Here also Mr. Meriton, after having cut several wax candles in pieces and stuck them up in various parts of the round-house, and lighted up all the glass lanthorns he could find, took his seat, intending to wait the approach of dawn; and then assist the partners of his danger to escape. But observing that the poor ladies appeared parched and exhausted, he brought a basket of oranges and prevailed on some of them to refresh themselves by sucking a little of the juice. At this time they were all tolerably composed, except Miss Mansel, who was in hysteric fits, on the floor of the deck of the round-house.
But on Mr. Meriton's return to the company, he perceived a considerable alteration in the appearance of the ship; the sides were visibly giving way; the deck seemed to be lifting and he discovered other strong indications that she could not hold much longer together. On this account, he attempted to go forward to look out, but immediately saw that the ship had separated in the middle, and that the fore-part having changed its position, lay further towards the sea. In such an emergency, when the next moment might plunge him into eternity, he determined to seize the present opportunity, and follow the example of the crew and the soldiers, who were now quitting the ship in numbers, and making their way to the shore, though quite ignorant of its nature and description.
Among other expedients, the ensign-staff had been unshipped, and attempted to be laid between the ship's side and some of the rocks, but without success, for it snapped assunder before it reached them. However, by the light of a lanthorn which a seaman handed through a sky-light of the round-house to the deck, Mr. Meriton discovered a spar which appeared to be laid from the ship's side to the rocks, and on this spar he resolved to attempt his escape.
Accordingly lying down upon it, he thrust himself forward; however, he soon found that it had no communication with the rock; he reached the end of it and then slipped off, receiving a very violent bruise in his fall, and before he could recover his legs, he was washed off by the surge. He now supported himself by swimming, until a returning wave dashed him against the back part of the cavern. Here he laid hold of a small projection in the rock, but was so much benumbed that he was on the point of quitting it, when a seaman, who had already gained a footing, extended his hand, and assisted him until he could secure himself a little on the rock; from which he clambered on a shelf still higher, and out of the reach of the surf.
Mr. Rogers, the third mate, remained with the captain, and the unfortunate ladies and their companions, nearly twenty minutes after Mr. Meriton had quitted the ship. Soon after the latter left the round-house, the captain asked what was become of him, to which Mr. Rogers replied, that he was gone on deck to see what could be done. After this, a heavy sea breaking over the ship, the ladies exclaimed, "O poor Meriton! he is drowned! had he staid with us he would have been safe!" and they all, particularly Miss Mary Pierce, expressed great concern at the apprehension of his loss. On this occasion Mr. Rogers offered to go and call in Mr. Meriton, but it was opposed by the ladies, from an apprehension that he might share the same fate.
The sea was now breaking in at the fore-part of the ship, and reached as far as the mainmast. Captain Pierce gave Mr. Rogers a nod, and they took a lamp and went together into the stern-gallery, where, after viewing the rocks for some time, Captain Pierce asked Mr. Rogers if he thought there was any possibility of saving the girls; to which he replied, he feared there was none; for they could only discover the black face of the perpendicular rock, and not the cavern which afforded shelter to those who escaped. They then returned to the round-house, where Mr. Rogers hung up the lamp, and Captain Pierce sat down between his two daughters, struggling to suppress the parental tears which burst into his eyes.
The sea continuing to break in very fast, Mr. Macmanus, a midshipman, and Mr. Schutz, asked Mr. Rogers what they could do to escape. "Follow me," he replied, and they all went into the stern gallery, and from thence to the upper-quarter-gallery on the poop. While there, a very heavy sea fell on board and the round-house gave way; Mr. Rogers heard the ladies shriek at intervals, as if the water reached them; the noise of the sea, at other times, drowning their voices.
Mr. Brimer had followed him to the poop, where they remained together about five minutes; when on the breaking of this heavy sea, they jointly seized a hen-coop. The same wave which proved fatal to some of those below, carried him and his companion to the rock, on which they were violently dashed and miserably bruised.
Here on the rock were twenty-seven, but it now being low water, and as they were convinced that on the flowing of the tide all must be washed off, many tried to get to the back or the sides of the cavern, beyond the reach of the returning sea. Scarcely more than six, besides Mr. Rogers and Mr. Brimer, succeeded; of the others, some shared the fate which they had apprehended, and others perished in their efforts to get into the cavern. Mr. Rogers and Mr. Brimer both reached it, however, and scrambled up the rock, on narrow shelves of which they fixed themselves. Mr. Rogers got so near his friend, Mr. Meriton, as to exchange mutual congratulations with him. A warm friendship, indeed, subsisted between these two gentlemen; they had made a long and painful voyage together, in another Indiaman, where they survived an uncommon mortality by which the crew were visited. They returned to England, and an interval of only twenty-five days elapsed, before they again embarked in the Halsewell.
Mr. Rogers on gaining this station, was so nearly exhausted, that had his exertions been protracted only a few minutes longer, he must have sunk under them. He was now prevented from joining Mr. Meriton, by at least twenty men between them, none of whom could move without the imminent peril of his life.
They found that a very considerable number of the crew, seamen, and soldiers, and some petty officers, were in the same situation as themselves, though many who had reached the rocks below, perished in attempting to ascend. They could yet discern some part of the ship, and in their dreary station solaced themselves with the hope of its remaining entire until day-break; for in the midst of their own distress, the sufferings of the females on board affected them with the most poignant anguish; and every sea that broke, inspired them with terror for their safety.
But, alas, their apprehensions were too soon realized!—Within a very few minutes of the time that Mr. Rogers gained the rock, an universal shriek, which long vibrated in their ears, in which the voice of female distress was lamentably distinguished, announced the dreadful catastrophe. In a few moments all was hushed, except the roaring of the winds and the dashing of the waves; the wreck was buried in the deep, and not an atom of it was ever afterwards seen.
The shock which this gave to the trembling wretches in the cavern was awful. Though themselves hardly rescued from the sea, and still surrounded by impending dangers, they wept for the destiny of their unhappy companions. But this was not all. Many who had gained a precarious station, weakened with injuries, benumbed and battered by the tempest, forsook their hold-fasts, and, tumbling on the rocks below, perished beneath the feet of their miserable companions. Their dying groans and exclamations for pity, only tended to awaken more painful apprehensions, and increase the terror of the survivors.
At length after three hours, which appeared so many ages, day broke, but instead of bringing relief to the sufferers, it only served to disclose the horrors of their situation. They now found, that had the country been alarmed by the guns of distress which they had continued to fire for many hours before the ship struck, but which were not heard, owing to the violence of the storm, they could neither be observed by the people from above, nor could any boat live below. They were completely overhung by the cliff, so that no ropes let down could reach them; nor did any part of the wreck remain as a guide to their retreat.
The only prospect of saving themselves, was to creep along the side of the cavern to its outward extremity, and on a ledge scarcely as broad as a man's hand, to turn the corner, and endeavor to clamber up the precipice, almost perpendicular, and nearly 200 feet high from the bottom.—And in this desperate effort some did succeed, while others, trembling with fear, and exhausted by the preceding conflict, lost their footing and perished in the attempt.
The first who gained the top, were the cook and James Thompson, a quarter-master; the moment they reached it, they hastened to the nearest house and made known the condition of their comrades. This was Eastington, the habitation of Mr. Garland, steward to the proprietors of the Purbeck quarries. He immediately collected the workmen, and procuring ropes with all possible despatch, made the most humane and zealous exertions for the relief of the surviving people.
Mr. Meriton made a similar attempt to that of the two others, and almost reached the edge of the precipice. A soldier who preceded him had his feet on a small projecting rock or stone on which also Meriton had fastened his hands to aid his progress. At this critical moment the quarrymen arrived, and seeing a man so nearly within their reach, they dropped a rope to him, of which he immediately laid hold; and in a vigorous effort to avail himself of this advantage, loosened the stone on which he stood, and which supported Mr. Meriton. It giving way, Mr. Meriton must have been precipitated to the bottom, had not a rope at that instant providentially been lowered to him, which he seized, when absolutely in the act of falling, and was safely drawn to the summit.
But the fate of Mr. Brimer was peculiarly severe. Only nine days before the ship sailed, he had been married to a beautiful young lady, the daughter of Captain Norman of the royal navy, in which service he was a lieutenant, and now on a visit to an uncle at Madras; after getting ashore with Mr. Rogers and up the side of the cavern, he remained until morning, when he crawled out. A rope being thrown to him, he was either so benumbed with cold as to fasten it insecurely about his body, or from some other cause or agitation, to neglect doing it completely; at the moment when about to be rescued from his perilous stand, he fell and was dashed to pieces in the presence of his companions.
More assistance was obtained as the day advanced; and as the efforts of the survivors permitted, they crawled to the extremities of the cavern and presented themselves to their preservers above, who stood prepared to assist them. The means of doing so, was by two men boldly approaching the very brink of the precipice, a rope being tied round them and fastened to a strong iron bar fixed in the ground; behind them were two more, the like number further back and so on. A strong rope also properly secured, passed round them, by which they might hold, and preserve themselves from falling. They then let down a rope with a noose ready made, below to the cavern, and the wind blowing hard, it was in some instances forced under the projecting rock, sufficiently for the sufferers to reach it, without creeping out. Whoever caught it, put the noose round his body, and was drawn up. The distance from the top of the rock to the cavern, was at least an hundred feet, and the rock projected about eight; ten feet formed a declivity to the edge, and the rest was perpendicular.
Many, however, in attempting to secure themselves, shared the fate of Mr. Brimer, and, unable, from weakness or perturbation, to benefit by the assistance offered from above, they were at last precipitated from the cliff, and were either dashed to pieces on the rocks below, or perished in the waves.—Among those unhappy sufferers was one who being washed off the rock, or falling into the sea, was carried out by the return of the waves beyond the breakers, within which his utmost efforts could never again bring him, but he was always further withdrawn by the sea. He swam remarkably well, and continued to struggle in sight of his companions, until his strength being exhausted, he sunk to rise no more.
