Then rose from sea to sky the wild farewell,
Then shrieked the timid, and stood still the brave,
Then some leaped overboard with dreadful yell,
As eager to anticipate their grave. - LORD BYRON.
Dangers at Sea|
Discovery of Madeira
Father and Son
Fire at Sea
Magnanimity of a Savage King
Destruction of Admiral Graves's Fleet
Shipwrecked Mariners Saved through a Dream
Lady Cast Away on the Coast of Labrador
Burning of the Ganges
The Harpooner Transport
The Cumberland Packet
Loss of the Prince George
Forty-five Days' Sufferings
The Modeste Frigate
Disasters after Wreck
Trade of a Wreck
An Only Survivor
The Eneas Transport
The Doddington East Indiaman
Preservation of Two Brothers
Disasters among the Aleution Islands
Mademoiselle de Bourk, and Companions
Shipwrecked Mariners in Virginia
Humanity of Caraib Indians
Ships Lost amidst Ice
The Pelew Islands
Storm off Weymouth
The Last of a Crew
Dangers at Sea.
THE celebrated Tasso and his friend Manso, with Scipio Belprato, Manso's brother-in-law, were one day in a summerhouse which commanded a full prospect of the sea, agitated at the moment by a furious storm. Belprato observed 'that he was astonished at the rashness and folly of men who would expose themselves to the rage of so merciless an element, where such numbers had suffered shipwreck.' 'And yet,' said Tasso, ' we every night go without fear to bed, where so many die every hour. Believe me, Death will find us in all parts: and those places that appear the least exposed are not always the most secure from his attacks.'-An Italian version of an old fable, but not on that account the less apposite.
The great discoverer having been invited by Guacanahari, a powerful cazique, and one of the five sovereigns among whom Hispaniola was divided, he left St. Thomas's on the 24th of December, for the purpose of visiting him. The sea was perfectly calm at the time, and as amidst the multiplicity of his occupations, he had not slept for two days, he retired at midnight to rest, having committed the helm to the pilot, with strict injunctions not to quit it for a moment. The pilot, dreading no danger, carelessly left the helm to an inexperienced cabin boy, and the ship, carried away by a current, was dashed against a rock. The violence of the shock awoke Columbus, who ran up to the deck; all was there confusion and despair. He alone retained presence of mind. He ordered some of the sailors to take a boat, and carry out an anchor astern but instead of obeying they made off towards the Nigna, which was about half a league distant. Columbus then commanded the masts to be cut down, in order to lighten the ship; but all his endeavours were too late; the vessel opened near the keel, and filled so fast with water, that its loss was inevitable. The smoothness of the sea, and the assistance of boats from the Nigna enabled the crew to save their lives.
As soon as the islanders heard of the disaster they crowded to the shore with their prince, Guacanahari, at their head; and instead of taking advantage of the distress in which they beheld the Spaniards, to attempt anything to their detriment, they lamented their misfortune with tears of sincere condolence. Not satisfied with this unavailing expression of their sympathy, they immediately put to sea a vast number of canoes, and, under the directions of the Spaniards, assisted in saving whatever could be got out of the wreck. Columbus, in a letter to Ferdinand and Isabella, gives a striking account of the humanity of the natives on this occasion. 'The king,' says he, 'gave us great assistance; he himself, with his brothers and relations, took all possible care that everything should be properly done both aboard and on shore. And from time to time he sent some of his relations weeping, to beg of me not to be dejected, for he would give me all he had. I can assure your highness that there would not have been so much care taken in securing our effects in any part of Spain, as all our property was put together in one place near his palace, until the houses which he wanted to repair for the custody of it were emptied. He immediately placed a guard of armed men, who watched during the whole night, and those on shore lamented, as if they had been much interested in our loss.' Next morning this prince visited Columbus, who was now on board the Nigna, and endeavoured to console him for his loss by offering all that he possessed to repair it. How fully does such conduct justify the remark respecting this great man, that-
'By India's gentle race alone
as pity to his sufferings shown.'
Discovery of Madeira.
In the year 1344, an Englishman named Macham, sailing from England to Spain with a lady whom he carried off, was driven by a tempest to the Island of Madeira, till then unknown, and totally uninhabited. He cast anchor in the harbour or bay, now called Machico, after the name of Macham. The shore of the island, beautifully covered with wood, and shining resplendent under one of the serenest of skies, presented an inviting sight to the wearied mariners; but, above all, to the fair runaway, on whom the severities of the voyage had brought a deadly sickness. Macham conveyed her to the land, but she touched it, alas! only to breathe her last. Meanwhile, a new storm arose, and the ship was driven out to sea, before Macham and part of the crew who were with him had time to return on board. In an island, however, so well wooded and watered, the means both of shelter and subsistence were easily procured. To Macham, whose best consolation it was to linger round the spot which contained the remains of his departed mistress, the detention was accompanied with no regrets. He spent his time in erecting a small chapel or mausoleum over her grave: and on a stone tablet inscribed her name, and a statement of the adventure which had doomed her to be laid thus far away, not only from the ashes of her fathers, but from all else of human kind. The feelings which may be supposed to have filled the breast of the desolate mourner over this grave in the wilderness are well depicted in the following elegiac stanzas, the production of a modern pen:-
'O'er my poor Anna's lowly grave
o dirge shall sound, no knell shall ring;
ut angels, as the high pines wave,
heir half-heard "miserere" sing.
o flow'rs of transient bloom at eve
he maidens on the turf shall strew;
or sigh, as this sad spot they leave,
Sweets to the sweet, a long adieu."
ut, in this wilderness profound,
'er her the dove shall build her nest;
nd ocean swell with softer sound,
requiem to her dream of rest.
h! when shall I as quiet be,
hen not a friend or human eye,
hall mark beneath the mossy tree
he spot where we forgotten lie!
o kiss her name on this cold stone,
s all that now on earth I crave;
or in this world I am alone:
h! lay me with her in the grave!'
The companions of Macham, who could not be supposed to share much in his feelings, grew soon tired of their solitude, and, resolving to try their fortunes again on the waters, prevailed on him to join with them in the construction of a boat out of one of the large trees by which they were surrounded. In this they all put to sea, but were not long after cast on the shore of Africa, without sail or oars. The Moors, to whom navigation had not then made a wreck an occurrence so barbarously prized as it is now, were infinitely struck at the sight of the strangers; they received them well, and their chief readily procured them a safe conveyance to Spain.
On the 27th of January, 1689, there embarked at Goa, on board of a Portuguese frigate, an embassy from the King of Siam to the King of Portugal, consisting of three great Mandarins, or ambassadors proper, with six of inferior degree, and a large retinue. On the 27th of April, land having for three days been seen a-head, a little to the right, the seamen went aloft to survey it; from their report, as well as other marks, the captain and pilots judged it to be the (Cape of Good Hope. The ship then stood on its course, until two or three hours after sunset, when the captain supposing himself beyond the land that had been descried, steered more northerly. The weather was clear, and the moon shone bright; the captain, persuaded that he had doubled the Cape, set nobody on the mast head to look out; the seamen indeed were on the watch as usual, but it was only for working the ship; and they conversed together, unsuspicious of danger, until it became so imminent as to be inevitable. Suddenly a dark shade was perceived close on the starboard, and those nearest cried out ' Land ! land a-head ! put down the helm.' The steersman hastily obeyed, but the ship was already so close to land, that she struck thrice on a rock in tacking, and then drove towards the shore unmanageable. In vain did the crew cut away the masts, and throw the guns and lading overboard to lighten the vessel. She struck so hard on the breakers, that her sides began to open below the gunroom, which was quickly flooded. The water rose above the lower deck, and reached the great cabin, and soon it was waist deep on the second deck. 'I cannot describe,' says Occum Chamnam, one of the great Mandarins who was on board, 'the terror and consternation which then prevailed. Who can figure the emotions excited by the approach of certain death to so many! Nothing was heard but shrieks, sighs, and groans. People rushed wildly together. Those who had been the bitterest enemies, were now reconciled in all sincerity. Some fell on their knees, or prostrate on the deck, implored divine aid: while others, in the hope of saving themselves, threw overboard casks, empty chests, yards, and spars. The tumult was such, that it deafened the crashing of the vessel breaking into a thousand pieces, and the noise of the waves dashing with incredible fury against the rocks.'
When the first excess of terror had subsided, it was discovered that the shore could be gained without much difficulty; and, indeed, with the exception of seven or eight they all reached it in safety. The second great Mandarin, who was the strongest and best swimmer of the three, leaped into the sea, and, like another Caesar, swam to the shore, carrying the king's despatches aloft on a sabre, which his Siamese Majesty had presented to him.
Occum Chamnam, after gaining the shore with the aid of some planks, was induced on the next day to venture on a kind of a hurdle back to the vessel in search of clothing and food, of which they were all much in want. He found every place, however, full of water, and could only obtain some gold stuffs, a trifling quantity of biscuits, and a small case of wine. The gold stuffs he distributed among some Siamese, who had escaped quite naked; the biscuit was rendered useless by the salt water; and the case of wine from which poor Occum hoped to draw many a glass of comfort for himself during his pilgrimage to the Cape, was lost through a fraud, which he thus philosophically relates: ' I entrusted it,' he says, 'to a Portuguese, who had testified great friendship for me, telling him it was at his command, provided he would give me some of it when it was required. I soon had occasion to learn the weakness of friendship when opposed to the impulse of necessity; and that self, under the pressure of want, is the first consideration. My friend daily supplied me with half a glass of the wine during the first few days, in the confidence of discovering a spring or rivulet; but finding ourselves disappointed, and being tormented by thirst, my requests for part of what I had bestowed in the warmth of friendship were vain. My friend gave me so effectual a repulse the first time, adding, that even his father should not participate in it, that I could never venture to renew my solicitations.'
On Sunday, the second day after the shipwreck, they began their march. The captain and pilots maintained that they were not above twenty leagues from the Cape of Good Hope, where the Dutch had a populous settlement, and that they would take but a day or two to reach it. On this assurance, most of the company left behind whatever provisions they had got from the vessel, in order that they might not be embarrassed by them.
The Portuguese led the van, as the Siamese were obliged to lag behind, on account of their first ambassador, who being in a feeble and languishing condition, could not advance quickly. At the end of the second day, when they expected at all events to have reached the Cape, there was no sign of their being near it and want in all its craving forms had already begun to prey upon them. The first ambassador of the Siamese assembling his countrymen, told them that he found himself so weak and fatigued, that it was impossible for him to keep up; he considered it therefore better that those in health should hasten to overtake the Portuguese; and all that he desired for himself was, that since the Dutch settlement was surely not far distant, they would send him a horse or litter, with some provisions, to carry him to the Cape, should he be found still surviving.
The separation was a sorrowful but a necessary one. A youth of fifteen, however, to whom the ambassador had always shown great kindness, gave a noble proof of gratitude in return, by resolving to remain and live or die along with him. The generous example inspired an old domestic with the same determination, and he also remained with his master.
The remnant of the Siamese by making great exertions came up with the Portuguese, with whom they travelled fourteen days more along the coast, without coming in sight of the Cape, so egregiously had the captain and pilots miscalculated; the shifts to which they were driven for food, almost exceed belief; many dropped dead by the way through exhaustion; and the whole were wasted to the merest skeletons.
The Portuguese at last appear to have thought that they would best consult their own preservation by getting quit of their Siamese companions. One morning when the Siamese were proceeding to join company as usual, the Portuguese were no longer to be seen.' ' in vain,' says Occum Chamnam, 'we looked around, shouted, and sought everywhere. Not only were we unable to see one of them, but we even could not discover the route they had taken. So cruelly abandoned, we were at once overwhelmed by hunger, thirst, and lassitude; chagrin, alarm, rage, and despair, took possession of our hearts. We stared at each other in stupefaction, a profound silence ensued, and all sentiment seemed to have vanished.'
The second ambassador was the first to resume courage, and revived it in the rest by the following address:
'Faithful Siamese, you are equally sensible with myself of the unhappy state to which we are reduced. Though all was lost by our shipwreck, we had still some consolation. While the Portuguese remained, they were our guides, and in some respect our protection; I would persuade myself that after being so well treated by them till now, urgent occasions alone can have induced them to leave us. It will not, however, avert the evils by which we are menaced to bewail insincerity and want of faith in others. Let US endeavour to forget them entirely, and let us conduct ourselves as if our companies had never been joined together.
'One thing more. You have witnessed my invariable respect for the despatches of the great king, our master; my first, or rather my sole anxiety, during our shipwreck, was for their safety; nor can I ascribe my own preservation to any other cause than the fortune which is inseparable from him who has once approached the throne. You have since beheld the circumspection with which I bore them; when encamped on mountains, I have placed them still higher, and always above the rest of our body, and myself withdrawing lower, I guarded them at a respectful distance, and in the plains they were affixed to the top of the highest plants I could attain. During the journey they were borne by myself and never entrusted to others, until I was unable to drag my limbs along. Now, in our present uncertainty, should I not be able to follow you long, I enjoin the third ambassador, in the name of our great king, to act precisely as I have done, and should his strength also fail, to transmit these instructions to the first mandarin: I repeat, that the third ambassador must be equally circumspect about these august despatches if I die before him, so that some one of the Siamese may return them to the king should they not reach their intended destination. But should it be fated that none of us make the Cape of Good Hope, he to whom they were last entrusted must bury them on some eminence if he can, so that they may not be exposed to insult; and then he may die before them, testifying as much respect in death as he was bound to show during life. Such is what I recommend. Let us resume our pristine courage: let us never separate, but taking easy journeys, trust that the fortune of our king will attend us, and that his reigning star will watch over our preservation.
"These words,' says Occum Chamnam, 'made a deep impression on us all; there was none who did not feel himself inspired with vigour, and resolute to execute the ambassador's injunctions. We agreed that it was most expedient to follow the same route which the Portuguese should appear to have taken, and to set out without further delay.'
It was not, however, till the thirty-first day of their pilgrimage, and after a continuation of hardships as great as any they had yet encountered, that they at last reached the Cape of Good Hope, where the kind treatment they received went far to make them forget their misfortunes.
One of the first requests they made to the Governor was to send immediate aid to the first ambassador, whom they had left near the place of the shipwreck, the hope being entertained that he was still alive. His excellency replied that as it was then the rainy season, it was impossible to travel; but that at the first commencement of the good weather all possible care should be taken to seek the ambassador, and provide him with the means for his return. No farther mention is made of this unfortunate individual and there is too much reason to believe that, with his two faithful attendants, he perished in the desert.
Father and Son.
Among the cases of suffering by the wreck, in 1686, of the vessel in which the Siamese embassy to Portugal was embarked, few have stronger claims to pity than that of the captain. He was a man of rank, sprung from one of the first families in Portugal; he was rich and honourable, and had long commanded a ship in which he rendered great service to the king his master, and had given many marks of his valour and fidelity. The captain had carried his only son out to India along with him; he was a youth possessed of every amiable quality, well instructed for his years: gentle, docile, and most fondly attached to his father. The captain watched with the most intense anxiety over his safety: on the wreck of the ship, and during the march to the Cape, he caused him to be carried by his slaves. At length all the slaves having perished, or being so weak that they could not drag themselves along, this poor youth was obliged to trust to his own strength, but became so reduced and feeble that having laid him down to rest on a rock, he was unable to rise again. His limbs were stiff and swollen, and he lay stretched at length unable to bend a joint. The sight struck like a dagger to his father's heart; he tried repeatedly to recover him, and by assisting him to advance a few steps, supposed that the numbness might be removed; but his limbs refused to serve him, he was only dragged along, and those whose aid his father implored, seeing they could do no more, frankly declared that if they carried him they must themselves perish.
The unfortunate captain was driven to despair. Lifting his son on his shoulders, he tried to carry him; he could make but a single step, when he fell to the ground with his son who seemed more distressed with his father's grief than with his own sufferings. The heroic boy besought him to leave him to die; the sight, he said, of his father's tears and affliction were infinitely more severe than the bodily pain he endured. These words, far from inducing the captain to depart, melted him more and more, until he at last resolved to die with his son. The youth, astonished at his father's determination, and satisfied that his persuasions were unavailing, entreated the Portuguese in the most impressive manner to carry away his father.
Two priests who were of the party endeavored to represent to the captain the sinfulness of persisting in his resolution; but the Portuguese were obliged finally to carry him away by force, after having removed his son a little apart. So cruel, however, was the separation that the captain never recovered it. The violence of his grief was unabating; and he actually died of a broken heart after reaching the Cape.
Fire at Sea.
Perhaps the most aggravating circumstances under which shipwreck can occur are when it is occasioned by fire. It is then that death stares the mariner in the face in the most hideous form, while his means of counteracting the danger, or escaping from it, are more limited and effectual. Not many disasters of this nature have been so calamitous as the burning of a French East lndiaman, The Prince. She sailed from Port L'Orient on the 19th of February, 1752, on a voyage outward bound. She suffered much in the passage from being driven on a sandbank. In June she was discovered to be on fire. While the captain hastened on deck, 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 access of air. Everyone was employed in procuring water; all the buckets were used, the pumps plied, and pipes introduced from them into the hold, but the rapid progress of the flames baffled every exertion to subdue them, and augmented the general consternation. The boatswain and three others took possession of the yawl, and pushed off, but those on board still continued as active as ever. 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. In attempting to get the long-boat out, it fell on the guns and could not be righted.
Consternation now seized on the crew; nothing but sighs and groans resounded through the vessel: and the animals on board, as if sensible of the impending danger, uttered the most dreadful cries. The chaplain, who was now on the quarter-deck, gave the people general absolution, still cheering them to renewed exertions, but
'With fruitless toil the crew oppose the flame;
No art can now the spreading mischief tame
Some choak'd and smother'd did expiring be,
Burn with the ship, and on the waters fry:
Some, when the flames could be no more withstood,
By wild despair directed, midst the flood
Themselves in haste from the tall vessel threw,
And from a dry to liquid ruin flew
Sad choice of death! when those who shun the fire,
Must to as fierce an element retire:
Uncommon sufferings did these wretches wait,
Both burnt and drown'd, they met a double fate.
Self-preservation now was the only object; each was occupied in throwing overboard whatever promised the least chance of escape; yards, spars, hencoops, and everything to be met with, was seized in despair, and thus employed. Some leaped into the sea, as the mildest death that awaited them; others more successful swam to fragments of the wreck, while some crowded on the ropes and yards, hesitating which alternative of destruction to choose. A father was seen to snatch his son from the flames, and clasp him to his breast; then plunging into the waves, they perished in each other's embrace.
'What ghastly ruin then deformed the deep'
ere glowing planks, and flowing ribs of oak,
ere smoking beams, and masts in sunder broke.'
The floating masts and yards were covered with men struggling with the watery element, many of whom now perished by balls dis charged from the guns as heated by the fire, forming thus a third means of destruction. M. de la Fond, who had hitherto borne the misfortune with the greatest fortitude, was now pierced with anguish to see that no further hope remained of preserving the ship, or the lives of his fellow-sufferers. 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, where a drowning soldier caught hold of him. Lieutenant de la Fond made every exertion to disengage. himself, but in vain; twice they plunged below the 'surface, but still the man held him until the agonies of death were passed, and he became loosened from his grasp. After clearing his way through the dead bodies, which covered the surface of the ocean, de la Fond seized on a yard, and afterwards gained a spritsail covered with people, but on which he was nevertheless permitted to take a place. He next got on the mainmast, which having been consumed below, fell overboard, and after killing some in its fall, afforded a temporary succour to others.
Eighty persons were now on the mainmast, including the chaplain, who by his discourse and example, taught the duty of resignation.
Lieutenant de la Fond, seeing the worthy man quit his hold 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,' the lieutenant replied, 'when my strength is exhausted, but not till then, we will perish together.'
The flames still continued raging in the vessel, and the fire at last reached the magazine, when the most thundering explosion ensued; and nothing but pieces of flaming timber, projected aloft in the air, could be seen, threatening to crush to atoms in their fall numbers of miserable beings, already struggling in the agonies of death. Lieutenant de la Fond, with the pilot and master, now escaped to the yawl; and as night approached, they providentially discovered a cask of brandy, about fifteen pounds of pork, a piece of scarlet cloth, about twenty yards of linen, a dozen of pipe staves, and a small piece of cordage. The scarlet cloth was substituted for a sail, an oar was erected for a mast, and a plank for a rudder. This equipment was made in the darkness of the night, and a great difficulty yet remained; for wanting charts and instruments, and being nearly two hundred leagues from the land, the party felt at a loss how to steer.
Eight days and nights passed in miserable succession without land being seen, the party all the while exposed to the scorching heat of the sun by day, and to the intense cold by night, suffering too from the extremities of hunger and of thirst.
When everything seemed to predict a speedy termination to the sufferings of this unfortunate crew, they discovered the distant land on the 3rd of August. It would be difficult to describe the change which the prospect of deliverance created. Their strength was renovated, and they were roused to precautions against being drifted away by the current. They reached the coast of Brazil, and entered Tresson Bay. As soon as they reached the shore, they prostrated themselves on the ground, and in transports of joy rolled on the sand. They exhibited the most frightful appearance; some were quite naked, others had only shirts in rags; and scarcely anything human characterized any of them. When deliberating on the course they should follow, about fifty Portuguese of the settlement advanced, and seeing their wretched condition, pitied their misfortunes, and conducted them to their dwellings, where they were hospitably entertained.
The chief man of the place next came, and conducted Lieutenant de la Fond and his companions to his house, where he charitably supplied them with linen shirts and trousers, and with a plenteous meal. Though sleep was almost as necessary as food, yet the survivors would not retire to rest, until they had returned thanks for their miraculous deliverance in the church, which was half a league distant.
They were afterwards conducted to Paraibo, and thence to Pernambuco, where they embarked the 5th of October: they reached Lisbon on the 17th of December, whence they procured a passage to Port L'Orient. Nearly three hundred persons had perished in this dreadful catastrophe.
Magnanimity of a Savage King.
The Indian brig Matilda, Captain Fowler, on a voyage from New South Wales, to the Derwent and Eastern Islands, was cut off and plundered on the night of the 10th of April, 1815, white lying at anchor in Duff's Bay, at the Island of Roodpoah, one of the Marquesas. Five of the crew, who were Poomatoomen, had previously deserted, and joining with some of the Roodpoah natives, took the opportunity of a dark night, to cut the vessel adrift; when she drove ashore through a heavy surf, and was soon bilged and filled with water. When the natives saw that it was impracticable to get the vessel afloat, they concurred, universally, in the design of putting the whole of the crew to death; which is a constant practice among the different natives towards one another, when their canoes happen to fall upon a strange shore, through distress of weather or any other accident.
Fortunately, Captain Fowler had formed an intimacy with the chief, or king, of these savages, Nooahetoo, who presided at the horrible tribunal that had devoted the wretched mariners to instant slaughter. He withheld his assent to the murder, but had no hesitation in permitting the plunder of the vessel. The crew were informed by the significant gesticulations that accompanied the vehement debate on the occasion, that their lives were dependent upon the issue. The good chief who was seated with his son by his side, was opposed by many other chiefs, though of inferior rank he had besides been called to the supremacy of the island, by the general wish of the people, his dignity not being an hereditary right, but elective, and the people now pressed their solicitations earnestly, peremptorily demanding his assent to the sacrifice. For a length of time he opposed this cruel resolution by force of words but this not seeming likely to prevail, he adopted a mode, which, while it did honour to his humanity, silenced his people in an instant. Finding that all his expostulations were defeated, upon the principle of undeviating custom, he deliberately took up two ropes that were near him, and fixing one round the neck of his son, and the other round his own, he called to the chief next in command, who immediately approached him. The conference was short and decisive; he first pointed to the cord that encircled the neck of his son, and then to the other which he had entwined round his own. 'These strangers,' said he, 'are doomed to death by my chiefs and my people, and it is not fit that I, who am their king, should live to see so vile a deed perpetrated. Let my child and myself be strangled before it is performed: and then it never will be said, that we sanctioned, even with our eyesight, the destruction of these unoffending people.'
The magnanimity of such conduct produced, even in the mind of the unenlightened savages, a paroxysm of surprise, mingled with sentiments of admiration. For a moment the people looked wildly on their king, whose person they adored. They saw the obedient chief to whom the order of strangling had been imparted, aghast with horror and amazement at the change which a few moments had produced. The mandate which had proceeded from the king's own lips must be obeyed; and commanded to perform the dreadful office, he proceeded to obey, when a sudden shout from the multitude awed him to forbear. 'The king! the king!' burst forth from every lip 'What! kill the king? No, no, let all the strangers live-no man shall kill the king.' Thus were the lives of Captain Fowler and his men preserved, and they afterwards reached Sydney in safety.
The Speedwell, one of the vessels fitted out for an expedition against the Spanish settlements in South America, was wrecked on the coast of Juan Fernandez, in the year 1719. The crew succeeded in getting to the island, where, under the directions of the commander, Captain Shelvocke, a new vessel was constructed, thirty feet in the keel, sixteen in the beams, and seven feet deep in the hold. This vessel, which was constructed with two masts, and was about twenty tons burthen, was, on being launched, called the Recovery. The crew, consisting of fifty persons, embarked on board of her, with a very slender supply of provisions: and with but one gun and a few muskets, sailed for the Bay of Conception, as the nearest port.
Coming in sight of a large Spanish vessel, Captain Shelvocke determined to attack her; but although she mounted forty guns, yet the desperate courage of the Recovery struck the captain with terror, and he sailed off. An attempt on another Spanish vessel was equally unsuccessful, and the crew now began to murmur. A third vessel of a large size was seen in the Road of Pisco, and Captain Shelvocke immediately resolved to make a desperate attempt to board her. Every man was ordered to prepare himself to carry her at one blow, as now was an opportunity of providing themselves with a vessel which would prove their security if they should be successful.
Captain Shelvocke bore down upon her, and meeting with no resistance, took possession of her. The captain offered sixteen thousand dollars to ransom her, but Captain Shelvocke giving him his own bark, weighed anchor, and stood out to sea in his newly-acquired vessel, which was the Jesus Maria, of about two hundred tons burthen. This enterprising officer, still intent on the objects of his expedition, afterwards succeeded in taking another Spanish vessel, and continued cruising about, often much distressed for provisions, until only six or seven of his crew were fit for duty. He then sailed for India, and thence to Europe, after an eventful absence of nearly four years.
