whom I was acquainted, and she belonged to Salem, within three miles of my father’s house. Captain Dove not only treated me with great civility, and engaged to give me a passage home, but took me into pay, having lost a seaman, whose place he wanted me to supply. Next day, the Diamond having sent her long-boat with casks for water, they were filled; and after taking leave of Symonds, who shed tears at parting, I was carried on board of the brigantine.

We sailed along with the Diamond, which was bound for Jamaica, on the latter end of March 1725, and kept company until the first of April. By the providence of Heaven we passed safely through the Gulf of Florida, and reached Salem Harbor on the first of May, two years, ten months and fifteen [Pg 239] days after I was first taken by pirates; and two years, and two months, after making my escape from them on Roatan island. That same evening I went to my father’s house, where I was received as one risen from the dead.


EXPLOSION OF HIS B. MAJESTY’S SHIP AMPHION.

The Amphion frigate, Captain Israel Pellow, after having cruised some time in the North Seas, had at length received an order to join the squadron of frigates commanded by Sir Edward Pellow. She was on her passage, when a hard gale of wind occasioning some injury to the fore-mast, obliged her to put back into Plymouth, off which place she then was.—She accordingly came into the sound, anchored there on the 19th, and went up into harbor the next morning.

On the 22d, at about half past four P. M. a violent shock, as of an earthquake, was felt at Stone-house, and extended as far off as the Royal Hospital and the town of Plymouth.—The sky towards the Dock appeared red, like the effect of a fire; for near a quarter of an hour the cause of this appearance could not be ascertained, though the streets were crowded with people running different ways in the utmost consternation.

When the alarm and confusion had somewhat subsided, it first began to be known that the shock had been occasioned by the explosion of the Amphion. Several bodies and mangled remains were picked up by the boats in Hamoaze; and their alacrity on this occasion was particularly remarked and highly commended. The few who remained alive of the crew were conveyed, in a mangled state, to the Royal Hospital. As the frigate was originally manned from Plymouth the friends and relations of her unfortunate ship’s company [Pg 240] mostly lived in the neighborhood. It is dreadful to relate what a scene took place—arms, legs and lifeless trunks, mangled and disfigured by gunpowder, were collected and deposited at the hospital, having been brought in sacks to be owned. Bodies still living, some with the loss of limbs, others having expired as they were being conveyed thither; men, women and children, whose sons, husbands and fathers were among the unhappy number, flocking round the gates, intreating admittance. During the first evening nothing was ascertained concerning the cause of this event, though numerous reports were instantly circulated. The few survivors, who, by the following day, had, in some degree regained the use of their senses, could not give the least account. One man who was brought alive to the Royal Hospital, died before night, another before the following morning; the boatswain and one of the sailors appeared likely, with great care, to do well.—Three or four men who were at work in the tops, were blown up with them and falling into the water, were picked up with very little hurt. These, with the two before mentioned, and one of the sailors’ wives, were supposed to be the only survivors, besides the captain and two of the lieutenants.

The following particulars were, however, collected from the examination of several persons before Sir Richard King, the port-admiral, and the information procured from those, who saw the explosion from the Dock.

The first person known to have observed any thing was a young midshipman in the Cambridge guard-ship, lying not far distant from the place where the Amphion blew up; who having a great desire to observe every thing relative to a profession into which he had just entered, was looking through a glass at the frigate, as she lay along side of the sheer-hulk, and was taking in her bowsprit. She was lashed to the hulk; and the Yarmouth, an old receiving ship, was lying on the opposite side, quite close to her, and both within a few yards of the Dock-yard jetty. The midshipman said, that the Amphion suddenly appeared to rise altogether upright from the surface of the water, until he nearly saw her keel; the explosion then succeeded; the masts seemed to be forced up into the air, and the hull instantly to sink. All this passed in the space of two minutes.

The man who stood at the Dock-yard stairs, said, that the first he heard of it was a kind of hissing noise, and then followed the explosion, when he beheld the masts blown up into the air. It was very strongly reported that several windows [Pg 241] were broken in the Dock by the explosion, and that in the Dock-yard much mischief was done by the Amphion’s guns going off when she blew up; but though the shock was felt as far off as Plymouth, and at Stone-house, enough to shake the windows, yet it is a wonderful and miraculous fact, that surrounded as she was in the harbor, with ships close along side of the jetty, and lashed to another vessel, no damage was done to any thing but herself. It is dreadful to reflect, that owing to their intention of putting to sea the next day, there were nearly one hundred men, women and children, more than her complement on board, taking leave of their friends, besides the company who were at two dinners given in the ship, one of which was by the captain.

Captain Israel Pellow, and Captain William Swaffield, of his Majesty’s ship Overyssel, who was at dinner with him and the first lieutenant, were drinking their wine; when the first explosion threw them off their seats, and struck them against the carlings of the upper deck, so as to stun them. Captain Pellow, however, had sufficient presence of mind to fly to the cabin windows, and seeing the two hawsers, one slack in the bit and the other taut, threw himself with an amazing leap, which he afterwards said, nothing but his sense of danger could have enabled him to take, upon the latter, and by that means saved himself from the general destruction, though his face had been badly cut against the carlings, when he was thrown from his seat. The first lieutenant saved himself in the same manner, by jumping out of the window, and by being also a remarkable good swimmer; but Captain Swaffield, being, as it was supposed, more stunned, did not escape.—His body was found on the twenty-second of October, with his skull fractured, appearing to have been crushed between the sides of two vessels.

The centinel at the cabin door happened to be looking at his watch; how he escaped no one can tell, not even himself. He was, however, brought on shore, and but little hurt; the first thing he felt was, that his watch was dashed out of his hands, after which he was no longer sensible of what happened to him. The boatswain was standing on the cat-head, the bowsprit had been stepped for three hours; the gammoning and every thing on; and he was directing the men in rigging out the jib-boom, when suddenly he felt himself driven upwards and fell into the sea. He then perceived that he was entangled in the rigging, and had some trouble to get clear, when being taken up by a boat belonging to one of the men [Pg 242] of war, they found that his arm was broken. One of the surviving seamen declared to an officer of rank, that he was preserved in the following truly astonishing manner:—He was below at the time the Amphion blew up, and went to the bottom of the ship, he recollected that he had a knife in his pocket, and taking it out, cut his way through the companion of the gun-room, which was already shattered with the explosion; then letting himself up to the surface of the water, he swam unhurt to the shore. He shewed his knife to the officer, and declared he had been under water full five minutes.

It was likewise said, that one of the sailors’ wives had a young child in her arms; the fright of the shock made her take such fast hold of it, that though the upper part of her body alone remained, the child was found alive locked fast in her arms, and likely to do well.

Mr. Spry, an auctioneer, who had long lived in great respectability at Dock, with his son and god-son, had gone on board to visit a friend, and were all lost.

About half an hour before the frigate blew up, one of her lieutenants, and Lieutenant Campbell of the marines and some of the men got into the boat at the dock-yard stairs, and went off to the ship. Lieutenant Campbell had some business to transact at the Marine barracks in the morning, and continuing there some time, was engaged by the officers to stay to dinner and spend the evening with them. Some persons, however, who had, in the interval, come from the Amphion, informed Lieutenant Campbell that there were some letters on board for him. As they were some which he was extremely anxious to receive, he left the barracks about half an hour before dinner to fetch them, intending to return immediately; but while he was on board the ship blew up.—He was a young man universally respected end lamented by the corps, as well as by all who knew him. One of the lieutenants who lost his life was the only support of an aged mother and sister, who, at his death, had neither friend nor relation left to comfort and protect them. The number of people who were afterwards daily seen at Dock, in deep mourning for their lost relatives, was truly melancholy.

Captain Pellow was taken up by the boats and carried to Commissioner Fanshaw’s house in the dock-yard, very weak with the exertions he had made, and so shocked with the distressing cause of them, that he at first appeared scarcely to know where he was, or to be sensible of his situation. In the course of a day or two, when he was a little recovered, [Pg 243] he was removed to the house of a friend, Dr. Hawker of Plymouth.

Sir Richard King had given a public dinner in honor of the coronation. Captain Charles Rowley, of the Unite frigate, calling in the morning, was engaged to stay, and excused himself from dining, as he had previously intended, on board the Amphion.

Captain Darby of the Bellerophon, was also to have dined with Captain Pellow, and had come round in his boat from Cawsand Bay; but having to transact some business concerning the ship with Sir Richard King, it detained him half an hour longer at Stone-house than he expected. He had just gone down to the beach and was stepping into the boat to proceed up to Hamoaze, when he heard the fatal explosion. Captain Swaffield was to have sailed the next day, so that the difference of twenty-four hours would have saved that much lamented and truly valuable officer. His brother Mr. J. Swaffield, of the Pay-Office, being asked to the same dinner, had set off with him from Stone-house, but before he had reached Dock a person came after him upon business, which obliged him to return, and thus saved him from sharing his brother’s untimely fate.

Many conjectures were formed concerning the cause of this catastrophe. Some conceived it to be owing to neglect, as the men were employed in drawing the guns, and contrary to rule, had not extinguished all the fires, though the dinners were over. This, however, the first lieutenant declared to be impossible, as they could not be drawing the guns, the key of the magazine hanging, to his certain knowledge, in his cabin at the time. Some of the men likewise declared that the guns were drawn in the Sound before they came up Hamoaze. It was also insinuated, that it was done intentionally, as several of the bodies were afterwards found without clothes, as if they had prepared to jump overboard before the ship could have time to blow up. As no mutiny had ever appeared in the ship, it seems unlikely that such a desperate plot should have been formed, without any one who survived having the least knowledge of it. It is, besides, a well known fact, that in almost every case of shipwreck where there is a chance of plunder, there are wretches so destitute of the common feelings of humanity as to hover round the scene of horror, in hopes, by stripping the bodies of the dead, and seizing whatever they can lay their hands on, to benefit themselves.

It was the fore magazine which took fire; had it been the [Pg 244] after one, much more damage must have ensued. The moment the explosion was heard, Sir Richard King arose from dinner, and went in his boat on board the hulk, where the sight he beheld was dreadful; the deck covered with blood, mangled limbs and entrails blackened with gunpowder, the shreds of the Amphion’s pendant and rigging hanging about her, and pieces of her shattered timbers strewed all around. Some people at dinner in the Yarmouth, though at a very small distance, declared that the report they heard did not appear to be louder than the firing of a cannon from the Cambridge, which they imagined it to be, and had never risen from dinner, till the confusion upon deck led them to think that some accident had happened.

At low water, the next day, about a foot and a half of one of the masts appeared above water; and for several days the dock-yard men were employed in collecting the shattered masts and yards, and dragging out what they could procure from the wreck. On the twenty-ninth, part of the fore-chains was hauled, shattered and splintered, also the head and cut-water.

On the 3d of October an attempt was made to raise the Amphion, between the two frigates, the Castor and Iphigenia, which were accordingly moored on each side of her; but nothing could be got up, excepting a few pieces of the ship, one or two of her guns, some of the men’s chests, chairs, and part of the furniture of the cabin. Some bodies floated out from between decks, and among the rest a midshipman’s.—These, and all that could be found, were towed round by boats through Stone-house bridge up to the Royal Hospital stairs, to be interred in the burying ground. The sight for many weeks was truly dreadful, the change of tide, washing out the putrid bodies, which were towed round by the boats when they would scarcely hold together.

Bodies continued to be found so late as the 30th of November, when the Amphion having been dragged round to another part of the dock-yard jetty to be broken up, the body of a woman was washed out from between decks. A sack was also dragged up, containing gunpowder, covered over at the top with biscuit, and this in some measure, confirmed an idea which had before gained ground, that the gunner had been stealing powder to sell, and had concealed what he could get out by degrees in the above manner; and that, thinking himself safe on a day when every one was entertaining his friends he had carelessly been among the gunpowder without taking the necessary precautions. As he was said to have been seen [Pg 245] at Dock very much in liquor in the morning, it seems probable that this might have been the cause of a calamity as sudden as it was dreadful.


LOSS OF H. B. M. SHIP LA TRIBUNE,

OFF HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA.

La Tribune was one of the finest frigates in his Majesty’s navy, mounted 44 guns, and had recently been taken from the French by Captain Williams in the Unicorn frigate.—She was commanded by Captain S. Barker, and on the 22d of September, 1797, sailed from Torbay as convoy to the Quebec and Newfoundland fleets. In latitude 49 14 and longitude 17 22, she fell in and spoke with his Majesty’s ship Experiment, from Halifax; and lost sight of all her convoy on the 10th of October, in latitude 74 16 and longitude 32 11.

About eight o’clock in the morning of the following Thursday they came in sight of the harbor of Halifax, and approached it very fast, with an E. S. E. wind, when Captain Barker proposed to the master to lay the ship to, till they could procure a pilot. The master replied that he had beat a 44 gun ship into the harbor, that he had frequently been there, and there was no occasion for a pilot, as the wind was favorable. Confiding in these assurances, Captain Barker went into his cabin, where he was employed in arranging some papers which he intended to take on shore with him. In the mean time the master, placing great dependance on the judgment of a negro, named John Cosey, who had formerly belonged to Halifax, took upon himself the pilotage of the ship.

By twelve o’clock the ship approached so near the Thrum Cap shoals that the master became alarmed, and sent for Mr. Galvin, master’s mate, who was sick below. On his coming upon deck, he heard the man in the chains sing out, “by the [Pg 246] mark five!” the black man forward at the same time crying “steady!” Galvin got on one of the carronades to observe the situation of the ship; the master ran in great agitation to the wheel, and took it from the man who was steering, with the intention of wearing the ship; but before this could be effected, or Galvin was able to give an opinion, she struck.—Captain Barker immediately went on deck and reproached the master with having lost the ship. Seeing Galvin likewise on deck, he addressed him and said “that, knowing he had formerly sailed out of the harbor, he was surprised he could stand by and see the master run the ship on shore,” to which Galvin replied “that he had not been on deck long enough to give an opinion.”

Signals of distress were immediately made, and answered by the military posts and ships in the harbor, from which, as well as the dock-yard, boats immediately put off to the relief of the Tribune. The military boats, and one of those from the dock-yard, with Mr. Rackum, boatswain of the ordinary, reached the ship, but the wind was so much against the others, that, in spite of all their exertions, they were unable to get on board. The ship was immediately lightened by throwing overboard all her guns, excepting one retained for signals, and every other heavy article, so that about half past eight o’clock in the evening the ship began to heave, and at nine got off the shoals. She had lost her rudder about three hours before, and it was now found, on examination, that she had seven feet water in the hold. The chain-pumps were immediately manned, and such exertions were made that they seemed to gain on the leaks. By the advice of Mr. Rackum, the captain ordered the best bower anchor to be let go, but this did not bring her up. He then ordered the cable to be cut; and the jib and fore-top-mast stay-sail were hoisted to steer by. During this interval a violent gale, which had come on at S. E. kept increasing, and carrying the ship to the western shore. The small bower anchor which soon afterwards let go, at which time they found themselves in thirteen fathom of water, and the mizen-mast was then cut away.

It was now ten o’clock, and as the water gained fast upon them, the crew had but little hope left of saving either the ship or their lives. At this critical period Lieutenant Campbell quitted the ship, and Lieutenant North was taken into the boat out of one of the ports. From the moment at which the former left the vessel all hopes of safety had vanished; the ship was sinking fast, the storm was increasing with [Pg 247] redoubled violence, and the rocky shore which they were approaching, resounded with the tremendous noise of the rolling billows, presented nothing to those who might survive the loss of the ship but the expectation of a more painful death, by being dashed against precipices, which, even in the calmest day, it is impossible to ascend. Dunlap, one of the survivors, declared, that about half past ten, as nearly as he could conjecture, one of the men who had been below, came to him on the forecastle, and told him it was all over. A few minutes afterwards the ship took a lurch, like a boat nearly filled with water and going down; on which Dunlap immediately began to ascend the fore-shrouds, and at the same moment casting his eyes towards the quarter-deck, he saw Captain Barker standing by the gangway, and looking into the water, and directly afterwards he heard him call for the jolly-boat. He then saw the lieutenant of marines running towards the taffrel, to look, as he supposed, for the jolly-boat, which had been previously let down with men in her; but the ship instantly took a second lurch and sunk to the bottom, after which neither the captain nor any of the other officers were again seen.

The scene, before sufficiently distressing, now became peculiarly awful. More than 240 men, besides several women and children, were floating on the waves, making the last effort to preserve life. Dunlap, who has been already mentioned, gained the fore-top. Mr. Galvin, the master’s mate, with incredible difficulty, got into the main-top. He was below when the ship sunk, directing the men at the chain-pump, but was washed up the hatchway, thrown into the waist and from thence into the water, and his feet, as he plunged, struck against a rock. On ascending he swam to gain the main-shrouds, when three men suddenly seized hold of him. He now gave himself up for lost; but to disengage himself from them he made a dive into the water, which caused them to quit their grasp. On rising again he swam to the shrouds, and having reached the main-top, seated himself on an arm chest which was lashed to the mast.

From the observations of Galvin in the main-top, and Dunlap in the fore-top, it appears that nearly one hundred persons were hanging a considerable time to the shrouds, the tops and other parts of the wreck. From the length of the night, and the severity of the storm, nature, however, became exhausted, and during the whole night they kept dropping off and disappeared. The cries and groans of the unhappy [Pg 248] sufferers, from the bruises many of them had received, and their hopes of deliverance beginning to fail, were continued through the night, but as morning approached, in consequence of the few who then survived, they became extremely feeble.

About twelve o’clock the main-mast gave way; at that time there were on the main-top and shrouds about forty persons. By the fall of the mast the whole of these unhappy wretches were again plunged into the water, and ten only regained the top, which rested on the main-yard, and the whole remained fast to the ship by some of the rigging. Of the ten who thus reached the top, four only were alive when morning appeared. Ten were at that time, alive on the fore-top, but three were so exhausted, and so helpless, that they were washed away before any relief arrived; three others perished, and thus only four were, at last, left alive on the fore-top.

The place where the ship went down was barely three times her length to the southward of the entrance into Herring Cove. The inhabitants came down in the night to the point opposite to which the ship sunk, kept up large fires, and were so near as to converse with the people on the wreck.

The first exertion that was made for their relief was by a boy thirteen years old, from Herring Cove, who ventured off in a small skiff by himself about eleven o’clock the next day. This youth, with great labor and extreme risk to himself, boldly approached the wreck, and backed in his little boat so near to the fore-top as to take off two of the men, for the boat could not with safety hold any more. And here a trait of generous magnanimity was exhibited, which ought not to pass unnoticed. Dunlap and another man, named Monro, had throughout this disastrous night, preserved their strength and spirits in a greater degree than their unfortunate companions, who they endeavored to cheer and encourage when they found their spirits sinking. Upon the arrival of the boat these two might have stepped into it, and thus have terminated their own sufferings; for their two companions, though alive, were unable to stir; they lay exhausted on the top, wishing not to be disturbed, and seemed desirous to perish in that situation. These generous fellows hesitated not a moment to remain themselves on the wreck, and to save their unfortunate companions against their will. They lifted them up, and with the greatest exertion placed them in the boat, the MANLY BOY rowed them triumphantly to the Cove, and immediately had them conveyed to a comfortable habitation. After shaming, by his example, older persons, who had larger boats, he again [Pg 249] put off with his skiff, but with all his efforts he could not then approach the wreck. His example, however, was soon followed by four of the crew who had escaped in the Tribune’s jolly-boat, and by some of the boats in the Cove. With their joint exertions, the eight men were preserved, and these with the four who had saved themselves in the jolly-boat, were the whole of the survivors of this fine ship’s company.

A circumstance occurred in which that cool thoughtlessness of danger, which so often distinguishes our British tars, was displayed in such a striking manner, that it would be inexcusable to omit it. Daniel Monro, had, as we have already seen, gained the fore-top. He suddenly disappeared, and it was concluded that he had been washed away like many others. After being absent from the top about two hours, he, to the surprise of Dunlap, who was likewise on the fore-top, raised his head through the lubber-hole; Dunlap inquiring where he had been, he told him he had been cruising for a better birth; that after swimming about the wreck for a considerable time, he had returned to the fore-shrouds, and crawling in on the catharpins, had actually been sleeping there more than an hour, and appeared greatly refreshed.


[Pg 250]

Sailors row and swim away from a burning ship

BURNING OF THE PRINCE,

A FRENCH EAST INDIAMAN.

On the 19th of February 1752, a French East Indiaman, called the Prince, sailed from Port L’Orient on a voyage outward bound. But soon afterwards, a sudden shift of wind drove her on a sand bank, where she was exposed to imminent danger, and heeled so much that the mouths of the guns lay in the sea. By lightening the ship, however, accompanied by incessant and laborious exertions, she floated with the rise of the tide, and, being again carried into port, was completely unloaded, and underwent a thorough repair.

The voyage was resumed on the 10th of June, with a favorable wind, and for several weeks, seemed to promise every success that could be desired.

While in south latitude 8 30, and in 5 west longitude from Paris, M. de la Fond, one of the lieutenants of the ship, was, just at the moment of this observation, informed by a seaman, that smoke was issuing from the main hatchway. The first [Pg 251] lieutenant, who had the keys of the hold, immediately ordered every hatchway to be opened to ascertain the truth.

But the fact was too soon verified, and, while the captain hastened on deck from the great cabin, where he sat at dinner, Lieutenant de la Fond ordered some sails to be dipped in the sea, and the hatches to be covered with them in order to prevent the access of air, and thus stifle the fire. He had even intended, as a more effectual measure, to let in the water between decks to the depth of a foot, but clouds of smoke issued from the crevices of the hatchways, and the flames gained more and more by degrees.

Meantime the captain ordered sixty or eighty soldiers under arms, to restrain any disorder and confusion which might probably ensue; and in this he was supported by their commander, M. de la Touche, who exhibited uncommon fortitude on the occasion.

Every one was now employed in procuring water; all the buckets were filled, the pumps plied, and pipes introduced from them to the hold. But the rapid progress of the flames baffled the exertions to subdue them, and augmented the general consternation.

The yawl lying in the way of the people, was hoisted out by order of the captain, and the boatswain, along with three others took possession of it. Wanting oars, they were supplied with some by three men who leaped overboard. Those in the ship, however, desired them to return, but they exclaimed, that they wanted a rudder, and desired a rope to be thrown out. However, the progress of the flames soon shewing them their only alternative for safety, they withdrew from the ship, and she from the effect of a breeze springing up, passed by.

On board the utmost activity still prevailed, and the courage of the people seemed to be augmented by the difficulty of escape. The master boldly went down into the hold, but the intense heat compelled him to return, and, had not a quantity of water been dashed over him, he would have been severely scorched. Immediately subsequent to this period, flames violently burst from the main hatchway.

At that time the captain ordered the boats to be got out, while consternation enfeebled the most intrepid. The long-boat had been secured at a certain height, and she was about to be put over the ship’s side, when, unhappily, the fire ran up the main-mast, and caught the tackle; the boat fell down [Pg 252] on the guns, bottom upwards, and it was vain to think of getting her righted.

At length it became too evident that the calamity was beyond the reach of human remedy; nothing but the mercy of the Almighty could interpose; consternation was universally disseminated among the people; nothing but sighs and groans resounded through the vessel, and the very animals on board, as if sensible of the impending danger, uttered the most dreadful cries. The certainty of perishing in either element was anticipated by every human being here, and each raised his heart and hands towards Heaven.