It was late in the day before all the survivors gained the land; one indeed a soldier, remained in this precarious station until the morning of Saturday the 7th of January; exposed to the utmost danger and distress. When the officers, seamen and soldiers, were mustered at the house of Mr. Garland, they were found to amount to seventy-four; and these were the only persons saved out of rather more than two hundred and forty that were on board when the ship sailed through the Downs, including the passengers. It was supposed that above fifty of the remainder reached the rocks, but were then washed off or fell from the cliffs; and that fifty, or more, sunk with the captain and the ladies in the round-house, when the after-part went to pieces. An accurate account of the whole numbers in the ship could never be obtained, as the last returns dispatched from her did not arrive.
The whole who reached the summit of the rock survived, excepting two or three who were supposed to have expired while drawing up, and a black who died soon afterwards; though many were severely bruised.
Mr. Meriton and Mr. Rogers having been supplied with the necessary means of making their journey by Mr. Garland, set off for London to carry the tidings of this disaster to the India House, where they arrived at noon, on Sunday the 8th. On the way they acquainted the magistrates of the towns through which they passed, that a number of shipwrecked seamen would soon be on the road to the metropolis. This they did to avert any suspicions of their travelling for some other intent. It is truly deserving of communication, that the master of the Crown-Inn at Blandford, Dorsetshire, not only sent for all the distressed seamen to his house, where he liberally refreshed them, but presented each with half a crown on his departure.
By this unfortunate shipwreck, all the passengers perished. The ladies were peculiarly endowed with beauty and accomplishments. The captain was a man of distinguished worth; humane and generous. (He left, besides those two daughters who suffered along with him, six other children and a widow to deplore his loss.) Most of the officers also perished; one of them, Mr. Thomas Jeane, a midshipman, who was under the immediate care of Captain Pierce, after gaining the rock was swept off by the waves. Swimming well he again reached it; but unable to support the weakness which assailed him, and the beating of the storm, he yielded his hold and perished in the sea.
AN ACCOUNT OF FOUR RUSSIAN SAILORS,
ABANDONED ON THE ISLAND OF EAST SPITZBERGEN.
In the year 1743, a merchant of Mesen, in Russia, fitted out a vessel for the Greenland whale-fishery. She carried fourteen men, and was destined for Spitzbergen. For eight successive days after their sailing the wind was fair, but on the ninth it changed; so that instead of getting to the coast of Spitzbergen, the usual rendezvous of the Dutch ships, they were driven eastward, and after some days elapsed they found themselves near an island, called by the Russians Little Broun. Approaching within three versts, or two English miles of this island, the vessel was suddenly surrounded by ice and the crew were reduced to an extremely dangerous situation.
In this alarming state, a council was held when the mate, Alexis Himkof, informed his comrades that some of the people of Mesen formerly intended wintering on this island, and for that purpose had carried timber hither, fit for building a hut, and actually erected one at some distance from the shore.
The whole crew, therefore, concluded to winter there, if the hut, as they hoped, still existed, because they were exposed to imminent danger by remaining in the ship, and they would infallibly perish if they did so. Four of the crew were on that account, dispatched in search of it, or any other assistance they might meet with.
The names of these four were, Alexis Himkof, Iwan Himkof, Stephen Scharapof and Feoder Weregin. Two miles of ice intervened between them and the shore, which being loose and driven together by the wind, rendered their approach difficult and dangerous. Providing themselves with a musket, a powder-horn containing twelve charges of powder, with as many balls, an axe, a kettle, about twenty pounds of flour, a knife, a tinder-box, some tobacco and each his wooden pipe, they soon arrived on the island.
Their first employment was exploring the country, when they discovered the hut alluded to, about a mile and a half from the shore. It was thirty-six feet long, eighteen broad and eighteen high; and consisted of two chambers. Rejoicing greatly at their success, they passed the night in it; though having been built a considerable time, it had suffered much from the weather.
Next morning the four men hastened to the shore, impatient to communicate their good fortune to their comrades; likewise designing to get such stores, ammunition and necessaries from the vessel, as to enable them to winter on the island. But the reader may conceive their sorrow and astonishment, when on reaching the place where they had landed nothing was to be seen but an open sea, instead of the ice which only the day preceding had covered it. Doubtless a violent storm, which arose during the night, had operated the change. It was not known, however, whether the vessel had been beat to pieces by the ice, or whether she had been carried by the current to the ocean; not an uncommon event in Greenland. Whatever accident befel her, certain it is they saw her no more; whence it is probable that she sunk, and that all on board perished.
This unfortunate occurrence deprived them of the hope of ever being able to quit the island, and full of horror and despair, they returned to the hut. But their first attention was directed to the means of providing subsistence, and repairing their habitation. The twelve charges of powder procured them as many rein-deer, for the island, fortunately for them abounded with these animals.
Though there were many crevices in the building, the wood of the hut was still sound and unimpaired, therefore the deficiency was supplied and done the more easily, because the lower class of Russians are expert carpenters. Here they had plenty of moss to assist them.
The intense cold of the climate prevents the growth of vegetables, and no species of tree or shrub is found on the islands of Spitzbergen. The Russians, however, collected a quantity of wood on the shore, which at first consisted of the wrecks of vessels, and afterwards of whole trees with their roots, the produce of some more hospitable climate, though unknown. Fortunately they found several bits of old iron, some nails, five or six inches long, and an iron hook, on a few wooden boards washed in by the sea. They likewise found the root of a fir tree, bent and nearly fashioned into the shape of a bow.
By the help of a knife, a bow was soon formed but wanting a string and arrows. Unable at present to procure either, they resolved to make two lances to defend themselves against the white bears. The iron hook was therefore fashioned into a hammer, by widening a hole which it happened to have about the middle, with one of the largest nails. A large pebble served for an anvil, and a couple of rein-deer horns served for the tongs.
By means of such tools, two spear heads were made, which were tied fast with thongs to sticks about the thickness of a man's arm. Thus equipped, the Russians ventured to attack a white bear, and, after a most dangerous encounter, succeeded in killing it. This was a new supply of provisions; they relished the flesh exceedingly, and easily divided the tendons into filaments, which, besides other uses, served for strings to their bow.
The Russians, in the next place, proceeded to forge some bits of iron into smaller pieces, resembling the head of spears; and these were fitted to arrows, by fastening them to fir rods.
They had thus a complete bow and arrows, and were more easily enabled to obtain food.
With these, during their abode on the island, they killed no less than two hundred and fifty rein-deer, and a great number of blue and white foxes. They fed on the flesh of the animals and used their skins for clothing. They killed only ten white bears during their residence, and that at the utmost hazard, for these creatures are amazingly strong, and defended themselves with surprising vigour and fury. The first was attacked intentionally; the other nine were killed in self-defence, for the animals even ventured to enter the outer room of the hut to devour them. Some, less ferocious than others, were repulsed on the first attempt, but a repetition of their attacks exposed the sailors to the continual apprehension of being destroyed.
As they could not afford wood for a constant fire, they dried a portion of their provision in the open air, and afterwards hung it up in the hut, which was always full of smoke. Prepared in this way, they used it for bread, because they were under the necessity of eating their other flesh half raw.
Unfortunately, one of the Russians was attacked by the scurvy. Iwan Himkof, who had wintered several times on the coast of West Spitzbergen, advised his companions to swallow raw and frozen meat in small pieces; to drink the blood of the rein-deer, as it flowed warm from the veins of the animal, and to eat scurvy-grass, although it was not very abundant. Those who followed his injunctions found an effectual antidote, but Feoder Weregin, being naturally of an indolent disposition, averse to drinking the rein-deer blood, and, unwilling to leave the hut when he could possibly avoid it, was soon seized with the scurvy. Under this afflicting distemper he passed nearly six years, enduring the greatest sufferings. At length he became so weak that he could not sit erect, nor even raise his hand to his mouth, so that his humane companions were obliged to attend on, and feed him like a new born infant, until the hour of his death.
In the course of their excursions through the island, the seamen had met with a slimy loam, or kind of clay, of which they contrived to make a lamp, and proposed to keep it constantly burning with the fat of the animals they should kill.—Thus they filled it with rein-deer's fat, and stuck a bit of twisted linen for a wick. But, to their mortification, always as the fat melted, it not only was absorbed by the clay, but fairly run through it on all sides. On this account they formed another lamp, which they dried thoroughly in the air, and heated red hot. It was next quenched in their kettle, wherein they had boiled a quantity of flour down to the consistence of thin starch. When filled with melted fat, they found to their great joy that it did not leak. Encouraged by this attempt, they made another, that, at all events, they might not be destitute of light, and saved the remainder of their flour for similar purposes. Oakum thrown ashore, as also cordage found among the wrecks of vessels, served for wicks; and when these resources failed, they converted their shirts and drawers to the same purpose. By such means they kept a lamp burning from soon after their arrival on the island, until the day of their embarkation for their native country.
Clothes, in so rigorous a climate, next became an object of necessity. The uses to which they had applied what they had brought with them exposed them still more to its severity. The skins of rein-deer and foxes had hitherto served for bedding. It was essential to devise some method of tanning them, the better to withstand the weather. This was accomplished, in a certain degree, by soaking the skins in water until the hair could be rubbed off, and then putting rein-deer fat upon them. The leather, by such a process, became soft and pliant. The want of awls and needles was supplied by bits of iron occasionally collected; of them they made a kind of wire, which, being heated red hot, was pierced with a knife, ground to a sharp point, which formed the eye of a needle.—The sinews of bears and rein-deer, split into threads, served for sewing the pieces of leather together, which enabled the Russians to procure jackets and trowsers for summer dress, and a long fur gown with a hood for their winter apparel.