Destruction of Admiral Graves's Fleet.
The greatest naval catastrophe that ever arose from the violence of the elements, occurred to the fleet under the command of Admiral Graves, in August, 1782. It far exceeds in the melancholy catalogue of ships and human beings buried beneath the waves any disaster of a similar nature recorded in the 'Naval History of Britain' All the trophies of Lord Rodney's victory, except the Ardent, perished in the storm: two British ships of the line foundered; an incredible number of merchantmen under convoy were lost; and the number of lives that perished exceeded three thousand.
It was on the 25th of July, that Admiral Graves hoisted his flag on board the Ramilies, of seventy-four guns, having under his orders the Canada and Centaur, with the Pallas frigate, and the following French ships taken by Lord Rodney the preceding August, namely, the Ville de Paris, the Glorieux, Hector, Ardent, Caton, and Jason. All these vessels were in a very wretched condition, The Ardent was ordered back to Port Royal, and the Jason never joined the fleet. The rest sailed from Bluefields Bay, on the 15th of July, and proceeded homewards. On the 17th of September, a violent storm arose, which, in a few minutes, reduced the Ramillies to a very shattered condition. The cabin where the admiral lay was flooded, and 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 wet clothes, and get on deck. At dawn of day the people of the Ramillies beheld the Dutton, formerly an East Indiaman, but now a store-ship, go down head foremost, the fly of her ensign being the last thing visible. A lieutenant of the navy who commanded her, leaped from the deck into the sea, and was soon overwhelmed by its billows; but twelve or thirteen of the crew contrived to push off one of the boats: and running with the wind, succeeded in reaching a ship, which fortunately descrying them, flung over a number of ropes, by the help of which these daring fellows scrambled up her side, and were fortunately saved.
Out of ninety-four or ninety-five sail seen the day before, hardly twenty could now be counted. Of the ships of war there were discerned, the Canada, half full, down upon the lee quarter, her main topmast and the mizenmast gone, and otherwise much damaged. The Centaur was without masts, bowsprit, or rudder; and the Glorieux without foremast, bowsprit, or main topmast. Of these, the two latter perished with all their crew, except the captain of the Centaur, who, with a few others, slipt off from her stern into one of the boats without being noticed, and so escaped the fate of the rest. The Ville de Paris appeared unhurt, and was commanded by Captain George Wilkinson, 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 fleet through the gulf; she was, however, afterwards buried in the ocean with all on board her, consisting of more than eight hundred people. Of the convoy, besides the Dutton and the British Queen, seven more were discovered without mast or bowsprit, eighteen had lost masts, and several others had foundered.
The Ramillies had at this time six feet water in the hold, and the pumps would not free her, the water having worked out the oakum. The admiral therefore gave orders for all the buckets to be remanned, and every officer to help towards freeing the ship; this enabled her to sail on, and keep pace with some of the merchanmen; but
'Spite of the seaman's toil the storm prevails:
n vain, with skilful strength he binds the sails;
n vain the cordy cables bind them fast,
t once it rips and rends them from the mast;
t once the winds the flutt'ring canvas tear,
hen whirl and whisk it thro' the sportive air. "
In the evening it was found necessary to dispose of the forecastle and aftermost quarterdeck guns, together with some of the shot and other articles of very great weight; and the frame of the ship having opened during the night, the admiral was next morning prevailed upon, by the renewed and pressing remonstrances of his officers, to allow ten guns more to be thrown overboard. The ship still continuing to open very much, the admiral ordered tarred canvas and hides to be nailed fore and aft, from under the fills of the ports on the main deck, and on the lower deck. Her increasing damage requiring more still to be done, the admiral directed all the guns on the upper deck, the shot both on that and the lower deck, with various heavy stores, to be thrown overboard.
The Ramillies still getting worse and worse, notwithstanding the unabated exertions of everyone on board, the officers United in entreating the admiral to go into one of the merchant vessels, then in sight; this he positively refused to do, saying, that it would be unpardonable in a commander-in-chief to desert his comrades in the hour of distress-that his living a few years longer was of little consequence, but that by leaving his ship at such a time, he should set a bad example to his crew.
On the evening of the 20th, the water continuing to increase, notwithstanding the anchors were cut away, and all the lower deck guns were thrown overboard; the people who had hitherto borne their calamities without a murmur, began to despair, and earnestly expressed a desire to quit the ship, lest they should all founder in her. The admiral advanced, and addressing himself to the crew, said, ' My brave fellows, although I and my officers have the same regard for our own lives that you have, yet I assure you we have no intention of deserting either you or the ship, and that we will stand or fall together, as becomes men and Englishmen. As to myself I am determined to try one night more on board the Ramillies. I hope you will all remain with me, for one good day, with a moderate sea and our exertions, may enable us to clear and secure the well from the encroaching ballast; and then hands enough may be spared to raise jury masts, that will carry the ship to Ireland. The sight of the Ramillies alone, and the knowledge that she is manned so gallantly, will be sufficient to protect the remaining part of the convoy. But above all, as everything has now been done for her relief that can he thought of let us wait the event; and be assured, I will make the signal directly for the trade to lie by during the night.'
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, inspired them with new courage; they returned to their labours with cheerfulness, although they had had no rest from the first fatal stroke. At three o'clock in the morning of the 21st, the well being quite broken in, the frame and carcase of the ship began to give way in every part, and the crew exclaimed that it was impossible any longer to keep her above water. In this extremity the admiral resolved not to lose a moment in removing the people, whenever daylight should appear, but told the captain not to communicate any more of his intention, than that he proposed to remove the sick and lame, at daybreak, and for this end he should call on board all; the boats of the merchantmen; he, nevertheless gave private orders to the captain to have all the bread brought upon deck, with a quantity of beef pork, flour, &c. and to make every other preparation necessary for the whole crew quitting the ship. 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 people themselves were permitted to go off, and between nine and ten o'clock, there being nothing further to direct or regulate, the admiral himself after shaking hands with every officer, and leaving his barge for their better accomodation and transport, quitted for ever the Ramillies, which had then nine feet water in her hold. He went into a small leaky boat, laden with bread, out of which both himself and the surgeon who accompanied him, had to bale the water all the way. He left behind him all his wine, furniture, books, charts. &c. being unwilling to employ even a single servant in saving or packing up what belonged to himself in a time of such general calamity, or to appear to fare better in any respect than his crew.
By half-past four all the complement had been taken out, and the captain, first and third lieutenants, with every soul except the fourth lieutenant, Mr. Chapman, had left her and the latter gentleman was left to carry into execution the admiral's orders for setting fire to the wreck, when finally deserted. The hull burned rapidly, and the flames quickly reached the powder, which was filled in the after magazine, and had been lodged very high; the decks and upper works, within thirty-five minutes, blew up with a horrid explosion, while the bottom was precipitated into the ocean. The crew had but just all reached the respective ships, when the wind rose to so great a height, and so continued without intermission for six or seven days successively, that no boat in the time could have lived on the water. On so small an interval depended the salvation of more than six hundred lives! The admiral, who had got aboard the Belle, Captain Forster, reached Cork Harbour on the 10th of October.
Among the vessels which suffered most in the dreadful storm which was so fatal to Admiral Graves's fleet in 1782, was the Centaur man of was commanded by Captain Inglefield. During seven days in which she was the sport of the elements, every exertion was made to save her, nor did the crew think of quitting her until the evening of the seventh day, when she seemed little more than suspended in the water, and there was no certainty that she would swim from one minute to another. The love of life, which has seldom waited so near an approach of death to exhibit itself now began to level all distinctions. As it was impossible for any man to deceive himself with the hopes of being saved on a raft in such a sea, several men had forced the pinnace, and more were attempting to get into it, when Captain Inglefield came on deck about five o'clock in the after noon. There was not a moment for consideration, and he felt that he must either perish with the ship's company in the vessel, or seize the only opportunity which offered for escaping. The love of life prevailed, and accompanied by Mr. Rainy, the Master, Captain Inglefield descended into the boat, which could only be got clear of the ship with much difficulty, as twice the number she could carry were pushing in.
There were altogether twelve persons in the boat, which was very leaky, all thinly clothed, and in the midst of the Western Ocean, without compass, quadrant, or sail. A blanket was discovered in the boat, which was used as a sail. A bag of bread, a small ham, one piece of pork, two quart bottles of water, and a few French cordials, constituted their whole stock of provisions.
On the fifth day after quitting the ship, the condition of those in the boat began to be truly miserable from the hunger and cold; their bread was nearly all spoiled by salt water, and it became indispensably necessary that their allowance should be restricted. One biscuit was divided into twelve morsels for breakfast, and the same for dinner; the neck of a bottle broken off, with a cork in it, served for a glass; and this filled with water was the allowance for twenty-four hours to each man. A little rain water that was caught was a seasonable help but on the fifteenth day only one bottle of water, and one day's allowance of bread remained. Despair and gloom which had hitherto been kept at bay, could be resisted no longer, and the cheerful song, and the merry joke, which had kept them in good spirits, were now invoked in vain. Their last breakfast was now served, and the crew were endeavouring to resign themselves to that fate which now appeared inevitable, when land was descried, though at twenty leagues distance. They immediately shaped their course for it, the wind freshens; the boat, as if conscious that it would soon be relieved of the burthen with which it toiled, glided through the water at a rapid pace; and by midnight she entered the road of Fayal, where the regulations of the port did not permit them to land until examined by the health officers. Pilots brought them refreshments of bread, wine, and water, and the night was passed in the boat. Next morning the English Consul visited them, and showed them every kindness and humanity; but the crew were many of them so weak, as to be unable to walk. One of the persons, a quarter-master, died in the boat. Captain Inglefield and the survivors were afterwards tried by a court-martial, and acquitted of all blame on the melancholy occasion.
When a shipwreck happens on the coast of Gigery, which is situated about fifty leagues to the eastward of Algiers, the inhabitants, who are a tribe of wandering Arabs, flock down from the mountains, and seize on everything they possibly can, without any consideration as to the country to which the vessel belongs. If it should happen to be a Turkish ship, the Mahommedan crew is dismissed, with a sufficient supply of provisions to enable them to reach a place where they can be relieved, but all other subjects are made slaves. These Arabs put a high value on iron, which was on one occasion attended with fatal consequences. A bark belonging to Tunis being stranded on the coast of Gigery, the inhabitants hastened on board to plunder. The Turks and Moors who composed the crew, were allowed to go at large; and the natives after carrying off as much as they could, were anxious to obtain the iron about the vessel. As they did not well know how to come at it, they laid a train to the powder magazine, concluding that if the ship blew up, they would be able to collect the iron from the fragments. On setting fire to the train, the vessel indeed blew up; but fifty of the plunderers, who had not retired beyond the effects of the explosion, were killed, and a much larger number wounded.
Shipwrecked Mariners Saved through a Dream.
In June, 1695, the ship Mary, commanded by Captain Jones, with a crew of twenty-two men, sailed from Spithead for the West Indies; and contrary to the remonstrances of one Adams on board, the master steered a course which brought the vessel on the Caskets, a large body of rocks, two or three leagues SE of Guernsey. It was about three o'clock the morning, when the ship struck against the high rock; all the bows were stove in; the water entered most rapidly, and in less than half an hour she sunk. Those of the crew who were in the forepart of the ship, got upon the rock; but the rest, to the number of eight, who were in the hind part, sunk directly, and were no more seen. Adams and thirteen more, who were on the rock, had not time to save anything out of the ship for their subsistence; and the place afforded them none, nor even any shelter from the heat of the sun. The first day they went down the rock, and gathered limpets, but finding that they encreased their thirst, they eat no more of them. The third day they killed the dog which had swam to the rock, and eat him, or rather chewed his flesh, to allay their thirst, which was excessive. They passed nine days without any other food, and without any prospect of relief; their flesh wasted, their sinews shrunk, and their mouths parched with thirst; on the tenth day, they agreed to cast lots, that two of the company should die, in order to preserve the rest a little longer. When the two men were marked out, they were willing and ready to stab themselves, as had been agreed on with horrible ingenuity, in order that those who were living might put a tobacco pipe into the incision, and each in his turn suck so many gulps of blood to quench his thirst! But although the necessity was so pressing, they were yet unwilling to resort to this dreadful extremity, and resolved to stay one day more in hopes of seeing a ship. The next day, no relief appearing, the two wretched victims on whom the lots had fallen, stabbed themselves, the rest sucked their blood, and were thus revived for a short time. They still continued to make signals of distress, and having hoisted a piece of a shirt on a stick, it was at length seen by a ship's crew of Guernsey, one Taskard, master, bound from that island to Southampton. They were all taken on board, when each had a glass of cider and water to drink, which refreshed them considerably; but two of them eagerly seizing a bottle, drank to excess, which caused the death of both in less than two hours.
The most remarkable circumstance connected with this shipwreck, is yet to be mentioned. It was with great reluctance that Taskard brought his ship near the Caskets, which were out of his course: but he was very much importuned by his son, who had twice dreamed that there were men in distress upon these rocks. The father refused to notice the first dream, and was angry with his son; nor would he have yielded on the second, if there had been a favourable wind to go on his own course.
Lady Cast Away on the Coast of Labrador.
The following brief but striking narrative is related by Lieutenant Chappell, in his 'Voyage to Newfoundland.' The reader will only need it to be suggested to discover the resemblance (notwithstanding the wide difference of scene and other circumstances) of this true story of Mrs. E. to Milton's beautiful creation of the Lady, in the Masque of Comus.
We were much surprised (says Lieutenant Chappell) on visiting our good friend Mr. Pinson to find a handsome female seated at the head of the table. The sight of a white woman was now a real gratification to us all, and our officers were anxiously desirous to discover by what means she had been thrown upon the savage territory of Labrador. On inquiry we found that she was the daughter of a respectable Canadian, who had early in life been married to a Mr. E-, the master of an English Quebec trading vessel. In the beginning of December, 1812, the ship of her husband quitted the country in which she was born, on its return with a cargo to Europe; but during its voyage thither it was wrecked near Bonne Bay, in the Island of Newfoundland. The night was dreadfully tempestuous, and with great danger and difficulty Mrs. E. reached the shore in an open boat, scarcely capable of containing four persons. At length, however, the whole of the crew were safely landed, and immediately collected whatever could be saved from the floating wreck, and placed the articles under a sailcloth tent.
The winter had now set in with such rigour that it was totally impossible to travel far in search of fishing settlements. Under these afflicting circumstances, it was resolved to erect a hut for the officers, and another for the crew, by which means they hoped to secure themselves against the piercing cold of the climate. It was in this miserable state that the youthful and delicate Mrs. E-- lingered through a long and dismal winter, upon a rocky coast, blocked up with an ocean of frozen fragments, and surrounded on the land side by snowy mountains and icy valleys. Both the lady and her companions were compelled to cut off their hair entirely; it was so strung with icicles that it became exceedingly painful and troublesome. To add to the sufferings of this unfortunate lady, she found herself enceinte. The crew mutinied, swearing, with dreadful imprecations, that they would take away the life of her husband, because he had prudently refused them an immoderate share of the brandy that had been saved from the wreck, and the barbarous wretches even threw firebrands into the hut where she lay, although their whole stock of gunpowder was stowed within its walls. At length the much wished-for season of spring made its appearance, but instead of comfort it brought additional misery. Hitherto, the affectionate attentions of her fond husband had been the solace and support of her life, but in the attempt to land a few casks of salted beef from the remains of the wreck, the boat overset, and he was drowned. Left thus destitute and friendless, among a gang of desperate miscreants, she, had still courage to bear up against their brutal conduct, and as the summer advanced she followed them barefooted through the woods, until they reached the fishing settlements in Bonne Bay. She was here but badly provided with food and necessaries, and was therefore easily prevailed on to go in a small vessel bound for Forteau, where she hoped to procure a passage for Quebec. On her arrival at Forteau she took up her abode at the house of a Guernsey fisherman. Misfortune still attended her footsteps, and she was compelled by the conduct of her host to leave his house. At this moment Mr. Pinson generously offered her that asylum which her hardships, her sufferings, and, above all, her delicate situation demanded. By the earliest opportunity the good merchant procured her a passage back to her parents; he also defrayed the passage money from his own purse, and supplied her plentifully with necessaries for her voyage. We afterwards heard that Mrs. E- reached Quebec in safety, and shortly after gave birth to a male infant.
Burning of the Ganges.
The East India Company's armed schooner the Ganges was lost off Calcutta, in January, 1799 owing to the spontaneous combustion of a small quantity of wood oil, contained in a leathern jar, which was stowed in the after gun-room. The fire broke out about eight o'clock at night. Captain Wade instantly directed all the powder that was in the gunroom and cabin to be quickly removed, while the greater part of the officers and men were employed in throwing water into the after gun-room. The fire, however, was not to be subdued; and Captain Wade, while continuing to employ every exertion for that purpose, directed his officers to get the boat out, and to keep it clear, a little a-head of the schooner. This was no sooner done than thirty or forty people leaped on board, and the officers found it indispensably necessary to put off, in order to prevent the boat from being surcharged. The captain and those who remained with the schooner persevered in the most spirited exertions to extinguish the fire; but it gained ground, in spite of all their efforts. The people, every moment in dread of the vessel blowing up, crowded forward upon her bows, bowsprit, jibboom, &c. In this alarming situation, Captain Wade, with great composure, proceeded to prepare rafts. When stepping aft with his two boatswains, and some others, to cut away the mainmast, that it might serve as a spar, at this instant the fire communicated to the magazine, which exploded with great violence, tearing up the deck from the tafferel to several feet before the mainmast. By this accident eight men were killed, the second boatswain had his leg broken, and Captain Wade was thrown several feet forwards. At length recovering himself, he found that the flames had nearly ceased, most of the parts that were on fire having been blown up with the magazine. He was encouraged, therefore, to renew his efforts to save the remains of the schooner; but, unfortunately, a part of the burning materials had been carried up by the explosion into the main-top, and communicating to the rigging, set the whole on fire. The blazing fragments which fell down from time to time, rekindled the flame in various parts of the hull: and most of the water buckets and other implements having been blown overboard, all hope was gone of being able to save any part of the wreck. No time was left to deliberate, and but little for a last exertion. Whatever things could be met with to answer the purpose, were hastily lashed together, and put overboard as a raft, to which all the men on board, amounting to fifty-nine, were obliged to commit their safety. The poor boatswain, who from his broken leg was almost unable to move, was assisted to the raft; and all hands having got hold, it was pushed from alongside. The cable being previously cut, the raft and the schooner drifted with the ebb tide within pistol shot of each other, when the wreck suddenly went down; a circumstance that rendered their situation more dismal, as the disappearance of the light lessened the chance of the expected boats from the Laurel, which lay at a short distance, from falling in with them. Captain Wade proposed that they should now and then raise a general shout, as the boats might perhap's be within hearing, though they might not be able to discern them. The expedient was successful. After the lapse of six hours in the water, passed under an awful anxiety, the sound of the pulling of oars inspired them with unspeakable joy; and in the course of half an hour they were taken up by the Laurel's boat, and safely carried on board, where they were received with the kindness due to their misfortunes.
The Harpooner Transport.
The hired transport Harpooner was lost near Newfoundland, in November, 1818; she had on board 385 men, women, and children, including the ship's company. The passengers consisted of detachments of several regiments, with their families, who were on their way to Quebec. On Saturday evening, November 10, a few minutes after nine o'clock, the second mate on watch called out, 'the ship's aground,' at which she slightly struck on the outermost rock of St. Shotts, in the island of Newfoundland. She beat over, and proceeded a short distance, when she struck again, and filled: encircled among rocks, the wind blowing strong, the night dark, and a very heavy sea rolling, she soon fell over on her larboard beam-ends; and, to heighten the terror and alarm, a lighted candle communicated fire to some spirits in the master's cabin, which, in the confusion, was with difficulty extinguished.
The ship still driving over the rocks, her masts were cut away, by which some men were carried overboard. The vessel drifted over near the high rocks towards the main. In this situation every one became terrified: the suddenness of the sea rushing in carried away the berths and stauncheons between decks, when men, women, and children were drowned, and many were killed by the force with which they were driven against the loose baggage, casks, and staves which floated below. All that possibly could got upon deck; but from the crowd and confusion that prevailed, the orders of the officers and master to the soldiers and seamen were unavailing; death staring every one in the face; the ship striking on the rocks as though she would instantly upset. The shrieking and pressing of the people to the starboard side was so violent, that several were much hurt. About eleven o'clock, the boats on the deck were washed overboard by a heavy sea; but even from the commencement of the disaster, the hopes of any individual being saved were but very small.
From this time, until four o'clock the next morning, all on the wreck were anxiously praying for the light to break upon them. The boat from the stern was in the meanwhile lowered down, when the first mate and four seamen, at the risk of their lives, pushed off to the shore. They with difficulty effected a landing upon the main land, behind a high rock, nearest to where the stern of the vessel had been driven. The log-line was thrown from the wreck, with a hope that they might lay hold of it; but darkness, and the tremendous surf that beat, rendered it impracticable.
During this awful time of suspense, the possibility of sending a line to them by a dog occurred to the master: the animal was brought aft, and thrown into the sea with a line tied round his middle, and with it he swam towards the rock upon which the mate and seamen were standing. It is impossible to describe the sensations which were excited at seeing this faithful dog struggling with the waves; and reaching the summit of the rock, repeatedly dashed back again by the surf into the sea: until at length, by unceasing exertions, he effected a landing. One end of the line being on board, a stronger rope was hauled and fastened to the rock.
At about six o'clock in the morning of the 11th, the first person was landed by this means; and afterwards, by an improvement in rigging the rope, and placing each individual in slings, they were with greater facility extricated from the wreck: but during the passage thither it was with the utmost difficulty that the unfortunate sufferers could maintain their hold, as; the sea beat over them; some were dragged to the shore in a state of insensibility. Lieutenant Wilson was lost, being unable to hold on the rope with his hands: he was twice struck by the sea, fell backwards out of the slings, and after swimming for a considerable time amongst the floating wreck, by which he was struck on the head, he perished. Many who threw themselves overboard, trusting for their safety to swimming, were lost: they were dashed to pieces by the surf on the rocks, or by the floating of the wreck.
The rope at length, by constant working, and by swinging across the sharp rock, was cut in two; there being no means of replacing it, the spectacle became more than ever terrific; the sea beating over the wreck with great violence, washed numbers overboard; and at last the wreck breaking up at the stern from midships and forecastle, precipitated all that remained into one common destruction.
Her parting was noticed by those on shore, and signified with the most dreadful cry of 'GO Forward!' It is difficult to paint the horror of the scene. Children clinging to their parents for help; parents themselves struggling with death, and stretching out their feeble arms to save their children, dying within their grasp.
The total number of persons lost was two hundred and eight, and one hundred and seventy-seven were saved.
Lieutenant Mylrea, of the 4th Veteran Battalion, one of the oldest subalterns in the service, and then upwards of seventy years of age, was the last person who quitted the wreck; when he had seen every other person either safe, or beyond the power of assistance, he threw himself on to a rock, from which he was afterwards rescued.
Among the severest sufferers was the daughter of Surgeon Armstrong, who lost on this fatal night her father, mother, brother, and two sisters!
The rock which the survivors were landed upon, was about one hundred feet above the water, surrounded at the flowing of the tide.
On the top of this rock they were obliged to remain during the whole of the night, without shelter, food, or nourishment, exposed to wind and rain, and many without shoes. The only comfort that presented itself was a fire, which was made from pieces of the wreck that had been washed ashore.
At daylight on the morning of the 12th, at low water, their removal to the opposite land was effected, some being let down by a rope, others slipping down a ladder to the bottom. After they crossed over, they directed their course to a house, or fisherman's shed, distant about a mile and a half from the wreck, where they remained until the next day; the proprietor of this miserable shed not having the means of supplying relief to so considerable a number as took refuge, a party went over land to Trepassy, about fourteen miles distant, through a marshy country, not inhabited by any human creature. This party arrived at Trepassy, and reported the event to Messrs. Jackson, Burke, Sims, and the Rev. Mr. Brown, who immediately took measures for alleviating the distressed by despatching men with provisions and spirits, to assist in bringing all those forward to Trepassy who could walk.
On the 13th, in the evening, the major part of the survivors (assisted by the inhabitants, who during the journey carried the weak and feeble upon their backs) arrived at Trepassy, where they were billeted, by order of the magistrate, proportionably upon each house.
There still remained at St. Shotts, the wife of a serjeant of the veteran battalion, with a child, of which she was delivered on the top of the rocks shortly after she was saved. A private, whose leg was broken, and a woman severely bruised by the wreck, were also necessarily left there.
Immediately after the arrival at Trepassy, measures were adopted for the comfort and refreshment of the detachment, and boats were provided for their removal to St. John's, where they ultimately arrived in safety.
The Cumberland Packet.
In the dreadful hurricane which took place at Antigua, on the 4th of September, 1804, several vessels were lost; and among others, the Duke of Cumberland packet. Every precaution had been taken by striking the yards and masts, to secure the vessel; and the cable had held so long that some faint hope began to be entertained of riding out the gale, when several of the crew were so indiscreet as to quit the deck for some refreshment; no sooner had they sat down than a loud groan from the rest of the crew summoned them on deck. The captain ran forward, and exclaimed, 'All's now over! Lord have mercy upon us!' The cable had parted; the ship hung about two minutes by the stream and kedge, and then began to drive broadside on. At this moment the seamen, torn by despair, seemed for a moment to forget themselves: lamentations for their homes, their wives, and their children, resounded through the ship. Every man clung to a rope, and determined to stick to it as long as the ship remained entire. For an hour they drifted on without knowing whither, the men continuing to hold fast by the rigging, while their bodies were beaten by the heaviest rain, and lashed by every wave. The most dreadful silence prevailed. Every one was too intent on his own approaching end to be able to communicate his feelings to another, and nothing was heard but the howling of the tempest. The vessel drove towards the harbour of St. John's, and two alarm guns were fired, in order that the garrison might be spectators of their fate, for it was in vain to think of assistance. They soon drove against a large ship, and went close under her stern. A faint hope now appeared of being stranded on a sandy beach; and the captain therefore ordered the carpenter to get the hatchets all ready to cut away the masts, in order to make a raft for those who chose to venture on it. The vessel, however, drove with extreme violence on some rocks, and the crackling of her timbers below was distinctly heard. Every hope now vanished, and the crew already began to consider themselves as beings of another world
In order to ease the vessel, and if possible prevent her from passing, the mizenmast and foremasts were cut away, the mainmast being suffered to remain, in order to steady the vessel. The vessel had struck about two o'clock, and in half an hour afterwards the water was up to the lower deck. Never was daylight more anxiously wished for than by the crew of this vessel. After having hung so long by the shrouds, they were forced to cling three hours longer before the dawn appeared. The sea was making a complete breach over the ship, which was laying on her beam ends; and the crew, stiff and benumbed, could with difficulty hold against the force of the waves, every one of which struck and nearly drowned them.