The chaplain, who was now on the quarter-deck, gave the people general absolution for their sins, and then repaired to the quarter-gallery to extend it yet further, to those miserable wretches, who, in hopes of safety, had already committed themselves to the waves. What a horrible spectacle! Self-preservation was the only object; each was occupied in throwing overboard whatever promised the most slender chance of escape, yards, spars, hen-coops and everything occurring, was seized in despair, and thus employed.

Dreadful confusion prevailed. Some leaped into the sea, anticipating that death which was about to reach them; others, more successful, swam to fragments of the wreck; while the shrouds, yards and ropes, along the side of the vessel, were covered with the crew crowding upon them, and hanging there, as if hesitating which alternative of destruction to choose, equally imminent and equally terrible.

A father was seen to snatch his son from the flames, fold him to his breast, and, then throwing him into the sea, himself followed, where they perished in each other’s embrace.

Meantime Lieutenant Fond ordered the helm to be shifted. The ship heeled to larboard, which afforded a temporary preservation, while the fire raged along the starboard from stem to stern.

Lieutenant Fond had, until this moment, been engrossed by nothing but adopting every means to preserve the ship; now, however, the horrors of impending destruction were too conspicuously in view. His fortitude, notwithstanding, through the goodness of Heaven, never forsook him; looking around, he found himself alone on the deck, and he retired to the round-house. There he met M. de la Touche, who regarded the approach of death with the same heroism which, in India, had gained him celebrity. “My brother and friend,” he cried, [Pg 253] “farewell.”—“Whither are you going?” asked Lieutenant Fond. “To comfort my friend, the captain,” he replied.

M. Morin, who commanded this unfortunate vessel, stood overwhelmed with grief for the melancholy state of his female relatives, passengers along with him. He had persuaded them to commit themselves to the waves on hen-coops, while some of the seamen, swimming with one hand, endeavored to support them with the other.

The floating masts and yards were covered with men struggling with the watery element, many of whom now perished by balls discharged from the guns as heated by the fire, and thus presenting a third means of destruction, augmenting the horrors environing them. While anguish pierced the heart of M. de la Fond, he withdrew his eyes from the sea; and a moment after, reaching the starboard gallery, he saw the flames bursting with frightful noise through the windows of the round-house and of the great cabin. The fire approached, and was ready to consume him. Considering it vain to attempt the further preservation of the ship, or the lives of his fellow sufferers, he thought it his duty, in this dreadful condition, to save himself yet a few hours, that these might be devoted to Heaven.

Stripping off his clothes, he designed slipping down a yard, one end of which dipped in the water; but it was so covered with miserable beings, shrinking from death, that he tumbled over them and fell into the sea. There a drowning soldier caught hold of him. Lieutenant Fond made every exertion to disengage himself, but in vain; he even allowed himself to sink below the surface, yet he did not quit his grasp. Lieutenant Fond plunged down a second time; still he was firmly held by the man, who then was incapable of considering that his death, instead of being of service, would rather hasten his own. At last, after struggling a considerable time, and swallowing a great quantity of water, the soldier’s strength failed; and sensible that M. de la Fond was sinking a third time, he dreaded to be carried down along with him, and loosened his grasp, no sooner was this done, than M. de la Fond to guard against a repetition, dived below the surface, and rose at a distance from the place.

This incident rendered him more cautious for the future; he even avoided the dead bodies, now so numerous, that to make a free passage, he was compelled to shove them aside with one hand, while he kept himself floating with the other; for [Pg 254] he was impressed with the apprehension, that each was a person who would seize him, and involve him in his own destruction. But strength beginning to fail, he was satisfied of the necessity of some respite, when he fell in with part of the ensign-staff. He put his arm through a noose of the rope to secure it, and swam as well as he could; then perceiving a yard at hand, he seized it by one end. However, beholding a young man scarce able to support himself at the other extremity, he quickly abandoned so slight an aid, and one which seemed incapable of contributing to his preservation. Next the spritsail-yard appeared in view, but covered with people, among whom he durst not take a place without requesting permission, which they cheerfully granted. Some were quite naked, others in nothing except their shirts; the pity they expressed at the situation of M. de la Fond, and his sense of their misfortunes, exposed his feelings to a severe trial.

Neither Captain Morin, nor M. de la Touche ever quitted the ship, and were most probably overwhelmed in the catastrophe by which she was destroyed. But the most dismal spectacle was exhibited on all sides; the main-mast, consumed below, had been precipitated overboard, killing some in the fall, and affording a temporary reception to others. M. de la Fond now observed it covered with people, driven about by the waves; and at the same time, seeing two seamen buoyed up by a hen-coop and some planks, desired them to swim to him with the latter; they did so, accompanied by more of their comrades, and each taking a plank, which were used for oars, they and he paddled along upon the yard, until gaining those who had secured themselves on the main-mast. So many alternations only presented new spectacles of horror.

The chaplain was at this time on the mast, and from him M. de la Fond received absolution; two young ladies were also there, whose piety and resignation were truly consolatory; they were the only survivors of six, their companions had perished in the flames or in the sea. Eighty persons had found refuge on the main-mast, who, from the repeated discharge of cannon from the ship, according to the progress of the flames, were constantly exposed to destruction. The chaplain, in this awful condition, by his discourse and example, taught the duty of resignation. M. de la Fond observing him lose his hold on the mast, and drop into the sea, lifted him up. “Let me go,” said he. “I am already half drowned, and it is only protracting my sufferings.”—“No, my friend,” [Pg 255] the lieutenant replied, “when my strength is exhausted, not till then, we will perish together;” and in his pious presence he calmly awaited death. After remaining here three hours, he beheld one of the ladies fall from the mast and perish.—She was too remote to receive any assistance from him.

But when least in expectation of it, he saw the yawl close at hand, at five in the afternoon. He cried to the men that he was their lieutenant, and requested to be allowed to participate in their fate. His presence was too necessary for them to refuse his solicitations, they needed a conductor who might guide them to the land; thus they permitted him to come on board, on condition that he should swim to the yawl. This was a reasonable stipulation; it was to avoid approaching the mast, else, the rest actuated by the same desire of self-preservation, would soon have overloaded the little vessel, and all would have been buried in a watery grave. M. de la Fond, therefore, summoning up all his strength and courage, was so happy as to reach the seamen. In a little time afterwards, the pilot and master, whom he had left on the mast, followed his example, and swimming towards the yawl were seen and taken in.

The flames still continued raging in the vessel, and as the yawl was still endangered by being within half a league of her, she stood a little to windward. Not long subsequent to this, the fire reached the magazine; and then to describe the thundering explosion which ensued is impossible. A thick cloud intercepted the light of the sun, and amidst the terrific darkness nothing but pieces of flaming timber, projected aloft into the air, could be seen, threatening to crush to atoms in their fall, numbers of miserable wretches still struggling with the agonies of death. Nor were the party in the yawl beyond the reach of hazard; it was not improbable that some of the fiery fragments might come down upon them, and precipitate their frail support to the bottom. Though the Almighty preserved them from that shocking calamity, they were shocked with the spectacle environing them. The vessel had now disappeared; the sea, to a great distance, was covered with pieces of the wreck, intermingled with the bodies of those unhappy creatures who had perished by their fall. Some were seen who had been choked, others mangled, half consumed and still retaining life enough to be sensible of the accumulated horrors overwhelming them.

The fortitude of M. de la Fond was still preserved, through [Pg 256] the favour of Heaven, and he proposed approaching the wreck, to see whether any provisions or necessary articles might be picked up. He and his companions being totally devoid of every thing, were exposed to the hazard of a death even more painful than that which the others had suffered, in perishing of famine. But finding several barrels, which they hoped might contain something to relieve their necessities, they experienced great mortification, on ascertaining that they were part of the powder that had been thrown overboard during the conflagration of their unfortunate vessel.

As night approached, they providentially discovered a cask of brandy, about fifteen pounds of salt pork, a piece of scarlet cloth, twenty yards of linen, a dozen of pipe staves, and a small quantity of cordage. When it became dark they durst not venture to retain their present station until day-light without being endangered by the wreck, from the fragments of which they had not then been able to disengage themselves. Therefore they rowed as quickly away as possible from among them, and bent all their care to the management of the yawl.

The whole began to labor assiduously, and every article which could be converted to use was employed; the lining of the boat was tore up for the sake of the planks and nails; a seaman luckily had two needles, and the linen afforded whatever thread was necessary; the piece of scarlet cloth was substituted for a sail; an oar was erected for a mast, and a plank served for a rudder. The equipment of the boat was soon completed, notwithstanding the darkness of the night, at least as well as circumstances would allow. Yet a great difficulty remained, for wanting charts and instruments, and being nearly two hundred leagues from land, the party felt at a loss what course to steer. Resigning themselves to the Almighty, they offered up fervent prayers for his direction.

At length the sail was hoisted, and a favorable breeze soon wafted M. de la Fond from amidst the bodies of his miserable comrades.

Eight days and nights the adventurers advanced without seeing land; naked and exposed to the scorching heat of the sun by day, and to intense cold by night. But to relieve the thirst which parched them, they availed themselves of a shower of rain, falling on the sixth, and tried to catch a little of it in their mouths and with their hands. They sucked the sail, which was wet with the rain, but from being previously drenched with sea water, it imparted a bitterness to the fresh water [Pg 257] which it received. However, they did not complain, for had the rain been heavier, it might have lulled the wind, in the continuance of which they rested their hopes of safety.

In order to ascertain the proper course, the adventurers paid daily observance to the rising and setting of the sun and moon, and the position of the stars pointed out how they should steer. All their sustenance in the meantime was a small piece of pork once in twenty-four hours, and this they were even obliged to relinquish on the fourth day, from the heat and irritation it occasioned of their bodies. Their beverage was a glass of brandy taken from time to time, but it inflamed their stomachs without assuaging the thirst that consumed them. Abundance of flying fish were seen; the impossibility of catching any of which only augmented the pain already endured, though M. de la Fond and his companions tried to reconcile themselves to the scanty pittance that they possessed. Yet the uncertainty of their destiny, the want of subsistence, and the turbulence of the ocean, all contributed to deprive them of repose, which they so much required, and almost plunged them in despair. Nothing but a feeble ray of hope preserved them under their accumulated sufferings.

The eighth night was passed by M. de la Fond at the helm; there he had remained above ten hours, after soliciting relief, and at last sunk down under fatigue. His miserable companions were equally exhausted, and despair began to overwhelm the whole.

At last when the united calamities of hunger, thirst, fatigue and misery, predicted speedy annihilation, the dawn of Wednesday, the 3d of August, shewed this unfortunate crew the distant land. None but those who have experienced the like situation, can form any adequate idea of the change which was produced. Their strength was renovated, and they were aroused to precautions against being drifted away by the current. They reached the coast of Brazil, in latitude 6 south, and entered Tresson Bay.

The first object of M. de la Fond and his companions was to return thanks for the gracious protection of Heaven; they prostrated themselves on the ground, and then in the transport of joy rolled among the sand.

They exhibited the most frightful appearance; nothing human characterized them, which did not announce their misfortune in glaring colors. Some were quite naked; others had only shirts, rotten and torn to rags. M. de la Fond had fastened [Pg 258] a piece of the scarlet cloth about his waist, in order to appear at the head of his companions. Though rescued from imminent danger, they had still to contend with hunger and thirst, and remained in ignorance whether they should meet men endowed with humanity in that region.

While deliberating on the course they should follow, about fifty Portuguese of the settlement, there established, advanced and inquired the cause of their presence. Their misfortunes were soon explained, and the recital of them proved a sufficient claim for supplying their wants. Deeply affected by the account now given, the Portuguese congratulated themselves that it had fallen to their lot to relieve the strangers, and speedily led them to their dwellings. On the way the seamen were rejoiced at the sight of a river, into which they threw themselves, plunging in the water, and drinking copious draughts of it to allay their thirst. Afterwards frequent bathing proved one of the best restoratives of health, to which they all resorted.

The chief man of the place next came, and conducted M. de la Fond and his companions to his house, about a half a league distant from the spot where they landed. He charitably supplied them with linen shirts and trowsers, and boiled some fish, the water of which was relished as delicious broth. Though sleep was equally necessary as this frugal fare, the survivors having learned that there was a church within half a league, dedicated to St. Michael, repaired thither to render thanks to Heaven for their miraculous preservation. The badness of the road induced such fatigue as compelled them to rest in the village where it stood, and there the narrative of their misfortunes, added to the piety which they exhibited, attracted the notice of the inhabitants, all of whom hastened to minister something to their necessities. After remaining a short interval they returned to their host, who at night kindly contributed another repast of fish. Something more invigorating, however, being required by people who had endured so much, they purchased an ox for a quantity of the brandy that had been saved from the wreck.

Paraibo was distant fifteen leagues, and they had to set out barefoot, and with little chance of finding suitable provisions on the journey.

Thus they smoke-dried their present store, and added a little flour to it. In three days they began to march, and, under an escort of three soldiers, advanced seven leagues the first day, when they were hospitably received by a person, [Pg 259] and passed the night in his house. On the following evening, a serjeant and twenty-nine men arrived to conduct them to the commandant of the fortress, who gave them a friendly reception, afforded them supplies, and provided a boat to carry them to Paraibo. About midnight they reached the town, where a Portuguese captain attended to present them to the governor, from whom also they experienced the like attention. Being anxious to reach Fernambuc, to take advantage of a Portuguese fleet, daily expected to sail for Europe, the governor, in three days more, ordered a corporal to conduct the party thither. But at this time M. de la Fond’s feet were so cruelly wounded, he was scarce able to stand, and on that account was supplied with a horse. In four days he arrived at Fernambuc, where, from different naval and military officers, he met with the utmost attention and consideration; he and all his companions got a passage to Europe in the fleet.

M. de la Fond sailed on the 5th of October, and reached Lisbon in safety on the 17th of December; thence he procured a passage to Morlaix, where having rested a few days to recruit his strength, he repaired to Port L’Orient, with his health greatly injured by the calamities he had suffered, and reduced to a state of poverty, having after twenty-eight years service, lost all he had in the world.

By this deplorable catastrophe, nearly three hundred persons perished.


WRECK OF THE SCHOONER BETSEY,

ON A REEF OF ROCKS.

The Betsey, a small schooner of about 75 tons burden, sailed from Macao in China, for New South Wales, on the 10th of November, 1805. Her complement consisted of William Brooks, commander, Edward Luttrell, mate, one Portuguese [Pg 260] seacunny, three Manilla and four Chinese Lascars. No incident worthy of commemoration happened from the 10th to 20th of November. Next day, when the vessel was going at the rate of seven knots and a half an hour, she struck on a reef of rocks at half past two in the morning, while in north latitude 9 48, and 114 14 east longitude. The boat was instantly let down, and a small anchor sent astern, but on heaving, the cable parted, and both were lost. The people next endeavored to construct a raft of the water casks, but the swell proved so great that they found it impossible to accomplish their purpose. At day-break they found that the vessel had forged four or five miles on the reef, which they now discovered extended nine or ten miles to the south, and four or five east and west; and there were only two feet water where she lay. During three days and nights, the utmost exertions were made to get her off without avail, and the crew had then become so weakened that they could scarce be persuaded to construct a raft.

The vessel now had bulged on the starboard side. But a raft being made on the 24th, the people left her with the jolly-boat in company, and steered for Balambangan. Captain Brooks, the mate, the gunner and two seacunnies were in the latter, where their whole provision consisted of only a small bag of biscuit; and on the raft were the Portuguese, four Chinese and three Malays, but much better provided.

The boat and the raft parted company on the same day, as a brisk gale arose from the westward, and the raft was never heard of more; but it was conjectured to have probably drifted on the island of Borneo, which then bore south-east. The gale continued from the north-west until the 28th of the month, accompanied by a mountainous sea, and then ceased. By this time the fresh water taken into the boat was completely expended, and all the biscuit that remained was wet with salt water.

On the 29th at day-break, land came in view, which was supposed to be Balabac; the people were now nearly exhausted by rowing under a burning sun, and while a perfect calm prevailed; and they were besides reduced to such extremity as to drink their own urine. It blew so hard in the night that they were obliged to bear up for Bangay, the north-west point of which they discovered next morning at day-break. Going ashore they instantly made a search for fresh water, which they soon found, and considering what they had suffered from thirst, it is no wonder that they drank to excess. While rambling [Pg 261] into the woods in quest of fruit, two Malays met them, to whom they made signs that they wanted food, and these being understood, the Malays went away, and in the afternoon returned with two cocoa-nuts and a few sweet potatoes, which they gave in exchange for a silver spoon.

Night approaching, the people returned to their boat.—Next morning five Malays made their appearance, bringing some Indian corn and potatoes, which were exchanged for spoons as before. These people pointed to Balambangan, and endeavored to make the party comprehend that sometime ago the English had abandoned the settlement. A new supply of provision was promised next morning; therefore the party retired with their little stock, and attended at the appointed time to receive more. Eleven Malays then appeared on the beach; but after a little conversation on landing, one of them threw a spear at Captain Brooks, which penetrated his belly, another made a cut at Mr. Luttrell, who parried it off with a cutlass, and ran to the boat. Captain Brooks withdrew the spear from his body, and also ran a short distance, but the inhuman assassins followed him and cut off both his legs. The gunner also was severely wounded, and reached the boat covered with blood, while the party at the same time, saw the Malays stripping the dead body of Captain Brooks; and in about fifteen minutes afterwards the gunner expired.

The survivors immediately made sail, and then examined into the state of their provisions, which they found consisted of ten cobs of Indian corn, three pumpkins, and two bottles of water. Trusting to the mercy of Providence, they with this, determined on shaping their course for the straits of Malacca.

No particular occurrence happened in the course of the voyage from the fourth to the fourteenth of December; frequent showers had fortunately supplied them with fresh water, but they were nearly exhausted by constant watching and hunger.

On the 15th they fell in with a group of islands, in 3 of north latitude, and about 100 degrees of east longitude, and approached the shore. But being descried by two Malay prows, they were immediately attacked, and one of the seacunnies was run through with a spear and died instantly, while the other was also wounded. Mr. Luttrell, the mate, had a very narrow escape from a spear piercing through his hat. The party being thus overpowered, the Malays took possession of their boat and immediately seized on all their [Pg 262] property, a sextant, their log-book, some plate and clothes. They were themselves kept in a prow, without any covering, and exposed to the scorching heat of the sun, with an allowance of only a small quantity of sago during three days. After that time they were carried ashore to the house of a rajah, on an island called Sube, where they remained in a state of slavery, entirely naked, and subsisting on sago, until the 20th of April. The Rajah sailed on that day in a prow for Rhio, taking Mr. Luttrell and the two other survivors along with him, and arrived there nearly famished, after a tedious passage of twenty-five days.

Here their distresses were alleviated by Mr. Koek of Malacca, who treated them in the kindest manner; and the ship Kandree, commanded by Captain Williamson, arriving next day, they obtained a passage in her for Malacca.


EARLY AMERICAN HEROISM.

During one of the former wars, between France and England, in which the then Colonies bore an active part, a respectable individual, a member of the society of Friends, of the name of——, commanded a fine ship which sailed from an Eastern port, to a port in England. This vessel had a strong and effective crew, but was totally unarmed. When near her destined port, she was chased, and ultimately overhauled, by a French vessel of war. Her commander used every endeavor to escape, but seeing from the superior sailing of the Frenchman, that his capture was inevitable, he quietly retired below: he was followed into the cabin by his cabin boy, a youth of activity and enterprise, named Charles Wager: he asked his commander if nothing more could be done to save the ship—his commander replied that it was impossible, that every thing had been done that was practicable, there was no escape for them, and they must submit to be captured. Charles then returned upon deck and summoned the crew around him—he stated in a few words what was their captain’s [Pg 263] conclusion—then, with an elevation of mind, dictated by a soul formed for enterprise and noble daring, he observed, “if you will place yourselves under my command, and stand by me, I have conceived a plan by which the ship may be rescued, and we in turn become the conquerors.” The sailors no doubt feeling the ardor, and inspired by the courage of their youthful and gallant leader, agreed to place themselves under his command. His plan was communicated to them, and they awaited with firmness, the moment to carry their enterprise into effect. The suspense was of short duration, for the Frenchman was quickly alongside, and grappled to the merchant ship. As Charles had anticipated, the exhilarated conquerors, elated beyond measure, with the acquisition of so fine a prize, poured into his vessel cheering and huzzaing; and not foreseeing any danger, they left but few men on board their ship. Now was the moment for Charles, who, giving his men the signal, sprang at their head on board the opposing vessel, while some seized the arms which had been left in profusion on her deck, and with which they soon overpowered the few men left on board; the others, by a simultaneous movement, relieved her from the grapplings which united the two vessels. Our hero now having the command of the French vessel, seized the helm, and placing her out of boarding distance, hailed, with the voice of a conqueror, the discomfited crowd of Frenchmen who were left on board of the peaceful bark he had just quitted, and summoned them to follow close in his wake, or he would blow them out of water, (a threat they well knew he was very capable of executing, as their guns were loaded during the chase.) They sorrowfully acquiesced with his commands, while gallant Charles steered into port, followed by his prize. The exploit excited universal applause—the former master of the merchant vessel was examined by the Admiralty, when he stated the whole of the enterprise as it occurred, and declared that Charles Wager had planned and effected the gallant exploit, and that to him alone belonged the honor and credit of the achievement. Charles was immediately transferred to the British navy, appointed a midshipman, and his education carefully superintended. He soon after distinguished himself in action, and underwent a rapid promotion, until at length he was created an Admiral, and known as Sir Charles Wager. It is said that he always held in veneration and esteem, that respectable and conscientious Friend, whose cabin boy he had been, and transmitted yearly to his OLD MASTER, as he termed him, a handsome present of Madeira, to cheer his declining days.


[Pg 264]

A small boat sails past the mouth of the cave

FINGAL’S CAVE.

The most magnificent of all known caverns, is that called Fingal’s Cave, in the Isle of Staffa, on the western coast of Scotland. Its length is 370 feet; and the height at the entrance of the cave is 117 feet.

Thousands of majestic columns of basalts support a lofty roof, under which the sea rolls its waves, while the vastness of the entrance allows the light of day to penetrate the various recesses of the cave.

The mind, says Mr. Pennant, can hardly form an idea more magnificent than such a space, supported on each side by ranges of columns, and roofed by the bottom of those which have been broken off in order to form it, between the angles of which a yellow stalagmatic matter has exuded, which serves to define the angles precisely, and, at the same time, vary the color with a great deal of elegance. To render it still more agreeable, the whole is lighted from without, so that the farthest extremity is very plainly seen; and the air within, being agitated by the flux and reflux of the tides is perfectly wholesome, and free from the damp vapors with which caverns generally abound.


[Pg 265]

THE RAMILLIES


[Pg 267]

THE LOSS OF THE RAMILLIES,

IN THE ATLANTIC OCEAN.

Admiral (afterwards Lord) Graves having requested leave to return to England in 1782, was appointed by Lord Rodney to command the convoy sent home with the numerous fleet of merchantmen from the West Indies in the month of July.—He accordingly hoisted his flag on board the Ramillies of 74 guns, and sailed on the 25th from Blue Fields, having under his orders the Canada and Centaur of 74 guns each, the Pallas frigate of 36 guns, and the following French ships, taken by Lord Rodney and Sir Samuel Hood, out of the armament commanded by the Count de Grasse, viz. the Ville de Paris, of 110 guns; the Glorieux and Hector, of 74 guns each; the Ardent, Caton and Jason, of 6 guns each. Those which were originally British ships had been in so many actions, and so long absent from England, as to have become extremely out of condition, while that of the prizes was still more deplorable, and the following authentic account of the various disasters which attended this distressed convoy will be found equally melancholy and interesting.