The wants of these unfortunate persons being thus provided for, the only reflections disturbing them were regret for those left behind at home, or the apprehensions of some one of them surviving all his companions, and then either famishing for want of food, or becoming a prey to wild beasts. The mate, Alexis Himkof, had a wife and three children, who were constantly in his mind, and he was unhappy from the dread of never seeing them more.
Excepting white bears, foxes and rein-deer, with which the island abounds, no other animals inhabit it. A few birds are seen in summer, such as geese, ducks and other water-fowl. Whales seldom approach the shore; but there are great numbers of seals; other fish are scarce, and indeed their being in plenty would little avail the Russians, who were unprovided with the means of taking them. Sometimes they found the teeth and jaws of seals on the shore, but never an entire carcase; for when these animals die on land, the white bears immediately eat them. The common food of this ferocious creature, however, is the flesh of dead whales, which are frequently seen floating about in the polar regions, and are sometimes cast on shore. When this provision fails, they fall upon seals, devouring them and other animals sleeping on the beach.
The island had many mountains and steep rocks of stupendous height, perpetually covered with snow and ice; not a tree nor even the poorest shrub was to be met with; neither is there any vegetable but scurvy-grass, although plenty of moss grows in every part. The Russians found no river; however, there were many small rivulets rising among the rocks and mountains, which afforded a quantity of water.
They saw the sun moving for months together round the horizon during summer, and in winter they were an equal length of time in total darkness; but the Aurora Borealis, which was then frequent, contributed to lessen the gloominess of so long a night. Thick cloudy weather, great quantities of snow, and almost incessant rain at certain seasons, often obscured the stars. The snow totally covered the hut in winter, and left them no way of getting out of it, excepting by a hole which they had made in the roof of one of the chambers.
When the unfortunate mariners had passed nearly six years in this dismal abode, Feoder Weregin, who had all along been in a languid state, died, after suffering the most excruciating pains. Though his companions were thus freed of the trouble of attending on him, and the grief of witnessing his misery, they were deeply affected by his death. They saw their number lessened, and each wished to be the next to follow him. Having died in winter, a grave as deep as possible was dug in the snow to receive his corpse, and the survivors then covered it over to the best of their power, to prevent the white bears from getting at it.
While the melancholy reflections excited by Weregin's death were still fresh in the minds of his comrades, and while each expected to pay the like duties to the companions of his misfortunes that they had done to him, or to be himself the first to receive them, a Russian vessel unexpectedly came in view on the 15th of August 1749.
This vessel belonged to a trader who had come to Archangel, and intended to winter in Nova Zembla; but fortunately it was proposed to him to winter at West Spitzbergen, to which, after many objections, he assented. Contrary winds on the passage prevented the ship from reaching the place of her destination, and drove her towards East Spitzbergen, directly opposite to the residence of the mariners. As soon as they perceived her, they hastened to light fires on the nearest hills, and then ran to the beach waving a flag made of a rein-deer's skin fastened to a pole. The people on board observing these signals, concluded there were men ashore imploring their assistance, and therefore came to an anchor near the island.
To describe the joy of the unfortunate mariners at seeing the moment of their deliverance so near, is impossible.—They soon agreed with the master of the vessel to take them and all their riches on board, for which they should work during the voyage, and pay him eighty rubles on arriving in Russia. Therefore they embarked, carrying with them two thousand weight of rein-deer fat, many hides of the same animals, the skins of the blue and white foxes and bears they had killed. Neither did they neglect to carry away their spears, their knife and axe, which were almost worn out, or their awls and needles, which were carefully preserved in a box, very ingeniously made of bone.
After spending six years and three months in this rueful solitude, they arrived safe at Archangel on the 25th of September, 1749. But the moment of landing was nearly fatal to the affectionate wife of Alexis Himkof, who happened to be present when the vessel came into port. Immediately recognizing her husband, she ran with such eagerness to embrace him, that she slipped into the water, and very narrowly escaped being drowned.
All the three survivors were strong and healthy; having lived so long without bread, they could not be reconciled to the use of it; neither could they bear spirituous liquors, and drank nothing but water.
As they were vassals of Count Schuwalow, who then had a grant of the whale fishery, M. Le Roy requested of him that they might be sent from Archangel to St. Petersburgh, where he could satisfy himself respecting their adventures.—Accordingly two of them arrived, Alexis Himkof, aged about fifty and Iwan Himkof about thirty. They brought some curious specimens of their workmanship, so neatly executed, that it was doubtful with what tools it could have been done. From their account, both to M. Klingstadt, auditor of the Admiralty at Archangel, and what they now communicated, M. Le Roy composed the preceding narrative.
For centuries past Spitzbergen has been greatly resorted to on account of the profitable whale-fishery of the surrounding seas, and several shipwrecks, as well as incidents similar to the preceding, have occurred there, and in the vicinity.—Spitzbergen is a bleak and barren country, and received its name from the lofty pointed mountains by which it is covered; perpetual snow prevails, few plants spring from the soil, and it is destitute of wood. But to compensate in some measure for the scanty productions of nature by land, its seas, abundantly stored with fish, can afford a copious supply both of food and clothing to mankind.
LOSS OF THE AMPHITRITE CONVICT SHIP.
The following particulars of the loss of this vessel are copied from a letter dated Boulogne-sur-mer, Sept. 1, 1833.
The shocking event which is announced by the title to this letter, has, I assure you, filled the town with dismay, and must lead to a most narrow and rigid investigation. I cannot attempt to describe the afflictions not only of the English, but the French, at this most distressing event, and I only express the general opinion when I say that the British public demands that an inquiry be instituted into the conduct of all parties concerned in this deplorable affair.
The Amphitrite convict ship sailed for New South Wales from Woolwich on the 25th of August. Capt. Hunter was the commander; Mr. Forrester the surgeon; and there were 108 female convicts, 12 children and a crew of 16 persons. The captain was part owner of the vessel. When the ship arrived off Dungeness, the gale of the 29th began. On Friday morning the captain hove the ship to, the gale being too heavy to sail. The vessel was about three miles to the east from Boulogne harbor on Saturday at noon, when they made land.—The captain set the topsail and main-foresail in hopes of keeping her off shore.
From three o'clock she was in sight of Boulogne, and certainly the sea was most heavy and the wind extremely strong; but no pilot boat went out to her, and no life-boats or other assistance were dispatched. I observed her from three o'clock till about half past four in the afternoon, when she came round into Boulogne harbor and struck on the sands. By four o'clock it was known that it was a British ship, but some said it was a brig; others said it was a merchant vessel, though all said it was English.
It appears from the statement of three men who have been saved out of the crew—all the rest having perished, that the captain ordered the anchor to be let go, in hopes of swinging round with the tide.
In a few minutes after the vessel had gone aground, multitudes rushed to the beach, and a brave French sailor, named Pierre Henin, who has already received the thanks of the Humane Society of London, addressed himself to the captain of the port, and said that he was resolved to go alone, and to reach the vessel, in order to tell the captain that he had not a moment to lose, but must, as it was low water, send all his crew and passengers on shore.
You will recollect that up to the time of her running aground no measure was adopted, and the captain was not warned from shore of her danger.
As soon as she had struck, however, a pilot-boat, commanded by Francois Heuret, who has on many occasions shown much courage and talent, was dispatched, and by a little after five came under her bows. The captain of the vessel refused to avail himself of the assistance of Heuret and his brave companions, and when a portion of the crew proposed going on shore the captain prevented them. Two of the men saved, state that they knew the boat was under the bows, but that the rest were below making up their bundles. The crew could then have got on shore, and all the unfortunate women and children.
When the French boat had gone, the surgeon sent for Owen, one of the crew, and ordered him to get out the long boat. This was about half past five. The surgeon discussed the matter with his wife and with the captain. They were afraid of allowing the prisoners to go on shore. The wife of the surgeon is said to have proposed to leave the convicts there, and to go on shore without them.
In consequence of this discussion, no long boat was sent out. Three of the convict women told Owen, that they heard the surgeon persuaded the captain not to accept the assistance of the French boat, on account of the prisoners who were on board.
Let us now return to Pierre Henin. The French pilot-boat had been refused by the surgeon and captain—the long-boat had been put out, through a discussion as to saving the convicts—and it was now nearly six o'clock. At that time Henin went to the beach, stripped himself, took a line, swam naked for about three quarters of an hour or an hour, and arrived at the vessel at a little after seven. On reaching the right side of the vessel, he hailed the crew, and said, "Give me a line to conduct you on land, or you are lost, as the sea is coming in." He spoke English plain enough to be heard. He touched the vessel and told them to speak to the captain. They threw (that is, some of the crew, but not the surgeon or captain) two lines, one from the stern and one from the bow. The one from the stern he could not seize—the one from the bow he did. He then went towards the shore, but the rope was stopped. This was, it is believed, the act of the surgeon and captain. He (Henin) then swam back, and told them to give him more rope to get on shore. The captain and surgeon would not. They then tried to haul him in, but his strength failed and he got on shore.
You perceive, then, that up to this moment also the same obstacle existed in the minds of the captain and surgeon.—They did not dare, without authority, to land the convicts, and rather than leave them on board, or land them without such authority, they perished with them.
The female convicts, who were battened down under the hatches, on the vessel's running aground, broke away the half deck hatch, and frantic, rushed on deck. Of course they entreated the captain and surgeon to let them go on shore in the long-boat, but they were not listened to, as the captain and surgeon did not feel authorized to liberate prisoners committed to their care.