The break of day discovered to the wretched mariners all the horrors of their situation; the vessel was lying upon large rocks, at the foot of a craggy overhanging precipice, twice as high as the ship's mainmast; the wind and rain beat upon the crew with unabated violence, and the ship lay a miserable wreck. The first thoughts of the crew in the morning were naturally directed to the possibility of saving their lives: and they all agreed that their only chance of doing so was by means of the mizenmast. The topmast and topgallantmast were launched out, and reached within a few feet of the rock. An attempt was made by one of the crew to throw a rope with a noose to the top of the rock: but instead of holding by the bushes, it brought them away. Another seaman, who seemed from despair to have imbibed an extraordinary degree of courage, followed the first man out on the mast, with the intention of throwing himself from the end upon the mercy of the rock; he had proceeded to the extremity of the topgallantmast, and was on the point of leaping among the bushes, when the pole of the mast, unable to sustain his weight, gave way, and precipitated him into the bosom of the waves, from a height of forty feet. Fortunately, he had carried down with him the piece of the broken mast, and instead of being dashed to pieces, as was expected, he kept himself above water until he was hoisted up. All hopes of being saved by the mizenmast were now at an end; and while the crew were meditating in sullen silence on their situation, Mr. Doncaster, the chief mate, unknown to any one, went out on the bowsprit, and having reached the end of the jibboom, threw himself headlong into the water. He had scarcely fallen when a tremendous wave threw him upon the rock, and left him dry; there he remained motionless until a second wave washed him still further up, when clinging to some roughness in the cliff, he began to scramble up the rock; and in about half an hour he, with infinite difficulty, reached the summit of the cliff. The crew anxiously watched every step he took, and prayed for his safety, conscious that their own preservation depended solely upon it. Mr. Doncaster immediately went round to that part of the precipice nearest the vessel, and received a rope thrown from the maintop, which he fastened to some trees. By means of this rope the whole of the crew were, in the space of three hours, hoisted to the top of the cliff. The whole of the ship's company having assembled on the rock, bent their steps towards town. The plain before them had, in consequence of the heavy rains, become almost impassable; but after wading about three miles through fields of canes, and often plunged up to the neck in water, they reached St. John's in safety, where they would have died for want of food and necessaries, had it not been for the kind offices of a Mulatto tailor, who supplied them with clothes, beds, and provisions.
Mr. Powell, the commander of the Queen Charlotte, was, in the year 1817, fortunate enough to recover from a rock twenty-one miles N. W. of Nooaheevah, one of the Marquesas, a man that had been its solitary inhabitant for nearly three years. His account stated, that early in 1814 he proceeded thither from Nooaheevah with four others, all of whom had left an American ship there, for the purpose of procuring feathers that were in high estimation among the natives of Nooaheevah; but losing their boat on the rock, three of his companions in a short time perished through famine, and principally from thirst, as there was no water but what was supplied by rain. His fourth companion continued with him but a few weeks; when he formed a resolution of attempting to swim, with the aid of a splintered fragment that remained of their boat, to the island, in which effort he must have inevitably perished. He had once himself attempted to quit his forlorn situation, by constructing a catamaran, but failed, and lost all means of any future attempt. They had originally taken fire with them from Nooaheevah, which he had always taken care to continue, except on one occasion, it became extinguished, and never could have been restored but by a careful preservation of three or four grains of gunpowder, and the lock of a musket, which he had broken up for the construction of his catamaran. The flesh and blood of wild birds were his sole aliment; with the latter he quenched his thirst in seasons of long dryness. The discovery made of him from the Queen Charlotte was purely accidental; the rock was known to be desolate and barren: and the appearance of a fire, as the vessel passed it on an evening, attracted notice, and produced an enquiry which proved fortunate to the forlorn inhabitant of the rock, in procuring his removal to Nooaheevah; whither Mr. Powell conveyed him, and left him under the care of an European of the name of Wilson, who had resided there for many years, and with whom the hermit had had a previous acquaintance.
The Active, a South Sea Whaler, commanded by Captain Baker, having landed part of her crew to seek seals on a small island, about a mile and a half from the main of New Zealand, in February, 1809, sailed for Port Jackson, in order to get a supply of provisions, but was lost in the passage. In consequence of this disaster, David Lowriesten and the mate, and nine British seamen, were left nearly four years on this desert island, with a very scanty allowance of provisions. They had a whale boat but their only edged instruments consisted of an axe, an adze, and a cooper's drawing knife. Their boat was soon destroyed by a tremendous hurricane, which prevented their making any excursions to the neighbouring island for food; and the only nourishment the place afforded, was a species of fern root, resembling a yam when cut, and possessing some of the properties of the cassada. This they could only procure at a distance of six or seven miles from their hut; and unfortunately, but a very scanty supply could be obtained. When their provisions were exhausted, they supported themselves on the flesh of seals, and some few aquatic birds; and when their clothes were entirely worn out, they were obliged to attire themselves in seal skins.
The contrivances of these men to preserve their existence, and protect themselves from the occasional severity of the weather, were innumerable. They were obliged to seek shelter at times in caves, dug out by incredible labour in the side of the mountains on that part of the island where they landed, and which was separated from the opposite side by an immense chain of high and impassable mountains from north to south, to the extreme points of land at each end. They made some efforts to get over these mountains, in order to reach the opposite side of the island, where they hoped to find inhabitants and some provisions; but after scrambling up some of them, they found they had others still higher to surmount, and the tract appeared as utterly barren as it was boundless. Being exceedingly weak, from the wretched manner in which they had so long subsisted, they relinquished their purpose, after advancing about nine miles into the country, and returned to their former hut, where they might at least prolong an existence, which, however wretched, was still dear to them, under the faint hope of being at some time or other, providentially delivered
The land was so barren, and unproductive of any indigenous vegetables fit to make part of their sustenance, that seals and a few birds were for two years their only food; and they were often without either. At one time, they were seven days and nights without any food or water whatever. With the few tools they possessed they built a small boat but it cost them immense labour, as being without saws, they could only cut one board out of each tree. The hoops upon their provision casks were beaten into nails; and by the same patient and laborious process, they at length projected the building of a small vessel, and had provided eighty half-inch boards for the purpose, all cut in the way above described.
Fortunately, however, this became unnecessary, as after the tedious lapse of three years and ten months, from their first landing on this inhospitable shore, they were rejoiced at the appearance of a sail at some considerable distance from the land. This proved to be the colonial schooner, Governer Bligh, commanded by Mr. Grono, who took them all on board, and afterwards landed them safely in Port Jackson, Botany Bay, whence Lowriesten and some others of the crew returned to England.
Loss of the Prince George.
The Prince George man-of-war, commanded by Admiral Broderick, when cruising off Lisbon, in the year 1758, was destroyed by fire; and out of a crew of 745 persons, 200 only were saved. The fire commenced in the fore part of the ship, in the boatswain's store room, to which place large quantities of water were applied, but in vain, the smoke being so violent that no person could get near enough. The powder was immediately floated, to prevent the vessel from blowing up; and an attempt was made to scuttle the decks, to let the water on the fire; but the people could not stand a minute without being almost suffocated. At length the lower gun-deck ports were opened, but the water that flowed in was not sufficient to subdue the flames. The fire soon increased so rapidly, that the destruction of the ship was inevitable, and the preservation of the Admiral was first consulted. Captain Payton went on deck, and ordered the barge to be manned, into which the admiral entered, with nearly forty more indiscriminately; for now there was no distinction, every man considering his life equally precious. The admiral fearing the barge would overset, stripped himself naked, and committed himself to the mercy of the waves; and after toiling an hour, he was at length taken up by a merchantman's boat. The boat afterwards sunk, and not above three or four that were in it were saved. The captain kept the quarter-deck an hour after the admiral left it, when he happily got into a boat from the stern ladder, and was put safe on board the Alderney sloop; as was the chaplain, who jumped into the sea from one of the gun-room ports, and swam to a boat.
The long-boat was next endeavoured to be got out by those still left on board, and near a hundred people got into it; but as they were hoisting it out one of the tackles gave way, by which she overset, and almost every soul perished. The ship was now in flames fore and aft, spreading like flax; the people ran to and fro distracted, and not knowing what to do, jumped into the sea from all parts; very few of them were taken up. Several who could not swim remained upon the wreck, with the fire falling down upon them. Shortly after the masts went away, and killed numbers; and those that escaped this calamity thought themselves happy to get upon them; but the ship rolling by means of the great sea, the fire communicated to the guns, which, being loaded and shotted, swept off great numbers of those who were struggling amid the water.
The vessel had now been burning four hours, when Mr. Parry, an officer on board, went into the admiral's stern gallery, where he found two young gentlemen, passengers, lashing two tables together for a raft. One of them proposed to make fast the lashing to the gallery, and lower themselves down on the tables, then cut the lashing, and commit themselves to the mercy of Providence. The tables were hoisted over; but being badly lashed, one of them was lost. Mr. Parry ventured first on the remaining table, but a great swell at the instant rendered it impossible for any one to follow him, and he was immediately turned adrift. By the cries of the people from the ship to the boats, he was seen, and afterwards taken up, though nearly drowned. Not less than 485 persons perished. The calamity would not, however, have been so disastrous had the merchantmen, of which there were many near the wreck, behaved well; but they not only kept aloof, but instead of saving the men that swam to their boats, were employed in picking up geese, fowls, and whatever else (their fellow-creatures excepted) that came near them. How truly might these wretched sufferers exclaim-
'Man is to man a monster-hearted stone;
ith Heav'n there's mercy, but with man there's none.'
Forty-five Days' Sufferings.
Captain David Harrison, who commanded a sloop, of New York, called the Peggy, has left a melancholy narrative of the sufferings of himself and his crew, when in a voyage from Fayal, one of the Azores, in 1769. A storm, which had continued for some days successively, blew away the sails and shrouds, and on the 1st of December one shroud on a side and the mainsail alone remained. In this situation they could make very little way, and all their provisions were exhausted, except bread, of which but a small quantity was left; they came at last to an allowance of a quarter of a pound ? day, with a quart of water and a pint of wine for each man.
The ship was now become very leaky; the waves were swelled into mountains by the storm, and the thunder rolled incessantly over their heads in one dreadful, almost unintermitting peal. In this frightful dilemma, either of sinking with the wreck, or floating in her and perishing with hunger, two vessels came in sight; but such was the tempest, that neither could approach, and they saw the vessels that would willingly have relieved them disappear with sensations more bitter than death itself. The allowance of bread and water, though still farther contracted, soon exhausted their stores, and every morsel of food was finished, and only about two gallons of water remained in the bottom of a cask. The poor fellows who, while they had any sustenance, continued obedient to the captain, were now driven by desperation to excess; they seized upon the cargo, and because wine and brandy were all they had left, they drank of both till the frenzy of hunger was increased by drunkenness, and exclamations of distress were blended with curses and blasphemy. The dregs of the water cask were abandoned to the captain, who, abstaining as much as possible from wine, husbanded them with the greatest economy.
In the midst of these horrors, this complication of want and of excess, of distraction and despair, they espied another sail. Every eye was instantly turned towards it; the signal of distress was hung out, and they had the unspeakable satisfaction of being near enough to the ship to communicate their situation. Relief was promised by the captain; but this, alas! was but 'the mockery of woe;' and instead of sending the relief he had promised, the unfeeling wretch crowded all sail, and left the distressed crew to all the agony of despair which misery and disappointment could occasion.
The crew once more deserted, and cut off from their last hope, were still prompted by an intuitive love of life to preserve it as long as possible. The only living creatures on board the vessel, besides themselves, were two pigeons and a cat. The pigeons were killed immediately, and divided amongst them for their Christmas dinner. The next day they killed the cat; and as there were nine persons to partake of the repast, they divided her into nine parts, which they disposed of by lot. The head fell to the share of Captain Harrison, and he declared that he never eat anything that he thought so delicious in his life.
The next day the crew began to scrape the ship's bottom for barnacles; but the waves had beaten off those above water, and the men were too weak to hang long over the ship's side. During all this time the poor wretches sought only to forget their misery in intoxication; and while they were continually heating wine in the steerage, the captain subsisted upon the dirty water at the bottom of the cask, half a pint of which, with a few drops of Turlington's Balsam, was his whole subsistence for twenty-four hours.
To add to their calamity, they had neither candle nor oil, and they were in consequence compelled to pass sixteen hours out of the twenty-four in total darkness, except the glimmering light of the fire. Still, however, by the help of their only sail, they made a little way; but on the 28th of December another storm overtook them, which blew their only sail to rags. The vessel now lay like a wreck on the water, and was wholly at the mercy of the winds and waves.
How they subsisted from this time to the 13th of January, sixteen days, does not appear, as their biscuit had been long exhausted, and the last bit of animal food which they tasted was the cat on the 26th of December; yet on the 13th of January they were all alive, and the crew, with the mate at their head, came to the captain in the cabin, half drunk indeed, but with sufficient sensibility to express the horror of their purpose in their countenances. They said that they could hold out no longer; their tobacco was exhausted; they had eaten up all the leather belonging to the pump, and even the buttons from their jackets; and that now they had no means of preventing their perishing together but by casting lots which of them should be sacrificed for the sustenance of the rest. The captain endeavoured to divert them from their purpose until the next day, but in vain; they became outrageous, and with execrations of peculiar horror, swore that what was to be done must be done immediately; that it was indifferent to them whether he acquiesced or dissented; and that though they had paid him the compliment of acquainting trim with their resolution, yet they would compel him to take his chance with the rest, for general misfortune put an end to personal distinction.
The captain resisted, but in vain; the men retired to decide on the fate of some victim, and in a few minutes returned, and said the lot had fallen on the negro, who was part of the cargo. The poor fellow knowing what had been determined against him, and seeing one of the crew loading a pistol to despatch him, implored the captain to save his life; but he was instantly dragged to the steerage, and shot through the head.
Having made a large fire, they began to cut the negro up almost as soon as he was dead, intending to fry his entrails for supper; but James Campbell, one of the foremast men, being ravenously impatient for food, tore the liver out of the body, and devoured it raw; the remainder of the crew, however, dressed the meat, and continued their dreadful banquet until two o'clock in the morning.
The next day the crew pickled the remainder of the negro's body, except the head and fingers, which, by common consent, they threw overboard. The captain refused to taste any part of it, and continued to subsist on the dirty water. On the third day after the death of the negro, Campbell, who had devoured the liver raw, died raving mad, and his body was thrown overboard, the crew dreading the consequences of eating it. The negro's body was husbanded with rigid economy, and lasted the crew, now consisting of six persons, from the 13th to the 26th of January, when they were again reduced to total abstinence, except their wine. This they endured until the 29th, when the mate again came to the captain at the head of the men, and told him it was now become necessary that they should cast lots a second time. The captain endeavoured again to reason them from their purpose, but without success: and therefore considering that if they managed the lot without him, he might not have foul play, consented to see it decided.
The lot now fell upon David Flat, a foremast man. The shock of the decision was so great that the whole company remained motionless and silent for some time; when the poor victim, who appeared perfectly resigned, broke silence, and said, 'My dear friends, messmates, and fellow sufferers, all I have to beg of you is to despatch me as soon as you did the negro, and to put me to as little torture as possible.' Then turning to one Doud, the man who shot the negro, he said, ' It is my desire that you should shoot me.' Doud reluctantly consented. The victim begged a short time to prepare himself for death, to which his companions most readily agreed. Flat was much respected by the whole ship's company, and during this awful interval they seemed inclined to save his life; yet finding no alternative but to perish with him, and having in some measure lulled their sense of horror at the approaching scene by a few draughts of wine, they prepared for the execution, and a fire was kindled in the steerage to dress their first meal as soon as their companion should become their food.
As the dreadful moment approached, their compunction increased, and friendship and humanity at length triumphed over hunger and death. They determined that Flat should live at least until eleven o'clock the next morning, hoping, as they said, that the Divine Goodness would in the meantime open some other source of relief. At the same time they begged the captain to read prayers; a task which, with the utmost effort of his collected strength, he was scarcely able to perform. As soon as prayers were over, the company went to their unfortunate friend Flat, and with great earnestness and affection expressed their hopes that God would interpose for his preservation; and assuring him, that though they never yet could catch or even see a fish, yet they would put out all their hooks again, to try if any relief could be procured.
Poor Flat, however, could derive little comfort from the concern they expressed; and it is not improbable that their friendship and affection increased the agitation of his mind; such, however, it was, that he could not sustain it, for before midnight he grew almost deaf, and by four o'clock in the morning was raving mad. His messmates, who discovered the alteration, debated whether it would not be an act of humanity to despatch him immediately; but the first resolution, of sparing him till eleven o'clock, prevailed.
About eight in the morning, as the captain was ruminating in his cabin on the fate of this unhappy wretch, who had but three hours to live, two of his people came hastily down, with uncommon ardour in their looks, and seizing both his hands, fixed their eyes upon him without saying a word. A sail had been discovered, and the sight had so far overcome them that they were for some time unable to speak. The account of a vessel being in sight of signals struck the captain with such excessive and tumultuous joy, that he was very near expiring under it. As soon as he could speak, he directed every possible signal of distress. His orders were obeyed with the utmost alacrity; and as he lay in his cabin, he had the inexpressible happiness of hearing them jumping upon deck, and crying out, 'She nighs us, she nighs us! she is standing this way.'
The approach of the ship being more and more manifest every moment, their hopes naturally increased, and they proposed a can to be taken immediately for joy. The captain dissuaded them all from it, except the mate, who retired and drank it to himself.
After continuing to observe the progress of the vessel for some hours, with all the tumult and agitation of mind that such a suspense could not fail to produce, they had the mortification to find the gale totally die away, so that the vessel was becalmed at only two miles' distance. They did not, however, suffer long from this circumstance, for in a few minutes they saw a boat put out from the ship's stern, and row towards them full manned, and with vigorous despatch. As they had been twice before confident of deliverance, and disappointed, and as they still considered themselves tottering on the brink of eternity, the conflict between their hopes and fears during the approach of the boat was dreadful. At length, however, she came alongside; but the appearance of the crew was so ghastly that the men rested upon their oars, and with looks of inconceivable astonishment, asked what they were?
Being at length satisfied, they came on board, and begged the people to use the utmost expedition in quitting the wreck, lest they should be overtaken by a gale of wind, that would prevent their getting back to the ship. The captain, being unable to stir, was lifted out of his cabin, and lowered into the boat by ropes; his people followed him, with poor Flat still raving, and they were just putting off, when one of them observed that the mate was still wanting. He was immediately called to, and the can of joy had just left him power to crawl to the gunnel, with a look of idiotic astonishment, having to all appearance forgot everything that had happened. The poor drunken creature was with difficulty got into the boat, and in about an hour they all reached the ship in safety, which was the Susannah, of London, commanded by Captain Thomas Evers. He received them with the greatest tenderness and humanity, and promised to lay by the wreck until the next morning, that he might, if possible, save some of Captain Harrison's property; but the wind blowing very hard before night, he was obliged to quit her, and she probably, with her cargo, went to the bottom before morning.
The crew had been without provisions forty-five days. The mate, James Doud, who shot the negro, and one Warner, a seaman, died on the passage. The remainder, including Flat, who continued mad during the voyage, arrived safe in the Susannah, in the Downs, in the beginning of March; whence Captain Harrison proceeded on shore, and made the proper attestation on oath of the facts related in this melancholy narrative.
In the year 1761, a French slave ship, the Utile, commanded by M. de la Fague, was wrecked off Sandy Isle. The officers, with the crew and slaves, saved themselves on this little island, which is only about 1100 yards in length, and 600 in breadth: the highest part not being more than fifteen feet above the level of the sea. They remained here six months, during which time they constructed a bark, in which all the whites got on board; and after a short passage, reached St: Mary's, a small island on the east side of Madagascar. The negroes remained on the shoal, vainly expecting aid from those who had sailed; but,
'see the monstrousness of man,
hen he looks out in an ungrateful shape!
e does deny him, in respect of his,
hat charitable men afford to beggars.
eligion groans at it.'
Humanity is shocked at the idea, that these wretched men, who had largely contributed to the preservation of those who left them, were abandoned to die a miserable death, without the smallest exertion being made to save them.
Fifteen years afterwards, namely, on the 28th of November, 1776, M. Tromelin, commanding a corvette, La Dauphine, fell in with Sandy Isle, and succeeding in overcoming the difficulties opposed to his landing on this dangerous bank, took the melancholy remains, not of the crew, but of the cargo of the Utile, into his vessel, and carried them to the Isle of France. Eighty negroes and negresses had perished, some of want and disease, others in attempting to save themselves on rafts. Only seven regresses were able, during fifteen years, to resist the most deplorable miseries that can be pourtrayed. The bank on which they had been so cruelly deserted, is quite sterile, and exposed to all the fury of the tempest. The negroes had built a hut out of the wreck of the vessel, and covered it with the shells of turtles. Feathers curiously and artfully interwoven by the regresses, formed their clothing. On this bank the seven survivors had lived fifteen years, preserving themselves solely on shell fish and brackish water. At the period of their deliverance, they carried along with them a young child; the child of misery, which had been born in this desert spot, and which was enfeebled by the extreme weakness of the mother. The regresses reported that they had seen five vessels during the time of their captivity. The boat of one of them endeavoured to land; but from the apprehension of shipwreck, suddenly put off with such precipitation, that a sailor remained on the island. This man seeing himself abandoned by his comrades while exerting himself in the cause of humanity, took the desperate resolution of trying to reach Madagascar in a raft, on which he embarked along with three negroes and regresses, about three weeks before La Dauphine arrived; but they were never heard of.
An English gentleman and his lady, who were on their passage to the East Indies, in one of the vessels of an English fleet, paid a visit to the admiral's ship, leaving two young children in the care of a negro servant, who was about eighteen years of age. A violent storm arising during their absence, the ship containing the two children was fast sinking, when a boat arrived from the admiral's ship for their relief. The crew eagerly crowded to the boas; but the negro lad finding there was only room for him alone, or the two children, generously put them on board, and remained himself on the wreck, which, with the generous boy, was immediately engulfed in the ocean.
This interesting circumstance has been made the subject of the following lines, by Sellbeck Osborn:
'Tremendous howls the angry blast!
he boldest hearts with terror quake!
igh o'er the vessel's tottering mast
he liquid mountains fiercely break!
ach eye is fix'd in wild despair,
nd death displays its terrors there!
ow plunging in the dread abyss,
hey pierce the bosom of the deep;
ow rise where vivid lightnings hiss,
nd seem the murky clouds to sweet
hro' the dark waste dread thunders roll,
nd horrors chill the frigid soul!
he storm abates; but shattered sore,
he leaky vessel drinks the brine;
hey seek in vain some friendly shore,
heir spirits sink, their hopes decline!
ut, lo! what joy succeeds their grief,
ind Heaven grants the wish'd relief.
ee, on the deck, young Marco stands,
wo blooming cherubs by his side,
ntrusted to his faithful hands;
A mother's joy, a father's pride;"
ho' black his skin, as shades of night,
is heart is fair; his soul is white!
ach to the yawl with rapture flies,
xcept the noble generous boy;
Go, lovely infants, go," he cries,
nd give your anxious parents joy.
o mother will for Marco weep,
hen fate entombs him in the deep!
ong have my kindred ceas'd to grieve,
o sister kind my fate shall mourn;
o breast for me a sigh will heave,
o bosom friend wait my return!"
e said, and sinking, sought the happy shore,
here toil and slavery vex his soul no more.'
The Modeste Frigate.
The Modeste frigate, of twenty-four guns and seventy men, including passengers, bound from Marseilles to Cape Francois, was destroyed by lightning in September, 1766. It was on the evening of the 19th of that month, about half an hour past eleven o'clock, that the vessel was struck. The lightning beat down most of the persons on board. Several of the sailors were so much hurt, that they had hardly strength enough to rise, but no dives were lost. The vessel had, however, caught fire in the hold, and although water was poured down in great quantities, yet it did not subdue it. The smoke still increasing, the captain ordered the officers to put out the two boats, which they did with too much haste, and threw themselves almost headlong into them. The remainder of the melancholy narrative is extracted from the deposition of the captain, Jules Gayet, who proceeds:- 'We opened every place for the water to come into the hold, but all our efforts were in vain, and the horror of the night added to the dreadful death which presented itself, seemed to add fierceness to the flames which enclosed us. The fire then reached the long-boat, and deprived us of the last resource. The progress of the flames was very rapid; the mainmast fell half-burnt, and the whole stern of the vessel was on fire. The rest of the crew and passengers pressed forward, and held out their hands to the shore, which was not far from us: there was no time to deliberate; we were to perish in the flames, or throw ourselves into the sea, with the faint hopes of saving ourselves on some pieces of the wreck. Between twelve and one the flames reached us. The people cried, ' Save yourself, captain, you are yet in time.' We looked about us, and exhorted each other to give assistance, while we were climbing from rope to rope; and in proportion as we went from the fire, we came nearer to the other element, supporting ourselves on the fallen masts and rigging, which served us as a float.
'Saturday, 20. - As the morning grew lighter, we were able to reckon up five-and-thirty persons, myself included; and in this terrible situation we continued for four days, and Providence, whom I did not cease to implore, was pleased to preserve us, to the number of nineteen. The children were among the first who died; they were followed by those of the crew who were least able to undergo the fatigue; and we who were left, had tattle hopes of passing another night. Several people lost their senses, and asked me who should be killed first to serve as food for the rest, and one man asked me very calmly for money to buy bread and meat. Those who were so exhausted that they could hold no longer to the mast, gave us notice of their death by the noise of their fall; and, by the motion in which they thereby put the mast, obliged us all to swallow the salt water. I encouraged, as well as I could, those who still retained their senses; but my voice and strength both began to fail me. The first favour of heaven was a calm, which enabled us to support ourselves with less difficulty.