Soon after the fleet had sailed, the officers of the Ardent united in signing such a representation of her miserable plight as induced Admiral Graves to order her back to Port Royal, and the Jason, by not putting to sea with the convoy, from want of water, never joined him at all. The rest proceeded, and after those vessels that were bound for New York had separated, the whole convoy was reduced to ninety-two or three sail.

On the 8th of September the Caton springing a leak, made such alarming complaints, that the Admiral directed her and the Pallas, also become leaky, to bear away immediately, and keep company together, making for Halifax, which then bore North-North-West and was but eighty-seven leagues distant.

The afternoon of the 16th of September shewing indications of a gale and foul weather from the south-east quarter, [Pg 268] every preparation was made on board the flag-ship for such an event, not only on account of her own safety, but also as an example to the rest of the fleet. The Admiral collected the ships about six o’clock, and brought to under his main-sail on the larboard tack, having all his other sails furled, and his top-gallant yards and masts lowered down.

The wind soon increasing, blew strong from the E. S. E. with a very heavy sea, and about three o’clock in the morning of the 17th flew suddenly round to the contrary point, blowing most tremendously, and accompanied with rain, thunder and lightning; the Ramillies was taken by the lee, her main-sail thrown back, her main-mast went by the board, and mizen-mast half way up; the fore-top mast fell over the starboard bow, the fore-yard broke in the slings, the tiller snapped in two, and the rudder was nearly torn off. Thus was this capital ship, from being in perfect order, reduced, within a few minutes to a mere wreck, by the fury of the blast and the violence of the sea, which acted in opposition to each other. The ship was pooped, the cabin, where the Admiral lay was flooded, his cot-bed jerked down by the violence of the shock and the ship’s instantaneous revulsion, so that he was obliged to pull on his boots half leg deep in water, without any stockings, to huddle on his wet clothes, and repair upon deck. On his first coming thither, he ordered two of the lieutenants to examine into the state of the affairs below, and to keep a sufficient number of people at the pumps, while he himself and the captain kept the deck, to encourage the men to clear away the wreck, which, by its constant swinging backwards and forwards by every wave against the body of the ship, had beaten off much of the copper from the starboard side, and exposed the seams so much to the sea that the decayed oakum washed out, and the whole frame became at once exceedingly porous and leaky.

At dawn of day they perceived a large ship lying under their lee, lying upon her side, water-logged, her hands attempting to wear her by first cutting away the mizen-mast, and then her main-mast; hoisting her ensign, with the union downwards in order to draw the attention of the fleet; but to no purpose, for no succour could be given, and she very soon went down head fore-most, the fly of her ensign being the last thing visible. This was the Dutton, formerly an East Indiaman, and then a store-ship, commanded by a lieutenant of the navy, who in his agitation, leaped from her deck into the sea; but, as might be expected, was very soon overwhelmed [Pg 269] by its billows. Twelve or thirteen of the crew contrived, however, to slide off one of the boats, and running with the wind, first endeavored to reach a large ship before them, which, not being able to fetch, and afraid of filling if they attempted to haul up for the purpose, they made up for another ship more to the leeward, who fortunately descrying them, threw a number of ropes, by the help of which these desperate fellows scrambled up her sides, and fortunately saved their lives. Out of ninety-four or five sail, seen the day before, scarcely twenty could now be counted; of the ships of war, there were discerned the Canada, half hull down upon the lee-quarter, having her main-top-mast and mizen-mast gone, the main-top damaged, the main-yard aloft, and the main-sail furled; the Centaur was far to windward, without masts, bowsprit or rudder; and the Glorieux without fore-mast, bowsprit or main-top-mast. Of these the two latter perished with all their crews, excepting the captain of the Centaur, and a few of his people, who contrived to slip off her stern into one of the boats unnoticed, and thus escaped the fate of the rest of the crew.

The Ville de Paris appeared to have received no injury, and was commanded by a most experienced seaman, who had made twenty-four voyages to and from the West Indies, and had, therefore, been pitched upon to lead the ship through the Gulf; nevertheless, she was afterwards buried in the ocean with all on board her, consisting of above eight hundred people. Of the convoy, besides the Dutton, before mentioned, and the British Queen, seven others were discovered without mast or bowsprit; eighteen lost masts and several others had foundered.

In the course of this day the Canada crossed upon and passed the Ramillies; some of the trade attempted to follow the Canada, but she ran at such a rate that they soon found it to be in vain, and then returned towards the flag-ship; the Ramillies had at this time six feet water in her hold, and the pumps would not free her, the water having worked out the oakum, and her beams amid-ship being almost drawn from their clamps.

The admiral, therefore, gave orders for all the buckets to be manned, and every officer to help towards freeing the ship; the mizen-top-sail was set upon the fore-mast, the main-top-gallant-sail on the stump of the mizen-mast, and the tiller shipped. In this condition, by bearing away, she scudded on at so good a rate that she held pace with some of the merchantmen.

[Pg 270] The day having been spent in bailing and pumping, without materially gaining on the water, the captain in the name of the officers, represented to the admiral the necessity of parting with the guns for the relief of the ship, but he objected, that there would then be left no protection for the convoy.—At length, however, after great difficulty, he consented to their disposing of the fore-castle and aftermost quarter-deck guns, together with some of the shot, and other articles of very great weight. The ensuing night was employed in bailing and endeavoring to make the pumps useful, for the ballast by getting into the well, had choked and rendered them useless, and the chains had broken every time they were repaired. The water had risen to seven feet in the hold. The wind from the westward drove a vast sea before it, and the ship being old, strained most violently.

On the morning of the 18th nothing could be seen of the Canada, she having pushed on at her greatest speed for England. The frame of the Ramillies having opened during the night, the admiral was prevailed upon, by the renewed and pressing remonstrances of the officers, although with great reluctance, to let six of the forwardmost and four of the aftermost guns of the main-deck to be thrown overboard, together with the remainder of those on the quarter-deck; and the ship still continuing to open very much, he ordered tarred canvas and hides to be nailed fore and aft from under the sills of the ports on the main-deck under the fifth plank above, or within the water-ways, and the crew, without orders did the same on the lower deck. Her increasing complaints requiring still more to be done, the admiral directed all the guns on the upper deck, the shot, both on that and the lower deck, and various heavy stores to be thrown overboard; a leakage in the light room of the grand magazine having almost filled the ship forward, and there being eight feet water in the magazine, every gentleman was compelled to take his turn at the whips, or in handing the buckets. The ship was besides frapped from the fore-mast to the main-mast.

Notwithstanding their utmost efforts the water still gained on them the succeeding night, the wind blowing very hard, with extremely heavy squalls, a part of the orlop deck fell into the hold; the ship herself seemed to work excessively, and to settle forward.

On the morning of the 19th, under these very alarming circumstances, the admiral commanded both the bower anchors to be cut away, all the junk to be flung overboard, one [Pg 271] sheet and one bower cable to be reduced to junk and served the same way, together with every remaining ponderous store that could be got at, and all the powder in the grand magazine (it being damaged;) the cutter and pinnace to be broken up and tossed overboard, the skids having already worked off the side; every soul on board was now employed in bailing. One of the pumps was got up, but to no purpose, for the shot-lockers being broken down, some of the shot, as well as the ballast, had fallen into the well; and as the weather moderated a little, every thing was made ready to heave the lower deck guns into the sea, the admiral being anxious to leave nothing undone for the relief of the ship.

When evening approached, there being twenty merchant ships in sight, the officers united in beseeching him to go into one of them, but this he positively refused to do, deeming it, as he declared, unpardonable in a commander in chief to desert his garrison in distress; that his living a few years longer was of very little consequence, but that, by leaving his ship at such a time, he should discourage and slacken the exertions of the people, by setting a very bad example. The wind lulling somewhat during the night, all hands bailed the water, which, at this time, was six feet fore and aft.

On the morning of the 20th the admiral ordered the spare and stream anchors to be cut away, and within the course of the day all the lower deck guns to be thrown overboard.—When evening came, the spirits of the people in general, and even of the most courageous, began to fail, and they openly expressed the utmost despair, together with the most earnest desire of quitting the ship, lest they should founder in her.—The admiral hereupon advanced and told them, that he and their officers had an equal regard for their own lives, and that the officers had no intention of deserting either them or the ship, that, for his part, he was determined to try one night more in her, he, therefore, hoped and intreated they would do so too, for there was still room to imagine, that one fair day, with a moderate sea, might enable them, by united exertions to clear and secure the well against the encroaching ballast which washed into it; that if this could be done, they might be able to restore the chains to the pumps, and use them; and that then hands enough might be spared to raise jury-masts, with which they might carry the ship to Ireland; that her appearance alone, while she could swim, would be sufficient to protect the remaining part of her convoy; above all, that as every thing that could be thought of had now been done for [Pg 272] her relief, it would be but reasonable to wait the effect. He concluded with assuring them, that he would make the signal directly for the trade to lie by them during the night, which he doubted not they would comply with.

This temperate speech had the desired effect; the firmness and confidence with which he spoke, and their reliance on his seamanship and judgment, as well as his constant presence and attention to every accident, had a wonderful effect upon them; they became pacified, and returned to their duty and their labors. Since the first disaster, the admiral had, in fact, scarcely ever quitted the deck; this they had all observed, together with his diligence in personally inspecting every circumstance of distress. Knowing his skill and experience they placed great confidence in them; and he instantly made, according to his promise, a signal for all the merchantmen.

At this period, it must be confessed, there was great reason for alarm, and but little for hope; for all the anchors and guns, excepting one, together with every other matter of weight, had been thrown overboard, and yet the ship did not seem at all relieved. The strength of the people was, likewise, so nearly exhausted, having had no sleep since the first fatal stroke, that one half of the crew were ordered to bail and the other to repose; so that, although the wind was much abated, the water still gained upon them, in spite of all their efforts, and the ship rolled and worked most prodigiously in a most unquiet sea.

At three in the morning of the 21st, being the fourth night, the well being quite broken in, the casks, ballast and remaining shot, rushed together and destroyed the cylinders of the pumps; the frame and carcase of the ship began to give way in every part, and the whole crew exclaimed that it was impossible to keep her any longer above water.

In this extremity the admiral resolved within himself not to lose a moment in removing the people whenever day-light should arrive, but told the captain not to communicate any more of his design than that he intended to remove the sick and lame at day-break; and for this purpose he should call on board all the boats of the merchantmen. He, nevertheless, gave private orders to the captain, while this was doing, to have all the bread brought upon the quarter-deck, with a quantity of beef, pork and flour, to settle the best distribution of the people according to the number of the trade ships that should obey their signal, and to allow an officer to each division of them; to have the remaining boats launched, and as [Pg 273] soon as the sick were disposed of, to begin to remove the whole of the crew, with the utmost despatch, but without risking too many in a boat.

Accordingly at dawn, the signal was made for the boats of the merchantmen, but nobody suspected what was to follow, until the bread was entirely removed and the sick gone.—About six o’clock, the rest of the crew were permitted to go off, and between nine and ten, there being nothing further to direct and regulate, the admiral himself, after shaking hands with every officer, and leaving his barge for their better accommodation and transport, quitted forever the Ramillies, which had then nine feet water in her hold. He went into a small leaky boat, loaded with bread, out of which both him and the surgeon who accompanied him were obliged to bail the water all the way. He was in his boots, with his surtout over his uniform, and his countenance as calm and as composed as ever. He had, at going off, desired a cloak, a cask of flour and a cask of water, but could get only the flour, and he left behind all his stock, wines, furniture, books and charts, which had cost him upwards of one thousand pounds, being unwilling to employ even a single servant in saving or packing up what belonged to himself alone, in a time of such general calamity, as to appear better in that respect than any of the crew.

The admiral rowed for the Belle, Captain Forster, being the first of the trade that had borne up to the Ramillies the preceding night in her imminent distress, and by his anxious humanity set such an example to his brother traders as had a powerful influence upon them—an influence which was generally followed by sixteen others.

By three o’clock most of the crew were taken out, at which time the Ramillies had thirteen feet water in her hold, and was evidently foundering in every part, at half past four the captain, and first and third lieutenants, left her, with every soul excepting the fourth lieutenant, who staid behind only to execute the admiral’s orders for setting fire to her wreck when finally deserted. The carcase burned rapidly, and the flames quickly reaching the powder, which was filled in the after magazine, and had been lodged very high, in thirty-five minutes the decks and upper works blew up with a horrid explosion and cloud of smoke, while the lower part of the hull was precipitated to the bottom of the ocean.

At this time the admiral, in the Belle, stood for the wreck to see his last orders executed, as well as to succour any boats [Pg 274] that might be too full of men, the swell of the sea being prodigious, although the weather had been moderate ever since noon of the foregoing day. There were, however, at intervals, some squalls, with threats of the weather soon becoming violent. It was not long before they were realized, for within two hours after the last of the crew were put on board their respective ships, the wind rose to a great height, and so continued, with intermission, for six or seven successive days, so that no boat could, during that time, have lived in the water. On such a small interval depended the salvation of more than six hundred lives! Indeed, during the four days immediately preceding this catastrophe, it blew such a strong gale, and such a heavy sea followed the Ramillies, that it was always necessary to keep her with the wind upon her quarter, with seldom more than the sprit-sail hoisted upon her fore-mast, and at times with no sail at all, in which state she would run at the rate of six miles an hour. Whenever the main-top-gallant-sail was set on the stump of the mizen-mast she commonly griped too much, so as to render the steerage very difficult, and yet this had been carried, whenever it could be, in order to keep pace with the merchantmen, the slowest of which went nearly as fast under their bare poles.

Even in running thus the Ramillies rolled prodigiously, and as she grew lighter every day her motion became the more uneasy, so that the men could scarcely stand to their work, or keep their legs without something to lay hold by. There was no such thing as real repose for them when sitting or lying down upon deck, nor steadiness enough to eat or drink with any security; no meat could be dressed, nor did any man or officer go into bed. Until the afternoon of the 20th there was no venturing to bring her to, even for a boat to come on board; but, notwithstanding this desperate condition, when some were hourly dropping through fatigue and want of sleep, and the decks were covered with water, the whole of the crew behaved with the utmost obedience, attention and sobriety, and remitted no possible exertion for the preservation of the ship.

Upon their separation taking place, the officers, who were distributed with portions of the crew among the Jamaica-men, had orders respectively to deliver them to the first man of war or tender they should meet with, and to acquaint the Secretary of the Admiralty, by the earliest opportunity, of their proceedings. A pendant was hoisted on board the Belle, by way of distinction, that she might, if possible, lead the rest. Some of the trade kept with her, and others made the best of their [Pg 275] way, apprehensive lest they should soon fall short of provisions, as they had so many more to feed.

The Silver Eel transport, which had sailed from Bluefields with the invalids of Sir George Rodney’s fleet, and was under the command of a lieutenant of the navy, had been ordered to keep near the Ramillies. That ship was accordingly at hand on the 21st of September, the day of her destruction, and in consequence of several deaths on the passage had room enough for the reception of all who were now ailing or maimed, and was therefore charged with them, being properly fitted for their accommodation.

The Silver Eel parted from the admiral in latitude 42 48 N. and longitude 45 19 W. after seeing the Ramillies demolished, and being ordered to make for the first port, ran into Falmouth the 6th of October, on the afternoon of which day, one of the trade ships, with a midshipman and sixteen of the crew of the Ramillies, reached Plymouth Sound. Another of the same convoy, having on board another part of the crew, with the captain and first lieutenant, anchored in the same place before day-light the next morning. The Canada, however, having exerted her utmost speed, had, prior to all these, on the 4th of the same month got to Portsmouth, where she spread the news of the dispersion of this miserable fleet, which being conveyed to France, her privateers immediately put to sea in hopes of making prizes of them. Some of the Jamaica-men, with part of the crew of the Ramillies, fell into their hands; two of the West Indiamen were captured in sight of the Belle, but she herself with the admiral and thirty-three of his crew, arrived safe, though singly, on the 10th of October in Cork harbor, where was the Myrmidon frigate. The admiral immediately hoisted his flag on board the latter, and sailing with the first fair wind, arrived, on the 17th, in Plymouth Sound, apparently in good health, but with a settled oppression upon his breast, from having been so long and so dreadfully exposed upon the deck of the Ramillies in the horrid night when she was first overtaken by the storm; nor could he remove that complaint for upwards of six months. He brought away with him nothing but a few of his private papers, the rest of his effects having shared the same fate as his ship.

It was calculated that by the destruction of the fleet, upwards of twenty one thousand five hundred persons perished. The loss of property has been estimated by the British Government to be upwards of £20,000,000. The gale, which continued for six days, was the most tremendous one on record.


[Pg 276]

PRESERVATION OF NINE MEN,

IN A SMALL BOAT, SURROUNDED BY ISLANDS OF ICE.

We sailed from Plymouth under convoy of H. B. Majesty’s ship St. Alban’s, and two other ships of war, together with a fleet of merchantmen bound to the Mediterranean, having a fresh gale at north-east.

The wind still continuing, we kept company with the fleet until reaching 120 leagues to the westward; then judging ourselves clear of privateers, we proceeded on our voyage. But before gaining 300 leagues, on the 17th of March we came up with an English built ship of about 200 tons, carrying twelve guns, and sailing under a jury main-mast. On our approach she hoisted English colors; and, on being hailed, told us she belonged to London, and was now bound from Virginia homewards, which seemed probable, as many tame fowl were on board; and a red bird flew from her to us.

Our captain seeing the vessel disabled, desired her to bring to; saying, if anything was wanted on board, we should hoist out our boat and carry it thither; but this was obstinately refused; the captain declared, that our boat should not approach, and unless we kept further off, he would fire into us. This induced suspicion on our part, wherefore we run up with the vessel, and commanded her to bring to. On this she fired, and engaged us from eleven in the morning until six in the evening; then, being much damaged, she struck, and called to us to save the lives of the crew. But this request came too late, for the wind increasing, raised a great sea, which forced our ship under a reefed main-sail, whence we could not hoist out our boat, without endangering our own lives. However, by means of a light which she carried, we kept close to her, intending to hoist the boat out when it became practicable. But towards midnight her light became very low; and by a loud cry, which was heard about one o’clock, we judged that she foundered.

When the vessel struck she told us that she had fourteen Frenchmen on board, whence we conjectured her to be an [Pg 277] English Virginia-man taken by the French; and that she had lost her main-mast in the engagement. We followed her, chasing and fighting, about thirty leagues; and when she struck we were in 45 50 north latitude.

Our booty being thus lost, we made the best of our way to Newfoundland, being bound thither on a fishing voyage. One trouble, however, seldom comes alone, and so it happened to us; for, on the 26th of March, we saw some shattered ice, at four in the afternoon, which was supposed to be the harbor ice now broken up. We were now in 46 50 north latitude, and conceived ourselves 50 leagues, though it afterwards proved seventy, from the land. The wind being at east, the top-sails were handed; and we stood northward, under our courses, hoping to get clear of the ice before night. But finding rather more than less, we tacked to the Southward, which was found unproductive of any change. Therefore, for further security, the fore-sail was furled, and the ship brought to under the main-sail, as night approached, and as there was a dead wind, so that we could lie off on neither tack, we trusted if we should fall in with the greater ice, to meet with the less shocks.

About eight or nine o’clock, we discovered a field of ice, of which we ran foul, notwithstanding our exertions to keep clear of it; and although we hung cables, coils of rope, hoops and such things, over the ship to defend her, she struck so hard, that at eleven she bilged, whence we had much difficulty to keep her afloat till day-light, by two pumps going, and bailing at three hatchways.

At the approach of day our men were much fatigued, the water increased, and against noon the hold was half full.—No one knew what to advise another, and all began to despair of their lives: we continued pumping, though to little purpose, and concluded, that if now were our appointed time, we must submit patiently to it.

But amidst this disaster, it pleased God to put it into the thoughts of some of us, that several might be preserved in the boat, whence the captain was entreated to hoist her out, and commit a few of us there.

The captain answered, that, although God could work wonders, it was improbable that so small a boat should preserve us; that it was but living a few days longer in misery; and, seeing God had cast this calamity to his lot, he was resolved to take his chance and die with his men.

Nevertheless, being much importuned, he ordered the boat [Pg 278] out, and William Saunders and five others in her; and, that the men might not suspect their design, it was given out that the boat should go ahead to tow the ship clear of the ice.—How likely that was the reader may judge, there being but one oar, all the rest were broken by defending the ship from the ice. However, the purpose advanced.

The boat being out, and finding no effect produced in towing the ship, fell a-stern, intending to take in the captain and as many as it could safely carry, while some were preparing necessaries for a miserable voyage. A compass, and other things ready, were conveyed into it.

The captain, doctor and several others, having got out at the cabin windows and galleries, I, amongst the rest, endeavored to escape at the gallery, intending likewise, if possible, to get into the boat; but being discovered by the men, they took small arms, and kept off the boat, resolving, as she could not preserve all, that the whole should perish together.

This design being frustrated, every one, except myself and William Langmead, got into the ship again; but we were so low that we could not recover ourselves. No person coming to relieve us, we were at length forced to let go our hold, and trust to the mercy of those in the boat, who seeing us swimming towards them, hove out a rope and took us in.

We were now eight in number in the boat; and, willing to save our captain, lay hovering about the ship till night; but the men persisting in their resolution, fired at the boat and kept her off. We began to seek shelter as night approached; and, having gone among the shattered ice, made our boat fast to a small lump, and drove with it; and as we came foul of great ice, we removed and made fast to another piece, and so continued during the remainder of the night.

Looking around in the morning, the ship was seen about three leagues to the eastward in the same position as we had left her, whereon a consultation was held whether or not we should return and make another attempt to save the captain, and as many more as possible. This proposal, however, was negatived, every one alleging that the men would either fire on us, or inconsiderately crowd into the boat and sink her; therefore, it was resolved to make the best of our way to the shore. But I, considering how little it would tend to my honor to save my life, and see my captain perish, endeavored to persuade them that the ship still swam buoyant, that I hoped the leak was stopped, and that we might proceed on our voyage; but this was unavailing. When I saw myself unable to [Pg 279] prevail thus, I desired them to row up and set me on that part of the ice next the ship, whence I should walk to her, and die with my commander.

This being unanimously agreed to, we rowed to the ice; but when we reached it, I was loth to go out. However, on calling the captain to us, Mr. John Maddick came first, and after him the doctor and some others, which the captain perceiving, came also.

The captain having left the ship, the multitude crowded so eagerly after him that we had like to have spoiled all; but by chance the boat was got off, with twenty-one people in her and hanging to her sides. Some were forced to slip; others perished on the ice, not being able to return to the ship, where the rest were lost.

On the 25th of March we took a miserable farewell of our distressed brethren, the heart of every one being so overloaded with his own misery as to have little room to pity another. Next, on considering what course to follow, we resolved to make for the shore.

Our only provision was a small barrel of flour, and a five gallon rundlet of brandy, which had been thrown overboard, and was taken up by us. We also took up an old chest, which stood us in good stead, for having but one oar, and our ship’s handspikes, and a hatchet being by chance in the boat, we could split the chest, and nail it to the handspikes, which were our oars. Nails we had only, by drawing them from different parts of the boat; and the rest of the chest was used to kindle a fire. It also happened that our main tarpaulin, which had been newly tarred, was put into the boat. Of it we made a main-sail; and of an old piece of canvas, that had been a sail to a yawl, we made a fore-sail. In this condition we turned towards the shore, and observing the surrounding ice lie north and south, we steered north, and in the morning were clear of it.