At seven o'clock the flood tide began. The crew seeing that there were no hopes, clung to the rigging. The poor 108 women and 12 children remained on deck, uttering the most piteous cries. The vessel was about three quarters of a mile English from the shore, and no more. Owen, one of the three men saved, thinks that the women remained on deck in this state about an hour and a half. Owen and four others were on the spars, and thinks they remained there three quarters of an hour, but, seeing no hope of being saved, he took to swimming, and was brought in a state of insensibility to the hotel. Towsey, another of the men saved, was on a plank with the captain. Towsey asked who he was? He said "I am the captain," but the next moment he was gone. Rice, the third man, floated ashore on a ladder. He was in the aft when the other men took to the raft. When the French pilot-boat rowed away, after being rejected by the captain, he (Rice) saw a man waving his hat on the beach, and remarked to the captain that a gentleman was waving to them to come on shore. The captain turned away and made no answer.—At that moment the women all disappeared, the ship broke in two.
These are the facts of this awful case. The French Marine Humane Society immediately placed hundreds of men on the beach; and the office, or lodging, being close to the shore, as soon as the corpses were picked up they were brought to the rooms, where I assisted many of my countrymen in endeavoring to restore them to life. Our efforts were fruitless except in the cases of the three men, Owen, Rice and Towsey. I never saw so many fine and beautiful bodies in my life. Some of the women were the most perfectly made; and French and English wept together at such a horrible loss of life in sight of—ay, and even close to, the port and town.—Body after body has been brought in. More than 60 have been found; they will be buried to-morrow. But alas! after all our efforts, only three lives have been saved out of 136.
THE MUTINEERS, A TALE OF THE SEA.
There is scarce any one, we apprehend, who is in any considerable degree conversant with the shifting scenes of human existence, who does not know that many of the plain narratives of common life possess an indescribable charm. These unvarnished details of human weal and human wo, coming right from the mint of nature, decline the superfluous embellishments of art, and, in the absence of all borrowed lustre, clearly demonstrate that they are "adorned the most when unadorned." They bear a most diametrical contrast to those figments of diseased fancy, that nauseating romance about virgins betrothed and lady love, which in so many instances elbow decency and common sense from the pages of our periodical literature as "unwelcome guests."
It has frequently been said that sailors, above every other class of men, have irrepressible hankerings after the wild and wonderful. Certain it is, that he who will sit on a ship's forecastle of a bright moonlight evening, will hear of "hair-breadth escapes," and perilous adventures no less chivalrous and incredible than those which Cervantes and the biographer of Baron Munchausen have attributed to their respective heroes. Although the following incidents may excite no very thrilling interest, they have at least the merit of truth. The actors in this short drama are still on the stage, ready to testify to this narrative of facts.
On the morning of the 14th of April, 1828, the ship Gold Hunter glided majestically out of the Liverpool docks, with fair wind and tide. The Mersey, from Liverpool to Black Rock, a distance of about three miles, was literally covered with vessels of every character and nation, which had taken advantage of the fair wind to clear the harbor. Here might be seen the little French lugger, carrying back to Bordeaux what its fruit and brandy had bought, as frisky in its motions as the nervous monsieur who commanded it. At a little distance, the square-shouldered Antwerper, sitting on the elevated poop of his galliot, was enjoying, with his crew, a glorious smoke. You could almost see them (and that, too, without very keen optics) put care into their tobacco-pipes, anxiety curled in fume over their heads. A not unfrequent sight was the star-spangled banner floating in beauty over the bosom of the wave. The serenity of the atmosphere, the ever-changing brilliancy of the scene, the tout ensemble, were well calculated to excite the most pleasurable emotions. Every thing seemed to give the most flattering assurances of a voyage of unruffled peacefulness.
This large squadron continued comparatively unbroken until it reached Holyhead, where such vessels as were bound for Scotland, or the north of Ireland, bore away from those which were bound down the channel. The Gold Hunter, whose destination was a port in the United States, was, of course, in company with the latter class. Those on board of her very naturally felt great gratification in perceiving that she was not only the most splendid and graceful ship, but the swiftest sailor in sight.
Before we proceed farther, however, we must in some measure acquaint the reader with the inmates of the Gold Hunter. Notwithstanding she was one of those floating palaces yclept "Liverpool packets," and the captain a finished gentleman and skilful navigator, there were, on this trip, but two cabin passengers,—an Irish gentleman (who had a short time before sold his lieutenancy in the British army) and his sister. The former had been engaged in some of England's fiercest battles, and won some of her brightest laurels. The reason which induced him to dispose of his commission, and forsake the hardships and honors of military life, was a desire to visit some near relations, who, at an early period, had emigrated to this country, and who were now enjoying respectability and a competence. It was for this object that Mr. Kelly and his sister had taken passage in the Gold Hunter, at the time of which we are now speaking. It need hardly be said, that they felt towards each other all that deep-toned and romantic affection which in so characteristic a manner pervades Irish relationships.
The captain, who was a man of fine feeling and cultivated intellect, spent most of his leisure moments in their company; and many an evening, when the moon-beams played forth brightly on the rippling water, and the bellying of the canvass seemed to assure them they were hastening to the tender embraces of those they loved, would they sit together on the quarter-deck, while Miss Kelly enhanced the brilliancy of the scene by singing some of those wild, touching melodies which she had learned to warble on her own native hills. Thus, "time trod on flowers," and the incidental privations and inconveniences of a sea voyage were greatly mitigated.
Nothing worthy of special notice occurred until about the 25th of April, when Mr. Kelly, who was walking on the weather side of the main deck, accidentally overheard the following conversation, between three or four of the crew, engaged in caulking the seams just under the lee of the long-boat.
"I tell you, once for all, a cargo of silks and broadcloths aint a-going to do us any good without the ready cash."
"Ready cash! why, man, how many times must I tell you that there is specie on board? the old man has two or three thousand dollars, and Kelly has a bag of sovereigns, or my eyes never saw salt water."—"And the girl," said a third voice, which Mr. Kelly knew to be the steward's—"and the girl did not jingle her bag for nothing the other day, when she walked by me: something there, or my head 's a ball of spun-yarn."
Kelly was transfixed with utter horror and amazement; but fearful lest some one might perceive him, he crouched under the long-boat, which afforded him a partial concealment. In this situation, he listened with breathless anxiety, to the development of their plans, so murderous that his very blood ran cold in his veins.
When the villains came to the blackest, most awful, portions of their scheme, their voices were instinctively hushed into almost a whisper; so that it was only the general outline that Kelly could gather. He found that it was their intention to wait until some dark, dismal night, when they would rush on the captain, himself and sister, and murder them in their beds, rifle them of their money, and take possession of the ship. It was their design to spare the life of the mate, whose services they needed as a navigator. After having done all this, they were to steer directly for the coast of Africa, where they hoped to dispose of the cargo to the negroes. If successful, they expected to carry thence to the West Indies a load of slaves—if not, to abandon the ship entirely, taking with them the specie, and whatever light articles of value they conveniently could. They anticipated no difficulty in introducing themselves into some of the settlements on the coast as shipwrecked mariners; and, as vessels frequently left the settlements for the United States, they supposed they might procure a passage without exciting any suspicion.
Kelly was a man of such imperturbable self-command, that he found no difficulty in repressing every symptom which could indicate his knowledge of the diabolical conspiracy. It was no part of his intention, however, to conceal any thing from Capt. Newton; to the captain, therefore, he made an unreserved disclosure of all that had come to his knowledge. At first they were at a loss what measures to take: one thing they thought of the greatest importance, which was to keep Miss Kelly in entire ignorance of what was transpiring on board. Some uncurbed outbreaking of alarm would be almost certain, such was the excitability of her temperament. This, in their present situation, might be attended with the most disastrous consequences.
The captain determined to eye with particular vigilance the motions of Harmon, who, from the part he took in the conversation alluded to above, appeared to be the ring-leader. Here, in order that the reader may fully understand the narrative, it becomes necessary for us to make a very short digression.
The government of a ship is, in the strictest sense of the term, monarchical, the captain holding undivided and absolute authority. The relation he sustains to the sailor resembles very much that of the master to the slave. Consequently, in order that this relation be not severed by the sailor, even the faintest color of insubordination must be promptly quelled. If any master of a ship suffer a sailor to make an impertinent reply with impunity, he immediately finds his authority prostrate and trampled upon, and his most positive commands pertinaciously disregarded.
The day after that on which Mr. Kelly had communicated the startling intelligence to the captain, was somewhat squally. The latter was standing on the weather side of the quarter-deck, giving directions to the man at the helm (who happened to be Harmon) respecting the steering of the ship:
"Luff! luff! keep her full and by! Mind your weather helm, or she'll be all in the wind. Down with it, or she'll be off! I tell you, if you don't steer the ship better, I'll send you from the helm. You don't keep her within three points of her course either way!"
All this was said, of course, in a pretty authoritative tone, and Harmon impudently replied, "I can steer as well as you, or any other man in the ship."
Capt. Newton's philosophy was completely dashed by this daring answer, and he immediately gave Harmon a blow with his fist, which Harmon as promptly returned sprawling the captain on the deck.
Harmon then deserted the helm, leaving the ship to the mercy of the tempest, and hurried forward to the forecastle, hoping there to intrench himself so firmly as to resist all attacks from without.
The captain, as soon as he could recover from his amazement, went to the cabin door and cried out,
"Mr. Kelly, our lives are in danger—will you assist me, my dear sir, to secure one of my men, that cut-throat Harmon. We must blow up this scheme in the outset, or we are gone."
Kelly had too little coolness in his constitution to stop to discuss the matter, when he knew that the life of a dear sister might depend on the issue. He saw, in a moment, that the conspirators would take courage, unless they were immediately overpowered. He therefore instantly joined Capt. Newton, and they proceeded to the forecastle together.