'We had now, for two nights, beheld the ship in flames, and were in additional danger from the fire of our artillery, which went off as soon as it was heated by the flames. We had no news of the two boats which first left us, nor any signal from those who were on different pieces of the wreck. I myself saw the death of seventeen of those who were with me.
'At last, on Tuesday, the 23rd of September, some of my people discovered in the night, by the light of the moon, a small vessel, which did not seem to perceive us. We cried for help, but could not make ourselves be heard. Then two of the sailors left their hold, and tried to reach the vessel by swimming. Finding their strength not sufficient for this, they supported themselves on the topsail yards, and rowed with their hands. By this means they came up to the ship (which happened to be an English one), and had the happiness to find the people ready to give them every assistance in their power.
'Captain Thomas Hubbert, who was the commander, immediately sent out his boat; and about nine in the morning, being about six or seven leagues off Cape de Moulin, I was received on board the English vessel with all possible humanity. We were then nineteen in number. The captain first gave me a glass of wine, but I was able to swallow only a few drops, and those with difficulty. It was then offered to M. Fauquette, a young man of a good constitution, the son of M. de Brue; but as he was lifting it to his mouth, he was seized with convulsions, bit and broke the glass with his teeth, and fell down dead at our feet.'
The captain and the eighteen men were safely landed at Marseilles; and eleven other persons who belonged to the Modeste were afterwards saved by a Dutch ship which fell in with them.
Disasters after Wreck.
If there is any situation in life, in which the wise dispensation of Providence, in concealing the future from us, is more strikingly manifest, than in another, it is in cases of shipwreck; for if the wretched mariner could foresee, that in escaping the fury of the elements at sea, he would have to encounter still greater and more protracted miseries or shore, he would scarcely be induced to make the efforts necessary for his preservation. But the sailor in venturing on a voyage, learns
'To bear with accidents, and every change
f various life, to struggle with adversity
o wait the leisure of the righteous gods
ill they, in their own good appointed hour,
hall bid his better days come forth at once;
long and shining train.'
The whole records of disasters at sea, do not perhaps furnish such an instance of protracted sufferings and perilous adventures, as those which the crew of the Grosvenor, East Indiaman, encountered, during a period of one hundred and seventeen days. This vessel sailed from Trincomalee, in the Island of Ceylon, for Europe, on the 13th of June, 1782. On the 3rd of August, Captain Coxon, her commander, considered himself a hundred miles from the nearest land; but on the following day, the ship struck on some rocks within three hundred yards of the shore. To save her, was impossible; destruction and despair was seen in every countenance, and the utmost confusion prevailed. Those most composed were employed in devising means to gain the shore, and set about framing a raft of such masts, yards, and spars, as could be got together, hoping by this expedient to convey the women and children, and the sick, safe to land. In the meantime a Lascar, and two Italians, attempted to swim ashore with the deep sea-line; one of the latter perished in the waves, but the others succeeded. By means of a small line, a large one, and afterwards a hawser, were conveyed to the shore; the natives, who had crowded to the water's edge, assisting the sailors. The raft being finished, it was launched overboard; but a nine-inch hawser, by which it was held, broke, and the raft driving on shore, was upset, by which three men were drowned. The yawl and jolly boat were no sooner hoisted out, than they were dashed to pieces. Several seamen gained the. land by the hawser, and others were left on board, when the vessel rent asunder fore and aft. In this distressing moment they crowded on the starboard quarter which happily floated into shoal water; by which means every one on board, even the women and children, got safe on shore, except the cook's mate, who was intoxicated, and could not be prevailed on to leave the ship.
When they had assembled on shore, they got some hogs and poultry, which had floated from the wreck, and made a repast. Two tents were made of two sails that had been driven ashore, under which the ladies reposed for the first night. Next morning, the natives, who were quite black and woolly-headed, came down, and began to carry off whatever struck their fancy; but plunder seemed to be their only object. A cask of beef, one of flour, and a leaguer of arrack, were found and delivered to the captain; who, on the morning of the 7th, called the survivors of the shipwreck together, and having divided the provisions among them, said, that as on board he had been their commanding officer, he hoped that they would still suffer him to continue his command. An unanimous, cry of, 'by all means,' was the reply. He then informed them, that from the best calculations he could make, he trusted to be able to reach some of the Dutch settlements in fifteen or sixteen days, as he intended to make to the Cape of (food Hope.
Thus encouraged, they set off cheerfully; for
Is such a bait, it covers any hook;'
and they were therefore unwilling to damp their courage by melancholy forebodings. Mr. Logie, the chief mate, having for some time been ill, was carried by two men in a hammock, slung on a pole; and in this laborious occupation, all the men cheerfully shared. A man of the name of O'Brien, being very lame, remained behind, saying, it was impossible to keep up with his shipmates, and he would therefore endeavour to get some pewter from the wreck, and make trinkets to ingratiate himself with the natives. The whole company now set forward, and soon met about thirty of the natives; among whom was one Trout, a Dutchman, who had committed murder, and had fled from justice. On learning the course they were travelling, he recapitulated the difficulties they would meet with, and gave them some good advice; but could not be prevailed on to conduct them to the Cape. The next day they were stopped by about four hundred of the savages, who, after pilfering and insulting, at last began to beat them. Concluding that they were marked for destruction, they determined to defend themselves to the last extremity. After placing the women, children, and the sick at some distance, under the protection of about a dozen of their number, the remainder consisting of eighty or ninety, engaged their opponents for two hours and a half; when getting possession of a rising ground, they forced the natives to a sort of compromise. Several of the company cut the buttons from their coats, and gave them, with other little trinkets, to the natives, who then went away, and returned no more.
In the night they were obliged to sleep in the open air, and to make a fire, in order to keep off the wild beasts, whose howlings continually disturbed them. Afresh party of the natives came and plundered them, seizing the gentlemen's watches, and examining the hair of the ladies, to see if diamonds were concealed in it. They also took away what was then of more value than diamonds, or the gold of Ophir, the tinder-box, flint, and steel which was an irreparable loss, and obliged them to travel in future with fire-brands in their hands.
After journeying together for some days, the provisions brought along with them were nearly expended; and the fatigue of travelling with the women and children being very great, the sailors began to murmur, and seemed every one determined to take care of himself. Captain Coxon, with the first mate and his wife, Colonel and Mrs. James, the purser, and several other officers, as well as seamen, with five of the children, agreed to keep together, and travel slowly as before. Captain Talbot, Mr. Shaw and Mr. Trotter, second and the fourth mate, with the remainder of the seamen, including John Hynes, being in all about forty-three, went on before. A young boy, Master Law, a passenger, seven or eight years old, crying after one of the men, it was agreed to take him with them, and to carry him by turns, whenever he should be unable to walk.
Both parties felt great pain at the separation, as they had little hopes of meeting again; but next morning early, the advancing party having waited all night by the side of a river for the ebb tide, wore overtaken, and the whole company once more united, to their great satisfaction. Two days afterwards they again separated, thinking that by travelling in separate bodies, they would be less likely to excite the jealousy of the natives. The party with the second mate, which may be designated Hynes's party, as from him the narrative is principally derived, travelled several days through untrodden paths, crossing rivers two miles broad, and frequently obliged to climb the trees to explore their way. Wild sorrel and shell fish, of which the supply was often very scanty, were their only food; until a dead whale, the liver of which could only be ate, furnished them with a more substantial, though not more agreeable meal, and a supply for some days. The party now resolved to proceed inland; and after advancing, during three days and nights, through a fine pleasant country, in which they saw many deserted villages, they came to a river which they were unable to cross. Captain Talbot was so much fatigued, that he could not proceed with the rest of the company; and his faithful coxswain remained with him behind. Neither of them were ever heard of after. Master Law was still with Hynes's party, having borne the fatigues of the journey in the most miraculous manner.
Another dead whale having been discovered, the party, with the assistance of two spike nails which they had burnt out of a plank, cut part of it, which they took in bags along with them; a dead seal was another seasonable supply, and was carefully husbanded. This party had been severely treated by the natives, and had lost five of their number, including the carpenter. The command of the company now devolved on the steward, as well as the care of the child, whom he treated with great tenderness.
On arriving at a village, they obtained a young bullock, in exchange for the inside of watch and a few buttons. They killed it with one of the lances belonging natives, and dividing it in pieces, distributed them by lot. The skin was also cut in pieces and those obtaining portions of it, made them into shoes. This was the only instance of the party being able to get any sustenance from the natives, except that the women sometimes gave the boy a little milk. A santy desert next occupied them ten days in passing, during which no natives were seen; but they afterwards came to a small village, where they got a little milk for the boy, and afterwards part of the flesh of some sea crows and sea lions, which were hung up to dry in one of the huts. Two rivers were crossed, and they now reposed two days, in hopes of their companions coming up. But ten days afterwards they discovered by some small pieces of rags scattered here and there on the way, that they were before them. Entering a large sandy desert, where little wood or water was to be seen, they observed written on the sand at the entrance of a deep valley, 'Turn in here, and you will find plenty of wood and water.' This direction they hastened to obey. and saw from the remains of fires and other traces, that their companions had rested in a recess.
The sight of thirty or forty elephants terrified them; and they were continually harassed by the natives, who killed one of their party, and wounded John Hynes. The cooper died with the fatigue, and soon afterwards the little boy, Law, whose tender frame which had borne so much suffering, at length sunk under it. This was an afflicting circumstance for the whole party, who shed a tear of sympathy over the youthful victim. They now began to suffer much from thirst, as no water could be obtained, and several of them died. Their number was now reduced to three Hynes, Evans, and Wormington, the boatswain's mate, who earnestly importuned his companions to determine by lot who should die, that by drinking his blood, the other two might be preserved; but this the others refused. They soon after came up with four of the steward's party, who appeared to have suffered as much as themselves. One person soon afterwards died; and the remaining six journeyed onwards, until they at length reached a Dutch settlement, where they were hospitably entertained by one Roostoff, who lived about three or four hundred miles from the Cape of Good Hope. Roostoff immediately ordered a sheep to be killed, on which they breakfasted and dined; and then another Dutchman, named Quin, who lived about nine miles distant, brought a cart and six horses to convey them to the Cape. It was on the 29th of November, that they reached Roostoff's dwelling, having been a hundred and seventeen days occupied in their weary journey.
They were now forwarded in carts from one settlement to another, to Zwellendam; and during the whole way, wherever they passed the night, the farmers assembled to hear their melancholy story; and moved with compassion, supplied them with many articles of which they stood in need. As a war then existed between Great Britain and Holland, two of the men were sent to the governor of the Cape, while the rest remained at Zwellen dam. The governor hearing their story, humanely sent a party, consisting of one hundred Europeans, and three hundred Hottentots, attended by a great number of waggons, each drawn by eight oxen, in order to save such articles as could be secured from the wreck; and to rescue such of the sufferers as might be discovered, or in the hands of the natives. Beads and trinkets were sent to ransom them, if necessary. The party met with no interruption from the natives for some time; but they afterwards obstructed the progress of the waggons, and the Dutch were obliged to travel further on horseback. Only twelve of the wretched sufferers, including seven Lascars and two black women, could be found, and these, with the six sailors who had first reached the Cape, were sent to England in a Danish ship.
The fate of this unfortunate company, and the belief of their being alive, excited great commiseration; and in 1790, another expedition was fitted out to go in quest of them: but without success, although the reports of the natives induced the belief that some of them were still living.
Trade of a Wreck.
As soon as a shipwreck is made known in the great Desert of Africa, their douar, or village of tents, becomes a mart, to which Arabs from all parts of the interior resort for trade, and it even not Infrequently happens that when the news of such a catastrophe reaches the southern provinces of Barbary the native traders of Santa Cruz, Mogadore, and their districts, make long journeys for the same purpose; and frequently bring back valuable articles saved from the wreck, which they purchase from the ignorant natives as things of no value. In this manner superfine cloths are sometimes bought at half a dollar the cubit measure. Occasionally bank-notes are also disposed of for a mere trifle, the purchasers only knowing their value. Watches, trinkets, wearing apparel, silks, &c., are gladly disposed of for dates, horses, camels, their favourite blue linens, or any of the few articles which are felt by these poor people to be immediately serviceable in their wretched way of living. They are, however, more tenacious of the firearms, cutlasses, pikes, cordage, bits of old iron, spikenails, and copper, upon which they set great value, and therefore, seldom part with them.
This is the common mode of transacting the trade of a wreck. However, it not unfrequently happens that when the crew and cargo fall into the possession of any tribe of insignificant note, the latter are invaded by one of their more powerful neighbours, who either strip them by force of all their collected plunder, or compel them through fear to barter it at rates far beneath it's estimated value. In either case, whether obtained by purchase or by force, the Arabs load their camels with the spoils, and return to their homes in the desert, driving the unfortunate Christians before them. The latter, according to the interest of their new masters, are sold again, or bartered to others-often to Arabs of a different tribe; and are thus conveyed in venous directions across the Desert, suffering every degree of hardship and severity which the cruelty, caprice, or selfinterest of their purchasers may dictate.
An Only Survivor.
In the latter end of the year 1748, Mr. Winslow, an eminent merchant of Boston, in New England, fitted out a vessel, the Howlet, for a trading voyage to the Gulf of Mexico on board of which a negro, belonging to his brother, General Winslow, went as cook. No account being received of the vessel for several years, it was naturally concluded that she must have been cast away, and that the whole crew had perished; nor was it until twelve years after, that the fate of the vessel was discovered, in the following manner. General Winslow being in London in the year 1760, had occasion to go on board a West India trader, lying in the river, when, to his great surprise, he found his old servant the negro. On enquiring the circumstances which had brought him there, the negro stated, that the Howlet was wrecked near Cape Florida when the crew were made prisoners by the Indians, who put them all to death except himself, who was saved on account of his colour. They sold him to a Spanish merchant of the Havannah, with whom he continued rather more than ten years, when observing a New England ship, as he supposed, nearly two miles from the shore, he stripped himself and swam to her, when he was taken on board, and in the capacity of cook, sailed in her to England.
With what truth did the unfortunate author of 'The Shipwreck' choose these words for the motto to his admirable work,
'Quaeque ipse miserrima vidi,
t quorum pars magna fui.'.'
During his nautical career, Falconer had the misfortune to be twice wrecked, and amid the waste of waters, he at last found an unknown grave. In some lines addressed to his patron, the Duke of York, he justly styles himself,
'A hapless youth, whose vital hope
as one sad lengthen'd tale of woe.'
Falconer was a midshipman on board the Ramillies (name of unfortunate memory) when she was wrecked on the 15th of February, 1760. She formed part of a squadron with which Admiral Boscawen sailed from Plymouth Sound, on the 5th of February, to take the command of the fleet in Quiberon Bay. The wind soon after shifted to the westward, and increased to a violent gale which dispersed the squadron. The Ramilies was so much shattered, that the captain, Taylor, resolved to bear away for Plymouth. On the 15th, the weather being extremely thick and foggy, in coming up the Channel he discovered the Bolthead, but mistaking it for the Ramhead, stood on until the ship was so entangled with the shore, that it was impossible to weather it. Captain Taylor ordered the masts to be cut away, and came to an anchor; but the storm raged with such fury, that the cables parted, the ship was in consequence driven among the breakers and dashed to pieces. Out of seven hundred and thirty-four men, twenty-five only of the crew, and Falconer, the midshipman, were saved by jumping from the stern to the rocks. Falconer afterwards recorded his preservation in lines, entitled, 'The Loss of the Ramillies,' which were inserted in the Gentleman's Magazine.
Falconer soon after abandoned the Royal Naval service, and engaged as mate on board the merchant ship Britannia, employed in the Levant trade, but in her he was again wrecked, near Cape Colonna. It was from this event he drew the incidents and characters of the 'The Shipwreck.'
In the last chapter of this melancholy history, Falconer appears as purser to the Aurora frigate, Captain Lee, which was appointed to carry out to India Henry Vansittart, Esq., and other officers in the honourable East India Company's service. The Aurora sailed from England on the 30th of September, 1769; and after touching at the Cape of Good Hope, on the 27th of December, was never seen more.
It appears that Captain Lee, though a stranger to the difficult navigation of the Mozambique Channel, would not be dissuaded from attempting it; which so much displeased Mr. Vansittart, that if an outwardbound East Indiaman had been at the Cape it is said he would have quitted the Aurora.
To this it may be added, that on the 19th of November, 1775, a black was examined before the East India Directors, who affirmed that he was one of five persons who had been saved from the wreck of the Aurora; that the frigate had been cast away on a reef of rocks, off Malao; and that he was two years upon an island after he had escaped, and was at length miraculously preserved by a country ship happening to touch at that island.
The Eneas Transport.
If the disasters of shipwreck were to be estimated by the number of the sufferers, rather than by protracted miseries, then would the loss of the Eneas transport be one I of the most afflicting. The Eneas, with three hundred and forty-seven souls on board, I struck on a rock near the coast of Newfoundland, on the 23rd October, 1805, et four o'clock in the morning, when she received so much damage, that her total wreck became instantly inevitable. On the first alarm, the women and children clung to their husbands and fathers, until a tremendous wave at one 'fell swoop,' buried two hundred and fifty of them in the ocean. Thirty-five of the survivors were floated on a part of the wreck, to a small island about a quarter of a mile distant; but not an article of any kind was saved from the ship. After passing one night on this little island, they constructed a raft, which enabled thirty of them to reach the main land. Four of the seamen had died, and another, who had both his legs broken, was missing, as he had crawled away from his comrades, that he might die in quiet Eight days afterwards, he was found alive; though in a shocking state, as his feet were frozen off, but he lived to reach Quebec some months after.. The party finding that they were in Newfoundland, and, as they supposed, about three hundred miles from the town of St. John's, set forward, and directed their course towards the rising sun. Three of the men were unable to walk from bruises, and at the end of the first day Lieutenant Dawson, of the Tooth regiment, became incapable of keeping up with the remainder. Two soldiers remained with him, and they toiled onwards at a slow pace, without any food, except the berries which they found. Lieutenant Dawson, was soon unable to stand, and he entreated his faithful attendants to make the best of their way, and leave him to his fate. This they did with great reluctance; and not until, as one of the poor fellows said, 'they did not know whether he was dead or alive.' The two survivors continued wandering in a weak and feeble state for twelve days longer, when they were found by a man belonging to a hunting party; who, little expecting to see human beings in that desolate region, took them for deer, and had levelled his gun at them, when his dog leaping towards them began to bark, and discovered his master's error.
When they related their shipwreck, and the sufferings they had endured, tears stole down the cheeks of the huntsman; who taking the moccasins from his feet, gave them to these poor men, and invited them to his hunting cabin, saying, it was only a mile off, although the real distance was at least twelve miles. By degrees, he enticed them to proceed; and at length they gained the hut, when four or five men came out with long bloody knives in their hands, to the great terror of the soldiers, who supposed they would immediately be butchered and ate up. They soon discovered their mistake, for the men had been cutting up some deer, the fruits of their chase, and on learning the misfortunes of the soldiers, they brought them a bottle of rum, which refreshed them very much.
The generous hunters ministered every possible comfort to the unfortunate wanderers and set out in quest of the remainder of the crew; but only succeeded in finding the poor fellow who remained the first day on the island, and two others, who were unable to leave the shore. These five were all that could be found out of the thirty-five who survived the wreck of the transport; and were the only persons remaining out of the three hundred and forty-seven who were on board when the vessel struck on the rocks.
The ship Charles, of New York, John Horton, master, with a crew of nine persons, was, in a voyage to Gibraltar, wrecked on the coast of Africa, on the 11th of October, 1810. The vessel truck on a reef of rocks that extended about three quarters of a mile into the sea, and was more than twelve feet above the surface at low water. The boat was immediately hoisted out, and the mate and three seamen got into it, but it instantly swamped. The four persons who were in it swam, or were cast ashore; soon after, a sea washed off four or five more of the crew, including Robert Adams, who has left an interesting narrative of his shipwreck, and three years' slavery with the Arabs in the Great Desert. The whole of the ship's company could swim except two; but they all succeeded in gaining the shore, and no lives were lost.
Soon after break of day the party was surrounded by thirty or forty Moors, who were engaged in fishing on the coast, by whom they were made prisoners. The vessel bilged and the cargo was almost lost, but what remained of the wreck was burnt by the Moors, for the copper bolts and sheathing. They stripped the captain and all the crew naked, and hid the clothes under ground as well as the articles which they had collected from the ship, or which had floated ashore. Thus exposed to a scorching sun, their skins became much blistered; and at night they were obliged to dig holes in the sand to sleep in, for the sake of coolness.
About a week after landing the captain became extremely ill; and having expressed himself violently on the occasion of his being stripped, and frequently afterwards using loud and coarse language and menaces, he was at length seized by the Moors and put to death. After the rest of the party had remained about ten or twelve days, until the ship and materials had quite disappeared, the Moors made preparations to depart, and divided the prisoners among them. Adams was marched to Timbuctoo, where he was an object of great curiosity, and was introduced to the king and queen, who treated him with kindness. After being three years in slavery, under various masters, he was ransomed by the British consul at Mogadore.
The Doddington East Indiaman.
There is nothing more consolatory in the miseries of shipwreck than when friendship and unanimity still continue among the wretched sufferers, and they all unite their best efforts for the common good. This was particularly the case, during a long period, with the few persons saved from the wreck of the Doddington, East Indiaman, which struck a rock in the Indian Ocean in the night of the 17th of July, 1755; when
-'The shatter'd oak,
o fierce a shock unable to withstand,
dmits the sea; in at the gaping side
he crowding waves gush with impetuous rage
In this dreadful situation, which threatened instant death to every soul on board, the cry of land was heard. The shore was a barren uninhabited rock, in 33¡ 44' south latitude and distant about two hundred and fifty leagues east of the Cape of Good Hope. Every effort was made to gain this rock, but out of a crew of two hundred and seventy persons, twenty-three only succeeded in reaching it, and all the rest perished.
As soon as they had assembled on the rock they began to search for covering, in which they succeeded tolerably well. Fire was the next object; but here great difficulties occurred, until they, fortunately, found a box containing two gun-flints and a file, and afterwards a cask of gunpowder, all of which had been drifted from the ship. A box of wax candles, a case of brandy, of which each took a dram, a cask of fresh water, and several articles of provisions, were also successively found. A tent was now formed, under which those unable to walk rested the first night, it not being large enough to contain them all.
In the morning, when they took their first meal since the wreck, many of them were struck with such a sense of their desolate and forlorn condition, that they burst into passionate exclamations, wringing their hands, and looking round with all the wildness of despair. Amidst these emotions, one of the crew suggested that as the carpenter was among them he might build a strong sloop, provided he could obtain tools and materials. The carpenter declared that, if thus provided he would build a sloop that would carry them all to a port of safety. At that time, indeed, there was no prospect of procuring any of the things requisite; yet no sooner had they rested their deliverance one remove beyond total impossibility, than they seemed to think it neither improbable nor difficult. The size, the rigging, and the port to which they should steer, were all fixed, for
'Hope with a goodly prospect feeds the eye,
hows from a rising ground possession nigh;
hortens the distance or o'erlooks it quite,
o easy 'tis to travel with the sight.'
On the two following days four casks of water, one cask of flour, a hogshead of brandy, and a small boat were secured, and, what was still more valuable, a hamper containing files, sail needles, a carpenter's adze, a chisel, three sword blades, a quadrant, &c. While searching about the beach they found the body of Mrs. Collett, the wife of the second mate, who was then at a little distance. The mutual affection of this couple was remarkable; and the men concealed from the mate a sight which must so sensibly have affected him, and buried her, reading the funeral service over her from a French prayer-book, which had driven ashore from the wreck along with the deceased. Some days afterwards they found means gradually to disclose what they had done, and to restore him the wedding ring, which they had taken from her finger. He received it with great emotion, and spent many days in raising a monument over the grave, by piling up such square stones as he could find, and fixing an elm plank on the top, inscribed with her name, her age, and the time of her death, and also some account of the accident by which it was occasioned.
Some timber, plank, cordage, and canvas were now recovered, and the carpenter, who had just finished a saw, commenced boat building, although he had neither hammer nor nails. It happened, however, that one of the seamen, a Swede, having picked up a pair of old bellows, brought them to his companions, telling them that he had been a smith by trade, and that with these bellows, and a forge which he could build, he would furnish the carpenter with all necessary tools, nails included, as plenty of iron might be obtained by burning it out of the timber of the wreck coming ashore. The bellows were mended, the forge erected, and the smith at work in a few days.
While the carpenter was busily at work the rest of the crew were not less active in procuring things that were driven from the wreck, and in making fishing excursions on a raft, their stores became nearly exhausted and their allowance was restricted to two ounces of bread a day. The brandy was reserved for the carpenter, and when he was unwell his recovery was watched with the utmost anxiety. Having seen a smoke on the mainland, three men ventured in the little boat, but only two of them returned, their comrade having been drowned, and, when drifted on the shore. torn to pieces by wild beasts. These two men, who were absent three days, had encountered several of the natives, who took part of their clothes from them, but did not otherwise maltreat them, being very anxious that they should go away. The men slept under their boat during two nights, and, failing in getting any provision, returned to the wreck.
After passing seven months on this barren rock, during which their patience under suffering was only equalled by their industry, the new vessel was launched on the 16th of February, 1756, and called the Happy Deliverance. Next day their little pittance of stores was got on board, and on the 18th they set sail from the rock, which at parting they named Bird Island. All their provisions consisted of six casks of water, two live hogs that remained of those driven from the wreck, a firkin of butter, about four pound of biscuit for each man, and ten days' subsistence of salt provisions in bad condition, at the rate of two ounces a day per man.
On the 18th they weighed anchor and set sail for St. Lucia on the coast of Natal, but fortune did not yet cease to persecute them, for twenty-five days they met with nothing but adversity, their provisions were almost exhausted, and currents running at the rate of a mile and a half an hour, carried them so far out of their course, that a favourable wind was of no avail. They now resolved to change their course, and attempt to make the Cape of Good Hope; but the squalls were at times so violent, that every surge threatened the destruction of their frail bark, which carried them and all their fortunes. After encountering a variety of dangers, which were in some degree compensated by a supply of provisions they got in barter from the Indians on the coasts where they touched, they reached Delagoa Bay in safety on the 28th of May. They sold their little vessel to Captain Chandler, of the Rose, for five hundred rupees; and putting the treasures, packets, and other effects of the Doddington on hoard that vessel, sailed in her to Madagascar, where they arrived on the 14th day of June, eleven months from the date of their misfortune.