Having now got into the ocean, and the wind being still easterly, we hoisted our sail, and steered west-north-west about fourteen leagues, when we fell in with another field of ice. Attempting to sail through it, we were enclosed by many great islands, which drove so fast together, that we were forced to haul up our boat on the ice, otherwise we should have perished.

Here we lay eleven days without once seeing the sea. As the ice was thick, we caught as many seals as we chose, for they were in great abundance. Our fire hearth was made of [Pg 280] the skin, and the fat melted so easily, that we could boil the lean with it.

But by lying so long in this cold region, the men began to complain of their feet; and our boat being too small to afford room for all, there was always a hideous cry among us of hurting each other, though for this there was no remedy. We kept watch six and six, both for the convenience of room, and to guard against the ice breaking under our boat, which often happened, and then it was necessary to launch, or carry her to a place which we thought strong enough to bear her weight.

In eleven days we saw the sea, and, with great difficulty, got out the boat. We sailed about ten or twelve leagues north-north-west as before, when we were again enclosed; and this was repeated five several times. The last ice, however, was worse than any before, and although it was so thick that we could not force the boat through it, yet it was not so solid as to bear the weight of a man; therefore, notwithstanding we daily saw enough of seals, we could take none of them.

It fortunately happened, that when we parted from the hard ice, we had seven seals in store, and one that we took dead, which was consumed without consulting how it had died.

We were next reduced to short allowance, having only one among us to serve two days, which, with about three ounces of flour, mixed with water, and boiled in the fat of the seal, was all our provision. At length we were obliged to share both feet and skin, each of us allowing a little fat to make a fire. But being constrained to eat the whole, skin and bone also, scarcely boiled, injured our stomachs so much, that some of our number died, and I myself suffered severely.

On getting clear of the loose ice, if the wind was so adverse as to prevent our rowing, we made fast the boat to an island of ice until better weather. Although this sheltered us, we were often in great danger, from the islands driving foul of us, so that it was wonderful we escaped.

We drank the ice mixed with brandy; and our provisions, with good management, lasted until our coming ashore, for it pleased God to save some of us by taking others to himself. Our companions began to die two or three in a day, until we were at last reduced to nine.

The feet of several who died were bit in such a manner by the frost, that, on stripping them, which was done to give the clothes to the survivors, their toes came away with the stockings. [Pg 281] The last who died was the boatswain, who lived until the day before we saw land.

Our compass was broke by the last field of ice through which we passed, and soon after we lost our water bucket, which was used for bailing. Our course was directed by the sun in the day-time, and the stars by night.

Though many other accidents befel us, it pleased the Lord to bring us safe to land, after passing twenty-eight days in the boat.

On the 24th of April we arrived at Baccalew, and thence repaired to the Bay of Verds, in Newfoundland, where we found three men providing for a fishing voyage, who carried us to their house, and gave us such things as they had. But they being indifferently stored, and unable to maintain us, we determined to go to St. John’s, notwithstanding some of us were so much frost-bit, as to be obliged to be carried to the boat. Before getting to Cape St. Francis, however, the wind veered to the south-west, which compelled us to row all night. In the morning we reached Portugal Cove, where to our unspeakable joy, some men were found preparing for the summer’s fishing. They shewed us so much compassion as to launch a boat, and tow us over to Belleisle, and there we were courteously received. All were so weak that we were carried ashore on men’s shoulders; and we were besides so disfigured with hunger, cold and the oil of seals, that people could hardly recognise us as men, except for the shape. At Belleisle we remained ten days, when, being somewhat recruited, we went to St. John’s. Thus, in all this extremity, God miraculously preserved nine out of ninety-six that were in the ship.


CAPTAIN ROSS’S EXPEDITION.

In the year 1818 the British Government fitted out two expeditions to the North Pole. Captain Buchan, commanding the Trent and the Dorothy was directed to attempt a passage [Pg 282] between Spitzbergen and Nova Zembla, over the Pole, into the Pacific, and Captain Ross, commanding the Isabella and the Alexander, to attempt the north-west passage from Davis’ Straits and Baffin’s Bay, into the Frozen Ocean, and thence into the Pacific. Ross reached 77 deg. 40 min. latitude, and more accurately determined the situation of Baffin’s Bay, which until then was believed to extend 10 deg. further to the east than it actually does. Although he sailed up Lancaster Sound, he did not advance far enough to ascertain if it was open, not having arrived there until October 1st, when danger from the ice obliged him to quit the coast. Lieutenant Parry, who had accompanied Captain Ross, was sent, in conjunction with Captain Lyon, in the year 1819, on a second voyage into Baffin’s Bay, and having penetrated as far as to gain the first prize offered by Parliament (£5000) and having made the most western point ever reached in the Polar seas, he was entrusted with the direction of the Hecla and Fury, on a similar expedition in 1821. These ships returned in October 1823, without achieving the principal object for which they were dispatched. In 1824 Parry and Lyon were again sent out for the discovery of a north-west passage, in the Hecla and Fury. After wintering in Prince Regent’s Bay, the ships sailed southwardly, and, in consequence of storms and icebergs, it became necessary to abandon the Fury, and with her crew on board the Hecla, Captain Parry returned to England in October 1825. The Admiralty sent Parry, in the Hecla, in 1827, to reach, if possible, the North Pole. Having journeyed thirty-five days over the ice, beginning at 81 deg. 12 min. 15 sec. he was compelled to retrace his course. So far the exertions of the British Government.

Piqued by the real, or supposed neglect of government, Captain Ross, in the spring of 1829, undertook an expedition on his own resources, with the view of effecting a passage into the Polar Sea, and to reach Behring’s Straits along the northern coast of the American continent. The ship—the Victory—was lost in the first year out, and Ross and his crew had worn through the remaining time on board the wreck of the Fury. When picked up in Lancaster Sound, they were in four of the Fury’s boats, which they had “found uninjured, and in the same condition in which they had been left.”

The following letter, addressed by the gallant Navigator to the Admiralty, puts us in possession of all the adventures and discoveries of this memorable expedition.

[Pg 283]

}On board the Isabella, of Hull,
Baffin’s Bay, Sept. 1833.

Sir,—Knowing how deeply my Lords Commissioners, of the Admiralty are interested in the advancement of nautical knowledge, and particularly in the improvement of geography, I have to acquaint you, for the information of their Lordships, that the expedition, the main object of which is to solve, if possible, the question of a north-west passage from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean, particularly by Prince Regent’s Inlet, and which sailed from England in May, 1829, notwithstanding the loss of the fore-mast and other untoward circumstances, which obliged the vessel to refit in Greenland, reached the beach on which his Majesty’s late ship Fury’s stores were landed, on the 13th of August.

We found the boats, provisions, &c. in excellent condition, but no vestige of the wreck. After completing in fuel and other necessaries, we sailed on the 14th, and on the following morning rounded Cape Garry, where our new discoveries commenced, and, keeping the western shore close on board, ran down the coast in a S. W. and W. course, in from 10 to 20 fathoms, until we had passed the latitude of 72 north in longitude 94 west; here we found a considerable inlet leading to the westward, the examination of which occupied two days; at this place we were first seriously obstructed by ice, which was now seen to extend from the south cape of the inlet, in a solid mass, round by E. to E. N. E.; owing to this circumstance, the shallowness of the water, the rapidity of the tides, the tempestuous weather, the irregularity of the coast and the numerous inlets and rocks for which it is remarkable, our progress was no less dangerous than tedious, yet we succeeded in penetrating below the latitude of 70 north, in longitude 92 west, where the land, after having carried us as far east as 90, took a decidedly westerly direction, while land at the distance of 40 miles to southward, was seen extending east and west. At this extreme point our progress was arrested on the 1st of October by an impenetrable barrier of ice. We, however, found an excellent wintering port, which we named Felix Harbor.

Early in January, 1830, we had the good fortune to establish a friendly intercourse with a most interesting consociation of natives, who, being insulated by nature, had never before communicated with strangers; from them we gradually obtained the important information that we had already seen the continent of America, that about 40 miles to the S. W. there were two great seas, one to the west, which was divided from [Pg 284] that to the east by a narrow strait or neck of land. The verification of this intelligence either way, on which our future operations so materially depended, devolved on Commander Ross, who volunteered this service early in April, and accompanied by one of the mates, and guided by two of the natives, proceeded to the spot, and found that the north land was connected to the south by two ridges of high land, 15 miles in breadth, but, taking into account a chain of fresh water lakes, which occupied the valleys between, the dry land which actually separates the two oceans is only five miles. This extraordinary isthmus was subsequently visited by myself, when Commander Ross proceeded minutely to survey the sea coast to the southward of the isthmus leading to the westward, which he succeeded in tracing to the 99th degree, or to 150 miles of Cape Turnagain of Franklin, to which point the land, after leading him into the 70th degree of north latitude, ended directly; during the same journey he also surveyed 30 miles of the adjacent coast, or that to the north of the isthmus, which, by also taking a westerly direction, forming the termination of the western sea into a gulf. The rest of this season was employed in tracing the sea coast south of the isthmus leading to the eastward, which was done so as to leave no doubt that it joined, as the natives had previously informed us, to Ockullee, and the land forming Repulse Bay. It was also determined that there was no passage to the westward for 30 miles to the northward of our position.

This summer, like that of 1818, was beautifully fine, but extremely unfavorable for navigation, and our object being now to try a more northern latitude, we waited with anxiety for the disruption of the ice, but in vain, and our utmost endeavors did not succeed in retracing our steps more than four miles, and it was not until the middle of November that we succeeded in cutting the vessel into a place of security, which we named “Sheriff’s Harbor.” I may here mention that we named the newly discovered continent to the southward “Boothia,” as also the isthmus, the peninsula to the north, and the eastern sea, after my worthy friend, Felix Booth, Esq., the truly patriotic citizen of London, who, in the most disinterested manner, enabled me to equip this expedition in superior style.

The last winter was in temperature nearly equal to the mean of what had been experienced on the four preceding voyages, but the winters of 1830 and 1831 set in with a degree of violence hitherto beyond record—the thermometer sunk to 92 degrees below the freezing point, and the average of the year [Pg 285] was 10 degrees below the preceding; but notwithstanding the severity of the summer, we travelled across the country to the west sea by a chain of lakes, 30 miles north of the isthmus, when Commander Ross succeeded in surveying 50 miles more of the coast leading to the north-west, and by tracing the shore to the northward of our position, it was also fully proved that there could be no passage below the 71st degree.

This autumn we succeeded in getting the vessel only 14 miles to the northward, as we had not doubled the Eastern Cape, all hope of saving the ship was at an end, and put quite beyond possibility by another very severe winter; and having only provisions to last us to the 1st of June, 1833, dispositions were accordingly made to leave the ship in present port, which (after her) was named Victory Harbor. Provisions and fuel being carried forward in the spring, we left the ship on the 28th of May, 1832, for Fury Beach, being the only chance left for saving our lives; owing to the very rugged nature of the ice, we were obliged to keep either upon or close to the land, making the circuit of every bay, thus increasing our distance of 200 miles by nearly one half; and it was not until the 1st of July that we reached the beach, completely exhausted by hunger and fatigue.

A hut was speedily constructed, and the boats three of which had been washed off the beach, but providentially driven on shore again, were repaired during this month; and the unusual heavy appearance of the ice afforded us no cheering prospect until the 1st of August, when in three boats we reached the ill-fated spot where the Fury was first driven on shore, and it was not until the 1st of September we reached Leopold South Island, now established to be the N. E. point of America in latitude 73 56, and longitude 90 west. From the summit of the lofty mountain on the promontory we could see Prince Regent’s Inlet, Barrow’s Strait and Lancaster Sound, which presented one impenetrable mass of ice, just as I had seen it in 1818. Here we remained in a state of anxiety and suspense, which may be easier imagined than described. All our attempts to push through were vain; at length being forced by want of provisions and the approach of a very severe winter, to return to Fury Beach, where alone there remained wherewith to support life, there we arrived on the 7th of October, after a most fatiguing and laborious march, having been obliged to leave our boats at Batty Bay. Our habitation, which consisted of a frame of spars, 32 feet by 16, covered [Pg 286] with canvas, was, during the month of November enclosed, and the roof covered with snow, from 4 to 7 feet thick, which being saturated with water when the temperature was fifteen degrees below zero, immediately took the consistency of ice, and thus we actually became the inhabitants of an iceberg during one of the most severe winters hitherto recorded; our sufferings aggravated by want of bedding, clothing and animal food, need not be dwelt upon. Mr. C. Thomas, the carpenter, was the only man who perished at this beach, but three others, besides one who had lost his foot, were reduced to the last stage of debility, and only thirteen of our number were able to carry provisions in seven journies of 62 miles each to Batty Bay.

We left Fury Beach on the 8th of July, carrying with us three sick men, who were unable to walk, and in six days we reached the boats, where the sick daily recovered. Although the spring was mild, it was not until the 15th of August that we had any cheering prospect. A gale from the westward having suddenly opened a lane of water along shore, in two days we reached our former position, and from the mountain we had the satisfaction of seeing clear water across Prince Regent’s Inlet, which we crossed on the 17th, and took shelter from a storm twelve miles to the eastward of Cape York. The next day, when the gale abated we crossed Admiralty Inlet, and were detained six days on the coast by a strong N. E. wind. On the 25th we crossed Navy Board Inlet, and on the following morning, to our inexpressible joy, we descried a ship in the offing, becalmed, which proved to be the Isabella of Hull, the same ship which I commanded in 1818. At noon we reached her, when her enterprising commander, who had in vain searched for us in Prince Regent’s Inlet, after giving us three cheers, received us with every demonstration of kindness and hospitality, which humanity could dictate. I ought to mention also that Mr. Humphreys, by landing me at Possession Bay, and subsequently on the west coast of Baffin’s Bay, afforded me an excellent opportunity of concluding my survey, and of verifying my former chart of that coast.

I have now the pleasing duty of calling the attention of their lordships to the merit of Commander Ross, who was second in the direction of this expedition. The labors of this officer, who had the departments of astronomy, natural history and surveying, will speak for themselves in language beyond the ability of my pen; but they will be duly appreciated by their lordships and the learned bodies of which he is a [Pg 287] member, and who are already well acquainted with his acquirements.

My steady and faithful friend, Mr. William Thom of the royal navy, who was formerly with me in the Isabella, besides his duty as third in command, took charge of the meteorological journal, the distribution and economy of provisions, and to his judicious plans and suggestions must be attributed the uncommon degree of health which our crew enjoyed; and as two out of three who died in the four years and a half were cut off early in the voyage, by diseases not peculiar to the climate, only one man can be said to have perished. Mr. M’Diarmid the surgeon, who had been several voyages to these regions, did justice to the high recommendation I received of him; he was useful in every amputation and operation which he performed, and wonderfully so in his treatment of the sick; and I have no hesitation in adding, that he would be an ornament to his Majesty’s service.

Commander Ross, Mr. Thom and myself, have, indeed, been serving without pay; but in common with the crew have lost our all, which I regret the more, because it puts it out of my power adequately to remunerate my fellow sufferers, whose case I cannot but recommend for their lordships’ consideration.

We have, however, the consolation, that results of this expedition have been conclusive, and to science highly important, and may be briefly comprehended in the following words: The discovery of the Gulf of Boothia, the continent and isthmus of Boothia Felix, and a vast number of islands, rivers and lakes; the undeniable establishment that the north-east point of America extends to the 74th degree of north latitude; valuable observations of every kind, but particularly on the magnet; and to crown all, have had the honor of placing the illustrious name of our Most Gracious Sovereign William IV, on the true position of the magnetic pole.

I cannot conclude this letter, sir, without acknowledging the important advantages we obtained from the valuable publications of Sir Edward Parry and Sir John Franklin, and the communications kindly made to us by those distinguished officers before our departure from England. But the glory of this enterprise is entirely due to Him, whose divine favor has been most especially manifested towards us, who guided and directed all our steps, who mercifully provided, in what we had deemed a calamity, His effectual means of our preservation; and who even after the devices and inventions of [Pg 288] man had utterly failed, crowned our humble endeavors with complete success.

I have, &c.

JOHN ROSS, Captain, R. N.

}To Captain the Hon. George Elliot, &c.
Secretary Admiralty.       


LOSS OF THE CATHARINE, VENUS AND PIEDMONT TRANSPORTS; AND THREE MERCHANT SHIPS.

The miseries of war are in themselves great and terrible, but the consequences which arise indirectly from it, though seldom known and little adverted to, are no less deplorable.—The destruction of the sword sometimes bears only an inconsiderable proportion to the havoc of disease, and, in the pestilential climates of the western colonies, entire regiments, reared in succession, have as often fallen victims to their baneful influence.

To prosecute the war with alacrity, it had been judged expedient to transport a strong body of troops on foreign service, but their departure was delayed by repeated adversities, and at length the catastrophe which is about to be related ensued.

On the 15th of November 1795, the fleet, under convoy of Admiral Christian’s squadron, sailed from St. Helens. A more beautiful sight than it exhibited cannot be conceived; and those who had nothing to lament in leaving their native country, enjoyed the spectacle as the most magnificent produced by the art of man, and as that which the natives of this island contemplate with mingled pride and pleasure.

Next day, the wind continuing favorable, carried the fleet down channel; and as the Catharine transport came within [Pg 289] sight of the isle of Purbeck, Lieutenant Jenner, an officer on board, pointed out to another person, the rocks where the Halsewell and so many unfortunate individuals had perished. He and Cornet Burns had been unable to reach Southampton until the Catharine had sailed, therefore they hired a boy to overtake her, and on embarking at St. Helens the former expressed his satisfaction, in a letter to his mother, that he had been so fortunate as to do so.

On Tuesday the 17th, the fleet was off Portland, standing to the westward; but the wind shifting and blowing a strong gale at south-south-west, the admiral, dubious whether they could clear the channel, made a signal for putting into Torbay, which some of the transports were then in sight of.—However, they could not make the bay; the gale increased, and a thick fog came on; therefore the admiral thought it expedient to alter his design, and about five in afternoon made a signal for standing out to sea. Of the circumstances relative to the Catharine, a more detailed account has been preserved than respecting the other vessels of the fleet; and they are preserved by a female, with whose name we are unacquainted, in these words.

“The evening of the 17th was boisterous and threatening; the master said he was apprehensive that we should have bad weather; and when I was desired to go on deck and look at the appearance of the sky, I observed that it was troubled and red, with great heavy clouds flying in all directions, and with a sort of dull mist surrounding the moon. On repeating this to the other passengers, two of whom had been at sea before, they said we should certainly have a stormy night, and indeed it proved so very tempestuous that no rest was to be obtained. Nobody, however, seemed to think that there was any danger, though the fog was so thick that the master could see nothing by which to direct his course; but he thought that he had sufficient sea-room.

The fatigue I had suffered from the tossing of the ship, and the violence with which she continued to roll, had kept me in bed. It was about ten o’clock in the morning of the 18th, when the mate looked down into the cabin and cried, “save yourselves if you can!”

The consternation and terror of that moment cannot be described; I had on a loose dressing gown, and wrapping it round me I went up, not quite on deck, but to the top of the stairs, from whence I saw the sea break mountain high against the shore. The passengers and soldiers seemed thunderstruck [Pg 290] by the sense of immediate and inevitable danger, and the seamen, too conscious of the hopelessness of any exertion, stood in speechless agony, certain of meeting in a few moments that destruction which now menaced them.

While I thus surveyed the scene around me in a kind of dread which no words can figure, Mr. Burns, an officer of dragoons, who had come up in his shirt, called to Mr. Jenner and Mr. Stains for his cloak; nobody, however, could attend to any thing in such a moment but self-preservation.

Mr. Jenner, Mr. Stains and Mr. Dodd the surgeon, now passed me, their countenances sufficiently expressing their sense of the situation in which we all were. Mr. Burns spoke cheerfully to me; he bade me take good courage, and Mr. Jenner observed, there was a good shore near, and all would do well.

These gentlemen then went to the side of the ship, with the intention, as I believe, of seeing whether it was possible to get on shore. The master of the vessel alone remained near the companion; when suddenly a tremendous wave broke over the ship, and struck me with such violence, that I was stunned for a moment, and, before being able to recover myself, the ship struck with a force so great as to throw me from the stairs into the cabin, the master being thrown down near me. At the same instant, the cabin, with a dreadful crash, broke in upon us, and planks and beams threatened to bury us in ruins. The master, however, soon recovered himself; he left me to go again upon deck, and I saw him no more.

A sense of my condition lent me strength to disengage myself from the boards and fragments by which I was surrounded, and I once more got upon the stairs, I hardly know how. But what a scene did I behold! The masts were all lying across the shattered remains of the deck, and no living creature appeared on it; all was gone, though I knew not then that they were gone forever. I looked forward to the shore, but there I could see nothing except the dreadful surf that broke against it, while, behind the ship, immense black waves rose like tremendous ruins. I knew that they must overwhelm her, and thought that there could be no escape for me.

Believing, then, that death was immediate and unavoidable, my idea was to regain my bed in the cabin, and there, resigning myself to the will of God, await the approaching moment. However, I could not reach it, and for a while was insensible; then the violent striking and breaking up of the wreck again roused me to recollection; I found myself near the cabin-windows, [Pg 291] and the water was rising round me. It rapidly increased, and the horrors of drowning were present to my view; yet do I remember seeing the furniture of the cabin floating about. I sat almost enclosed by pieces of the wreck, and the water now reached my breast.

The bruises I had received made every exertion extremely difficult, and my loose gown was so entangled among the beams and fragments of the ship, that I could not disengage it. Still the desire of life, the hope of being welcomed on shore, whither I thought my friends had escaped, and the remembrance of my child, all united in inspiring me with courage to attempt saving myself. I again tried to loosen my gown, but found it impossible, and the wreck continued to strike so violently, and the ruins to close so much more around me, that I now expected to be crushed to death.

As the ship drifted higher on the stones, the water rather lessened as the waves went back, but on their return, continued to cover me, and I once or twice lost my breath, and, for a moment, my recollection. When I had power to think, the principle of self preservation still urged me to exertion.

The cabin now broke more and more, and through a large breach I saw the shore very near. Amidst the tumult of the raging waves I had a glimpse of the people, who were gathering up what the sea drove towards them; but I thought they could not see me, and from them I despaired of assistance.—Therefore I determined to make one effort to preserve my life. I disengaged my arms from the dressing gown, and, finding myself able to move, I quitted the wreck, and felt myself on the ground. I attempted to run, but was too feeble to save myself from a raging wave, which overtook and overwhelmed me. Then I believed myself gone; yet, half suffocated as I was, I struggled very much, and I remember that I thought I was very long dying. The wave left me; I breathed again, and made another attempt to get higher upon the bank, but, quite exhausted, I fell down and my senses forsook me.

By this time I was observed by some of the people on the bank, and two men came to my assistance. They lifted me up; I once more recovered some faint recollection; and, as they bore me along, I was sensible that one of them said the sea would overtake us; that he must let me go and take care of his own life. I only remember clinging to the other and imploring him not to abandon me to the merciless waves.—But I have a very confused idea of what passed, till I saw the boat, into which I was to be put to cross the Fleet water; [Pg 292] I had then just strength to say, “For God’s sake do not take me to sea again.”