Threats and commands had not virtue enough to bring Harmon from his hiding-place. Some more effectual expedient must be resorted to. Accordingly, brimstone was introduced into the numerous crevices of the forecastle, and the atmosphere rendered insufferable. Frantic with suffocation, his eyes flashing with rage, he brandished savagely a huge case-knife:—"You, Newton! and you Kelly! I swear that, if I am obliged to leave this forecastle, I'll sheath this knife in your breasts, you infernal tormentors!"
Like the chafed, wounded, maddened bull, which his pursuers have surrounded, and which is drawing close about him his dying strength, for one last furious charge, was Harmon, when Kelly, with most provoking coolness, said, "Harmon, you shall leave that forecastle, or die there."
It soon became evident that he was making preparations to leave: they therefore planted themselves firmly near the gang way through which alone he could possibly come out. Soon he bolted furiously through, making, as he passed, a desperate plunge at Capt. Newton, with his enormous case-knife. Had not Mr. Kelly, at this moment, by a dexterous effort, struck Harmon's arm, one more immortal spirit would have been disencumbered of this "coil of mortality." Instead of this, the villain was disarmed, and his dangerous weapon danced about harmlessly on the top of the waves. Harmon was now powerless; and they found no difficulty in putting irons upon him. During the whole of this contest, his associates did not dare to offer him the least assistance: on the contrary, each stood silently apart, eyeing his neighbor with fear and distrust.
When Mr. Kelly returned to the cabin, he found that his sister had fainted away through terror. Volatile salts, and the assurance that all her future fears would be entirely groundless, had the effect of restoring her very speedily. * * *
On the morning of the 23d May, Charleston light-house was descried from the mast-head. Not a remnant of apprehension lurked behind; every pulse beat gladly; anticipated joys filled every bosom. It was not long before the revenue cutter, from which floats the stripes and the stars, was seen bounding over the billows towards the Gold Hunter. She was soon along side, and, after an interchange of salutations between the vessels, the commander of the revenue cutter boarded the ship. After many inquiries, Capt. Newton requested the United States officer to step into the cabin, where he laid open all the circumstances connected with the abortive conspiracy.
"Capt. Morris," said he, "I shall be obliged to call on you for assistance in bringing these men to punishment."
"Such as I can grant," replied Capt. M., "is at your service; but how shall we proceed?"
"Put the men into irons, and then I consign them to your safe keeping."
These intentions were announced on deck; and if ever consternation and rueful dismay were depicted in human countenances it was in the case of those who had entered into the conspiracy, but who, till now, had supposed that all their plans were enveloped in midnight secrecy. Manacles were put on them all without difficulty, and they soon found themselves securely lodged on board an United States vessel.
At the fall term of the Supreme Court of South Carolina, four men were arraigned on an indictment of "mutiny on the high seas," on board the ship Gold Hunter. The evidence was so conclusive, that all the ingenuity of the prisoner's council, twist itself as it would, could effect nothing. The jury found a verdict of guilty, without leaving their seats. Harmon was sentenced to the penitentiary five years; the others four years each. Thus was a most dangerous indevotion frustrated.
FATE OF SEVEN SAILORS,
WHO WERE LEFT ON THE ISLAND OF ST. MAURICE.
The Dutch who frequented the northern regions during the more favorable season of the year, in pursuit of the whale fishery, became desirous of ascertaining the state of different places while winter prevailed. Various opinions were entertained concerning this subject, and astronomers wished to have their sentiments regarding certain natural phenomena, either realized or controverted. Besides, a more important object was concealed under these ostensible reasons, namely, whether the establishment of permanent colonies in the most remote parts of Greenland was practicable. A proposal was therefore promulgated through the Greenland fleet, for seven seamen to offer to remain a winter in St. Maurice's Island, and also for other seven to winter in Spitzbergen. We are not acquainted with the inducements held forth; but it is probable that little hesitation ensued, for we find a party prepared to winter at the different places specified, nearly about the same period.
Seven of the stoutest and ablest men of the fleet having accordingly agreed to be left behind, their comrades sailed from St. Maurice's Isle on the 26th of August 1633.
The people, two days afterwards, shared half a pound of tobacco, to which they restricted themselves as a weekly allowance. At this time there was no night, and the heat of the sun so powerful through the day, that they pulled off their shirts, and sported on the side of a hill near their abode. Great abundance of sea-gulls frequented the island, and the seamen made a constant practice of seeking for vegetables growing there for salad.
Towards the end of September, the weather began to be tempestuous, and in the earlier part of October, their huts were so much shaken by violent storms of wind, that their nightly rest was interrupted; but they did not resort to firing until the 9th of that month. About a week subsequent, two whales were cast ashore, and the seamen immediately endeavored to kill them with harpoons, lances, and cutlasses, but the tide flowing enabled them to escape.
As winter advanced, bears became so numerous, that the people durst scarce venture abroad from their huts towards night; but in the day time some were occasionally killed, which they roasted. Several of these animals were so strong, however, that they would run off after being shot through. A great many gulls were also seen on the sea-side which retired every night to the mountains, their usual place of retreat.
The first of January 1634, was ushered in with dark and frosty weather; the seamen, after wishing each other a happy new year, and good success in their enterprize, went to prayers. Two bears approached very near their huts, but the darkness of the day, and the depth of the snow, rendered it impossible to take them; not long afterwards the seamen were more successful, and, having shot one, dragged it into a hut, where they skinned it. From the 1st of February these animals became very shy, and were seldom seen.
In the month of March all the people were attacked by scurvy, owing to the scarcity of fresh provisions, and their spirits sunk with the progress of the disease; only two were in health on the 3d of April, while the rest were extremely ill. Two pullets were at their request killed for them, no more being left; and as their appetites were pretty good, the others entertained hopes of their convalescence. The whole seldom left their hut to examine the appearance of the sea, or the surrounding country; but, on the 15th, they observed four whales in a neighboring bay.
The clerk was now very ill, and died on the 16th, whereupon the surviving mariners invoked Heaven to have mercy on his soul, and also on themselves, for they suffered severely. No fresh provisions whatever were left, and they daily grew worse, partly from want of necessary articles, and partly from the excessive cold. Even when in health they could scarce keep themselves in heat by exercise; and when sick, and unable to stir from their huts, that remedy was at an end. Disease made rapid progress among these unfortunate people, so that on the 23d not more than one individual could give an account of the rest, which is done in these words of his journal: "We are by this time reduced to a deplorable state, none of my comrades being able to help himself, much less another; the whole burden, therefore, lies on my shoulders, and I shall perform my duty as well as I am able, so long as it pleases God to give me strength. I am just now about to assist our commander out of his cabin; he thinks it will relieve his pain, for he is struggling with death. The night is dark, and wind blowing from the south."
Meantime the Dutch, who repaired in the summer season to Greenland, became impatient to learn the fate of the seven men left in the Isle of St. Maurice. Some of the seamen got into a boat immediately on their arrival, on the 4th of June 1634, and hastened towards the huts. Yet, from none of the others having come to the sea-side to welcome them, they presaged nothing good; and accordingly found that all the unfortunate men had breathed their last. The first, as has been seen, expired on the 16th of April 1634, and his comrades, having put his body in a coffin, deposited it in one of the huts. The remainder were conjectured to have died about the beginning of May, from a journal kept by them, expressing that, on the 27th of April, they had killed their dog for want of fresh provisions, and from its termination on the last of this month.
Near one of the bodies stood some bread and cheese, on which the mariner had perhaps subsisted immediately preceding his decease; a box of ointment lay beside the cabin of another, with which he had rubbed his teeth and joints, and his arm was still extended towards his mouth. A prayer-book, which he had been reading, also lay near him. Each of the men was found in his own cabin.
The Commodore of the Greenland fleet having got this melancholy intelligence, ordered the six bodies to be put into coffins, and, along with the seventh, deposited beneath the snow. Afterwards, when the earth thawed, they were removed, and interred, on St. John's day, under a general discharge of the cannon of the fleet.
SEAMEN WINTERING IN SPITZBERGEN.
On the 30th of August 1633, the Dutch fleet sailed from North-Bay, in Spitzbergen, leaving seven men behind, who had agreed to winter there. Immediately, on departure of the vessels, they began to collect a sufficient quantity of provisions to serve their necessities until their comrades should return in the subsequent year. Therefore, at different times, they hunted rein-deer with success, and caught many sea-fowl; and also occasionally got herbs, which proved very salutary.
Excursions both by sea and land were frequently made when the weather would permit; and they endeavored to kill whales and narwhals in the different bays on the east coast of Spitzbergen.
The extreme cold of the climate was announced by the disappearance of all the feathered tribe on the third of October, and from that time it gradually augmented. On the 13th their casks of beer were frozen three inches thick, and very soon afterwards, though standing within eight feet of the fire, they froze from top to bottom. The seamen had broke the ice on the sea, and disposed a net for catching fish below it; but the rigour of the weather constantly increasing, the ice formed a foot thick at the surface in the space of two hours.
From the excessive cold, they remained almost constantly in bed, and, notwithstanding they had both a grate and a stove, they were sometimes obliged to rise and take violent exercise to keep themselves in heat.
Beautiful phenomena appeared in the sky during winter, consisting of the Aurora Borealis, of surprising splendour and magnitude, and other meteors seeming to arise from the icy mountains.
On the third of March the mariners had an encounter with a monstrous bear, in which one of them very nearly perished. The animal became furious from its wounds; leaping against a seaman, about to pierce it with his lance, it threw him down, and, but for the opportune interposition of another, would have torn him to pieces.
At length, after suffering many hardships and privations the mariners were gladdened with the sight of a boat rowing into the bay, on the 27th of May 1634, announcing the return of a Dutch Greenlandman, which anchored there the same evening.