The Fanny galley, commanded by Captain Blakely, was in the year 1747 chased by a French privateer off Rotterdam, which ran upon the Flats, where she was beat to pieces. The French made all the signals of distress; but Captain Blakely having only nine hands, and seeing two boats put off, one of which was very large and full of men, he did not at first go to their relief. The large boat sunk and there appearing only eleven men and two women in the other, he lay by, and let them come up to the galley; when, to his great surprise, he saw his own wife, who had been taken four days before in a collier, bound to Rotterdam, where she was bound to meet him. The privateer had one hundred and five men, who all perished, except the ten thus saved.
Preservation of Two Brothers.
About the 14th of August, 1652, a dog came to the house of Toxen, in the parish of Guldsal in Norway, howling and moaning, and in the most famished condition. It was immediately recognised to be the faithful attendant of two brothers, named Olave and Andrew Engelbrechtsen, who had fourteen days before set out from Toxen, the place of their nativity, on a hunting excursion among the high mountains which separate Gulbrandsal from the province of Valders. From the grief which the poor animal displayed, the friends of the Engelbrechtsens naturally concluded, that some misfortune had befallen them. A man was therefore immediately dispatched to the mountains, in quest of the wanderers. Two days he roamed about without discovering any trace of them; but on the third arriving at the Lake of Ref, he found an empty skiff on its banks, in which he rowed to a very small islet in the midst of it, and there he saw some garments lying, which he knew to belong to the brothers. On looking around, however, he saw no trace of any human being; and the island being so small, (only sixteen paces long and eight broad) that the whole surface could be comprehended within one glance, he concluded that the young men had not been there for a considerable time, and returned to Toxen with intelligence that they were probably drowned.
The very day after, however, some hunters on horseback happening to arrive on the banks of Lake Ref. were surprised by the cries, faint yet distinct, of some persons on the little islet. They leapt into the skiff which lay on the beach, and on reaching the islet, found the two brothers there, reduced to the last stage of human wretchedness. They were immediately conveyed ashore, and home.
When able to give an account of their adventures, the brothers related, that as they were on their return home from their hunting excursion, they first rowed to the islet in Lake Ref, in order to take up a net which they had set there. Whilst lingering here a sudden storm arose at east, the violence of which caused the skiff to break loose, and drive to the opposite shore.
As neither could swim, they saw themselves thus exposed to the danger of perishing by hunger, for the islet was altogether barren; and they had besides to endure all the hardships of the weather, which even in the month of August was, in the climate of Norway, inclement, more especially during the night. The account they gave of the manner in which they subsisted on some herbs providentially raised up to them, is so piously marvellous, that the only conclusion we can draw from it is, that they were preserved by Providence in a way which they had not sense enough left to describe. It appears that they had built a little hut of stones, sufficient to lie along in, yet not of elevation enough to attract the notice of a superficial observer; and under this had escaped the vigilance of the messenger, who was sent in search of them. On the twelfth day of their seclusion, both the brothers having given themselves up to despair, Andrew, the younger, with what remains of strength he possessed, cut out on some pieces of timber, most exposed to view, a concise relation of their unhappy fate, and the text on which he desired their funeral sermon might be preached, from Psalm 73, v. 22, 26.
22 Nevertheless, I am always by thee: for thou hast holden me by my right hand.
6 For lo, they that forsake thee shall perish.
After this, the brothers mutually encouraged each other in the hope of eternal felicity to patience and perseverance in faith; and totally despairing of all temporal relief, as their sole support had failed, recommended themselves to God.
When unexpectedly restored to hopes of life, the elder brother could eat very little of the food offered to him; and the little he did take threw him into such a state of sickness, that he was confined for eight days to his bed. He survived his perilous situation, however, thirty-seven years. The younger brother suffered less inconvenience, and in the year 1691, drew up an account of the case of both. He showed particular gratitude to God, that their dog had not obeyed their call in swimming across the lake, when they used every means to entice him, that on his flesh their lives might be preserved. The poor animal, as we have seen, was ordained by God to be the means of their deliverance.
Disasters among the Aleution Islands.
A Russian vessel, which was tossed about for some time near the mouth of the Anadyr in Siberia, was afterwards dashed to pieces on the rocks near Behring's Island, in the month of October, 1748. The crew were saved, and employed themselves in searching for the remains of the wreck of Behring's vessel, which had been cast away some years before. Fortunately they found some materials though injured by time and the weather, which they preserved; and having collected the drift wood, which comes ashore during the winter, they built a small boat. This they accomplished with great difficulty, and then put to sea in quest of an unknown island which they thought they saw lying north-east. Finding their conjectures erroneous, they altered their course, and sailed to Kamtschatka, where they arrived in August, 1749. This new vessel, which was called the Capitol, was given to Ivan Shilkin, the owner of the ship that had been lost, with the privilege of employing it in a future expedition to the Aleutian Islands.
On the 11th of September, 1757, Ivan Shilkin put to sea carrying with him Ignatius Shedentsoff, a Cossack, who was sent to collect the tribute for the crown, and a crew composed of twenty Russians, and a like number of Kamtschatdales. The Capiton had sailed but a short time, when she was driven back by stress of weather; her rudder was carried away, and one of the crew lost. In the following year the voyage was resumed, and they steered directly for Behring's Island, where they took up two men, who had been shipwrecked. The Caption remained at Behring's Island until August 1758, and touched at two of the Aleutian Isles. At the second, a boat, which was sent ashore, was so unexpectedly attacked by a numerous body of Islanders, that the people could scarcely escape to the vessel; and a heavy sea arising, the ship parted her cable, drove out to sea, and was wrecked on an island not far from the one she had left. The crew were with difficulty saved, with the loss of everything except their arms.
Scarcely had they reached the shore, when they were beset and attacked by numbers of savages in boats from other parts of the island. The Russians were many of them incapable of making any resistance, from having suffered so much from cold and wet; only fifteen remained able to fight, and these advanced boldly towards the assailants. 'The savages shouted on their approach, and discharging a shower of darts, wounded one of the Russians in the head. On this the Russians fired, killed two of the assailants, and forced the rest to retire; the savages soon after left the island, without renewing the attack.
On this island the Russians remained two winters, during which time they killed two hundred and thirty sea otters. For upwards of seven months, from the 6th of September to the 23rd of April, this shipwrecked crew underwent all the extremities of famine. They lived during that period on shell fish and roots, and were sometimes reduced to eat pieces of the leather which the sea washed from the wreck of the vessel. Seventeen died of hunger; and the rest must soon have shared the same fate, had it not been for the sustenance afforded by a dead whale cast ashore.
A small vessel was constructed out of the wreck of their own, in which they set sail in the beginning of the summer of 1760; but they had scarcely reached one of the Aleutian Isles, when they were again shipwrecked, and lost everything, and only thirteen of the crew succeeded in reaching Kamtschatka, in July, 1761.
The Betsey schooner, commanded by Captain Brooks, with Edward Luttrell, the mate, one Portuguese, three Manilla, and four Lascars, was wrecked in a voyage from Macoa to New South Wales, on the 21st of November 1805. The ship struck on a reef of rocks in only two feet water. During three days and nights, the utmost exertions were made to get her off, but without avail; and the crew became so exhausted, as to be barely able to make a raft, which, however, they completed on the 24th, and then left the ship, with the jolly boat in company, and steered for Palembang. A brisk gale arising, the boat and the raft parted company, and the latter was never heard of more. The captain, the mate, the gunner, and two seamen, were in the boat; and their whole stock of provisions being only a small bag of biscuit, was soon exhausted. On the 30th they reached Bangay, and went on shore; where they soon found fresh water of which they drank to excess. While rambling in the woods in quest of fruit, they were met by two Malays, who on learning by signs that they wanted food, 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, they returned to their boat. Next morning five Malays brought them some Indian corn and potatoes, which they bartered for spoons as before. A new supply of provisions was promised the next morning; but instead of receiving them, as they expected, they were attacked by eleven Malays, one of whom threw a spear at Captain Brooks, which penetrated his side; another made a cut at Mr. Luttrell, who parried it off with a cutlass, and ran to the boat. The gunner was severely wounded, and died in a few minutes after he reached the boat. The inhuman savages then wreaked their further vengeance on Captain Brooks, by cutting off both his legs, and when he was dead, stripping his body, and leaving him naked on the shore.
Those of the crew who had been fortunate enough to reach the boat, immediately made sail, shaping their course for the Straits of Malacca. On the 15th of December, they fell in with a group of islands, and approached the shore, when they were attacked by a body of Malays in two prows. One of the seamen was killed, and the other dangerously wounded. Mr. Luttrell had a very narrow escape from a spear piercing through his hat. The party being overpowered, were plundered, and kept in one of the prows three days, with little provisions, and exposed to the scorching heat of the sun. They were then carried on shore to the house of the Rajah, on an island called Sube, where they remained in a state of slavery, and entirely naked, until the 20th of April. The Rajah afterwards took them in a prow to Rhio, where they arrived nearly famished, after a tedious passage of twenty five days. Here their distresses were relieved, and the next day they obtained a passage to Malacca, which they reached in safety.
A Greenland whale ship from Archangel, with fourteen men, destined for Spitzbergen, was driven near an island, called by the Russians, Little Broun, in the year 1743. The vessel was suddenly surrounded by ice, and the crew reduced to a very 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 had formerly intended wintering on this island, and had erected a hut at some distance from the shore. The crew conceiving that they must inevitably perish in the ship, dispatched the mate and three others in quest of the hut. Two miles of ice intervened between the ship and the shore, and rendered reaching it very difficult. Having provided themselves with a musket, a powder horn, containing twelve charges of powder, and as many balls, an axe, a kettle, about twenty pounds of flour, a knife, a tinder-box, some tobacco, and each a wooden pipe, the four men left the ship, and soon reached the island, where they discovered the hut alluded to, about a mile and a half from the shore.
Rejoicing greatly at their success, they passed the night in the hut, and next morning hastened to the shore, impatient to communicate their good fortune to their comrades; but what was their astonishment on beholding an open sea instead of ice; and not a remnant of the ship, which they doubted not had been dashed to pieces. This unfortunate occurrence for a while deprived them of utterance;
'The pale mariners on each other star'd,
ith gaping mouths for issuing words prepar'd;
he still-born sounds upon the palate hung,
nd died imperfect on the falt'ring tongue.'
Astonishment gave way to horror and despair, and without the hope of ever being able to quit the island, they returned to the hut. Their first attention was directed to the means of providing subsistence, and repairing their habitation, which had suffered much from the weather. The twelve charges of powder and ball procured them as many reindeer, with which the island fortunately abounded.
The Russians collected a quantity of wood on the shore, with several bits of iron, some nails five or six inches long, and an iron hook. They also found the root of a fir tree bent nearly in the shape of a bow, and of which one was soon formed; but a string and arrows were still wanting. Unable at present to procure either, they resolved to make two lances to defend themselves against the white bears. Tools they had none, and materials very few; but
'The art of our necessities is strange,
hat can make vile things precious.'
The iron hook was fashioned into a hammer; a large pebble served for an anvil; and a couple of rein-deer horns supplied the place of tongs. By means of such tools, two spearheads were made, which were afterwards fixed on two strong shafts; and thus equipped, the Russians ventured to attack a white bear, which, after a most dangerous encounter, they killed. This was a new supply of provisions, which was much relished. The tendons being divided into filaments, served for strings to their bow, and some bits of iron which they pointed and fixed on fir rods, for arrows. They now were enabled more easily to obtain food; and during their abode in the island, they killed not less than two hundred and forty rein-deer, and a great number of blue and white foxes. They killed only ten white bears, and that at the utmost hazard, for these animals are amazingly strong, and defended themselves with great fury. Nine of these were killed in self defence, for they even ventured to enter the outer room of the hut.
To prevent the scurvy, Iwan Himkoff, who had wintered several times on the coast of West Spitzbergen, advised his companions to swallow raw and frozen meat in small pieces, and to drink the blood of the rein-deer as it flowed warm from the veins of the animal. Those who followed his injunctions, found an effectual antidote, but Feodor Weregin, who was of an indolent habit, and averse to drinking the blood, was soon seized with the scurvy; and under this afflicting distemper passed nearly six years, his humane companions being obliged to attend on him, and feed him like a new-born infant. When they had passed nearly six years in this dismal abode, he died in the winter, and was buried in the snow, which was dug as deep as possible to receive his corpse.
Various were the expedients of these poor men to alleviate their sufferings; a lamp was made of clay, oakum, and cordage, found on the shore, and afterwards, pieces of their shirts and drawers supplied the wick, and rein-deer fat served as a tolerable substitute for oil. The skins of reindears and foxes served for bedding; and some were tanned for clothing by steeping them in water, until the hair could be rubbed off; and then putting rein-deer fat upon them, which rendered them soft and pliant. The want of awls and needles was supplied by bits of iron which they collected. Of these 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 them to procure jackets and trousers for summer dress; and a long fur gown, with a hood, for their winter apparel.
After passing six years and three months in this rueful solitude, a Russian vessel driven from the place of her destination, unexpectedly came in view, on the 15th of August, 1749. 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 observed the signals, and coming to an anchor, took the wretched sufferers on board. Tears of gratitude trickled down their cheeks at such a deliverance; for true it is, that:-
anton in fulness, seek to hide themselves
n drops of sorrow.'
When they embarked, they took on board about two thousand weight of rein-deer fat, many hides, the skins of the blue and white foxes they had killed, and all their tools and weapons which had become sanctified in their misfortunes. The vessel then set sail; and on the 25th of September, 1749, arrived safe at Archangel, where they were received with transports of joy by their friends and relatives who had abandoned all hope of ever seeing any of them again.
In July, 1816, the French frigate, the Medusa, was wrecked on the coast of Africa, when part of the ship's company took to the boats, and the rest, to the number of one hundred and fifty, had recourse to a raft hastily lashed together. In two hours after pushing off for the shore, the people in the boats had the cruelty to bear away and leave the raft, already labouring hard amid the waves, and alike destitute of provisions and instruments for navigation, to shift for itself. 'From the moment,' says M. Sevigne, from whose affecting narrative this account is chiefly taken, 'that I was convinced of our being abandoned, I was strongly impressed with the crowd of dark and horrible Images that presented themselves to my imagination, the torments of hunger and thirst, the almost positive certainty of never more seeing my country or friends, composed the painful picture before my eyes; my knees sunk under me, and my hands mechanically sought for something to lay hold on; I could scarcely articulate a word. This state soon had an end, and then all my mental faculties revived. Having silenced the tormenting dread of death, I endeavoured to pour consolation into the hearts of my unhappy companions, who were almost in a state of stupor around me. No sooner, however, were the soldiers and sailors roused from their consternation then they abandoned themselves to excessive despair, and cried furiously out for vengeance on those who had abandoned them; each saw his own ruin inevitable, and clamorously vociferated the dark reflections that agitated him.' Some persons of a firmer character joined with M. Sevigne in his humane endeavours to tranquillize the minds of these wretched sufferers; and they at last partially succeeded, by persuading them that they would have an opportunity in a few days of revenging themselves on the people in the boats. 'I own,' says M. Sevigne, 'the spirit of vengeance animated every one of us, and we poured volleys of curses on the boat's crew, whose fatal selfishness exposed us to so many evils and dangers. We thought our sufferings would have been less cruel had they been partaken by the frigate's whole crew. Nothing is more exasperating to the unhappy than to think that those who plunged them into misery should enjoy every favour of fortune.'
After the first transports of passion had subsided, the sole efforts of their more collected moments were directed to the means of gaining the land to procure provision. All that they had on board the raft, consisted of twenty-five pounds of biscuit and some hogsheads of wine. The imperious desire of self preservation silenced every fear for a moment; they put up a sail on the raft, and every one assisted with a sort of delirious enthusiasm; not one of them foresaw the real extent of the peril by which they were surrounded.
The day passed on quietly enough; but night at length came on; the heavens were overspread with black clouds; the winds, unchained, raised the sea mountains high; terror again rode triumphant on the billow; dashed from side to side, now suspended betwixt life and death, bewailing their misfortune, and though certain of death, yet struggling with the merciless elements ready to devour them, the poor offcasts longed for the coming morn; as if it had been the sure harbinger of safety and repose. Often was the last doleful ejaculation heard of some sailor or soldier weary of the struggle rushing into the embrace of death. A baker and two young cabin boys, after taking leave of their comrades, deliberately plunged the deep. 'We are off,' said they, and instantly disappeared. Such was the commencement of that dreadful insanity which we shall afterwards see raging in the most cruel manner, and sweeping off a crowd of victims. In the course of the first night, twelve persons were lost from the raft.
'The day coming on,' says M. Sevigne, 'brought back a little calm amongst us; some unhappy persons, however, near me, were not come to their senses. A charming young man scarcely sixteen, asked me every moment, "When shall we eat?" He stuck to me, and followed me everywhere, repeating the same question. In the course of the day, Mr. Griffen threw himself into the sea, but I took him up again. His words were confused; I gave him every consolation in my power, and endeavoured to persuade him to support courageously every privation we were suffering. But all my care was unavailing; I could never recall him to reason; he gave no sign of being sensible to the horror of our situation. In a few minutes he threw himself again into the sea, but by an effort of instinct held to a piece of wood that went beyond the raft, and he was taken up a second time.'
The hope of still seeing the boats come to their succour, enabled them to support the torments of hunger during this second day; but as the gloom of night returned and every man began, as it were, to look in upon himself, the desire of food rose to an ungovernable height, and ended in a state of general delirium. The greater part of the soldiers and sailors, unable to appease the hunger that preyed upon them, and persuaded that death was now inevitable, took the fatal resolution of softening their last moments by drinking of the wine till they could drink no more. Attacking a hogshead in the centre of the raft, they drew large libations from it; the stimulating liquid soon turned their delirium into frenzy, they began to quarrel and fight with one another, and ere long the few planks on which they were floating, between time and eternity, became the scene of a most bloody contest for momentary pre-eminence. No less than sixty-three men lost their lives on this unhappy occasion.
Shortly after tranquillity was restored. 'We fell,' says M. Sevigne, 'into the same state as before; this insensibility was so great that next day I thought myself waking out of a disturbed sleep, asking the people round me if they had seen any tumult, or heard any cries of despair? Some answered that they, too, had been tormented with the same visions, and did not know how to explain them. Many who had been most furious during the night were now sullen and motionless, unable to utter a single word. Two or three plunged into the ocean, coolly bidding their companions farewell; others would say, "Don't despair; I am going to bring you relief, you shall soon see me again." Not a few even thought themselves on board the Medusa, amidst everything they used to be daily surrounded with. In a conversation with one of my comrades he said to me, "I cannot think we are on a raft; I always suppose myself on board our frigate." My own judgment, too, wandered on these points. M. Correard imagined himself going over the beautiful plains of Italy. M. Griffen said very seriously, "I remember we were forsaken by the boats; but never fear, I have just written to Government, and in a few hours we shall be saved." M. Correard asked quite as seriously, "And have you then a pigeon to carry your orders so fast?"'
It was now the third day since they had been abandoned, and hunger began to be most sharply felt; some of the men, driven to desperation, at length tore off the flesh from the dead bodies that covered the raft, and devoured it. 'The officers and passengers,' says M. Sevigne, 'to whom I united myself, could not overcome the repugnance inspired by such horrible food. We, however, tried to eat the belts of our sabres and cartouch boxes, and succeeded in swallowing some small pieces; but we were at last forced to abandon these expedients, which brought no relief to the anguish caused by total abstinence.'
In the evening they were fortunate enough to take nearly two hundred flying-fishes, which they shared immediately. Having found some gunpowder, they made a fire to dress them, but their portions were so small and their hunger so great, that they added human flesh, which the cooking rendered less disgusting; the officers were at last tempted to taste of it. The horrid repast was followed with another scene of violence and confusion; a second engagement took place during the night, and in the morning only thirty persons were left alive on the fatal raft.
On the fourth night a third fit of despair swept off fifteen more; so that, finally, the number of miserable beings was reduced from one hundred and fifty to fifteen.
'A return of reason,' says M. Sevigne, 'began now to enlighten our situation. I have no longer to relate the furious actions dictated by dark despair, but the unhappy state of fifteen exhausted creatures reduced to frightful misery. Our gloomy thoughts were fixed on the little wine that was left, and we contemplated with horror the ravages which despair and want had made amongst us. "You are much altered," says one of my companions, seizing my hand, and melting into tears. Eight days' torments had rendered us no longer like ourselves.
'At length, seeing ourselves so reduced, we summoned up all our strength, and raised a kind of stage to rest ourselves upon. On this new theatre we resolved to wait death in a becoming manner. We passed some days in this situation, each concealing his despair from his nearest companions. Misunderstanding, however, again took place, on the tenth day after being on board the raft. After a distribution of wine several of our companions conceived the idea of destroying themselves after finishing the little wine that remained. "When people are so wretched as we," said they, "they have nothing to wish for but death." We made the strongest remonstrances to them; but their diseased brains could only fix on the rash project which they had conceived; a new contest was therefore on the point of commencing, but at length they yielded to our remonstrances. Many of us, after receiving our small portion of wine, fell into a state of intoxication, and often great misunderstandings arose.
'At other times we were pretty quiet, and sometimes our natural spirits inspired a smile in spite of the horrors of our situation. Says one, "if the brig is sent in search of us, let us pray to God to give her the eyes of Argus," alluding to the name of the vessel which we supposed might come in search of us.
'The 17th in the morning, thirteen days after being forsaken, while each was enjoying the delights of his poor portion of wine, a captain of infantry perceived a vessel in the horizon, and announced it with a shout of joy. For some moments we were suspended between hope and fear. Some said that they saw the ship draw nearer, others, that "it was sailing away." Unfortunately these last were not mistaken, for the brig soon disappeared. From excess of joy we now fell back into despair. For my part, I was so accustomed to the idea of death that I saw it approach with indifference. I had remarked many others terminate their existence without great outward signs of pain; they first became quite delirious, and nothing could appease them; after that they fell into a state of imbecility that ended their existence, like a lamp that goes out for want of oil. A boy, twelve years old, unable to support these privations, sunk under them, after our being forsaken. All spoke of this fine boy as deserving a better fate, his angelic face, his melodious voice and his tender years, inspired us with the tenderest compassion, for so young a victim devoted to so frightful and untimely a death. Our oldest soldiers, and, indeed, every one, eagerly assisted him as far as circumstances permitted. But, alas! it was all in vain; neither the wine, nor every other consolation could save him, and he expired in M. Coudin's arms. As long as he was able to move, he was continually running from one side of the raft to the other, calling out for his mother, for water, and for food.
'About six o'clock, on the 17th, one of our companions looking out, on a sudden stretching his hands forwards, and scarcely able to breathe, cried out, "Here's the brig almost alongside;" and, in fact, she was actually very near. We threw ourselves on each other's necks with frantic transports, while tears trickled down our withered cheeks. She soon bore upon us within pistol shot, sent a boat, and presently took us all on board.
'We had scarcely escaped, when some of us became delirious again; a military officer was going to leap into the sea, as he said, to take up his pocket-book, and would certainly have done so, but for those about him; others were affected in the same manner, but in a less degree.
'Fifteen days after our deliverance, I felt the species of mental derangement which is produced by great misfortunes; my mind was in a continual agitation, and during the night I often awoke, thinking myself still on the raft, and many of my companions experienced the same effects. One Francois became deaf and remained for a long time in a state of idiotism. Another frequently lost his recollection; and my own memory, remarkably good before this event, was weakened by it in a sensible manner.
'At the moment in which I am recalling the dreadful scenes to which I have been witness, they present themselves to my imagination like a frightful dream. All these horrible scenes from which I so miraculously escaped seem now only as a point in my existence. Restored to health, my mind sometimes recalls those visions that tormented it during the fever that consumed it. In those dreadful moments we were certainly attacked with a cerebral fever in consequence of excessive mental irritation. And even now, sometimes in the night, after having met with any disappointment, and when the wind is high, my mind recalls the fatal raft. I see a furious ocean ready to swallow me up; hands uplifted to strike me, and the whole train of human passions let loose; revenge, fury, hatred, treachery, and despair, surrounding me!'
Mademoiselle de Bourk, and Companions.
In the year 1719, a Genoese tartan, sailing from Cette to Barcelona, was taken and plundered by an Algerine pirate (which left some of its crew in charge of the vessel); and was afterwards wrecked on the coast of Barbary. Among the persons on board the tartan was the Countess de Bourk, on her way to Madrid, where her husband was ambassador from the Court of France, and her family. When the vessel was wrecked, the neighbouring mountaineers assembled on the beach to repel what they conceived a hostile invasion; but two of the Turks, to whom the charge of the vessel had been committed, swam ashore, and soon undeceived them, saying the vessel was a prize taken from the Christians, containing a great French princess, whom they were conducting to Algiers. The captain endeavoured to get the vessel off, but in vain; her whole stern sunk under water, and the Countess de Bourk, her son, and three female attendants, being in the cabin, were drowned. Those at the head of the ship, among whom were the Abbe de Bourk, Mr. Arthur, the steward, a maid servant, and the valet, clung to that part of the wreck on the rock. Mr. Arthur observing something struggling in the water went down, and found it to be Mademoiselle de Bourk, the Countess's daughter, whom he extricated, and put into the steward's hands, recommending her to his care. He immediately threw himself into the sea, in hopes to swim ashore, but was drowned.
Among the first persons who quitted the wreck to get on the rock, was the abbe', who forcing his knife into a crevice, held by it, resisting the violence of the waves for some time. At length, they drove him from his hold, and cast him on a shoal; he had now a narrow arm of the sea to cross before reaching the shore, which, however with the help of an oar, he succeeded in doing. The Moors collected on the beach, immediately seized on him, tore off his clothes, and used him with great barbarity. Numbers of them made their way towards the wreck, in hopes of a rich booty. The steward, who had Mademoiselle de Bourk in his arms, made signs to the Moors to advance; and when they were within four paces, threw her to them. They caught her, and holding her by an arm and a leg, brought her ashore, where they took a shoe and a stocking from her, in token of servitude. The maid and the valet also leaped into the sea, and were taken up by the Moors, who carried them ashore, and left them there naked. The steward was the last who forsook the wreck. By means of a rope, he climbed from rock to rock; but before he got to land, he was met by a Moor, who stripped him of nearly all his clothes. In this pitiable condition the captives were conducted towards cottages on the nearest mountains, through rugged paths, and urged forward with blows.