I believe the apprehension of it, added to my other sufferings tended to deprive me of all further sensibility, for I have not the least recollection of any thing afterwards until roused by the remedies applied to restore me in a farm-house whither I was carried. There I heard a number of women around me, who asked a great number of questions which I was unable to answer. I remember hearing one say I was a French woman; another say that I was a negro, and indeed I was so bruised, and in such a disfigured condition, that the conjectures of these people are not surprising.

When recovering some degree of confused recollection, and able to speak, I begged that they would allow me to go to bed. This, however, I did not ask with any expectation of life, for I was now in such a state of suffering, that my only wish was to be allowed to lie down and die in peace.

Nothing could exceed the humanity of Mr. Abbot, the inhabitant of Fleet farm-house, nor the compassionate attention of his sister, Miss Abbot, who not only afforded me immediate assistance, but continued for some days to attend me with such kindness and humanity, as I shall always remember with the sincerest gratitude.”

The unfortunate sufferer who gives the preceding account, was tended with great humanity by Mr. Bryer, while a wound in her foot, and the dangerous bruises she had received, prevented her from quitting the shelter she first found under the roof of Mr. Abbot, at Fleet. As soon as she was in a condition to be removed to Weymouth, Mr. Bryer, a surgeon there, received her into his own house, where Mrs. Bryer assisted in administering to her recovery such benevolent offices of consolation as her deplorable situation admitted. Meantime the gentlemen of the south battalion of the Gloucester Militia, who had done every thing possible towards the preservation of those who were the victims of the tempest, now liberally contributed to alleviate the pecuniary distresses of the survivors. None seemed to have so forcible a claim on their pity as this forlorn and helpless stranger; and she alone, of forty souls, except a single ship-boy, survived the wreck of the Catharine. There perished, twelve seamen, two soldiers’ wives, twenty-two dragoons and four officers, Lieutenant Stains, Mr. Dodd of the hospital-staff, Lieutenant Jenner, the representative of an ancient and respectable family in Gloucestershire, aged thirty-one and Cornet Burns, the son of an American [Pg 293] loyalist of considerable property, who was deprived of every thing for his adherence to the British Government.—Having no dependence but on the promises of government to indemnify those who had suffered on that account he, after years of distress and difficulty, obtained a cornetcy in the 26th regiment of dragoons, then going to the West Indies, and was thus lost in his twenty-fourth year. This officer had intended embarking in another transport, and had actually sent his horse on board, when finding the Catharine more commodious, he gave her the preference, while the other put back to Spithead in safety. The mangled remains of Lieutenant Jenner were two days afterwards found on the beach, and interred with military honors.

But the Catharine was not the only vessel which suffered in the tempest. Those who on shore had listened to it raging on the preceding evening, could not avoid feeling the most lively alarm for the consequences; and early on the morning of the 18th of November, several pilots and other persons assembled on the promontory called the Look-out at Weymouth. Thence they too evidently discovered the distress and danger of many of the transports.

Soon after, a lieutenant of the navy, residing at Weymouth, applied to the major of a militia regiment, for a guard to be sent to the Chisell Bank, as a large ship, supposed to be a frigate, was on shore. This was immediately granted, and the major himself marched along with a captain’s guard.

The violence of the wind was so great, that the party could with difficulty reach the place of their destination. There they found a large merchantman, the Æolus, laden with timber for government, on shore. Lieutenant Mason of the navy, and his brother, a midshipman, perished in her, and a number of men who would probably have been saved had they understood the signals from shore. The men of Portland who crowded down to the scene of desolation, meant to express, by throwing small pebbles at them, that they should remain on board, to make them hear was impossible, because they foresaw the ship would drive high on the bank. Should that be the case, they might soon leave her without hazard; and accordingly those who continued on board were saved, though many of them were dreadfully bruised.

Not far from the same place, the Golden Grove, another merchantman, was stranded, and in her Dr. Stevens and Mr. Burrows of St. Kitts, were lost. Lieutenant Colonel Ross, who was also there escaped on shore. These two vessels [Pg 294] had struck against a part of the Passage-House, almost in the same spot where a French frigate, the Zenobia, had gone to pieces in 1763.

But the scene of distress was infinitely greater about four miles to the westward, where, as already related, the Catharine was wrecked. Along with her, nearly opposite to the villages of Fleet and Chickerell, the Piedmont and Venus, two transports, and soon after the Thomas, a merchantman, shared the same fate.

One hundred and thirty-eight soldiers of the 63d regiment, under the command of Captain Barcroft, were on board the Piedmont; also Lieutenant Ash and Mr. Kelly, surgeon of the same regiment. Of all these, only Serjeant Richardson, eleven privates, and four seamen, survived the catastrophe; all the rest perished.

Captain Barcroft’s life had passed in the service. While yet a very young man, he served in America during the war between England and her colonies; and being then taken prisoner, was severely treated. On commencement of the war which has so many years desolated Europe, he raised a company in his native country, and served with it on the Continent during the campaign of 1794. Under a heavy fire of the enemy, he was one of the last men who retreated with it along a single plank, knee-deep in water, from the siege of Nimeguen. In a few months after the disastrous retreat on the Continent, in the winter 1794, he was ordered to the West Indies, and, in the outset of his voyage, perished in the tempest.

Of the few who reached the shore from the Piedmont, there was scarce one who was not dreadfully bruised, and some had their limbs broken. An unfortunate veteran of the 63d, though his leg was shockingly fractured, had sufficient resolution to creep for shelter under a fishing boat which lay inverted on the further side of the bank. There his groans were unheard until a young gentleman, Mr. Smith, a passenger in the Thomas, who had himself been wrecked, and was now wandering along the shore, discovered him. In this ship, the Thomas, bound to Oporto, the master, Mr. Brown, his son, and all the crew, except the mate, three seamen and Mr. Smith, were lost. The last was on his way to Lisbon; but his preservation was chiefly in consequence of his remaining on board after all the rest had left the ship, or were washed away by the waves. She had then drifted high on the bank, when he leaped out of her and reached the ground.

[Pg 295] Though weak and encumbered by his wet clothes, he gained the opposite side of the bank, but on gazing on the dreary beach around him, he considered himself cast away on an uninhabited coast. At length he observed a fishing-boat, and approaching it, heard the groans of the unfortunate old soldier, whom he attempted to relieve. But alone he found himself unable to fulfil his intention, and it was a considerable time before he observed any means of assistance near. At last, perceiving a man at some distance, he hastened to him, eagerly inquiring whether a surgeon could be procured for a poor creature with a broken limb, who lay under the boat. Probably the man showed little alacrity, for Mr. Smith found it necessary to purchase his good offices by a gift of half a-guinea, which he imagined would induce him to seek what was so much required. But the man, pocketing the half-guinea with the greatest composure, said he was a king’s officer, and must see what bales of goods were driven on shore; then telling Mr. Smith there was a ferry about four miles off, by which he might get to Weymouth. The youth was thus disappointed of his humane design, and the soldier died in that deplorable condition before any other aid attained him.

In the Thomas, the vessel to which Mr. Smith belonged, he witnessed scenes not less distressing. Mr. Brown, the master of the vessel, was carried away by an immense wave just as he was stripping off his clothes to endeavor to save himself. His son exclaiming, “Oh my father, my father! my poor father!” instantly followed. The bodies of both were afterwards found and interred at Wyke.

Of ninety-six persons on board the Venus, only Mr. John Darley of the hospital staff, serjeant-major Hearne, twelve soldiers, four seamen and a boy were saved. Mr. Darley escaped by throwing himself from the wreck at a moment when it drifted high on the stones; he reached them without broken limbs, but, overtaken by the furious sea, he was carried back, not so far, however, that he was incapable of regaining the ground. Notwithstanding the weight of his clothes and his exhausted state, he got to the top of the bank, but there the power of farther exertion failed, and he fell. While lying in this situation, trying to recover breath and strength, a great many people from the neighboring villages passed him; they had crossed the Fleet water in the hopes of sharing the plunder of the vessels which the lower inhabitants of the coast are too much accustomed to consider their right.

Mr. Darley seems to have been so far from meeting with [Pg 296] assistance from those who were plundering the dead, without thinking of the living, that although he saw many boats passing and repassing the Fleet water, he found great difficulty in procuring a passage for himself and two or three fellow-sufferers who had now joined him. But having passed it he soon met with Mr. Bryer, to whose active humanity all the sufferers were eminently indebted.

Before the full extent of this dreadful calamity was known at Weymouth, the officers of the South Gloucester Militia, with equal humanity, were devising how they might best succour the survivors, and perform the last duties to the remains of those who had perished. On the morning of the 19th of November, one of them, accompanied by Mr. Bryer of Weymouth, rode to the villages where those who had escaped from the various wrecks had found a temporary shelter. In a house at Chickerell, they found Serjeant Richardson and eleven privates of the 63d regiment; two of the latter had fractured limbs, and almost all the rest either wounds or bruises. In other houses the sufferers had been received, and were as comfortably accommodated as circumstances would admit.

The gentlemen then crossed the Fleet water to the beach, and there, whatever idea was previously formed of it, the horror of the scene infinitely surpassed expectation; no celebrated field of carnage ever presented, in proportion to its size, a more awful sight than the Chisell Bank now exhibited. For about two miles it was strewed with the dead bodies of men and animals, with pieces of wreck and piles of plundered goods, which groups of people were carrying away, regardless of the sight of drowned bodies that filled the new spectators with sorrow and amazement.

On the mangled remains of the unfortunate victims, death appeared in all its hideous forms. Either the sea or the people who had first gone down to the shore, had stripped the bodies of the clothes which the sufferers had wore at the fatal moment. The remnants of the military stock; the wristbands, or color of a shirt, or a piece of blue pantaloons, were all the fragments left behind.

The only means of distinguishing the officers was the different appearance of their hands from those of men accustomed to hard labor; but some were known by the description given of them by their friends or by persons who were in the vessels along with them. The remains of Captain Barcroft were recognised by the honorable scars he had received in the service of his country; and the friends and [Pg 297] relatives of him, and several more, had the satisfaction of learning that their bodies were rescued from the sea, and interred with military honors.

Early in the morning of the 20th of November, a lieutenant of the militia regiment who had been appointed to superintend the melancholy office of interment, repaired to the scene of destruction. But from the necessary preliminaries of obtaining the authority of a magistrate to remove the bodies, not more than twenty-five were buried that day. The bodies of Captain Barcroft, Lieutenant Sutherland, Cornet Graydon, Lieutenant Ker and two women, were then selected to be put into coffins. Next day, those of Lieutenant Jenner and Cornet Burns, being found, were distinguished in the like manner.

The whole number of dead found on the beach, amounted to two hundred and thirty-four; so that the duty of interment was so heavy and fatiguing, that it was not until the twenty-third that all the soldiers and sailors were deposited. Of these there were two hundred and eight, and they were committed to the earth as decently as circumstances would admit, in graves dug on the Fleet side of the beach, beyond the reach of the sea, where a pile of stones was raised on each, to mark where they lay. Twelve coffins were sent to receive the bodies of the women, but nine only being found, the supernumerary ones were appointed to receive the remains of the officers.

Two waggons were next sent to the Fleet water to receive the coffins, in which the shrouded bodies of seventeen officers and nine women had been placed, and on the 24th were carried to the church-yard at Wyke, preceded by a captain, subaltern and fifty men of the Gloucester Militia, and attended by the young gentleman before mentioned, Mr. Smith as chief mourner. The officers were interred in a large grave, north of the church-tower, with military honors, and Lieutenant Ker in a grave on the other side of the tower. The remains of the nine women, which had been deposited in the church during the ceremony, were next committed to the earth.

Two monuments have been erected in commemoration of the unfortunate sufferers, the first bearing the following inscription:

To the memory of Captain Ambrose William Barcroft, Lieutenant Harry Ash and Mr. Kelly, surgeon of the 63d regiment of Light Infantry; of Lieutenant Stephen Jenner, of the 6th West India regiment; Lieutenant Stains of the 2d [Pg 298] West India regiment and two hundred and fifteen soldiers and seamen and nine women, who perished by shipwreck on Portland Beach, opposite the villages of Langton, Fleet and Chickerell, on Wednesday the eighteenth day of November, 1795.

On the second monument is inscribed,

Sacred to the memory of Major John Charles Ker, Military Commandant of Hospitals in the Leeward Islands, and to that of his son, Lieutenant James Ker, of the 40th regiment of foot, who both departed this life on the 18th of November 1795, the first aged 40 and the latter 14 years.

The fate of both was truly deplorable, and is a melancholy example of the uncertainty of human affairs.

They were embarked in the Venus transport, and left Portsmouth the 15th of November, with a fleet full of troops, destined to the West Indies, under the command of General Sir Ralph Abercrombe.

A storm having arisen on the 17th which lasted till the next day, many of the ships were lost, and the Venus wrecked on Portland Beach.

The major’s body could not be found, although it is possible it may have been among the many others which were driven ashore and buried in this church-yard.

His son’s corpse was ascertained, and lies interred under this stone, which was raised by his brother, John William Ker, Esq.


WRECK OF THE BRITISH SHIP SIDNEY,

ON A REEF OF ROCKS IN THE SOUTH SEA.

The Sidney left Port Jackson, on the coast of New Holland, on the 12th of April, 1806, bound to Bengal. Intending to proceed through Dampier’s Straits, her course was [Pg 299] directed as nearly as possible in the track of Captain Hogan of the Cornwallis, which, as laid down in the charts, appeared a safe and easy passage. But, on the 20th of May, at one A. M. we ran upon a most dangerous rock, or shoal in 3 20 south latitude, and 146 50 east longitude, and as this reef is not noticed in any map or chart, it appears that we were its unfortunate discoverers.

On Sunday 25 fathoms of water were found over the taffrail, and six fathoms over the larboard gangway; only nine feet on the starboard side, and 12 feet over the bows. One of the boats was immediately got out, with a bower-anchor; but on sounding, at the distance of ten fathoms from the ship, no ground could be found with sixty fathoms of line.

When she struck it must have been high water, for at that time there was no appearance of any reef or breaker; but as the water subsided, the shoal began to show itself, with a number of small black rocks. The ship had been striking very hard, and began to yield forward. At three A. M. there were six feet water in the hold, and increasing rapidly; at five the vessel was setting aft, and her top sides parting from the floor-heads.

Upon consultation with my officers, it was our unanimous opinion, that the ship was gone beyond recovery, and that no exertions could avail for her safety. We therefore employed all hands in getting the boats ready to receive the crew, who were 108 in number. Eight bags of rice, six casks of water and a small quantity of salted beef and pork, were put into the long-boat as provisions for the whole; the number of the people prevented us from taking a larger stock, as the three boats were barely sufficient to receive us all with safety.

We remained with the Sidney until five P. M. on the twenty-first of May, when there were three feet of water on the orlop deck; therefore we now thought it full time to leave the ship to her fate, and to seek our safety in the boats. Accordingly, I embarked in the long-boat with Mr. Trounce, second officer, and 74 Lascars; Mr. Robson and Mr. Halkart with 16 Lascars, were in the cutter, and the jolly-boat was allotted to 15 Dutch Malays, and one Seapoy.

Being desirous to ascertain the position of the reef, which could be done by making the Admiralty Islands, our course was shaped thither, steering north by east and half east. During the night, it blew fresh, and the long-boat having made much water, we were obliged to lighten her, by throwing a great deal of lumber, and two casks of water, overboard. The [Pg 300] three boats kept close in company, the long-boat having the jolly-boat in tow.

Finding at day-light that the cutter sailed considerably better, I directed Mr. Robson that the jolly-boat might be taken in tow by her. But the wind increasing as the morning advanced, and a heavy swell rising, the jolly-boat, while in tow by the cutter, sunk at ten o’clock, and all on board, to the number of 16, perished. It was lamentable to witness the fate of these unhappy men, and the more so, as it was not in our power to render them the smallest assistance.

The Admiralty Islands were seen at noon of the 22d, bearing N. N. E. three or four leagues distant, and as we had run about fifty-eight miles in the boats, upon a N. by E. half E. course, the situation of the shoal where the Sidney struck was accurately ascertained, and will be found as above laid down.

From the Admiralty Islands, we continued standing to the westward, and on the twenty-fifth, made a small island, on which, from its appearance, I was induced to land in quest of a supply of water. Therefore Mr. Robson, myself, and 20 of our best hands, armed with heavy clubs, brought from New Caledonia, (our fire-arms being rendered useless from exposure to the rain) landed through a high surf, to the utmost astonishment of the inhabitants.

As far as might be judged, they had never before seen people of our complexion. The men were tall and well made, wearing their hair plaited and raised above the head; they had no resemblance to Malays or Caffres; and excepting their color, which was of a light copper, they had the form and features of Europeans. They were entirely naked. We also saw a number of women, who were well formed, and had mild and pleasing features.

We were received on the beach by about twenty natives, who immediately supplied each of us with a cocoa-nut. We succeeded in making them understand that we wanted water, on which they made signs for us to accompany them to the interior of the island; on compliance, after walking about a mile, they conducted us into a thick jungle, and, as their number was quickly increasing, I judged it imprudent to proceed further. Thus returning to the beach, I was alarmed to find that 150, or more, of the natives had assembled, armed with spears eight or ten feet long. One of them, an old man of venerable appearance, and who seemed to be their chief, approached, and threw his spear at my feet, expressing as I [Pg 301] understood, of his wish that we should part with our clubs in like manner. Perceiving at this time that a crowd of women had got hold of the stern-fast of the cutter, and were endeavoring to haul her on shore from the grapnel, we hastily tried to gain the boat. The natives followed us closely; some of them pointed their spears at us as we retreated, and some were thrown, though happily without effect; and to us they seemed to be very inexpert in the management of their weapons.—On my getting into the water, three or four of the natives followed me, threatening to throw their spears, and when I was within reach of the boat, one of them made a thrust, which was prevented from taking effect by Mr. Robson, who warded off the weapon. When we had got into the boat, and were putting off, they threw, at least, 200 spears, none of which struck, excepting one, which gave a severe wound to my cook, entering immediately above the jaw, and passing through his mouth.

Having escaped this perilous adventure we pursued our course, and got as far as Dampier’s Straits, in as favorable circumstances as our situation could well admit. But the Lascars, now being within reach of land, became impatient to be put on shore. It was in vain that I exhorted them to persevere; they would not listen to argument, and expressed their wish rather to meet with immediate death on shore, than to be starved to death in the boats. Yielding to their importunity, I at length determined to land them on the north-west extremity of the island of Ceram, from whence they might travel to Amboyna in two or three days. Being off that part of the island on the ninth of June, Mr. Robson volunteered to land a portion of the people in the cutter, to return to the long-boat, and the cutter to be then given up to such further portion of the crew as chose to join the party first landed.—Accordingly he went ashore with the cutter, but to my great mortification, after waiting two days, there was no appearance of his return or of the cutter.

We concluded that the people had been detained either by the Dutch or the natives. Yet as the remaining part of the Lascars were desirous to be landed, we stood in with the long-boat, and put them on shore near the point where we supposed the cutter to have landed her people.

Our number in the long-boat were now reduced to seventeen, consisting of Mr. Trounce, Mr. Halkart, myself and 14 Lascars and others. Our stock of provision was two bags of rice and one gang cask of water, with which we conceived [Pg 302] we might hold out until reaching Bencoolen, whither we determined to make the best of our way. The allowance to each man we fixed at one tea-cupful of rice and a pint of water daily, but we soon found it necessary to make a considerable reduction.

Proceeding through the straits of Bantam, we met in our course several Malay prows, none of which took notice of us excepting one, which gave chase for a day, and would have come up with us had we not got off under cover of a very dark night. Continuing onwards, we passed through the strait of Saypay, where we caught a large shark. Our spirits were much elated by this valuable prize, which we lost no time in getting on board; and having kindled a fire in the bottom of the boat, it was roasted with all expedition. Such was the keenness of our appetite, that although the shark must have weighed 150 or 160 pounds, not a vestige of it remained at the close of the day. But we were afflicted on the following day with the most violent complaint of the stomach and bowels, which reduced us exceedingly, and left us languid and spiritless, insomuch that we now despaired of safety.

On the 2d of July I lost an old and faithful servant, who died from want of sustenance; and on the fourth we made Java head; at the same time catching two large boobies, which afforded all hands a most precious and refreshing meal. At midnight of the ninth, we came to off Pulo Penang, on the west coast of Sumatra; but at day-light, when endeavoring to weigh our anchor and run close in shore, we were so much exhausted that our united strength proved insufficient to get it up.

On a signal of distress being made, a sanpan with two Malays came off, and as I was the only person in the long-boat who had sufficient strength to move, I accompanied them on shore. However, I found myself so weak on landing that I fell to the ground, and it was necessary to carry me to an adjacent house. Such refreshments as could be procured were immediately sent off to the long-boat, and we recruited so rapidly that in two days we found ourselves in a condition to proceed on our voyage. Having weighed anchor on the 12th of July, we set sail, and on the 19th arrived off the island of Bencoolen.

Here I met with an old friend, Captain Chauvet of the Perseverance, whose kindness and humanity I shall ever remember and gratefully acknowledge. On the day subsequent to my arrival, I waited on Mr. Parr the resident, from whom I received every attention.

[Pg 303] Leaving Bencoolen on the 17th of August, in the Perseverance, I arrived at Penang on the 27th, where I was agreeably surprized to meet my late chief mate Mr. Robson, who, along with the Lascars, had landed at Ceram. They reached Amboyna in safety, where they were received by the Dutch governor, Mr. Cranstoun, with a humanity and benevolence that reflect honor on his character. He supplied them with whatever their wants required. Mr. Robson was accommodated at his own table, and, on leaving Amboyna, he furnished him money for himself and his people, for the amount of which he refused to take any receipt or acknowledgment. He also gave Mr. Robson letters to the governor-general of Batavia, recommending him to his kind offices. Such honorable conduct from the governor of a foreign country, and with which we were at war, cannot be too widely promulgated. From Amboyna, Mr. Robson embarked in the Pallas a Dutch frigate, for Batavia, which on the passage thither was captured by his Majesty’s ships Greyhound and Harriet, and brought to Prince of Wales’s island.

From Penang I sailed to Bengal with the Paruna, Captain Denison, and arrived safely in Calcutta in the beginning of May, 1806.


LOSS OF THE DUKE WILLIAM TRANSPORT.

The Duke William Transport, commanded by Captain Nicholls, was fitted out by him with all possible expedition in the year 1758, and lay at Spithead to receive orders. At length he proceeded to Cork, under convoy of the York man-of-war to take in soldiers for America, but just on approaching the Irish coast, a thick fog came on whereby he lost sight of the ship, and as it began to blow hard that night and the [Pg 304] next day, he was obliged to bear away for Waterford. When off Credenhead, guns were fired for a pilot; none, however, came off, and Captain Nicholls, being unacquainted with the harbor, brought the ship up, though the sea ran very high. A pilot at last came on board, but the transport broke from her anchor, and on getting under sail, it was almost dark. After running along for some time under the fore-topsail, triple-reefed, and scarce in sight of land, Captain Nicholls cast anchor; and next morning to his great surprise, found high rocks so close astern, that he durst not veer away a cable.—The sheet anchor had been let go in the night, and was the chief means of preservation; the yards and topmasts were now got down, a signal of distress hoisted, and many guns fired. A boat then came from the windward, and a man in her said, if Captain Nicholls would give him fifty pounds, he would come on board, which being promised, he ascended the stern ladder. But when he found the ship so near the rocks, he declared that he would not remain on board for all the ship was worth. However, Captain Nicholls told him, that having come off as a pilot acquainted with the harbor, he should stay and called to the people in the boat to hoist their sails, as he was going to cut her adrift, which he did accordingly. Meantime the pilot was in the greatest confusion; but the captain said it was in vain to complain, and if by cutting, or slipping the cables, he could carry the ship to a place of safety, he was ready to do it. The pilot replied, that he could neither take charge of her, nor venture to carry her in, for he apprehended the ship would be on shore, and dashed to pieces against the rocks, before she would veer; and if she did veer, that a large French East Indiaman had been lost upon the bar, which made the channel very narrow, and he did not know the marks, so as to carry her clear of the wreck. The ship now rode very hard, and it being Sunday a great many people were ready on shore to plunder her, should she strike. Of this Captain Nicholls entertained many apprehensions at low water, as she pitched so much; but fortunately, as the weather became more moderate, two English frigates which lay in the harbor, sent their boats to his assistance, and the custom-house smack arriving, he escaped, though very narrowly, from the threatened danger.