The Dutch, encouraged by the safety of this party, proposed that other seven people, provided with all necessaries, should pass the following winter in their place; and, accordingly, Andrew Johnson, Cornelius Thysse, Jerome Carcoen, Tiebke Jellis, Nicholas Florison, Adrian Johnson, and Fettje Otters, offered to remain.
The fleet, therefore, sailed for Holland on the 11th of September 1634, leaving these men behind. Numbers of whales were in sight of Spitzbergen on the same day, which the people made an unsuccessful attempt to catch.
Towards the end of November, scurvy beginning to appear among them, they carefully sought for green herbs, but in vain; nor were they more fortunate in the pursuit of bears and foxes for fresh provisions. However, they drank some potions and took other antidotes against the disease, and then set traps for foxes.
A bear being discovered on the 24th of November, three of the people eagerly proceeded to attack it, for their necessities were daily becoming greater. The animal, rising to receive them on its hind legs, was shot through the body, whereupon it began to bleed and roar most hideously, and fiercely bit a halbert. But, likely to be overpowered, it took to flight, and was anxiously pursued by the people a long way, carrying lanthorns, though unsuccessfully; and they were all much dispirited from the disappointment of fresh provision, which they so much required.
On the 14th of January, Adrian Johnson died. The whole of the rest were extremely ill. Fettje Otters died next day, and also Cornelius Thysse on the 17th, a man in whom his comrades rested their chief hope next to God.
Notwithstanding the weakness of the survivors, who could scarce support themselves on their legs, they contrived to make three coffins for the deceased, and put their bodies into them.
In the beginning of February they had the good fortune to catch a fox, an incident which afforded them much satisfaction, but at that time disease had gone too far to admit their deriving material benefit from the flesh. Many bears, even six or ten together were seen; but the people had not strength to manage their guns, nor, had it been otherwise, were they able to pursue them. Now they were seized with excruciating pains about the loins and belly, which were aggravated by cold. One spit blood, and another was afflicted with a bloody flux; yet Jerome Carcoen could still bring in fuel to keep up the fires.
The sun had disappeared on the 20th of October, nor was he seen again until the 24th of February, when the mariners were so weak as to be constantly confined to their cabins. Two days after, they ceased to be able to write, at that time expressing themselves in a journal thus: "Four of us who still survive, lie flat on the floor of our hut. We think we could still eat, were there only one among us able to get fuel, but none can move for pain; our time is spent in constant prayer, that God, in his mercy, would deliver us from this misery; we are ready whenever he pleases to call us. Assuredly we cannot long survive without food or firing; we are unable to assist each other in our mutual afflictions, and each must bear his own burden."
The seamen of the Dutch fleet arriving at Spitzbergen, in 1635, hastened to inquire after the fate of their comrades; and having found their hut all closed around as a protection against wild beasts, they broke open the back door. A man then entering, ran up stairs, where he discovered part of a dead dog on the floor, laid there to dry, and quickly descending, trod on the carcass of another dog also dead. Thence passing towards the front door, he stumbled in the dark over several dead bodies, which, after the door was opened, were seen lying together. Three were in coffins; Nicholas Florison and another, each in a cabin; and the other two on some sails covering the floor, lying with their knees drawn up to their chins. Therefore the whole of these unfortunate people had perished.
Coffins were prepared for the four bodies wanting them, and all were buried under the snow, until the ground became more penetrable, when they were deposited in the earth beside each other, and stones laid on their graves, to preserve them from the ravenous beasts of prey.
A MAN OVERBOARD.
Sailors are men of rough habits, but their feelings are not by any means so coarse: if they possess little prudence or worldly consideration, they are likewise very free from selfishness; generally speaking, too, they are much attached to one another, and will make great sacrifices to their messmates or shipmates when opportunities occur.
I remember once, when cruising off Terceira in the Endymion, that a man fell overboard and was drowned. After the usual confusion, and long search in vain, the boats were hoisted up, and the hands called to make sail. I was officer of the forecastle and on looking about to see if all the men were at their station, missed one of the fore-top men. Just at that moment I observed some one curled up, and apparently hiding himself under the bow of the barge, between the boat and the booms. 'Hillo!' I said, 'who are you? What are you doing there, you skulker? Why are you not at your station?'
'I am not skulking,' said the poor fellow, the furrows in whose bronzed and weatherbeaten cheek were running down with tears. The man we had just lost had been his messmate and friend, he told me, for ten years. I begged his pardon, in full sincerity, for having used such harsh words to him at such a moment, and bid him go below to his birth for the rest of the day—'Never mind, sir, never mind,' said the kind hearted seaman, 'it can't be helped. You meant no harm, sir. I am as well on deck as below. Bill's gone sir, but I must do my duty.' So saying, he drew the sleeve of his jacket twice or thrice across his eyes, and mustering his grief within his breast, walked to his station as if nothing had happened.
In the same ship and nearly about the same time, the people were bathing along side in a calm at sea. It is customary on such occasions to spread a studding-sail on the water, by means of lines from the fore and main yard arms, for the use of those who either cannot swim, or who are not expert in this art, so very important to all seafaring people. Half a dozen of the ship's boys were floundering about in the sails, and sometimes even venturing beyond the leech rope. One of the least of these urchins, but not the least courageous of their number, when taunted by his more skilful companions with being afraid, struck out boldly beyond the prescribed bounds. He had not gone much further than his own length, however, along the surface of the fathomless sea, when his heart failed him, poor little man; and along with his confidence away also went his power of keeping his head above the water. So down he sank rapidly, to the speechless horror of the other boys, who of course, could lend the drowning child no help.
The captain of the forecastle, a tall, fine-looking, hard-a-weather fellow, was standing on the shank of the sheet anchor with his arms across, and his well varnished canvass hat drawn so much over his eyes that it was difficult to tell whether he was awake or merely dozing in the sun, as he leaned his back against the fore-topmast backstay. The seaman, however, had been attentively watching the young party all the time, and rather fearing that mischief might ensue from their rashness, he had grunted out a warning to them from time to time, to which they paid no sort of attention. At last he desisted, saying they might drown themselves if they had a mind, for never a bit would he help them; but no sooner did the sinking figure of the adventurous little boy catch his eye, than, diver fashion, he joined the palms of his hands over his head, inverted his position in one instant, and urging himself into swifter motion by a smart push with his feet against the anchor, shot head foremost into the water. The poor lad sunk so rapidly that he was at least a couple of fathoms under the surface before he was arrested by the grip of the sailor, who soon rose again, bearing the bewildered boy in his hand, and calling to the other youngsters to take better care of their companion, chucked him right into the belly of the sail. The fore-sheet was hanging in the calm, nearly into the water, and by it the dripping seaman scrambled up again to his old birth on the anchor, shook himself like a great Newfoundland dog, and then jumping on the deck, proceeded across the forecastle to shift himself.
At the top of the ladder he was stopped by the marine officer, who had witnessed the whole transaction, as he sat across the gangway hammocks, watching the swimmers, and trying to get his own consent to undergo the labor of undressing. Said the soldier to the sailor, "That was very well done of you, my man, and right well deserves a glass of grog. Say so to the gun-room steward as you pass; and tell him it is my orders to fill you out a stiff nor-wester." The soldier's offer was kindly meant, but rather clumsily timed, at least so thought Jack: for though he inclined his head in acknowledgment of the attention, and instinctively touched his hat when spoken to by an officer, he made no reply till out of the marine's hearing, when he laughed, or rather chuckled out to the people near him, "Does the good gentleman suppose I'll take a glass of grog for saving a boy's life."
AN ESCAPE THROUGH THE CABIN-WINDOWS.
In the year 18—, said Capt. M——, I was bound, in a fine stout ship of about four hundred tons burden, from the port of l'—— to Liverpool. The ship had a valuable cargo on board and about ninety thousand dollars in specie. I had been prevented, by other urgent business, from giving much of my attention to the vessel while loading and equipping for the voyage, but was very particular in my directions to the chief mate, in whom I had great confidence, he having sailed with me some years, to avoid entering, if possible, any but native American seamen. When we were about to sail, he informed me that he had not been able to comply with my directions entirely in this particular; but had shipped two foreigners as seamen, one a native of Guernsey, and the other a Frenchman from Brittany. I was pleased, however, with the appearance of the crew generally, and particularly with the foreigners. They were both stout and able-bodied men, and were particularly alert and attentive to orders.
The passage commenced auspiciously and promised to be a speedy one, as we took a fine steady westerly wind soon after we lost soundings. To my great sorrow and uneasiness, I soon discovered in the foreigners a change of conduct for the worse. They became insolent to the mates and appeared to be frequently under the excitement of liquor, and had evidently acquired an undue influence with the rest of the men. Their intemperance soon became intolerable, and as it was evident that they had brought liquor on board with them, I determined upon searching the forecastle and depriving them of it. An order to this effect was given to the mates, and they were directed to go about its execution mildly and firmly, taking no arms with them as they seemed inclined to do, but to give every chest, birth and locker in the forecastle a thorough examination; and bring aft to the cabin any spirits they might find.