When the captives came to be divided, it fortunately happened, that Mademoiselle de Bourk, her uncle, and the steward, remained together, under one master, who, however, was not very humane. He provided each of them with a wretchedly filthy garment, and a scanty portion of very coarse bread kneaded into cakes; which, with water for their beverage, was all their refreshment, after undergoing so many fatigues. The wretched captives were in a deplorable condition; exhausted with fatigue; deprived of repose; pressed with want; destitute of all consolation; and continually threatened with torture and death.
The wrecked packages, and the dead bodies, were fished up by the Moors, who are expert divers; and when they drew any of the latter ashore, they stripped them quite naked. Disdaining to profane their knives on Christians, they beat the Countess de Bourk's fingers off with stones, in order to obtain her rings. The steward endeavoured to represent, that they were violating every principle of humanity, in not permitting the bodies to be interred, but the only answer he received was, 'We never bury dogs.'
The food of the captives was frequently nothing better than the raw tops of parsnips, without a morsel of bread. The children, however, gradually contracted an affection for Mademoiselle de Bourk, whence she sometimes procured a little milk. This lady successively wrote four letters to the French consul at Algiers, informing him of the wretched condition of herself and her fellow captives. The last one fortunately reached him, and he read it to the Catholic fathers who were at that time at Algiers, for the purpose of redeeming Christians in slavery. The fathers were sensibly affected by the letter and immediately tendered their money and services; a French vessel was despatched with clothes and provisions, and a letter from the Dey to the great Maraboot, through whose agency the captives were ultimately ransomed. Mademoiselle de Bourk was sent in a vessel to France, and on the 29th of May, 1720, arrived et Marseilles in safety.
The Abergavenny East Indiaman, commanded by Captain Wordsworth, with a crew and passengers to the number of upwards of four hundred persons, sailed from Portsmouth on the 1st of February, 1805, for the East Indies. On the fifteenth, when in Portland Roads, she struck on the Shambles about two miles from the shore. The water immediately rose so fast in the ship, that it was resolved to run her on the first shore, but all the efforts to keep the water under, were vain: and at six o'clock in the afternoon, the loss of the ship began to appear inevitable. The captain and officers preserved the utmost intrepidity, and coolly issued their orders wherever necessity required; while their example animated the men to exertion. As the night advanced, the situation of all on board became terrible. It was with the utmost difficulty that the whole ship's company were enabled to keep the vessel afloat; and in order to induce the men to exert their utmost powers at the pumps, the officers stood by cheering and encouraging them, and giving them allowances of liquor. At seven, the ship's company being almost exhausted, signal guns were fired in hopes of obtaining boats from the shore, to save as many of the people on board as possible. Mr. Mortimer, the purser, and six seamen, were sent in one of the ship's boats with a cousin of the captain and the papers and despatches. After landing them, they came back to the ship, took on board some of the passengers, and, amidst a dreadful sea, which threatened instant destruction, safely conveyed them ashore. Mrs. Blair, one of the passengers, who was going out to India to settle the affairs of her husband lately dead, remained on board, in spite of all entreaties. Indeed, many more would have embarked in the boats, had they not dreaded to encounter a tempestuous sea in so dark a night.
It was now about nine o'clock, and several boats were heard at a short distance from the ship, but they rendered no assistance to the distressed on board. Whether they were engaged in plunder, or in the humane office of saving those who had clung to pieces of the wreck, could not be ascertained. The crew still continued pumping and baling without intermission, and the cadets on board, though of tender age, laboured most indefatigably. A midshipman was appointed to guard the spirit room, to repress that unhappy desire of a devoted crew to endeavour to forget their miseries in intoxication. The sailors, though in other respects orderly in conduct, now pressed eagerly upon him, crying, 'Give us some grog, it will be all one an hour hence.' 'I know we must die,' replied the gallant officer, with the utmost coolness, 'but let us die like men,' and armed with a brace of pistols, he kept his post, even while the ship was sinking.
When the carpenter came from below, and told the men who were working at the pumps that nothing more could be done, and that the ship must go down, the crew were variously affected. Some gave themselves up to despair, others prayed, and some seeking the means of safety, committed themselves on pieces of wreck to the waves. Mr. Bagot, the chief mate, went to the captain, and said, ' Sir, we have done all we can, the ship will sink in a moment.' The captain replied, 'Well, it cannot be helped - God's will be done.' The ship was now nearly full of water, and she gradually sunk in the waves. The cries of the distressed while sinking, which could be heard at a great distance, were awful, the wretched people were seen running about the deck in all the agony and hopelessness of despair, so long as it kept above water. At about eleven o'clock, a heavy sea gave the vessel a sudden shock, and she went down.
At that moment, Captain Wordsworth was seen clinging to the ropes; the fourth mate used every persuasion to induce him to endeavour to save his life, but he seemed indifferent about existence, and perished at the age of thirty-five. One hundred and eighty souls had sought an asylum in the tops and rigging, whose situation was truly dreadful, as they were exposed in a cold, dark, frosty night, with the sea incessantly breaking over them. In their struggles to gain places of security, the most distressing scenes occurred. A serjeant having secured his wife in the shrouds, she lost her hold, and, melancholy to relate, in her last struggles for life, bit a large piece from her husband's arm, which remained dreadfully lacerated. One of the crew having gained a considerable height, endeavoured to climb still higher; but his exertions were frustrated by some messmate, in a perilous situation, seizing hold of his leg; all remonstrance was in vain; and the impulse of self-preservation prevailed so far over the dictates of humanity, that the seaman drew his clasp knife, and cut the miserable fingers across, until the other relinquished his hold, and was killed in the fall.
Several boats now approached the wreck but they rendered no assistance; at length two sloops, which had been attracted by the signal guns, came to anchor close by the wreck, and by means of their boats, took all the survivors from the shrouds, by twenty in each boat; and in the morning, conveyed them safe to Weymouth. The men in the shrouds showed great calmness; they did not crowd into the boats, but came down one by one as they were called by the officers.
Several persons had a most miraculous escape. When the awful declaration was heard, that 'the ship must go down,' Mr. Grimshaw, one of the cadets on board, and two more, went into the cabin, where they stood looking at each other for some time without uttering a word. At length one of them said, 'Let us return to the deck;' and two of them did so. Mr. Grimshaw remained behind; and opening his writing-desk, took out his commission, his introductory letters, and some money, and then went on deck, but without seeing his companions. The ship was now going down head foremost, and the sea rolling in an immense volume along the deck. He endeavoured to ascend the steps leading to the poop, but was launched among the waves, encumbered by boots and a greatcoat, and unable to swim. Struggling to keep himself afloat, he seized on a rope hanging from the mizen shrouds. Amidst his exertions to ascend by it, he slipped into the sea, where he resigned himself to that destruction which now appeared inevitable; but by a sudden lurch of the ship, he was thrown into the mizen shrouds, where he remained until taken off in the morning. Mr. Gilpin, the fourth mate, who was at the mizentop, with about twenty others, continually cheered them, and contributed much to keep up their spirits.
When the ship was going down, William White, a midshipman and coxswain, leaped overboard, although he could not swim, and trusted to save himself by exertion. He got on a hen coop with two others. After drifting some distance from the ship, it overset and his companions were swallowed up; while he in vain attempted to regain his seat. In the struggle, he caught a piece of wreck, of which some unfortunate person had just lost hold and was drowned: and by means of it, he reached the mizen rigging. Twenty persons crowded into a boat, which, before advancing many yards, overset, and only one of the number was saved. The captain's joiner was not less fortunate; the same sea which washed Captain Wordsworth over carried him away along with the launch which was full of sheep and a cow. The joiner on swimming about a short time, observed the launch, and having got into it among the cattle, he was saved. Mr. Bagot, the chief mate, who much resembled Captain Wordsworth in the mildness of his manners, and his cool temperate disposition, made no attempt to save his life, but shared the fate of his captain, and with similar composure.
The loss of the Sussex East Indiaman, which was wrecked near the coast of Madagascar, in 1738, was attended with peculiar circumstances. She met with a violent gale on the 9th of March, to the eastward of the Cape of Good Hope, when homeward bound. Two days after, the captain and his officers, with the greatest part of the crew, went on board the Winchester East Indiaman; but John Dean and fifteen other seamen told the captain, that 'they would tarry by the ship at all hazards, to carry her safe to some port, as it was a shame to leave such a vessel.'
The Sussex stood for Madagascar, and made the island in four days. Two days after, they came to anchor in St. Austin's Bay. They were visited by the king; but the natives seeing so few men on board, became insolent and troublesome, which induced them to quit the coast, and repair to Mozambique, the ship being now in good trim for sea. On the second day, however, after quitting the Bay, the vessel unfortunately struck, and the crew finding she was aground without the possibility of saving her, thought on the best means of escape. Nine men, including Deans, got into the pinnace; but the rest determined to take their chance in the ship, thinking there was no prospect of saving their lives in the pinnace, as the sea ran so high. The pinnace being parted, was struck with a wave, and eight men were washed out, three of whom were drowned. The other five gained the shore, and repaired the pinnace.
They remained here three days, and then with one butt of water, one piece of pork, and three small crabs, put to sea, and in seventeen days reached Madagascar, where they landed. Here they trusted to the mercy and humanity of the natives but all of them died of sickness (some no doubt without the suspicion of having been poisoned) except John Deans, who was conducted to the king, and well received by him. It was, however, some time before he could obtain permission to leave the country; which, after great hardships, he at length obtained, and got on board an East India ship, bound from Madagascar to Bombay. He afterwards returned to Europe, and had a pension from the East India Company.
Shipwrecked Mariners in Virginia.
A small vessel of one hundred and forty tons, commanded by Captain Bayley, with a crew and passengers to the number of forty-one persons, was wrecked on the Ronoke sandbanks, near Virginia, in April, 1710. The boat in which the crew attempted to escape, was staved to pieces before they could quit the ship's side, and they with difficulty regained the deck. Two negroes, who were excellent divers, succeeded in conveying a rope ashore, and making it fast to the stump of a tree, by means of which seven persons were enabled to escape from the vessel.
For two days they were without provisions and exposed to a heavy rain, when they obtained from a Virginian planter a couple of pines and a small tub of butter, which the sea had cast up. These they eat with greediness. A puncheon of water was also thrown ashore, which was a great relief. The planter took the party to his habitation, about ten miles distant, and gave them some hung beef, and ground Indian corn mixed with milk. There were only two beds in the house, which the family instantly gave up to the distressed mariners.
After remaining five days with their kind host, they hired a canoe with two sails, and resolved to go up the river to wait on Colonel Carew, the deputy governor, with whom one of the party was acquainted. After being very well entertained by him, they proceeded to the governor, who received them most kindly, and hurried the whole party into his dining room, where a supper and a bowl of punch stood prepared for a number of gentlemen, his guests. But he apologized to them and said he could not think of anyone tasting the supper until the shipwrecked mariners had been satisfied. They soon cleared what was set before them; and then another supper was provided for the whole company, of which the seamen also shared, notwithstanding their previous repast.
The governor, who was acquainted with Richard Castleman, one of the party, and the owner of the cargo in the vessel that had been lost, offered him his horse, to carry him by land to Kakatan, about one hundred and twenty leagues distant: and also provided as a guide, an honest Quaker, who for a trifling sum agreed to accompany him and bring back the horse. The way lay through unfrequented woods, which the guide traced by marks on the trees. After travelling twenty miles, they arrived at the plantation of a Quaker, to whom the guide said, 'Friend, I have brought along with me a shipwrecked gentleman, who is going to Kakatan, and desires a lodging tonight.' The host answered, 'Friend, come in, thou art welcome.' Here Mr. Castleman was well entertained, and in the morning when he was going to depart, he offered his host some compensation; at which he felt much offended, saying, 'My house is no inn, and we see strangers so very seldom, that they are always welcome when they come; and God forbid that I should lessen the store of an unfortunate man like thyself.' Similar hospitality was received during the whole journey, and at the house of the guide's father, where they remained four days, when Mr. Castleman was paying the guide the money agreed upon, his father testified much displeasure, declaring that he would disown him for a son, if he took a single penny. Such was the disinterested and compassionate conduct of the people of America to a man in misfortune. Mr. Castleman reached Philadelphia in safety, where he again joined some of his shipwrecked comrades. They embarked in a vessel for England; and after a stormy passage, reached London in the month of November, 1710.
Few shipwrecks have occurred of late years attended with circumstances more distressing than that of the Oswego, which was stranded on the coast of Barbary, about two hundred miles to the southward of Santa Cruz. The master, Judah Paddock, a Quaker, has written an interesting narrative of the sufferings of the crew, which realizes literally the poet's pictures
'Of most disastrous chances,
f moving accidents by flood and field;
f being taken by the insolent foe,
nd sold to slavery; of their redemption thence,
nd with it all their travail's history
f antres vast, and deserts idle.'
The Oswego, with a crew of thirteen persons, including two Swedes, two Danes, two negroes, two boys, and a worthless Irishman named Pat, sailed from Cork on the 22nd of March, 1800, for the Cape Verd Islands, but by an error in reckoning, missed the Island of Madeira. On the 2nd of April, when between the latitudes of Madeira and Teneriffe, the vessel struck, and she filled rapidly with water. Surrounded with foaming billows, every surge threatened the crew with destruction. It was now about midnight, when the crew, contrary to the wishes of the master determined on going ashore, though cautioned that they were wrecked on the coast of Barbary. They took the long boat, and such was their haste to quit the ship, that they neither took water nor provisions with them. With some difficulty they reached the rocks, and crawled over some of them which were from ten to twelve feet high, to a sand bed, a little beyond which appeared a sand hill above a hundred feet in height.
The crew soon became sensible of their error in quitting the ship; and their first object was to get back to it for a supply of provisions and water, and materials for repairing the long boat, which had been much shattered on the rocks. Several of the crew attempted to swim to the wreck, but failed; and Sam, one of the negroes, was so much exhausted, that he was with difficulty saved by the exertions of two of the men, who swam after him. A raft was now constructed, by lashing together some pieces of small spars, and the lower yard of a ship which they found lying on shore. But failing to gain the wreck by these means, the mate, at Mr. Paddock's suggestion, determined on trying to reach it, by following the receding water as low as possible, and then darting through the breakers, which alone prevented the sailors from reaching it. He accordingly stripped, and in less than five minutes was at the ship.
A quantity of provisions, consisting of forty pounds of bread, a small quantity of potatoes and onions, a bag of Indian corn, with clothes, bedding, &c., were safely landed. A quantity of water in kegs, and unfortunately as it afterwards proved, a case of spirits, and a hamper of port wine and porter, were also brought on shore. Having erected a tent, and made a good supper, at eight o'clock they set the watch, who were to be relieved every two hours, intending to begin early the next morning, and land everything necessary for repairing the boat, so as to render it fit for their departure, which they hoped to do in two days.
Anxious to know whether there were any inhabitants in the neighbourhood, they despatched one man to the eastward, and another to the west, along the coast, to endeavour to discover, if possible, whereabouts, and in what sort of country, they were. In the evening, the man who had been sent to the west returned with most fearful tidings that he had seen about twelve miles off a heap of human bones near a fire, which did not appear to have been extinguished above a few days; and he was convinced that they were in a land of cannibals. Luckily he told this adventure first to the master, who had gone to meet him and who prevailed on him not to mention it to the others, for fear it might dishearten them. The man sent towards the east lost his way in the mountains, and did not get back till the following day, when they were all in great uneasiness about him. He had walked a distance of fifty miles without seeing any human being, except a man with a camel travelling westward. In the meantime, an incident took place which led to an entire change of purpose. Pat, and one of the Danes, who was as much addicted to tippling as himself, being unfortunately together upon watch, they made free with the spirits, and fell asleep through drunkenness. This neglect of duty was discovered when their companions awoke in the morning; and what was much more afflicting, it was found by the traces and footmarks left, that during their insensibility, two natives (accompanied by a dog) had walked round, and reconnoitred the party. Dreading the appearance of the natives in force, the idea of finishing the repairs of the boat was now abandoned, and the crew resolved on marching along shore, in the hope of reaching Santa Cruz, which they supposed to be about a hundred and eighty miles distant. Each man then took five bottles of water and twenty biscuits; and thus slenderly provided, began their sorrowful route. The master had an umbrella; a spy-glass, about the value of six hundred dollars in gold; and a copper teakettle full of water, to be first used. His pockets were stored with chocolate and sugar. Pat and the Dane contrived to smuggle a bottle of gin, and pass it for water, which was afterwards the cause of much evil. Mr. Paddock put on a new suit, and the rest of the clothing was divided among the crew. The negro Jack, seeing two pieces of tabinet which Mr. P. had bought in Ireland for his wife about to be left, seized hold of them, saying 'Master, my mistress shall wear these gowns yet: she shall, master, depend upon it; they are too pretty to leave here; and singular as it must appear, Jack's declarations were realised.
Having buried all their arms, and hoisted an ensign on the hill, that they might depart 'under flying colours,' they set forward agreeing, in case of separation or capture, to call themselves Englishmen. They travelled south-east, over mountains of sand, exposed to the burning sun, and the reflection of its rays from the burning sands. Towards evening they reached a cave by the sea-side, into which they all entered, and passed the night. On the next day they resumed their toilsome progress, and met with one of those illusions so frequent in torrid climates: at the distance of two miles they thought there was a pond; two men were immediately dispatched forward, when they found it to be a formation of pure salt. The disappointed wanderers went on; and not long after a town appeared before them, at a distance of not more than a quarter of a mile. The master caused the men to stop, and advanced alone. He reached a cluster of houses, from twenty to thirty in number, and from ten to twenty feet square, without roofs, each having a door-way on the south side, indifferently well built without mortar. On a signal, the men came up. They walked about the building, conjecturing what they were; when they discovered, on the north side of the northernmost house, several casks, of about one hundred gallons, with one head out. From their appearance they took them to have been French brandy casks. The wooden hoops were mostly left on them, but the iron ones were all gone. In one of them there was a large quantity of human hair. Upon looking into that cask, one of the men exclaimed, 'O my God! we are in a savage inhospitable land; these poor fellows, who were lately here, have been murdered.' Their lot was however cast, and they had only to submit. They agreed in opinion that these cabins had been erected by a shipwrecked company for their preservation; but that they had been destroyed by the natives. This conjecture was rendered more probable, by a pile of human bones, which were found about fifty yards from the place. At night, they bivouacked at the foot of a rock, surrounded by wild beasts, which they supposed to be hyenas, and they did not dare to resort to the usual expedient to keep them off, that of lighting fires, lest it should betray them to the more savage human inhabitants.
Discontent again appeared among the crew, who had now got about fifty-five miles from the vessel, and they came to the insane and fatal determination, to measure back their steps. Remonstrance was in vain; and it was at length agreed, that they should all go back, and use every exertion to prepare the boat for sailing, except Mr. Paddock, who would go forward, and if he found the inhabitants friendly, would hire camels and send for them. The two negroes would not quit their master, and Pat also accompanied him. The provisions and the water were divided; those who were going forward being allowed the largest share, namely, twenty bottles of water and a full share of bread
All things being thus arranged, they separated. 'The expressions of every man on this trying occasion,' says Mr. Paddock in his narrative 'can never be erased from my memory, as long as my senses shall remain. Tears gushed from every eye; some of us could scarcely articulate the word Farewell. We shook hands with each other, and all moved in a silent procession at the same signal, which was go on.
Mr. Paddock and his little band had not proceeded far, when they encountered seven Arabs, whom he advanced to meet, and held out his right hand in token of friendship. Of this the barbarians took no notice; but passing him as quickly as possible, they rushed upon their prey with drawn daggers, threw them down, and began to cut away their knapsacks, and rifle them of everything about their persons.
The captain was the last exposed to this inhospitable treatment; his spy-glass being mistaken for arms, which rendered the savages more cautious. At length, however, they sprung upon him like tigers, and soon stripped him of his watch, gold, and other property. This done, and the spoil almost fought for in the struggle of appropriation, these religious robbers faced eastward, fell on their knees, and took up sand in their hands as if it were water, and washed themselves with it - hands, arms, face, neck, &c. They next fell prostrate, with their faces on the ground; then rose upon their knees, and said over many words, which, from their looks and gestures, appeared to be prayers, or a sort of te deum for their booty.
The banditti now re-primed their guns, and made their poor prisoners kneel down with their faces towards them. This done, they enquired for the remainder of the crew their number, where the ship was, &c.; and after obtaining this information, though with some difficulty, they gave each of them a load to carry, when they gave the word bomar, go on, accompanying it by a blow, and a push forward.
Eager to get to the vessel, the Arabs drove them along with continued blows, and the threat of shooting them. On the ninth, they overtook six more of the crew on their way back to the vessel, the remaining four having lain down to sleep on the road; as soon as these six saw the Arabs approaching, they finished their remaining water, to the great regret of Mr. Paddock and his companions, who hoped on meeting with them, to have quenched their burning thirst. These men were soon stripped with the same brutality as had been practiced on the first party, and added to the band of prisoners. In describing the number of his companions, Mr. Paddock had designated ten, meaning ten besides himself, the negroes, and Pat; but the Arabs understood him ten in all, and were now satisfied that they had captured the whole. They thereupon thought of dividing their prisoners, a difficult task, since ten were to be allotted among seven. With much contention, the chief and his son (a youth of seventeen or eighteen) obtained three; Mr. Paddock, and Jack the black, fell to the share of the worst Arab of the gang, and the rest had each one. Thus disposed of, they travelled, suffering every misery, till they arrived at the shore on which the vessel lay. Here about two hundred and fifty of the natives had collected, men, women, and children, and nothing but furious contests for plunder and confusion prevailed. The four mariners who had slept on the road, made their appearance in the midst of this scramble, in which some blood was shed, and were immediately seized and stripped by the multitude. Their destiny was thus separated from that of the ten who had been divided among the seven Arabs and after only half an hour's mournful communion, the latter were once more put upon their march, leaving their messmates in the hands of the crowd, who were breaking up the Oswego.
They first shaped their course south-west; and having procured a camel to carry their baggage, they turned eastward, and marched over the old ground on the 9th and 10th of April. One of the Arabs now left them, but soon returned with about half a bushel of sweet berries, and an animal about the size of a half-grown goat. Its head, skin, and legs they took off immediately, opened and quartered it, laid it on the sand, and covered it over with hot sand, and a fire of dried sticks to cook it. The entrails in their raw state were thrown to the poor prisoners, who were suffering more from thirst than hunger, having been long without water. This nauseous food being warm and moist, these unhappy men were fain to chew it after picking off the fat, It was destined to be their meal for five days. After finishing their own repast, the Arabs threw the bones to the Christian dogs, but there was not an ounce of meat on the whole.
From the 11th to the 14th, was only a repetition and aggravation of miseries. Almost without water during the burning heat of day, without covering (except sometimes drifting sand) during the inclemency of the night, forced onward at the rate of from thirty to thirty-five miles daily, and nearly destitute of food, nothing could exceed the wretchedness of their condition. A pond of putrid water, as thick as common gruel, was a luxury beyond estimation: and the twigs of a shrub, like dwarf thorn, and a patch of barley which they came to on the 13th, were gratefully acknowledged as blessings from heaven. With the raw grain, the Arabs, for the first time showing them any kindness, assisted them to fill their stomachs. Patches of wild oats were also seen here and there in these desert places, as their journey lengthened. On the 14th, after their long and never forgotten morning prayers, the Arabs discharged the camel and its owner, and loaded their captives with the luggage; but they now were too faint and exhausted for the labour, and neither threats nor blows had power to urge them on. Parched with thirst, life itself seemed worth no more than a tumbler of water; and their cruel taskmasters were compelled to relieve them from their burthens, the greater part of which they buried in the sand. Two or three miles further they arrived at an encampment of several hundred natives, with their wives and families. Here they found in slavery an Englishman, about nineteen, named George, and two boys, Jack, and Laura, a Mulatto, all belonging to he ship the Marlinfall, of London, cast away on that coast more than a year before. The meeting was of the most affecting kind.
After proceeding onward for some days, and suffering under the accumulated miseries of hunger, thirst, and fatigue, the wretched prisoners were all sold to an Arab chief of the name of Ahomed, except the two negroes, whom the mountaineers would not part with at any price. Ahomed having bought the men on speculation, sent them to Mogadore, where they were received with every kindness by Mr. Gwin, the British Consul, and ransomed by Messrs. Court, Jackson, and Foxcroft, for the sum of 1700 dollars. One incident only remains to be told; while Mr. Paddock was with Mr. Foxcroft, a wild Arab came with the pieces of tabinet, which the poor negro had vowed his mistress should wear. They were immediately purchased, and Mr. Paddock had the pleasure of presenting to his wife a dress which must have been doubly prized on account of its singular adventures.
Humanity of Caraib Indians.
Captain Aubin, with a crew of nine men, was shipwrecked on the Coast of Guiana, on the 14th of August, 1756. The ship, which was a bark of eighty tons, filled so rapidly with water, that some of the men were drowned in their hammocks. Captain Aubin, with the mate and two of the crew, got into the boat, which was leaky, without any provisions or water, without a sail or oars, or any implement except a knife. Thirteen onions were picked up near the ship before leaving her. With much labour the planks which lined the bottom of the boat were got up, and a mast formed of them. A piece of plank was used as a substitute for a yard, and to this was fixed one of the sailor's trousers, which served as a sail. A shirt was cut into strips, which were twisted, to serve the purpose of rigging. The boat continued to leak so much, that one of the men was incessantly occupied in baling out the water by means of the captain's Dutch hat. Such was the melancholy situation of these men, who were naked, and in the midst of a tempestuous sea.
Hunger and thirst were resisted for two days with great patience, but on the third day Captain Aubin killed a dog which they had taken on board. The animal's blood was caught in the hat, out of which the men eagerly drank by turns, and felt themselves very much refreshed by it. The flesh of the dog, and a flying fish, which had fallen into the boat, were also a great relief. On the eighth day the two seamen died, and the captain and mate were so weak as to be unable to stand upright, or steer the boat. To their inexpressible joy, however, the high land at the western extremity of the island of Tobago was discovered in the evening; and, keeping the boat towards it all night, a current in the morning cast them on the beach at the easternmost part of the island.