The Duke William soon afterwards proceeded to Cork to receive soldiers, and sailed from thence with a fleet of transports to Halifax, where they arrived safe, and went to besiege Louisbourg. After landing the troops, the transports, and [Pg 305] some of the men of war, went into Gabarus Bay, where the admiral allowed the captains of the former to land their men, being sickly, on a small peninsula, which they engaged to defend from the enemy. Four or five hundred people, therefore, immediately set to work, and cut a ditch, six feet wide and four feet deep, quite across the peninsula, as a protection against the Indians; they planted cannon, and also placed several swivels on the stumps of trees cut down for the purpose. Huts were next erected, gardens made, and the whole ground cleared and converted into pleasant arbours, from selecting portions of the shrubs and trees.

Here the captains of the transports remained some time, during which the sick recovered surprisingly, and cures were operated by a remarkable expedient, called a ground-sweat. This was digging a hole in the ground, and, being put into it naked, the earth was thrown over the patient up to the chin, for a few minutes. At first the earth felt cold, but it quickly brought on a gentle perspiration, which cured the disorder.—No one person died who underwent such treatment.

On the reduction of Louisbourg, the island of St. John, in the entrance of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, capitulated, and the inhabitants were to be sent to France in the English transports. They therefore left the peninsula, which the people had entrenched, and, after much bad weather, in which the Duke William parted her cable, and after a tedious passage, arrived at St. John’s; but not without the whole fleet being in danger of shipwreck. A party of soldiers brought the inhabitants down the country to the different transports, and the Duke William, being the largest, the missionary priest, who was the principal man there, was ordered to go with Captain Nicholls. On his arrival, he requested permission for the other people who wished it, to come on board to be married, and a great many marriages followed, from an idea prevailing that all the single men would be made soldiers.

Nine transports sailed in company; Captain Wilson with Lord Rollo and some soldiers, and Captain Moore also with soldiers, under convoy of the Hind sloop of war; the rest being cartels, had no occasion for convoy. Captain Moore’s vessel was lost going through the Gut of Canso, by striking on a sunken rock, whence the soldiers whom she carried were put on board Captain Wilson’s ship bound to Louisbourg. Captain Moore, his son, mate and carpenter, took a passage in the Duke William.

Contrary winds obliged the fleet to lie in the Gut of Canso, [Pg 306] where the French prisoners were permitted to go ashore frequently, and remain there all night, making fires in a wood to keep themselves warm, and some of them obtained muskets from Captain Nicholls for shooting game, as they were not afraid of meeting with the Indians. About three hours after departing, one of them came running back, and begged, for God’s sake, that the Captain would immediately return on board with his people, as they had met with a party of Indians, who were coming down to scalp them. Captain Nicholls, with the other masters and sailors, hastily went off, and had scarce got on board when the Indians actually reached the place that they had left. Thus they had a very narrow escape of being murdered and scalped, had not the French been faithful, and Providence interposed.

The fleet, in gaining the Gut of Canso, had been assailed by dangers. During a fine night, some of the transports, worked within the Gut, but Captain Nicholls, and Captain Johnson of the Parnassus, cast anchor without it.

In the night a hard gale arose, and increased so much, that the latter let go three anchors, yet the ship drove ashore and was lost. Another ship, the Narcissus, also parted from her anchors, and was obliged to run ashore, and most of the rest suffered damage. When the weather became somewhat moderate, Captain Nicholls, found that all the French prisoners on board the Parnassus, had gained the land, and had made themselves large fires in the woods, on account of the cold showery weather which prevailed; and, on joining them there, he told them, to their great joy, that he would send boats to carry them off. This he did next morning, and, finding it impossible to save the hull of the Parnassus, though another ship was got off shore, every thing worth saving was taken out of her, and in particular one of the pumps, which was carried on board the Duke William to serve in case of emergency.

On the 25th of November 1758, Captain Nicholls sailed from the Bay of Canso, leading other six transports, with a strong breeze at north-west. All the captains agreed to make the best of their way to France, and not to go to Louisbourg, as it was a bad time of the year to beat on that coast, and then took leave of the agent who was bound thither.

The third day after being at sea, a storm blew in the night; being dark with thick weather and sleet, the Duke William parted company with three of the ships, and the storm still continuing, in a day or two parted with the rest. Nevertheless [Pg 307] the ship remained in good condition, and, though the sea was mountains high, she went over it like a bird, and made no water. On the 10th of December, Captain Nicholls saw a sail, which proved to be one of the transports, the Violet, Captain Sugget. On coming up he asked how all were on board, to which Captain Sugget replied, “In a terrible situation. He had a great deal of water in the ship; her pumps were choked, and he was much afraid that she would sink before morning.” Captain Nicholls begged him to keep up his spirits, and said, that, if possible, he would stay by him and spare him the pump he had got out of the Parnassus; he also told him that, as the gale had continued so long, he hoped that it would moderate after twelve o’clock. Unfortunately, however, it rather increased, and, on changing the watch at twelve, he found that he went fast a-head of the Violet, whence, if he did not shorten sail, he would be out of sight of her before morning. Captain Nicholls then consulted with Captain Moore and the mate, on what was most proper to be done, and all were unanimous, that the only means of saving the people in the Violet, was to keep company with her until the weather should moderate, and that the main-topsail should be taken in.

Therefore, the main-topsail of the Duke William was taken in, and three pumps got out to be ready in case of necessity. The spare pump was forced down an after hatchway, and shipped in an empty butt, of which the French had brought several on board to wash in. Every thing was preparing, both for pumping and bailing, should it be required, and the people of the transport thought themselves secure against all hazards; they now believed that the Violet gained on them, and were glad to see her quite plain about four o’clock in the afternoon.

On changing the watch they found the ship still tight and going very well, the carpenter assuring Captain Nicholls that there was no water to strike a pump. He, fatigued with walking the deck so long, designed going below to smoke a pipe of tobacco to beguile time, and desired the mate to acquaint him immediately should any alteration take place.

The board next the lower part of the pump had been driven to see how much water was in the well; and every half hour, when the ball was struck, the carpenter went down. As he had hitherto found no water, Captain Nicholls felt quite comfortable in his situation in particular, and, on going below, ordered a little negro boy, whom he had as an apprentice, to get him a pipe of tobacco.

[Pg 308] Soon after filling and lighting his pipe, he was thrown from his chair, while sitting in his state-room, by a blow that the ship received from a terrible sea; on which he dispatched the boy to ask Mr. Fox, the mate, whether any thing was washed over. Mr. Fox returned answer, that all was safe, and he saw the Violet coming up fast. Captain Nicholls then being greatly fatigued, thought he would endeavor to procure refreshment from a little sleep, and, without undressing, threw himself on the side of his bed. But before his eyes were closed, Mr. Fox came to inform him that the carpenter had found the water above the kelson, and that the ship had certainly sprung a leak; he immediately rose and took the carpenter down to the hold along with him, when, to his infinite surprise, he heard the water roaring in dreadfully. On further examination, he found that a butt had started, and the more they endeavored to press any thing into it the more the plank forsook the timber. Therefore they went on deck, to encourage the people at the pumps, after making a mark with chalk to ascertain how the water gained upon them.

Captain Nicholls, considering the case desperate, went to all the Frenchmen’s cabins, begging them to rise; he said, that, although their lives were not in danger, their assistance was desired at the pumps, where it would be of the greatest service. They got up accordingly, and cheerfully lent their aid. By this time it was day-light, when, to the great surprise and concern of the Duke William’s people, they saw the Violet on her broadside at a little distance, the fore yard broke in the slings, the fore-topsail set, and her crew endeavoring to free her of the mizen-mast; probably she had just then broached to by the fore-yard giving way. A violent squall came on, which lasted for ten minutes, and when it cleared up, they discovered that the unfortunate ship had gone to the bottom, with nearly four hundred souls. The stoutest was appalled by the event, especially as their own fate seemed to be approaching.

All the tubs above mentioned were prepared, and gangways made; the Frenchmen assisted, and also the women, who behaved with uncommon resolution. The hatches were then opened, and as the water flowed fast into the hold, the tubs being filled, were hauled up and emptied on the upper deck, which, with three pumps constantly at work, and bailing out of the gun-room scuttle, discharged a great quantity of water. A seam would have done them little injury; but a butt’s end was more than they could manage, though every method that [Pg 309] could be deemed serviceable was tried. The spritsail was quilted with oakum and flax, and one of the top-gallant sails was prepared in the same manner, to see whether any thing would sink into the leak, but all in vain.

In this dismal condition the transport continued three days; notwithstanding all the exertions of the people, she was full of water, and they expected her to sink every minute. They had already got the whole liquor and provisions. The hold now being full, and the ship swimming only by the decks from the buoyancy of empty casks below, the people, about six o’clock on the fourth morning, came to Captain Nicholls, declaring that they had done all that lay in their power, that the ship was full of water, and that it was in vain to pump any more. Captain Nicholls acknowledged the truth of what they said; he told them that he could not desire them to do more, that they had behaved like brave men, and must now trust in Providence alone, as there was no expedient left for saving their lives.

He then acquainted the priest with their situation; that every method for saving the ship and the lives of the people had been adopted, but that he expected the decks to blow up every moment. The priest was stunned by the intelligence, but answered, that he would immediately go and give his people absolution for dying; “which he did,” says Captain Nicholls; “and I think a more melancholy scene cannot be supposed than so many people, hearty, strong and in health, looking at each other with tears in their eyes, bewailing their unhappy condition. No fancy can picture the seeming distraction of the poor unhappy children clinging to their mothers, and the wives hanging over their husbands, lamenting their miserable fate:—Shocking situation! words cannot describe it.”

Captain Nicholls then called the men down the main-hatchway, along with him, to examine the leak in the hold. He told them they must be content with their fate; and as they were certain they had done their duty, they should submit to Providence with pious resignation. He walked on deck with Captain Moore, desiring him to devise any expedient to save them from perishing. With tears in his eyes, Captain Moore assured him that he knew of none, as all that could be thought of had been used. Providence, in Captain Nicholls’ belief, induced him to propose attempting to hoist out the boats, so that if a ship should appear, their lives might be saved, as the gale was more moderate. But to this proposal, Captain Moore said it would be impossible, as every body would [Pg 310] endeavor to get into them. Captain Nicholls, however, was of a different opinion, observing, that, under their severe trial, the sailors had behaved with uncommon resolution, and were very obedient to his commands, he flattered himself that they would all continue so; and all were sensible, that in case the ship broached to, the masts must be cut away, to prevent her from oversetting; when it would be beyond their power to hoist out the boats. He then called the mates, carpenters and men and proposed to get out the boats, at the same time acquainting them that it was to save every soul on board if possible, and declaring that if any person should be so rash as to insist on going into them, besides those he should think proper, that they should immediately be scuttled. But all solemnly maintained that his commands should be as implicitly obeyed as if the ship had been in her former good condition; thus setting an example which is rarely to be found.

Captain Nicholls then went to acquaint the chief prisoner on board with what was about to be attempted. He was an hundred and ten years old, the father of the whole island of St. John’s, and had a number of children, grand-children and other relations, in the ship. His observation was, that he was convinced Captain Nicholls would not do a bad action, for, by experience, he had found how much care he had taken of him and his friends, and likewise what endeavors had been used to save the ship and their lives; therefore they were ready to assist in any thing he should propose. Captain Nicholls assured him that he would not forsake them, but run an equal chance; this he thought the only means of saving their lives, should it please Providence to send any ship to their assistance, and it was their duty to use all means given to them.

He next asked Mr. Fox and the carpenter whether they were willing to venture in the long-boat, to which they boldly answered in the affirmative, as, whether they perished on the spot, or a mile or two farther off, was a matter of very little consequence, and as there was no prospect but death in remaining, they would willingly make the attempt. Captain Moore, the carpenter and mate, also willingly agreed to his proposal to go in the cutter.

The cutter was accordingly got over the side, and the ship lying pretty quiet, they cut the tackles, when she dropt very well into the water, and the penter brought her up. They next went to work with the long-boat, and day-light having fairly come in, gave them great spirits, as they flattered [Pg 311] themselves, should it please God Almighty to send a ship, it would be in their power to save all their lives, the weather being now much more moderate than before.

The mate and carpenter having cut the runners, the long-boat fell into the water as well as the cutter had done, and a proper penter being made fast, she brought up properly.

People were stationed at the main and fore-topmast-heads to look out for a sail, when to the unspeakable joy of all on board, the man at the main-topmast cried out that he saw two ships right astern making after the transport. Captain Nicholls having acquainted the priest, and the old gentleman, with the good news, the latter took him in his aged arms, and wept for joy. The captain ordered the ensign to be hoisted to the main-topmast shrouds, and the guns to be got all clear for firing. The weather was very hazy, and the ships not far distant when first discovered; whenever the transport hoisted her signal of distress, they shewed English colors, and seemed to be West Indiamen; of about three or four hundred tons.

Captain Nicholls continued loading and firing as fast as possible, when he perceived the two ships speak with each other, and setting their foresail and topsails, they hauled their wind, and stood off. Supposing that the size of his ship, and her having so many men on board, added to its being the time of war, might occasion distrust, he ordered the main-mast to be cut away to undeceive them. People had been placed in the shrouds to cut away in case of necessity; but one of the shrouds not being properly cut, checked the main-mast and made it fall right across the boats. On this Captain Nicholls hastily ran aft, and cut the penters of both the boats, otherwise they would have been staved to pieces, and sunk immediately. A dismal thing it was to cut away what could be the only means of saving the people’s lives, and at the same time see the ships so basely leave them. No words can picture their distress; driven from the greatest joy to the utmost despair, death now appeared more dreadful. They had only the foresail hanging in the brails; and the braces of both penters being rendered useless by the fall of the main-mast, and the yard flying backward and forward by the rolling of the ship, rendered them apprehensive that she would instantly overset. The ship ran from the boats, until they remained just in sight; and finding they made no endeavor to join her, though each was provided with oars, foremast and foresail, Captain Nicholls consulted with the boatswain on what was most proper to be done in their dangerous condition. He said [Pg 312] that he thought they should bring the ship to at all events, though he acknowledged it a dreadful alternative to hazard her oversetting; the boatswain agreed that it was extremely dangerous, as the vessel steered very well. However, Captain Nicholls finding that the men in the boat did not attempt to join him, called the people aft, and told them his resolution. They said it was desperate, and so was their condition, but they were ready to do whatever he thought best. But Captain Moore seemed to be quite against it. Captain Nicholls then acquainted the old gentleman, the priest and the rest of the people, who were pleased to say, let the consequence be what it might, they should be satisfied, he had acted for the best, and all were resigned to the consequences.

He therefore ordered men to every fore shroud, and one with an axe to the foremast to cut it away should that measure become indispensable. But his own situation he declares to have been in the meantime dreadful; in reflecting that this alternative, though in his judgment right, might be the means of sending nearly four hundred souls to eternity. However, the Almighty endowed him with resolution to persevere, and he gave orders to bring the ship to. In hauling out the mizen, which had been greatly chafed, it split; a new staysail was then bent to bring the ship to, which had the desired effect after a considerable time, for a heavy sea striking on the starboard quarter, excited an apprehension that it would be necessary to cut away the mast. When the men in the yawl saw the ship lying to for them, they got up their foremast, and ran on board, holding the sheets in their hands on account of the wind; and as soon as they arrived some men were sent to row to the assistance of the long-boat. They soon joined her, got her foremast up, set the sail, as the cutter likewise did, and to the great joy of all, reached the ship in safety.

Just as the boats came up, the people at the mast-head exclaimed, “A sail! a sail!” and the captain thought it better to let the ship lie, as by seeing the main-mast gone, it might be known that she was in distress. The weather was hazy, and he could see to no great distance, but the strange vessel was soon near enough to perceive and hear his guns. She had scarce hoisted her colors, which were Danish, when her main-topsail sheet gave way; on observing which, Captain Nicholls conceiving her main-topsail was to be clewed up, and she would come to his assistance, immediately imparted the good news to the priest and the rest. Poor deluded people, they hugged him in their arms, calling him their friend and [Pg 313] preserver; but, alas! it was short lived joy, for as soon as the Dane had knotted, or spliced her topsail sheet, she stood away, and left them. “What pen is able,” says Captain Nicholls, “to describe the despair that reigned in the ship!” The poor unhappy people wringing their hands, cried out, “that God had forsaken them.”

It was now about three in the afternoon; Captain Nicholls wore the ship, which she bore very well, and steered tolerably before the wind.

Towards half an hour afterwards, the old gentleman came to him in tears, and taking him in his arms, said he came by desire of the whole people to request that he and his men would endeavor to save their lives in the boats, and as these were insufficient to carry more, they would by no means be accessory to their destruction; they were well convinced by their whole conduct that they had done every thing in their power for their preservation; but that God Almighty had ordained them to perish, though they trusted he and his men would get safe on shore. Such gratitude for only doing a duty in endeavoring to save the lives of the prisoners, as well as their own, astonished Captain Nicholls; he replied, that there was no hopes of life, and as all had embarked in the same unhappy voyage, they should all take the same chance. He thought that they ought to share the same fate. The old gentleman said that should not be, and if he did not acquaint his people with the offer he should have their lives to answer for. Accordingly the captain mentioned it to Captain Moore and the people. They said that they would with the greatest satisfaction remain, could any thing be devised for the preservation of the others; but that being impossible, they would not refuse to comply with their request. The people then thanking them for their great kindness, with tears in the eyes of all, hastened down the stern ladder.

As the boats ranged up by the sea under the ships counter, those that went last cast themselves down, and were caught by the men in the boat. Captain Nicholls told them, he trusted to their honor that they would not leave him, as he was determined not to quit the ship until it was dark, in hopes that Providence would yet send something to their aid; the whole assured him that he should not be deserted.

He had a little Norse boy on board, whom no entreaties could persuade to enter the boat until he himself had done so; but as it was growing dark, he insisted on the boy’s going, saying he would immediately follow him. The boy [Pg 314] obeyed, and got on the stern ladder, when a Frenchman whom the dread of death induced to quit his wife and children unperceived, made over the taffrail and trod on the Norse boy’s fingers. The boy screamed aloud, which led Captain Nicholls to believe that some person was in danger, and on repairing to the place, followed by the old gentleman, they found to their great surprise, that the man, who had a wife and children on board, was attempting to get away and save himself. The old gentleman calling him by his name, said he was sorry to find him base enough to desert his family. He seemed ashamed of what he had done, and returned over the taffrail. By this time, the people of the boat begged the captain to come, as the blows she received from below the ship’s counter, were like to sink her.

Captain Nicholls seeing the priest stretching his arms over the rails in great emotion, and apparently under strong apprehensions of death, asked him whether he was willing to take his chance in the boat. He replied in the affirmative, if there was room; and on learning that there was, he immediately went and gave the people his benediction; and after saluting the old gentleman, tucked up his conical robes and forsook the vessel. Captain Nicholls saluted him likewise, and several others, and then left them praying for his safety.

When he entered the boat he bid the sailors cast her adrift; it was very dark, and they had neither moon nor stars to direct them. “What a terrible situation!” he exclaims, “we were twenty-seven in the long-boat, and nine in the cutter, without victuals or drink.” Uncertain of their distance from the English coast, they agreed to keep as close as possible to the ship.

It began to blow very fresh, with sleet and snow; the people were fatigued to the uttermost, from working so long at the pumps, and after sitting in the wet and cold, they began to wish that they had staid in the ship and perished, as now they might die a lingering death. Either alternative was awful. Destitute of provision, it was most probable that one must be sacrificed by lot to keep the others alive; and their dismal situation, in arousing the most horrible anticipations, made them forbode the worst.

The boats now began to make water, yet the men refused to bail them, they were in a state of such extreme weariness, and not having slept for four nights, became regardless of their fate. Captain Nicholls, nevertheless, prevailed on them to free the long-boat of water.

[Pg 315] Having a brisk gale, they soon ran a long way from their unfortunate ship, when to their great distress, it fell quite calm at ten in the morning. This threw the people in despair, their courage began to fail, and as they could not expect to live so long as to make the land, death seemed again staring them in the face.

Some time after this unlucky party forsook the ship, four of the French prisoners let a small jolly-boat, which was still remaining, overboard, with two small paddles, and swam to her; and just as they left the vessel, her decks blew up with a report like a gun. She sunk in the ocean, and three hundred and sixty souls perished with her.

Captain Nicholls, at length observing the water colored, asked whether they had any twine, on which one of them gave him a ball from his pocket; they knocked the bolts off the knees of the long-boat, wherewith to make a deep-sea lead, and sounding with it were rejoiced to find only 45 fathom water. But the people complaining greatly of hunger and thirst, Captain Nicholls said he was sorry to acquaint them that he had nothing for them to eat or drink, yet encouraged them to bear up with manly resolution, as by their soundings they were near Scilly, and he doubted not, if it cleared, that they should see the land.

The little Norse boy, who had always kept close by the captain, now said that he had got some bread, and on taking it from the bosom of his shirt, it proved to be like baker’s dough; however, it was bread, and very acceptable. The whole might amount to about four pounds; and Captain Nicholls having put it into his hat, distributed it equally, calling for those in the yawl to receive their share. But instead of being a relief, it increased their troubles, for being wet and clammy, it hung to the roof of their mouths, having nothing to wash it down. Mr. Fox had some allspice also, which was of little service; having been cut in pieces, the people forced it down their throats, which created some saliva, and by that means it was swallowed.

About noon, a light air sprung up at south-west. Each boat had a foremast, foresail and oars; but owing to the boats having been foul of the main-mast, all the oars were washed away except two from each. Captain Nicholls was told, in answer to his inquiries concerning a noise among the crew, that two seamen were disputing about a couple of blankets, which one of them had brought from the ship. These blankets he ordered to be thrown overboard, rather than they [Pg 316] should be suffered to breed any quarrel, as in their unhappy condition it was no time to have disputes. But on reflection having desired that they should be brought to him, he thought of converting them to use, by forming each into a main-sail. Therefore, one oar was erected for a main-mast, and the other broke to the breadth of the blankets for a yard. The people in the cutter observing what was done in the long-boat, converted a hammock which they had on board into a main-sail.