It was not without much anxiety that I sent them forward upon this duty. I remained upon the quarter deck myself, ready to go to their aid, should it be necessary. In a few moments, a loud and angry dispute was succeeded by a sharp scuffle around the forecastle companion-way. The steward, at my call, handed my loaded pistols from the cabin, and with them I hastened forward. The Frenchman had grappled the second mate, who was a mere lad, by the throat, thrown him across the heel of the bowsprit, and was apparently determined to strangle him to death. The chief mate was calling for assistance from below, where he was struggling with the Guernsey man. The rest of the crew were indifferent spectators but rather encouraging the foreigners than otherwise. I presented a pistol at the head of the Frenchman, and ordered him to release the second mate, which he instantly did. I then ordered him into the fore top, and the others, who were near, into the maintop, none to come down under pain of death, until ordered. The steward had by this time brought another pair of pistols, with which I armed the second mate, directing him to remain on deck; and went below into the forecastle myself. I found that the chief mate had been slightly wounded in two places by the knife of his antagonist, who, however, ceased to resist as I made my appearance, and we immediately secured him in irons. The search was now made, and a quantity of liquor found and taken to the cabin. The rest of the men were then called down from the tops, and the Frenchman was made the companion of his coadjutor's confinement. I then expostulated, at some length, with the others upon their improper and insubordinate conduct, and upon the readiness with which they had suffered themselves to be drawn into such courses by two rascally foreigners, and expressed hopes that I should have no reason for further complaint during the rest of the voyage. This remonstrance I thought had effect, as they appeared contrite and promised amendment. They were then dismissed, and order was restored.
The next day the foreigners strongly solicited pardon, with the most solemn promises of future good conduct; and as the rest of the crew joined in their request, I ordered that their irons should be taken off. For several days the duties of the ship were performed to my entire satisfaction; but I could discover in the countenances of the foreigners, expressions of deep and rancorous animosity to the chief mate, who was a prompt, energetic seaman, requiring from the sailors, at all times, ready and implicit obedience to his orders.
A week perhaps had passed over in this way, when one night, in the mid watch, all hands were called to shorten sail. Ordinarily upon occasions of this kind, the duty was conducted by the mate, but I now went upon deck myself and gave orders, sending him upon the forecastle. The night was dark and squally; but the sea was not high, and the ship was running off about nine knots, with the wind upon the starboard quarter. The weather being very unpromising, the second reef was taken in the fore and main topsails, the mizen handed and the fore and mizen top gallant yards sent down. This done, one watch was permitted to go below, and I prepared to betake myself to my birth again, directing the mate, to whom I wished to give some orders, should be sent to me. To my utter astonishment and consternation, word was brought me, after a short time, that he was no where to be found. I hastened upon deck, ordered all hands up again, and questioned every man in the ship upon the subject; but they, with one accord, declared that they had not seen the mate forward. Lanterns were then brought, and every accessible part of the vessel was unavailingly searched. I then, in the hearing of the whole crew, declared my belief that he must have fallen overboard by accident, again dismissed one watch below, and repaired to the cabin, in a state of mental agitation impossible to be described. For notwithstanding the opinion which I had expressed to the contrary, I could not but entertain strong suspicions that the unfortunate man had met a violent death.
The second mate was a protegee of mine; and, as I have before observed, was a very young man of not much experience as a seaman. I therefore felt that, under critical circumstances, my main support had fallen from me. It is needless to add, that a deep sense of forlornness and insecurity was the result of these reflections.
My first step was to load and deposit in my state room all the fire arms on board, amounting to several muskets and four pairs of pistols. The steward was a faithful mulatto man, who had sailed with me several voyages. To him I communicated my suspicions, and directed him to be constantly on the alert: and should any further difficulty with the crew occur, to repair immediately to my state room and arm himself. His usual birth was in the steerage, but I further directed that he should, on the following morning, clear out and occupy one in the cabin near my own. The second mate occupied a small state room opening into the passage which led from the steerage to the cabin. I called him from the deck, gave him a pair of loaded pistols, with orders to keep them in his birth; and, during his night watches on deck, never to go forward of the mainmast, but to continue as constantly as possible near the cabin companion-way, and call me upon the slightest occasion. After this, I laid down in my bed, ordering that I should be called at four o'clock, for the morning watch. Only a few minutes had elapsed, when I heard three or four knocks under the counter of the ship, which is that part of the stern immediately under the cabin-windows. In a minute or two they were distinctly repeated. I arose—opened the cabin-window and called. The mate answered!—I gave him the end of a rope to assist him up, and never shall I forget the flood of gratitude which my delighted soul poured forth to that Being who had restored him to me uninjured. His story was soon told. He had gone forward upon being ordered by me, after the calling of all hands and had barely reached the forecastle, when he was seized by the two foreigners, and before he could utter more than one cry, which was drowned in the roaring of the winds and waves, was thrown over the bow. He was a powerful man and an excellent swimmer. The top-sails of the ship were clewed down to reef, and her way, of course, considerably lessened—and in an instant, he found the end of a rope, which was accidentally towing overboard, within his grasp, by which he dragged in the dead water or eddy, that is created under the stern of a vessel while sailing, particularly if she is full built and deeply laden, as was the case with this. By a desperate effort, he caught one of the rudder chains, which was very low, and drew himself by it upon the step or jog of the rudder where he had sufficient presence of mind to remain without calling out, until the light had ceased to shine through the cabin-windows, when he concluded that the search for him was over. He then made the signal to me.
No being in the ship, but myself, was apprised of his safety, for the gale had increased and completely drowned the sounds of the knocking, opening the window, &c. before they could reach the quarter deck; and there was no one in the cabin but ourselves, the steward having retired to his birth in the steerage. It was at once resolved that the second mate only should be informed of his existence. He immediately betook himself to a large vacant state room, and, for the remainder of the passage, all his wants were attended to by me. Even the steward was allowed to enter the cabin as rarely as possible.
Nothing of note occurred during the remainder of the voyage, which was prosperous. It seemed that the foreigners had only been actuated by revenge in the violence they had committed; for nothing further was attempted by them. In due season we took a pilot in the channel, and, in a day or two, entered the port of Liverpool. As soon as the proper arrangements were made, we commenced warping the ship into dock, and while engaged in this operation, the Mate appeared on deck, went forward, and attended to his duties as usual! A scene occurred which is beyond description: every feature of it is as vivid in my recollection as though it occurred but yesterday, and will be to my latest breath. The warp dropped from the paralysed hands of the horror-stricken sailors, and had it not been taken up by some boatmen on board, I should have been compelled to anchor again and procure assistance from the shore. Not a word was uttered; but the two guilty wretches staggered to the mainmast, where they remained petrified with horror, until the officer, who had been sent for, approached to take them into custody. They then seemed in a measure to be recalled to a sense of their appalling predicament, and uttered the most piercing expressions of lamentation and despair.
They were soon tried, and upon the testimony of the mate capitally convicted and executed.
TOM CRINGLE'S LOG.
We had refitted, and been four days at sea, on our voyage to Jamaica, when the gun-room officers gave our mess a blow out.
The increased motion and rushing of the vessel through the water, the groaning of the masts, the howling of the gale, and the frequent trampling of the watch on deck, were prophetic of wet jackets to some of us; still, midshipman-like, we were as happy as a good dinner and some wine could make us, until the old gunner shoved his weather beaten phiz and bald pate in at the door. "Beg pardon Mr. Splinter, but if you will spare Mr. Cringle on the forecastle an hour, until the moon rises."—("Spare," quotha, "is his majesty's officer a joint stool?")—"Why, Mr. Kennedy, why? here, man, take a glass of grog." "I thank you sir." "It is coming on a roughish night, sir; the running ships should be crossing us hereabouts; indeed, more than once I thought there was a strange sail close aboard of us, the scud is flying so low, and in such white flakes; and none of us have an eye like Mr. Cringle, unless it be John Crow, and he is all but frozen." "Well, Tom, I suppose you will go."—Anglice, from a first lieutenant to a mid—
Having changed my uniform for shag trowsers, pea-jacket and a south-west cap, I went forward and took my station, in no pleasant humor, on the stowed jib, with my arm around the stay. I had been half an hour there, the weather was getting worse, the rain was beating in my face, and the spray from the stern was splashing over me, as it roared through the waste of sparkling and hissing waters. I turned my back to the weather for a moment to press my hands on my straining eyes. When I opened them, I saw the gunner's gaunt and high-featured visage thrust anxiously forward; his profile looked as if rubbed over with phosphorus, and his whole person as if we had been playing at snap dragon. "What has come over you Mr. Kennedy? who's burning the blue light now?" "A wiser man than I must tell you that; look forward Mr. Cringle—look there; what do your books say to that?"
I looked forth, and saw at the extreme end of the jib-boom, what I have read of, certainly, but never expected to see, a pale, greenish, glow-worm colored flame, of the size and shape of the frosted glass shade over the swinging lamp in the gun-room. It drew out and flattened as the vessel pitched and rose again, and as she sheered about, it wavered round the point that seemed to attract it, like a soap suds bubble blown from a tobacco-pipe, before it is shaken into the air; at the core it was comparatively bright, but faded into a halo. It shed a baleful and ominous light on the surrounding objects; the group of sailors on the forecastle looked like spectres, and they shrunk together, and whispered when it began to roll slowly along the spar where the boatswain was sitting at my feet. At this instant something slid down the stay, and a cold clammy hand passed around my neck. I was within an ace of losing my hold and tumbling overboard.—"Heaven have mercy on me what's that?" "It's that sky-larking son of a gun, Jem Sparkle's monkey, sir. You Jem, you'll never rest till that brute is made shark's bait of." But Jacko vanished up the stay again, chuckling and grinning in the ghastly radiance, as if he had been 'the spirit of the Lamp.' The light was still there, but a cloud of mist, like a burst of vapor from a steam boiler, came down upon the gale and flew past, when it disappeared. I followed the white mass as it sailed down the wind; it did not, as it appeared to me, vanish in the darkness, but seemed to remain in sight to leeward, as if checked by a sudden flaw; yet none of our sails were taken aback. A thought flashed on me. I peered still more intensely into the night. I was not certain.—"A sail, broad on the lee bow." The captain answered from the quarter-deck—"Thank you, Mr. Cringle. How shall we steer?" "Keep her away a couple of points, sir, steady." "Steady," sung the man at the helm; and a slow melancholy cadence, although a familiar sound to me, now moaned through the rushing wind, and smote upon my heart as if it had been the wailing of a spirit. I turned to the boatswain, who was now standing beside me, "is that you or Davy steering, Mr. Nipper? if you had not been there bodily at my side, I could have sworn that was your voice." When the gunner made the same remark, it started the poor fellow; he tried to take it as a joke, but could not. "There may be a laced hammock with a shot in it, for some of us ere morning."