They had not remained here long when they were discovered by some native Caraibs, ho first brought them food, and then conveyed them to their huts in Man of War Bay. Captain Aubin was laid in their only hammock; a very palatable mess of herbs and broth was prepared by a woman for him, and his wounds were dressed with a decoction of tobacco. Every morning the men lifted him from the hammock, and carried him in their arms under the shade of a lemon tree, where they covered him with plantain leaves, to shelter him from the beams of the sun. Similar attentions were paid to the mate; and the Caraibs were so generous as to give to each a pair of trousers and a shirt, which they had obtained from the ships casually arriving there to trade for turtle and tortoiseshell.
Such was the care and attention experienced by Captain Aubin, that in about three weeks he recovered so far as to be able to support himself on crutches. The natives crowded from all parts of the island to see him, and none came emptyhanded, but some brought one thing and some another for their relief.
Captain Aubin gave the natives several boards, with his name cut upon them, to be shown to any ships which might casually touch at the coast. At length, a vessel in a voyage to Martinique saw one of the boards, and made the circumstances of his situation first known at Martinique, and thence it reached Barbadoes.
His fate having been made known at Barbadoes, a small vessel was dispatched in quest of him, and he and his mate were thus enabled to leave the hospitable Caraibs, after having lived nine weeks on their bounty, and when prepared to depart, they still furnished a quantity of poultry, roots, and fruits for the voyage. About thirty men, women, and children accompanied him to the beach, and all appeared impressed with the deepest regret at his departure.
After the mutiny on board the Bounty armed transport, in 1789, when the commander, Captain Bligh, having been forced into an open boat, made a dangerous voyage from Tofoa to Timor, the British Government determined that so flagrant an act of insubordination should not pass unpunished. Accordingly the Pandora frigate, Captain Edwards, was dispatched in quest of the mutineers, in January, 1791. They were discovered at Otaheite, and fourteen of them secured.
On the return of the Pandora, in the month of May, she was wrecked in Endeavour Straits, when thirty-five of the crew and four of the prisoners perished. The remainder, amounting to 110 persons, got safely on board the pinnace, the launch, the yawl, and other boats, and set out on a voyage to Timor. A pair of wooden scales was put into each boat and the provisions being short, the weight of a musketball of bread was regularly supplied to each individual They at length neglected weighing their slender allowance, their mouths becoming so parched that few attempted to eat; and what was not claimed was returned to the general stock. Old persons suffered more than the young ones, of which a remarkable instance was seen in a young boy, a midshipman, who sold his allowance of water two days for an allowance of bread. At length, after a long and dangerous voyage, they reached Timor, and afterwards Cowpang, where the Dutch received them with the utmost kindness and hospitality.
On the reduction of Louisbourg, in 1758, the island of St. John, in the entrance of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, capitulated on the condition that the inhabitants should be sent to France. The Duke William transport, commanded by Captain Nicholls, took on board nearly four hundred of them; but on her way home encountered a violent storm, which nearly dashed her to pieces. Every effort was made to preserve the ship, in which the French, and even the women, greatly assisted. There was a prisoner on board, who was a hundred and ten years of age, the father of the whole island of St. John's, and who had a number of children, grandchildren, and other relations on board. The gentleman, seeing no hopes that the vessel could be saved, went to Captain Nicholls, and taking him in his arms, said that he came by desire of the whole of his countrymen, to request that he and his men would endeavour to save their own lives in the boats. 'And,' said the venerable patriarch, while the tears trickled down his furrowed cheeks, 'as the boats are insufficient to carry more than you and your crew, we will not be accessory to your destruction. We are well convinced by your whole conduct that you have done everything in your power for our preservation, but God Almighty seems to have ordained that many of us must perish, and our only wish and hope is, that you and your men may reach the shore in safety.'
Such generosity and gratitude, for only doing a duty in endeavouring to save the lives of the prisoners, as well as their own, astonished Captain Nicholls, and he replied, that although there were no hopes of life, yet, as they had all embarked in the same unhappy voyage, they would all take the same chance, and share the same fate. The old gentleman strongly remonstrated, and reminded the captain that if he did not acquaint his people with the offer he would have to answer for their lives. Captain Nicholls then mentioned it to the crew, who said they would cheerfully remain on board if any plan could be devised for the preservation of the others; but that being impossible, they would not refuse to comply with their earnest request. The people then thanking them for their great kindness, bade them an eternal farewell, and, hastening down the stern ladder, got into the boat, to the number of twenty-seven. A French priest, who was under strong apprehensions of death, was at his earnest request taken into the boat. Just as they had left the vessel her decks blew up, she instantly sunk in the ocean, and three hundred and sixty persons perished with her. Captain Nicholls and his men reached the coast of Cornwall in safety, and landed at Penzance.
When the celebrated poet of Portugal found it prudent to banish himself from his native country, he sailed for India with a resolution never to return. As the ship left the Tagus he exclaimed, in the words of the sepulchral monument on Scipio Africanus,
Ingrata patria, non possidebis ossa mea - Ungrateful country, thou shalt not possess my bones! He little knew what evils in the east would awaken the remembrance of his native fields.
After various adventures, Camoens set sail in a ship, freighted by himself, from Macao for Goa, but was shipwrecked in the gulf near the mouth of the river Mecou, in Cochin China. All he had acquired was lost in the waves; his poems, which he held in one hand while he saved himself with the other, were all he found himself possessed of when he stood friendless on the unknown shore. But the natives gave him a most humane reception; this he has immortalized in the prophetic song of the tenth Lusiad. Having named the Mecon, he thus proceeds:-
Este recebera placido, e brando, &c.
'On his gentle hospitable bosom shall he receive the song, wet from woeful unhappy shipwreck, escaped from destroying tempests, from ravenous dangers, the effect of the unjust sentence upon him, whose lyre shall be more renowned than enriched.'
And in the seventh book he tells us that here he lost the wealth which satisfied his wishes:-
Agora de esperanca ja adquirida, &c.
'Now, blest with all the wealth fond hope could crave,
oon I beheld that wealth beneath the wave
or ever lost;
y life, like Judah's heaven-doom'd king of yore
y miracle prolonged.'
Ships Lost amidst Ice.
In the year 1777, three Dutch vessels were lost in the Greenland whale fishery, and of the crews, consisting of four hundred and fifty men, only one hundred and forty were saved. The crews, in the first instance, obtained a refuge in another vessel, which they reached with much difficulty, being obliged to leap from one piece of ice to another. The seamen were exposed to all the horrors of famine, being reduced to feed on the remnants of fish attached to the root of a whalebone. The dogs belonging to the lost vessels were next killed and ate, and snow water, in which chips of wood had been infused, was drank to quench their thirst.
The refuge ship was, the day after they had got on board, crushed by enormous pieces of ice, and then buried under them. The suddenness of the disaster prevented the crew from saving any fuel from the vessel, but they got some portions of sails on the first alarm, and eleven boats. These precautions proved vain, for they were forced to seek for safety in flight; then leaping from one portion of ice to another, they tried to find a solid place of sufficient extent to contain the whole. This they at length found, and carried thither their scanty stock of provisions.
These mariners, though exposed to the most intense cold, on an immense island of ice, which might the first moment tumble down and crush them to atoms, and almost destitute of food and clothing, still continued to
'Lay down likelihoods and forms of hope.'
They hastily prepared two miserable tents with the pieces of sails they had secured, and sheltered themselves in them in the best manner they were able. The field of ice continually drifting, it became impossible to remain on it with any degree of safety. Two hundred and thirty of the rescued crews resolved attempting another voyage to reach the continent, while twenty-six, considering it impracticable, preferred staying behind. The adventurers, entertaining different opinions with respect to their route, separated into several parties.
Captain Janz and three other officers, followed by forty seamen, set forward on the 13th of October. Each had thirteen biscuits, which was his whole stock of provisions. After a short though distressing journey, they arrived at an island, where they passed the night. Here they met some of the inhabitants, who were very hospitable, carried them in canoes to their huts, and supplied them with dried fish, the flesh of seals, and vegetables.
After passing several days with their benefactors, they resumed their journey, which was a painful one. They passed through different tribes of Greenlanders - by some they were well received, but much oftener ill treated, and they were exposed to die of hunger and thirst. A little moss, scraped from under the snow, and the raw flesh of the dogs that they killed, added to a few which were luckily caught, formed their entire sustenance. At last, after enduring every species of misfortune and fatigue, they arrived at the Danish settlement of Frederickshaub, on the 13th March, where they were hospitably entertained, and afterwards sent to Holland.
Another party, who had taken a northerly direction, endured nearly equal distress, but reached the same place with the loss of one man only. Those of their companions in misfortune who could not be persuaded to follow them remained on the ice until it was drifted towards Staten Point. They, however luckily made the land, and embarking afterwards in a boat they had preserved, they reached Greenland, whence they were rescued by a Danish ship, and ultimately reached Holland.
The Pelew Islands.
The assertion of Shelley, that
'We lay aside distinctions, if our fates
ake us alike in our misfortunes,'
meets with a bold contradiction in the conduct of the crew of the Antelope packet, which was wrecked off one of the Pelew Islands, in August, 1783. Nothing could be more exemplary than the conduct of the men, not only while on board the vessel struggling to preserve her, but afterwards when they landed, and during a residence of some months on the islands, where a new vessel was built. This shipwreck is less memorable for its disasters than for having brought the English acquainted with the amiable and hospitable inhabitants of a nation till then unknown.
The Antelope packet, in the service of the East India Company, commanded by Captain Henry Wilson, with a crew of fifty persons including sixteen Chinese, sailed from Macao on the 20th of July, 1783; and on the 3rd of August she struck on some rocks near one of the Pelew Islands, called Oroolong. Fortunately the accident was not so sudden as to prevent the crew from constructing a raft, and on that and in the boats, they conveyed on shore a considerable stock of provisions, arms, stores, working tools, &c. The crew endeavoured to cheer and console each other as much as possible, and when they determined to leave the ship, not a man offered to take anything but what truly belonged to him, nor did any of them ask for or obtain spirits - the common bane of seamen in misfortunes.
On the day after they landed, a small party of the natives came to them in two canoes. One of them could speak the Malay tongue, and was enabled to converse with the linguist belonging to the Antelope. On learning the misfortunes of the mariners, they expressed much sympathy. Two of them were brothers of the King of Pelew, and they exhibited the greatest wonder and astonishment at everything they saw. A continued intercourse was now kept up between the mariners and the natives. The king of Pelew frequently visited them, gave consent to build a new vessel, and in return had the assistance of a few English sailors in some warlike excursions against the neighbouring islands.
Such was the activity of the crew, and so cordial their assistance, that by November a new vessel was built, and launched amidst the cheers of the English and congratulations of the natives, on the 9th of that month. The King of Pelew felt such confidence in the English, that he determined to send his second son, Prince Le Boo, to England, under the protection of Captain Wilson; he accordingly embarked, and the new vessel, called the Oroolong, quitted these freindly natives on the 12th of November. Captain Wilson first sailed to Macao, and thence to Canton, where he sold his ship for seven hundred dollars. He then embarked with Prince Le Boo on board the Morse East Indiaman, bound for England, where they arrived in safety on the 14th of July, 1784.
This young prince, then only eighteen years of age, interested every person who saw him, from the amiableness of his disposition, and his anxiety to learn everything that might be of service to his country when he returned to Pelew. Notwithstanding the utmost care was taken of him, the Prince Le Boo died of the smallpox five months after he reached England. The directors of the East India Company resolving to send out vessels to acquaint the king with the death of his son, two officers who had been on board the Antelope sailed for that purpose in August, 1790. The king bore the intelligence with the utmost fortitude, and said he knew Captain Wilson had been good to him. The intercourse commenced by misfortune with the Pelew islands, has been maintained; and implements of husbandry and grain have been sent to the inhabitants, to endeavour to improve their country.
'Disastrous day! what ruin hast thou bred!
hat anguish to the living, and the dead!
ow hast thou left the widow all forlorn
nd ever doom'd the orphan child to mourn.' FALCONER.
A deeper sense of commiseration has seldom been excited than that occasioned by the loss of the Halsewell East Indiaman. It even became the subject of scenic representation; and the matchless pencil of De Loutherbourg described a storm at sea, with the loss of the Halsewell, with the most astonishing accuracy. The conflict of the raging elements, with all their characteristic horrors, presented such a striking and fearful imitation of nature, that even mariners viewed the scene with terror and astonishment.
The Halsewell, one of the finest ships in the service of the East India Company, commanded by Captain Pierce, an officer of distinguished ability and exemplary character, sailed from the Downs on the 1st of January 1786. Besides the crew and a body of soldiers there were a considerable number of passengers on board, including several distinguished for their beauty and accomplishments. The vessel, after being driven about by contrary winds for some days, struck on the rocks near Leacombe, on the Isle of Purbeck, at a part of the shore where the cliff is of vast height, and rises almost perpendicular from its base. At this particular spot, where it was the peculiar misfortune of the Halsewell to be driven, 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 render it extremely difficult of 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.
When there was no longer the hope of being able to keep the vessel afloat, and the ship had separated in the middle, the crew who had been very remiss in their efforts quitted the vessel in great numbers. Some of them reached points of the projecting rocks, from which they afterwards fell, while others were dashed to pieces against the sides of the cavern. Twenty-seven persons, among whom was Mr. Meriton, the second mate, gained the rock, but only a few of them succeeded in scrambling beyond the reach of the returning tide.
Captain Pierce remained on board the vessel, and sat down between his two daughters in the round-house, struggling to suppress the parental fear which involuntarily forced itself in his eye. It was now night, and there were no hopes of rescuing the ladies until daylight.
Those who had reached the rock felt some expectation that the vessel would remain entire: 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 soon fatally realised, and within a very few minutes of the time that Mr. Rogers the third mate, had gained the rock, an universal shriek, in which the voice of female distress was lamentably distinguished, announced the dreadful catastrophe:
'The battering waves rush in
mplacable, till, delug'd by the foam
he ship sinks foundering in the vast abyss.'
In a few moments all was hushed except the roarings of the winds, and the dashing of the waves; the wreck was buried in the deep, and not an atom remained to mark the scene of this dreadful catastrophe.
The shock which this gave to the trembling wretches in the cavern was awful. Though hardly rescued from the sea, and still surrounded by impending dangers, they wept for the destiny of their unhappy companions. Many who had gained a precarious station, weakened with injuries, benumbed with cold, and battered by the tempest, forsook their hold, and falling on the rocks, perished beneath the feet of their miserable associates. Their dying groans and exclamations, only tended to awaken more painful apprehensions and increase the terror of the survivors
At length, after three hours, which seemed as many ages, the break of day showed their wretched situation in all its horrors. 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 endeavour to scramble up a precipice almost perpendicular, and nearly two hundred feet from the bottom. Desperate as the attempt was, some made the effort and succeeded; while others trembling with fear or exhausted by the preceding conflict, lost their footing, and were dashed to pieces on the rocks below.
The two first persons who gained the top hastened to the nearest house, and made known the condition of their comrades. Mr. Garland, steward to the Purbeck Quarries; immediately collected the workmen, and procuring ropes with all possible despatch, made the most humane and zealous exertions for the relief of the survivors; but it was a task of great difficulty, as the rocks hung over so much, that it was not easy to throw a rope to their relief.
Many persons, in attempting to gain the rope, missed it, and perished but when the officers and seamen who had been saved, mustered at the house of Mr. Garland, they were found to amount to seventy-four, the only persons saved out of rather more than two hundred and forty, that were on board the Halsewell when she sailed through the Downs. It was supposed that about fifty more had reached the rocks, but were either washed off or fell from the cliffs.
When it has been our misfortune to record too many instances of a very opposite conduct it is pleasing to state, 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.
Sir James Dick, of Prestonfield, in a letter, dated Edinburgh, 9th of May, 1682, gives the following interesting account of the shipwreck of the Duke of York, afterwards James II., when on his way to Scotland, accompanied by Sir James Dick, and other Scottish persons of distinction.
'At seven o'clock in the morning of Saturday last, the man-of-war, called the Gloucester, Sir John Berry, captain, wherein his highness was, and a great retinue of noblemen and gentlemen, whereof I was one, did strike in pieces, and wholly sink upon the bank of sand called the Lemon and Oar, about twelve leagues from Yarmouth. The duke, and the whole that accompanied him, were in bed, and the helm of the ship having broke, the helmsman was killed by the force of it. When the duke had got on his clothes, he inquired how matters stood, the vessel having nine feet water in the hold, and the sea running in at the gun-ports. All the seamen and passengers were not under command, for everyone studying his own safety whence the duke was forced to go out at the large window of the cabin, where his little boat was secretly ordered to attend him, lest the passengers and seamen should have so thronged in upon him, as to drown the boat. It was accordingly conveyed in such a way, that none but the Earl of Winton, and the Lord President of the Court of Session, with two of his bedchamber men (of whom one was after wards Duke of Marlborough) went with him: but were forced to draw their swords to keep the people off. We seeing his highness gone, did cause tackle out with great difficulty the ship's boat, whereinto the Earl of Perth got, and then myself, by leaping off the shrouds into her; the Earl of Marchmont after me, jumped in upon my shoulders, and then the Laird of Touch, with several others that were to row. Thus we thought the number sufficient for her leading, considering the sea ran so high by a wind from north-east, and because we saw another boat, close by the one containing the duke, overset by the waves, and the whole people in her drowned, except two, who were observed riding on the keel. This made us desire to be gone; but before we were aware, twenty, or twenty-four seamen leaped in upon us, from the shrouds which induced all the spectators and ourselves to think we were sinking, but having got out of reach, and being so crowded, prevented an hundred more from doing the like.
'Among those that were left, were my Lord Roxburgh, and Laird Hopetown, and Mr. Littledale, Roxburgh's servant, and Dr. Livingston, the President of the Court of Sessions' man, all those being at the place I jumped from, would not follow, since it seems, they concluded, that it was safer to stay in the vessel, than to expose themselves to any other hazard. But all were in an instant washed off or drowned.
'There perished in this disaster, above two hundred persons; for I reckoned there were above two hundred and fifty seamen, and I am sure there were eighty noblemen and gentlemen, their servants excluded. My computation was, we were about three hundred and thirty in all, of which I cannot understand one hundred and thirty to be saved.
'When about to row to the nearest yacht the waves were such, and we overloaded that every moment we thought to have been drowned; and being about midway to the yachts there were a great many swimming for their lives, who caught firm hold of the boat, and held up their heads above water crying for help. This hindrance we kept off, and loosed their hands, telling them they would both be our destruction and their own. This, however, would not always force them off, until several joined together against them; but I was glad to get one taken into the boat, lest I should have been pulled out of it. Then it pleased God to bring us wonderfully to one of the yacht's sides, being less than a quarter of a mile distant, but she durst come no nearer on account of the bank of sand where our ship was lost. If it had not been that there were guns shot from our ship, showing them our distress by that sign, the other men-of war, that were immediately following, would have come into that same disaster; but they immediately bore off, and the four yachts came up as near as they durst, and sent off their boats to help, but all that could be done, could not prevent this great loss of two hundred men, as I have said. I was in my gown and slippers, lying in bed, when the ship first struck, and escaped in that condition.
'When I looked back, I could not see one bit of the whole great ship above water, but about a Scots ell of the staff upon which the royal standard stood. To conclude this melancholy account, besides all the above persons of respect, our countrymen, whom I have enumerated, there perished of English of respect, my Lord O'Brien, and my Lord Hyde's brother, who was a lieutenant of the ship.'
When the crew of the Wager man-of-war had escaped from the wreck, to the coast of Patagonia, the boatswain's mate having got a water puncheon, scuttled it, then lashing two logs, one on each side to it, he went to sea in this extraordinary and original ark. He thus frequently provided himself with wild fowl, while all the rest were starving; and weather was bad indeed, when it deterred him from adventuring. Sometimes he would be absent a whole day. Once he was unfortunately overset by a heavy sea, when at a great distance from shore; but being near a rock, though no swimmer, he contrived to scramble to it. There he remained two days with little prospect of relief, as he was too far off the land to be visible. Luckily, however a boat happened to go that way, in quest of wild fowl, and discovering his signals, rescued him from his forlorn situation. He was however, so little discouraged by this accident, that a short time after, he procured an ox's hide, and by the assistance of hoops he converted it into a sort of canoe, in which he made several successful voyages.
The Winterton East Indiaman, was wrecked near the coast of Madagascar, on the 20th of August, 1792. The boats being most of them dashed in pieces, Captain Dundas and forty eight persons were on board the vessel when she went down. The rest of the people got to the land, some on small pieces of the wreck which drifted nearer the shore: others in canoes, with which the natives came off to plunder the remains of the vessel. The whole of the survivors, in a few days, arrived at Tulliar, the residence of the King of Baba, who treated them with much humanity.
Mr. Dale, the third mate, with four seamen, were despatched in the yawl, to Mozambique, to procure a vessel, which, in consequence of being driven to other settlements, they did not reach in less than five months. A vessel was procured, and the party, which had been educed to one hundred and thirty by sickness, though double the number escaped from the wreck, were conveyed to Mozambique. They next embarked in a private vessel, which Mr. Dale freighted for Madras, but on their voyage, they were captured by the French privateer, Le Mutin. Mr. Dale, Lieutenant Brownrigg, with twenty-two seamen and soldiers, were taken into the privateer, and an officer, with some men, put into the other ship to guard the remainder. The privateer afterwards proceeded on her cruise when, on entering the road of Tutecorin, she engaged the Ceylon, a Dutch Indiaman, and after an action of about a quarter of an hour was captured. The British seamen were thus liberated, and reached Madras twelve months after the shipwreck.
Storm off Weymouth.
Few storms at sea, have been more severe or destructive, than that which visited the coast of Weymouth, on the 18th of December, 1795. Indeed it may almost be said, that
'The straining winds ne'er toiled so hard before.'
Three transports, the Catherine, the Venus, and the Piedmont, with a number of troops on board, and three merchant ships, were wrecked. A woman and a boy were the only persons saved from the Catherine. Of the few who reached the shore from the Piedmont, there was scarcely one who was not dreadfully bruised, and some had their limbs broken. Of ninety-six persons on board the Venus, only nineteen were saved, and the loss of lives in the merchant vessels was still greater.
The whole number of dead found on the beach amounted to two hundred and thirty four. Of these, two hundred and eight 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. The officers were interred in a large grave in the churchyard of Wyke, where two monuments have been raised to the memory of the unfortunate sufferers.
'Dire was the tossing, deep the groans!
espair tended them
nd over them triumphant, Death his dart
hook, but delayed to strike, though oft invoked
ith vows, as their chief good, and final hope.' MILTON.
The Juno, a vessel of four hundred and fifty tons burthen, with a crew of seventy-two persons, chiefly Lascars, was wrecked on the coast of Aracan, in June, 1795. The ship did not go to the bottom, as was expected, but went no farther than just bringing the upper deck underwater. All hands scrambled up the rigging to escape instant destruction; moving gradually upwards, as each succeeding wave buried her deeper in the ocean. Captain Bremner, his wife, the second mate, Mr. Mackay, with a few others, got into the mizen top; and all the rest clung about the mizen rigging, except one man, who gained the foretop. The ship rolled so violently, that it was with great difficulty they could hold themselves fast.
A raft was constructed, and on the sixth day from the vessel going down, the principal part of the crew ventured on it, but finding it too heavily loaded, many returned to the ship; and the remainder, after working all night without clearing the vessel, got back to their old stations on the wreck. Captain Bremner died delirious, leaving his wife, a delicate young woman, to all the horrors from which death had relieved him.
Each succeeding day had its victims, and thinned the shrouds of their wretched inhabitants. Two boys were taken ill at the same time; Mr. Wade, the father of one of them heard the news with indifference, saying, that 'he could do nothing for him.' and left him to his fate. The other father, when the accounts reached him, hurried down, and watching a favourable moment, crawled on all fours along the weather gunwale to his son, who was in the mizen rigging. By this time, only three or four planks on the quarter deck remained just over the quarter gallery, and to this spot the unhappy man conducted his son, making him fast to the rail to prevent his being washed away. The father hung with true parental fondness over his son, and if a shower came, opened his mouth to receive the drops, or gently moistened his lips with a rag. In this affecting situation, both remained four or five days, till the boy expired. The unfortunate parent, as if unwilling to believe that his child was not yet alive, raised the body, looked wistfully at it, and when he could no longer entertain any doubt, watched it in silence, until it was carried off by the sea; then wrapping himself in a piece of canvas he sunk down and rose no more, though he lived two days longer.
On the twentieth day of their sufferings, land was descried, though at considerable distance. On the following day, the beams of the upper deck were out of the water, the gun deck was soon after dry, and hither the wretched sufferers, including Mrs. Bremner, repaired. Their situation in the gunroom, was now comparatively comfortable. Some men were observed walking on the shore; and six Lascars pushed off on spars and gained the beach, where they found a stream of fresh water, of which they drank copiously. They remained all night on shore, and next morning made a fire, and waved their handkerchiefs as a signal for those on the wreck to join them.
Mr. Mackay, the gunner, and one or two other persons, ventured on planks. and after being much driven about, reached the shore. The Birman, and some of the natives, who had been led to the spot, fetched Mrs. Bremner and her maid on shore. Some rupees which the lady had preserved, were of great service in purchasing rice from the natives, who were by no means hospitable. Mr. Mackay, his boy, the gunner, and the searang, set out on foot for Chittagong, while Mrs. Bremner and her maid were carried on litters. The rest of the crew remained with the natives near the wreck.
Mr. Mackay was so weak, that he was unable to keep up with the rest of the party; he therefore remained behind, and soon met with a body of the natives of Aracan, who were dressing rice on the beach. The chief accosted him in Portuguese, and learning his misfortunes, was much affected by the relation. He immediately supplied him with the best victuals he had, and assured him of a plentiful store for his journey. He also gave him a pair of trousers, for Mr. Mackay was quite naked. This humane individual, was a Portuguese pedlar.
The party reached Chittagong in safety. Mr. Mackay afterwards returned to the wreck, and saving all that he could, burnt her. This being accomplished, he sailed for Calcutta, where he arrived on the 12th of December, 1795. Mrs. Bremner, who had survived such calamities, was afterwards well married.