At four in the afternoon it cleared up, when the adventurers descried a brig about two miles distant, to which Captain Nicholls ordered the cutter to give chase, as it being lighter than the long-boat, would sooner get up, and let her know their distress. But the brig, seeing the boats after their course, directly stood from them, owing, as Captain Nicholls supposed, to their odd appearance. For war then prevailing, they were probably taken for the French lugsail-boats, that used to frequent the lands off Scilly. The cutter, however, gained fast on the brig, when, having got about half way, a very thick fog came on, and neither the brig nor the cutter were again seen from the long-boat.

Night fell, and the weather still continuing very foggy, the people, almost dead for want of sleep, reposed themselves, sitting half way in water, it being impossible for so many to find seats. Their captain, anxious for their lives and his own, strove to keep his eyes open, though it was the fifth night that he had taken no rest. About eleven o’clock, when every one was asleep but the helmsman and himself, he thought that he saw land. Yet he was determined not to call out land until he should be sure that it was so. He squeezed his eyelids together to let the water run out of his eyes, as he found them very dim.

Again he thought he saw land very plain, and was convinced that he could not be deceived. By this time the man at the helm had dropped asleep, and he took the tiller himself.—Some space longer elapsed before he would disturb any body, but at last he awoke Captain Moore, telling him he thought he saw land. Captain Moore only answered that they should never see land again. Captain Nicholls then awoke Mr. Fox, who had obtained a sound sleep, and seemed quite refreshed. He immediately cried out that they were near land and close in with the breakers. Lucky it was that he had been awakened, otherwise, Captain Nicholls, from being absolutely unacquainted with them, was satisfied that all on board would have perished.

[Pg 317] At the word land every one awoke, and, with some difficulty, the boat cleared the rocks. At first the precise part of the English coast could not be ascertained, but, as it cleared more and more every moment, Captain Nicholls, on looking under the lee-leech of the blanket main-sail, discerned St. Michael’s Mount in Mount’s Bay. The boat would not fetch the land near Penzance, and, as she had no oars, it was determined to avoid steering round the Lizard and so for Falmouth, but to run her boldly on shore, whatever place she might chance to make. It was a fine night, and, after getting round the point, the people found the water very smooth; keeping the boat close to the wind, they made between Penzance and the point.

Their joy at finding themselves in so favorable a situation, is not to be conceived; it gave them new life and strength.—Those who were forward, exclaimed that there were two rocks ahead, Captain Nicholls hastened before, and his sight having come well to him, he carried the boat between them without touching ground, and in a little time ran her ashore on a sandy beach.

The seamen leapt into the water, and carried the priest and the captain ashore. The former, kneeling down, made a short prayer, and then coming to embrace Captain Nicholls, called him his preserver, and said that he had rescued him from death.

Leaving the boat as she lay, all made the best of their way to the town of Penzance. But some of the people, with sleeping wet, were so much benumbed, that they could scarce get along; and captain Nicholls himself declares, that, from the time of the ship’s springing a leak, until that hour, he had had no sleep, and very little sustenance. However, having fallen in with a run of fresh water on the road to Penzance, all were revived by drinking heartily of it.

The party, reaching the town about three in the morning, made up to a tavern where they saw a light, and, as it had been a market day, the mistress of the house was still up.—When Captain Nicholls entered by the door, which was not locked, she was undressing, with her back to a fire, the light he had seen, and being greatly alarmed, screamed, “Murder! thieves!”

The appearance of twenty-seven people at such an unseasonable hour, was certainly enough to create apprehension, especially from the condition which they were in. But the captain endeavoring to pacify her, requested she would call [Pg 318] her husband or servants, as they were shipwrecked men, and give them some refreshment. The landlord soon came, and, having provided provisions, the people got into as many beds as were there, while the rest of them slept on the floor by the side of the fire.

Next morning the captain, accompanied by the priest, went to the Mayor of the town to make a protest before a notary, and to see if he could get credit, as both he and the people were in want of every necessary, and it was many miles to London. The Mayor received him kindly, but told him that he was no merchant, and that he never supplied people in the condition that he was in, with money, but if he pleased, he would send a servant with him to Mr. Charles Langford, a merchant who generally supplied the masters of vessels in distress with necessaries. Mr. Langford received Captain Nicholls politely, but, in answer to his request for credit, said, that he had made a resolution not to supply with credit any man to whom he was an entire stranger, as he had been deceived by one very lately; and, though his might have been a large ship, to judge by the boat which was come on shore, he, the captain, might not be concerned in her, and, as he should want a great deal of money, he should beg to be excused.—Captain Nicholls answered, that he was partly owner of the ship, and Mr. Langford might be certain that his bills were duly honored. However, he said he could not do it.

Captain Nicholls, grievously disappointed, returned to the inn, where several tradesmen had arrived to furnish the people with clothes and other necessaries. He told the latter he could get no credit, but that they must travel on as far as Exeter, where he was sure of obtaining relief, which was very unwelcome news, as most of the people wanted shoes. The captain next requested the landlord of the inn to get them some breakfast, but he desired to be excused, and wished to know if the captain could get no credit, how he was to be paid. Captain Nicholls was quite at a loss how to act; being denied both credit and victuals, he thought that he would pawn or sell his ring, watch, buckles and buttons. Accordingly, returning to Mr. Langford, he begged he would give him what he thought proper for these things. He took the ring from his finger, the watch from his pocket, and, with tears in his eyes was going to take the buckles from his shoes, when Mr. Langford prevented him, saying he should have credit for as much as he pleased, for he believed him to be an honest man, and saw that his people’s distress touched him more, if possible, [Pg 319] than his own misfortunes. He then gave what money the captain required.

During these transactions, the second mate and the eight men belonging to the cutter arrived. They said it was so very thick they could not come up with the brig which they were in pursuit of, and that, seeing the Lands-End when it cleared, they got ashore. As nobody would buy the cutter, they had left her, and had inquired the way to Penzance, where, being in great distress, they rejoiced to meet their comrades.

Captain Nicholls went to the inn and discharged what was owing; on account of the unkindness which he had experienced, he resolved to stay no longer, and repaired to another house to breakfast. He next procured the necessaries wanted by his people, and then went with his mates to make a protest. But, not choosing that the declaration should proceed from his own mouth, Mr. Langford’s son acted as interpreter to the French priest, who was to make it. The priest accordingly made a strong and full affidavit, that Captain Nicholls and his people had tried every means to keep the ship above water; that they had used the French all the time they were on board, with the greatest kindness and humanity, and that Captain Nicholls had parted from them with the greatest reluctance, and even at their own desire went into the boat, after all hopes of life were gone.

Having remained another day at Penzance to refresh the people, and getting credit for what was wanted, Captain Nicholls, Captain Moore and the officers set out in a carriage for Exeter, while the people, who had got a pass from the Mayor, walked on foot. At Redruth, a town in Cornwall, there were many French officers on parole, as also an English Commissary. Captain Nicholls accompanied the priest to the latter in quest of a pass to Falmouth, that he might embark in the first cartel for France; and here took leave of him.

Captain Nicholls having reached London, was under the necessity of being examined at the Admiralty and Navy Office, about the loss of the people and the ship, she being a transport in the service of government. The Lords of the Admiralty and Commissioners of the Navy told him that he might say more than any man living, as he had brought ashore with him the first man of France, a priest, of course an enemy to both their religion and country: if his behaviour had not been good, he would not have attempted it; but at the same time, they acknowledged that without such a proof, they [Pg 320] could not have believed, but finding all hopes gone, he and his people got away by some stratagem. They would pay they said to the hour that the ship foundered, and were very sorry that they could do no more.

The four Frenchmen above mentioned, who had left the transport in the little boat subsequent to the departure of Captain Nicholls and his men, got into Falmouth within two days.

So ended this dreadful and unfortunate voyage, with the loss of a fine ship and three hundred and sixty souls.


COMMODORE BARNEY.

No old Triton who has passed his calms under the bows of the long-boat could say of Joshua Barney that he came into a master’s berth through the cabin windows. He began at the rudiments, and well he understood the science. All his predilections were for the sea.

Having deserted the counting room, young Barney, at the age of twelve, was placed for nautical instruction in a pilot-boat at Baltimore, till he was apprenticed to his brother-in-law. At the age of fourteen, he was appointed second mate, with the approbation of the owners, and before he was sixteen he was called upon to take charge of his ship at sea, in which the master had died. This was on a voyage to Nice. The ship was in such a state that it was barely possible to make Gibraltar, where for necessary repairs he pledged her for £700, to be repaid by the consignee at Nice, who however declined, and called in the aid of the Governor to compel Barney to deliver the cargo, which he had refused to do. He was imprisoned, but set at large on some intimation that he would do as desired, but when he came on board, he struck his flag, and removed his crew, choosing to consider his vessel as captured. He then set out for Milan, to solicit the aid of the British Ambassador there, in which he succeeded so well that the [Pg 321] authorities of Nice met him on his return to apologize for their conduct. The assignee paid the bond, and Barney sailed for Alicant, where his vessel was detained for the use of the great armada, then fitting out against Algiers, the fate of which was a total and shameful defeat. On his return home, his employer was so well satisfied with his conduct, that he became his firm friend ever after.

He soon offered himself as second in command on board the sloop Hornet, of ten guns, one of two vessels then preparing for a cruise under Commodore Hopkins, for this was in the early part of the revolution. The sloop fell in with a British tender, which she might have captured, but for the timidity of the American captain. The tender, mistaking her enemy, ran alongside and exposed herself to much danger.—Barney stood by one of the guns as the enemy came near, and was about to apply the match, when the bold commander commanded him to desist. Barney, whose spirit revolted at such a cause, threw his match-stick at the captain, with such force that the iron point stuck in the door of the round-house. This, in a youth not seventeen, urged well for the pugnacity of the man. At the end of this cruise, he volunteered on board the schooner Wasp, in which he soon had a brush with the Roebuck and another frigate, and with the aid of some galleys in which he had a command, the enemy was forced to retreat, with more loss than honor. Barney for his good conduct in this affair, was appointed to the command of the sloop Sachem, with the commission of lieutenant before he was seventeen.

Before the cruise, however, Captain Robinson took command of the Sachem, which soon had an action with a letter-of-marque of superior force and numbers. It was well contested, and nearly half the crew of the brig were killed or wounded. In about two hours the letter-of-marque struck.—The captors secured a valuable prize, in a cargo of rum, and also a magnificent turtle intended as a present to Lord North, whose name was marked on the shell. This acceptable West Indian, Lieutenant Barney presented to a better man than it had been designed for, for he gave it to the Hon. R. Morris. On the return of the Sachem, both officers were transferred to a fine brig of fourteen guns, the Andrew Doria, which forthwith captured the Racehorse, of twelve guns and a picked crew. This vessel was of the Royal Navy, and had been detached by the Admiral purposely to take the Doria.

On this voyage a snow was captured, in which the Lieutenant [Pg 322] went as prize master, making up the crew partly of the prisoners. Being hard by an enemy’s ship, he discovered signs of mutiny among his crew, and shot the ringleader in the shoulder; a proceeding that offered so little encouragement to his comrades, that they obeyed orders, and made sail, but it was too late to escape. The purser of the frigate which captured him, was on a subsequent occasion, so much excited as to strike Barney, who knocked him down, and went further in his resentment than fair fighting permits, for he kicked him down the gangway. The commander obliged the purser to apologize to Barney. Having been captured in the Virginia frigate, which ran aground at the Capes, and was deserted by her commander, Barney, with five hundred other prisoners, was sent round, in the St. Albans frigate, to New York. As the prisoners were double in number to the crew, Barney, formed a plan of taking the ship, which was defeated or prevented by the treachery of a Frenchman.

Barney was a prisoner at New York, for five months, after which he took the command of a schooner of two guns, and eight men, with a cargo of tobacco for St. Eustatia, for he was better pleased to do a little than to do nothing. He was however, taken, after a running fight, by boarding, by a privateer of four large guns and sixty men. His next cruise was with his friend Robinson, in a private ship of ten guns and thirty-five men, in which they encountered the British privateer Rosebud of sixteen guns and one hundred and twenty men. On the return, a letter-of-marque of sixteen guns and seventy men was captured. The Lieutenant had now prize money enough to be converted, on his return, into a large bundle of continental bills, which he stowed away in a chaise box, on taking a journey, but which he could not find when he arrived at his destination. He kept his own secret, however, and “went to sea again,” second in command of the United States’ ship Saratoga, of sixteen nine-pounders. The first prize was a ship of twelve guns, captured after an action of a few minutes.

On the next day, the Saratoga hoisted English colors, and came along side a ship which had two brigs in company, then running up the American ensign, she poured in a broadside, while Lieutenant Barney, with fifty men, boarded the enemy. The immediate result was, the conquest of a ship of thirty-two guns and ninety men. The two brigs, one of fourteen and the other of four guns, were also captured. The division of prize money would have made the officers rich, but no [Pg 323] division took place, for all but the Saratoga were captured by a seventy-four and several frigates. Lieutenant Barney was furnished with bed and board, on deck, and with him, bed and board were synonymous terms, but he was allowed to choose the softest plank he could find. In England he was confined in prison, from which he escaped, and, after various adventures, arrived at Beverly, Massachusetts, and, as soon as he landed, was offered the command of a privateer of twenty guns. On his arrival at Philadelphia, he accepted the command of one of several vessels, cruising against the enemies’ barges, and the refugee boats, that infested the Delaware River and Bay. His ship was the Hyder Ally, a small vessel of sixteen six pounders. As a superior vessel of the enemy was approaching, Barney directed his steersman to interpret his commands by the rule of contraries.

When the enemy was ranging alongside, Barney cried out, “Hard a-port.” The helmsman clapt his helm the other way, and the enemy’s jib-boom caught in the fore rigging, and held her in a position to be raked, and never was the operation of raking more suddenly or effectually performed. The British flag came down in less than half an hour, and the captors made little delay for compliments, for a frigate from the enemy was rapidly approaching. The prize was the General Marle, of the Royal Navy, with twenty nine pounders, and one hundred and thirty-six men; nearly double the force and metal of the captors. After the peace, Commodore Barney made a partial settlement in Kentucky, and became a favorite with the old hunters of that pleasant land. He was appointed Clerk of the District Court of Maryland, and also an auctioneer. He also engaged in commerce, when his business led him to Cape Francois during the insurrection, and where he armed his crew, and fought his way, to carry off some specie which he had secreted in barrels of coffee.

On his return he was captured by a pirate, which called herself an English privateer. Barney, however, was a bad prisoner, and with a couple of his hands rose upon the buccaneers and captured their ship. In this situation it was no time for Argus himself to sleep, with more than an eye at a time. The Commodore slept only by day in an armed chair on deck, with his sword between his legs, and pistols in his belt, while his cook and boatswain, well armed, stood the watch at his side. On another occasion, he was captured in the West Indies, by an English frigate, where he received the usual British courtesies, and he was tried in Jamaica for piracy, &c. It is needless [Pg 324] to say that, though in an enemy’s country, he was acquitted by acclamation. This accusation originated with the commander of the frigate, who, however, prudently kept out of sight; though an officer in the same frigate, expressed at a Coffee House, a desire to meet Barney, without knowing that he was present, that he might have an opportunity to settle accounts with the rascal. The rascal bestowed upon the officer the compliments that were usual on such an occasion, and tweaked that part of his head that is so prominent in an elephant.

We cannot follow the Commodore through his subsequent fortunes and adventures. In France he received the hug fraternal of the President of the Convention, and the commission of Captain of the highest grade in the Navy. He fitted out several vessels of his own to harass the British trade, in which he was very successful. He received the command of two frigates, which were almost wrecked in a storm, though he succeeded in saving them. In the last war, his services are more immediately in our memories.


NAVAL BATTLES

OF THE UNITED STATES.

The depredations committed on American commerce in the Mediterranean, by the piratical corsairs of the Barbary powers, induced Congress, in 1794, to authorize the formation of a naval force for its protection. Four ships of forty-four guns each and two of thirty-six were ordered to be built.—Captain Thomas Truxton was one of the first six captains appointed by the President, at the organization of the naval establishment, in 1794. He was appointed to the command of the Constellation of thirty-six guns, and ordered to protect the commerce of the United States in the West Indies, from [Pg 325] the ravages of the French. On the ninth of February, 1799, he captured the French frigate Insurgente, of which twenty-nine of the crew were killed and forty-four wounded. The Constellation had but one man killed and two wounded.

In 1800, the Constellation engaged with the French frigate Vengeance of fifty-four guns, near Guadaloupe; but owing to the darkness of the night the latter escaped, after having thrice struck her colors and lost one hundred and sixty men in the engagement.

The same year, the United States frigate Boston captured the French national corvette Le Berceau.

In the month of August, 1801, Captain Sterrett of the United States schooner Enterprize, of twelve guns and ninety men, fell in, off Malta, with a Tripolitan cruiser of fourteen guns and eighty-five men. In this action the Tripolitans thrice hauled down her colors, and thrice perfidiously renewed the conflict. Fifty of her men were killed and wounded. The Enterprize did not lose a man.

Captain Sterrett’s instructions not permitting him to make a prize of the cruiser, he ordered her crew to throw overboard all their guns and powder, and to go and tell their countrymen the treatment they might expect from a nation, determined to pay tribute only in powder and ball. On her arrival at Tripoli, so great was the terror produced, that the sailors abandoned the cruisers then fitting out, and not a man could be procured to navigate them.

The Tripolitan cruisers continuing to harass the vessels of the United States, Congress determined in 1803, to fit out a fleet that should chastise their insolence. The squadron consisted of the Constitution, 44 guns; the Philadelphia, 44; the Argus, 18; the Siren, 16; the Nautilus, 16; the Vixen, 16; and the Enterprize, 14. Commodore Preble was appointed to the command of this squadron, in May 1803, and on the 13th of August, sailed in the Constitution for the Mediterranean. Having adjusted the difficulties which had sprung up with the emperor of Morocco, he turned his whole attention to Tripoli. The season was, however, too far advanced for active operations.

On the 31st of October, the Philadelphia, being, at nine o’clock in the morning, about five leagues to the westward of Tripoli, discovered a sail in shore, standing before the wind to the eastward. The Philadelphia immediately gave chase. The sail hoisted Tripolitan colors, and continued her course near the shore. The Philadelphia opened a fire upon her, [Pg 326] and continued it, till half past eleven; when, being in seven fathoms water, and finding her fire could not prevent the vessel entering Tripoli, she gave up the pursuit. In beating off, she ran on a rock, not laid down in any chart, distant four and a half miles from the town. A boat was immediately lowered to sound. The greatest depth of water was found to be astern. In order to back her off, all sails were laid aback; the top-gallant-sails loosened; three anchors thrown away from the bows; the water in the hold started; and all the guns thrown overboard, excepting a few abaft to defend the ship against the attacks of the Tripolitan gun-boats, then firing at her. All this, however, proved ineffectual; as did also the attempt to lighten her forward by cutting away her foremast. The Philadelphia had already withstood the attack of the numerous gun-boats for four hours, when a large reinforcement coming out of Tripoli, and being herself deprived of every means of resistance and defence she was forced to strike, about sunset. The Tripolitans immediately took possession of her, and made prisoners of the officers and men, in number, three hundred. Forty-eight hours afterwards, the wind blowing in shore, the Tripolitans got the frigate off, and towed her into the harbor.

On the 14th of December, Commodore Preble sailed from Malta, in company with the Enterprize, commanded by Lieutenant Stephen Decater. When the latter was informed of the loss of the Philadelphia, he immediately formed a plan of recapturing and destroying her, which he proposed to Commodore Preble. At first the commodore thought the projected enterprize too hazardous: but at length granted his consent. Lieutenant Decater then selected for the enterprise the ketch Intrepid, lately captured by him. This vessel he manned with seventy volunteers, chiefly of his own crew; and on the 3d of February sailed from Syracuse, accompanied by the brig Siren, lieutenant Stewart.

After a tempestuous passage of fifteen days, the two vessels arrived off the harbor of Tripoli, towards the close of day.—It was determined that at ten o’clock in the evening the Intrepid should enter the harbor, accompanied by the boats of the Siren. But a change of wind had separated the two vessels six or eight miles. As delay might prove fatal, Lieutenant Decater entered the harbor alone about eight o’clock. The Philadelphia lay within half gun shot of the Bashaw’s castle and principal battery. On her starboard quarter lay two Tripolitan cruisers within two cables length; and on the starboard [Pg 327] bow a number of gun-boats within half gun shot. All her guns were mounted and loaded. Three hours were, in consequence of the lightness of the wind, consumed in passing three miles, when being within two hundred yards of the Philadelphia, they were hailed from her, and ordered to anchor on peril of being fired into. The pilot on board the Intrepid was ordered to reply, that all their anchors were lost. The Americans had advanced within fifty yards of the frigate, when the wind died away into a calm. Lieutenant Decater ordered a rope to be taken out and fastened to the fore-chains of the frigate, which was done, and the Intrepid warped alongside. It was not till then the Tripolitans suspected them to be an enemy; and their confusion in consequence was great. As soon as the vessels were sufficiently near, Lieutenant Decater sprang on board the frigate, and was followed by midshipman Morris. It was a minute before the remainder of the crew succeeded in mounting after them. But the Turks, crowded together on the quarter deck, were in too great consternation to take advantage of this delay. As soon as a sufficient number of Americans gained the deck they rushed upon the Tripolitans, who were soon overpowered; and about twenty of them were killed.

After taking possession of the ship, a firing commenced from the Tripolitan batteries and castle, and from two cruisers near the ship; a number of launches were also seen rowing about in the harbor; whereupon Lieutenant Decater resolved to remain in the frigate, for there he would be enabled to make the best defence. But perceiving that the launches kept at a distance, he ordered the frigate to be set on fire, which was immediately done, and so effectually, that with difficulty was the Intrepid preserved. A favorable breeze at this moment sprung up, which soon carried them out of the harbor. None of the Americans were killed, and only four wounded. For this heroic achievement Lieutenant Decater was promoted to the rank of post captain. His commission was dated on the day he destroyed the Philadelphia.

After the destruction of the Philadelphia frigate, commodore Preble was, during the spring and early part of the summer, employed in keeping up the blockade of the harbor of Tripoli, in preparing for an attack upon the town and in cruising. A prize that had been taken was put in commission, and called the Scourge. A loan of six gun-boats and two bomb-vessels, completely fitted for service, was obtained from the king of Naples. Permission was also given to take twelve or [Pg 328] fifteen Neapolitans on board each boat, to serve under the American flag.

With this addition to his force, the commodore on the 21st of July, joined the vessels off Tripoli. The number of men engaged in the service amounted to one thousand and sixty.

On the Tripolitan castle and batteries, one hundred and fifteen guns were mounted, fifty-five of which were pieces of heavy ordnance, the others long eighteen and twelve pounders. In the harbor were nineteen gun-boats carrying each a long brass eighteen or twenty-four pounder in the bow, and two howitzers abaft; also two schooners of eight guns each, a brig of ten and two galleys of four guns each. In addition to the ordinary Turkish garrison, and the crews of the armed vessels, estimated at three thousand, upwards of twenty thousand Arabs had been assembled for the defence of the city.

The weather prevented the squadron from approaching the city until the twenty-eighth, when it anchored within two miles and a half of the fortifications; but the wind suddenly shifting, and increasing to a gale, the commodore was compelled to return. On the 3d of August, he again approached to within two or three miles of the batteries. Having observed that several of the enemy’s boats were stationed without the reef of rocks, covering the entrance, he made signal for the squadron to come within speaking distance, to communicate to the several commanders his intention of attacking the shipping and batteries. The gun-boats and bomb-ketches were immediately manned and prepared for action. The former were arranged in two divisions of three each. At half past one the squadron stood in for the batteries. At two, the gun-boats were cast off. At half past two, signal was made for the bomb-ketches and gun-boats to advance and attack.—At three quarters past two, the signal was given for a general action. It commenced by the bomb-ketches throwing shells into the town. A tremendous fire immediately commenced from the enemy’s batteries and vessels, of at least two hundred guns. It was immediately returned by the American squadron, now within musket shot of the principal batteries.