At this moment, to my dismay, the object we were chasing shortened,—gradually fell abeam of us, and finally disappeared.
"The flying Dutchman." "I can't see her at all now."—"She will be a fore and aft rigged vessel that has tacked, sir." And sure enough, after a few seconds, I saw the white object lengthened and drew out again abaft our beam. "The chase has tacked, sir; put the helm down, or she will go to windward of us." We tacked also, and time it was we did so, for the rising moon now showed us a large schooner with a crowd of sail. We edged down on her, when finding her manoeuvre detected, she brailed up her flat sails and bore up before the wind. This was our best point of sailing, and we cracked on, the captain rubbing his hands—"It's my turn to be the big un this time." Although blowing a strong north-wester, it was now clear moonlight, and we hammered away from our bow guns, but whenever a shot told amongst the rigging, the injury was repaired as if by magic. It was evident we had repeatedly hulled her, from the glimmering white streaks across her counter and along her stern, occasioned by the splintering of the timber, but it seemed to produce no effect.
At length we drew well upon her quarter. She continued all black hull and white sail, not a soul to be seen on deck, except a dark object which we took for the man at the helm. "What schooner is that?" No answer. "Heave to, or I'll sink you." Still all silent. "Serjeant Armstrong, do you think you can pick off that chap at the wheel?" The mariner jumped on the forecastle, and levelled his piece, when a musket-shot from the schooner crushed through his skull, and he fell dead. The old skipper's blood was up. "Forecastle there! Mr. Nipper, clap a canister of grape over the round shot in the bow gun, give it to him." "Ay, ay, sir!" gleefully rejoined the boatswain, forgetting the augury, and everything else, in the excitement of the moment. In a twinkling the square foresail—topgallant—royal and studding-sail haulyards, were let go on board the schooner, as if to round to. "Rake him, sir, or give him the stern. He has not surrendered. I know their game. Give him your broadside, sir, or he is off to windward of you, like a shot. No, no, we have him now; heave to Mr. Splinter, heave to!" We did so, and that so suddenly, that the studding sail booms snapped like pipe shanks short off by the irons. Notwithstanding, we had shot two hundred yards to the leeward, before we could lay our maintopsail to the mast. I ran to windward. The schooner's yards and rigging were now black with men, clustering like bees swarming, her square sails were being close furled, her fore and aft sails set, and away she was, dead to windward of us. "So much for undervaluing our American friends," grumbled Mr. Splinter.
We made all sail in chase, blazing away to little purpose; we had no chance on a bowline, and when our 'Amigo' had satisfied himself of his superiority by one or two short tacks, he deliberately took a reef in his mainsail, hauled down his flying jib and gaff-topsail, triced up the bunt of his foresail, and fired his long thirty-two at us. The shot came in our third aftermost port on the starboard side, and dismounted the carronade, smashing the slide and wounding three men. The second missed, and as it was madness to remain to be peppered, probably winged, whilst every one of ours fell short, we reluctantly kept away on our course, having the gratification of hearing a clear well blown bugle on board the schooner play up "Yankee Doodle." As the brig fell off, our long gun was run out to have a parting crack at her, when the third and last shot from the schooner struck the sill of the midship port, and made the white splinters fly from the solid oak like bright silver sparks in the moonlight. A sharp, piercing cry rose in the air—my soul identified that death-shriek with the voice that I had heard, and I saw the man who was standing with the lanyard of the lock in his hand drop heavily across the breech, and discharge the gun in his fall. Thereupon a blood-red glare shot up in the cold blue sky, as if a volcano had burst forth from beneath the mighty deep, followed by a roar, and a scattering crash, and a mingling of unearthly cries and groans, and a concussion of the air and the water as if our whole broadside had been fired at once.—Then a solitary splash here, and a dip there, and short sharp yells, and low choking bubbling moans, as the hissing fragments of the noble vessel we had seen, fell into the sea, and the last of her gallant crew vanished forever beneath that pale broad moon. We were alone; and once more all was dark, wild and stormy. Fearfully had that ball sped fired by a dead man's hand. But what is it that clings, black and doubled, across the fatal cannon, dripping and heavy, and choking the scuppers with clotting gore, and swaying to and fro with the motion of the vessel, like a bloody fleece? "Who is it that was hit at the gun there?" "Mr. Nipper, the boatswain, sir, the last shot has cut him in two."
LOSS OF THE NAUTILUS, SLOOP OF WAR,
ON A ROCK IN THE ARCHIPELAGO.
A misunderstanding having originated between the Court of Great Britain, and the Ottoman Porte, a powerful squadron was ordered to proceed to Constantinople, for the purpose of enforcing compliance with rational propositions. The object, however, proved abortive; and the expedition terminated in a way which did not enhance the reputation of these islands in the eyes of the Turks.
Sir Thomas Louis, commander of the squadron sent to the Dardanelles, having charged Captain Palmer with dispatches of the utmost importance for England, the Nautilus got under weigh at daylight on the third of January 1807. A fresh breeze from N. E. carried her rapidly out of the Hellespont, passing the celebrated castles in the Dardanelles, which so severely galled the British. Soon afterwards she passed the island of Tenedos, off the north end of which, two vessels of war were seen at anchor; they hoisted Turkish colours, and in return the Nautilus showed those of Britain.—In the course of this day, many of the other islands abounding in the Greek Archipelago came in sight, and in the evening the ship approached the island of Negropont, lying in 38 30 north latitude, and 24 8 east longitude; but now the navigation became more intricate, from the increasing number of islands, and from the narrow entrance between Negropont and the island of Andros.
The wind still continued to blow fresh, and as night was approaching, with the appearance of being dark and squally, the pilot, who was a Greek, wished to lie to until morning, which was done accordingly; and at daylight the vessel again proceeded. His course was shaped for the island of Falconera, in a track which has been so elegantly described by Falconer, in a poem as far surpassing the uncouth productions of modern times, as the Ionian temples surpassed those flimsy structures contributing to render the fame of the originals eternal. This island, and that of Anti Milo, were made in the evening, the latter distant fourteen or sixteen miles from the more extensive island of Milo, which could not then be seen, from the thickness and haziness of the weather.
The pilot never having been beyond the present position of the Nautilus, and declaring his ignorance of the further bearings, now relinquished his charge, which was resumed by the captain. All possible attention was paid to the navigation, and Captain Palmer, after seeing Falconera so plainly, and anxious to fulfil his mission with the greatest expedition, resolved to stand on during the night. He was confident of clearing the Archipelago by morning, and himself pricked the course from the chart which was to be steered by the vessel. This he pointed out to his coxswain, George Smith, of whose ability he entertained a high opinion. Then he ordered his bed to be prepared, not having had his clothes off for the three preceding nights, and having scarce had any sleep from the time of leaving the Dardanelles.
A night of extreme darkness followed, with vivid lightning constantly flashing in the horizon; but this circumstance served to inspire the captain with a greater degree of confidence; for being enabled by it to see so much further at intervals, he thought, that should the ship approach any land, the danger would be discovered in sufficient time to be avoided.
The wind continued still increasing; and though the ship carried but little sail, she went at the rate of nine miles an hour, being assisted by a lofty following sea, which with the brightness of the lightning, made the night particularly awful. At half past two in the morning, high land was distinguished, which, those who saw it supposed to be the island of Cerigotto, and thence thought all safe, and that every danger had been left behind. The ship's course was altered to pass the island, and she continued on her course until half past four, at the changing of the watch, when the man on the look-out exclaimed, breakers ahead! and immediately the vessel struck with a most tremendous crash. Such was the violence of the shock, that people were thrown from their beds, and, on coming upon deck, were obliged to cling to the cordage. All was now confusion and alarm; the crew hurried on deck, which they had scarce time to do when the ladders below gave way, and indeed left many persons struggling in the water, which already rushed into the under part of the ship. The captain it appeared had not gone to bed, and immediately came on deck when the Nautilus struck; there having examined her situation, he immediately went round, accompanied by his second lieutenant, Mr. Nesbit, and endeavored to quiet the apprehensions of the people. He then returned to his cabin, and burnt his papers and private signals. Meantime every sea lifted up the ship, and then dashed her with irresistible force on the rocks; and in a short time, the crew were obliged to resort to the rigging, where they remained an hour, exposed to the surges incessantly breaking over them. There they broke out into the most lamentable exclamations, for their parents, children and kindred, and the distresses they themselves endured. The weather was so dark and hazy, that the rocks could be seen only at a very small distance, and in two minutes afterwards the ship had struck.
At this time the lightning had ceased, but the darkness of the night was such, that the people could not see the length of the ship from them; their only hope rested in the falling of the main-mast, which they trusted would reach a small rock, which was discovered very near them. Accordingly, about half an hour before day-break, the main-mast gave way, providentially falling towards the rock, and by means of it they were enabled to gain the land.
The struggles and confusion to which this incident gave birth, can better be conceived than described; some of the crew were drowned, one man had his arm broke, and many were cruelly lacerated; but Captain Palmer refused to quit his station, while any individual remained on board; and not until the whole of his people had gained the rock did he endeavor to save himself. At that time, in consequence of remaining by the wreck, he had received considerable personal injury, and must infallibly have perished, had not some of the seamen ventured through a tremendous sea to his assistance. The boats were staved in pieces; several of the people endeavored to haul in the jolly-boat, which they were incapable of accomplishing.