The Amphion frigate, commanded by Captain Israel Pellew, while getting her foremast repaired at Plymouth, in September 1796, blew up with a dreadful explosion. It is believed that there were two successive explosions. The first threw Captain Pellew, Captain Swaffield, and the first lieutenant, who were drinking wine together, from their seats, and struck them against the ceiling of the upper deck. Captain Pellew, with great presence of mind, flew to the cabin windows, and with an amazing leap, which the sense of danger alone enabled him to take, threw himself upon one of the hawsers, and was taken up by a boat. The first-lieutenant saved himself in the same manner, but Captain Swaffield perished.
The exact number of individuals who suffered is not known, but as the frigate was to have sailed on the following day, there were nearly a hundred men, women, and children on board, above the ship's complement. The survivors, who did not exceed ten in number, were most miraculously preserved. The fore-magazine had taken fire, four men who were at work on the tops were blown up, and fell into the water without much injury from the explosion. The fate of a child was still more singular. The terror of the shock having made its mother grasp it fast, the under part of her body was blown away while the upper part remained with the child fast locked in her arms!
At the moment of the explosion, the sentinel at the cabin door happened to be looking at his watch; he felt it dashed from his hands, after which he became insensible, and how he escaped he was ignorant, but he was carried ashore very little hurt. The boatswain was directing the men in rigging out the jibboom, when he felt himself suddenly thrown upwards, and he fell into the sea. He was taken up by a boat without any other hurt than a broken arm. One of the seamen (a Gascon, we are afraid) declared that he was below when the frigate blew up, and went to the bottom in the hull; that he recollected having a knife in his pocket, with which he cut his way through the companion in the gunroom, already shattered by the explosion, and rising to the surface of the water, swam unhurt ashore.
An East India ship of nine hundred tons burthen, manned with a hundred Lascars, and navigated by a captain, four mates, and a gunner, who were Europeans, sailed from Surat in India, on the 10th of April, 1754. She had previously taken on board five hundred merchants and other passengers, who were going to pay their yearly devotions at the tomb of Mahomet. On the 18th, a smoke was observed coming up through the deck in the gallery, and the mate getting off the fore hatches to see where the fire was, the flame burst forth with such violence that it burnt his shirt and trousers, and in five minutes communicated to the rigging. Now,
'Down to the keels and upward to the sails,
he fire descends, or mounts; but still prevails;
ot buckets pour'd, nor strength of human hand
an the victorious element withstand,
r stop the fiery pest.'
The boats were all on board except the longboat; and the rigging being on fire, the tackles could not be used to hoist them out. The Lascars ran about, but rendered no assistance. The mate and the gunner went to the powder room to heave the powder overboard, and while thus employed, the longboat, the only prospect of relief, was cut adrift by the sailors. The captain told the mate that he had seen him swim farther than to the longboat, and that as it was death to stay on board, he might yet reach her and save the Europeans. The mate took his cutlass in his mouth, and instantly leaped overboard; but he had so far to swim that he was obliged to quit the cutlass and struggle for his life. When he reached the longboat, he was going to use his authority, but although he was much beloved by the sailors, yet they told him it was at an end. They refused to go back to the ship, saying that three or four hundred people were swimming towards the longboat, which was already full; that they had left their own fathers and brothers to perish, and would not return to take in five infidels, as they called the Europeans, on whose account Mahomet had burnt the ship.
The mate was taken on board, and there were then ninety-six persons in the boat, without either water, provisions, or a compass, and nearly two hundred leagues from the coast of Malabar, the nearest land. About eight o'clock at night the ship blew up with a noise like thunder, and every person in her perished.
Those in the boat rowed forty-eight hours towards the coast of Malabar, when the mate desired the people to take their turbans, and stitch them together with some rope-yarn, made out of the longboat's cable. This they did with all expedition; and having a side wind with fair weather, they got on pretty well.
On the seventh day they had suffered so much from thirst, that their throats and tongues were so swelled as to render them unable to speak to each other. Sixteen died on that day, and almost the whole people became imbecile, and died of laughing. The mate was the only person who retained his senses. Twenty more died on the eighth day, but on the ninth land was observed, and the remainder of the people were saved from a miserable death.
While the survivors of the crew of the Cabalva East Indiaman, after its wreck in July, 1818, on the southern part of the Cardagos Garagos shoals, were sojourning on an island of sand for fourteen days, waiting the return of the cutter, which they had despatched in quest of assistance to the Mauritius, Mr. Hotson, the eldest of their number, delivered, on the first Sunday of their stay, the following well-timed and pathetic discourse:
'Fellow shipmates, and companions in misfortune, when we look around us, and contemplate our situations, when we reflect how narrowly we have just escaped a watery grave, we cannot fail to acknowledge and to feel to whom we are indebted for so gracious a deliverance.
'The hand of an all-merciful God has been with us, and it is our duty, on the present occasion, to humble ourselves before him, and to offer up our prayers and thanksgivings for so merciful an interposition.
'While we deplore the loss of our beloved commander, and many of our shipmates, let us not repine at the decrees of Providence. It was his mighty will that some should perish; and we must not call in question the justness of the fate which he decrees to us. But let us not suppose that it is from any degree of superior worth or virtue that God has been pleased to spare our lives, rather let us bow to the chastening rod, and acknowledge ourselves unworthy sinners; for, by confessing our sins, the Holy Scriptures inform us, God will forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
'Let us, therefore, turn our hearts unto God in spirit and in truth, and let our present afflictions not only never be effaced from our memories, but let it serve to impress upon us lasting sense of the mercies of Him who has snatched us from a watery grave.
'Although it has been the Almighty will to cast us upon this desolate place, still have we great reason to be thankful that He has provided us, and continues daily to provide us with the means of subsistence, and, as I hope and trust, from his mercy, with the means of safety, and speedy deliverance also.
'Let us, then, confide, that it will not prove to the will of a God full of compassion and mercy, to doom to a watery grave so many human beings of his own creation, of his own image, so many Christians, for whom a Saviour has given up his life on the cross.
'It cannot be supposed to be grateful in the eyes of an Almighty Providence, that, separated as we are from our wives, children, parents, and dearest connexions, we should be called into eternity in so sorrowful and heartrending a manner. No, my fellow shipmates; let us rather believe that Almighty God has provided and preserved to our use, the means of safety; and, by imprinting on our minds the recollection of our present situation, and of his infinite mercy in delivering us, will reform our hearts, and fill us with lasting gratitude for the compassion which the Almighty has shown towards us.
'Let us, then, unite with one hand and one heart, to accelerate the great undertaking of our deliverance, which so conspicuously appears to be placed within our reach; let us not neglect or delay to improve this great gift of heaven; but, by immediately launching our bark for a near and friendly country, to obtain assistance to transport us all thither, under the guidance and protection of the Omnipotent.
'Let us be patient, unanimous, and of good cheer, let no variety of opinions or quarrels disturb our harmony; but, joining in one heart and soul, in one and the same cause, let us commit our bark to the mercy of Providence, and offer up supplications for a safe voyage.
'After being extricated, my fellow ship mates, from this dreary abode, I trust we shall never lay down our heads to rest, without offering up a thanksgiving to that Divine Being, who will have so mercifully rescued us from the jaws of death.
'Let us now all join in repeating the Christian's universal prayer; that which our blessed Saviour commanded us to use when we address our heavenly Father.'
(Here they recited the Lord's Prayer.)
On the Sunday after, as the same worthy individual was about to renew his exhortations to the people, the boatswain called out in ecstasy, 'A sail! a ship!' In an instant all ran to the beach, and could plainly discern a large ship to the south, distant about seven or eight miles, and soon after another vessel, a brig. Their joy knew no bounds; a small cutter was launched in an instant, and the chief mate, boatswain, and others jumping into her, pushed off towards their expected deliverers. The men then ran to the stores, but were persuaded in some measure to forbear. Wine was served out to all hands; Mr. Hotson addressed them in a few words, when all knelt, and repeated the Lord's Prayer.
It was indeed their deliverers whom they espied. The cutter had reached the Mauritius in safety, whence the Magicienne frigate, and Challenger brig, had been despatched to their relief.
After the shipwrecked sufferers had been all embarked, Mr. Hotson thus describes his feelings:
'Saturday, July 25. Notwithstanding the invariable kindness we are treated with, it is natural for us to wish for land scenery. Our friends in England will be anxious to hear from us, and we have many wants which a ship cannot supply. We were naked almost, and we have been clothed; we were in a starving state, and we have been fed; our fate demanded commiseration, and we have met with it. The names of Purvis and Bridges are imprinted on our hearts, yet we want a repose which Cargados Garajos cannot give.'
There is not, perhaps, in the annals of shipwreck, a personal narrative more deeply distressing, or more painfully interesting, than that of Captain Riley. Were there not the most ample testimony to his excellent moral character and unimpeachable veracity, we might be led to withhold our belief from some parts of it, on the simple ground that human nature on the one hand, was utterly incapable of inflicting, and on the other, of enduring such hardships and sufferings as this gentleman and his poor shipwrecked companions had to undergo - sufferings which, as Captain Riley truly says, have been as great and as various as ever fell to the lot of humanity.
The American brig Commerce, commanded by Captain Riley, with a crew of ten persons was wrecked on the coast of Africa, on the 28th of August, 1815. With some difficulty the crew reached the shore, and secured a small quantity of provisions and tools, to repair their boat, in which they hoped to reach the Cape de Verd Islands. All hopes of this were, however, soon rendered abortive by the appearance of a party of Arabs, who burnt their trunks and chests, carried off their provisions, and stove in the wine and water casks. The crew escaped to their boat, but Mr. Riley was left behind. One of them seized hold of him by the throat, and with a scimitar at his breast, gave him to understand there was money on board, and it must instantly be brought ashore.
When the ship was wrecked, Mr. Riley had divided the dollars among the crew. On being informed of the demands of the Arabs, he hailed the men, and told them what the savages required, a bucket was accordingly sent from shore with about a thousand dollars. An old Arab instantly laid hold of it, and forcing Riley to accompany him, they all went behind the sandhills to divide the spoil.
In this situation he felt himself very uneasy, and in order to gain the beach, he made signs that there was still more money remaining in the ship. The hint succeeded; and under the idea of getting it, they allowed him again to hail his people; when, instead of money, he desired them to send on shore Antonio Michael (an old man they had taken in at New Orleans), as the only possible means left for him of effecting his own escape. The Arabs finding, on his reaching the shore, that he had brought no money with him, struck him, pricked him with their sharp knives, and stripped him of all his clothes. Mr. Riley seized this opportunity of springing from his keepers, and plunged into the sea. On rising through the surf, he perceived the old Arab within ten feet of him, up to his chin in water, with his spear raised ready to strike him, but another surf rolling at that instant over him, saved his life, and he reached the lee of the wreck in safety. The remorseless brutes wreaked their vengeance on poor Antonio, by plunging a spear into his body, which laid him lifeless at their feet.
The wreck was, by this time, going rapidly to pieces; the longboat writhed like an old basket. The crew had neither provisions nor water, neither oars nor a rudder to the boat; neither compass nor quadrant to direct their course; yet, hopeless as their situation was, and expecting to be swallowed up by the first surf, they resolved to try their fate on the ocean, rather than to encounter death from the relentless savages on shore. By great exertion, they succeeded in finding a water-cask, out of which they filled four gallons into a keg. One of the seamen, Porter, stole on shore by the hawser and brought on board two oars, with a small bag of money which they had buried, containing about four hundred dollars. They also contrived to get together a few pieces of salt pork, a live pig, weighing about twenty pounds, about four pounds of figs, a spar for the boat's mast, a jib, and a mainsail. Everything being ready, the crew went to prayers; and the wind ceasing to blow, the boat was launched through the breakers. In this miserable boat they determined to stand out in the wide ocean; but after being six days at sea, it was driven on the rocks, and completely stove. The crew again reached the shore.
On the next morning, they set out from the place where they had been cast, which, as it afterwards appeared, was Cape Barbas, not far from Cape Blanco. They proceeded easterly close to the water's edge, for three days, when they encountered a large company of Arabs who were watering their camels. The shipwrecked mariners bowed themselves to the ground with every mark of submission, and by signs implored their compassion, but in vain. The whole party were in an instant stripped naked to the skin, and the Arabs began to fight most furiously for the booty, and especially for getting possession of the prisoners. 'Six or eight of them,' says Captain Riley, whose narrative we now quote, 'were about me, one trawling me one way, and one another. The one who strips us, stuck to us as his lawful property, signifying, 'you may have the others, these are mine.' They cut at each other over my head, and on every side of me, with their bright weapons which fairly whizzed through the air within an inch of my naked body, and on every side of me, now hacking each other's arms apparently to the bone: men laying their ribs bare with gashes, while their heads, hands and thighs received a full share of cuts and wounds. The blood streaming from every gash, ran down their bodies, colouring and heightening the natural hideousness of their appearance. I had expected to be cut to pieces in this dreadful affray, but was not injured.
'The battle over, I saw my distressed companions divided among the Arabs, and all going towards the drove of camels, though they were at some distance from me. We too were delivered into the hands of two old women, who urged us on with sticks towards the camels. Naked and barefooted, we could not go very fast, and I showed the women my mouth, which was parched white as frost, and without a sign of moisture. When we got near the well, one of the women called for another, who came to us with a wooden bowl, that held, I should guess, about a gallon of water, and setting it on the ground, made myself and Dick kneel down and put our heads into it like camels. I drank, I suppose, half a gallon, though I had been very particular in cautioning the men against drinking too much at a time, in case they ever came to water. I now experienced how much easier it was to preach, than to practice aright. They then led us to the well, the water of which was nearly as black and disgusting as stale bilge water. A large bowl was now filled with it, and a little sour camel's milk poured from a goat-skin into it; this tasted to me delicious, and we all drank of it till our stomachs were literally filled. We now begged for something to eat, but these Arabs had nothing for themselves, and seemed very sorry it was not in their power to give us some food. There were at and about the well, I should reckon, about one hundred persons men, women, and children, and from four to five hundred camels, large and small. The sun beat fiercely upon us, and our skins seemed actually to fry like meat before the fire. These people continued to draw water for their camels, of which the animals drank enormous quantities.'
The party travelled south-east over a plain covered with small sharp stones, which lacerated their feet dreadfully. About midnight they halted, and for the first time got about a pint of pure camel's milk each. The wind was chilling cold; they lay on sharp stones perfectly naked; their bodies blistered and mangled, and the stones piercing their naked flesh to the ribs. On the morning of the 11th (September) a pint of milk was divided among four of them, and they got nothing more until midnight, when they were allowed a little milk and water. They continued travelling in the desert, enduring all the miseries of hunger, thirst, and fatigue, with every addition Arab cruelty could inflict, until they reached Wadnoon. Sidi Hamet, an African trader, who had purchased them of the old Arab, however, became the means of their deliverance. He told Mr. Riley, that he must write a letter to his friend at Suara, desiring him to pay the money for the ransom of himself and people, when they should be free. A scrap of paper, a reed, and some black liquor, was then brought to Mr. Riley, who briefly wrote the circumstances of the loss of the ship, his captivity, &c., adding, 'worn down to the bone by the most dreadful of all sufferings, naked, and a slave, I implore your pity, and trust that such distress will not be suffered to plead in vain.' The letter was addressed, 'To the English, French, Spanish, or American Consuls, or any Christian merchants in Mogadore.' The anxiety of the captives may be well imagined. For seven days after Hamet's departure, they were shut up in a yard during the day, where cows, sheep, and asses rested; and locked up all night in a dreary cellar.
On the evening of the eighth day, a Moor came into the enclosure, and brought a letter from Mr. Wiltshire, the English Consul, stating, that he had agreed to the demands of Sidi Hamet, whom he kept as an hostage for their safe appearance, and that the bearer would conduct them to Mogadore. He had also sent them clothes and provisions; and thus accoutred and fortified, they set out under their new conductor, who brought them safe to Mogadore, where they were must kindly received by Mr. Wiltshire, who took each man by the hand, and welcomed him to life and liberty. He conducted them to his house, had them all washed, clothed, and fed, and spared no pains nor expense in procuring every comfort, and in administering with his own hand, night and day, such refreshment as their late sufferings and debility required. Of the miserable condition to which these unfortunate men had been reduced, one act will witness. 'At the instance of Mr. Wiltshire,' says Mr. Riley, 'I was weighed, and fell short of ninety pounds, though my usual weight for the last ten years had been over two hundred pounds; the weight of my companions was less than I dare to mention for I apprehend it would not be believed that the bodies of men, retaining the vital spark, should not have weighed forty pounds! '
It would require an observer, perfectly free from all apprehensions of danger himself, to observe its varied operations and effects on different characters and dispositions; yet there are often instances of conduct so very extraordinary, that they cannot escape the notice of persons who retain a tolerable share of self-possession. In the shipwreck of the ager, when death became most apparent, the crew were very differently affected. One man seemed deprived of reason; and in the ravings of despair, stalked about the deck, flourishing a cutlass over his head, and calling himself the king of the country. He struck every one he came near, and his companions had no other security against his violence, than by knocking him down. Some who had before been reduced by long sickness and scurvy, became as it were petrified and bereaved of sense, and were carried to and fro by the jerks and rolling of the ship, like inanimate logs, without making the slightest effort towards aiding themselves.
So terrible indeed was the scene of foaming breakers all around, that one of the bravest men on board, dismayed at their appearance, would have thrown himself over the rails of the quarter-deck into the sea, had he not been prevented; thus
- "men at once life seem to lose, and loath
unning to lose it, and to save it both."
Although these instances of weakness, or of a want of fortitude, occurred, yet there were several persons on board who retained a presence of mind truly heroic. The man at the helm kept his station, though both rudder and tiller were gone, and being asked by one of the officers, if the ship would steer or not, he first leisurely made a trial by the wheel, and then answered in the negative, with as much respect and coolness, as if she had been in perfect safety. He then applied himself with his usual serenity to his duty, persuaded that it did not become him to desert his post so long as the ship kept together.
The Last of a Crew.
The brig Tyrrel, Captain Coghlan, in a voyage from Sandy Hook to Antigua, was wrecked on the 3rd of July, 1759. The crew, consisting of seventeen persons, embarked in the boat, which was only nineteen feet long and six broad. On the 16th, their whole stock of provisions and water being exhausted, only three persons of the seventeen now survived; the others had all perished by famine; and these were
-"with hunger pinch'd,
aiting the slow approach of death.'
To them no hope, or prospects now remained, since
"All actual nourishment but air was wanting."
The mate, Purnell, the captain and the boatswain, the only persons remaining, attempted to eat part of a boy who had last died; but they could not swallow it, and the body was therefore thrown overboard.
Early on the succeeding morning the 18th of July, Purnell found both his companions dead and cold. Their melancholy fate taught him to anticipate his own dissolution; but though his body was feeble, yet his understanding was unimpaired, and his spirits as good as his deplorable situation would admit, and he never lost hopes of making land. On the 25th, having in the meantime, been relieved by some barnacles on the rudder, he discovered a sail, which proved to be a schooner, commanded by Captain Castleman. Purnell was taken on board, and had a draught of water, the first he had tasted for twenty-three days. He was so weak that his life was despaired of, but by kind treatment and medical advice he recovered.
It is impossible not to be struck with the extraordinary difference of conduct in the officers and crew of the Medusa, formerly mentioned, and those of the British ship the Alceste, which was wrecked on its return from China, in 1817. These two frigates were wrecked nearly about the same time - the distance from the nearest friendly port pretty nearly the same; in one case all the people were kept together, in a perfect state of discipline and subordination, and brought safely home from the opposite side of the globe; in the other, every one seems to have been left to shift for himself, and the greater part perished.
The Alceste, commanded by Captain Maxwell, having taken Lord Amherst on board after his unsuccessful embassy to China, proceeded to Manilla, and thence homewards; but in passing through the Straits of Gaspar, on the 18th of February, she struck on a sunken rock, and remained immoveable. The boats were immediately hoisted out, and Lieutenant Hoppner, with the barge and cutter, ordered to proceed with the ambassador and suite to the nearest part of the island of Pulo Leat, which seemed about three miles and a half distant. Meanwhile, every exertion was made to secure what provisions could be got, which were conveyed to the shore. A raft was also constructed, on which were placed the heavier stores, with some baggage, and towed towards the island. All the crew were saved, and got safely to the island. The spot where the rescued mariners were situated was romantic, but it seemed at the same time a place of ruin and havoc. Few of its inhabitants, and among the rest the ambassador, had more than a shirt or a pair of trousers on. The wreck of books was spread about in all directions, whilst parliamentary robes, court dresses, and mandarin habits, intermixed with checked shirts and tarry jackets, were hung around in wild confusion on every tree.
On Lord Amherst learning that no fresh water had been obtained from the ship, he desired every person might be called around him, and ordered that a gill of the water that had been sent on shore the day before, with half that quantity of rum, should be equally served out to every man, without distinction, and taking his own share with perfect good humour, afforded to others an example of calm fortitude, and a cheerful readiness to share in every privation, which never fails to have a powerful and beneficial effect.
When Captain Maxwell, who was the last person that left the ship, got on shore, it was settled that Lord Amherst, with about forty of his suite, should go in the barge and cutter to Batavia, as the most probable way of ensuring their own safety and that of their companions on the desolate island, by sending shipping from thence to take them off. After a short and very slender fete champetre in this wilderness, his lordship, with his suite amounting in the whole to forty-seven persons, waded out to the edge of the reef and embarked in the boat and cutter, which were commanded by Lieutenant Hoppner. They only took provisions for five days' limited allowance, and left the remainder with the party on the island, who were in number two hundred men and boys, and one woman.
A new encampment was formed on the top of a hill, and a well dug to the depth of twenty feet, for water, of which it afforded but a small supply. A party was stationed on board the wreck, to endeavour to gain any accession they could to the stock of provisions and arms. On the 21st, the party at the ship found themselves surrounded by a number of Malay proas, apparently well armed, and full of men. Without a single sword or musket for defence, they had just time to throw themselves into the boat alongside, and push for the shore, chased by the pirates, who, finding two other boats push to their assistance, returned to the ship and took possession of her. Soon afterwards it was reported that the savages, armed with spears, were landing.
Under all the depressing circumstances attending shipwreck - of hunger, thirst, and fatigue, and menaced by a ruthless foe - it was glorious to see the British spirit staunch and undaunted. The order was given for every man to arm himself in the best way he could, and it was obeyed with the utmost promptitude and alacrity. Rude pike-staves were formed by cutting down young trees, small swords, dirks, knives chisels, and even large spike nails sharpened, were firmly affixed to the ends of these poles; and those who could find nothing better hardened the end of the wood in the fire, and bringing it to a sharp point, formed a tolerable weapon. Even the little boys had managed to make fast a tablefork, or something of that kind, on the end of a stick, for their defence. One of the men, who had been severely bruised by the falling of the masts, and was slung in his hammock between two trees had been observed carefully fixing the blade of an old razor on a stick, with a piece of rope yarn. On being asked what he meant to do with it, he replied: 'You know I cannot stand, but if any of these fellows come within reach of my hammock I'll mark them.'
On the Sunday morning, the boats were sent to the ship, which had been set fire to by the Malays, and was still smoking, when some flour, a few casks of wine, and a cask of beer had floated up. This last seasonable supply was announced just at the conclusion of divine service, which was held in the mess tent, and a pint of beer was immediately served out to each man, which called forth three cheers. This seems to be the only style in which a British seaman can give vent to the warmer feelings of his heart. It is his mode of thanksgiving for benefits received, and it equally serves him to honour his friend, to defy his enemy, or to proclaim victory.
Sixteen days elapsed, and there was no relief from Batavia, want stared them in the face on one hand, and on the other, destruction from the savages, who, to the number of six hundred, were closely pressing on them. The example of their leader kept up their spirits; no symptoms of depression had for a moment intruded themselves, and all was vigour and preparation, either for attack or defence. The pirates only once gave an opportunity for the former, when Lieutenant Hay overtook with his barge two proas, one of which was grappled by his crew, who killed three of the savages, while five of them, evidently disdaining quarter, jumped overboard, and drowned themselves. Two were taken prisoners, but such was the desperate ferocity of these people, that one of them, who had been shot through the body, on being removed into the barge, with the view of saving him, furiously grasped a cutlass, which was with difficulty wrenched from his hand while in the very act of dying.
On the last evening of their abode on the island, they had every reason to suppose that the savages meditated a combined attack. On this occasion, when the officers and men were assembled under arms to settle the watches, Captain Maxwell addressed them with great animation in a truly British speech, which he thus concluded:- 'My lads, I do not wish to deceive you as to the means of resistance in our power. The savages cannot, I believe, send up more than five hundred men; but with two hundred such as now stand around me, I do not fear a thousand - nay, thrice five hundred of them! I have the fullest confidence that we shall beat them; the pike-men standing firm, we can give them such a volley of musketry as they will be little prepared for, and when we find they are thrown into confusion, will sally out among them, chase them into the water, and ten to one but we secure their vessels. Let every man, therefore, be on the alert, with his arms in his hands, and should these barbarians this night attempt our hill, I trust we shall convince them that they are dealing with Britons.'
This animated and truly characteristic speech was received as might be expected from a body of British seamen. 'Perhaps,' says Mr. M'Leod, in his interesting narrative of this shipwreck, 'three jollier hurras were never given than at the conclusion of this short, but well-timed, address. The wood fairly echoed again, whilst the piques at the coves and those stationed at the wells, the instant it caught their ear, instinctively joined their sympathetic cheers to the general chorus.'
The attack, however, did not take place, and the next day the long-expected relief from Batavia made its appearance in the East India Company's cruiser, the Ternate, despatched by Lord Amherst, who, after passing three days and four nights in an open boat, had reached that city. This was on the 4th of March, and on the 6th and 7th the whole party got safely on board the Ternate, where they were most hospitably received by Captain Davidson and his officers. On the 9th they were all landed at Batavia.
The conduct of Captain Maxwell on this trying occasion justly endeared him to all on board the Alceste, from the ambassador to the lowest seaman. By his judicious arrangements. the crew was preserved from all the horrors of anarchy and confusion. His measures inspired confidence and hope, whilst his personal example in the hour of danger gave courage and animation to all around him. To adopt the words of the sentence of the court martial, by which he was afterwards tried, 'his coolness, self-collection, and exertions were highly conspicuous, and everything was done by him and his officers within the power of man to execute.'