At this moment, Captain Decater, with the three gun-boats under his command, attacked the enemy’s eastern division, consisting of nine gun-boats. He was soon in the midst of them. The fire of the cannon and musketry was immediately changed to a desperate attack with bayonet, spear and sabre. Captain Decater having grappled a Tripolitan boat, [Pg 329] and boarded her with only fifteen Americans, in ten minutes her decks were cleared and she was captured. Three Americans were wounded. At this moment captain Decater was informed that the gun-boat commanded by his brother, had engaged and captured a boat belonging to the enemy; but that his brother, as he stepped on board was treacherously shot by the Tripolitan commander, who made off with his boat. Captain Decater immediately pursued the murderer, who was retreating within the lines; having succeeded in coming alongside, he boarded with only eleven men. A doubtful contest of twenty minutes ensued. Decater immediately attacked the Tripolitan commander, who was armed with a spear and cutlass. In parrying the Turk’s spear, Decater broke his sword close to the hilt, and received a slight wound in the right arm and breast; but having seized the spear he closed; and, after a violent struggle, both fell, Decater uppermost. The Turk then drew a dagger from his belt, but Decater caught his arm, drew a pistol from his pocket and shot him. While they were struggling, the crew of both vessels rushed to the assistance of their commanders. And so desperate had the contest around them been, that it was with difficulty that Decater extricated himself from the killed and wounded that had fallen around him.

In this affair an American manifested the most heroic courage and attachment to his commander. Decater, in the struggle, was attacked in the rear by a Tripolitan, who had aimed a blow at his head, which must have proved fatal, had not this generous minded tar, then dangerously wounded and deprived of the use of both his hands, rushed between him and the sabre, the stroke of which he received in his head whereby the scull was fractured. This hero, however, survived, and afterwards received a pension from his grateful country. All the Americans but four were wounded. Captain Decater brought both of his prizes safe to the American squadron.

Two successive attacks were afterwards made upon Tripoli; and the batteries effectually silenced. The humiliation of this barbarous power was of advantage to all nations.—The Pope made a public declaration, that, “the United States, though in their infancy, had, in this affair, done more to humble the anti-christian barbarians on that coast, than all the European States had done for a long series of time.” Sir Alexander Ball, a distinguished commander in the British navy, addressed his congratulations to Commodore Preble.

[Pg 330] After the junction of the two squadrons, Commodore Preble obtained leave to return home. This he did with the greater pleasure, as it would give the command of a frigate to Captain Decater.

On his return to the United States, he was received and treated every where with that distinguished attention, which he had so fully merited. Congress voted him their thanks, and requested the President to present him with an emblematical medal.

Our limits will only allow us to glance briefly at a few of the remaining victories of the American navy. A formal declaration of war against Great Britain was passed by Congress on the 18th of June, 1812. On the 19th of August, the memorable capture of the British frigate Guerriere by the Constitution under Captain Hull, took place. On the 19th of October the British sloop of war Frolic was taken by the Wasp, commanded by Captain Jacob Jones; before the latter could escape, however, with her prize, being in a very disabled state, she was captured by the British seventy-four, Poictiers. On the 25th of October, the United States under Commodore Decater, fell in with and captured, off the Western Isles, the British frigate Macedonian, mounting forty-nine guns and carrying three hundred and six men. The Macedonian had one hundred and six men killed and wounded. The United States five killed and seven wounded. The Victory of the Constitution over the Java, followed next, and was succeeded by that of the Hornet, commanded by Captain Lawrence, over the Peacock. The loss of this brave officer in the subsequent engagement between the Chesapeake and Shannon, was generally lamented by his countrymen.

On the first of September, 1813, the British brig Boxer of 14 guns, was captured by the United States brig Enterprise, commanded by Lieutenant William Burrows, who fell in the engagement. We must close our notice of American naval history, by a brief sketch of some of the most interesting cruises and engagements.

CRUISE OF THE WASP.

On the first of May, 1814, the United States sloop of war Wasp, of eighteen guns and one hundred and seventy-four men, Captain Blakely, commander, sailed from Portsmouth, N. H. on a cruise, and on the 28th of June, in latitude 48 36 longitude 11 15, after having made several captures, she fell [Pg 331] in with, engaged, and after an action of nineteen minutes, captured his Britanic Majesty’s sloop of war Reindeer, William Manners, Esq. commander. The Reindeer mounted sixteen twenty-four pound carronades, two long six or nine pounders, and a shifting twelve pound carronade, with a complement on board of one hundred and eighteen men. She was literally cut to pieces in a line with her ports; her upper works, boats and spare spars were one complete wreck, and a breeze springing up the next day after the action, her fore-mast went by the board; when the prisoners having been taken on board the Wasp, she was set on fire and soon blew up.

The loss on board the Reindeer was twenty-three killed and forty-two wounded, her captain being among the former. On board the Wasp five were killed and twenty-one wounded.—More than one half of the wounded enemy were, in consequence of the severity and extent of their wounds, put on board a Portuguese brig and sent to England. The loss of the Americans, although not so severe as that of the British, was owing, in a degree, to the proximity of the two vessels during the action, and the extreme smoothness of the sea, but chiefly in repelling boarders.

On the 8th of July, the Wasp put into L’Orient, France, after capturing an additional number of prizes, where she remained until the 27th of August, when she again sailed on a cruise. On the 1st of September she fell in with the British sloop of war Avon, of twenty guns, commanded by Captain Abuthnot, and after an action of forty-five minutes, compelled her to surrender, her crew being nearly all killed and wounded. The guns were then ordered to be secured, and a boat lowered from the Wasp in order to take possession of the prize. In the act of lowering the boat, a second enemy’s vessel was discovered astern and standing towards the Wasp.—Captain Blakely immediately ordered his crew to their quarters, prepared every thing for action, and awaited her coming up. In a few minutes after, two additional sails were discovered bearing down upon the Wasp. Captain Blakely stood off with the expectation of drawing the first from its companions; but in this he was disappointed. She continued to approach until she came close to the stern of the Wasp, when she hauled by the wind, fired her broadside, (which injured the Wasp but trifling,) and retraced her steps to join her consorts—Captain Blakely was now necessitated to abandon the Avon, which had by this time become a total wreck, and which soon after sunk, the surviving part of her crew having barely time to escape to the other vessels.

[Pg 332] On board of the Avon forty were killed and sixty wounded The loss sustained by the Wasp was two killed and one wounded.

The Wasp afterwards continued her cruise, making great havoc among the English merchant vessels and privateers, destroying an immense amount of the enemies property.—From the 1st of May until the 20th of September, she had captured fifteen vessels, most of which she destroyed.

HORNET AND PENGUIN.

On the 23d of March, 1815, as the Hornet, commanded by Captain Biddle, was about to anchor off the north end of the island of Tristan d’Acuna, a sail was seen to the southward; which, at forty minutes past one, hoisted English colors, and fired a gun. The Hornet immediately luffed to, hoisted an ensign, and gave the enemy a broadside. A quick and well directed fire was kept up from the Hornet, the enemy gradually drifting nearer, with an intention, as Captain Biddle supposed, to board. The enemy’s bowsprit came in between the main and mizen rigging on the starboard side of the Hornet, giving him an opportunity to board, if he had wished but no attempt was made. There was a considerable swell, and as the sea lifted the Hornet ahead, the enemy’s bowsprit carried away her mizen shrouds, stern davits, and spanker boom, and hung upon her larboard quarter. At this moment an officer called out that they had surrendered. Captain Biddle directed the marines to stop firing and, while asking if they had surrendered, received a wound in the neck. The enemy just then got clear of the Hornet; and his foremast and bowsprit being both gone, and perceiving preparations to give him another broadside, he again called out that he had surrendered. It was with great difficulty that Captain Biddle could restrain his crew from firing into him again, as it was certain that he had fired into the Hornet after having surrendered.

From the firing of the first gun to the last time the enemy cried out that he had surrendered, was exactly twenty-two minutes. The vessel proved to be the British brig Penguin, of twenty guns, a remarkable fine vessel of her class, and one hundred and thirty-two men, twelve of them supernumeraries from the Medway seventy-four, received on board in consequence of their being ordered to cruise for the privateer Young Wasp.

The Penguin had fourteen killed and twenty-eight wounded. [Pg 333] Among the killed was Captain Dickenson, who fell at the close of the action. As she was completely riddled, and so crippled as to be incapable of being secured, and being at a great distance from the United States, Captain Biddle ordered her to be scuttled and sunk.

The Hornet did not receive a single round shot in her hull, and though much cut in her sails and rigging was soon made ready for further service. Her loss was one killed and eleven wounded.

ALGERINE WAR.

Immediately after the ratification of peace with Great Britain, in February 1815, Congress, in consequence of the hostile conduct of the regency of Algiers, declared war against that power. A squadron was immediately fitted out, under the command of Commodore Decater, consisting of the Guerriere, Constellation and Macedonian frigates, the Ontario and Epervier sloops of war, and the schooners Spark, Spitfire, Torch and Flambeau. Another squadron, under Commodore Bainbridge, was soon to follow this armament, on the arrival of which, it was understood, Commodore Decater would return to the United States in a single vessel, leaving the command of the whole combined force to Commodore Bainbridge.

The force under Commodore Decater rendezvoused at New York, from which port they sailed the 20th day of May, 1815, and arrived in the Bay of Gibraltar in twenty-five days, after having previously communicated with Cadiz and Tangier. In the passage, the Spitfire, Torch, Firefly and Ontario, separated different times from the squadron in gales, but all joined again at Gibraltar, with the exception of the Firefly, which sprung her masts, and put back to New York to refit. Having learned at Gibraltar that the Algerine squadron, which had been out into the Atlantic, had undoubtedly passed up the straits, and that information of the arrival of the American force had been sent to Algiers by persons in Gibraltar, Commodore Decater determined to proceed without delay up the Mediterranean, in the hope of intercepting the enemy before he could return to Algiers, or gain a neutral port.

On the 17th of June, off Cape de Gatt, he fell in with and captured the Algerine frigate Mazouda, in a running fight of twenty-five minutes. After two broadsides the Algerines ran below. The Guerriere had four men wounded by musketry, the Algerines had about thirty killed, according to the statement [Pg 334] of the prisoners, who amounted to four hundred and six. In this affair, the famous Algerine admiral or Rais, Hammida, who had long been the terror of this sea, was cut in two by a cannon shot.

On the 19th of June, off Cape Palos, the squadron fell in with and captured an Algerine brig of twenty-two guns. The brig was chased close to the shore, where she was followed by the Epervier, Spark, Torch and Spitfire, to whom she surrendered, after losing twenty-three men. No Americans were either killed or wounded. The captured brig, with most of the prisoners on board, was sent into Carthagena. From Cape Palos, the American squadron proceeded to Algiers, where it arrived the 28th of June.

The treaty which Commodore Decater finally succeeded in negotiating with the Dey, was highly favorable. The principal articles were, that no tribute under any pretext or in any form whatever, should ever be required by Algiers from the United States of America, that all Americans in slavery should be given up without ransom, that compensation should be made for American vessels captured, or property seized or detained at Algiers, that the persons and property of American citizens found on board an enemy’s vessel should be sacred, that vessels of either party putting into port should be supplied with provisions at market price, and if necessary to be repaired, should land their cargoes without paying duty, that if a vessel belonging to either party should be cast on shore, she should not be given up to plunder, or if attacked by an enemy within cannon shot of a fort, should be protected, and no enemy be permitted to follow her when she went to sea within twenty-four hours. In general, the rights of Americans on the ocean and land, were fully provided for in every instance, and it was particularly stipulated that all citizens of the United States taken in war, should be treated as prisoners of war are treated by other nations, and not as slaves, but held subject to an exchange without ransom. After concluding this treaty, so highly honorable and advantageous to this country, the commissioners gave up the captured frigate and brig, to their former owners.

Commodore Decater despatched Captain Lewis in the Epervier, bearing the treaty to the United States, and leaving Mr. Shaler at Algiers, as consul-general to the Barbary states, proceeded with the rest of the squadron to Tunis, with the exception of two schooners under Captain Gamble, sent to convoy the Algerine vessels home from Carthagena. Having [Pg 335] obtained from the bashaw of Tunis a full restoration in money for certain outrages which had been sustained by American citizens, the squadron proceeded to Tripoli, where Commodore Decater made a similar demand for a similar violation of the treaty subsisting between the United States and the bashaw, who had permitted two American vessels to be taken from under the guns of his castle by a British sloop of war, and refused protection to an American cruiser lying within his jurisdiction. Restitution of the full value of these vessels was demanded, and the money, amounting to twenty-five thousand dollars, paid by the bashaw into the hands of the American consul. After the conclusion of this affair, the American consular flag, which Mr. Jones, the consul, had struck, in consequence of the violation of neutrality above mentioned, was hoisted in the presence of the foreign agents, and saluted from the castle with thirty-one guns. In addition to the satisfaction thus obtained, for unprovoked aggressions, the commodore had the pleasure of obtaining the release of ten captives, two Danes and eight Neapolitans, the latter of whom he landed at Messina.

After touching at Messina and Naples, the squadron sailed for Carthagena on the 31st of August, where Commodore Decater was in expectation of meeting the relief squadron, under Commodore Bainbridge. On joining that officer at Gibraltar, he relinquished his command, and sailed in the Guerriere for the United States, where he arrived on the 12th of November, 1815.

Every thing being done previous to the arrival of the second division of the squadron, under Commodore Bainbridge, that gallant officer had no opportunity of distinguishing himself. Pursuant to his instructions he exhibited this additional force before Algiers, Tunis and Tripoli, where they were somewhat surprised at the appearance of the Independence seventy-four. Commodore Bainbridge sailed from Gibraltar thirty-six hours before the Guerriere, and arrived at Boston the 15th of November.


[Pg 336]

ADDRESS TO THE OCEAN.

Likeness of Heaven!
Agent of power;
Man is thy victim,
Shipwreck thy dower!
Spices and jewels
From valley and sea,
Armies and banners,
Are buried in thee!
What are the riches
Of Mexico’s mines,
To the wealth that far down
In thy deep waters shine?
The proud navies that cover
The conquering west—
Thou fling’st them to death
With one heave of thy breast!
From the high hills that view
Thy wreck making shore,
When the bride of the mariner
Shrieks at thy roar,
When like lambs in the tempest
Or mews in the blast,
On thy ridge broken billows
The canvas is cast—
How humbling to one,
With a heart and a soul,
To look on thy greatness
And list to its roll;
To think how that heart
In cold ashes shall be,
While the voice of Eternity
Rises from thee?

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A wealthy young man had a yacht,
Disfigured with many a spacht,
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Which, as soon as applied,
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Our girl o’er the housework would sigh,
Till SAPOLIO I urged her to trigh,
Now she changes her tune,
For she’s done work at nune,
Which accounts for the light in her eigh!

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There’s many a domestic embroglio—
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When the housework in hand she would tache,
But her pains were allayed,
When SAPOLIO’S aid,
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We have heard of some marvelous soaps,
Whose worth has exceeded our hoaps.
But it must be confest,
That SAPOLIO’S the best
For with grease spots it easily coaps!

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The wife of a popular colonel
Whose troubles with “helps” were etolonel
Now her leisure enjoys
For the “new girl” employs
SAPOLIO in housework diolonel!

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STANDARD LITERATURE.

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THE WEALTH OF NATIONS.
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ADAM SMITH’S ESSAYS.
ESSAYS, PHILOSOPHICAL AND LITERARY; including the “Theory of Moral Sentiments,” “The Formation of Languages,” “Astronomical Inquiries,” “Ancient Physics,” “Ancient Logic and Metaphysics,” “The Imitative Arts—Music, Dancing, Poetry,” “The External Senses,” “English and Italian Verses,” &c. By Adam Smith, LL.D., F.R.S.

McCULLOCH’S POLITICAL ECONOMY.
THE PRINCIPLES OF POLITICAL ECONOMY, with a sketch of the Rise and Progress of the Science. By J. R. McCulloch. With an Essay on Interest, and the Value of Money. By John Locke.

MONTAIGNE’S ESSAYS.
THE ESSAYS OF MICHAEL SEIGNEUR DE MONTAIGNE, with Notes and Quotations, and an Account of the Author’s Life, translated into English by Charles Colton, Esq.

BOLINGBROKE ON THE STUDY AND USE OF HISTORY.
LETTERS ON THE STUDY AND USE OF HISTORY: “On Exile,” “The Spirit of Patriotism,” “The Idea of a Patriot King,” “The State of Parties in 1744.” By Henry St. John, Lord Viscount Bolingbroke.

HUME’S ESSAYS.
ESSAYS,—LITERARY, MORAL, AND POLITICAL. By David Hume (the historian).

SIDNEY SMITH’S ESSAYS.
ESSAYS,—SOCIAL AND POLITICAL. By Rev. Sidney Smith.

MILMAN’S HISTORY OF THE JEWS.
HISTORY OF THE JEWS. By H. H. Milman, D.D., late Dean of St. Paul’s.

HALLAM’S EUROPE.
VIEW OF THE STATE OF EUROPE DURING THE MIDDLE AGES. By Henry Hallam, LL.D., F.R.A.S.

LOCKE ON THE HUMAN UNDERSTANDING.
AN ESSAY CONCERNING THE HUMAN UNDERSTANDING. By John Locke. With the Notes and Illustrations of the author, and an Analysis of his Doctrine of Ideas. Also, Questions on Locke’s Essay, for the use of students.

D’AUBIGNE’S HISTORY OF THE REFORMATION.
THE HISTORY OF THE REFORMATION OF THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY, from its commencement to the days of Calvin. By J. H. Merle D’Aubigne, D.D. Translated from the author’s late French edition.

MILTON’S EARLY BRITAIN, &c.
BRITAIN UNDER TROJAN, ROMAN, AND SAXON RULE. By John Milton.—ENGLAND UNDER RICHARD III. By Sir Thomas More.—THE REIGN OF HENRY VII. By Lord Bacon. Three books bound in one volume.

ESSAYS ON BEAUTY AND TASTE.
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THE AMERICAN
POPULAR DICTIONARY

CONTAINING

EVERY USEFUL WORD

To be found in the English Language, with its
TRUE MEANING, DERIVATION, SPELLING AND PRONUNCIATION.

ALSO, A VAST AMOUNT OF
ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY INFORMATION
UPON

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PERFECT LIBRARY OF REFERENCE IN ONE HANDY VOLUME.

The publishers of the AMERICAN POPULAR DICTIONARY claim for it the support of the public, for the following among many other important reasons:—

It contains EVERY WORD OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE that enters into speech or writing.

THE SPELLING of each word is precisely that given by the best authorities.

THE DEFINITIONS are compiled from a majority of the best writers of the English language.

THE PRONUNCIATION of every word is that settled upon by the ablest masters of this most important branch of Grammar.

In addition to the perfections of this work as a Dictionary, it contains a vast amount of information upon MANY KINDS OF USEFUL KNOWLEDGE not to be found in any similar work; but all ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY to every one who wishes to be acquainted with the leading subjects of conversation and composition.

By reference to the annexed TABLE OF CONTENTS it will be found that the book is really a concise and portable Cyclopedia of very useful and valuable information. From it a speaker or writer can glean an amount of real knowledge impossible to find elsewhere collected in one book.

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TABLE OF CONTENTS.

1. A Complete Dictionary of the Eng. Language.
2. A Complete List of Scripture Proper Names, including Apocrypha, and their pronunciation.
3. American Geographical Names, with their derivation, signification, and their pronunciation.
4. Nicknames of the States and Cities of the U. S.
5. The Discovery and Discoverers of America.
6. The Aborigines of North America, showing their tribes, location and number.
7. Early Settlers and Settlements of the United States—nationality, location, date.
8. Troops of the American Revolution, showing the number each State furnished.
9. Battles and Losses of the Revolution.
10. The Declaration of Independence.
11. The Signers of the Declaration of Independence.
12. The Presidents of the Continental Congress.
13. Constitution of the United States.
14. History of the American Flag.
15. Area and Population of the United States.
16. Population of all Cities and Towns in the U. S. having a population of over 10,000.
17. Growth of American Cities having a population of 50,000 and upward.
18. Public Debt of the United States, 1791 to 1870.
19. The Amount of Paper Money in the United States, of each denomination.
20. Analysis of the Public Debt of the United States.
21. United States Public Lands—where they lie.
22. The United States Public Land System.
23. Free Homesteads on the Public Lands, or how to secure a homestead.
24. Homestead and Exemption Laws of the U. S.
25. The Canals of the United States—their length, connecting points, number of locks, cost, &c.
26. The Municipal Debts of the United States.
27. Theological Seminaries in the United States, denominations, professors, students, in each.
28. Occupations of the People of the U. S.
29. Army of the United States, with rates of pay.
30. Navy of the United States, with rates of pay.
31. Navy-yards of the United States.
32. Number of Men raised by each State for the suppression of the Rebellion.
33. Churches in the United States, with statistics.
34. Price of commodities for the past fifty years.
35. Statutes of Limitations of the various States.
36. Interest Laws in the United States.
37. Insolvent and Assignment Laws of the different States.
38. Newspapers and Periodicals in the U. S.
39. Heads of the principal nations of the world.
40. The Carlisle Tables, showing how many persons out of 10,000 will die annually.
41. The Railroads of the World—length, cost, &c.
42. Commerce, Debts, &c., of the principal nations.
43. National Debts of the various countries.
44. The Merchant Shipping of the world.
45. The Dominion of Canada, revenue, trade, &c.
46. The Armies of the world, with full particulars.
47. The Navies of the world—numbers, cost, &c.
48. Foreign Gold and Silver Coins—value, &c.
49. Weights and Measures of the United States.
50. General Councils of the Roman Catholic Church.
51. Chronological History of the United States.
52. List of Mythological and Classical Names.
53. Interest Tables, at 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 10 per ct.
54. Examples of the Common Errors in Speaking and Writing, with Corrections.
55. A Guide to the Pronunciation of Hard Words, in the English and other languages.
56. A List of Objectionable Words and Phrases, and Inaccurate Expressions.

Strongly bound in cloth, gilt back. Sent to any address on receipt of price.

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SOHMER & CO.,

MANUFACTURERS OF GRAND, SQUARE AND UPRIGHT PIANOFORTES.

Warerooms, 149, 151, 153, 155 EAST 14th ST., N. Y.

Transcriber's Note

This text contains a large amount of archaic and variable spelling (including British and American variations), and inconsistent hyphenation. This has been made consistent within individual articles, but is otherwise left as printed to reflect the diversity of sources. However, typographic errors, such as omitted or reversed characters, have been repaired, as have instances of omitted or erroneous punctuation. Archaic grammar—for example, the use of 'eat' rather than 'ate'—has also been preserved as printed.

Spelling of proper names has been made consistent within articles; uncommon spellings have been retained—for example, Pellow instead of Pellew, Abercrombe for Abercrombie, and Abuthnot for Arbuthnot.

Page 182 of the original book was damaged, so that the penultimate word of "The Mutineers" had to be inferred from the remaining letters and available space. The most likely reconstruction—indevotion—has been included in the main text.





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